SPX Total Body at Stellar Bodies

 

My instructor, Ellie, and I after class.

My instructor, Ellie, and I after class.

Studio: Stellar Bodies

Class: SPX Total Body

Class description from website: This workout, created from the roots of Pilates, encompasses cardio elements and strength training all in fifty minutes! This workout is incredibly dynamic, and emphasizes core stability and functional movement.

In these 50 minutes, full body conditioning will be achieved with resistance, counter resistance, and full muscle contractions. This workout focuses on full body composition that forces peak performance without injury.

The SPX workout strengthens the body, tones and elongates the muscles, improves endurance, jumpstarts the metabolism, burns fat, and increases flexibility and posture, alignment, and restores the body’s natural balance.

The machine used is the Megaformer TM, which is an evolutionary design of the traditional reformer. It is designed to utilize both upper and lower body muscles, using springs and pulleys that will set the resistance and counter resistance of the workout. With a certified instructor, it is one of the safest ways to strengthen your muscles with very little stress on your joints.

Stellar Bodies Storefront

Location: 3872 Roswell Road, Suite A-1, Atlanta, GA 30342

Phone: (404) 467-1060

Cost: First class is free.  $30 per class after that.  They also offer packages for mutiple classes.

 

Toe socks from Marshalls

Toe socks from Marshalls

What to Bring: Water, toe socks, towel.  Toe socks are sold at Stellar Bodies for $16.  You can also find them at Target and sometimes TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

What to wear: Comfortable workout clothes.  Yoga pants, leggings, tank top, t-shirt etc.  Shorts are fine, but I would wear bike shorts because you will be in compromising positions and somethings are better kept a secret.  Side note: if you forget workout clothes they do sell workout attire at the studio.

Stellar-front

 

Class size: Small.  There were 7 people including me.  Each class can accommodate up to 10 people.

 

 

Props used: The entire class was done on the Megaformer, which is basically a reformer on steroids.

Stellar-Megaformer

The Megaformer TM

Volume and type of music: Music was at a medium volume and the teacher played top 40.  (“Turn Down 4 What” came on at just the right time towards the end of class…I was about to turn down, but Lil Jon helped me to turn up.)

Impact: Low impact, no jumping whatsoever.

Modifications: Since all the movements are performed slowly and methodically and for a significant period of time the teacher was able to walk around to help individual students with proper form and get situated on the machine.

Format of class: The class is 50 minutes long and is done on the Megaformer.  Throughout the class the teacher tells you when to adjust the springs on the Megaformer to change the level of resistance.  Stellar-Springs

All exercises were done in either 45 second, 60 second, or 90 second intervals.  We began class with a warm up focusing on the abs.  To warm up, we started on the front platform of the Megaformer on our knees and with our hands on the moving portion and pushed the moving portion out and back in (similar to an ab wheel), then performed the same movement but in a pike.  It didn’t take long to warm up and we moved on to lower body exercises.  We did several exercises on one leg moving from a four point (all fours) position to standing split squats (stationary lunge) and worked our way through the exercises in reverse order on the other side. Some of the exercises included standing on the floor with one foot on the moving part of the Megaformer and the other foot on the floor while squatting and pushing the leg on the Megaformer back (hip extension, again isolating the glutes on the pushing side but utilizing your entire body since you are also doing a 1 leg squat); and one of their signature exercises dubbed “scrambled eggs.”   In this exercise you are on three points (both hands and one knee) on the moving part of the Megaformer, and the foot of the free leg is in a strap connected to a resistance band, and then the leg in the band sweeps forward and kicks back.  The standout characteristic of this move is that you are utilizing over 600 muscles in the body.

Stellar-Scramb Eggs

“Scrambled Eggs”

We ended class performing ab exercises in the same body position as the beginning of class but on the other end of the Megaformer.  This meant we were pulling the platform instead of pushing it, making the ab exercises from the beginning of class quite different than at the end.

What to expect:

Expect to get your butt kicked.  Within the first five minutes I felt like my abs were going to pop.

Expect a total body workout including muscles you forgot you had.

Expect to feel a burn that will stop you in your tracks.  I had to stop quite a few times to shake off the burn before continuing.

Do NOT expect to take a Pilates class.  Yes, the Megaformer is reminiscent of a reformer, but this is not a Pilates class.

Expect for 30 seconds to feel like eternity but know that it’s only 30 seconds.

Who should take this class: This is an excellent class for people who are afraid to lift weights believing they will get bulky, because you are getting resistance training through the bands, pulleys, and springs. (Side note: it takes a significant amount of work and calories to get bulky so you shouldn’t be afraid to lift weights.)  As a dancer, I would like to say that this is an excellent workout for dancers because you will get the balance and coordination work that’s crucial to dancers, but also a heavy dose of strength training that is not always achievable in a dance class.

People who don’t have a full hour to devote to exercise.  It might seem silly, but that 10 minutes makes a world of difference sometimes so here’s a total body workout in 50 minutes.

Professional advice: Use the long intervals to focus on proper form and body alignment.  As with trying anything else for the first time, swallow your pride and stop when you need to.  As I mentioned, I stopped several times to shake out the “burn” and grab some water.  The workout provide a great muscular challenge from the first few minutes, so be aware of your body’s capabilities.  Please take breaks as needed.  The teacher put no pressure on me to fight through the burn.

Arrive early to your first session.  Ellie, my instructor, gave each new person a run down of the Megaformer before class, which was very helpful since you will need to adjust springs, and hold various straps and handles during the workout.

Thank you to my instructor, Ellie, for delivering an incredible workout! 

My instructor, Ellie Vance.

My instructor, Ellie Vance.

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SkyRobics at SkyZone

With my instructor, Tyler, after class.

With my instructor, Tyler, after class.

Studio: Sky Zone Roswell

Class: SkyRobics

Class description from website: SkyFITNESS Featuring SkyRobics is low impact and combines advanced calisthenics, core exercises and strength building aerobics, all done on our patented, all-trampoline, walled playing courts. SkyRobics is one of the most dynamic, effective and intense workouts you can have, while being fun and easy on your joints. Those at any level of physical fitness will reap the physical and mental benefits of this revolutionary workout.

IMG_6574Location: 1425 Market Blvd. Suite 100-A, Roswell, GA 30076

Phone: 678-745-9900

Cost: $5 for first class; $10 for individual classes; $20/month for unlimited classes

 

SkyZone grip socks

SkyZone grip socks

What to Bring: Water, Sky socks. Sky Zone provides “grip” socks for $2 that you can reuse.  They prefer that you use their socks, and for $2 and half off your first class, it’s not an inconvenience.

What to wear: Comfortable workout clothes. Yoga pants, leggings, tank top, t-shirt etc. Shorts are fine, but I would wear bike shorts because you are doing strength training exercises as well as repeated jumping. And loose fitting shorts + squats = free peep show.

Class size: Small. There were 10 people including me so there was plenty of space for all of us. Attendance reaches as many as 50 on the weekends.

Props used: None for this class, but my instructor told me that they do incorporate resistance bands into some of the classes.

Volume and type of music: Music was at a medium volume. The type of music was what I would call “game music.” Songs you would hear at a sporting event to get people pumped up; a mixture of pop, rock, non-offensive music that provides a nice beat to workout to.

Impact: Low impact, but high intensity cardio. Sounds crazy, but it’s true! Some of the women in the class started doing SkyRobics because of knee, ankle, and foot injuries and they told me they felt no impact. I felt no stress on my knees and we jumped for the first 20 minutes of the class.

Modifications: Since I was the only newbie, the teacher gave me modifications when necessary and told me to do only what I felt comfortable doing.

Format of class: (I was told that each class is different to keep it from getting boring for the regulars.)

We started on the mats that frame the individual trampolines which make up the main court. We did a quick warm up, loosening up the neck, shoulders, knees, and ankles and then we were off! We began with the snake drill, which was, essentially, a form of follow the leader. Tyler, our instructor, would tell us what exercise we were doing and we would “snake” up and down the court following each other. We started by bouncing from individual tramp to tramp, down and back and down and back, the long length of the main court.

One end of the main court.

One end of the main court.

Next, we ran from tramp to tramp in the same pattern, followed by tuck jumps, and then tuck jumps pulling our feet up to the side. All drills were done with the same, initial pattern. After those drills we took a quick water break (although I stopped for water more than everyone else) and went back to more drills. When the action resumed, we went up and down the short length of the court, jumping from tramp to tramp, and interspersing the jumps with lunges on the mats separating the trampolines. Coming back down the court we did the same thing but with side squats. Following those, we did one more snake drill consisting of jumping front, back and center on each individual trampoline (bring your thinking cap for that one, I was definitely talking to myself for that entire drill chanting, “front, back, center, jump, front, back, center, jump”).

Following the snake drills we took another break, although, if needed, there were aways little pockets of time during the drills, to grab water and rest while waiting for the line to finish. After the break we did some ab work (crunches, knee ins, V sit, 6 inches, etc), push ups (wide and narrow), hellraisers (plank walk ups), and some side to side plank walks.

The class ended with a quick cool down.

What to expect: Expect an incredibly intense aerobic workout. My heart was elevated within the first couple minutes of jumping.

Expect to be surprised by how high you are jumping when assisted by a trampoline. I had not jumped on a trampoline in years and I was thankful for my years of dance training because landing with soft (bent) knees is now a reflex for me, and probably prevented me from falling on my bum. One of the other women in the class said she fell 8 times in her first class, so don’t feel discouraged if you fall! This woman obviously didn’t, because she was now at the head of the pack during the entire class I attended.

Expect to concentrate a little more than you may have anticipated. While this is an incredibly fun workout, it requires concentration, coordination, and balance to stay on two feet.

Expect a laid back and welcoming atmosphere. The teacher and students were all supportive and gave me words of encouragement throughout the class.

Who should take this class: First, and most obvious, are people who like to jump!; people who want a high intensity cardiovascular workout without the impact of landing on solid ground; this class is excellent for intermediate to advanced exercisers who are looking for an extra push to increase their endurance; it is also a great aerobic activity for people who feel pain in their feet, ankles, or knees when doing high-impact activities on solid ground (one of the women in the class said she started taking Skyrobics because she had plantar fasciatis, which prevented her from running); and it is a great class for people who hate repetitive conditioning activities (e.g. treadmills, running, elliptical machines) because you hardly feel like you’re doing cardio. But man will your heart rate get up there!

Synchronized jumping?

Synchronized jumping?

Professional advice: Go in with a “no fear” mentality. If you think you’re going to fall, or think you won’t make it from one trampoline to the next, then that is exactly what is going to happen. Be confident!

Do not get too caught up in the fun of bouncing. It is incredibly important for you to maintain body awareness and land with soft (bent) knees, to prevent you from landing on your rear. However, if you do land on your rear, it will be a soft landing. If you haven’t jumped on a trampoline in a while, get to the class a little early so you can take a few practice bounces and get your legs used to the unstable surface. I thought my gymnastic legs from 25 years ago would be ready to go, but they needed several jumps to get used to it.

Go at your own pace. I was the only new person in the class so I stayed at the back of the line, allowing me to jump at my own pace without slowing down anyone else. As I said, the other people in the class were very supportive and kept giving me words of encouragement throughout, so I felt no pressure.

After class, I spoke with Kellie, a Skyrobics regular, who told me that Skyrobics has increased her endurance for running. Besides the benefits to her running, she said she also loves the class because there are always people of all shapes and sizes. Kellie called Skyrobics “happy exercise” because on the days she attends Skyrobics, she is happy all day long.

Thank you to my instructor, Tyler, for being so welcoming and encouraging!

 

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SVELTE Signature Barre Class at SVELTE

My instructor, Cameron, and I after class.

My instructor, Cameron, and I after class.

Studio: SVELTE

Class: Svelte Signature Barre

Class description from website: The SVELTE Signature Barre Class draws from multiple dance inspired influences and infuses fresh customized isometric movements in properly timed sets to tone the large and small muscle groups of our most challenging areas. Combined with targeted stretching, the SVELTE technique provides an intensive body shaping experience and full body workout, designed to produce long, lean and svelte results.

Location: 3944 Peachtree Rd, Suite C, Atlanta, GA (Brookhaven)

Phone: 404-889-5963

Cost: $14 per class and they offer packages.

SVELTE socksWhat to Bring: Water, socks.  The studio provides “grip” socks for $6 that you can reuse (pictured to the left).  I do recommend these as the floor is a tad slippery and you need to get a grip on the floor for some of the exercises.  Any socks with rubber grips on the bottom (e.g. yoga socks) would work.

What to wear: Comfortable workout clothes.  Yoga pants, leggings, tank top, t-shirt etc.  I would shy away from shorts because you are lifting your leg into compromising positions at times and you don’t want to give a peep show while you’re getting your fit on.

Class size: Small.  There were 5 people including me so there was plenty of space for all of us at the bar.

SVELTE props

Props used: Theraband, sponge ball (some of you may know this as a Bender Ball), dumbbells (1, 2, or 3 pounds).  All props are provided by the studio.  I recommend going with the 1 pound pair for your first class.  You will still feel the burn…I promise!  I consider myself to be in very good shape and the 2 pounders kicked me square in the rumpus.

Volume and type of music: Music was at a low volume but audible enough to provide motivation.  The teacher had a microphone headset so it was easy to understand her over the music.  The music was a mix of top 40, R&B, hip hop, country, and pop.  Something for everyone!

Impact: Very low.  There was no jumping whatsoever.

Modifications: The teacher gave modifications when necessary and there was zero pressure to do any movements that might have been out of my comfort zone.

Format of class: Before entering the actual studio we were asked to take our shoes off.  There are cubbies inside the studio for you to place your belongings.

We began class with a quick, easy to follow warm up in the center, then moved right to the bar for our total body workout.

Exercises were performed using isometric movements (a small range of motion that increases muscular endurance.  Example: if you were to do a traditional biceps curl with dumbbells you would start with your arms down by your sides and then bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells all the way up to touch your shoulders.  In this class we performed biceps curls with the dumbbells wrapped in the ends of the Theraband, which was wrapped around the bar, and we started with our arms bent and the dumbbells already touching our shoulders and pulsed the dumbbells with about a 1-inch ROM (range of motion). Before each section, the teacher explained the exercises we were going to perform.  We started with upper body using the dumbbells and Theraband to add resistance and did an exercise to target each of the major muscle groups in the upper body (back, biceps, triceps, chest, shoulders).  Following the upper body section we burned out our legs using the sponge ball and the Theraband.  Again, hitting all the major muscle groups in the lower body (quads, hamstrings, glutes, adductors (inner thighs), abductors (outer thighs), and calves).  We did a quick hip stretch before moving to the floor for our core work; the studio provides a nice cushy mat on which to sit for floor work.  We used both the sponge ball and Theraband for our core work.  We finished class with a quick cool down and stretch on the mat.  The teacher passed out a sanitary wipe so we could wipe down our equipment.

What to expect: Expect a gorgeous studio, which is surprising considering the cost of the class.  They have a lovely sitting area, if you get there early and want to hang out beforehand, as well as clean bathrooms, and a water fountain plus bottle-filling station (water, that is).  There are two studios (one dubbed “Strong” the other “Slender”) so more than one class can run simultaneously.  Both studios were nice, spacious, and the temperature was just right.  I recommend reserving your spot online for class because they do cap classes so that everyone is comfortable.

Who should take this class: If you are one of those people who like to “feel the burn” then this class is for you.  This is not a cardio class so don’t expect to sweat or increase your heart rate exponentially.  This is a weight baring activity that is excellent for people who are afraid of the weight room; it’s a great way for you to ease yourself into lifting weights or to become more familiar with resistance training in a non intimidating environment.   This is a great class for both non-dancers and dancers alike (although I think dancers might feel more of a burn as you will have your ballet teacher’s voice in your head screaming “PULL UP!  SUCK IT IN!  GET YOUR HEAD UP!  STOP LEANING ON THE BAR!”  I know I did.)

Professional advice: Go in knowing that you will “feel the burn” throughout the entirety of the class so leave your pride at the door.  Drop your weights when you need to, abandon the Theraband if your hip feels like it’s on fire (mine sure was), and stand up and shake it out if you’re quivering so much that you can’t maintain proper body alignment…trust me, I’m speaking from experience. I was quivering the entire ride home.  Make sure that you are aware of your posture and body alignment.  It’s easy to fall into bad form when you’ve got that kind of burn going the whole class.  Keep your shoulders back, head in line with your spine, and belly button squeezed in.  Those things will help you and make the class more beneficial.  It is an excellent hour to practice posture and proper body alignment.

Thank you to SVELTE and to my instructor, Cameron, for being so welcoming!

Cameron at front desk_SVELTE

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Exercise is for everyone!

So you don’t like to exercise.  I beg to differ.  We live in an age where exercise comes in almost every possible form.  There is something out there for just about everybody!  The problem is that many of you might not know that your perfect exercise match is out there or you are too scared to try.  That’s where I come in.  I have decided to be your exercise tester.  Think of this blog as your exercise recon headquarters.  I try the classes out and tell you exactly what to expect.  You can’t fear the unknown when it becomes the known!  

I will be reviewing classes twice a month so let me know if there’s anything you’re afraid to try and I’ll see if I can fit it in to my schedule.  Keep in mind I am in the Atlanta area.

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Please Vote!

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Hello everyone!

Status Fitness Magazine, one of the premiere fitness magazines in the world, is having a Cover Model Contest and I am in the finals!  I am incredibly excited and honored to have made it to the finals and now that I’m this far, I need your vote!

1. Like the Status Fitness Magazine Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/statusfitnessmagazine.

2. Go to the 2013/14 Cover Model Contest album. Click here.

3. Find the above picture of me or click here.

4. “Like” the picture of me.  (You have to click the like button, you can’t just like it in your mind, that doesn’t count.)

5.  Feel free to share my picture so your friends can vote!

Thank you!!

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Super Bowl Sunday Survival Guide

Photo by Joseph Wong of TKG Studios

Photo by Joseph Wong of TKG Studios

February is here which means it’s time for the other Thanksgiving…Super Bowl Sunday!  Where there is football and friends there is food, and plenty of it.  Pizza, wings, beer, chips, and dip, all five food groups.  So how are you supposed to have fun and still maintain a shred of dietary decency when you’re surrounded by such temptations?  Well, I’m not saying that it will be easy and I’m not saying that you have to eat celery sticks and drink water, but I do have 10 tips that will help you minimize your wing/beer hangover.

  1. Eat breakfast!  Skipping breakfast to save on calories or “save room for later” is the worst thing you can do.  Have a balanced breakfast to get that furnace burning and give you the energy you need to cheer on your team of choice!  Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up and eat a small meal every 3 hours thereafter.  (Meal meaning anything from a snack of an apple and some almonds to a sandwich).  It would be great if you could incorporate some veggies and protein at each meal, but I’m not going to be too picky.
  2. Stay hydrated.  I know you’ve heard it before, but I’m going to repeat it – dehydration can make you feel hungry and sluggish, which is the perfect recipe for a carbohydrate binge fest.  Drink a glass of water in the morning and every hour thereafter for the rest of the day.  You want to aim for at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water per day, and a glass (8 oz) every hour will get you close to that amount.
  3. Eat a light snack before the big game.  Whatever you do, do NOT go to your Super Bowl party with a grumbly in your tumbly!  Have an apple and some peanut butter or even a PB&J before you go to curb your voracious appetite.  Remember, you’re watching the Super Bowl, not playing in it.
  4. Bring a veggie platter with you and partake from said veggie platter.  There will be plenty of not so excellent food choices at your Super Bowl destination so grow a pair and be that person that brings something green.  Deep down everyone will thank you.  
  5. Practice portion control.  I’m not asking you to just eat a salad, but I am asking that you go easy on your portion sizes.  My Turkey Day strategy is to put a little sample of everything on my plate, and if somethings are absolutely delicious, I will get second helpings of those delicious dishes.  I am usually full by the end of my sampler plate though, which means my strategy has been a success!  Another way to control your portion is to use a smaller salad plate rather than the large entree plate.  This will “trick” your mind into thinking you have more food.  On the same portion control note, if you’re eating wings, keep the wing bones on your plate so you can keep track of how many wings you’ve eaten.  If you don’t see the bones on your plate you are more likely to keep shoveling those wings down your gullet.  
  6. Don’t stand next to the snacky foods. (chips, popcorn, Chex mix, etc)  Our food habits are highly influenced by our environment, so put yourself in a non-binge encouraging environment by standing far, far away form the snack bowls.  You don’t need the chips and dip, you don’t even want the chips and dip.  The only reason you are eating the chips and dip is because it’s there.  So do yourself a favor and get away from said chips and dip.  If you absolutely must snack, go ahead and snack on that delicious veggie platter that you brought!
  7. Alternate beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages with water. Not only will alternating alcohol and water keep you hydrated keeping your hangover under control, but you’ll save some calories as well!  **Fun fact: alcohol contains 7 calories per gram of alcohol.**
  8. Stand during commercial breaks.  It might not seem like much, but standing may burn 20-50 calories  more than sitting so why not burn a few extra calories by standing during the super fun and entertaining commercials?!
  9. If you’re not too drunk, do a jumping jack or push up for every point your team scores.  I know it sounds crazy but you will burn some extra calories and it will leave you feeling much better on Monday than a drinking game will!  
  10. Tip 10 is a doozy, but if you can handle it, you’ll burn some major calories.  Are you ready?  Halftime dance party!!  Seriously, dance to Bruno and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  You know you want to and I’m giving you permission to, so do it.

Bottom line, have a drink or two and partake in some wings just do it in moderation!  Have fun, be safe, and go team…whatever your team may be!

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Hit me with your best squat.

I squat, but I won't be borrowing pants from JLo anytime soon.

I squat, but I won’t be borrowing pants from JLo anytime soon.

If I see one more “She Squats” picture or Squat challenge I’m going to scream!!  (Insert scream here, because I probably just saw one.)  Yes, the squat, when done properly, is a very good exercise and should definitely be incorporated into your workout program, especially considering the fact that we squat throughout the day. (e.g. sitting, standing, going to the bathroom, picking something up).  However, it is NOT the end all be all to a fabulous fanny.

I love squats.  I do them in my warm ups, I do them in my Dance Fitness classes, I do them in my Jazz classes (plié anyone?) and I drink a lot of water so you better believe that I’m doing a few extra squats all day long from my excessive water consumption.  The problem I have with this squat obsession is that a new myth has reared it’s ugly head in the fitness world…that squats will give you the ass of a 22 year old Brazilian volleyball player.  Yes, squats work your glutes, but getting that round, bubble yum bum like JLo is not going to be achieved by doing squats.  It is a combination of exercise, diet, and GENETICS!!!  You cannot dictate the shape of your posterior, it is determined by your parents.  You might be able to increase the size of your glutes a bit with heavy weights and intense, hard work, but you won’t be able to turn it into an apple bottom with anything short of a miracle…or plastic surgery…or butt pads.

Your glutes are muscles, much like any of the other muscles in your body.  Doing 100 biceps curls everyday for 30 days is not going to increase the size of your biceps.  Bodybuilders dedicate serious time and energy to their workouts and consume A LOT of extra calories to achieve muscle gains so you participating in a 90 day squat challenge is not going to help you gain much muscle.  Not to mention, gaining muscle is INCREDIBLY difficult.  If you’re lifting with heavy weight and fueling your muscle with the proper diet, you might be able to put on 1 pound of muscle in a month.  Might.

Back to the squat.  This exercise does not isolate the glutes, it also works your quads and hamstrings.  Ergo, doing many squats to build that booty will also give you well-muscled thighs.

Do not think for a minute that the bootylicous bum that you see on Instagram with booty shorts wedged in the crack is just from doing squats.  Those bodacious ladies with tiny waists and junk in the trunk were blessed at birth and use exercise as a way to keep their rears from hanging down to their calves.  Not to mention, posing does wonders for a not so ample rump.

Moral of the story, if you think that by doing a 90 day squat challenge you’re going to end up with “an a** like Serena” think again.  You will end up with improved lower body strength, probably some achy knees and a little bit of emotional irritation from not achieving the results Instagram told you that you would get.  Bottom line, (no pun intended) exercise your entire body.  You STILL, in the year 2014, cannot spot train.  You must do exercises that use every part of your body and eat a balanced diet to achieve the fit body of your dreams.

And just so I don’t leave you high and dry, here a few other glute exercises for you to add to your booty boosting repertoire.

Posture check!

Fix your posture!
Bad posture: Left Picture
Good Posture: Right Picture

Bridge (Hip Extension)

Bridge (Hip Extension)
Start: Top Picture
Finish: Bottom Picture

Single Leg Donkey Kick with Resistance Band

Single Leg Donkey Kick with Resistance Band
Start: Top Picture
Finish: Bottom Picture

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Baby Step To a New Body In the New Year! A Workout For the Absolute Beginner.

It’s resolution time!  Set your self up for success by making small, achievable resolutions that are realistic for you.  If you are a complete couch potato, and have been sedentary for a long time now, you don’t want to jump in to a new fitness regimen full steam ahead.  Go slow.  Break yourself in.  Get your mind and your body used to working out!

The perfect way to do this is with my Baby Step Circuit!  In the video below, I show you 4 different exercises to get you started on your fitness journey.  Start with 5 reps of each exercise (in other words, do each exercise 5 times) the first week and add 1 rep to each exercise every week until the end of the year.  By the end of the year, you’ll be doing at least 56 reps of each exercise!  That’s incredible!

I recommend doing this circuit 3 times a week.  Go slow!  Think of this as your warm up to becoming a fitness junkie.  Good luck, Happy New Year, and GO!

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Turkey Day Survival Guide

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It’s that time of year when we find it necessary to gorge ourselves with food and drink so that we can spend time with our loved ones and friends.  First thing out of my clients’ mouths in reference to Turkey Day?  “I hope I have the will power to eat well.”  Guess what.  You do.  It’s not about having will power; it’s about making a conscious decision to not stuff yourself to the gills just because food is available.  To help you make these choices, I am sharing with you my Thanksgiving survival tips, so you don’t wake up the next morning with a guilt hangover.

Tip #1: Stay hydrated.

I know you’ve heard it before, but I’m going to repeat it – dehydration it can make you feel hungry and sluggish, which is the perfect recipe for a carbohydrate binge fest.  Drink a glass of water in the morning and every hour thereafter for the rest of the day.  You want to aim for at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water, and a glass (8 oz) every hour will get you close to that amount.

Tip #2: Do not skip breakfast…or any other meals for that matter.

Just because you are planning to eat a huge dinner, it does not mean you should skip meals to leave room for your feast.  Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up and eat a small meal every 3 hours thereafter.  (Meal meaning anything from a snack of an apple and some almonds to a sandwich).  It would be great if you could incorporate some veggies and protein at each meal, but I’m not going to be too picky.

Tip #3: Don’t succumb to peer pressure.

This is a hard one for many of you, because you’re surrounded by family and friends insisting that you sample every dish at your Turkey Day gathering, even though you are two bites away from exploding.  But just beware, many people try to get other people to eat a lot because they are feeling guilty about gorging themselves.  Don’t let their guilt dictate what’s on (or not on) your plate.  If grandma is persistent about you eating more, tell her you’re going back for seconds after you let the first round settle.  She’ll probably forget within 5 minutes, and you’ll be spared that side splitting second plate.

Tip #4: Eat slowly.

Your stomach takes about 20 minutes to communicate to your brain that it is full.  Take time between bites to talk with family or friends, watch a football game, or just sit back and relax.  This is a holiday!  Slow down and enjoy it and savor that delicious food!

Tip #5: Practice portion control.

I’m not asking you to just eat a salad, but I am asking that you go easy on your portion sizes.  My Turkey Day strategy is to put a little sample of everything on my plate, and if somethings are absolutely delicious, I will get second helpings of those delicious dishes.  I am usually full by the end of my sampler plate though, which means my strategy has been a success!

Another way to control your portion is to use a smaller salad plate rather than the large entree plate.  This will “trick” your mind into thinking you have more food.

Tip #6: Move it.

Try going for a walk post feast.  If it’s too cold outside, walk around inside or have standing conversations rather than plopping down on the couch to watch football.

Tip #7: Alternate alcoholic beverages with water. 

Not only will alternating alcohol and water keep you hydrated, but you’ll save some calories as well!

I’m not telling you to avoid all the rich, seasonal food that we love to partake in on Thanksgiving, I’m just telling you to go easy and listen to your body.  No food is worth that miserable, bloated, indigestion feeling that follows stuffing your face.  Think before you eat!  Have a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving!

PS If you’re celebrating Hanukkah as well, go easy on the gelt and latkes.  Fried food and chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation and Thanksgiving Day is only the 2nd night so tread lightly.

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Universe Weekend Recap

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Backstage at Fitness Universe 2013

Wow!  What a weekend!  After months of preparation, Universe Weekend has come and gone.  For the first time, I placed in the top 10 at an international show and I am pumped!  A competitor’s primary goal is always to win, but I am more than satisfied and incredibly happy with my 8th place finish at the 2013 Fitness Universe competition.  I am especially pleased since I watched a video of my performance on Saturday and it was not up to par.  My energy was low, I wasn’t fully warmed up, and I just know I can perform better.  All things considered, 8th place, with a tie for 2nd place in the bikini round, is more than fine with me.  (On a related note, congrats to the first ever Ms. Fitness Universe Pro Division winner Anca Bucur and to the winner of the Fitness Universe Open Division Kristy Lee Wilson!  Both of these women are power houses!  Incredibly talented, beautiful, and super nice!)

It took an enormous amount of preparation and training to get ready for this show and there is no way on Earth I could have done it without the help of my incredible sponsors, Sean and Nancy Keenan of Enjoy Life Concepts.  Their sponsorship took an incredible amount of stress out of this process.  The financial burden of competing is huge, ask any competitor, so not having that weight on my shoulders (pun intended) left me with more energy to train harder.  On days when I didn’t want to workout or practice my routine or go to yoga, I thought of them and that kicked my butt into high gear.  I cannot thank Sean and Nancy enough so I hope that you will support them by frequenting their awesome establishments, both located in Decatur, Napoleon’s Bar and Grill and Harbor Bar and Fish House.  Both restaurants have an incredible selection of delicious, healthy choices, and some more indulgent dishes if you’re feeling frisky!  Check both of them out on Facebook!

Napoleon’s on facebook             Harbour on facebook

I would also like to thank my support system.  I am so fortunate to be surrounded by so many supportive people, my family, my friends, my clients, my Dance 101 students, my Dance 101 coworkers, and so many others who are always there to give me words of encouragement and inspiration.  Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, by text, by phone, or in person, your positive and kind words fuel me and keep me working hard every day.

Now that this competition is over, it is reflection time.  This past weekend was incredibly inspiring for me, not only because I was surrounded by so many women and men who worked their butts off (or worked their butts on, I should say) to prepare for this show, but because I was able to spend time with two incredible women who happen to be both friends and students of mine.  They travelled to Miami to cheer me on at 9am on a Saturday.  Following the show, I was able to spend part of the weekend with them and listen to stories about their lives.  Learning more about their backgrounds and watching them work even as we enjoyed a meal or walked down Lincoln Road inspired me to push myself harder and keep working to achieve my goals.  We all need inspiration and this past weekend, they were my inspiration.  I am excited to push forward and see what I can achieve in this coming year.  Thank you, Nancy and Kathy, you are wonderful role models and friends and I am honored to have you both in my life.

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WIth Nancy and Kathy after the show! Thank you for your support, ladies!

I used my travel time in the car today to reflect on their stories and my own experiences of this past weekend, and as I drove through Alligator Alley, I came to the decision that I will be competing again in November in Las Vegas!  It’s only appropriate, I am a Gator, I was in Alligator Alley, and Gators win, it’s what we do.  So, I have to keep trying until I do!  Get ready Fitness America, I’m coming for you!

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