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March 20, 2013
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April 15, 2013
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The subways of New York City put millions of people in uncomfortable and awkward positions everyday (similar to group exercise classes, right? 🙂 ).  From bumping into each other, one person standing and swaying his private parts into another person who is sitting, accidentally holding each other’s hands on the poles, or being squished in a position while you hold another’s gaze for 5 stops.  It’s tough.

            What if we could turn the tables around and make these situations a more positive one?  This week there was no handle bar or pole for me to grip as I travelled uptown.  I was trapped in the middle of an extremely crowded train car and my only support was myself and other people.  I widened my stance and used my strength and balance (and other people) to hold me up.  This reminded me how normal this is and how important it is to improve our core and lower body strength and stability so we do not fall doing daily activities.  I had to use my entire core, legs, and gluteal muscles to hold myself up without falling at each stop.   As I got closer to the end of the week, I noticed how I use those muscles all of the time on the subway (oh, and strong lower body and core muscles are aesthetically pleasing in the summer!).   
            Here are some of my favorite exercises to better your core strength and balance that you can do anywhere!  Have fun 🙂
      Standing in a wide stance with your toes turned out slightly, brace your abs, and lower your body as you push your hips back and bend at your knees.  Slowly push yourself back up and repeat for 10-12 repetitions.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes aiming forward and arms by your side.  Retract your shoulders down without arching your back.  Engage your abs to stabilize your spine and hold.  Next, take a big step forward with your left foot as you lift your arms towards the ceiling.  Keep your left foot pointing forward and slightly turn your right foot out.  Your right heel should be in line with your left heel.  Lunge forward into the left leg while maintaining a straight and strong right leg.  Lower your hips and square your shoulders and hips towards the front of the mat.  Hold for 3-5 deep breaths (20-30 seconds) and repeat on the other side. 
 3. Wall Sit
Go against a wall and lower down until your legs make a 90-degree angle.  Press your back against the wall and hold for 30-60 seconds. 
4. Warrior II

Stand with your left foot pointing forward and your right foot behind you. Raise your arms parallel to the floor, actively reaching them out to the sides, keeping your shoulder blades wide and palms down. Turn your right foot out about 90 degrees. Align the left heel with the right heel. Engage your thighs and turn your left thigh outward so that the center of the left knee cap is in line with the center of the left ankle. Exhale and bend your left knee over the left knee ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Press the right heel firmly into the floor. Keep your torso long and draw the tailbone in. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds as you keep your gaze outwards over your fingers. Relax and repeat on the other side.

5. Knee Repeater + Hold
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, knees soft, and core is tight.  Slowly lift your right leg up so you are balancing on your left leg. Reach your arms diagonally across your torso towards the left.  Next, contract your right knee towards the chest and pull your arms downwards.  Repeat this exercise 10 times then hold for 20 seconds.  Repeat on the other side.  We do lots of these in my classes.  Check out my schedule here!
6. Isometric Plié/Releve

     Stand with your feet wider than your hips with your toes pointed out at 45-degree angles.  Relax and retract your shoulders, keep your core engaged and hips facing forward. Slowly squat down keeping your thighs parallel to the floor.  Hold then engage your glutes as you lift back up.  Continue for 10-12 repetitions.  To make it more challenging you can releve onto your toes as shown in the picture!  Want to plie with me? Check out Vbarre because I’ll be teaching it April/May 2013! Join my Fit Crew to learn more TODAY.

7. Warrior III
Stretch your arms parallel to the floor, palms facing each other.  Exhale and kick your right leg out behind you while pressing the heel actively towards the floor.  As you lift the right leg, straighten the front left leg.  As you lift, tighten your gluteal and core muscles.  Shift the body weight onto the left, standing leg.  The arms, torso, and raised leg should be positioned relatively parallel to the floor.  Stay here for 30-60seconds, release, and repeat on the other side.

8. Plank
In an all-fours position, place your hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips.  Lower onto your elbows and if you can, extend your legs and go onto your toes.  You can work your way up to the toes by remaining on your knees.  Keep your neck in alignment with your spine by looking downward and engage your core muscles, pulling your belly button towards your spine.  Contract your thighs muscles to straighten and strengthen your legs.  Your body should remain in straight alignment: your hips should not be sinking to the ground nor should your booty be hiked up to the sky.  Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, working up to 1-2 minutes week after week.

9. Side Plank
      Going onto your side, place your left elbow (Level 1) or left hand (Level 2) underneath your left shoulder.  Keep your hips and feet stacked as you lift your hips towards the sky.  You can bend your bottom leg for support, if needed.  Raise your right arm and tighten your core and leg muscles. 

These exercises will help strengthen your mind and 
empower you to be fit throughout the day.

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Happy April,
Michele AKA Miss Motivational