Fitness For Two: How to Stay Fit During Pregnancy

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When it comes to working out during pregnancy, there’s often a ton of mixed opinions. While many women are worried that physical activity during pregnancy can harm their babies, I am so happy to tell you that this is not the case at all-especially if you were given the clear from your OB/GYN.

Research shows you might put on 7 pounds less than pregnant women who don’t work out, while still staying within the healthy weight-gain range. Not only that, but you are less likely to be constipated, experience pregnancy aches & pains, AND you will have more energy to get you throughout your day.

And what about baby? The developing babies of prenatal exercisers have more efficient hearts than those of non-exercisers, and this higher cardio fitness level seems to last into the childhood years.

Prenatal Fitness Do’s:

  • Do listen to your body. Your body was created to do amazing things! After all, it was built to grow and birth a new life. While working out, be sure to listen to your body’s cues as it will tell you everything that you need to know. If you get dizzy, sit down. If something hurts, stop doing it. Your body knows its own limits better than anyone else so take it easy and do what feels right.
  • Do make sure you are hydrated and fueled properly before a workout. At least 30 minutes prior to your workout session, make sure you eat a good well-rounded meal as well as drinking plenty of water. Too little food or water can result in an increase of fatigue and dizziness during workouts. Also, be sure not to eat too much prior to your workout as this can make you feel sick and sluggish. My perfect pre-workout meal is a small bowl of oatmeal, 1 boiled egg, and fresh fruit.
  • Do aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio per day. Cardio is so amazing for the pregnant body! It not only strengthens mom’s heart, but baby’s cardiovascular system as well. Cardio is also a great way to control weight gain throughout pregnancy. Aim for daily walks or jogs, if your doctor approves. I personally hop on my incline trainer for 30 minutes everyday and rest on the weekends.

Prenatal Fitness Don’ts:

  • Don’t perform any exercises while lying on your back for an indefinite amount of time after 12 weeks. After your first trimester, lying on your back can cause your uterus and growing baby to put major pressure onto the major vessel that returns blood to your heart. This reduces the blood flow to the placenta as well as to the rest of your body causing you to feel dizzy and potentially harming baby.
  • Don’t perform any moves that can contribute to Diastasis Recti. Doing moves such as crunches, sit ups, planks, and twisting movements can cause your abdominal muscles to split into two halves. This condition is known as Diastasis Recti and it is very hard to heal depending on the severity. Personally, I do not work my abs at all for this very reason when I am pregnant.
  • Don’t forget to stay hydrated! Hydration is key here! By staying hydrated during your workout, your body is less likely to overheat itself. Overheating can be a danger to not only you, but your unborn baby-not to mention that we already know that dehydration can make you feel weak and dizzy. If you feel weak and dizzy, you are more prone to hurting yourself during your workout. Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses per day (64 fluid ounces) of fluid, plus one 8-ounce cup for each hour of light activity.

So, what exercises can you do to stay active during pregnacy? If your body is well-conditioned, you can do most activities that you were doing prior to pregancy-with your doctor’s approval. Exercises such as walking, swimming, jogging, and running are wonderful forms of cardio and should be done at least 3-5 days per week. Lifting weights is generally safe as long as you lift what you are able and don’t put too much strain onto your body. If your body is not used to lifting heavy then pregnancy is not the time to start your powerlifting career. Yoga is a wonderful and relaxing option for expectant mothers as it provides a means of increasing flexibility while decreasing pregnancy aches and pains. Some notable moves to try are Mountain pose, Triangle pose, Goddess pose, Cat/Cow pose, and Child’s Pose.

Any sudden, jerking motions are usually discouraged when working out during pregnancy due to the hormone called Relaxin which really loosens up you body’s joints and ligaments in order to prepare itself for delivery. These jerky movements can put strain on your joints and ligaments and you might hurt yourself. Other moves to avoid are ones that challenge your balance or that could cause you to fall as well as contact sports. As mentioned above, no moves lying on your back is considered safe. Also, make sure that you stay away from working out in hot temperatures.

On a typical workout day, I get fueled up and start my routine by completing 30 minutes of cardio on my incline trainer. I love it because it allows me to change up the incline as well as the speed which keeps things challenging and fun! After my cardio is complete, I will take a 5 minute break and drink a protein shake and a glass of water. If I am starving, I will eat half of a banana as well. After my break, I will start the strength training portion of my workout which varies day by day since I am on a split routine. This means I work different body parts on different days of the week to give my body parts time to rest after being worked. So, let’s say it is Monday. I will begin working my lower body after cardio using my barbell. A few moves that I will do are weighted barbell squats, weighted barbell lunges, and calf raises. I usually perform 10-15 reps with 3 sets per move and this completes my workout for the day.

To help the time pass during my workouts, I am always listening to my workout playlist on iTunes. Just as I love my music, I know my baby loves to hear it as well because she always loves kicking to the beat! While I have my own headphones, she also has her own as well thanks to BellyBuds. It’s no secret that babies in the womb can hear very clearly by 20 weeks and by 30 weeks memories start to begin so I love this form of bonding along with her. I wish I had something like this for when I was pregnant with my son because he immediately recognized my husband’s voices and various songs I would play in the car while riding around with him inside my belly.

BellyBuds is a specialized speaker system that gently adheres to your belly and allows you to safely play memory-shaping sound directly to the womb. Whether it’s a soothing tune or a bond-forming voice message. BellyBuds is a safe and effective first step in connecting with your soon-to-be bundle of joy. Easy to use, discreet and good on the go, BellyBuds works anywhere, anytime. That’s not all- you also get free access to the VoiceShare® by WavHello® app so that you and anyone you love can record messages, upload music, create playlists and even sing and send favorite songs that you can share with your child using BellyBuds.

The buds simply stick on via a gentle adhevise and can be worn discreetly under clothing so that you can wear them wherever you go. What I personally think is pretty sweet is the fact that a percentage of your purchase goes to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Little Ripples, and Healthy Child Happy World.

With your purchase you get:

  • One set of BellyBuds with a volume limiter
  • Adhesives
  • Audio Splitter
  • Storing Pouch
  • Free access to VoiceShare® by WavHello®

Even big brother likes to share our workout playlist with his little sister to be! He and my husband have been creating little voice messages to play for my unborn daughter whenever they aren’t around. It is such a sweet way for them to bond with her before she even gets here! It is even wonderful if you have long distance family members or surrogate parents so that they can connect, too. Oh, and did you know that it is also an amazing tool for helping to turn breech babies into the heads down position if you place the buds on the lower abdomen? Yup! It is highly recommended by OB/GYNS.

Some of our favorite songs on our playlist are:

  • Bruno Mars “Count On Me”
  • Pharrell “Happy”
  • Anything by Jack Johnson

You can purchase your own BellyBuds on their website or from Babies “R” Us, BuyBuyBaby, & other fine retailers. Use my code FITMOMMY for 10% off your purchase Don’t forget to add these to your baby registry!

As far as my postpartum workout plans go, I have often been asked what am I going to do once she’s born in order to get my workouts in. After all, being a new mom is already challenging in itself, but to now find the time to actually go work out can seem like a strenuous task. I am so happy to tell you that it IS possible to get fit after baby and I can prove it. Sometimes you have to include them into your routine and not be afraid to get a little creative.


3 Good Reasons To Go Swimming? Heart Disease, Diabetes & Obesity

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For some of us (70%, to be exact), this conversation will start off with a trip to your local YMCA to get swimming lessons. I bet you’ll want to get those lessons asaptually (new word) when you read about all the health benefits of swimming. Ladies, forget about your hair getting wet and find a protective style that will allow you to dive into the deep end without splitting your loose ends. Brothers, let go of the life jackets and come get some of this knowledge. This aerobic activity improves cardiovascular health, controls blood sugar and helps in weight loss.

Where’s Your Heart At?

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of African Americans. Swimming might have an answer to this problem. Breaststrokes can help decrease your chance of having an actual stroke. When cholesterol levels are high, strokes can occur. This aerobic activity improves your cardiovascular health and lowers cholesterol levels.

It’s recommend that you swim 20 to 40 minutes at a brisk pace. You’ll want to exert yourself moderately enough to work up a nice heart rate. You can start off slowly, resting between laps. However, over time you’ll be able to work out longer, adjusting your speed and technique as you progress in the practice.

Swimming is also great because you won’t be exerting your heart too much while doing it. Unlike running and other sports, swimming places less of a demand on your heart. Your heart rate while swimming will be around 10-20 beats per second.


The loss of Phife Dawg at 45 and Doug Banks at 57 sent an alarm to our community, which is desperately in need of an intervention for diabetes. In addition to the many diabetes-related complications, diabetics also have a higher risk of heart disease. Swimming helps to burn calories which helps in weight loss, important for diabetes prevention and management.

Swimming helps to strengthen all the major muscles in the body which helps in lowering blood sugar. Because of the nature of diabetes and how it causes the blood sugar in the body to fluctuate, it’s recommended that you regularly swim to maintain the glucose control levels. Start off by swimming as much as possible. This can be 5-10 minute sessions, eventually working your way up to 45-60 minute sessions with 10-15 minute rest periods.

Weight Loss & Toning

Going to the pool and doing the regular lap routine is only a start. For weight loss and strengthening, you want to maximize your time in the pool by trying out the butterfly stroke, fast crawl, breaststroke, backstroke and sidestroke to burn a lot of calories. These high-impact strokes will help you lose weight and tone up in places that weren’t imaginable with your other aerobic activities. For ladies looking to lose inches around the waist, this is the perfect exercise.

I’m tired of going to pool parties in the summertime and seeing all these good looking people parlaying on the side and not in the pool. As heart disease, diabetes and obesity continue to be major life-threatening conditions in our community, we must think about new and creative ways to address these issues. Exercise isn’t only lifting weights and running. Add swimming to your list – for life.

Guess What? Black Women Like Indoor Cycling, Too

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There’s a thing you notice when you’re black and you attend a Manhattan spin class: You’re usually the only one. This wasn’t lost on Tammeca Rochester, a marketing-pro-turned-entrepreneur who opened Harlem Cycle earlier this month. It’s the neighborhood’s first indoor-cycling studio of any kind — a confounding thing to imagine when you consider it’s hard to walk ten minutes without tripping over a spin class in Manhattan.

Rochester wanted a place that embraced community — her community — and that eschewed competition in favor of overall fitness. And, since price always matters, she set the classes close to $10 below the Manhattan competition and elected to offer free water to boot (at SoulCycle that will be an extra $3, thanks). Below, Rochester explains why she hopes to achieved a fitness renaissance with Harlem Cycle, why she thinks competitors haven’t opened franchises in upper Manhattan, and why her studio is rejecting the Mean Girls tenor of boutique fitness.

What made you want to start your own studio in Harlem?
I grew up in Atlanta, where you ride your bike with your friends all the time. When I moved to New York and had my son, I rented a bike and took him. It was the scariest experience of my life. Every person blew their horn at us. I thought I was going to drop the bike and kill my child — it was so traumatic. And then I got into the park and everyone was like training for Tour de France because they’re professional riders and I’m just trying to take a leisurely ride.

 What was the time period of all this? Years?
Not years, I’m a very fast learner. It all started in late September of last year, that’s when I made the realization it’s not coming.

There are no other studios?
No. You can take a class at one of the chain gyms, but there are no studios that specialize in cycling in Harlem.

What differentiates your studio from the other boutique studios?
For one, we’re more about a community feeling. We don’t want to create a competition feeling. When you walk into our studios there are no mirrors, and we did that for a reason. We wanted to make sure this was a place, a safe space for everyone no matter your fitness level; a judgment-free zone.

I wanted this place to look like Harlem. To me, Harlem is not just a location, it’s a state of mind; it’s a culture. We wanted to have that culture inside the studio. Having the exposed bricks, the fireplaces, warm neutral colors — now we’re having a mural painted by a local artist to make sure we’re bringing Harlem inside.

Harlem Cycle Photo: Courtesy of Tammeca Rochester

I go to fitness studios a lot and I’m often the only black woman. Is that something that you wanted to address?
Going to these studios downtown I was always the only one and I was like, This is a very popular workout, it’s been taking over the nation, how am I always the only person in these classes at 6:30 after work? I would go to the YMCA and New York Sports Club, which are in Harlem, and it’s filled with black women and I’m like, What’s going on?

Those [studio] environments create that Mean Girls spirit where you walk in and you feel like you’re not part of the clique. We don’t live in the same neighborhood, we don’t eat the same things, we’re very different — our bodies are very different. So it’s intimidating for someone to walk into a class and be the only one.

I realized that’s why we aren’t going to those classes, because it is intimidating. I wanted to create a studio that was open to everyone — race-wise, health-level-wise. We’ve had people come in who have never ridden a bike before. We deserve a boutique place that gives you high-quality service and gives you the best workout for you. I wanted that to be available for this community.

Why do you think the other boutique spin studios haven’t set up franchises in Harlem?
I don’t know, maybe they don’t see the opportunity. Maybe it’s because when they’re looking at their classes, they don’t see us.

What do you say when people point out the socioeconomic barriers that inhibit healthy lifestyles, including fitness? Caring about fitness is often depicted as a luxury.
I understand why they’re getting that perspective. If you look at food prices, it’s hard. A salad is like $12 at Just Salad and a burger is like $4. But you have to think about your health; it’s not a luxury. We wanted Harlem Cycle to be cost efficient for the neighborhood. We’re significantly lower than the other studios so that we can get our community in here. Twelve dollars for a first try. But I truly understand where people say it’s a luxury, but anyone can afford to go for a walk. Anyone can afford to walk for a few minutes and get just a little bit of heart health and get their energy levels up.

What is your ultimate goal?
I want people in Harlem to get that this is their studio. My ultimate goal with the studio is to create a revolution of movement with Harlem Cycle. By creating studios globally where people feel welcome, feel community, and see the impact of Harlem. Once that mural is up you will see Harlem Renaissance when you walk in. To get that feeling where anyone — no matter your ethnicity, your race, your socioeconomic status — can walk in and feel comfortable and at home.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Wellness Has A Diversity Issue

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–These Women Are Changing That
Women of color have long been underrepresented in yoga and meditation. Now leaders are bringing it to new audiences and giving it a fresh spin
 BY RINA RAPHAELOn a busy, graffiti-ridden boulevard–not far from the streets that witnessed the Rodney King riots–stands the only yoga studio in South Los Angeles.  Since 2013, the donation-based Green Tree Yoga Meditation center has served a community with a poverty level of over 40%, nearly twice that of the average L.A. community.
The modest, welcoming space acts as a haven for women suffering from a host of issues, be it unemployment, abuse, or the stress of eviction. For those who cannot access or afford therapy, it’s a crucial self-preservation tool.“There’s a lot of trauma here,” says Jennifer Alvarez, Green Tree Yoga’s operations manager. “We offer a space for healing.”

During class, it’s not uncommon to hear gang violence outside–a daily occurrence for these residents. Through meditative breathing techniques, they learn how to silence the noise and focus on serenity within.

Wellness Has A Diversity Issue–These Women Are Changing That

Britteny Floyd-Mayo, who goes by the moniker Trap Yoga Bae, brings her dance-infused yoga parties to cities nationwide. [Photo: courtesy of Trap Yoga Bae]

Of course, this doesn’t look like your traditional yoga studio; there are no cucumber-infused water coolers or fancy soy candles burning. Instead, peeling paint marks the walls and furniture is sparse. And yet it’s warm and inviting, with a lone string of twinkle lights framing the ceiling.In lieu of juice bar flyers, the community table offers pamphlets on HIV prevention or legal help for those facing deportation. Posters broadcast political messages like, “Black women’s health matters,” and “Immigrants welcome here.”

“We try to be aware of the social issues that are affecting the well-being of our students,” explains Alvarez.

In the last few years, this ambitious studio made significant inroads in a community that assumed healthy pursuits were strictly reserved for affluent demographics. At a traditional L.A. studio, a class can run anywhere from $15-$25. Here, attendees can donate what they can afford, or simply attend for free. For once, wellness is accessible to them.


Green Tree Yoga, with grant aid, is one of several organizations spreading health and wellness disciplines to underserved and underrepresented sectors. A scan of fitness magazines and ads tend to promote the idea that this is something for people with money (and svelte bodies). “They were intimidated,” says Alvarez of her community.

Barriers to entry can include culture, race, language, or income. Sometimes, it’s all of them.

Since health and wellness was crowned the new luxury status symbol,the disparity has grown even wider. The issue most recently propelled Carolyn Kylstra, the editor-in-chief of SELF, to admit her publication “has a long and very white history to contend with.” The magazine says it’s now dedicated to better serve minorities.

But plenty of individuals and boot-strapped startups already created innovative ways to bring self-care to wholly new audiences.  Until mainstream companies catch on, they’re leading the way for inclusivity.

Black Girl In Om is a lifestyle brand that promotes holistic wellness for women of color through online publications, social media initiatives, and a podcast with over half a million downloads.

“I would look around the studios that I would practice at–and even look who was guiding me through the practice– and I always disappointed that I was the only woman of color,” says founder Lauren Ash.

Many of her peers felt similarly, with some admitting they felt either out of place or downright discriminated against. “I’ve heard everything from some say that they were mistaken for the cleaning lady to being asked why they wear a headscarf in class,” recounts Ash.

Established in 2014, the organization holds biweekly yoga and meditation hours called Self-Care Sundays in Chicago. In the last year, classes routinely sold out, with fans driving in from as far as Milwaukee and Ohio. Responding to nationwide demand, Ash now offers pop-up series in New York and L.A.

Each session is culturally specific and tailored to the incoming students’ tastes. Ash uses casual instructional phrases and selects R&B music to “create a sense of home,” she explains. “It’s honestly ridiculous that in 2018, there are entire populations of people who don’t feel safe in a space that–with all that talk of self-love and health–is supposed be the safest place.”

Part of that is simply being sensitive to the concerns these populations encounter. Stacey Johnson and Jasmine Johnson, cofounders of Black Zen, a free online meditation guide and weekly podcast, say most meditation apps failed to incorporate their audience’s daily struggles.

“We joke that they always try to get you to calm down in your commute,” laughs Jasmine Johnson. “Our communities are dealing with a lot more things than just a hard commute.”

Stacy Johnson says that more established meditation startups can’t quite connect in an authentic way to communities of color, because “there’s a tone that’s missing.” In that sense, Black Zen touches upon issues that plague women of color, while at the same time, adding bits of humor to dispel the idea that meditation is a serious, somber activity.

Alicia Tillman [Photo: courtey of Alicia Tillman]

Alicia Tillman, founder of the Houston-based event series Trap Yoga Tacos, also modifies her communication efforts. Her massive group gatherings–which range from 250 to 430 people–look like a vinyasa dance party. Imagine speakers blaring R&B in a warehouse loft, taco trucks on site, and lots and lots of profanity.

“I be like ‘Hey, just step into the pose, this shit’s gonna hurt, it’s going to suck for a second, but breathe through it and it’s gonna stop fucking sucking,’” says Tillman of her direct teaching style. She finds such dialogue more relatable than what she usually hears at yoga studios: a calm voice describing chakras while “dying whale music” plays overhead.

Her physique and fashion also puts the audience at ease. Students admit they thought yoga was only for a “skinny white girl in a Lululemon crop top.” With her, they see something familiar: “I got big thighs, an ass, big hair, and I’m walking around in a Wu Tang Clan shirt,” she says, adding , “Oh, and we’re listening to Yo Gotti.” (Ironically, she was fired from former employer Lululemon for failing to “build a community” at their yoga studio.)

Britteny Floyd-Mayo, also known as Trap Yoga Bae, introduces newcomers to yoga by similarly transforming it into a party atmosphere. Based in San Francisco, the events draw crowds in the hundreds.

[Photo: courtesy of Trap Yoga Bae]

Roughly 40 minutes prior to class, a DJ starts spinning music. Twenty minutes later, Floyd-Mayo shows up to schmooze and twerk with her students. Once class begins, the soundtrack shifts to a mixture of trap music (a hip-hop music subgenre) and motivational quotes. There are even swag bags.

Although it’s more than just curating a class to a community’s tastes. These instructors must also overcome perceptions of yoga and meditation, and educate populations about its origins and purpose. In South L.A. for example, where a large percentage is Christian, organizers struggle to explain that even though there’s talk of the “divine,” yoga is more mindful than it is religious.

“It can be just a little Other,” says Green Tree Yoga instructor Rebecca Anne Watson, who says people are generally receptive, but “there’s still a little bit of hesitancy.”


Despite a large Hispanic population, barely any Spanish-led yoga classes were available in Miami two years ago. Author and bilingual yoga teacher Rina Jakubowicz recalls Hispanic women telling her, “‘It’s for white people, it’s not for us.’” But she sensed interest.

The gap in the market inspired Jakubowicz to establish a bilingual yoga teacher training course, which has since been accredited by Yoga Alliance. Her first students included a cleaning and cooking crew that worked at her yoga studio employer.

[Photo: courtesy of Rina Jakubowicz ]

“They were really grateful to have somebody willing to spend time to teach and connect with them instead of just look at them as labor,” recalls Jakubowicz. “It’s empowering. Now they can go out and teach.” Today, she runs several training courses.

Others use alternative routes to spread the practice: Britteny Floyd-Mayo, i.e., Trap Yoga Bae, is producing a DVD and app in order to spread her namaste gospel. She’s also going on a nationwide road trip to teach instructors how to serve their communities by being authentic and, more importantly, “not appropriate your own culture.”

The landscape significantly shifted in the last year. The Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, Inc., a nonprofit and professional membership organization, doubled its membership to 250 teachers, and its Facebook group swelled to 2,000. Then there are social media stars like self-described “fat femme” yoga instructor Jessamyn Stanley, who is defying body stereotypes and starring in campaigns for REI, FabFitFun, and Kotex.

But leaders believe there is still a way to go in terms of representation. Jakubowicz, for one, still awaits the day when she’ll see more diversity in nationwide advertising, be it for athleisurewear brands or Coca Cola. As Stacy Johnson explains, “When you’re not represented in a certain space, you don’t even know that the practice exists.”

Meanwhile, Black Girl In Om’s Ash demands more media portrayals of women of color engaging in wellness rituals. Till then, she’s doing what she can on Instagram. “The fact that young black women now actually follow us and see there’s black and brown women meditating, practicing yoga, or talking about veganism,” she says, “these things really, really matter in expanding and raising consciousness around who can experience wellness.”

These communities are responding. Every founder in this piece attests to rapid growth and  expansion plans either in terms of content, class size, or modes of media. Expect more podcasts, apps, and large-scale events popping up in cities nationwide.

“We’ve only been able to be here because of the community support,” says Green Tree Yoga’s Jennifer Alvarez. “If people weren’t utilizing us, we wouldn’t be open.”

10 Workout Secrets From the Pros

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By Carol Sorgen 

Experts and successful exercisers reveal the top tips and tricks they use to get the most from their fitness routines. Getting and staying fit can be a challenge. For many of us, it’s hard just to get up off the couch. So what’s the secret of people who have managed to make exercise a way of life?

1. Be Consistent

Chase Squires is the first to admit that he’s no fitness expert. But he is a guy who used to weigh 205 pounds, more than was healthy for his 5’4″ frame. “In my vacation pictures in 2002, I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at the beach,” says the 42-year-old Colorado resident. Squires decided enough was enough, cut out fatty food, and started walking on a treadmill. The pounds came off and soon he was running marathons — not fast, but in the race. He ran his first 50-mile race in October 2003 and completed his first 100-miler a year later. Since then, he’s completed several 100-mile, 50-mile, and 50k races.

His secret? “I’m not fast, but I’m consistent,” says Squires, who says consistency is his best tip for maintaining a successful fitness regimen. “It all started with 20 minutes on a treadmill,” he says. “The difference between my success and others who have struggled is that I did it every single day. No exercise program in the world works if you don’t do it consistently.”

2. Follow an Effective Exercise Routine

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently surveyed 1,000 ACE-certified personal trainers about the best techniques to get fit. Their top three suggestions:

  • Strength training. Even 20 minutes a day twice a week will help tone the entire body.
  • Interval training. “In its most basic form, interval training might involve walking for two minutes, running for two, and alternating this pattern throughout the duration of a workout,” says Cedric Bryant, PhD, FACSM, chief science officer for ACE. “It is an extremely time-efficient and productive way to exercise.”
  • Increased cardio/aerobic exercise. Bryant suggests accumulating 60 minutes or more a day of low- to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, running, or dancing.

3. Set Realistic Goals

“Don’t strive for perfection or an improbable goal that can’t be met,” says Kara Thompson, spokesperson for the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). “Focus instead on increasing healthy behaviors.”

In other words, don’t worry if you can’t run a 5K just yet. Make it a habit to walk 15 minutes a day, and add time, distance, and intensity from there

4. Use the Buddy System

Find a friend or relative whom you like and trust who also wants to establish a healthier lifestyle, suggests Thompson. “Encourage one another. Exercise together. Use this as an opportunity to enjoy one another’s company and to strengthen the relationship.”

5. Make Your Plan Fit Your Life

Too busy to get to the gym? Tennis star Martina Navratilova, health and fitness ambassador for the AARP, knows a thing or two about being busy and staying fit.

Make your plan fit your life, she advises in an article on the AARP web site. “You don’t need fancy exercise gear and gyms to get fit.”

If you’ve got floor space, try simple floor exercises to target areas such as the hips and buttocks, legs and thighs, and chest and arms (like push-ups, squats, and lunges). Aim for 10-12 repetitions of each exercise, adding more reps and intensity as you build strength.

6. Be Happy

Be sure to pick an activity you actually enjoy doing, suggests Los Angeles celebrity trainer Sebastien Lagree.

“If you hate weights, don’t go to the gym. You can lose weight and get in shape with any type of training or activity,” he says. And choose something that is convenient. Rock climbing may be a great workout, but if you live in a city, it’s not something you’ll be doing every day.

7. Watch the Clock

Your body clock, that is. Try to work out at the time you have the most energy, suggests Jason Theodosakis, MD, exercise physiologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. If you’re a morning person, schedule your fitness activities early in the day; if you perk up as the day goes along, plan your activities in the afternoon or evening.

“Working out while you have the most energy will yield the best results,” Theodosakis says.

8. Call In the Pros

Especially if you’re first getting started, Theodosakis suggests having a professional assessment to determine what types of exercise you need most.

“For some people, attention to flexibility or to balance and agility, may be more important than resistance training or aerobics,” he says. “By getting a professional assessment, you can determine your weakest links and focus on them. This will improve your overall fitness balance.

9. Get Inspired

“Fitness is a state of mind,” says fitness professional and life coach Allan Fine of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. One of Fine’s tricks to get and stay motivated is to read blogs or web sites that show him how others have been successful. “Who inspires you?” he asks.

10. Be Patient

Finally, remember that even if you follow all these tips, there will be ups and downs, setbacks and victories, advises Navratilova. Just be patient, and don’t give up, she says on the AARP web site: “Hang in there, and you’ll see solid results.”

9 Beginner Tips for Joining the Gym


Expect Mirrored Walls 

Don’t be alarmed by the mirrored walls, they aren’t there to criticise your messy hair and lack of make-up, or to allow everyone else in the room to spy on you.

The mirrors are there for you to check your posture and form whilst exercising, ensuring that you’re doing a workout correctly, and not hurting yourself. Use them to see your muscles working and make sure you’re not putting undue pressure on areas such as your knees or lower back – which will start forming odd shapes if you are.

… And Weird Noises

When we’re working out, really pumping the blood around the body and pushing yourself for that extra couple of reps, it’s natural to make noises of stress and strain. You won’t be the only one doing this, many hard-core gym goers can have you believe you’re actually in the Congo with the mountain gorillas. Noise is an energy being released by the body, so if you feel yourself starting to sound like a pro tennis player, just go with it.

Nobody Cares What you Look Like

The great thing about going to the gym is that no one cares what you look like. If they do, they’re clearly not working hard enough on their own training. Just be yourself, wear whatever you’re comfortable in. The gym can often become your own fortress of solitude, and it doesn’t matter what you look like, or what sounds you’re making.


Before you get started with any form of training or physical endurance (including riding a bike) always stretch out those muscles. Start at your toes and work your way upwards throughout the body, getting the blood flowing and oxygen to the important areas. Stretching is a crucial element of exercise because it prevents shock to the body that may cause muscle tears, tendon problems and aches.

See our guide here for tips on stretching for more information on which areas to focus on.

Baby Steps

You’re not expected to stroll into the gym and immediately hit the weights, benching 100kg. It’s important to take baby steps to increase your fitness. Starting with simple floor exercises is a great way to get into the gym life because you only need you and your body weight. Stretches, core holds and balance movements do more than you think, they help build a strong core and foundation for building muscle upon.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask

If you’re uncertain of anything, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. If you fancy trying out some of the weights or new equipment then you need to make sure you’re being safe about it.

Lifting with incorrect posture can cause injury so the gym can be a dangerous place if you’re not aware of the risks to yourself and others.  Make sure you know how to put equipment away, use it properly and ensure you don’t do any damage to yourself.

Drink Plenty of Water

It’s a no-brainer that physical exercise causes you to sweat and burn fuel, so drinking plenty of water to rehydrate yourself throughout a gym session is crucial. Take a bottle with you, even if you sip occasionally, it’s important to keep your fluids up. This will help prevent stitches, headaches and muscle cramps.


After your first few visits to the gym, you might feel a little weak and tired. That is totally normal. But to help yourself make a full recovery, ready for the next session, it’s important to eat healthy foods. Just because you went to the gym doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to get a fish & chips after!

You need proteins and carbohydrates, and believe it or not, milk is the best recovery drink you can give yourself. Proteins and carbs are essential for muscle recovery and straight after a workout, you have a 45-minute window where they are absorbed best by the body.


For whatever your reasons are for joining the gym: weight loss, core strength, muscle gains, general fitness etc… You won’t see change overnight. You need to persevere and build up to the changes you want to see in yourself, and though that can be mentally exhausting, and at times a little hopeless, change does happen. Seeing progress in your gym routine will show in your riding and when you start to reap the rewards, it will be worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

Looking for inspiration? Check out these six great gym exercises for cyclists  – and if you really can’t make it, why not invest in some of this cheap, cheerful but highly effective home gym equipment? 

By Jessica Strange fan, there are plenty more options!/


10 workout secrets expert exercise tips

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Want to know the secrets to getting a toned, trim body in record time? We did too, so we went straight to the top personal trainers, exercise physiologists and fitness instructors for the ultimate moves and motivation tricks to kick a fitness routine into high gear. Put a few of these tips into action each week and you’re guaranteed to see faster results!

  1. Tone Up on the Treadmill
    “Save time at the gym with this 10-minute cardio/sculpt session: Hop on a treadmill holding a three- to five-pound dumbbell in each hand, and set the speed to a brisk walk. Do a one-minute set each of shoulder presses, biceps curls, triceps extensions, side laterals, front laterals and standing triceps kickbacks one after another as you walk. I’s an amazing upper-body challenge that also gets your heart pumping. Do this series two or three times each week. As you improve, work up to doing four-minute sets.”
    —Michael George, trainer and owner of Integrated Motivational Fitness in Los Angeles
  2. Power Up Your Runs
    “Adding wall sits to the end of every run will strengthen your quads, hamstrings and glutes, improving your speed and endurance. Lean against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart, then squat until your knees are bent at 45 degrees. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds; work up to doing 10 sets. Add a challenge by including heel raises: Lift your left heel, then the right, then lift both together twice.”
    —Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of the Running Center, New York City
  3. Chart Your Progress
    “Stay motivated using a fitness report card. Jot down these subjects: Cardio, Muscle Conditioning, Flexibility and Attitude. Set goals (for example, doing 10 “boy” push-ups) and grade yourself A through F at least four times a year. When you see how much you improve, you’ll want to stay in great shape.”
    —Ken Alan, Los Angeles—based personal trainer
  4. Try This All-in-One Toner
    “A side-step squat with wood chop works your arms, torso, abs, back, legs, inner thighs and butt. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a three- to four-pound medicine ball in your hands. Bend your arms up so that the ball is at eye level over your right shoulder. As you bring the ball toward your left knee, step out with your left leg and bend it no further than 90 degrees, keeping your right leg straight. Return to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps and repeat on the other leg.”
    —David Kirsch, trainer and author of The Ultimate New York Body Plan (McGraw-Hill, 2004)
  5. Break Out the Shovel
    “Why pay someone to clear snow from your driveway? Besides burning nearly 400 calories per hour, shoveling snow develops muscular endurance and power. But be safe: Minimize the amount of snow on each shovelful, and bend from your knees and hips, not your back.”
    —Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., exercise physiologist and sports psychologist at Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant, Texas
  6. Work Out During Your Workday
    “Sit on a stability ball to strengthen your core, and keep dumbbells or exercise tubing at your desk. Squeeze in 12 to 15 reps of exercises like dumbbell curls, overhead presses and ab crunches; aim for two or three sets of each. This gives you more free time to fit in fun workouts like biking or tennis.”
    —Gregory Florez, personal trainer and CEO of Salt Lake City — based
  7. Take This Jump-Rope Challenge
    “The best cardio workout is the jump-rope double-turn maneuver. It’s intense: You’ll burn about 26 calories per minute! Do a basic jump for five minutes, then jump twice as high and turn the rope twice as fast so it passes under your feet twice before you land. This takes timing, patience and power. But you’ll get in great shape just by working at it.”
    —Michael Olajide Jr., former number one world middleweight contender and cofounder/trainer at Aerospace High Performance Center in New York City
  8. Give Yourself a Break
    “You don’t have to be a fitness saint to get results. Follow the 80/20 plan: Eighty percent of the year, you’ll exercise regularly and eat well. Know that you’ll slip 20 percent of the time due to holidays and work deadlines. When you accept that fitness isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition, you’re more likely to stick with it for life.”
    —Maureen Wilson, owner/personal trainer/instructor, Sweat Co. Studios, Vancouver, B.C.
  9. Get a Jump on Weight Loss
    “Add plyometric box jumps to your workout to improve your cardiovascular stamina and leg strength — you’ll really sculpt your hamstrings, quads and glutes. Find a sturdy box that’;s at least one foot high [like a Plyo Box, $139.95; 888-556-7464;]. Starting from a standing position, explosively jump to the middle of the box, then jump back down. Repeat 20 times.”
    —Michael George
  10. Don’t Skimp on Carbs
    “Your body needs them to fuel a workout, so reach for fruit or high-fiber crackers an hour beforehand. If you’e exercising for 90 minutes or longer, include some protein so that the carbs break down more slowly, giving you longer-lasting energy. Your best bets: low-fat cheese and crackers, trail mix or half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
    —Cindy Sherwin, R.D., personal trainer at the Gym in New York City
  11. Maximize Your Crunches
    “Don’t relax your abs as you lower your chest away from your knees during a crunch — you get only half the ab-toning benefit! To get the firmest abs possible, you need to sustain the contraction on the way down.”
    —Steve Ilg, founder of Wholistic Fitness Personal Training and author of Total Body Transformation (Hyperion, 2004)
  12. Intensify Your Push-Up
    “Squat-thrust push-ups get you in great shape because they work your upper body, core and lower body and improve agility, strength and endurance all at once. From a standing position, bend down, put your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, and jump your feet back into plank position. If you’re strong, cross your ankles; otherwise, jump your feet wide apart. Do a push-up, then jump your feet together or uncross your ankles. Jump your feet back to your hands and stand up. Do eight reps total, rest for one minute, and repeat.”
    —Keli Roberts, Los Angeles — based trainer
  13. Paddle Your Way to Flatter Abs
    “Go kayaking to get a taut stomach — it’s ideal because much of your rowing power comes from your core. Mimic the motion and resistance of the water at home by looping an exercise band around the bottom of a table leg or other fixed object. Sit on the floor with legs extended, knees slightly bent; grasp one end of the band in each hand. Rotate your torso to one side as you bring the elbow back slightly, then switch sides. Do three sets of one to three minutes each.”
    —Barbara Bushman, Ph.D., associate professor of health, physical education and recreation at Southwest Missouri State University
  14. Make Over Your Running Routine
    “Unless you’re training for a marathon, skip long, slow, distance running — sprinting builds more muscle. Add a few 10- to 60-second sprints to your run, slowing down just long enough to catch your breath between them.”
    —Stephen Holt, 2003 ACE Personal Trainer of the Year
  15. Super-Sculpt Your Butt
    “Get great glutes by targeting the muscles and connective tissues buried deep in your body. To hit them, do high-intensity squats, such as jump squats. Then, blast off butt flab with cross-country skiing, bleacher running and stair climbing.”
    —Steve Ilg

How to Get a Six Pack Fast for Women

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 How To Achieve Awesome Abs

Step 1

 Cut caloric intake to lose excess fat hiding abdominal muscles. Weight-loss occurs when you ingest less calories than you burn off. To lose a pound of fat a week, you will need to burn off roughly 3,500 calories or 500 calories per week. Decrease caloric intake by snacking on fruit instead of cookies, drinking water versus soda and eating green vegetables with lean protein for meals. A nutrient-rich diet should consist of veggies, fruits, protein and healthy fats in moderation while reducing or eliminating sugar and polyunsaturated fats.

Step 2

Tone up abdominals with planking exercises. Front planks target the rectus abdominis and deep transversus abdominis muscles which flatten your belly. Do a front plank by lying on the floor face-down. Push yourself up to rest on your toes and forearms with elbows underneath your shoulders. Contract your abdominal muscles to avoid sagging in the middle as you maintain a straight body from head to toe. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat three times five days per week.

Step 3

Target the obliques, the muscles on the sides of the trunk, with side planks. Toned obliques will whittle your middle and give your stomach a sculpted look. Do a side-plank by lying on your right side on the floor, legs stacked on top of each other, and body forming a straight line from head to toe. Lift yourself up so that you are resting on the side of your right foot and right forearm, elbow underneath your shoulder. Keep your hips lifted to avoid sagging in the middle while contracting the abdominal muscles. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat three times on each side of the body. Do side planks five days per week to maximize six-pack potential.Step 4Run, bike, swim, hike and sweat your way to lean, ripped abs. Cardio exercise raises the heart rate and metabolism to burn off calories for fat-loss all over the body including the abs. The less fat you have, the more visible abs muscles will be to the eye. Aim to do five cardio sessions per week of 45 to 60 minutes duration at a moderate-pace. Two of those sessions should include high-intensity intervals done at a vigorous pace, to increase caloric burn both during and hours after exercise. A sample interval session would be to cycle hard for one minute followed by two minutes of easier recovery cycling. Repeat 10 times and include a five- to 10-minute warm-up and cool-down.


  • Consult with a medical professional prior to initiating any dietary or exercise regimens that could adversely affect your health.