Friday, February 26, 2016

Like barre workouts? Try this one:

Last month, I posted a 60-minute barre workout you can do at home. Barre classes are extremely popular, and effective for a variety of reasons. They can very in style and intensity...but they can also be expensive to attend. Join a gym and you might get them for free. We offer two classes a week to our members, and they seem to really love them. I teach one of them, and it's by far one of my favorite classes. Today, I'd like to share with you one of our latest Barre Fit classes just in case you're looking for an at-home barre workout that doesn't need a lot of equipment.

Tone and tighten your muscles with this at-home barre workout.
It must be said: Please make sure you check in with your physician before you try anything new. I am a certified fitness professional, but I don't know what your individual limits and restrictions are. You must be open and honest with yourself when it comes to your health. Don't take unnecessary risks, and ask all the right questions first. It never hurts to just make sure that something is right for you.

A few things to consider before you begin:
1) You'll need to warm up (and cool down) as you see fit.
2) Gather a small ball, two paper plates (or discs) and some light hand weights.

Now, let's get to it.
Here's the actual workout, then I'll break it down for you:

60-Minute Barre Workout You Can Do At Home
This workout is divided up into two big circuits. Complete each circuit three times, adjusting and modifying as you see fit (based on your individual fitness needs). Let me break down some of the less obvious parts of the workout:

Circuit #1
Flight Lunge to Front Abductions

60-Minute At Home Barre Workout
Start off in a flight lunge, bend and straighten your front knee without moving your upper body. This is equivalent to one repetition. After you complete all of your repetitions, straighten up to front abductions on the opposite leg (shown above in the first graphic). Be sure to repeat this on your other side.

Hip Presses with a Ball

60-Minute At Home Barre Workout
Make this traditional exercise a little harder by squeezing a small ball in between your knees the entire time you press up and down. On your last repetition, hold yourself in the bridge, then squeeze and release the ball repeatedly until you complete all of the repetitions. Make it harder by keeping your heels lifted, too.

Swimmer Kicks
This exercise is pretty easy to understand, but it can be called a wide variety of things Like flutter kicks, for example. And it can also be done face-down on the floor. So here's a visual of what I'm calling for in the workout:

Core Exercise in a Barre Class
If you have any lower back issues, proceed with caution. Remember to keep your lower back pressed into the floor, and the lower your feet are to the ground, the more challenging it will be. Switch to a traditional plank if need be.

3-Stop Pushups
No picture because you know what a pushup looks like, but let's talk about what "3-stop" means: Essentially, pause 1...2...3 times on your way down (or up) before completing the pushup. It's not complicated, I promise, but will burn your upper body in the best way possible.

Circuit #2
Wide Squat Hold with Front Shoulder Lifts
After completing your wide squats with a biceps curl, hold the wide squat and move your arms up and down. Don't release that 90-degree bend. It should look like this:

60-Minute Barre Workout
When you hold that wide squat position, remember to tuck your hips underneath you, and tighten your core. And keep your knees over your toes.

Wide Squats with a Reverse Squeeze
Next up, come right out of that squat hold into regular squats, adding a reverse squeeze when you stand up to effectively engage the muscles in your back.

60-Minute At Home Barre Workout
Wide Squat Hold with 5th Position Arm Lifts
Hold that wide squat one more time and lift those arms up overhead into what, in traditional ballet classes, is called 5th position. Like this:

60-Minute At Home Barre Workout
2-Disc Cross Plank
I have a set of Valslides at home, but you don't need fancy equipment to complete this exercise. You essentially just need something that will glide across your floor, and paper plates often fit that bill. You'll want to put one under each foot as you get into a plank position, then all you do is alternate sliding your leg underneath to the other side.

60-Minute At Home Barre Workout
Of course, you can always turn this into a kick-through or a knee pull if that works better for you.

Always do what is best for you, friends.

Ready to try an at-home barre workout? Let me know how it goes. And if you like it, here's another 60-minute barre workout you can try.

Want more fitness inspiration? Check out the Fitness, Health and Happiness and #fitnfashionable link-ups. My fellow bloggers know what's up!

Question: What's your favorite at-home workout?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Getting Better at Arm Balance Poses (, some new @Athleta gear)

At the beginning of the year, I decided that "do more yoga" would be one of my fitness, health and happiness goals. To achieve this goal, I've been attending the Tuesday morning Power Yoga class at the gym where I work—and I absolutely love it. I tend to get majorly distracted in yoga classes, but this Power Yoga class has managed to keep my attention. It challenges me in all the right ways, and flows at a speed that doesn't really give me time to stop and think. 

Outside of class, I am continuing to play around with arm balance poses.

Striped Chaturanga Tights from Athleta
I'm getting less and less dependent on the wall in a traditional forearm balance, and I can hold it much longer than before—I can even hold a scorpion pose! But I still can't, for the life of me, get up and hold either of the two without the wall. I flip over every time. Literally, every single time. But, progress is progress and I'll just keep working on it. That's why they call yoga a practice, right?

Another forearm balance on my list: Eight-Angle Pose.

Cute Yoga Clothes from Athleta
 I can nail it, but I'm not quite feeling super sturdy with it yet. Not like I am in a one-legged arm balance, which I can now do twisted (at least to one side):

Cute Yoga Clothes from Athleta
Bloggers take note: Use the camera function on your phone to get stills of yourself when you don't have a photographer present. I sometimes use the self-timer on my big camera, but it takes me longer than 10 seconds to get into the poses. Still working on that as well. 

Yoga is a practice. 
Repeat: Yoga is a practice.

And since I'm practicing more yoga, I decided to splurge on some new yoga clothing from Athleta. 

Translation: I raided Athleta when I was in Chicago last week because #obsessedwitheverything. I already had the Striped Chaturanga Tights, so I picked up a matching grey Full Force Tank. I'm obsessed with the back:

Cute Yoga Clothes from Athleta
So super cute. I mean, pretty much everything in Athleta is cute. Like this green and navy combo:

yoga clothing, yoga outfits

I literally wore this outfit all day long (with a sweater, too) because it was so comfortable. Want all the colors, want all the prints. #wantallthethings

You'd be crazy to think I'd walk out of the store without these running tights, too:

Athleta clothing, Athleta running pants, Fitness Fashion
They're the Laser Beam Sonar Capri and they are everything. This selfie doesn't do them justice. The colors are on point...seriously, multi-colored pants are your best investment because you can rotate them through a wide variety of tops and never feel like you're over-wearing them. 

More evidence of my Athleta obsession:
Striped Yoga Pants and Gym Shoes with Flowers

For more fitness fashion, check out the #fitnfashionable link-up. And for more fitness inspiration, check out the Fitness, Health and Happiness link-up. My blogger friends are awesome.

Question: What yoga poses are you currently practicing?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Should I run 15 miles?

I haven't been talking about running, have I? Oh, don't go crazy—I am definitely still running. Three times a week, two short weekday runs and a longer weekend run. But I'm totally in this funk with it. I am loving the freedom of running as I see fit. I'm constrained by this need to train, I'm just running for the love of it and because it feels good. I am feeling strong, despite not really doing anything special to improve.

I ran a 5K here in my hometown earlier this month and it went fantastically.

I was the 4th female to cross the finish line, and the 3rd female in my age group to finish. Yes, the top four female finishers were all in the same age group. My age group. We basically kicked ass.

I even clocked a new PR:

Again, totally not training. But I've clocked a few runs with one of my trainers, who happens to be a high school track and cross country coach. I think he's pushing me to be faster, and it's obviously working. With his help, I've even clocked a 6:55 mile. That's way fast for me.

But, here I am.

One thing I've been thinking about is the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids. It's a 15-miler, which would be the longest distance I have ever trained for. Not gonna lie—I sort of want that medal just to show myself that I can do it. But I'm also not gonna lie about the fact that the idea of training for it makes me want to crawl into a hole.

According to the training plan I downloaded from the website, I need to start building distance this weekend. So, instead of my usual 6-miler, I'd need to log a 7-miler. And I just don't know.

I spoke with my running buddy about my lack of motivation and he thinks I should focus on shorter distances this year. I usually focus on a handful of half marathons every year. Focusing on 5K and 10K races wouldn't really impact my existing fitness schedule like training for a half marathon could.

Translation: My running and fitness is as such that I don't really need to train for three or six miles. I'm basically already doing that via the three runs I'm currently completing each week. Minus the pressure, which is great. Here's what my weekly schedule looks like:

Monday: Barre Fit
Tuesday: 3-Mile Run
Wednesday: HIIT
Thursday: 3-Mile Run or Spinning
Friday: PiYo Live
Saturday: 6-Mile Run
Sunday: Rest

So, I've got the rest of this week to decide what a girl should do.
Also, I need new shoes. So the search begins for those, too.

Question: What do YOU think I should do?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

#linklove: Good Reads from Around the Internet, February 2016

It's love day, friends. I hope you celebrated it somehow, some way and with someone you love. Even if that someone is you. Because we all deserve a little self-love. Who better to pick ourselves up than, well...our very own self. Right? Think about it. And think about how you are going to show some love to those around you today, tomorrow and every day thereafter.

love quotes
Speaking of love, it's a great day for some link love! Once again, the browser on my phone is full of greatness, so if you're looking for something fun to read on the Internet, I invite you to check out the following links.

Monthly roundup of links from across the web.
1) I'm still obsessed with arm balances, and have been working on mastering quite a few of them. It's one of my goals for this year. Update to come later this week!

2) Given the link above, it should be fairly obvious to you that I don't have an issue with inversions. There's a member of my fitness team that absolutely hates them, even though I'm certain he's strong enough to actually do them. Feel the same? Here's why inversion are good for your mind, and why you should do them if you can.

3) There are a variety of different barre methods out there, and while I don't follow one specific format in my Monday morning Barre Fit class, I do try to make sure that my students walk away having experienced these five benefits of barre class.

4) Hey moms, you know what it's like to lose your patience. Right? Well, I'm not going to feel bad about the days when I lose my patience. Guilt-free motherhood, let's all do it.

5) I'm knee-deep in the ACE Group Fitness manual, and also a book about Jesus (yes, it's Lent). But if you need something to read, here's a list of 16 inspiring books you should read in 2016.

6) Currently contemplating tomorrow's Barre Fit class. I might incorporate some moves from this waist-slimming lower ab workout.

7) You should make this easy Tuscan bean soup. Thank me later.

8) Everyone should know these 25 things about life.

9) When I was little, my grandmother bought me a calligraphy set. The pens dried out because I ultimately sucked at it. But, I do love making letters look fancy in my own, non-calligraphy way. But now, I'm going to create fake calligraphy when I write, draw or journal because why not.

10) We do a lot of burpees in my HIIT class on Wednesday Mornings. I happen to love burpees. And these insane burpee variations.

Question: Flowers or chocolate? 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Is your sports bra comfortable? If not, shop @target. #C9atTarget #C9fitgirls

Disclaimer: The following post is sponsored by Influenster on behalf of Target. I received free product to facilitate the following review. All opinions, as you know, are mine and mine alone.

When I found out that I'd be getting a free sports bra from Target through my partnership with Influenster,  I literally jumped for joy. Some of my go-to sports bras are from Target—but they're really old. A testament to their comfort, as well as their ability to endure the test of time (or crazy workouts). I mean, it's Target...who doesn't love their active wear? Cute, comfortable, affordable. I basically want everything whenever I'm in there.

Did you know that they recently relaunched their sports bras? So many options! From the colors to the styles, I'm pretty convinced that almost anyone could walk into Target and find the perfect sports bra. When the box arrived from Influenster, I dug right in:

Find comfortable sports bras from Target.
Hello, pink and black Power Core Compression sports bra. #winningalready

Guys, seriously—I am in love with this sports bra and am already dreaming about purchasing one in every color. For real. Because when you find one sports bra that's super comfortable and cute, I mean, why wouldn't you buy one in every color?

Target Sports Bras, Warrior 2
It's got a supportive double layer of compression fabric that does a great job of wicking away moisture. I wore it in my PiYo Live class, which always makes me drip, and was significantly dry shortly after class. Plus, the wide elastic band...totally comfortable and moved with me in every direction. Never once did I have to stop and adjust it.

Yoga Clothes, Sports Bra, Target, Influenster
Price? $16.99

I know, right?

Power Core Compression Sports Bras
The back, in case you're wondering, is just a racerback style. Basic, plain and awesome.

Power Core Compression Sports Bra, Target Activewear
And despite being plain, I felt like it was the type of bra that needed to be seen (mostly because the color itself is awesome). So on a trip to Target for diapers for my little dude, I peeked into the active wear section and bought the black tank you see above. Hard to tell, but it drapes down a bit in the low back area. Super comfortable, and available in other colors, too.

Tip of the day: Don't forget to look at the active wear section online. I don't know what your Target is like, but I swear there are tons more options on the website than there are in the store. Oh, and if you're headed into the store, print out this 20% coupon so you can get your own Power Core Compression sports bra. #yourewelcome

As if you needed another reason to shop at Target.

Question: What's your absolute, most favorite thing to wear to the gym? For me, I think it's anything I can pair with the black and white pants you see above.

Monday, February 1, 2016

6 Things I'm Loving Right Now, February 2016

I haven't shared a list of random favorites with you in quite some time. I think it was last Fall, to be honest. Of course, I've been loving on a lot of things since then. Some of which I have talked about, like my new running vest. Or my vivofit 2. In case you're wondering, here are some of my more recent favorites:

Carmex Moisture Plus Lip Balm
1) Carmex Moisture Plus Lip Balm

6 Things I'm Loving Right Now

Seriously, my dry all the time at this time of year. I hate Winter so much because it literally parches me out. I picked up this lip balm because, well...the tube itself is adorable, and Carmex products always get the job done. Also, it tastes like Vanilla with the perfect amount of moisture (plus, some shine).

2) Colosseum Determination Draped-Back Yoga Tee
I've been doing a lot of Power Yoga lately, also a thing I'm loving, so I've been stocking up on some new and super comfortable tops. And I'm really loving the open-back look. Basic in the front—party in the back! This draped-back tee from Kohl's is so comfortable that it's ridiculous. It also comes in black, which I want. So much. But I had to get the "wild aster" color first because it's pretty much my favorite color (and was the main color at our wedding, so...):

Yoga Fashion, Fitness Fashion
3) Two new bags: MARC by Marc Jacobs New Q Mini Natasha in Faded Aluminum and a Batman Backpack from Pottery Barn Kids).
I have been waiting very, very patiently for the day I could purchase a MARC by Marc Jacobs bag. Seriously, I've wanted the New Q Mini forever and I've always told myself that I'd get it when my kids grew out of the need for a giant diaper bag. And that time finally came. Evan doesn't need as much when we're on the go, just a few diapers. Maybe a snack, depending. So I splurged...I got the purse for myself, and a little Batman backpack for him, which he loves more than anything because "sissy" always carries her backpack, too.

6 Things I'm Loving Right Now
4) Downton Abbey, Season 6
I seriously did not know, or maybe I forgot, that it was coming back in January. So when I saw the promo, I jumped for joy and I've been watching it every week. It's! I'll be sad to see it end.

5) Vega One Sport Protein Bar in Chocolate Mint
You guys, I die for this flavor. But it's so hard to find! I used to get it at the Whole Foods about 45 minutes from my house, but they stopped carrying it. My local big box is carrying two other flavors, which are also great, but...chocolate and mint. I mean. Come on. So good. I owe my friends at Vega big time for sending me an entire box.

6) "Breathe" Essential Oil Blend

How to blend essential oils.
My sister insisted that I should have this, and I thank her for giving it to me. I've been rolling it all over my nose because the congestion has hit me once again. Is it working? Yes, I think so. I mean, it's not hurting me and it smells damn good. I'm continuing to use it in an effort to further my knowledge of and experience with essential oils.

Question: What are you loving right now?


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