Summertime Blues

We are deep in the throes of summer. The lack of structure and predictable schedule is throwing everyone in the house off. Even the dog. The kids are home almost everyday, or I’m racing to drop off/pick up for soccer camps and playdates. Trying to keep a normal workout schedule has been almost impossible.  Normally, I really like to change things up. I’ll try different strength or stability exercises at the gym, take a different kind of class, or set a big goal (half marathon anyone?). My body loves the challenges and my so easily bored mind loves the changes. But summer basically means stay at home mom time for me. I train clients early in the AM, evenings and weekends – all times the hubby is home.  And if I’m lucky enough to be feeding my creative side by auditioning or working on set, a sitter helps out. Otherwise, I’m entertaining the kids on these 90+ degree days.

So to give my brain a break – I stick to what I know really well and look at summer as a maintenance time instead of a building time for my body. I can’t give up working out all together, 1- You would probably find me in a straight jacket by September and 2- I run a fitness business. Staying in shape is kind of important for both my psyche and my bank account. So I do what’s easy for me, and can be done fast.

Here’s 3 things that I’m doing to stay in shape in between visits to the pool and froyo runs:

1- POLE! I love poling. It brings me joy, gives me a great workout, and I get some much-needed girlfriend time with people I love to be around. Big bang for the hour and half I leave the hubby with the kids. I’m physically renewed and joyful from the laughs and bonding. I’ve also found a great Instagram challenge for the month of July – forcing me to train on the pole every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.  I even get the kids involved sometimes.

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2- BOSU! I love the Bosu stability trainer.  You can nail a full body workout with a Bosu in about 30 minutes. I have one at home, but even at the gym I use it weekly. I love the quick fix I get with just a few exercises. Here’s a little video with 3 great full body moves.

3 – YOGA! Taking a class forces me to work out and have absolute quiet for at least an hour. The crazy days of summer, late nights and kids fighting over the iPad take a toll on this mom. Yoga restores me. At least that’s how I feel afterwards. During the actual yoga class I’m cursing myself and silently screaming from the inside “WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!??!?! RUN! RUN! LEAVE THIS CLASS!!!!” But then by the last ten minutes when we can lay still and almost fall asleep, I’m a much happier human. And a much better mom. I’m also doing a #backtobackbends yoga challenge on Instagram this month to keep me motivated. Public accountability is a good thing for those of us fitness obsessed.

IMG_1698So these are the things I’m doing to stay fit this summer, at least when I’m not eating ice cream with the kids and drinking margaritas with the hubby. How do you stay focused on fitness in the summer?

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Finding Balance

“Finding Balance,” I’ve actually grown to hate that term. The idea of finding balance implies there is a perfection we need to reach. A golden carrot that we can grab and once we achieve it, that balance will be eternal. Never fluctuating. And if we fall off that balance podium, we are failing in some way. In life, especially as working moms, we are regularly told by commercials, magazines, yoga instructors, therapists, “you need to find balance.” And yes, we need to have down time. We need that “me” time away from the kids, away from work, etc. But I’ve got to be honest, I’m a much more “balanced” person when life is at its craziest. A day off, or a an afternoon with nothing to do, makes me way more anxious than when I’m running from school drop offs to training clients to auditions to school pick ups and shopping/meal planning and laundry in between. Down time puts me on edge, and productivity makes me, well, happy. Down right happy! So if happiness = balance, then balance = busy for me.

While balance in life is not the traditional meaning for me, finding balance in my body is absolutely essential. Many things can create imbalance in your body – overuse, fatigue, sitting too long at a desk or in a  car, carrying a baby…the list goes on. If you are a pole dancer, you probably have a “good” invert side and you have most definitely built the obliques on that side more than the other, creating imbalance. Once imbalance starts, it can lead to muscular and joint dysfunction and most likely pain and injury down the road.

To create balance in your core, your obliques must come into play. These are the muscles along the side of your torso and help with stabilizing your core, hips and pelvic control (moms!). Here’s a basic oblique/cross body exercise to start with. Lay on your back and extend one leg straight, keeping the other leg bent for stability. Reach your opposite arm above your head and draw your navel to the floor. Lift your shoulder off the floor and reach your extended arm up while lifting your extended leg up. Try to touch your toes or shin with your hand. Return to your starting position. Repeat 12-15 times for 2-3 sets. And for “balance” be sure to train both sides.

As always, check with a doctor before beginning an exercise regimen and these videos are for entertainment and educational purposes only. 🙂

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Plank Progressions

I LOOOOVE me some planks! And I love all the different ways they can challenge you and all the different ways you can modify them.

Now that we are a couple of weeks into All About Abs April, we can start to progress our ab exercises. If you find the first tutorials on the easier side, perhaps it’s time to push yourself a little harder. Now with all progressions, keep your form correct! Nothing makes me crazier than seeing someone at the gym doing a crazy move they learned on instagram or pinterest and doing it in correctly, or before they’ve mastered the easier version.

This plank progression is in 2 stages. Stick to the first progression if your form is compromised at all. Fitness is a lifelong journey, not one you have to finish tomorrow. And you certainly don’t want to be injured while trying to get there.

Step 1:

Get yourself into a solid plank – spine in a neutral position, hands directly under your shoulders. It’s important to note that in a plank on your hands, you should be engaging your shoulder blades by pulling them back and down while you pull your belly button in towards your spine.

Step 2:

While keeping your weight evenly distribute between your upper body, lift one leg, while trying to keep your hips flat. If your hips become uneven, regress and go back to your standard plank. If your form is great and this is a solid challenge, hold for about 30-45 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Step 3:

If the previous step was a cakewalk, try to lift the opposite arm off the ground without compromising your form or balance. To maintain your balance try to visualize squeezing your opposite shoulders and hips together. It’s a true challenge and can be a bit rough on the shoulders. Be sure to train both sides. Aim for 30 seconds, but if you can make it to 15 you’re a rock star!

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Planking with a Twist

Here’s one of my favorite planks that targets the obliques, shoulders and even legs if you’re doing it right. The side plank – an awesome all over exercise. And you can progress it by adding a twist.

  • Get into a side plank by stacking one foot on top of the other
  • Press your weight into your feet while lifting your hips off the floor
  • Your body should be in a straight line from head to ankles
  • Shoulder and elbow stacked on top of each other and forearm in a 90 degree angle
  • For a basic side plank, just reach your arm up to the sky and hold for 30 sec
  • To progress, add a twist as you angle your torso towards the ground
  • As always, keep your abs engaged, hips tucked under by drawing in your navel
  • You should feel the burn in your obliques and abs quickly
  • For an even greater challenge, try adding a 2-5 lb. weight

* Please keep in mind these videos are for educational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult a physician before starting any exercise routine.

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Up & Down….

Up & Down…Such is life, especially as a mom & and actress. The month of March through well, today, almost killed me. Tons of clients, auditions, callbacks, getting THIS close on several great roles, and then…not getting them. And of course spring break with the kiddos – life seems to be going at a breakneck pace. All good stuff, honestly – I’m not complaining, but weeks without a day off can take a toll on the mind AND body. So, I’m taking it a bit easy this week and even heading out for a massage later today (YAY!!!). Although massage is a bit of a misnomer for what my massage therapist does to me. It’s more like exquisite torture. But my body holds on to all I put it through, even with foam rolling and stretching, I get some series knots and adhesions. Self care is essential when you work out regularly.

Even though today is an off day for me –  lucky for you I recorded a plank variation last week just for today. Thinking ahead, that’s what we moms are good at. So today you’re getting what I call the Up & Down plank. I’m sure there is a more technical term, but Up and Down is so straight forward, and my clients understand exactly what I want from them when I say it.

This is a great full body exercise, where you’ll feel the burn quickly. To do this move, start in a plank, drawing in your core and neutral spine. Engage the shoulder blades by pulling them back & down – think about placing them in your back pockets. Then lower to you forearms on both sides. Make sure your abs are still engaged and then lift back up to your starting position. Alternate sides so you don’t get Popeye arms on one side and Olive oil on the other. Muscle imbalances are not good. At all. One rep equals up and down on both sides. Aim for 10-12 reps 3 sets. You’ll really feel your heart rate jump up, as well as a burn in your shoulders and triceps, along with your core.

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Week 2 and a Chocolate Hangover

So, week 2 of All About Abs April is getting a slow start. Spring break for the kiddos and Easter festivities have taken a toll on this mama. I’m starting a petition that moms should be required a full week off after any school breaks where the kids get more than 2 days off in a row.  I am beat. Which is why I’m back in bed at 9:30am after my early morning client, and my son (on his 7th day of spring break, and last!!!!) is entertaining himself with Mario Cart.

I’m also feeling the effects of a week of vacation mentality eating. I don’t know about you, but Easter is one of my favorite holidays – and part of that reason is the food. Brunches galore with quiche, ham and potatoes. And don’t get me started on all the goodness the easter bunny brings. It’s like a festival of sugar in this house once the many egg hunts begin. Seriously – I had one egg hunt a year when I was a kid. Now we have no less than 5 starting the week before. One at school, one at the spring fest down the street, at the mall, church, backyard, it goes on and one. By the time Peter Cottontail arrives Easter morning, we have enough candy stockpiled to keep 30 dentists in business for years to come.

We did have a fun week and a half, but now it’s time to get back to burning some calories and focusing on those abs. Summer vacation and my bikinis are just a short 8 weeks away…yikes!

Week 2 is focusing on my favorite exercise of them all, the PLANK! If you train with me, you know all too well how much I love planks, and have probably done 5 to 10 different variations. Today we will start out with the basic plank. The plank targets your transverse abs. Think of your transverse abs like a girdle that pulls your entire torso together.These are actually a few layers under the superficial abs that make up our would be six packs. I have a six pack actually. It’s just under wine. And cheese. And Cadbury cream eggs.

To begin your plank, draw your navel in and think of your abs wrapping around to meet in the center. Engage your upper and inner thighs and try to keep your spine flat. Elbows and shoulders should be stacked on top of each other and your gaze should be about 2 feet in front of you to keep your spine long.  Start your planks on your elbows and try to hold for 30 seconds, continually engaging your core. Don’t let your hips lift too high, or drop too low, and keep your back flat. For a different challenge go up to your hands. If you are a poler or have very strong shoulders, this may be actually easier for you, so get back down on your elbows to feel the burn. For more on planks check out a previous post on the 30 day plank challenge.

 

 

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April is All About Abs!

I love working on my abs – but I didn’t always. It took many years for me to realize that if my abs and core were not strong and stable, then nothing else in my body was either. So, I’m taking a whole month to teach you how to train your abs correctly. There will be videos, tutorials, articles and even a pole focus each week for my poler bears.

To start us out:  a deceptively easy lower ab exercise that forces you to engage your lower and upper abs and your pelvic floor muscles. Lay flat on your back, legs in a 90 degree angle off the floor and draw your belly to the floor. This is what we call “engagement.” Some people also like to think of it as “zipping up”, or “pulling in” if that helps with the visualization. Start with single leg taps, and move on to both legs once this is no longer difficult.

 

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Try Something New!

Try Something New
Doing the same workout over and over is tedious for the brain and bad for the body.

When I get myself to the gym, I often see the same people on cardio machines for minutes, even hours on end. Spending that much time on the treadmill every week may burn calories and fat (and can get you caught up with your reading), but does little for building muscle and long term fitness goals. It can also get quite boring, making you lose interest in your fitness routine. Continuously doing the same workout will actually result in a plateau in weight loss and muscle growth. If you haven’t seen a change on the scale or in your body for awhile, it may be time to add a new workout.

Summertime is the perfect time for trying new fitness routines or equipment. Get outside for a mud run, ride bikes at the beach, or swimming at the local pool are great ways to shake things up in your training routine, and can build muscles you may have been neglecting.

I’m typically a gym rat and pole fitness gal. But, I’ve recently become addicted to TRX – a suspension training system, seen below.

My home gym has been recently updated (and quite beautifully I might add!) and has added a TRX training system, I’m like a kid in a candy store when I see new equipment. TRX uses your own body weight for all sorts of exercises, combining strength and stability. Adding this variation to my workouts has made a tremendous impact on my strength and endurance, and is great for those who do body weight sports (ie: pole fitness).

Not interested in a traditional workout? Try a new class instead. Zumba, Pole Dancing, Hooping, Aerial, Trapeze & CrossFit are all popular for those ready try something that’s not so traditional.

What I love about classes instead of a traditional gym is the sense of community they build. Personally, I head to the gym when I need an hour alone with my ipod. But, when I’m feeling the need for a push from my peers and encouragement to try a new crazy pole trick, I head to class. If you live in the LA area, head to Luscious Maven for Pole Fitness and try a class with me! I teach all levels!

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What’s the best workout?

What’s the Best Workout?
I get this question all the time. How can I loose my belly? I want to tone up my thighs, what should I do? Back fat – how do I get rid of it? Everyone has an area that bugs them, a desire to get in shape, feel strong, gain energy and maybe fit back into those before baby jeans again. But the reality is many people, especially busy moms, have no idea where to start. And unfortunately, pinning pics of washboard abs to your fitness board on Pinterest isn’t the best way to get started on your goals.

I say, start small. If you don’t work out at all, aim for 2 workouts a week. Make it simple. Maybe a walk around the block followed by some walking lunges or a workout DVD. Once you’ve done that for a month, set another goal. Add a third workout or try jogging for half of the walk. After a month of 3 workouts a week, maybe try adding a yoga or Zumba class. Making small, measurable and attainable goals is the best way to get started on a fitness program. It will keep you from injury and burnout and allow you the time to make fitness a lifestyle change rather than a short term fix.

So, what’s the answer? What IS the best workout? Well, it’s the one that you do. There is no magic pill. There is no secret that fit, healthy individuals have acquired and haven’t shared. It is quite simple actually:

1. Eat healthy – Avoid processed foods, refined sugar and fatty foods, sugary drinks, etc. Eat veggies and fruit. ALOT of Veggies and Fruit.

2. Keep Moving – Whatever your choice of workout, don’t stop. Keep moving. Lift weights or your own body weight, and get your heart pumping with cardio.

3. Consistency – This is the key. If you eat well and exercise most of the time, the bad days will be outnumbered and you will ultimately get fit, lose weight, and gain muscle. So don’t let one bad meal (or dessert) or a few days off from workouts get you down. Make healthy eating and workouts the norm, and desserts and couch time the exception.

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Posted by Stacey at 4/22/2013 8:59 PM | Add Comment

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