My apologies to everyone who got an update yesterday saying I put up a new post, clicked the link with giddy excitement, and then was brought to an unloaded page. For some reason, my internet was freaking out and after spending 45 minutes typing up my post, I hit “publish” only to have the entire thing erased. It was one of those rare moments I felt like I could’ve kicked a puppy (but it was a very fleeting moment). Then I was just plain annoyed. So now that I have gotten over my frustration, I am lying back down on my dorm room floor– where I work best– to rewrite the whole post.
I realize that is has been quite some time since I’ve posted about my core training class, but the truth is that the class has fallen into a rut of repeat workouts that just were not as exciting as the prospect of going home for Thanksgiving. Thus, my thoughts focused elsewhere and I would forget to blog about all the 100 crunches, 100 L-ups, 100 russian twists, 100 everything-else-painful we did.
We did however finish up the student-teaching lessons. So, as I mentioned in my last fitness post, I will now give a summary of all the workouts we tried, and my personal opinion of them.
timed intervals switching between high-intensity cardio (jumping jacks, high knees, burpees, mountain climbers) and strength exercises (push ups, lunges, squats, crunches, etc). There are a couple of pros to this kind of workout: 1) it is completely customizable from the type of exercises you do, the number you do, the repetitions, and the length of the interval. This is a workout suitable for any fitness level as it can be modified to fit your abilities, likes, and made more difficult as you progress. 2) You condense your workout by knocking out cardio and strength at the same time, often without even needing additional equipment! The perfect way to exercise when you don’t have loads of time to kill at a gym or if you are traveling. 3) the interval training does wonders for building endurance, so this is a great workout for you athletes.
cardio pilates w/ glider plates
all you pilates lovers out there, listen up. I am a huge advocate for pilates myself, so when one group added glider plates to the mix, it really piqued my interest. Like regular pilates, you focus a lot on keeping your core tight throughout each exercise, and on the quality of each rep rather than the quantity. Even though all pilates exercises engage your core and ab muscles, most target the entire body. What is nice about the glider plates is that they add a whole new dimension of movement to the usual exercises. Here is a sample of a glider exercise: sit with legs extended straight out in front of you; place a glider under each heel (or rags work fine if you’re on a hard floor); planting your hands on the floor by your butt, raise your hips off the floor; using your core, draw your hips back and pull your legs toward you while keeping them straight; push legs back out to start, but do not place hips back on the floor– keep them elevated! Repeat for 2 sets of 10, and you will feel the burn.
I had always stared at people using kettlebells at the gym and think of how dumb I would look pretending I knew how to use them. So I decided to learn how, once and for all, and presented my findings to my fellow exercisers on my teaching day. What I discovered was that they are not much different from your average dumbbell in the ways that you use them, but the way that they work your muscles is where the genius comes into play. Due to their shape, the unequal balance of the weight throws you off balance, and forces you to work a little harder. By performing a simple bicep curl with a kettlebell, you are adding in the factor of keeping your balance on top of working your arms. If you don’t have access to kettlebells, don’t fret– the “kettle bell workouts” you read about in magazines really are doable with normal dumbbells. The biggest bonus to kettlebells? Making your workouts appear more intense to other unenlightened gym goers, like my former self, who gawk in awe.
I can’t honestly call yoga a workout. Not because it doesn’t work every muscle in your body (because it does), not because you don’t get tired (you do), and not because you don’t sweat (try doing it in a 95 degree studio. If you don’t sweat, seek medical attention immediately). I can’t call yoga a workout because I associate workouts with working, which holds a negative connotation, and I honestly truly LOVE YOGA!! There is nothing that it doesn’t do. It calms your mind, keeps stress at bay, improves your posture, your confidence, your ability to focus, all the while improving your balance, toning muscles, and stretching them out. I highly recommend everyone at least give yoga a try. If you don’t like it the first time, maybe try again in a year or so. People’s attitudes change, and yoga really is something that benefits everyone, regardless of fitness level, age, gender. No, it is not a “girly” workout and no, it is not a wimpy excuse for exercise. What yoga is is magical.
My first impression of P90x was back in sophomore year of high school. It was down pouring, so for cross country practice we did a P90x video in our gymnasium. I was practically down for the count after 8 minutes. With that in my past, I was less than enthused for the routine one group taught us. I will admit, though, that I was a bit too quick to judge. They chose to teach us the 15 minute ab workout from the P90x series, which turned out to be quite doable. The exercises were not very unique or complicated, but simply done one exercise right after the other so that you really feel it in that short amount of time. Also, the video instructor goes slow to emphasis form. This aspect was the greatest shock to me, as the video I’d attempted to do in high school was all about the GO GO GO and whatever you do, DON’T STOP. Naturally, I stopped. I blame it on my weak foot arches that just couldn’t keep up with the impact. I have heard of people (other than those paid to promote the dvds) who could barely do a push-up, and committed to the full 90-day routine with great success. It just isn’t for me.
Consistent throughout all of the workouts we learned is the emphasis on FORM over the number of reps. Doing 100 reps and doing them wrong will bring nothing but possible injury, while 20 reps done slowly and perfectly will bring major results. Keep this in mind, and practically any workout you decide to go with will be very effective.