Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Strong Legs and Great Cardio with "Speedy Steps"

As you know, I am getting myself ready to test for my next rank in the martial arts; in it’s essence, this is a goal, just like any other you might set for yourself.  And just like all good goals, there is a deadline attached to it.  And, like all the paths taken to achieve a goal, sometimes it gets a bit bumpy.  This week, I was tired and lacking enthusiasm to workout and practice my material.  But alas, I have this big deadline looming over my head, demanding that I not give in and “rest on my laurels”.

Although it was my deadline that got me started in the workout last night, it was one of my students that helped me do just the little bit extra I talked about in my last blog.  During class we were doing the following exercise of the week.  I came up next to this student (I’ll call him “Awesome D”) and started doing it alongside him, going a bit faster than he was.  The result of this went as follows:

Awesome D: “Awe! You’re making me look bad!” (said jokingly)
Me:  “Come on!  Get it!” (chuckling along with him)
To which he responded by speeding up even faster than I was going…challenging me with a friendly:
Awesome D: “Where you at???”
This of course “forced” me to step it up and match this new, top-speed pace!  It was this friendly competition that got both of us to go that extra bit and have fun along the way. 

Sometimes it’s hard to stay on track, but having a deadline and some friendly competition might be just what you need to keep on going and get you to achieve your goal.  If you are trying to reach a goal, set a deadline; this gives you an endpoint to strive toward (when you reach your deadline, reevaluate and repeat the process).  You also want to develop a relationship with your instructors; they will help you set realistic goals and keep you accountable (at my martial arts/fitness studio we call our students when they don’t show up and follow up on their progress at least every week).  Lastly, get to know your classmates; you can razz each other, encourage each other, and overall keep the process a bit more fun.

Speedy Steps

Note:  You can use any height of step for this exercise.  (I like to use 12”-18” step.)

Start in front of the step, belly in, chest open and lifted, and head up.  Step up with your left foot, followed with your right foot; then step down with your left, followed with your right foot.  That’s it!  Go as fast as you can for 30 seconds, starting with your left; repeat on the right side for 30 seconds.  If you aren’t huffing and puffing (with your legs burning), speed it up!  If you still need more of a challenge, increase the time and the height of your step.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to: Get-Into-Shape-Immediately

It's official. I just found out I'm testing for my 3rd degree black belt in a month.  As you know, I just had my baby girl 3 months ago so instead of excitement, I'm filled with nerves. So, I have now started the "must-get-back-into-shape-immediately" game plan. Now, here's the great thing about this plan: I'm not doing anything crazy to get back into shape. Come on, I have to be realistic!  I am still taking care of 2 kiddos all day and having to provide the exclusive sustenance for 1 of them (nursing); I have to take in enough calories and have enough energy to do both of those things. 

This is important because it makes what I'm going to do to get back into shape is something all of you can do.  Yes, we all want to look and feel great in as little time as possible, but who wants to do some crazy workout-2-hours-every-day plan to get there?  Very few people.  And you know what?  Only very, very, very few people will maintain the results they get from doing it that way; it's just not sustainable.  Instead, overall good health and fitness is something you have to work at every day and every week.  Sorry!  But, if you want (or in my case need) to step it up for a bit, you can do it by simply making the most out of the time you have to workout.

I'm going to be doing at least a little bit each day to help tone my muscles, build endurance, and remembering my material (since for me I am working toward attaining that 3rd degree).  And the times that I have a scheduled workout planned, I am going to push myself as hard as I can.  Yes, that means I expect to be dripping sweat at the end of my workouts, and to be sore, but that's what I need to do to get results.  When I do squats (or a horse stance in martial arts), I'm going to push my limits and get my legs burn.  When I punch, I'm going to punch with gusto and put my whole body into it, and when I do my "break" exercises (like jogging in place), I'm going to try and go just that little bit faster than my normal pace.  And that last bit is what is key: just do that little bit extra....that little bit more effort....that little bit lower or harder...that is what is going to get me into shape and ready for my test.

For all of you out there, if you are trying to reach a goal, start with something you can do. 
1. Give yourself an "end date" that is in the near future (for me, that's my test).  This way you know that you need to do that little bit extra for just ____ weeks; then you can re-evaluate at that time.
2. Do a little something each day to bring you closer to your goal.  It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going up and down the stairs twice instead of once, parking farther away from the store entrance, and walking briskly. 
3. In all of your scheduled workouts, do just that little bit extra.
4. Lastly, if you really want to get in shape, you need to workout (and by workout I mean get yourself sweating) at least 3 days a week (ideally 4).

All of you can do those 4 steps, just like I am.

Only have a few minutes?  Try this quick workout to get your blood pumping and tone your body.

20 Jumping Jacks
20 sets of Front Two-Knuckle Punches
10 Squat Front-ball Kicks
5 Push-ups
15 Mountain Climbers

Repeat 2-4 more times.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fast Feet! Easy to do and great for your legs

This is a great week. It's not that anything really special has happened, it's just one of those weeks where everything seems beautiful and good: the weather (even when it's raining), my kids (even when the are crying, my hubby (even though he was out of town).  I am definitely an optimist by nature, but I still enjoy weeks like this where I seem to be able to find happiness and pleasure in everything.

My little girl just turned 3 months old (and my son 2 years old); it's amazing how fast that time has gone. I am finally feeling like my body will let me do most of my martial arts moves again so now it's just working back up my endurance and strength. The great thing is that I know I can do it (just like you can), I just have to keep working on it, one workout at a time.

This week is about your legs. I use this exercise in every class as part of our warmup (and sometimes mixed into some agility training). So get ready for:

Fast Feet
This is me, 3 months after having my beautiful baby girl

Think of this exercise as jogging in place really fast and with really small movements.  Start with your feet together, belly in, head up. For your "fast feet", stay on the balls of your feet and only lift each foot up about an inch. Bend down into your legs making sure to not lift back up as you lift your feet up (don't bounce, stay low and steady). Next, you want to make sure to not waddle from side to side as you pick up your feet; think of your upper body staying totally stationary the entire time. This will isolate into your quads, inner thighs, and hip flexors. If you don't feel in working these areas, make sure your knees are bent, you're staying low, and you're not tipping side to side; from the top up you should hardly tell that you are moving your body at all. If you are having a hard time keeping still, try doing this in front of a mirror so you can watch your shoulders and keep them flat.

That's it!  Go for at least 30 seconds - 1 minute, building up to longer. To mix it up, try going out wide with your feet, keeping your movement the same as with your feet together.

Have fun with it!  Make "smoke" come off those feet from moving so fast!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fun on Fox4 tv segment

Well, my family is having quite the week fighting a summer cold and sinus infection...not fun. But this past Sunday I had a great time on my Fox4 KC segment. It was a feisty day, getting me caught on camera still joking around with the meteorologist and anchor about the "amazing bodies" of the Kansas City Wizard players who would be modeling in an upcoming KC fashion show.  

See this fun segment at:

Remember to "recommend" it and share it with your friends!

Have a great week!