Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Be Buff with Bodyweight

Does the phrase “weight bearing exercise” conjure up images of Arnold Schwarzenegger pumping iron at Gold’s Gym?  Though this is one option to build bone strength, it is certainly not the only one.

Weight bearing exercise is defined as any exercise that forces you to work against gravity.  So, pretty much any time you are moving (unless you are an astronaut in space) you are performing weight bearing exercise.  That said, some forms of exercise are more effective at strengthening the bones than others.

Bodyweight training is an effective and efficient method to cultivate healthy bones.  By working against gravity in a variety of challenging positions, one can strengthen the entire body without the assistance of machines or barbells.

You don’t have to say “hasta la vista” to equipment, but realizing just how much strength you can gain with so little can be empowering.

The following are a few of my favorite recommendations for clients looking to build bone strength:

Try the TRX: TRX stand for Total Body Resistance Exercise.  This simple apparatus, which consists of two adjustable nylon straps with handles and foot holds, was developed by a Navy SEAL to keep him and his fellow SEALs strong while deployed.  Exercises can be performed with varied resistance simply by changing angles and positions.

Get Some Gliders: You know those furniture gliders they sell at Lowe’s?  Grab yourself a pair and get moving (your body, not your furniture).  Add some oomph to a plank by placing them under your feet and sling your legs in and out.  Place one under your back foot while performing a reverse lunge to put more emphasis on the supporting leg.  Much to my clients’ chagrin, the options are endless.

Ace Some Ashtanga: Ashtanga is one of the most physically challenging forms of yoga.  It is great for building strength and stamina as well as balance and flexibility.  If you are a yoga newbie and Ashtanga seems intimidating, try a beginner Hatha or Vinyasa class with plenty of standing poses to build up your confidence.

For more fitness ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

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T, with a bodyweight of 7 lbs 3 oz….can’t believe this was 3 years ago.  Happy birthday weekend T!
Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Fancy Footwork

You don’t need to be the next Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers to play around with fancy footwork.  In fact, if grace and coordination do not come naturally to you, you may even benefit more from practicing it.

Agility training is a great way to fitness multitask.  Since it incorporates learning, focus, coordination, and balance,  you’ll strengthen your muscles along with your brain.

Looking for a few simple ways to incorporate some fancy footwork into your life?  Try the following:

-Spice Up Your Workout with the Speed Ladder: In between strength training sets, do a few drills on the speed ladder.  You’ll get the benefits of interval training while improving agility.

-Do Some Dance: Dance is the #1 way to reduce risk of dementia through exercise.  It’s also tons of fun.

-Swing Back to Step: Remember step classes?  Though I no longer teach group step, I do love using some my old moves while interval training.  Using a step is a great way to get more comfortable with level change, which can take your coordination to a whole new level!  If you don’t own a step or prefer to workout outside the gym, real stairs are always an option (google Gene Nelson “Tea for Two” for some inspiration).

For more fitness ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

T made the following video by himself the other day.  Still not sure how it did it but it seemed to fit today’s theme…

Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: You Don’t Need Exercise to “Fix” Your Body

If I had a penny for every time someone came to me requesting the trimming down or tightening up of a very specific area on their body, I’d have an awful lot of pennies.  As much as I like to help people feel better in any way I can, I am not that kind of trainer.

Before I get into why that is, please know I do not in any way shape or form claim to be above this way of thinking.  I spent years ruminating about not having a thigh gap before thigh gaps were even a thing (damn you narrow hips, closely set femurs, and unrealistic beauty standards…).  Like most people, accepting my body is a practice.  Perhaps, like discussed in Monday’s post, I am now able to see things from a wider perspective most of the time.

There are so many reasons to move your body, but for most people spot training isn’t worth putting on that list.  While sculpting the body like Michelangelo creating David may appeal to some, meticulous aestheticly focused conditioning rarely has the intended effect.

Far be it from me to take away the joy that figure competitors glean as they chisel their way to the “perfect” body, but let me offer this….is it possible to expand our definition of perfect?  Is it possible to appreciate other’s bodies for what they are and simultaneously choose to love our own?

Like I mentioned before, this body positive thing has been (and continues to be) WORK for me, but the changes I’ve seen in myself as well as clients of mine who have opened to this mentality have been remarkable.

The nature of the body is that it changes.  Many of us made the promise to love a life partner in sickness and in health, can we promise ourselves the same?  Is it possible to embrace the bodies we have and still maintain our ambition to evolve, whatever that may look like?

Letting go of long held fitness ideals and opening to the unknown can be terrifying.  Here are a few things that might be helpful in easing the anxiety:

-Focus on What Your Body Can Do: Remember being a kid running around outside playing, totally lost in the moment and giving no thought to what you looked like?  Do that.  Approach movement with equal elements of curiosity and playfulness.  Sure, part of the fun of having a body is making amusing shapes with it, but make sure to spend equal amounts of time performing movement away from mirrors.

-Recognize Body Diversity: If you were an alien coming to earth and the only images of people you knew were from magazine ads, wouldn’t you be a little surprised once your spaceship landed?  Images depicted in the media represent a very small segment of the population (groundbreaking news, I know….).  Even those of us who easily see beauty in other people’s bodies can have a harder time seeing beauty in our own.  Detaching from media images of what your body “should” look like and paying more attention to moving your body with kindness makes the whole experience infinitely more nourishing.

-Bring On the Challenge, Lose the Judgment: Piggybacking off of the first bullet point, it can be much easier to bring playfulness to areas where we excel and not so easy when we are challenged.  Just like in other areas in life, different types of movement come more easily to different people.  Dare to explore those areas that challenge you with an open mind.  Just because your body doesn’t perform as you think it should doesn’t mean there is something wrong with it.  In fact, presenting the body with new challenges is one of the best ways to keep the body (and mind!) vibrant.

For more fitness ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

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Dee is my body confidence guru.  Totally comfortable in her fur skin….
Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Divine Movement

There is something about sitting on a train for 9 hours that makes one appreciate the pleasure of movement.   Being forced to remain mostly still for that long makes a simple neck role feel downright sensual.  (On the upside, I think I developed what I will call “Train Yoga” during this last trip, a topic for another post….)

Watching the other passengers, it became obvious how much living beings crave movement.  Like a cat stretching after a luxurious nap, moving and feeling our bodies is an innate desire.  How then has our collective view of exercise become so convoluted?

What if exercise was just another avenue to feeling good, like a moonlight tryst or some very dark chocolate? Ok, I can hear you laughing now.  You may think I am crazy, but I wholeheartedly believe this is possible.  If you are feeling wildly optimistic this weekend as well, give the following a try:

-Practice Exercise Autonomy:  Separate exercise from diet.  Not in a don’t fuel yourself for said activity type of way, but more in a don’t count on exercise to burn some predetermined number of calories type of way.  Divorce exercise from food consumption, take the pressure off, and enjoy some movement for movements sake.

-Exercise for the Body You Have, Not the Body You Want: There is nothing wrong with having long term goals when it comes to exercise.  However, we all know from the mindfulness explosion over the past few years that projecting happiness onto some future experience does nothing for your well being now.  Instead of rushing through workouts you hate in an effort to reach some future ideal that may or may not come to fruition, why not appreciate your body for all it can do right now?

-F the (Fitness) Patriarchy:  Haha, I’ve been wanting to use the word patriarchy in a post since November 8th 2016ish…why has it taken me so long?  Well, anyway, I stand firm on this bullet point.  Don’t be afraid to be strong.  Being strong and feminine are not mutually exclusive.  It’s been nice to see the trend in fitness go from women lifting super light weights to avoid looking “manly” to actually building strength because being strong is helpful for survival.  Whether it’s venturing over to the free weights section at the gym or signing up for a self defense class, feeling strong on the outside may just translate to feeling strong on the inside.

For more fitness ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

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T enjoys riding on trains but prefers to run free….
Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Confidence and Calistenics

Sometimes, a woman just needs to hear she is worthy.  And that worth is intrinsic, having nothing to do with what she looks like or does for a living or sacrifices for her family.  In this world of impossible physical and personal standards that we live in, it often takes inhuman strength to hold onto our collective self respect and treat our bodies right.

At times it feels like a barrage of bullets coming from all sides.  Messages of how we should be coming from magazines,  movie stars, and men’s mouthes.

Articles with headlines like “Lose That Baby Weight Fast”, “25 Ways to Look Younger Now”, and “How to Get a Bikini Body in 4 Weeks” take up far too much bandwidth.

So this weekend, I invite you to buck the godawful trend and ponder the following:

-Don’t Take Anything Personally:  Your life seen through another’s lens will never be clear.  Only you have the whole picture.  Consequently, their comments can never really hold that much weight because they hold very little truth.  Only you can truly know what is best for your own body.  Take advice from others with a grain of salt but remember to keep your own vision clear.

-Exercise as the Ultimate Act of Self Respect: Caring for our bodies is a sacred act.  Exercising to create bodies that allow us to feel better and experience life more fully will always be more satisfying than exercising to fit a societal ideal.

-Building Confidence is Like Building a Muscle:  Years of internal programming can be hard to undo.  If you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole of body shame, simply keep pulling yourself out.  As with strength training, the more you practice the more efficient you will become.

For more fitness ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

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The most confident bitch I know…and totally shameless….