Category Archives: Group Exercise

Star of the Morning

I had big plans to accomplish a lot on my “to do” list yesterday, but didn’t really get much done! I spent a little too much time reading blogs, writing a blog post, and ultimately watching too much TV.  Oh well, it was a Sunday.  Sometimes ya just gotta relax!

Sunday Recap

One thing on both Andy and I’s “to do” list was attending a friend’s BBQ.  We spent a few hours chatting and catching up with friends, eating and drinking while enjoying the nice weather. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

We got home around 7PM and just in time for a new episode of Jersey Shore! I have been forcing Andy to watch it with me, and bless his heart he does. He doesn’t understand why I am interested in half the shows I watch.  I don’t know why I am either, but ultimately I feel relaxed watching mindless reality TV.  I guess it’s only fair that I watch a Cleveland Brown’s Football game with Andy this season!

After Jersey Shore we watched the MTV VMA show.  I really enjoyed what I saw (I fell asleep at 10:30) and appreciated Lady Gaga cross-dressing for the evening.  I swear, she keeps everyone guessing! I was not expecting that.  The girl has some serious pipes and a world of talent, so I enjoyed it! But I enjoy anything she does really, I’m a huge fan.

Monday

I awoke today feeling completely refreshed. I slept like a rock! Nothing beats a good night’s sleep.  I can eat as clean as I want and exercise an hour a day, but if I don’t get enough sleep, I feel like crap.

To start the morning off, I took these two hyenas for their morning rabbit hunt walk:

I refuse to look at you after calling me a hyena

It was a nice morning, the weather has been just beautiful lately.  The temperatures have been in the mid 70s and just so pleasant! I’ll take it while I can before it turns into a Winter Wonderland around here!

The pups and I walked for about 25 minutes around the neighborhood, then they played in the fenced-in back yard for a while.

Having a fenced in yard has been amazing.  When I lived in Georgia I didn’t have one and I had to constantly leash them up.  Now they are free to roam and play!

Whenever Andy and I decide to buy a home or have to move again, a fenced yard will be a must-have!

Unless you have steak in your hands, we ain't coming!

Breakfast

After playing with the pups for a bit I headed in to make breakfast.  Cereal and coffee were on today’s menu!

Fresh strawberries that I got at Whole Foods Saturday were the Star of the Morning.  They were so sweet and delicious.

Strawberries are definitely my favorite fruit.  I never get sick of them. I seem to get sick of other fruits, such as bananas and apples, after so many days of eating them.  But I could probably eat strawberries multiple times per day.  In fact, I am having them again tonight as part of my evening snack!

Workout

Today’s workouts were the two classes I taught today: Step, Jump and Pump and Cardio Pilates (read more about the classes I teach here!).  Since I teach two classes on Monday’s and Wednesdays, I don’t do anything extra besides walk. I get plenty exercise from the classes.

In today’s Cardio Pilates class I decided to take the class outside for The Hill Workout.  It was perfect weather for it and we all worked up a sweat climbing up that sucker!

After about 30 minutes of being outside walking/jogging, we took it back inside for the Pilates portion. I included one of my favorite exercises in today’s sequence: The Rotating Side Plank

Start in a push up position:

Do a push up:

Rotate into a side plank, stacking your hand directly under the shoulder and stacking your hips on top of one another.  Hold for a couple seconds.

Do another push up then rotate to the other side:

Repeat for as many as you desire.  Today we did 10 total push ups (5 side planks on each side).  These are tough, but fun! 🙂

Have a great night everyone!

Questions:

Did you watch the MTV VMA show? Who was your favorite performer? I didn’t see all of them, but I enjoyed Lady Gaga’s (I love the song “You and I”!) and Chris Brown did really well too.  He’s got some serious dance moves! And Adele is seriously amazing!

What is your favorite fruit? Strawberries for me!

Pilates Basics

I’ve been familiar with Pilates for over a decade now, but just recently started to really learn the history of the exercise.   Although Pilates may seem like a fad workout program, as it all of a sudden shot to popularity about 10 years ago (Remember Windsor Pilates?), it’s actually quite fascinating and I find it to be a great addition to anyone’s exercise program.

Certification

Last year my job sent me to get a Pilates Mat certification. Certifications typically are a weekend long (unless you are working on a 200 or 500 hour certification, like Yoga, which can take much longer).   I did my certification through PHI Pilates and can teach basic Mat Pilates classes.

I chose this organization because I really liked how it was created by Physical Therapists. They pay a lot of attention to form and being precise with the movements to make sure you are using the right muscle for the exercise.  The instructor during my certification was a Physical Therapist so it was interesting to get that perspective on Pilates.  It’s not just about “toning” or “tightening”.   Pilates can be beneficial for many other reasons!

Group Exercise

Each week I teach one full Pilates Group Exercise class that is 45 minutes long.  Two other days I teach a 55-minute class that is half cardio and half Pilates.  People at the facility I work at really like the variety that class has to offer.  If it were up to me, I’d keep the two separate as I think you need more time in a Pilates class.  However, I make it work with the time I have.

Pilates Basics

The very first thing you do is find your neutral alignment in whatever position you are in (supine, prone, seated, lying on your side, or standing). This is a very important step as it sets you up to do the exercise correctly. When you come out of neutral alignment during an exercise, it usually means that other muscles are being recruited to make the exercise easier, therefore you are not getting the true benefit of the exercise.

From PHI Pilates:

When working with the general population, neutral alignment is the most functional choice. It is the goal for a healthy and pain free posture (**However, there will be times when someone can not maintain a neutral position for whatever reason, so there are other positioning techniques that can be used.  As a fitness professional, I can not diagnose anyone, so I’d also recommend a rehabilitation professional if it were out of my scope of practice**).

Identifying Neutral Spine

The easiest and most accurate way to identify alignment is using bony landmarks on the body.  The triangles of the pelvis is what I use often.  It includes the ASIS, pubic symphysis when in supine or standing position, the PSIS and cocyxx in prone position, and the “bike seat” (ischial tuberosities and pubic ramus) in a seated position.

3 steps to achieving neutral spine

PhysioAdvisor offers these tips for achieving neutral spine (I follow these as well and it’s what PHI Pilates teaches)

Before you commence these 3 steps, begin lying on your back with your knees bent, your feet shoulder width apart and your arms by your side.

1) Lower back and pelvis

Tilt your pelvis forwards and backwards without moving your ribs, so your lower back arches fully and then flattens fully. Then try to maintain a pelvic and lower back position half way between these two extremes (i.e. a slight curve in the lower back). This is neutral spine for the lower back and pelvis.

2) Upper back and shoulder blades

Pull your shoulder blades back and down slightly, whilst maintaining a flat upper back against the floor. This is neutral spine for the upper back and shoulder blades.

3) Neck

Tuck your chin in slightly and ensure your eyes and nose are facing directly upwards. This is neutral spine for the neck.

These principles can be applied to achieve neutral spine in any position and should be integrated into all Pilates exercises.

Neutral Spine:

Source

Notice the slight curves.  Neutral is not standing up perfectly straight like you are in the military, nor is it standing like a cheerleader with your butt out and chest pointed out arching your back.  There are natural curves to the body when in neutral.

Source

Please read more here to see more tips for neutral alignment.  It’s a great read!

Sample Pilates Routine

The goal of maintaining neutral spine through the duration of each exercise should always be on your mind. Sometimes you drift off and get sloppy and that’s OK – it takes practice to keep the focus of proper breathing, form and alignment, and concentration of each exercise.

Breathing should be in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Making a “HA!” sound as you exhale really allows the deep abdominal muscles to contract.  Try it! 🙂

Let’s get started!

Alternate Leg Lifts: 10 each leg

Directions: Using the abdominal muscles, lift one leg up at a time on an exhale to a table top position (where the knee is over the hip).  Lower down on the inhale with control and repeat on the other leg.

Heel Taps: 10 each leg

Directions: From table top, lower one heel towards the ground using the abdominal muscles. With control, lift the leg back up.  Repeat other side.

Chest Lift (basic crunch): 12-15 Reps

Directions: Exhale as you lift your head, neck, and shoulder blades off the mat while maintaining  neutral spine.  Relax the head and neck and focus on lifting with the abdominal muscles.

100:10 sets of breath (inhale quick for 5 counts and exhale quick for 5 counts)

Directions: Starting in table top position lift your head, neck and shoulders off the mat.  Raise your arms off the ground and begin “slapping the water”.  Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in and your spine neutral.  Relax the head, neck and shoulders.

Roll Up: 5-6 reps

Directions: Start lying down with your hands reaching up towards the ceiling.  As you exhale, slowly peel yourself off the mat creating a “C” curve with your spine and using the strength of your midsection (not momentum!).   Slowly lower down, one vertebrae at a time to the start position.

Single Bent Leg Stretch: 10 each leg

Directions: From table top, place both hands behind one thigh.  Extend the other leg straight, lowering only as far as you can while maintaining neutral spine.  Alternate sides, using your breath as a guide.

Double Straight Leg: 6-8 Reps

Directions: From table top, place both hands behind thighs.  Exhale as you extend your legs out and reach your arms overhead while maintaining a neutral spine position.  Focus on keeping your abdominals pulled in.

Bicycle or Criss Cross: 10 each leg

Directions: From table top place both hands behind your head.  Extend one leg straight out while keeping the other leg in a table top position (knee over the hip).  Alternate sides while using your breath as a guide.  Make sure to keep both hips and on the mat and get the rotation from the torso.  Relax through your head, neck and shoulders.

Prone Plank Hold: 60 second hold

Directions: Start by lying on your stomach and resting on your forearms.  Curl your toes under as you lift your body up and pull your abdominals in.  Maintain a neutral spine.

Side Plank Hold: 45 second hold on each side

Directions: Start by lying on your side with your legs and shoulders stacked on top of one another.  Lift your body up so that you are balancing on your forearm and feet.  Keep the hips lifted and stacked as you continually engage the abdominal muscles.

**Remember if you can not maintain a neutral spine in any of these exercises (or other Pilates exercises) make sure to modify the movement to your needs.

Have fun!

Question:

What are your thoughts on Pilates? Do you do it regularly? 

Total Body Workout + Another Lazy Dinner

At work yesterday I taught a Total Body Toning class.  It’s a 45-minute class focusing on strength training.  I love teaching this format because I don’t have to worry about choreography like in my other classes (Turbo Kick and Step) and I can get creative with new moves.  Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching choreography and it’s a ton of fun.  But sometimes it’s nice to give my brain a rest from 32-count phrases and focus on pumpin’ some iron!

Yesterday’s Total Body Workout looked like this (click to view):

*Notes:

  • We took about a 30-second rest in between sets
  • The weights I personally used ranged from 5lb dumbbells (for exercises like shoulder raises) and 12lb dumbbells (for rows, chest presses, overhead shoulder presses, and biceps).  I used a 15lb body bar for the clean and press.
  • The squat with a front raise and leg lift looks like thisIt’s tough!
  • The side lunge and reach with an overhead raise looked like this except I used a dumbbell.

After teaching it was time for my lunch break so I decided to keep my workout momentum going and completed  30 minutes of cardio.  My workout looked like this:

Felt good to get in some heart pumpin’ cardio while listening to Lady’s Gaga’s newest CD (which is amazing!!)

Dinner

Dinner was another lazy creation.  I picked up some orange chicken at Trader Joes over the weekend and decided it would be a good night to make it since Andy was out for the evening.

First I sauteed up some sweet peppers and mushrooms in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper:

As the veggies were cooking I heated the chicken in a canola oil blend over medium heat on the stove:

Along side the chicken and veggies I decided to make some Near East Roasted Pecan and Garlic rice.  This flavor is so, so good!

While waiting for everything to cook I sipped on one of my favorite drinks:

I love Skinny Girl Margaritas! I really enjoy the taste.  It’s not sweet at all like a typical margarita.  It’s more of a tart flavor and it’s refreshing.  I love em’!

Cheers! 🙂

Once the chicken was cooked (and I was slightly buzzed!), I added the delicious orange sauce (which I microwaved for 2 minutes) and sauteed veggies:

Dinner was ready!

As far as frozen meals go, this chicken is pretty tasty and I’d definitely buy it again to make one of my lazy dinners.

Play Time

When Andy got home around 8pm we relaxed outside on our patio.

We spent some time watching (and laughing) as Boo and Sophia went crazy running around:

Who you callin' crazy? You're the one dancing in the living room every morning... alone!

Watch me HOP!

Dog or monster?

Gimme!

For a moment they were calm:

But this one is never truly calm:

Love my pups! 🙂

Vacation

Tomorrow morning I leave on my flight to North Carolina for a whole week to see my family! Andy isn’t going (booo!) because he already has used most of his vacation days.  I am going to miss him and the pups so much! But I am definitely looking forward to a week of relaxing, eating, sitting on the beach, running by the ocean, and just having fun with everyone.  See ya in Emerald Isle, NC!

Questions:

Do you like to fly? I’m actually a bit scared of flying and I always feel nervous and can’t relax one bit while in the air (Andy on the other hand falls right to sleep!) But I  suck it up and do it because I want to go places and see friends and family that live far away.

Are you taking any vacations this summer?

Shakin' What my Mama Gave Me!

Last night at work I took a class called Cardio Dance.  It’s a fun class that we offer with a super, high energy instructor!  He brings so much excitement and positivity to his class that it really makes exercise feel like a party and a good time.

Can you spot me? 😉

I always recommend this class to members at our facility who do not like formal exercise, such as being on a treadmill.  This class allows people to get exercise without feeling like they are actually working out.

Get low!

Although I’m a freak of nature (as most of us fitness bloggers are!) and love all forms of exercise, sometimes taking a fun class is more appealing than say, trucking along on the elliptical watching the clock.  This class flew by! And what I love about this particular class is that the moves are not overly complicated and it’s easy to follow.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best dance whatsoever (although when I drink at a wedding I think I’m a pro! 😉 ) but I always have fun trying and working up a sweat.

The Cardio Dance class was 50 minutes long and we did a variety of dances, including hip hop, salsa, and even a little bit of kickboxing moves which is right up my ally with teaching Group Exercise.

This week we are previewing some of the classes we offer since our next session starts next week.  The instructor last night brought along a live drummer and I thought it was so unique and fun!  It really emphasized some of the beats in the songs he played.

I’ve talked about my job as a Fitness Specialist before and I’ve got to admit that being able to take a class here and there is definitely one of the best perks.  All in a days work!

My Video Debut

Last night my boss wanted to film some of the class to use on our website so I thought I’d show a sneak peak. I introduce you to Cardio Dance Class! Click here, here and here for short clips!

Today’s Plans

I’m working the bright n’ early shift at work today (hello 5am wake up call!) and will be here until 2:30pm.  Myself and the intern here are going to the daycare at our work site to talk with the kids about exercise and to do a couple of activities with them.  Should be fun, but I’m a bit nervous as there are 70 total kids, ages 5-8 (although we’re splitting them up into two separate groups).

After work I am heading to the grocery store to pick up a few items for Friday evening.  Some of my girlfriends from college are coming over for appetizers and drinks and we may end up heading out for the night to some bars. I can’t wait to catch up with them. Now it’s officially work time…Have a great day everyone!

Questions:

Have you ever taken a cardio dance class?

Do you enjoy dance-type classes as your workout?

Any tips on working with 5-8 year old kids? 🙂

Shakin’ What my Mama Gave Me!

Last night at work I took a class called Cardio Dance.  It’s a fun class that we offer with a super, high energy instructor!  He brings so much excitement and positivity to his class that it really makes exercise feel like a party and a good time.

Can you spot me? 😉

I always recommend this class to members at our facility who do not like formal exercise, such as being on a treadmill.  This class allows people to get exercise without feeling like they are actually working out.

Get low!

Although I’m a freak of nature (as most of us fitness bloggers are!) and love all forms of exercise, sometimes taking a fun class is more appealing than say, trucking along on the elliptical watching the clock.  This class flew by! And what I love about this particular class is that the moves are not overly complicated and it’s easy to follow.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best dance whatsoever (although when I drink at a wedding I think I’m a pro! 😉 ) but I always have fun trying and working up a sweat.

The Cardio Dance class was 50 minutes long and we did a variety of dances, including hip hop, salsa, and even a little bit of kickboxing moves which is right up my ally with teaching Group Exercise.

This week we are previewing some of the classes we offer since our next session starts next week.  The instructor last night brought along a live drummer and I thought it was so unique and fun!  It really emphasized some of the beats in the songs he played.

I’ve talked about my job as a Fitness Specialist before and I’ve got to admit that being able to take a class here and there is definitely one of the best perks.  All in a days work!

My Video Debut

Last night my boss wanted to film some of the class to use on our website so I thought I’d show a sneak peak. I introduce you to Cardio Dance Class! Click here, here and here for short clips!

Today’s Plans

I’m working the bright n’ early shift at work today (hello 5am wake up call!) and will be here until 2:30pm.  Myself and the intern here are going to the daycare at our work site to talk with the kids about exercise and to do a couple of activities with them.  Should be fun, but I’m a bit nervous as there are 70 total kids, ages 5-8 (although we’re splitting them up into two separate groups).

After work I am heading to the grocery store to pick up a few items for Friday evening.  Some of my girlfriends from college are coming over for appetizers and drinks and we may end up heading out for the night to some bars. I can’t wait to catch up with them. Now it’s officially work time…Have a great day everyone!

Questions:

Have you ever taken a cardio dance class?

Do you enjoy dance-type classes as your workout?

Any tips on working with 5-8 year old kids? 🙂

A Taco Pile + Circuit Workout

After a long day of work, I knew I wanted a dinner that would come together quickly.  It was time for the return of Taco Tuesday!

Taco Fixins'

Andy and I had would make tacos pretty religiously on Tuesdays in the fall. Then some how we kind of forgot about it (or maybe we just got burnt out!)  Luckily the time away from tacos has peaked our interest again.  Taco Tuesday was a hit!

Usually I cook chicken in the crock pot, but I thought I’d change it up for this Taco Tuesday.  Instead, I cooked the chicken on the stove.  I heated about 2tbsp of olive oil in a pan and sliced up two chicken breasts.  I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder and let it sizzle away over medium heat.

Then I added a can of green chilies to give it some spice.  The chicken turned out delicious! If you like a little heat, the chili powder and green chilies are where it’s at!

On the side I made some Spanish rice, which is one of my favorites:


I cooked the rice according to the package directions and in about 25 minutes, the rice was done and ready to be devoured:

Instead of making a traditional taco, I made what I call a taco pile. I piled all of the ingredients on to my plate and dipped some chips into it.  It’s what I do when I eat at Chipotle, so I figured I would recreate this at home.

My Taco Pile

This pile of goodness hit the spot! Another successful Taco Tuesday.

Dessert

I’m someone who likes a little something sweet after dinner on most nights.  Last night was no exception! I had asked Andy to pick up some sour cream and cheese at the store on his way home from work for our tacos.  We both have a love for sweets, so he swung by the cookie section and picked up some chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies.

I had my cookies with a glass of soy milk. Mmm Mmm! 

Although I typically like homemade cookies, these were very  tasty for store bought! Nice buy, Andy 🙂

While Andy and I were eating Sophia made sure to do her nightly vacuuming

I'm on clean up duty

Thanks, Soph!

30-Minute Circuit Workout

Yesterday I worked out on my lunch break so that meant I had 30 minutes to get er’ done! I wasn’t in the mood to run or commit to a full weight lifting session so I decided to mix it up and combine a whole slew of things into a 30-minute workout:

Cardio: 5 minutes Upright Bike: level 6

Weights: Repeat 2 times through

  • 20 step ups on high step, each leg (I just did my body weight)
  • 15 Overhead Dumbbell Shoulder Presses (Using two 15lb dumbbells)
  • 15 Assisted Pull Ups (90lbs Assisted)

Cardio: 5 minutes AMT: level 5

Weights: Repeat 2 times through

  • 14 (each leg) Walking Lunges with over head raises using 6lb medicine ball
  • 20 Overhand Barbell Rows (I just used the 45lb bar)
  • 12 Flat Dumbbell Chest Press (I used two 25lb dumbbells)

Cardio: 5 Minutes Treadmill Run: 6.0 mph

This workout was short, sweet and to the point.  I enjoyed moving from one thing to the next. Now it’s time to get ready to teach lunch time Turbo Kick

Question of the Day:

Are you someone who always likes to have some sort of dessert after dinner?

Cardio and Strength Combo Class

Although I’m a fan of running outside at a steady pace, I also like to switch things up. Lately I’ve been enjoying mixing my cardio exercise with my strength training.  I find that it provides a great workout and keeps me on my toes! The change of exercises also keeps my workout exciting and fun.

This week I decided to incorporate a cardio and strength workout into some of the classes I teach at work.

The Studio at Work

At noon on Mondays and Wednesdays I teach a class called “Step, Jump and Pump”, where we do a mix of aerobics (typically on the step), cardio drills, and weight training.

Some days we do more cardio and other days we do more weight training.  When it’s really nice outside, we sometimes take it outside for an outdoor workout and use the walking trail to run and don’t use the step at all.

I like to keep it fun and exciting for the participants to come and get their lunch time workout in!

Yesterday’s workout included some step aerobics and strength training. For the 45-minute class I alternated two longer cardio segments with two 5 minute weight segments:

  • 20 minutes cardio (including the 5-minute warm up)
  • 5 minutes of weight training
  • 10 minutes of cardio
  • 5 minutes of weight training
  • 5 minute cool down/stretch

The entire workout looked like this:

*Note: Step is place vertically and the music is at 128 BPM.

**If you are unfamiliar with step, here is a great website to learn basic moves and get ideas if you’re a teacher.

Combo 1: 32 counts

  • Hamstring Curl Front and Back (2)
  • L-Step (1)
  • I-Step (2)
  • Glute Lift Front and Back (2)

Combo 2: 32 counts

  • Single Kicks (2)
  • Kick Straddle (2)
  • Outer Thigh Rep (1)

Combine Combo 1 and 2 for 64 counts

Weights: Do each exercise for 1 minute

Equipment: Barbell

  • Clean and Press: 1 minute
  • Overhand Grip Row: 1 minute
  • Bicep Curls: 1 minute
  • Squat: 1 minute
  • Reverse Lunges, Alternating Legs: 1 minute

Combo 3: 32 counts

  • Knee Lift Front and Back (2)
  • Rocking Horse (1)
  • A-Step (2)
  • Jumping Jacks (2)

Combo 4: 32 counts

  • Glute Lift (2)
  • Straddle Step (2)
  • K-Step (2)
  • Knee Straddle (2)

Combine Combo 3 and 4: 64 counts

Weights: Do each move for 1 minute

Equipment: Dumbbells and a Mat

  • Bowler Lunge: 1 minute,
  • Arnold Press: 1 minute
  • One Arm Row: 1 minute
  • Forearm Plank Hold: 1 minute
  • Forearm Side Plank Hold: 30 sec each side

**Combos 1 and 2 on the step made up with first 20 minutes of class (along with a warm up).  Combos 3 and 4 made up the 10 minute portion of cardio.

**If you don’t have access to a step or a step class, replace it with a different cardio option, such as running, using the elliptical or bike.

Question of the Day:

Have you ever taken a Step Aerobics class? I know it seems like a retro workout (hello 80’s spandex!), but I still love teaching step and taking classes.  It’s a fun cardio workout!