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Tag Archives for " functional fitness "
12

Fitness Health Bloggers Conference: Staying Fit While Traveling

by Alexandra Williams, MA

The recent Fitness Health Bloggers Conference (FHBC) was held in Denver, Colorado. I live in Santa Barbara, California. So of course I decided to drive 1,200 miles, each way, rather than fly. And I discovered it is possible to stay somewhat active while driving, just not simultaneously (although I do tend to finger dance to good music on the car radio).

I brought along my 15 year old son. By definition, he does not drive. I hate driving. But I do like traveling. And saving money on airfare. My solution: make lots of stops to get out of the car and take photos with my new iPhone. Yup, oddly enough, having Instagram (an app that lets you take photos and send them out via social media immediately) motivated me to get out of the car and move.

Route to the Fitness Health Bloggers conference

Santa Barbara to Denver via the I-15 & I-70 - Lovely except for HOT Nevada

Any time we spotted a viewpoint or something interesting along the road (yeah, Hwys. 15 and 70 are both major interstates with shoulders just wide enough for me to pull over and not get “whoomped” by the draft of 18-wheelers passing by), I’d careen carefully pull over to the side of the freeway, get out and take some pics. I even took my poor, long-suffering kid on a few short hikes, trying to get the “best” shot. FYI, I am not actually a photographer, I was just determined to get my kid moving.

Driving home via the southern route: Denver to Santa Barbara

The long, hot route from Denver to Santa Barbara. Scenic though!

There has been so much research lately about the detrimental effects of sitting too long that I wanted to be sure and move, both while on the road and at the conference.
I also wanted to be sure and eat healthfully, as good eating habits sometimes get tossed out the window (along with fast-food trash) during road trips.
See for yourself whether I met my movement and food goals.
[youtube]http://youtu.be/ciXcVDN1lxQ[/youtube]

If you read our post “Lose 2 Pounds in 2 Days,” or our other conference-related post “3 Excuses You Can Use When Mountain Hiking,” then you already know that we went to the conference to speak about blogging and learn about the latest research in the health & fitness field. The attendees were a combination of fitness industry pros and enthusiasts; what we all had in common was our love of fitness and social media. And food. Um, yeah! Food!

This is the section where I tell you about the amazing brands that sponsored the conference (and my fabulous fashion choices). I say “amazing” because they treated us extremely well. Not just well; extremely well.

Anschutz Health & Wellness Center

goodnessknows
Cherry Marketing Institute
Attune Foods
Rockin’ Refuel

Chipotle
Driscoll’s Berries
Love Grown Granola
Western Dairy Association
Adora™ Calcium
TechnoGym
Quebec Maple Syrup
Better Whey of Life

My gear:
Black Jacket: Qignition
Presentation pink outfit: Aventura Clothing
Orange backpack/ purse: Overland Equipment
Totally comfy wicking socks for the hikes: Goodhew
Hat that protected me from the sun and sweat: Headsweats
Fabulously awesome, fit body: My parents (no link haha, although you can see our mom in this posture video)

Disclaimer: Thank you to Refuel with Chocolate Milk for providing us with a scholarship for the conference registration, and to FitFluential for making it possible for us to be panel speakers and moderators. All opinions, silly faces and poorly lit pictures are my own!

24

Workout for Dads

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Father’s Day is right around the corner, so these exercise suggestions are designed to help older dads get around that corner under their own power!

Before and After

As our parents (and grandparents) age, they tend to lose a lot of their strength, mobility and balance. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sarcopenia (progressive decline in skeletal muscle mass…that may lead to decreased strength and functionality) is common among older adults, but exercise can help prevent muscle wasting (yup, the article in the link is by OUR Alexandra).

In honor of Father’s Day, and all fathers (mothers can do this workout too) who need more strength and mobility, we have created a functional, achievable mini-workout. Have your favorite fairly inactive older adult  try it and let us know how it goes!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ordMc5oBDM[/youtube]

Cardio: 10 minutes
* Lower body – foot movement
* Upper body – arms and torso movement
If you use music, 150-160 bpm is ideal for really working up a sweat in this seated workout

Strength:
* Sit to Stand – 10 reps – leg & core strength
* Wall Push-ups – 10-15 reps – upper body & core strength
* One- arm reach and rotate –  10 on each side – core strength, flexibility and balance

Heck, why not try it out yourself? It’s effective! May all our dads be around to enjoy good health for many years!

Clothing: Top by YMX Yellowman
Workout pants by Nike
Hiking/ Running shoes by Vasque Footwear

Photo credits: Man rollerblading  Dave Keeshan, Man with cane  garryknight

30

Kneeling Core Move: Ab-Fab-ulous!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Are you ready for another core move that will strengthen your abs and is a bit of a challenge?

Kneeling Core Move – Lean Waaaaay Back

The kneeling core move has you on your knees, but not begging for forgiveness! Everywhere a belt would touch is where you’ll have to contract. When you do this move correctly, you will feel your abs engaging and working for sure. Done right, your glutes stay pushed forward and contracted throughout.

 

Our short video shows both the right and wrong way to get the most from the Kneeling Core Move.

 

 

The tricky thing about this core exercise is that it’s easy to do wrong. So we recommend using a mirror the first few times you try it. You will think you are hinging at the floor, yet may be be actually hinging along the spine (bending at waist or hips, tipping at shoulders).

If you feel off-balance, you’re probably doing it right. If your behind sticks out, you are doing it wrong and will get zero abs benefit. You will improve your hula hooping though! If the Kneeling Core Move seems easy,  check your form or have someone check it for you. (After you both watch the video of course).

Want more ab and core moves?  Try our Rotating Abs Exercise then check whether you have True Core Strength.

Then you’ll have More More More, How Do You Like It? More more more CORE core core! Sing along with us now.

Try this exercise both clockwise and counterclockwise and let us know what you think in the comments below! We also hope you subscribe to our YouTube channel.

 

 

18

3 Tips for Preventing Shin Splints [Video]

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

See how painful that looks? Only your heart should look this red and throbbing!

Do you want to prevent shin splints? Apparently many of you do as “shin splints” is our site’s most popular search term. (Yeah, we peeked). Our previous post about preventing shin splints is one of our “top sellers” (except it’s free to read).

 

 

 

The 3 tips in the video below will help you prevent shin splints. You’ll see more in future posts on what to do before and  after  shin pain. For now, take a look at this short video:

 

Key for you to know is that the shin (anterior tibialis) and calf (gastrocnemius, plus five other calf muscles  work as a team. Most people shower too much attention on the calf, and neglect the shin. The calf gets big and bossy and tries to exert constant force on the little tib. This makes the shin very envious and it shows its displeasure by becoming stressed and painful. If you give the shin a bit more love (that is secret code for “more training”) it will be happy and joyous and take you all kinds of places pain-free.

Have you ever had shin splints? What did you do to recover?

Photo Courtesy of Mayo Clinic

Voting for the Shorty Awards ends on 2/17. Please vote for Alexandra in the #SocialFitness category if you haven’t already. Thank you.

Nominate Alexandra Williams for a social media award in the Shorty Awards!

Nominate Alexandra Williams

for a social media award in the Shorty Awards

13

Chin Check: Get Better Posture-Part 7

If you are like most people, you want to get ahead in life. The metaphor exists for a good reason. Many people literally stick their head ahead as they advance in life.  Such “get-aheaders” are technically called “forward head thrusters.”  Guess what? Odds are good (or would that be “bad”?) that YOU are a forward head thruster. How can you know? And what does it matter?

To find out whether your spinal alignment has (mal)adapted to a desire to get ahead, take the quick chin check we show in our video.

Sure, you might not like the momentary double-chin look. Goodness knows I, Kymberly am not so keen on that video side view of my triple chin (what I will for you lovely readers!). But you will like the benefits of that bowling ball known as your head being balanced over its support system instead of awkwardly perched in front of it.

Centering your head over your spine will increase comfort, decrease neck tension, keep you nicely extended, and save the planet. Or at least your posture.

Readers and Viewers: How much space did you have between your finger and chin? “Fess up.

32

Seated Posture: Part 6 Sitting Pretty

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: I am loving your posture videos! I sit at a desk all day and I’m wondering if you would do a video on posture while sitting. Also, I find it easier to slouch at the computer (I sit on a backless stool) and I’m wondering why sitting up straight seems to take more energy? I am in my early 30’s and when I stand up straight in the mirror, my body looks lovely…and when I am doing my normal posture it looks schlumpy and not as nice. I’d love to change this and I appreciate your help ladies! :)) Sibby, Miami, FL

Schlumpy

Seated Schlumpy

Dear Sibby: We are of the mindset and age that 30 year olds should look lovely, and mostly do. We know we did! Since you asked so nicely, we shot a posture video with three starter suggestions on achieving anti-slouching when seated.

 

 

 

 

The real key though, is awareness, which you seem to have. We deduced this first by your compliment about out posture series videos 1-5. Obvious awareness! Second, you know when you are schlumping, you know when you’re up straight, you know when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for posture’s sake. (Make you think back to any holiday songs?). Third, you actually noticed that sitting in good posture takes energy. This level of awareness is your first, and best step to meeting your posture goals.

A few tips in addition to the video insights:

  1. When wanting to sit naturally and less stressfully, think “tall and extended with your heart lifted” rather than “straight.” The spine has natural curvature so a straight back would actually be out of alignment. Kinda painful too by the end of the workday.
  2. Good body alignment DOES take energy because we need activated muscles to achieve optimal spinal position and muscles are energy users, big time. However, the body seeks energy efficiency (secret body code for – how can I do the least?) Relying on joints, tendons, and ligaments to support a given position (this “schlumping” you confess to) is calorically (energetically) efficient.  Sure, we pay the price later in sore joints, wimpy muscles, and posture that makes us look waaay older than 30!. As we sit hunched over, we are not using abs and back muscles.
  3. Check the relationship between your body and your work station. If the ergonomics are off, that is the first thing to change. Is your work station too low relative to your stool so that you have to hunch to reach the keyboard?
  4. Lastly, stand up every 15-30 minutes. This simple movement will remind you of your posture and get you out of any bad sitting habits at least temporarily.

Saaaay, are you schlumping while reading this? Lift your heart puhleeeze!

Readers: What do you do to remind yourself to sit lifted? What word have you made up to beat “schlumping”? (which we pretty much like and plan to adopt).

Nominate Alexandra Williams for a social media award in the Shorty Awards!

Nominate Alexandra Williams

for a social media award in the Shorty Awards

4

4 More Useless Exercises

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Okay, we took a bit of ribbing about our previous post of useless exercises, as in “Hey, I used to do that one too. Thanks a lot for the reminder!” That encouraged us so much that we moved with no forwarding address. But before we packed up our mats, weights and “no pain, no gain” mantras, we filmed a few more “lovelies” for you. And don’t do these exercises, unless you are auditioning for “Dancing with the Dorks.” If that’s the case, do all four in high heels. Men too!

Donkey kick

Donkey kicks are great exercise - for donkeys!

 

 

 

 

Quick quiz: What works your pecs (the chest) better, a push-up or the standing elbow squeeze? Sadly, we used to believe these might help. I think genetics and push-ups might have had more of an effect on the ol’ bust-a-roos! And nursing the evil spawn children!

This next hip-aching move was probably created by an overzealous instructor who saw a dog pissing on a hydrant. There’s no other explanation. Pain, lack of results and research kind of debunked this one too! And you’ve gotta ask yourself – um, do I ever need this particular move in real life?

Hee-haw hee-haw. Donkey kicks for the ass..inine. There are many other exercises out there that are great for the glutes (booty of perfection), but this ain’t one of ’em! We secretly call this one Donkey Spine Thrasher. Oh, yeah, we kicked some … donkey!

Do you know what ballistic stretching is? Neither did we. Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, snap. You wouldn’t do this type of stretch-release-stretch-release with a rubber band, so why subject your hamstrings (or any muscle) to it? Here’s a quick quote from one of our favorite, extra-clever research colleagues, Dr. Len Kravitz of U of New Mexico, Albuquerque: “Ballistic stretching involves a bouncy approach to reach the target muscle’s motion endpoint. A concern with ballistic stretching is that it is often performed in a jerky, bobbing fashion that may produce undesirable tension or trauma to the stretched muscle and associated connective tissues. It may produce a potent stretch reflex that will oppose the muscle lengthening.”

Okay, admit it, are any of these still in your workout regimen? Can you dump it now? Can you dump it now? How ’bout now?

Call me to share your useless exercises

You're doing WHAT exercise?

Photo credits: Creative Commons (pmarkham)

18

Want Picture Perfect Posture? Part 2

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Posture Assessment

Do you think this outfit matches my posture?

Recently we did a post about finding your natural posture. Well, whaddya know, we got a bunch of requests to show what comes next in assessing posture.

Alexandra: So we asked our friend Cathleen Clarke (the group fitness director at the Spectrum Clubs in Santa Barbara) to film us, after making her do a pinky swear not to publish any video of us fighting.

Yes, it’s about 3:33 long, but worth every second, especially the part where Kymberly moves that messy pile of hair from my neck! And isn’t 333 half of 666? And twins are each half of something! So it’s the perfect number, considering one of us (not naming myself) was recently called a “cheeky devil” in Swedish.

 

Kymberly: As long as those cheekies are level and symmetrical, we’ll go with that! So whether you are a trainer, trainee, curious person who wants to understand posture better, or merely a voyeur, we hope you can use our tips to assess posture from the front and back. Of course you also want to assess from both the left and right sides. (Yes, BOTH sides as our bodies don’t always tell the same story left and right, believe it or not. But we want to give you something to look forward to in the video sequel.)

Meantime, we will leave you with this thought: if your nipples are pointing down and your kneecaps are pointing in different directions from one another, your posture just picked a peck of pickled position!

Readers and viewers: Wonder why some people have great posture on one side and everything askew on the other? Part 3 coming if there’s popular demand. And by that we mean lots of comments, gifts, requests, stumbles, applause. You know the drill.

Photo Credits: Creative Commons – leo.jeje

17

Do You Really Have Core Strength?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Blue Hair, Nice Skirt, Strong Abs - He's got it all

Yes, he's weird. Nice abs though!

Kymberly: If you can do 100 crunches, have super abs, or can hold a hover for 3 minutes, does this mean you are core-some and awesome?  For many, a strong core is defined by flaunting a 6-pack (yes, you heard envy in my tone. Sure, I have a 6-pack… under my 12 pack).  How can you know whether a certain look or ability translates into true inner strength?

Alexandra: Wherever your belt touches, that is your core, which means abs and back working together to keep you strong, braced and upright!  Include your entire torso, and you have a good idea of what the “core” defines, besides just “fab-abs.”  Many of our students believe they are very strong in their core, sometimes because they have well-developed chests and shoulders. But…..does the ability to bench press your mama really mean you have a strong core? Maybe it just means you have a big chest and a small mama!

Let’s find out:

K: Did you try the move? Tougher than it looks, right? This exercise really tests whether you initiate movement from the center of your body or depend on your extremities to get you places. (For those of you who like high techy terms, you want to start movement proximally, then have it translate distally, not the other way around). To use a crunch as an example, if you start the move by lifting your head, cranking on your neck, or throwing your arms to get going, you are depending on the ends or extremities of your body to get some action in the core. Such action means you are working from the outside, in. If you can set up your body in a good crunch position and first engage the midsection, which then moves the shoulders and head off the ground, you are working from the inside, out. Movement stars at the center of the body and radiates out to the hands, feet, and head.

A: All I know is that I radiate from all my insides and outsides!. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go roll around on a mat somewhere. Quietly, by myself. In a darkened room with no mirrors or cameras.

Core-licious readers: Do YOU have core strength? What’s your favorite core move?

Photo credits: Creative Commons

17

What’s Your Natural and True Posture?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Posture

Is This Perfect Posture? Where’s the Cleavage?

Do you want to improve your posture? Are you keen to enjoy the happy, comfy, confident body that good posture brings? Do you want to instantly look 5 pounds thinner? Ok, so now we have your attention.

To get where you’re going, you need to know where you start. Or something like that. We were tempted to start with “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Perfect Posture,” but you might have thought we were pickled.

Your first step is to know your current posture — unchanged, unmodified, no artificial sticks-up-the-wherever added. But how can you establish your normal stance without already thinking about trying to “correct” it?

Cue the trumpets as Fun and Fit talk you through an easy way to get to your regular, 100% all natural beefcake posture. Once you have that established, you are in the perfect position to make assessments, observations, and improvements. And with enough comments on this post, we might make those video sequels showing you how to assess and progress. For now, don’t mess with what you have going now. Just know what you are dealing with. Us! And You!

 

Posture

Posture: Going, Going, Gone

Photo credits: Creative Commons