Monday, January 28, 2013

Rising Knee/Front Kick PLUS How to Keep Your Spirits Up and Ahieve Your Goals

It is now the last week on January, 2013, and I hope all of you are experiencing some success and results from the changes you have made for the New Year.  Like the tides of the oceans, your journey will have some ups and some downs, but the key is to just keep moving forward. 

To help you do this, I recommend writing down what you are experiencing related to your goal each month.  Sometimes, when the change happens slowly over time we forget how much better we feel or even how far we’ve come.  We see this in our business all the time; people come in, and after a few months or a year, they have greatly improved their energy levels, endurance, flexibility, etc, but if they didn’t write down their accomplishments along the way, they have a hard time seeing how much progress they have actually made; they can’t look back and be reminded of all of their achievements.
So, each month, write down what you have made improvements in in addition to what you would like to accomplish over the next month (be realistic).  It can be as simple as “I was able to do 1 pushup on my toes” or “I now have an extra inch in the waistband of my pants”.  Try to be specific and use actual numbers or measurements whenever you can; this will make it easier to see definite improvements over the months.  Next, write out your goals for the next month (relating back to your overall long-term goals).  Examples are: “I want to be able to do 5 full pushups by the end of next month” or “I want to be down a pant size by the end of next month”.  Repeat this process each month.  Then, when you are having a hard day, or feeling discouraged, you can look back at where you were when you started this new journey and actually see, in writing, how far you have come. 

At this point you should give yourself some kudos and some back-patting!  This is very important in order to keep your spirits up and keep you moving forward!

Rising Knee/Front Ball Kick
This week we are going to do the Rising Knee/Front Ball Kick combo.  This exercise will specifically work your core, hip-flexors (the little muscles in the crease of your leg and pelvis that help you lift your legs up), and legs.  Plus, if you really reach your arms up in the air and pull them down hard for the rising knee you will also activate all your arm muscles.  Do this combination as fast as you can while still keeping your knee up at waist level (or higher); this will get your cardio up, up, up!
Put your weight on your left leg and reach your right leg back to the angle.  In order to really work the muscles in your standing leg you will want to keep your left leg bent as if you are in a mini-lunge position; the deeper you bend, the more you will work your standing leg and the harder it will be.  Pull your belly in toward your spine, open your chest, and relax your shoulders.  This is your starting position. 
Reach Your arms up over you.  Now, forcefully pull down with your arms as you rise your knee up into your chest (the “Rising Knee”).  In our martial arts (or self defense), this would be used to knee an attacker in the groin or belly (pulling them down into the knee adds more power and would knock the wind out of your assailant).  Reset your legs to the starting position, keeping the weight on the left (front) leg.  Next comes your “Front Ball Kick”.  This time, keep your arms in front of your chest, lift your knee up to belly level, and extend the ball of your foot out in a kick.  To activate your hamstrings, after your kick keep your knee up and pull your foot back in; only after this “re-chamber” do you step back to your starting position.  Repeat.
Go as fast as you can for 30 seconds – 1 minute on each leg; repeat 1-3 more times.
To see this in action you can also watch our Fox 4 KC fitness segment at:
ps.  Yay!  Pictures are back!  I will try and post all the past MIA pictures as well

Fitness Routine on Fox4 KC news

Check out our Fitness segment on Fox4 KC:

Go ahead, jump on in!  (Then pass this on to your friends and family)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Whole Body - Downward Elbow with Squat (with New Year's resolution tip)

It’s week four of 2013 and you are well on your way to making your New Year’s resolution a new habit.  But, to fully develop a new habit takes time and perseverance.  An article from the European Journal of Social Psychology showed that the more complex the habit you are trying to form (work out for 30 minutes every day versus just getting yourself to eat breakfast in the morning), the longer it will take to do the activity more automatically.  For more information on this, check out 

To me however, the four week mark marks the point where you should start to notice the rewards of your new “habit”.  If you are working out, you should start to notice it being easier to walk up stairs, do more push-ups, a little bit of toning (or thinning), etc.  If you are eating breakfast now, maybe you are noticing more energy or decreased cravings throughout the day.  Whatever your New Year’s goal and game plan, look for how it has already helped you and your life.

The point here is to celebrate your successes; this will give you the self-encouragement to keep you moving forward in the right direction.
Let’s get started on our exercise of the week. 

Downward Elbow with Squat
Begin with feet past shoulder width apart and your hands pulled up by your armpits.  Pull your belly in toward your spine, open your chest and relax your shoulders.  Keeping your arm bent, circle your arm behind you, then up and around until your elbow is pointing forward.  If you do a full, big rotation you will work your chest, back, shoulder, and all of your arm muscles.  Now comes the leg part.  At the same time as you drop your elbow down, drop into a low squat position, pressing your knees out to engage your inner thigh muscles.  Make sure your knees stay over your ankles (not past or buckling in).  Press out of your squat (keeping your belly in and chest up) and repeat on the other arm.

Going for strength building?  Add hand weights and hold your squat for 5-10 seconds before exploding up to repeat on the other side.  Do 3 rounds of 30.
Going for cardio?  Do as many of these as you can in 3 1-2 minute rounds.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Whole Body - Leg Lift Plank

We are now in the third week of 2013 and this is when the excitement and ‘gung-go’ attitude may start to wane.  This is when encouragement and support from family, friends, and ideally, your trainer or instructor is the most important.  For more tips on achieving your New Year’s resolutions, check out my article in Living Wellness KC at

This week we are going to work your whole body and challenge your balance with the Leg Lift Plank.  To challenge your stabilizing muscles even more, balance your hands on a weighted ball.  We did this is our class last night and everyone was amazed at how much balancing on that little ball really adds to the difficulty (and fun) factor.

Leg Lift Plank

Get into a push-up/plank position.  Make sure your hands are under your shoulders and your bootie is either in line with your body or slightly lifted (do not let your bootie sag down as this will hurt your lower back!). 
Here is the ‘walk-through’ I say during class: "Hands are star-fished, pulling up out of the ground…elbows are belt slightly, chest is open, head is up.  Belly is pulling in toward your spine, glutes are tucked under, thighs are strong, extending through the heels….now breathe…"
Hold for one round of walking through the body (takes us about 30 seconds for 1 ‘walk-through’ of the above).  Then, while keeping your shoulders and hips flat, lift up one leg behind you.  Pull your belly in and flex the foot so that you are using you core, glutes and hamstrings to support the position.  Do one more round of the ‘walk-through’ above, then rest for about 30 seconds (or go to another exercise).  Repeat on the other leg.  Want to be an over-achiever?  Do both sides at least 1 more time.
P.S.  I am sorry my last two blogs have been without pictures..apparently my hosting site is having some technical difficulties; hopefully, I will be able to get pictures up soon.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Whole Body Workout - Cross Punches - High/Low

We have now started the second week of 2013 and hopefully you are all already on your paths to an excellent year.  I know that in our household, even though we have a game plan already set up, there seems to be a resounding feeling that it is still going to take this week to fully relax and get immersed in our new routine.  But in order to reach that point (and the rewards of sticking with the game plan), we all just have to keep taking one step after another to build up the momentum that will take us where we want to go. 

This week we are focusing on another whole body exercise; don’t worry, no jumping required.  In fact, this week’s exercise is quite easy to do and you can set the intensity level simply by adjusting the speed and height of the moves.  To get your heart rate up more, simply speed up the punches and make sure you are extending the moves fully.  To get your legs into the equation more, work the lower half of your squat.  Add this in to your cardio and strength building exercises and enjoy the full body toning this move will give you.
Cross Punches – High/Low
Start with your feet past shoulder width apart.  Pull your belly in toward your spine, open your chest, and relax your shoulders.  As always, maintain this upper-body position throughout the exercise.  Begin punching to the 45 degree angle across your body; start at head level.  Make sure you are twisting from your core, not your legs, so that you work your side oblique muscles.  Extend the arm until you are just shy of locking out the elbow, then pull your hand all the way back to touch your sides (in Kempo we call this “elbow position”).  Feel as though you are pushing your arm out, and then pulling it back in.  Punch with both the left and the right, then lower your stance and repeat at waist level. 
After you punch at waist level, you are going to lower down as low as you can go and repeat your punches one more time.  Remember to only go as low as you can go while keeping your chest up and your shoulders over your hips!  If you go low, but you do it by leaning your chest forward, you will be straining your lower back rather than working your core and legs.  In addition, be aware of your knee positioning: keep your knees over your feet (you should be able to see your toes) so that you are supporting your position with your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes (not your knee joints).

That’s it!  Continue working high-mid-low-mid-high…for 1-2 minutes.  Repeat 2-3 more times.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! - Jump Like a Punching Frog

Congratulations!  You have now made it through all the holiday parties, desserts, extra get-togethers with friends and family, and the added stress that typically comes with the jam-packed schedule.  Now it’s time for a whole new year.  And here’s the best part: you can create the year that you want, and now is the time to begin the steps to make it a reality.  This is important: don’t wait to figure out what you what to achieve in 2013!  You need to figure out what you want, and make a game plan, now. 

Every holiday season we drive up to visit my family in Omaha.  And, every year, my husband and I spend the hours in the car talking about the past year, what was good, what we wanted to be different.  Then we talk about the next year and all we want to accomplish in every area of our life; family, business, health, personal.  Next, we begin to set up our game plan and time line.  This way, by the time the new year hits, we have already made adjustments to our path and we are hitting the road running.  So again, if you haven’t done this yet, don’t wait!  Take some time with yourself and your significant other to figure out where you want to be one year from now; then it’s time to take action!
One of the major aspects of our lives we should always be working on is our health and fitness; this will help to make sure we have many more active and enjoyable years ahead of us.  And what better place to get started then right here!  For our fitness move of the week we are going to do one of the most challenging, and fun, exercises we do in my cardio kickboxing classes; the frog leap with double hook punches.

Jump Like a Punching Frog
First Goal: Get your feet off the ground (even if it’s just an inch to start)
Advanced Goal: Pull your knees up to your chest

Begin with your feet past shoulder-width apart.  Keep your belly pulled in toward your spine, chest up, and shoulders down; maintain this position throughout the exercise.  Now, drop into a squat position, aiming for your thighs being parallel to the ground. Do a double hook punch at belly level, focusing on using your back, core, and chest to pull your arms in with the most force.  And here comes the exciting part:  press your feet into the ground, pull your belly in, and spring into the air (like a frog).  While in the air, do another double hook punch at belly level.  Repeat for 3 rounds of 10-15 jumps.  Remember to have some fun with it…you get to jump like a punching frog!

If you want to jump start your fitness program, refer to the “Hail Mary” Get Toned - Do this EVERY day until pic for the next week from the 12/17/12 post.

Happy New Year!