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      Blog — Fitness

      HIIT 2015 Hard with the "It" Workout of the Year

      HIIT 2015 Hard with the "It" Workout of the Year

      Just before the new year, the ACSM published its annual list of fitness trend predictions. The list itself was rather predictable, citing yoga, exercise for weight loss, and group training amongst some of the “rising” trends in 2015. But the one item that really stuck out as having some weight was HIIT training.


      High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT as it is more commonly referred to, should be the second most popular fitness trend of the year. It was a big deal a few years back, and apparently it’s going to see a resurgence.

      What is it exactly? The ACSM describes HIIT as “short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. These exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes.”

      That’s what makes HIIT so desirable — that 30 minute timeframe. It’s hard to include time in a list of workout excuses when it only requires 30 minutes. HIIT requires less time, but demands more of you during that time. You blast through circuits with little to no rest between moves or machines. It’s also a total body workout; because you never stop moving, and you’re doing strength training and not solely focused on strength or cardio exercises, you get the best of both worlds in one quick, tidy (very sweaty) session.

      Making time for an hour or longer at the gym, and managing a schedule of cardio versus strength sessions, can be cumbersome at best. With HIIT workouts, you get it all squared away at once. Whose jam-packed, always-busy schedule couldn’t use that? HIIT really is the schedule relief we’ve all needed at the gym.

      Or not at the gym, for that matter. Another great benefit of HIIT workouts is that it doesn’t require that you be in any one place. At home, the park, the gym, a hotel room… it honestly doesn’t matter. As long as you can dedicate that half hour to just getting the job done, then HIIT goes anywhere you do. That means you don’t have to just sit at your kid’s soccer practice or sack out on the couch during a Gilmore Girls marathon… you can use that time and that space to complete a legitimate, meaningful workout.

      A lot of resources exist for getting your HIIT on! Everything from gym classes to books, DVDs, and more are available. These are often free or cheap (eliminating the cost excuse!).

      Jessica Smith’s 2012 book Thin In 10 is one example. The resourceful book, co-authored by Liz Neporent, is hinged on HIIT principles and introduces those throughout its approachable fitness instruction. One of Jessica’s HIIT workouts includes a five-minute warm-up, something as simple as marching in place. You’ll do a series of exercises, and in each set you go all in with maximum effort for about 20-30 minutes, with active rest between moves. Lateral burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, high knee marches, and squats are some of the moves you’ll do over two or three sets.

      No equipment, no trainer, no certain place to be, and no brainer… HIIT workouts just make sense. Women’s Health Magazine likens HIIT training to a nice BOGO deal, combining cardio and strength training in to one fast-blast workout.

      What Your Personal Trainer Won't Tell You

      What Your Personal Trainer Won't Tell You

      She’s the woman you love to hate the most, but she’s also the one pushing you harder than anyone else toward that goal. The relationship with a personal trainer is a unique and special one, and clients either soar or break under their tutelage. For every tidbit of insight and encouragement your trainer offers you, there’s something she’s holding back.

      personal trainer

      Pamela Hernandez, a certified personal trainer and health coach, recently published a really insightful piece on her blog at ThriveFit. She is regularly faced with clients who complain, “You make it look so easy!” She usually says “Because I’ve had more practice.” What she wants to say but leaves out to those bewildered clients, “I have to make it look easy so you don’t start doubting my ability or yours.” She plans workouts in advance and tries new stuff several times on herself until she’s got it and trusts that she can properly show you. You’ll get it too…with practice!

      We talked with a few trainers who keep a few things to themselves during those sweat sessions. Whether to maintain the relationship, your respect of their position, a level of professionalism, or to not insult, offend, or scare you away, these personal trainers know when to keep their mouths shut!

      “I think I am going to give the high protein diet a try,” said one of Valerie Orsoni’s clients to her. A wellness expert and founder of LeBootcamp, Valerie says she knew what the outcome would be for her client, recognizing that rapid weight loss with an equal or better regain were in the cards.

      “I had already told her several times not to,” recounts Valerie, who this time didn’t say a word. “I let her do it for ten days, and then we looked at the situation and she realized, had I said something at first, she might have wanted to ‘win the fight’ and might have done it on a longer period of time.”

      Lauren Martin, a NESTA personal trainer, will never lie about your progress just to make you feel better. If you ask and she answers, know it’s the honest truth, even if you don’t want to hear it. She’ll also never compare you to another client. Like most trainers, Martin believes in positive reinforcement; and she’s certainly not going to downplay another client’s efforts to boost yours (or talk yours down to someone else).

      “Shut up. You’re wrong,” is bubbling just under the surface for Byron E. Hall, III, a district fitness manager for Portland Sport and Spa who holds a half dozen varied national fitness certifications. He’d never tell you that you need to remember that your trainer is “untangling years of bad information and habits in order to help you work smarter not harder, and we only have a few hours a week to do so.” So listen up. You’re paying him and trainers like him good money to get their expertise. You wouldn’t second guess your cardiothoracic surgeon based on what you scraped together from a few health talk shows, so don’t second guess your trainer based on an infographic from a fitness mag site.

      His other dirty secret? “We eat like [garbage], too!” Yep it’s true. He may have told you to skip the dressing-soaked Caesar, but he did it with a burger and fries on his breath. “We just know that our usual healthy eating habits and consistent workout routines will easily offset that massively calorie dense lunch, and we’re pretty sure that’s the last thing you wanna hear!,” he said.

      Pamela is right there with him, owning up to enjoying homemade ice cream on her birthday![insert shock and horror!!] “A client made a comment about how on my birthday I probably celebrated with hummus and vegetables.” Yeah right! Ice cream fits in with the 80/20 rule she lives by and prescribes to her clients. “I practice what I preach because it makes me feel good.”

      Never Too Late

      Never Too Late

      Guest Post by ENELL Ambassador Allison Elliott-Shannon:

      “Allison sucks! Allison sucks!”

      That was pretty much the soundtrack to gym class for me, grades 1-8. In first and second grades I hid from the teacher because I thought jumping jacks were boring. Third grade was the high point of my P.E. career, as we learned the Virginia Reel year and I played on a competitive tee ball team; but I quit tee ball the next year when I found myself the only girl on the team, and was subject to much spitting and stomping of my hands by my teammates. That was the beginning of the downhill slide, and by fourth grade I was living in fear of being picked last for kickball /dodgeball/basketball/softball teams (which happened often).

      Having a sadistic gym teacher, who encouraged kids to bully one another to toughen up the weaklings, didn’t help. By middle school, I would do practically anything to get out of running laps or having to serve in volleyball.

      I had a brief flirtation with badminton, but otherwise I was solidly Not Athletic. My peers thought so, my gym teachers thought so, and I agreed. Add to my general dislike of sports that I was on the short side, with stubby legs and zero upper body strength, and it’s small surprise that my high school varsity letter was from the Academic Team.

      With that background, it’s surprising that at the age of 35 I put hundreds of miles a year on my running shoes. I started running at 33, when my then-fiancé encouraged me to join him on the road. He told me he wanted a running partner, and perhaps I was swayed out of my right mind by love and our upcoming nuptials; I agreed to start training.

      It was slow going at first. I would run to the end of the block then come to a halt, gasping for air. Slowly that block became two blocks, then a quarter of a mile, and so on until I reached a mile, then two miles, then 3.1. Over time, 3.1 stretched out into five, at which point I decided to start working on speed rather than distance. I can now do a heart-pounding 5k in a time that probably beats anything I could do as a thin-but-out-of-shape 20 year old. I ‘m not super fast for a runner, but I’m fast for me.

      Running has been a physical challenge, yes, but even more of a mental one. I have learned things about myself: that I’m more motivated by positive rewards than by punishment, that I can go longer if I don’t know how far I’m really going, and that feeling mentally defeated is worse for me than any fatigue of the body. I have also learned, by talking to more experienced runners (including my fellow ENELL Ambassadors) that every runner has a voice in their head constantly telling them to quit; the secret of running is to say “I will do it” to your brain in an authoritative tone.


      Finally, I’ve learned that running is about working with what you have in terms of your body. I don’t have long legs, my feet underpronate, and my bosom requires industrial-strength support. I look like nobody’s idea of a runner.  But through running, I’ve found a new confidence in my body. I’ve learned that the road is a judgment-free zone, where it’s just me and my heart rate (and often my husband, who slows down his speedy pace to stay with me). On the road there are no taunting peers, no cruel gym teachers, and no boys trying to spit on me. I’ve learned to take pride in my muscled legs. When the pedicurist looks at my broken-off toenails and asks “What happened?” I’m proud to say “I’m a runner.” My body is imperfect, but I’m making it stronger through using it to meet my goals.

      When friends who see my ceaseless flow of social media posts about my latest distances say they are impressed by my running and wish they could do the same, I say with all sincerity “If I can do it, anyone can.” Because it’s true: if the girl who literally ran and hid from gym class can become the women who laces up her shoes and hits the road regularly, there is hope for us all. As the quote popularly attributed to George Eliot says, “It’s never too late to become what you might have been.”

      About Allison Elliott-Shannon: Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest /  Instagram

      allisonAllison Elliott-Shannon became a runner for the first time in her early 30s. Starting with a short run to the end of the block, she built on small successes over the course of about a year, until she completed her first competitive 5k. Now working on moving into the 10k range and improving her speed, she has been a fan of Enell since being introduced to the Enell Sport early on in her running program.

      Allison is a marketing director, writer, and history nerd, and a native of the Kentucky Appalachian Knobs. She now lives in Lexington, Ky., with her husband and stepdaughter. She spends her workdays thinking of ways to help students and faculty engage with a large academic library system. Event planning is part of her day job, and also figures into her volunteer service for the Junior League of Lexington and the historic Bodley-Bullock House in downtown Lexington.

      When she isn’t rambling about the Bluegrass state, Allison enjoys travel further afield. Recent trips have taken her to Charleston, S.C., Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York City. She and her family are big fans of Disney Parks, and she managed to set foot in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland last year. Her current goal is to get back to Europe, to revisit the places she saw while living in London as a college student. She never met a historical marker she didn’t like, and seeks out historical tours of every city she visits.

      Other minor life obsessions for Allison include: retro advertising, vintage jewelry, and the collected works of Jane Austen. Her favorite American novel is All the King’s Men, and she would love to own a vintage Ford Mustang. When procrastinating, she turns to Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, and the IKEA catalog for pleasant distraction. She also makes one heck of a pan of brownies.

      Allison runs for her health, to spend time with her husband, and to challenge herself. Someday she will compete during the Disney Princess Half Marathon event.


      5 Tips to Help You Row, Row, Row Your Way to Fitness

      5 Tips to Help You Row, Row, Row Your Way to Fitness

      Guest Post by ENELL Ambassador Jennifer Sader

      Have you noticed how hot rowing has suddenly become? It isn’t as if the rowing machine is a new piece of equipment — most gyms always had one or two, but they would sit dusty and neglected while everyone waited for the treadmill or the elliptical machine.

      What has changed? First off, it was probably time for Spinning to be replaced by something new. As more gyms offer rowing classes, people realize what a great workout rowing offers. Second, Crossfit’s popularity means more people are familiar with the benefits of rowing. Finally, some sources even suggest that Frank Underwood’s basement rowing sessions on House of Cards are responsible for the trend. Whatever the reason, it makes sense to jump in on this fitness fad.

      rowing machine

      Tips for new rowers:

        1. Give it a try! Taking a rowing is a great way to add variety to your fitness routine. It is a low-impact, safe exercise. Even if you think you know how to row, be sure to take a class where the instructor can teach you good form. Proper form is just as important as power. Though you might think rowing is all about arms, rowing is a full-body workout, and the main drive comes from the legs.
        2. Don’t worry if you are a beginner. Though there might be a little friendly competition about who rowed the longest distance or with the most power, the nice thing about stationary equipment is that no one will be left behind. A good instructor will make you feel welcome no matter what your level, and will encourage you to work at your own pace. Because form is so important, you will see improvement quickly if you stick with it.
        3. Wear your ENELL to class. Good support is just as important in a rowing class as it is in running or Spin class. Because your whole body is engaged, your whole body will be moving. You need to bring the rowing handle under your chest, which will be easier if your chest isn’t bouncing all over the place.
        4. Be prepared to sweat. Most gyms will be kept cool so that it is comfortable for exercise, so you might want a light jacket to start out. With workouts burning 400-1000 calories per hour, you will warm up quickly, so wear a tank top or light t-shirt in a moisture-wicking fabric. And be sure to bring a full water bottle and a towel with you.
        5. Have fun! With room-pounding music, class camaraderie, and even a little friendly rivalry, rowing is a great way to get your fit on. Enjoy yourself and keep a smile on your face.

      Have you tried a rowing class yet?

      About Jennifer Sader: Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagramjennifer sader

      Jennifer Sader started training for her first triathlon (Danskin Chicagoland) in the fall of 2001. She was tired of having “lose weight” as her only goal and she decided that she needed something bigger and more inspiring to shoot for. She completed that race in 2002 and has gone on to do dozens of other races, including the Chicago Triathlon in 2004. Though she has continued to battle the scale, injury problems, and a lingering notion that she is not a “real athlete,” she hasn’t lost her love of the sport.

      Jennifer has been blogging since 2006. At “Perfect in Our Imperfections,” she shares her thoughts on trying to lose weight without losing her mind. She shares her training experiences along with recaps of “The Biggest Loser,” book reviews, favorite beauty products and fashion finds.

      Jennifer is a full-time faculty member at a small university. She lives in the Toledo area with her husband and two cats named after Muppets.


      How to Prepare for Your First Turkey Trot

      How to Prepare for Your First Turkey Trot

      Thanksgiving has more or less looked the same for decades…centuries even. Football was one of the only modern updates to the recipe. Turkey, cranberries, touchdown, nap, rinse, repeat. But the turkey trot has changed that. Finally. Thankfully!

      turkey trot

      Base image from Daniel Parks via Flickr

      The popularity has exploded beyond a few local running clubs and now the most novice and newbie runners grace starting lines across the country. This is a trend we love even more than seconds of pumpkin pie. This year there are more than 1300 races planned throughout the U.S., all scheduled between November 1 and Thanksgiving Day. That means millions of runners — whether for their first or hundredth time — will get up off the couch and move their bodies.

      If you’re one of the newbs, know that you are welcomed with open arms. Enjoy a strong start with these race day tips:

      Check the Weather. Unless you’re in So-Cal or Florida, the weather can be impressively temperamental during November. You could be facing an unseasonably warm race or one that’s painfully bitter cold.

      Dress in Layers. Because of the tricky weather, you definitely want to dress in layers. Wear a moisture-wicking tank or tee under a hoodie or long-sleeve tee, something you can tie around your waist when the race heats up.

      Take a Donation! Like most races, turkey trots are traditionally used as a food bank donation drive. Some put your entry fee toward the donation, some encourage cash donations at the gate, and some simply accept canned goods and other non-perishables. It’s an easy way to kick-off the giving season.

      Wear Good Shoes. If this is your first race — whether you do the one mile, the 5k, or go the longer distance — do not wear those dusty sneakers you bought five or so years ago. You will kill your feet and you will hurt at the finish line. It’s also not a great day to break in a new pair. Plan ahead and spend a few days in some new kicks.

      Wear Your Sports Bra! You’ll put the girls through the paces at a turkey trot, so break out the big guns and wear your Enell. You’ll be more comfortable, not to mention feel more confident when your turkeys aren’t trotting this way and that down the trail.

      Bring the Family. Racing may be an individual sport, but turkey trots are an ensemble! Turkey trots are extremely family friendly, so grab that crew of people sacked out at your house and get some fresh air and quality time together. Strollers, wagons, and sometimes even dogs are all more than welcome.

      Take a Selfie. This is your first race and you deserve a race-day selfie to post across Facebook and Instagram like all of those other people you follow. A year from now when this first race is a distant memory, you’ll enjoy the souvenir from your first race.

      Have Fun. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Sure there’s a finish line and some races are timed, but just go, enjoy the day, the energy of the scene, and cross the finish line in your own time. Whether you run, walk, or crawl, your finish line looks the same as everyone else. Cross it with pride and hopefully a smile on your sweaty face!

      Do you have plans for a Turkey Trot this year?


      A Dozen New Ways to Optimize Your Next Workout

      A Dozen New Ways to Optimize Your Next Workout

      We hear all the time to get more out of our workouts, but what does that mean exactly? Doing more with less. To optimize your workout means getting more from each minute you’re sweating than you ordinarily would. The HIIT workout trend of a couple of years ago was the definitive optimized workout — really hammer through some key movements in a short period of time. You get the full-body, calorie-torching workout on a schedule you can keep!

      optimize workout


      And recently we introduced the idea of a BPM — or beats per minute — workout, in which you move to the beat of songs at a tempo of 120 to 140 beats per minute, this optimal zone matches your heart rate during the ideal cardio workout.

      For as many ways as there are to workout, there are ways to optimize that time.

      Here are ten more ideas you may not have tried:

      1. Follow a Plan. You won’t be left fumbling between moves or machines if you walk in to your workout knowing what A to Z looks like. “Organize your workout in to super sets or circuits,” suggests Chris Cooper, an NSCA-certified trainer. With this approach, you can immediately move on to what’s next without wasting time.

      2. Cross Train. Introduce some versatility to your workouts, suggest the folks at Plyoga, because your body needs more than just yoga or just running. This approach trains different parts of the body on different days giving you a well-rounded fitness regimen that will yield greater results in strength, endurance, and appearance.

      3. Slow Down. Sounds counterintuitive, but this slow weight lifting regimen is a novel way to work your muscles. “I’ll pick a weight that’s half what I normally lift for a 10-12 repetition set of a certain move and do an upper-body exercise (think shoulder presses or bicep curls) and go through the move very slowly,” prescribes Petrina Hamm, CPT. She takes 15-20 seconds to lift the weight, holding for another 15-30 seconds, and then taking another 15-20 seconds before bringing the weight back down. You put the muscle through constant stress through an entire range of motion, getting more out of that extended rep.

      4. Use More Muscles. “The more muscles you use, the more calories you burn,” advises Maureen Kemeny, a certified fitness trainer. She suggests choosing exercises that involve as many muscle groups as possible.

      5. Hard and Heavy. For the more advanced gym rat, this hard and heavy approach pushes your body to the limits without wasting any time. William Ferullo, a fitness and nutrition coach, uses this approach for compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, or overhead presses. He chooses the heaviest weight he can for 3-5 reps in 5 sets. Between each set he does as many pull-ups, dips, or other body weight exercises as possible. He never stops moving and quickly advances to the next action.

      6. Mind Over Matter. “You can manipulate your own mind to get far more out of a workout,” says Jon Rhodes, a clinical hypnotherapist. He says that when you’re at the gym, imagine a crowd of people watching or cheering you on. Once your mind is there, the intensity and speed of your workout will increase as you try to, more or less, show-off for your adoring fans!

      7. Set a Timer. If you’ve got a full 60 minutes at the gym, pool, or track, then fitness trainer Clint Fuqua says only give yourself 45 minutes. Set the timer and work to beat the buzzer! If you’re new to this approach, start by shaving 5 minutes off your time and work up from there.

      8. Hire a Trainer. Nothing can keep you more focused on a well-organized workout than a trainer. They’ll make the most of the time you have available within the limitations of your body all while working toward an ultimate goal — being weight loss, a race, or overall better fitness.

      9. Bike/Jog to the Gym. Get the cardio out of the way before you even enter the gym! Vivian Eisenstadt, MAPT says, “This way you get your cardio [without] feeling like a gerbil on the treadmill.” You save time by not driving around looking for a parking space, and you can get out of the gym sooner by not waiting in line for over-booked machines.

      10. Ditch Distractions. There is a locker room for a reason, and that’s where you should leave your cell phone or magazines. Take a post-workout selfie if it’s that important, but don’t eat up time on the gym floor. Choose machines away from the TVs if the entertainment is too distracting. And workout alone to avoid gabbing with friends, which can slow the intensity and focus of a workout.

      12 DIY Halloween Costumes to Make With a Sports Bra

      12 DIY Halloween Costumes to Make With a Sports Bra

      When it comes to DIY Halloween costumes on the cheap, there’s at least one prop that you’re probably overlooking. The sports bra can come in pretty handy for pulling together some fun, easy, no-nonsense costume ideas.

      We’re not talking about the sex kitten trend that has completely overtaken women’s costume creativity the past decade or so. In fact, none of these costume ideas require a lot of sexing up, unless you want them to. But if the plan is to emulate a few famous ladies, celebrate in a sporty fashion, or show even a little skin, the pile of sports bras you already own will save you a trip to the costume store.

      12 Sports Bra Halloween Costume Ideas

      Wonder Woman: The red and gold brassiere is a focal point of Wonder Woman’s ensemble, and one you can pull off with a high-shine red sports bra. Use paint or stickers to add the gold embellishments, or just rock out the red. No one’s going to question this super lady’s decision!

      Mud / Color Runner: Have some fun with your runner persona, either as a down and dirty mud runner or a bright and cheerful color runner. Either way, your sports bra will be an essential part of the costume.

      Mermaid: Can’t figure out how to make the seashell bra work? Glue a couple of large shells from the craft store to a purple, blue, or pink sports bra you don’t really need any more.

      Hula Dancer: Similar to the mermaid conundrum, but now you’ve got to figure out how the girls can safely hold up a set of coconuts all night long. Sports bra and hot glue to the rescue!

      Boxer: Be your own champion or model Lalia Ali, but either way you’ll need a strong sports bra to pull off this heavy weight look.

      Flash Dancer: Whether you’re a welder turned erotic dancer or just chasing that 80’s fitness dream, the slouchy shirt and heels will really come together with a sports bra underneath it all.

      Clueless: Cher’s tennis lesson look is classic and won’t require any buggin’ to get ready for. All you need is a pair of short black gym shorts, a white T-shirt with a black sports bra over it, and a loose ponytail. AS IF you’d spend any more time than that!

      Gym Rat: You know who you are, you eat, breathe, and sweat the gym. Your scary addiction to the fitness center shows when you deck out with every accessory, like a sports bra, tracker watch, ponytail AND a headband, sweatbands, water bottle, protein bar, latest neon gym pants, the works!

      Cheerleader: A team-colored sports bra can help you pull off this look, especially if you’re supporting a team like the Dallas Cowboys whose outfits predominantly use a “bra” top.

      Katy Perry: If you plan on dressing up in one of her famous costumes — like the cupcakes, film reels, or fireworks — you’re gonna need something to hold up those props! A sports bra is the perfect accessory to pull off these Top 40 hits.

      Sporty Spice: Throw it back to the 90’s as the sportiest Spice Girl of them all. A brightly colored sports bra will complement those classic white tennies, scrunchy, and cropped black gym attire.

      Aaliyah: If you’re flexin’ your 90’s throwback skills, this Aaliyah costume is the way to go. Write FLEXIN’ across a soon-to-retire white sports bra and pair it with Converse, baggy jeans, a varsity jacket, hoop earrings, and some headphones.

      What other costumes could you make with a sports bra?


      10 Yoga Poses Every Beginner Should Try

      10 Yoga Poses Every Beginner Should Try

      If you’re new to the mat, you’re probably walking in to yoga with a lot of assumptions. You’ve heard about downward dog and sun salutations and may even think that’s going to dominate your early practice. The poses may be extremely common, but they may not be necessary for you.

      yoga poses

      Every yoga pose, more formally known as asanas, has a purpose. You’ll complete each pose in a complementary series, using those like downward dog to help your body transition from one asana to the next. More importantly — you’ll complete each new pose as your body is ready.

      To avoid injury and get the most out of each pose, you should take your time learning the basics of yoga, which can include breath work, proper alignment, and even meditation.

      Jill Lawson, a certified yoga teacher who leads teacher trainings and her own studio, says meditation is an important and oft overlooked aspect of yoga.

      “Meditation is a key component in all yogic practices. Sukhasana, or Easy Pose, may look easy, but it is actually a very challenging pose. One of the goals of yoga is to quiet the mind, and this is a superb pose to practice doing so. Some say this pose takes a lifetime to master, so why not start now?,” she recommends.

      Other popular and basic yoga poses you’ll want to take on as a beginner include warrior, tree, triangle, child’s, cobra, and corpse. Each will help you slowly build strength and confidence within your own practice, while giving your body a gentle and necessary workout.

      However, if you need to take an even easier introduction to yoga, then by all means do so.

      For true beginners, “consider going even more basic with cat/cow for full movement and breath integration,” suggests Kia Ruiz, a yoga instructor at

      Ruiz also suggests alternatives for the ever popular downward dog pose. “For full-bodied individuals, down dog can be challenging on joints and blood pressure.” Why? She explains that this inversion puts the head below the heart, which can increase blood pressure. “Alternatives include wall dog and puppy if this is a concern for yogis as they strengthen their practice,” she encourages.

      Mountain pose is another ideal pose for beginners “because it sets the foundation for many of the other standing poses,” added Lawson. When done properly, “this pose emanates poise and balance,” she said. “It is that ‘root down and rise up’ element that creates grace and ease in a yoga practice, and it is best felt in mountain pose.”

      Be sure to let your yoga instructor know it’s your first time or that you’re practicing at a very beginner level. This will alert her to your unique needs in the class and ensure you get more out of each session. Find those poses you love, do the work to master them, and use them as the building blocks to develop your own fluent yoga practice.

      5 Reasons Horseback Riding Really is a Workout

      5 Reasons Horseback Riding Really is a Workout

      Ever ride a horse and get down feeling like you’re still straddling that saddle with a little hitch in your step? Just like your first time at yoga or your first return to the weight room in a while, a real day of riding can leave you feeling muscle aches and pains in places you didn’t know you had!

      horseback ride

      There are certainly “nayyyy”-sayers who think there is no more to be gained out of a horseback ride than taking in a pretty view, but that hay is definitely for horses. Whether you mount up for an occasional pleasure ride or are serious about your equestrian pursuits, you should know that your physical fitness has a lot to gain from a ride in the saddle.

      “Muscle tone is created by constant tension, so the flexing and contracting you do while riding will help you look better,” said Alexis Bennett at We’ve got five really good reasons your next ride could be the most fun way to get a total body workout.

      The Center 


      “Anything where you are keeping yourself from being bounced off is going to primarily use your core and your legs,” explained Kelly Turner, an ACE certified personal trainer and fitness journalist. That’s right, riding a horse supports core strength, which includes your abs, lower back, and obliques. In order to ride well, or comfortably, the rider must keep her core engaged, thus protecting the spine and keeping herself upright.

      Moves to prepare: Ball Crunches and Planks


      Horseback riding requires as much patience as it does balance and coordination. Balance supports neuromuscular coordination and a strong core, which combined can help you to burn more calories, according to Lauren Martin, a NESTA certified personal trainer for The saddle and stirrups serve almost as a crutch for those unbalanced (or inexperienced) riders, but it still demands astute balance capabilities to keep yourself mounted and up off the ground.

      Moves to prepare: Yoga or Pilates 

      Lower Body


      Consider this: horseback riding can be as good as leg day in the gym! Because you hold your position for an extended period of time, rather than having constant motion like you would in the gym, riding becomes an isometric workout. “After 30 or so minutes of riding, your legs will be burning just the same as they would on leg day,” Turner said.

      This is especially true for experienced riders whose horse is trotting or running, where Turner explains you’ll find yourself in a perpetual squatting position (giving your glutes a little love, too!). “As you bend the knees to absorb the impact of the horse’s steps, you are pulsing the muscles.”

      Moves to Prepare: Mini Squats or One-Leg Wall Squats


      Your thighs get one heck of a burn during a ride, too. Just the squeeze required to keep yourself perched in the saddle will awaken every ounce of thigh strength you possess. “Pinching your legs together to put pressure on the horse to increase the speed or just to keep yourself mounted is also going to target the inner thighs,” explained Turner.

      Moves to Prepare: Scissor Legs Planks or Side-Lying Double Leg Lifts

      Upper Body


      Basic steering is going to call upon that core strength and balance, but your arms and shoulders are also going to be required to carry their load. “If your horse is unruly and needs constant steering to keep it on the straight and narrow, or stops to drop his nose to the ground and munch some grass, you’re in for an upper body workout from managing the reigns,” described Turner.

      Moves to Prepare: Push Ups or Dead-Lift Rows

      Are you a horse riding enthusiast? 

      Tips for Trying Bikram (or Other Hot Yoga)

      Tips for Trying Bikram (or Other Hot Yoga)

      Have you ever gotten an idea in your head that you want to do something, but then spend weeks researching it so you don’t feel like an idiot when you do it? This is exactly what happened to me trying out Bikram Yoga.

      Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury synthesized from traditional yoga techniques and popularized beginning in the early 1970s.[1][2] Bikram’s classes run exactly 90 minutes and consist of a set series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 105°F (? 40.6°C) with a humidity of 40%, causing it to be categorized as a form of hot yoga. (via Wikipedia)

      bikram yoga

      My ENELL SPORT Bra and I survived Bikram Yoga!

      Things to Take to Class:

      • Yoga Mat
      • Long towel for your mat: You can purchase a special yoga towel that is thin but also the proper dimensions for a yoga mat if you think you’ll make this a habit, but a regular large bath towel works fine also.
      • Hand towel for the dripping sweat: You won’t be able to wipe your brow on your shirt as it will be wet. Plus your hands will get slick, so you need to be able to dry them off.
      • Water
      • (optional) a friend – it helped get me in the hot room to know she was there suffering with me at first!

      bikram yoga

      Top 5 Tips:

      1. Talk to the instructor in advance: As part of my “research,” I spoke to the studio owner and one of the class instructors prior to committing to a class. I worried if I was too out of shape or not flexible enough. They gave me the answers I needed to hear to make myself feel comfortable walking into a super hot room for 90 minutes. The peace of mind was great. If by chance you happen across less kind instructors, save your money and take it elsewhere to a different studio. Yoga is not for the elite – it is for everyone.
      2. Wear less clothing: This is not for vanity purposes, this is strictly for comfort. You will sweat, a lot. (You’d be just as soaked if you had run through your yard sprinklers for about 5 minutes). If you wear full length pants or a longer sleeved shirt, it will get sticky and heavy fast. I’ve worn both my ENELL SPORT and ENELL LITE to Bikram Yoga and I’d suggest the LITE as it doesn’t come as high up on the neck and allows for better deep breathing as it’s a little more forgiving around the ribcage.
      3. Stop stressing, no one is looking at you: I am not flexible and my body is quite round and much larger than the other attendees. In order to hold the poses (or get into them in the first place), you have to concentrate wholly on yourself and your body. One side-eye to the gal on your left and you’ll topple. So stop being so self-conscious. (Easier said than done, I understand.)
      4. It’s okay to sit: My first class, I sat for 50% of it. I was just trying to stand the heat and humidity – forget about moving my body. While sitting, I noticed something: nearly everyone else sat too for a little bit. Even those who looked like they could do the class in their sleep with perfect form sometimes had to take a rest. It is okay! Just focus on breathing and take little sips of water if needed.
      5. Don’t chug: In a hot, humid environment you will get thirsty. You’re sweating a lot of your hydration away so it’s natural to want to grab your water bottle. Don’t take large gulps of water, otherwise you’ll feel really bloated and nauseated. Tiny sips are much better. You get to wet your mouth and not have your stomach hit with a liter of water.

      Do you have questions about Bikram yoga? Experiences you’d like to share? We’d love to chat in the comments!