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Category Archives for "Upper Body, Arms, Back"
15

Are These Boomer-Friendly Fitness Trends in Your Future?

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

IHRSA TRX booth

Hanging out at IHRSA 2015

Wonder which fitness products, trends, and exercises lie in your future active life? Then shoulder-shove your way down trade show aisles with us to catch highlights from the recent 2015 IHRSA Convention and Trade show (association for fitness club owners/ managers). Our mission? To ferret out and focus on the equipment and workouts suited for Boomers (or anyone who wants to age actively, yet has joint aches and pains and limitations, oh my). Yup, we’re both fitness trendsetters and trendspotters.

Alexandra: But first, a shout-out to ourselves, as it turns out we were both in the Top Ten for most socially engaged people at the convention.

We were beat out by keynote speaker Arianna Huffington, a popular conference speaker, and Dai Manuel (a fellow FitFluential ambassador). Maybe it’s time to raise our rates. Hmmmm.

20150311_175131

I’m sitting in the 4th Row Center where Arianna could see me and be inspired

Kymberly: Arianna can take first place as most influential online IHRSA “attendee” with no envy from me as she was so clever in her keynote. I almost thought Alexandra wrote her material, that’s how funny Mz Huff was. Please note that a certain Me was ranked higher than a certain Not Me twinster. Score!

Wearable Technology is IT (Get it?)

As for a key trend coming your way bigger than our hair and shoulder pads in the 80s — wearable technology is IT! Bands, apps, bracelets, watches, cords, equipment screens, club check-in software, online community connections, and more are infiltrating, permeating, hyperventilating our fitness future. Proof is coming in that tracking and measuring devices actually work! People who use technology are moving more.

Kila wearing the Skulpt AIm

No

Skulpt Aim measuring Kymberly's quad

Yes

We saw all kinds of amazing gadgets that gather your workout data, health profile, preferences, fat levels–you name it– in order to help you succeed with your health and fitness goals. Need accountability? Motivation? Feedback? Workout buddies? An exercise program to go? if you can conceive of it, you will find it at the IHRSA trade show which was loaded with ingenuity and visionary high techy thingies. Hey, I am currently testing out a handheld device that measures my body fat and muscle quality, courtesy of Skulpt Aim. I simply hold up to certain muscles the Skulpt Aim, which looks like a smart phone and voila — personalized data that I wish would lie to me. But it doesn’t.

You probably are contributing to the health and fitness tech trend right now. Have you ever used a pedometer? (Read our post on assessing pedometers) Slapped on a heart rate monitor? Synced a workout tracking device to your phone? Input info into a cardio machine that goes to a personal profile? Plead guilty to being a trend driver.

So you’re all fitted up with monitoring devices, but which workouts offer options for midlifers who may suffer from joint issues?

 

TRX Training for Midlifers
Alexandra: We have taken a few of the TRX suspension training classes before, but we wanted to know if they had a workout that would be suited for those of us with bad knees (Kymberly’s recent surgery), bad wrists (Alexandra’s recent fall), or other issues that make it necessary to modify so many other workout regimens.

pic of TRX training at IHRSA

Getting great instruction at the TRX booth

So many of our students have asked our opinion about suspension training, worried they might fall or embarrass themselves if they tried it, so we went straight to the top to find answers. By “top” we mean we had our very own personalized workout with Dan Mcdonogh, the TRX Training and Development Manager and 2012 IDEA (our professional association) Fitness Instructor of the Year.

With a focus on good form (we loved him for that), Dan took us through a myriad of options for some of the main moves: squats, lunges, planks, rows, push-ups. Every time we said, “that would be an issue for someone with knee problems,” or “how can I do this move if I’m worried about balance,” Dan had a solution. (Keep an eye out for our video of this workout coming soonish to our website. See Dan survive standing between us as we crack jokes and compliment his red hair).

End Result: We totally loved this workout, as it helped increase our strength, balance, core and flexibility, all of which are important for Boomers (well, anyone really). I will just mention that I was amazing. Kymberly might have been too, but I kept poking her in the surgery leg.

TRX with Dan O'Donough and Fraser Quelch

Two of the world’s top TRX trainers – Dan Mcdonogh and Fraser Quelch. We are Superstahhhs.

Kymberly: Poke, poke, no joke. I really kneed to find exercise options that offer intensity with minimal joint impact. After doing a pain free happy dance for TRX, I found my cardio nirvana on the Total Wave Fitness.

More than two months of no cardio (aside from mosey level dog walks) has left me desperate to get my sweat on. Where, oh where is a high intensity, low impact exercise mode right for knees in rehab? That is fun? With variety? And smooth comfort like a Tom Jones song? Oh my gosh, but gliding on the Wave machine is perfect for anyone who wants an aerobic heart rate with no bone pounding. If you want to go for a ride and slide from side to side, talk your club into getting one of these. Sore feet? Wonky knees? Try the Total Wave. No excuses or downtime for joint pain sufferers. Santa Barbara Spectrum are you listening? Buy this for me — and the other members too, of course.

This crazy looking contraption could be the answer to those of you for whom aches and pains keep you from taking cardio classes or getting on cardio equipment. If you send me one, I WILL find room for it in my house.

Here’s to finding ways to work out as we age.
Readers: How has an injury or chronic condition kept you from exercising? What solution(s) did you find? And … is your klout score higher than ours? Comment below. And subscribe if you have not already.

 

5

Super Easy Super Bowl Seated Workout

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Watch tv or move?

It’s “Sit Around and Watch TV Day.”Did your desire to get up and go, get up and go?

It’s Super Bowl Sunday! Do you plan to plunk your hiney in front of the tv and take down some snacks? Is all that sitting around going to evoke guilt or anxiety that you aren’t moving? Then add watching our one minute video to your Seated Sunday plan. You can do simple exercises like biceps curls, triceps extensions, bent over rows, squats, and jumps from your comfy chair without missing a minute of the game.

 

 

 

 

 

When your team makes a touchdown, join the celebration and keep your energy high! Why be seated and sedentary when you can be seated and Super!

Drink credits: Beer courtesy of Kymberly’s hubster whom we hope does not notice that we shook those bottles. No beer was harmed long term in the making of this video.

Don’t be remote: Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly; on Twitter – AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit; and Instagram – KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

13

3 Exercises You Never Have to Do Again after 2012

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Build that Bust

Build that Bust

Ready to leave behind certain moves, memories, and mad moments of 2012? Want to enter 2013 with exercises that are effective and efficient? Say sayonara to the following exercises that are useless at best, injurious at worst. Yes, you have the official Fun and Fit wand wave to refrain forever from certain moves!

Unweighted Arm Circles

We confess – we used to teach air circles ourselves back in the 80s. But they don’t actually work anything effectively. The arm circling exercise really just stresses the shoulder and wrist joints. If you want to target your biceps, triceps, or forearm, you have much better options. Comment below if you want us to make videos showing you those better upper body and arm exercises.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7HQjlbFzKM&feature=share&list=PLkNW77Cz_XKGdRnYXJn9V7TfuVH-Zbs-X[/youtube]

Standing Chest Squeezes, aka “Bust Builders”

We must, we must, we must build up our bust.
For fear, for fear, we won’t fill our brassiere.
Who recognizes that ditty from grade school PE? Did you also have to chant those words while doing chest squeezes, bust builders, or whatever you called them? As an adult have you tried standing pec work with free weights in your hands to strengthen your chest? One problem: the resistance factor is all wonky so there’s no significant pectoral work. All this exercise does is stress your shoulder joint.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep7pTGJgC08&feature=share&list=PLkNW77Cz_XKGdRnYXJn9V7TfuVH-Zbs-X[/youtube]

Leg Lifts, Fire Hydrant Style

Don’t use this fire hydrant to put out any hot hiney flames! This so-called leg & butt exercise (it isn’t) is a useless exercise unless you want your hip to hurt. Mostly you are getting external hip rotation joint action, which has some value but not as a great glute move. You can do so many other, better exercises for your legs, and tush that don’t depend on low resistance, high repetition wafting through the air.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dSQubp4zB4&feature=share&list=PLkNW77Cz_XKGdRnYXJn9V7TfuVH-Zbs-X[/youtube]

Click to see more exercises that DON’T work in our YouTube Playlist: Exercise No No’s – Funny, Useless, Parodies and Otherwise

To see exercises that DO work, take a look at a few of our other YouTube Playlists:
Right and Wrong Way to do Exercises
Get Better Posture and Spinal Alignment
Healthy Aging Exercises for Women Over 45

End 2012 with action that will propel you into a more fit 2013:  Subscribe now to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Click now on the icons above or below. We make it easy to share and subscribe!

8

Lat PullDown with a Resistance Tube: Right and Wrong Ways

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Doing a Lat PullDown with a Resistance Tube is a great way to strengthen your mid- and lower-back, improve your posture and give a lift to the chest.

First things first: A Lat Pulldown works the lats, aka latissimi dorsi (Latin for “broad back”). These are large muscles of the thoracic and lumbar areas of the back, and together are shaped like an upside-down triangle. Their job is to move the arm, draw the shoulders back and down, and help pull the body up when climbing. A resistance tube is a hollow, long “rubber band” with handles on each end.

Resistance is Futile, Except when it’s a Tube!

 

 

In our many years of teaching, we have found the Lat PullDown to be a great exercise, although it can be challenging to perform with good form. So, henceforth, forsooth, and forthwith, we hereby present a video that shows some of the right and wrongs ways to do this exercise. “Lat” the fun begin! You’re welcome for the pun.

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jcgpjpye_rc&noredirect=1[/youtube]

 

The good news for those of us who are women already in toward the second half, is that it gives a lift to good ol’ Betty and Veronica, because as the back strengthens, posture improves and the chest lifts up. And if you don’t get the Betty and Veronica reference, you’re too young to care about this benefit anyway!

See how “perky” the redhead with the catwoman glasses is? Ya dig?!

 

 

 

 

We “dorsi” you should subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar.

 

 

 

Do you want to wear the same cute compression socks that Alexandra is sporting in the video? Easy, just go to the Zensah website.

Photo credits: Lats – Wikipedia, Tube – Century MMA, Betty & Veronica –  Marxchivist

17

Foam Rollers: They Hurt So Good

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Foam rollers are an excellent tool for a group fitness class or personal training session, both for resistance training and for myofascial release (aka muscle release). In essence, a foam roller can be used both for a workout (especially for the core), and a self-massage, using your own body weight.

Quick kinesiology lesson

Don’t worry, nothing you can’t handle. The kinetic chain is made up of the:

  • soft tissue system (muscle, tendon, ligament, and fascia)
  • neural system (nerves and CNS)
  • articular system (joints)

All of these parts make up a whole that is interdependent. For example, muscle tightness restricts the range of motion that a joint may be moved (i.e., tight hamstrings can affect hip and lower back mobility). If you’re confused, please refer to this handy chart:

Foam rollers help with tension and release

Odd as it sounds, for a muscle to gain strength, the tissue has to receive enough stress to cause micro-tears. Once that’s occurred, you can help your muscles recover by using the foam roller to break up adhesions in the muscle tissue and/or fascia. When these “trigger points” are decreased, blood flow increases, which is good!

Alexandra: I like to use the foam rollers for myofascial release with my group fitness students every so often, mostly because I always get a laugh out of their moans and groans when they discover their tight iliotibial (IT) bands.

Kymberly: I admit up front that I love foam rollers! Roll, roll, roll in zee … Hey, that really hurts so good. (Insert silent scream here as I roll out my tight hammies and upper back. Did you get the movie reference I just made two sentences ago?)

Different than Operation: Find the Iliotibial Band

My, oh My, oh Myofascial Release

Alexandra:  I was starting to think it was about time to introduce the foam roller to this quarter’s “crop” of university students when I found out about an app called Roll Release Techniques, which has 100 different videos for using the foam roller for self-massage.

 

My feeling at discovering an app that I could take onto the teaching stage with me was something like this:

Release Me, Baby!

 

This app packs in 100 videos, more than 25 different muscle groups, and demos that show up to 4 different levels for each group. The creator of the foam roller app, Dr. Ryan Emmons, is the one demonstrating the moves, and it’s simple to use and follow. Tap the muscle you want, then tap the level you want (regression, main, progression or advanced). Simple to follow along; simple to use.

As a fitness instructor who doesn’t use foam rollers enough to know all the possibilities by heart, I found the Roll Release Techniques App super handy. For a fitness enthusiast at home who wants to get some quick myofascial release, it’s also super because there’s no need to know the names or function of any muscles; you can just tap the picture of the muscle you want to work.

Usually I’m a bit snobby particular about the fitness information I’ll purchase and use, but this app totally rocked and rolled; well, it rolled! As you can see by the facial expressions on my students’ faces in these pictures, foam rollers are an effective tool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roll your fingers over your keyboard and subscribe to our YouTube channel and this blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit, especially if you like shots of Santa Barbara and nature. The icons in the right sidebar are a quick way to link to us as well.  We follow back.

Readers and Rollers: What fitness apps do you use?

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own. Alexandra used her own money to purchase this app because it was totally worth $2.99 to get all the video demos.

Photo credit: Man jumping  kreg.steppe

 

4

Bicep Curls: Wrong & Right Way

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Is it Possible to Do Bicep Curls Wrong?

A cute top makes bicep curls easier

A bicep curl seems to be one of the simplest, most straightforward exercises around. It’s a single-joint move at the elbow. And yet it’s actually possible to do it incorrectly. How can it be wrong when it feels so right? And the answer is…

  • Bending Wrists
  • Having Poor Posture
  • Wedging Elbows into Body
  • Keeping Elbows at 90 degrees instead of lengthening during Eccentric Phase
  • Holding Breath
  • Using Shoulders to Stabilize instead of Core
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt0NndeOEVY[/youtube]

 

Kymberly: Wonder what’s “eccentric” (besides Alexandra and her “magical” inner thighs? – Watch the video to know what I’m referring to)? The phase when you lengthen a muscle under tension. In this case, when you lower the free weights you are in the eccentric phase as the biceps are still the primary mover decelerating against gravity as the weights pull down. I plan to enter the eccentric phase altogether when I’m older and really live it up!

As for the right way to do biceps curls: Hold all joints stable and still except the elbow joint. And by all joints, that includes your spine!

Curl up to something good by subscribing to our YouTube channel and our blog. Follow us on Twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar ——–>


17

Push-Ups: Right & Wrong Way

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Push-Ups are a Great Exercise if you do them Properly

Push-Ups: Right and Wrong Way with Alexandra and KymberlyIf we were left alone on a deserted island (or gym), we’d still be able to get a great workout. Actually, if we had to pick just two exercises, push-ups would be one of them (we aren’t saying the other just yet; you’ll have to wait for that post) because they work so many muscles, don’t require equipment, and are fairly easy to do.

For those of you hate push-ups, why? Because someone said you had to do long lever (toe) or not at all? Because they’re hard? Because (for you women) you were told you’d look too “manly” in the chest?

If you do them correctly, they are fun, fun, fun! Believe it!

Correct form means:

  • Shoulder blades retracted
  • Long line from head to knees (or toes)
  • Hands wide so there’s a 90 degree angle at the elbows at the bottom of the move
  • Hands in a line with the chest (not the shoulders)

So, are you a push-up hater or lover? For more on short  vs long lever (knee vs toe)  push-ups, take a look at our post with a dedicated video, Push-Ups: Knees to Toes

Clickety click on these links. Lower yourself into a push-up, then use your nose to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Or our blog. Follow us on Twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. You can also find us via the icons to your right —–>

20

One-Legged Workout

Alexandra Williams, MA

Even When You Can’t do a Full-Body Workout, You can Still Do a Partial-Body Workout

As some of you may know, I had surgery on my foot last week. At my post-op visit, the doc used the word “horrific” to describe my big toe joint (bone spurs, zero cartilage, bone-on-bone) when he got in there during the surgery. When the doctor uses that kind of adjective, you kind of quickly figure out you won’t be going back to your normal routine (teaching group fitness, walking in regular shoes) early. He said it takes six full weeks for the bones to fully fuse together, and that if I put any weight at all on my big toe, the screws could snap. Ick!

I am not happy, nor am I depressed, about being out of commission for at least six weeks. It’s more like acceptance and now let’s move on to what I can do. My one request to the doc was to make it so I could still teach again. I don’t want to be limited when I’m only halfway through my life. So I’m trusting that I’ll teach by the time the Fall quarter starts at the U. Until then, I am focusing on doing as much as I safely can, especially workouts.

With that in mind, I went into the back room and pulled out my (very dusty) plates and bar. Got my cool mat that Goodness Knows Snacks gave me at the Fitness Health Bloggers conference too! This is a partial list of some of the exercises I’ve been doing. If you like them, I hope you’ll give them a try.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxoPLH8-I_U[/youtube]

Chest Presses
Single-leg Rows
Seated Bicep Curls
Supine Skull Crushers
Table-top Heel Taps
Single-leg Bridges
Single-leg Push-Ups
Single-leg Planks
Supine Leg Raises

Did you read that very short list and start thinking, “Wow, that’s it?! There are hundreds of exercises you could do”? I hope so, because that’s exactly what I figured out. I am limited by my foot, not by my imagination, determination or any of the other 229 joints (the number varies, depending on which joints you count) in my body. And a shout out to my new Twitter friend @ittuderevolution for sharing some of her favorite exercise suggestions.

When you can’t have something is when you really want it (remember your high school crushes?), so I hope that anyone and everyone who reads this and doesn’t want to work out takes a few seconds to think, “Hmm, I should do this today because I can. Tomorrow I might be wearing one of those ugly black booties.”

It’s not “All or Nothing.” It’s “All or Something or Nothing.” I’m limited, but not incapacitated. And I still have my sense of humor! Here’s to me! Now, I think I’ll go see about getting some toenail polish!

Have you ever been limited by your body? How did you respond?

7

Seuss Workout

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

A Full-Body Workout based on Dr. Seuss Quotes

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won!

Whenever you work out, you score points. Whenever you have fun you win at life! The more you work out and the more fun you have, the better your life, right?!

We were inspired by our friend Carla, who is a very dedicated Seuss follower, to make this Seussical workout as a birthday gift to her. Why? Because…

If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.

In other words, time for squats, planks and some general “Cat in the Hat” house tomfoolery! We can only say that no furniture was harmed in the making of the cardio portion of this workout!

Squats: 10 Reps using Bar & Plates
Planks: Alternate sides and slowly drag arm/ leg back in.
Follow with heel rock-back plank and single-leg plank
Cardio: Walk, Jump, Flounce & Pounce for at least 15 minutes

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOefo3A4YqE[/youtube]

 

My life is good. My life is fun. I wish this life for everyone (okay, Dr. Seuss didn’t really say this; I made it up).

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss quote? And what would your workout look like?

Illustration credit: Mamiverse.com

13

Resistance Tube Workout

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

This is a guest post from our friend Kodjo Hounnake. We know you’ll enjoy it.

I am Kodjo, from Kodjoworkout.com and today I have the daunting task of guest posting for industry heavyweights and FitFluential Ambassadors Kymberly and Alexandra. So I thought about workout topics that would be interesting and narrowed them down to something all of us should have in our fitness arsenal: a resistance tube.

What’s a Resistance Tube?

Heavy Resistance – Blue Tube

When it comes to strength training, most people typically go for free weights and machines. But if you work out at home, you probably know how expensive free weights are; let alone full-blown workout machines. So if you get most of your workout done at home, one piece of equipment you may want to get is the resistance tube.
Resistance tubes are long rubber bands with handles on them, and are used to perform strength training exercise routines. The resistance depends on its elasticity. This means that the thicker the tube, the higher its resistance. Keep that in mind when choosing one. You certainly don’t want it to be too elastic or not elastic enough. In other words, find your sweet spot.

How to use the Resistance Tube

The different uses of the resistance tube are only limited by your creativity. For example, you can step on the tube and use its resistance to perform biceps curls and lateral raises. Also, make sure your resistance tube comes with a door attachment, as it helps hook the tube to a door or window. This further increases the breadth of exercises you can perform. For instance, when attached to a door, the resistance tube can be used to perform triceps extensions, chest fly, rows, etc.
Unlike dumbbells that have a set weight, the great thing about resistance tubes is that you can increase or decrease your level of difficulty by modifying your position. Specifically, if you attach the band to a door, the farther you move away from the door, the higher the intensity of each pull. The closer you are to the door, the easier your workout.

Reasons you should have a Resistance Tube

There are many reasons everyone should own a resistance tube:
Resistance tubes are travel-friendly: If you travel often, it is very easy to skip a workout, especially if your travel location doesn’t have a gym in close proximity. In this case, the resistance tube can come to your rescue, as it is very easy to pack, and can be used in your hotel room or strapped around a tree.
Resistance tubes are cheap: There isn’t a lot of exercise equipment out there that is both versatile and affordable. The resistance tube is one of them. You can pick one up for less than $20, so it’s great for the budget-conscious exerciser (i.e. most of us)!
Resistance tubes add variety: With regular free weights, you are limited by the number of exercises you can perform, whereas a resistance tube allows you to modify your positioning in so many different ways, that there are endless possibilities for complexity and difficulty.
Resistance tubes are not just for the pros: Because you can control the elasticity of the tubes, they can be used by beginners and pros alike. To add intensity to your workout, step away from the attachment point. (for example, if you’re doing a chest press with the tube in the door behind you, the attachment point is where the tube is held by the door). To reduce the intensity, move closer to the center of the tube.
In the routine below, you’ll see the resistance tube being used to perform some triceps, shoulders and chest exercises

About the author: Kodjo Hounnake is a fitness enthusiast turned health blogger. When he is not tweeting or blogging about home workout sand healthy eating, he is likely eating healthfully and working out at home. His wish is to contribute as much as possible to the fight against obesity in America. He recently developed a four-week home workout program to help people exercise in the comfort of their home. Kodjo has more than a hundred thousand loyal Twitter Followers at Kodjoworkout.

Dear Readers: We encourage you to subscribe to and follow Kodjo, as he’s a very sociable person.
For those of you who are new to tubes or have shoulder issues, we recommend you hold your arms lower than shoulder height for the chest press, with the tube coming under the arms rather than over.