Exercise and Fitness: How To Make a Gym at Home

If you’re sick of paying that monthly gym membership and then passing by everyday with a new excuse not to stop and exercise, maybe it’s time to make your own home gym. I used to be a “Y” member and also joined Curves for a few years.  I liked both of them, but when I changed jobs and Curves relocated it was a giant pain in the butt to get there.  One place I was always sure to go was home.  Why not work out there?  Here are some tips for you to make a home gym work for you.

  • If you are not self motivated, you will want some accountability by enlisting the help of a workout buddy, or by joining a fitness group.
  • Start small and build up. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on equipment you will end up using to hang your laundry from! Invest in more expensive fitness gear once you have developed a routine you are sticking with consistently.
  • Clear a space for your home gym that is not in a high traffic area.
  • You don’t need huge machines in your home to get in shape.  Effective cardio and strength training workouts can be put together with little or no equipment.  Your own body weight is one of the most effective methods of resistance training.
My home gym in my basement

The equipment I have:

Dumbbells: I have 1,3,5,10,15 and 20 lb weights.  I didn’t buy all these at once. I started out with 1,3, and 5 lbs. As I gained strength I bought more. Typically the lighter weights are sold at a set price.  The heavier weights are priced per pound.  Some of these were gifts I asked for at birthday and Christmas time.

Select-tech dumbbells: After I knew I was committed to a strength training program, I invested in these dumbbells by Bowflex. You can dial in the  wieght you want to lift from 5 lbs. to over 50 lbs.  The really nice thing is they go up in 2.5 lb. increments.  I’m not always ready to jump up 5 lbs.. These are more expensive, so I asked for them for Christmas.  I know a friend that saved up her Angel bucks through the  Amazon.com program and got them for $6.00.  Huge savings.

Resistance Bands:  These are portable resistance that weigh next to nothing (think suitcase) and take up very little space. If you are just getting started with resistance training and don’t want to spend a lot, my $ is on this product.  You do have to modify how you do an exercise with bands, so it would be good to look up some demo videos on Youtube.

Fitness Ball:  Great for core training and balance.  I picked up one at Kmart for about $25.00.  They take up a lot of space, but you can deflate it when not in use.

Foam Roller: I love it for flexibility training and working the kinks out of sore muscles and facia. There’s something about it that just makes me feel right with the world when I am done. Stress relief for about $24.00!

Fitness Block: It increases the intensity of certain stretches.  You can also use it for extra stability if you are struggling with yoga poses and other balance exercises. Picked this up at Target for less than $20.00

Yoga Mat:  Great for travel and very non-skid. I bought it for about $25.00

Fitness programs I use:

I have several cardio and stregth training DVD’s.  The ones I use the most are ChaLean Extreme (weigthlifting) and Zumba.  All you need is a TV and a remote and you have your own trainer helping you through the routines.  Both these programs include several workouts and cover cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility training.

You can also find a lot of workouts for $0.00 by searching Youtube, Pinterest and fitness blogs (like mine). I love finding new tabatas workouts I can use.  If you know the basic components of fitness and know what you like, feel free to make up your own workouts as well.  Happy fitness!  Have you set up your own home gym?  Tell your story here 🙂

 

Exercise and Fitness: Making Up My Own Workout

I get bored quickly with the same old same old. It happens when I exercise too. This morning I just didn’t want to hit the basement and do the same old cardio workout. We had been on a picnic in one of our local state parks and took a mountain road home. I thought about going back to that road and walking for certain intervals mixed with some lower body exercises; a sort of Tabata in reverse.

I needed an interval timer for my phone to keep me moving. We use Bit Timer on the iPad but it’s not available for the Android phone. I found “A HIIT Interval Timer” which looked like it would work pretty well and it was free.

I threw my phone, a power bar, a water bottle and a raincoat into a bag and headed out. Since I was going alone, I left a note for my daughter and texted my hubby to let him know where I was. Best to be safe!

This was my routine:

Walk 5 minutes
Jumping Jacks 30 seconds
Walk 5 minutes
Reverse Lunges 30 seconds
Walk 5 minutes
Jump Rope
w/high knees 30 seconds
Walk 5 minutes
Side Lunges 30 seconds
Walk 5 minutes
Skiers Jump 30 seconds
Walk 5 minutes
Football Squats 30 seconds

The walk was entirely uphill, so I got a really good cardio workout. When I was done, I had a great cool down by walking downhill back to my car. There is something great about being in the woods near nature that is centering and stress relieving. I also discovered another trail that I will go back to explore very soon.

The only downside to this workout was I hadn’t programmed the HIIT timer correctly and had to adjust. I’m sure I will be better at it next time. Don’t be afraid to make up your own workout by incorporating the things you love to do. It will definitely motivate you to keep up with your fitness activities.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Ten Fitness Challenges To Motivate Your Group

The biggest hurdle for most people when trying to stay on the healthy nutrition and exercise path is to stay motivated. Having a group of friends to keep each other accountable is a great idea. It’s even easier to do now that we can stay connected via e-mail, facebook etc. Here’s ten ideas to challenge the people in your accountability group.

1. Seven day water challenge: For 7 days, drink your height in water. I’m 64 inches tall so I would drink 64 oz. of water each day.

2. Seven day low sugar challenge: Women should limit added sugar to 24 grams per day. Men should limit added sugar to 36 grams per day. Check the nutrition facts label for sugar. It you are eating fresh fruits and veggies, those are natural sugar. You don’t have to count it! Yay.

3. Thirty day points challenge: Use a 1 pt. multiplier for light exercise, 1.5 pt. multiplier for moderate exercise and a 2 pt multiplier for intense exercise. Multiply the time you exercise by the intensity multiplier. Keep track of your points each day. The person with the most points at the end of 30 days is the winner. You can compete individually or in teams of varying sizes.

4. Virtual Race: Use the same multiplier as in #3 above. One point equals one mile. Plan a race from one point on the map to another. First person or team to the designated finish line is the winner. You could race to a favorite location. My group raced to Key West, Florida! It got me motivated to plan a real trip there for this January.

Me, hubby and my sis holding our logo and mascot at Southport, NC 5K

5. Where in the world?: This is a cute one for the summer when everyone is traveling. Make a logo or mascot for your group that can easily be packed in a suitcase. Whenever a group member takes part in an active event while they are out of town, they take a photo and share it with the group. Add a description of what the activity was.

6. Share one healthy recipe each week: Challenge members to submit a healthy recipe they have tried. The group can vote for their favorite. You could even plan an event where everyone brings a healthy dish with recipes to distribute to group members.

At the Warrior Dash in the Poconos

7. Enter an event together: Try a 5K, a Warrior Dash, or a bike ride for charity. If you don’t all live in the same place, you can enter where you live, compare notes and post pictures for each other using e-mail, facebook, twitter etc.

8. Pick an exercise (sit-up, push-up, burpees, miles run/walked etc). Keep track of the number of these exercises you do for seven days. Person or team who does the most is the lucky winner!

9. Thirty day weight loss percentage challenge. Keep track of the amount of weight you lose for thirty days. The person who loses the highest percentage of his/her body weight is the winner.

10. Seven day NO (pick two junk foods, like soda and chips) challenge.  Group members check in each day to talk about how they are doing and the benefits they are experiencing.

Fitness challenges can keep your group motivated to reach ultimate goals of losing weight, gaining strength and getting healthy.  Do you have any fitness challenges you have had success with?  Please share them.  I am always looking for new ideas.

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Fitness Challenge Ideas: Flat Stanley Gets a Makeover

Here’s something we have been doing in my private facebook fitness group (Fantastically Fit Friends) for the summer. Many of us (including me) have been traveling a lot. It wasn’t practical to run a challenge where I would have to keep track of members’ points. One summer idea I came up with was a “where in the world are the Fantastically Fit Friends?” I made a logo and added it to the documents on the facebook group. Members could print it out, take it along when they were doing something active, pose for a picture and post it in our group. It was a way for us to share the fitness activities we were doing while we were all going in different directions.

The problem with the logo I made was it didn’t show up very well in the pictures. A group of about 8 FFF’s participated in the Warrior Dash in the Poconos. Cyndi’s sons, Alex and Ian took an idea they grew up with in school (Flat Stanley) and modified it for the Warrior Dash. Alex and Ian made Flat Warrior. He went along and participated in the Warrior Dash. He had his picture taken with all the participants. FFF members took turns carrying Flat Warrior during the race. The word was he sustained a few injuries and lost some limbs, but he still looked pretty good in the pictures.

Flat Warrior was so cool that I made Fantastically Fit Franklin to take along to the beach. Franklin had his picture taken at the spin class we took, at the Southport 5k run and in our makeshift gym under the beach house. It was easy to make Franklin. Here’s what I did:


I googled Flat Stanley and printed out a picture of him. I cut him out and traced him onto card stock. I modified his hair a little bit. Then I drew a workout outfit on him instead of a shirt and tie. I also gave him a set of dumbbells. I outlined him with a sharpie marker and colored him in with crayola markers.


If you think Flat Franklin will motivate your group to work out, or just make your workouts more fun, feel free to steal our ideas. Leave a message and let me know how it goes.


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Freedom Run 5K Southport, NC

My second 5K walk, the Freedom Run 5K  in Southport NC. I started doing 5Ks to give myself goals for my exercise and fitness  efforts. We vacation every year at Sunset Beach, NC. Over the years members of my family have participated in the 5K, but I had only done the one mile fun run a few times. This was the year I wanted to walk the entire 3.1 mile course. When my sister (Nancy) and niece (Lindsey) found out we were walking, they decided they would enter and run/walk the course together. My nephew, Ben also decided he would run.

The race stepped off at 8 so we had to leave the beach house at 6:30 a.m. (toothpicks for eyes please) to get to Southport. Nancy and Lindsey rode with us and I enjoyed listening to Lindsey’s excited chatter all the way there. This was her first 5K too. It was a super hot day and humidity was at 90% so we prepared by hydrating on the way.

When we got there it was off to warm up. We were excited to take pictures before the event. Ben was hardcore so he wouldn’t pose for any pictures (sorry young ladies, he’s a cutey) because he was really into his warm-up.


We lined up for our pre-race instructions and then the starting gun, no, make that a CANNON went off. We were part of a record number of over 400 participants. Our times were recorded by a high techno strip on the backs of our numbers. Bob walked with me for the first mile and then he decided to jog it for the next two miles. I walk too fast for his pace, but he runs too fast for mine so it worked out best this way.


I got into my power walking pace and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the people I interacted with. It was nice to walk near the mouth of the Cape Fear River and feel the ocean breeze cooling me off as I went. I crossed the finish line at 45:02, almost the same time I posted for the Train Wreck Trek. Pretty good considering the extreme heat. Here’s how everyone else did:


Ben: 16th overall and third for his age group with a time of 19:33. He won a pottery bowl crafted by a local artist.

Lindsey: 34:45 Nancy: 35:00 Bob: 37:08

If you are ever in the Southport, NC area over the 4th of July and want to run/walk in a fun 5K, give the Freedom Run a try. Were you there on June 30? Tell me your story!

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Spinning Class for Vacation Fitness

Hubby and I decided we would try some different fitness activities while we were on vacation this year. Today we took a spinning class at Fitness Studio in Ocean Isle, NC. Our niece, Lindsey (another fitness enthusiast in our family) decided to join us.


We got there a little early so we chose our bikes and stretched a little. Soon Stacey, our instructor came and helped us adjust our seats and handlebars. The class filled up fast and I was surprised that most of the participants were older than us. I had done a spin class at my local YMCA once but Bob and Lindsey had never done it before. They were in for a fitness treat!

The class we were in was a resistance class. It focused on hill climbing over speed. After a good warm-up song, we did our first hill climb. This consisted of adjusting your resistance until it was “sticky” and you had to push AND pull to make the pedals spin. We climbed in ride position, race position and standing. My legs were unhappy, but my cardio system was loving it. You could set your resistance to whatever you were comfortable with. I thought maybe I should back down a little after the first hill climb!


The music was great and it kept me motivated to keep going. After two hill climbs, we did a song where we travelled a flat road. We set the bike to lighter resistance and concentrated on speed. It was a nice “break” from the hills. We finished with a third, more intense hill climb. I was excited because now I had my second wind and was able to crank the resistance up higher than I had it on the first hill. It probably helped that I knew we were almost done! After a cool down song, we crawled off our bikes and had a nice stretch.

Both my workout partners liked their spinning experience. Bob said even though he is in good shape from working with a trainer, trying  a new exercise routine really made him work. Lindsey said, “It was really fun, an awesome workout and the music made it seem like we were dancing at times.”


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5 Tips To Plan an Effective Workout

Please welcome Hattie Smith, guest poster from guestpostu.com

So, you are in need of a new workout plan, or a workout plan? You’ve looked up what you should do online, in your favorite fitness magazine, and consulted your nearest and dearest. Now, you need to make this plan actually work out so you can achieve what you want. How do you do that? Well, here are some great tips on how to plan an effective workout.

1. Know your goals before you even start

Do you want to lose weight? Increase muscle mass? Do you just want a reason to get outside more often? Before you start the routine, you need to have some goals in mind. This will help you as you plot how to work out as well as keep you on track when you are tempted to stray

2. Know your fitness/energy level

Do you love a morning run or a cardio workout? Or, does the idea of running on a treadmill make your stomach churn? Before getting started, you need to know what your fitness or energy level is. The most effective workout is going to be one that works with where you are now. If you get winded walking up stairs, a heavy intensity cardio workout is not your starting point. As you progress, you will reevaluate what your levels are and adjust accordingly.

3. How often

Will you be working out every day, or just a few days a week? You should at least try to start at 4-5 days a week, even if it just a 10-20 minute slot. Workouts that are more frequent, even if they are shorter, will help to build your stamina. This will help as you progress so that you will be able to challenge yourself further.

4. What exercise will you be doing?

This decision will be made after you decide some other factors, including the above mentioned three. Do you love swimming or riding your bike? If you are trying to tone muscles, what exercises will you want to do to help achieve this? Since this can be difficult to figure out, you may want to consult a fitness professional. They can help you plan the most effective workout.

5. How often do you want to evaluate?

For some, having “check points” is really important. For instance, if you are trying to lose weight, do you want to weigh in once a week, or twice? This is also something to factor in, especially for weight loss programs. Keeping check points at specific intervals will help you monitor progress, and see where you are at.

Hattie Smith loves singing karaoke, going to salsa clubs, and just got a great rate on insurances at healthinsurancequotes.org

Exercise and Fitness: Try Tabatas!

Tabatas seems to be the new buzzword in fitness circles these days. Put in the simplest of terms, Tabatas is 20 seconds of exercise at 100% intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated for a duration of four minutes. You should start your session with a 5 minute warm-up and follow your session with a 5 minute cool down.

What are the benefits of Tabatas?

Tabatas improves both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Pure cardio only improves aerobic capacity. When your anaerobic capacity is improved you can train at higher intensity levels for a longer period of time. This increases your calorie burn during AND after your workout. You create an oxygen deficit while you do Tabatas that HAS to be replenished after you’re done. The harder you work out, the harder you breathe and the higher your heart rate goes. As a result, it takes more time (and calories) to get things back to normal. Cool science eh?

The really nice thing about Tabatas is you can get a great workout in a very short period of time. You wouldn’t want to do this type of workout every day. It’s recommended that you take part in Tabatas once or twice a week tops. When planning your workout, use exercises that involve large muscle groups.

Time for the disclaimer: You should always check with your doctor before starting a work out program like Tabatas to make sure you are healthy enough for intense exercise. Ok, that’s out of the way…

When I tried Tabatas for the first time, I decided to do “Tabatas light”. I did 15 seconds at 100% intensity and rested for 15 seconds. I did six minutes at this intensity level. My plan is to work up to the real deal.

A traditional tabatas is 20 seconds as hard as you can go with 10 seconds of rest.

Here’s the workout:

Squats: 15 seconds Rest: 15 seconds
Push-ups: 15 seconds Rest: 15 seconds
Crunches: 15 seconds Rest: 15 seconds
(these were “criss cross” Elbow to opposite knee)
Mountain Climbers: 15 seconds Rest: 15 seconds

I did three sets of the above. The total time for the workout was 16 minutes, including my warm-up and cool down.

Here’s the cool tech tools that enhanced my workout:

i-Pad 3 with the following apps

Bit-timer: You can set your work time, your rest time and how many times you want it to repeat. An audible beep counts down to start each exercise round.

Songza: I used the “Drop-a-beat” workout playlist.

Give it a try! (see disclaimer) Then let me know how it goes by sending me a comment.

If you like this post and would like more fitness challenges, tip and tricks, follow this link:



 

 

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Exercise and Fitness: My first 5K

My niece, Mackenzie, sister Nancy, friend Brian, me, hubby Bob

I did my first 5K over the weekend. I decided to do 5Ks to give me extra motivation to exercise. Since I don’t like to run, I planned on brisk walking. The day dawned sunny and cool, a great day for a distance race. Hubby and I got to the starting line early. Good thing because our registration I sent weeks ago must have gotten lost. They didn’t know anything about us! We had to quickly re-register before race time.

The mood at the starting line was excited. Everyone was buzzing. After some brief pre-race instructions the gun went off and we were underway.

We started out at a good pace and moved up to the front of the walkers. We were keeping the last of the runners in our sights. The first two miles went smoothly. By this time the runners had made the turn and were coming back so we had to walk single file. During our final mile, hubby asked if I was ready to turn it up a notch. I said sure and started race-walking. He couldn’t keep up unless he jogged slowly. I didn’t know I could walk that fast. We passed a few slow runners. In the end I almost came in 3rd place for my age group (it was a small race). The woman who finished in front of me was RIGHT in front of me.

I had a great time and I will enjoy walking again in the Freedom Run/Walk in Southport, NC.

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Online Fitness Coaching: 5K Prep Two Weeks Out

Happy Memorial Day weekend. Hope this post finds you enjoying some great outdoor activities. This weekend starts the gardening season where I live. Saturday morning meant a trip to the greenhouse to pick out some new perennials and annuals.

Gardening is  great exercise! Bending, stretching, lifting, and walking. There is also something very satisfying about digging around in the dirt. Even though it took me all day (I had to dodge two thunderstorms) to get the flowers in, I got it done and they look great now.

This morning hubby and I went to early church so we could get a 5K walk in before it got too hot. We will be walking in the Train Wreck Trek 5K (I hate to run) on Saturday, June 9. We did the course we will be walking for the 5K. It’s flat and shady and will be good for the runners to PR. This will be my first one so it will be my base time. Today we walked about 17 minute miles at 3.5 MPH

Hubby on the Train Wreck Trek trail.

I’m looking forward to doing this 5K. I would never run one but I can hardly wait to walk it.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad