Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My favorite glutes exercise...

Possibly TMI, but it's not every day that my mom comments on how nice my bun looked... followed by asking me what exercises are best to get hers firm & perky too.

While squats & lunges are great (especially with added resistance from weights or elastic bands), I think my favorite one to target the glutes is the bun lifter/bun kick (or as my friend put it less eloquently, "dog raising its leg.")

Pardon the 90s cheese factor of the below video (the music, the outfits, omg!), but it's the best one I found to illustrate the move.

A few more tips to this move:
1. Keep your back neutral in its natural arc for stability and to maximize ths move's effectiveness
2. For added resistance, shift your weight to the towards the side of your moving leg
3. And if you got the balance, put a dumbbell on the back of your knee for the working leg (I use 10-12 pounds), of course, keep your knees bent throughout the move - instead of actually kicking - to keep the dumbbell in place.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Making the Mind-Body Connection . . .

One of my favorite fitness DVDs to exercise to lately is Suzanne Deason's Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss. Not because it's burns a lot of calories (if anything, the ~45 minute practice is on the mild side as far as sweat-breaking & muscle-building goes,) but because it helps (re-)establish what Ms. Deason calls the mind-body connection to wellness and balance.

While going through a series of yoga postures is not particularly effective in calorie burning (compared to more vigorous cardio workouts) or strength building (even yoga sites suggest incorporating some [non-yoga] strength-training to build & maintain muscles), what it does well is help the mind focus and concentrate... on holding postures, on clearing the mind, and especially on maintaining the regularity of your breath.

Ok, you might think "Big whoop, I'm aware of my breathing. How does that help me lose weight?" But by building an awareness to something as basic & involuntary as your inhales and exhales, it also helps build consciousness for other seemingly-automatic behaviors, such what you're putting on your plate at the buffet, or rather to dip into that snack dish at the conference room, or couch potatoing the hours away instead of doing something more active.

As an added bonus, what's particularly recommendable about this one is that it's adapted to multiple levels of fitness and flexibility, from a beginning, fully-modified workout for stiffer, less flexible bodies to an advanced, unmodified routine for more limber folks who's used to doing yoga. You can even see all 4 types of modifications at once so you can determine which is best suited for you, as well as exercise together with a friend or a partner of a different flexibility level.

Plus, the whole routine is very soothing with Ms. Deason's gentle voiceover (much more appropriate than having her talk about her postures & movements while she's doing them,) peaceful background music and a serene desert setting -- unlike some yoga DVDs that try to power fast-track you through poses, self-defeating the mind-body connection by inducing, rather than relieving, stress and detracting from the focus on breath, body and posture.

The result, a workout that's both relaxing and engaging, pushing both the body and mind throughout the routine, as well as a nudge to make better lifestyle choices throughout the day. So give this DVD a check-out, and even if you find it's not for you, hopefully you can incorporate some form of exercise that helps align the mind with the body towards the common goal of better health & better life. That's certainly something I can say Namaste to.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Refreshingly Fun Reading List

Sometimes it just takes a little reading to inspire one back to writing; in my case, that was reading Slate's fantastic "Fitness Issue" of articles, which goes beyond the "6 moves to a better bun" and into the business and culture of working out, with a good dose of quirk and humor.

The quirky and fun set of stories include the quest for the perfect workout video for the active, if slightly chubby, at-home exerciser, the evolution of TV programs from the Jack LaLanne days (and the current trend of "extreme" regimens such as P90X,) the life and schedule of a fitness model, what people outside US do to stay active (gym plays a lot less of a role around the globe, no surprise to me) and even the weird world of facercises and its promises of a youthful countenance.

On a similar chord, Slate also started a "Clean Plate" blog detailing one person's candid quest to sensibly improve her diet throughout the year.

It's a refreshing change of pace from the resolution-obsessed fitness articles that have popped up so far this month -- so give it a read!

As for me, now that my life, at home and at work, have lightened up, I look forward to blogging more thoughts of my own on eating well and staying fit. And who knows, maybe I can get back into fitness modeling shape myself, which was indeed both a highpoint (WOW! being paid to show off my bod?!? really?) and a low one (all those retakes in uncomfortable poses meant plenty of soreness the day after!)