Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving break

Hello all!  I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving week! 

Since last week seemed a bit slow on the workout front, I am going to hold off adding more exercises this week and will resume the 'exercise of the week' next Monday.  Until then, remember to exercise at least 3-5 times this week, combining both cardio and strength-training exercises.  Have fun and utilize all the moves from prior weeks!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cardio for Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving week and we need to get your heart rate up!  With all the food most of us will be eating, we all will want to make sure and take time for exercise.  Have your goal be to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day this week (except for Thanksgiving…that day will probably be busy enough).  Not only will these sessions burn calories, they will also ease any tension or stress starting to build up.  Then, on Thanksgiving Day, grab a few loved ones and go for a (brisk) walk.  After working in the kitchen, eating great food, and rushing about, I promise the walk will feel good.  Plus, it is an excellent time to relax, talk, and bond with loved ones while enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

Our exercise of the week is an oldie but a goodie.  They seem so simple and yet they truly are a great way to get the heart pumping and work out your entire body.  What exercise am I referring to?  The classic jumping jacks (but we’re going to do them with a twist).  Trust me, this exercise is an “oldie but a goodie” for good reason.
JJacks with Crossover
Begin with feet together, belly in, chest up, shoulders relaxed.  Jump your legs as far apart as you can while bringing your arms together overhead.  As you come back to your starting point, instead of bringing your feet side-by-side, cross your left foot in front of your right; then on the next round you will bring your right foot in front of your left.  Continue alternating your left and then your right foot being in front.  This crossover will give an extra workout to your inner thighs while still working your whole body.

Some tips:
 1. Keep your arms straight to enhance the arm and shoulder workout.
2. Really try and jump your feet as far apart as you possibly can.
3. Alternate between jogging in place, doing sprints, or jump rope and your JJacks with Crossover (try to do at least 100 JJacks for each round).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Leaning Dragon - Great Legs and Mental Peace

This week is all about the legs.  What I like about this move is that it can be done in so many different ways to create different results; variety is key.  In the martial arts world, we call this move a “Leaning Dragon”, which just sounds cool.  Outside the martial arts world, you could probably just consider this a variation on a side lunge (however, doesn’t it sound so much more impressive to say you’re working on a Leaning Dragon?  Yep, doing the martial arts is cool).  In addition, the variations on this move will provide you with an opportunity to work your mind and thoughts; this is a skill that is important not only in getting the most out of your workout, but also in stress reduction, happiness, and overall success in life (but more on all of those benefits in a future article).
So, let’s get started!

Leaning Dragon
To begin with, let’s work on the proper positioning.  Begin with your feet beyond shoulder width apart with both feet and belly pointing forward.  Now, pivot your left foot to the left 90 degrees.  Lift your chest up and pull your belly in toward your spine to support your lower back.  Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.  Keep your arms active and up in a “side guard” stance.  Finally, while maintaining this position, bend your left knee until it is directly over your ankle.  NOTE:  In order to protect your knees it is vital that you lunge into a position with your knee directly over your ankle (do not let your knee buckle in or go past the toes!  This means that the less you are going to bend down, the closer your feet need to be.  Likewise, the deeper you are going to bend down, the farther apart your legs need to be.) 
This is your Leaning Dragon!  Feeling tough and cool yet?
3 Variations
1.       Basic in-and-out movement.  Begin with your feet together (belly in, chest up).  Step into your Leaning Dragon position on the left.  Press from the floor (using your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and calves) to return to your starting position.  Repeat on the right.  This is one repetition.  Go for 2-3 rounds of 20-30 repetitions.
2.       The endurance builder.  Begin in your Leaning Dragon position.  This time, you are simply going to try and hold this position for up to 1 minute (try for at least 30 seconds).  This is your time to conquer the mind.  Focus on your breathing, making sure to maintain deep, relaxing breaths.  Focus on your position, continually walking through your body making sure you are in the best position possible.   Getting tired?  Thinking of giving up?  Give yourself a pep talk!  Once your time is up, slowly straighten out your legs and then walk them together.  Go for 3-5 rounds of 30seconds-1 minute on each side.
3.       The agility trainer.  Begin with your feet together (belly in, chest up).  Step into your Leaning Dragon position on the left, just as in the ‘Basic in-and-out movement’ exercise.  However, this time, once you reach your full Leaning Dragon position, you are going to try and spring back to your starting point as quickly as possible.  Fast baby, fast!  You want to move like lightening!  NOTE:  As you sprint, make sure to keep your belly in and chest up!  Do not let your upper body collapse over to the side.
All three of these variations on the Leaning Dragon move will work out your body, legs, and mind differently.  Have fun experimenting with all of them and then rotate each of these into your exercise routine.

(Not feeling like an awesome ninja yet?  Come in to our Kempo Fitness dojo and we will take care of that for you…empowerment and fabulousness will be yours!)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Circles for fabulous arms

This exercise seems so benign, but oh, it will make your arms burn!  But don’t worry, that’s how you get beautiful, toned arms!  The great part of this exercise is that it is extremely gentle and low impact so everyone can do it.  In addition, it’s very easy and can be done standing or even sitting.  So, add this exercise into your day, in the morning to warm up and stretch, at work to keep your energy up, or in the evening as your wind down; your arms will become toned and fabulous.

Arm Circles

Note: If you do this exercise standing, I recommend jogging in place while doing the arm circles to increase the cardio level. 
Bring your arms out to your sides at shoulder level.  To get the most out of this exercise it is very important to keep your arms fully extended, circling from your shoulders (not your elbows or your wrists).  Circle your arms over head and in front of you to increase the exercise.  As your arms get tired, the tendency will be to begin lifting your shoulders up toward your ears...this will only make your neck sore.  Keep your shoulder down and your neck relaxed; this will isolate your arm and shoulder muscles.  Remember, if you lower your arms below shoulder level or bend your arms, you will not get as good of a workout.  Go for constant, rapid circles for 1-2 minutes; 2-4 times.