Add Some Spring To Your Step!

New Season, New Workout!

It’s time to get rid of the winter blues and shake up your workout routine! I know I’ve been sick of running on a stationary piece of a equipment, whether it’s the treadmill or the elliptical. With spring comes (hopefully) some warmer weather and milder winds, and I’m ready to take my workouts outside!

The beautiful view while hiking in Cave Creek

The beautiful view while hiking in Cave Creek

Why Change Things Up?

If you continue to do the same workouts, not only do YOU get bored – so does your body. And with boredom comes little change and a whole lot of untapped potential. Even though I switch up which machines I use regularly, I tend to get bored of the same old gym routine and I feel my body becoming acclimated to what once seemed to be a tough limit. Muscle confusion allows for better results, since your muscles are being continuously pushed to their limits and forced to learn new movements. Also, switching up your gym routine allows your nervous system (your brain, spinal cord and the neurons and other nervous cells throughout your body) to form new connections, which has major implications in the prevention of both physical and mental diseases. So, if you’re getting bored, chances are, so are your legs – time to hit the road and take things outside!

So Now, What Do I Do?

One way I was able to start switching up my workout routine was by hiking this past week, while I was in Arizona with my family. Not only were the views incredible, the burn was, too! My family and I hiked through Cave Creek and had a lot of fun while doing so. Overall, the trail was only about 3 miles, however, we reached some impressive elevations and certainly felt the incline in our steps. Even though some family members were apprehensive about the hike, everyone ended up having a really great time and now we are searching for places where we can hike while back home in the Connecticut and New York areas. I recommend finding a serene route near you and soaking up the tranquility nature can offer you – especially while being active!

My sister and me, stopping for a quick photo op!

My sister and me, stopping for a quick photo op!

Other ways in which I’m looking forward to switching up my workout? I want to get back on the court and pick up my old tennis racquet. I used to play tennis when I was younger and it was an activity I really enjoyed. Even though it’s certainly a workout, I always looked at it as something I wanted to do for fun, as opposed to something I had to do to stay in shape. This outlook is, in my opinion, what separates those who lead active lives from those who lead sedentary lives with scheduled spurts of activity built in to them. Finding something you love, whether it’s hiking, running, playing tennis, soccer, flag football, or any other activity or sport, is truly the key to sticking with your workout regimen, preventing boredom and progressing. Also, with the nice weather coming, I definitely don’t want to be spending time indoors when I don’t have to! I always feel a sense of clarity and – most importantly – FUN – when I take my workout outside and take in what nature has to offer.

Pilates in the Park with my friends, Alli and Casey (last summer)

Pilates in the Park with my friends, Alli and Casey (last summer)

And Remember To Always Challenge Yourself!

Mix up your fun activities with activities that really train you. Two years ago, I pushed myself to run my first long-distance race – a half marathon. My sister, who previously ran the NYC Marathon, convinced me to sign up with her and I was so excited to have her by my side during my first important race. This required some training and, for the first time, I was able to feel the difference that the beautiful outdoors made in terms of enjoyment while running. I alternated training runs between the monuments and the National Mall in DC, while I was finishing my last semester of college, and the beach and residential roads within my hometown in Connecticut once I had graduated. Ultimately, the race took place in a suburban Connecticut town and the scenic route through the beach was motivation enough to keep going and enjoy myself. Find YOUR race, YOUR challenge and YOUR motivation – and this spring, meet your fitness goals (and have fun while doing it!)

Goin' strong during the half!

Goin’ strong during the half!

 

 

 

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The Buddy System: Gym Edition

Why Work Out With a Friend?

So, why should you grab your spouse, significant other, friend, sibling, acquaintance (or anyone for that matter) and bring them to the gym with you? There are actually a few reasons. Making plans with someone holds you accountable, so you’ll be less likely to blow off a workout. Additionally, working out with someone allows you to take advantage of exercises that you wouldn’t be able to do on your own, plus partner stretches can really push muscles to the limit and help your muscles to be long, lean and injury-free! Also, working out with someone you enjoy spending time with is FUN! As if I really needed to say the last reason. Grab your partner and get sweatin!  Below are a few of my favorite partner workouts, plus a partner stretch, to keep you and your buddy active, strong and toned. Your workout just got a lot more fun!

Workout #1: Pass The Medicine Ball (abs, obliques, arms)

Lay on your back, in “crunch” position, facing your partner, with your feet in one straight line (all four of them!). One partner holds the medicine ball overhead (typically a 6 lb. ball should work well for this exercise, but this may vary) and both partners lift at the same time and twist toward one another. Pass the ball to the other partner and return to start position, with the medicine ball in the second partner’s hands. Now repeat so that the ball gets passed back in the same way, back to the first partner. Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps and then switch sides (so you’re twisting to the other side).

position A

position A

position B

position B

position C

position C

Workout #2: High-Five for Push Ups (arms, core, glutes)

Get into your yoga plank position (back straight, elbow joint direction under shoulder joint), facing your partner. At the same time, both you and your partner will shift your weight into your left arm/hand and lift your right hand off the floor, slap each other’s hand, and place your hand back down. Repeat, this time shifting your weight into your right arm/hand and lifting your left arm. Both hands lift for 1 rep. Perform 3 sets of 10-20 reps, depending on how advanced you and your partner are.

position A

position A

position B

position B

position C (really just the start position - same as position A!)

position C (really just the start position – same as position A!)

position D

position D

position E (really just the same as positions A and C - sensing a pattern?)

position E (really just the same as positions A and C – sensing a pattern?)

Workout #3:Crunch and Squat (abs, arms, glutes, legs)

For this exercise, one partner will lay on a resistance ball with feet firmly planted on the floor, holding a 4-6 lb. medicine ball overhead. The resistance ball should be in contact with your lower – mid back. The second partner should stand a couple feet apart, with feed about hip-width apart and knees soft. The “crunch” partner will crunch up, pass the medicine ball to the “squat” partner, who will then take the medicine ball and squat before coming back up and passing the ball back to the “crunch” partner. Then, the “crunch” partner will return to the start position. That counts as 1 rep. Perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

position A

position A

position B

position B

position C

position C

position D (really the same as position B)

position D (really the same as position B)

position E (really the same as position A)

position E (really the same as position A)

Workout #4: Medicine Ball Toss (glutes, legs, core, arms)

This one is really fun and reminds me of playing catch when I was younger. Stand a couple feet away from your partner, with feet about hip width apart. Both partners will squat, while only one partner will hold a medicine ball (4,6 or 8 lb. should work for most). While remaining in a squat the entire time, gently underhand toss the ball to your partner and have your partner pass the ball back to you. Continue this for 1-3 minutes, lowering your squat every 30 seconds (since your legs will stretch and you will be able to go lower as time goes on). More advanced? perform more than one set, or add on another minute!

postion A

postion A

position B

position B

position C

position C

Partner Stretch

This stretch is really great for tight hamstrings. Lay on your back in with legs bent and feet on the ground. Raise one leg and have your partner gently push your foot closer toward your head. Hold for 10 counts and then have your partner gently push slightly further. Hold for another 10 counts. Repeat on opposite legs, then switch and help your partner stretch.

time to stretch!

time to stretch!

*Prior to beginning any fitness regimen, please consult your physician and make sure that you are fit to engage in such activity. If you feel unfit to perform this or any other recommended exercise, or feel faint, ill, injured or uneasy while performing an exercise, stop immediately and seek medical attention. 

**Special thanks to my friends, Casey and Ruthie, for demonstrating these moves!