296 posts in this category

Make it DYNAMIC!

When it comes to exercising the body and mind, whatever it is you're doing - make it DYNAMIC!

Changing up our exercise routines decreases boredom and fatigue and increases the FUN factor.

This week we did just that in our Hopkins Core Boot Camp class -

Starting out our session with a full body warm-up, I took a couple exercises we've done and turned them into great team building exercises.

Ready, Set, Line Up!


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Lining up in a row, we rotated passing an 8 pound medicine ball over the top of the head and between the legs. Seems simple enough, right? When you get there, this changing pattern created a fun team building exercise and a challenge for the core and mind.

Leap Frog/Wounded Soldier Race

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Each person took their turn either hopping on one foot or both feet across the gym to a BOSU ball (soft side up), completed 10 push ups, and hustled to the back of the line.

What made this fun and unique was crowd participation - cheering and counting out teammates' push up reps.

With these two simple exercises, we created a FUN, challenging class that left everyone feeling like they got a great workout!

Out of ideas for your next workout? Checkout previous posts on my calendar - give it a go!

CBC Results Are In!

Most Preferred Exercise: Resistance Band Leg Extension

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Most Difficult Exercise: Bosu Ball Single Arm Row

This is a hard core move and Rachel's video is a great tutorial! Check it out here: How To Do Bosu Ball Rows with Rachel Shasha

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New! Instructor Favorite: Stability Ball Reverse Extension

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Core Boot Camp Trio Exercises

With a plethora of cold and influenza symptoms, Core Boot Camp classes have become smaller the past couple of weeks.

Last night's class offered another dynamic set of exercises aimed at providing plyometric, strength, and balance moves increasing strength of the muscles that make up the "core."

The exercises below offer a flavor of our most recent class. Enjoy!

Reverse Open Fly - Starting with a stability ball positioned just below chest and legs extended, squeeze glute muscles and lift both arms out wide using a light weight dumbbell in each hand (palms facing down). This strength exercise focuses on the upper to mid back, shoulder, and low back muscles.

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Twist - Feet hip width apart, abs tight, hips swivel on balls of feet (or add a jump).

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Bosu Jump In and Out - Jump with both feet onto the soft side of the ball, then jump off with legs on either side, and sit deep into glute muscles completing a squat.  A plyometric exercise working the legs, glutes, and stabilization muscles. 

Howcast.com with Rachel Shasha Howcast.com with Rachel Shasha

Couple Action

Core Boot Camp in Hopkins, MN had our first (hopefully of many) husband and wife duo! It was fun to watch them interact through exercise, play, and challenge one another.

A few of the exercises we did:

Squat Jump High Five

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Plank Ball Pass

Beginning in a plank position, partners face each other and pass a medicine ball back and forth. Looks can be deceiving, as this is a challenging exercise requiring each person to maintain a stable plank position (keeping the glutes from sinking or lifting too high) for one full minute and move on command without collapsing.

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First partners begin back-to-back with the objective of passing a dumbbell over his/her head to their opponent and the second partner passes the dumbbell back between their legs. Passing a dumbbell of any kind requires concentration to pull the belly button into the spine, while squeezing the glutes to keep the spine stabilized.

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Invincible Sprints
Much the same as a relay race using cones, pairs take turns sprinting and resting. One partner is at the start line and the other partner starts at cone #2. Once the first partner reaches the second cone, partner number 2 sprints to cone #3. Giving each person a second or two to catch their breath. (Courtesy of bootcampideas.com)

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Fitness Age Calculator

On November 3, 2013, an article was published on how to calculate a person's "fitness age" by simply entering a few measurements and exercise data. Too good to be true/accurate?

Read the article and find out New York Times: What's Your 'Fitness Age'?. (Please share your responses.)

What’s Your ‘Fitness Age’?


Illustration by Ben Wiseman

This article appears in the Nov. 3, 2013 issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Trying to quantify your aerobic fitness is a daunting task. It usually requires access to an exercise-physiology lab. But researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim have developed a remarkably low-tech means of precisely assessing aerobic fitness and estimating your “fitness age,” or how well your body functions physically, relative to how well it should work, given your age.

The researchers evaluated almost 5,000 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 90, using mobile labs. They took about a dozen measurements, including height, body mass index, resting heart rate, HDL and total cholesterol levels. Each person also filled out a lengthy lifestyle questionnaire. Finally, each volunteer ran to the point of exhaustion on a treadmill to pinpoint his or her peak oxygen intake (VO2 max), or how well the body delivers oxygen to its cells. VO2 max has been shown in large-scale studies to closely correlate with significantly augmented life spans, even among the elderly or overweight. In other words, VO2 max can indicate fitness age.

In order to figure out how to estimate VO2 max without a treadmill, the scientists combed through the results to determine which of the data points were most useful. You might expect that the most taxing physical tests would yield the most reliable results. Instead, the researchers found that putting just five measurements — waist circumference; resting heart rate; frequency and intensity of exercise; age; and sex — into an algorithm allowed them to predict a person’s VO2 max with noteworthy accuracy, according to their study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The researchers used the data set to tabulate the typical, desirable VO2 max for a healthy person at every age from 20 to 90, creating specific parameters for fitness age. The concept is simple enough, explains Ulrik Wisloff, the director of the K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University and the senior author of the study. “A 70-year-old man or woman who has the peak oxygen uptake of a 20-year-old has a fitness age of 20,” he says. He has seen just this combination during his research.

The researchers have used all of this data to create an online calculator that allows people to determine their VO2 max without going to a lab. You’ll need your waist measurement and your resting heart rate. To determine it, sit quietly for 10 minutes and check your pulse; count for 30 seconds, double the number and you have your resting heart rate. Plug these numbers, along with your age, sex and frequency and intensity of exercise, into the calculator, and you’ll learn your fitness age.

The results can be sobering. A 50-year-old man, for instance, who exercises moderately a few times a week, sports a 36-inch waist and a resting heart rate of 75 — not atypical values for healthy middle-aged men — will have a fitness age of 59. Thankfully, unwanted fitness years, unlike the chronological kind, can be erased, Dr. Wisloff says. Exercise more frequently or more intensely. Then replug your numbers and exult as your “age” declines. A youthful fitness age, Dr. Wisloff says, “is the single best predictor of current and future health.”


Partner Core Exercises

During each Core Boot Camp class, I normally incorporate a partner exercise in which two people work together. Since it has been a popular concept in past classes, we had a mostly partner exercise class last night.

Working with a partner can be a positive experience if both participants understand the exercise, its objective, and how to properly execute the move(s). It is when two people are poorly matched in experience, height, and/or strength that may create a challenge to complete the move(s) without undue strain.


A partner squat is best completed when participants vary in height by facing each other.

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Power Slam

Most participants of Core Boot Camp class enjoy power slams. When done correctly, this plyometric move recruits several muscles, which increases the heart rate and encourages maximum caloric burn. For the novice exerciser, start with a stability (or Swiss) ball to master the move before moving on to a weighted medicine ball.

When using a partner (instead of wall or floor) to catch and return the ball, it increases the FUN factor and kicks up each person's strength and endurance during the exercise.

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Wood Chop/Hay Bail

This exercise sequence recruits upper back, arm, and core muscles. When completed by two people using resistance bands (instead of a medicine ball), each person works to move in a consistent, fluid motion to keep from jerking their partner to one side or off their feet.

I love the team work involved in this exercise because it encourages people to communicate for maximum success.

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Be sure to properly warm-up the muscles to be used prior to completion of exercises. Enjoy!

Lovely Lady Legs

Getting bored with your leg routine?? Me, too!

Searching bodybuilding.com for an improved leg routine, I found Lovely Lady Legs: Jen Jewell's Leg Sculpting Workout.

Jen Jewell - BodyBuilding.Com Jen Jewell - BodyBuilding.Com

The approach Jewell takes on legs is incorporating heart pumping cardio after each set of 10-15 reps with a 30 second rest between sets. While my personal workout incorporated cardio, it was after the entire lifting workout.

What I like about Jewell's approach is the ability to mix up your routine to prevent boredom with maximum gains in a shorter length of time.

This was my workout:

1) Plie Kettlebell Squat - 12 reps x 4 sets
Speed Skater's - 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

2) Romanian Deadlift - 12 reps x 4 sets
Side to side BOSU shuffle - 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

3) 1 Leg Press - 12 reps (per leg) x 4 sets (each)
Burpees - 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

4) Sumo Deadlift - 12 reps x 4 sets
Jump Rope - 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

5) Reverse Leg Curl - 12 reps x 4 sets
Speed Skater's - 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

I add core exercises to every workout.


V-Sit Up with 10 second hold - 12 reps x 2 sets

Hyper Extension - 12 reps x 2 sets

Ball Rotations - 12 reps x 2 sets

This approach really kicked up my heart rate, while putting a new spin on my current leg routine workout. Because I wanted to get a feel for what Jen was suggesting, I stuck to her recommendations on the leg routine. All I can say is by the end, I'm a shaking, sweaty mess. Can't wait to see how my body responds!!

Shoulder Smash Workout

Since I love lifting heavy, I'm always looking for ways to increase strength and checking various sources to find out what's new. Running across this article on bodybuilding.com, I love the concept of sticking to tried and true exercises in the gym.

Jessie Hilgenberg is an IFBB Figure Pro, Team Bodybuilding.com Athlete, Fitness Model, Competition Coach, and Graphic Designer. Her philosophy is close to my own when it comes to women's bodies and lifting heavy.

Check out the article or video here: BodyBuilding.Com Jessie Hilgenberg's Delt Workout.

bodybuilding.com 45-Degree Overhead Barbell Press

In sharing this article, I hope you find inspiration in sticking to your weight lifting routine or delve into a (not so) new approach to rounding out your shoulders. The tips Jessie shares about why women lift heavy and the expected outcome are true and mirror past posts.

Cheers to a great day!

BOSU Burpee Push-up

Surprise, a leading contender of favorite exercises in Core Boot Camp class last week was the BOSU Burpee Push-up!

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Keep in mind this exercise can be modified by completing the push-up on the knees.

The most important function of this move is strengthening deep muscles of the abdominals and spine that make-up the "core." Focusing on pulling the belly button in toward the spine, while maintaining even breathing, and keeping the spine in-line is essential to protect yourself from creating pain issues or re-experiencing old pain issues.

Anyone with (unmonitored) high blood pressure, shoulder, or joint pain should check with their doctor prior to giving this exercise a go!

V-Sit Exercise

Who would've thought the V-Sit exercise would be so unpopular at Core Boot Camp Class? It's a difficult exercise targeting deep abdominal and low back muscles, but, Ladies, it's PRECISELY what we need to minimize the baby pouch!

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Embracing the V-Sit Up

As I've said many times, the average couch-potato may not be able to get up and run a mile in one day, so learning to modify a difficult exercise is a great way to get started toward reaching the goal.

There are several ways to modify the V-Sit Up. Notice the image below: hands supporting low back muscles, knees bent, chest up, head in a neutral position (in-line with the spine), and belly button pulled-in (engaging abdominal muscles and protecting the spine).

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Once this move has been mastered, modify by slowly extending each leg with toes pointed. Work toward holding this position 30-60 seconds while maintaining even breathing.

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While the arms are positioned straight in the photo above, notice the legs are extended, chest up, head in neutral, and belly button pulled-in to the spine. From this position, slowly work toward extending one arm and then the other. Maintaining this position for increments of 10 seconds and working toward 30-60 seconds is the goal.

Go ahead, give it a whirl - may find yourself with a flatter mid-section and stronger core!