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Challenge Yourself: The 3 Best Fitness Classes For Families

Let’s face it: We all have days when we just don’t feel motivated to exercise. But if everyone in the family is committed to exercising, then you’ve got motivation to show up at the gym. One way you may not have thought of to work out: Signing your brood up for a small group class. Here, some suggestions from Tilton Fitness (where kids 13 and up are allowed to break a sweat) on their best classes to try:

TRX/SPIN
What it is: In this class, you’ll use TRX straps (the popular suspension equipment designed by Navy Seals) followed by a 30-minute spin routine.
Why it’s great: You’ll get a double shot of cardio and strength training—and the bands will give you a truly great total-body workout. Plus, the exercises are easily modified. Although everyone can be doing the same movement, they can perform it at varying levels of difficulty.

TABATA FIT
What it is: Trainers will use the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) method—which is a short burst of physical activity followed by a rest period—to build muscle and boost strength.
Why it’s great: Since you go as hard as you can, you’ll rev your metabolism and burn calories long after you leave the gym. But like the TRK/SPIN class, you can easily dial down the intensity.

COMBAT BOOT CAMP
What it is: With its mixture of plyometrics, calisthenics and weight training, the popularity of boot camp classes shows no signs of slowing down. The activity is part cardio, part-strength training, and a lot of fun.
Why it’s great: You’ll build strength and hone your flexibility, but the best part of the class might come from performing the kicks, jabs, and punches themselves—how’s that for a confidence booster?


Challenge Yourself: 10 Ways to Burn More Calories Today

Walking

We tapped the experts at Tilton Fitness for easy ways to keep your metabolism running at top speed.

  1. Park on the opposite side of the parking lot. The farther you are from your destination, the more steps you’ll have to take. Commuting via train or bus? Get off a stop early and walk.
  2. Do some sit-ups in the a.m. Turn on the shower and do the exercises as the water is warming up. You’ll wake up faster and be stronger.
  3. Knock out some push-ups on the sink. The bathroom workout continues.
  4. Go for a walk on your lunch break. You’ll log extra cardio, but the time spent outside can help you feel reenergized too.
  5. Take the stairs. The elevator is convenient, but there’s a reason the Stairmaster is so popular.
  6. Swap your office chair for a Fitness ball. Doing so engages your core muscles.
  7. Take a stretching break. It’ll keep you moving. Plus being sedentary all day increases your risk for heart disease and being hunched over a desk can hurt your posture.
  8. Stand on one leg while cooking. You’ll strengthen your quads and hamstrings—but just be careful!
  9. Do a few sets of squats while watching TV. Stand in front of the couch, lower your hips until your butt grazes the seat and then return to standing. Repeat during the commercials.
  10. Walk the kids to school. It’s an easy way to log extra exercise for the whole family—plus, you get to spend more time with them!

What’s your favorite way to sneak in exercise? Tell us in the comments below.


Challenge Yourself: The #1 Way to Get Your Kids In Shape

As told to Maria Masters by TJ Loos, Tilton Fitness

Competitiveness isn’t always a bad thing—in fact, this instinct often pushes us to perform at our highest levels. The more effort we put into something, the more benefits we reap from it. Take sports, for example. The harder we train at them, the more physically fit we become. And when we’re really motivated, we often maximize those workouts.

Parents play a major role in a encouraging a healthy lifestyle. First and foremost, they must lead by example. If Mom or Dad prefers to watch TV in their spare time, the children will invariably follow suit.

When your kids are young, it’s best to set some time aside for them to run around. Encourage them to go outside and play a game of tag, set up an obstacle course for them in the backyard or take the lead in a game of Simon Says—and command them to do a quick sprint or two. But as children grow older, they’ll primarily get their exercise through sports. And since these activities are designed to bring out their competitive nature, kids will start playing them with a level of competitiveness that’s sure to rev up their fitness levels.

Here are a few sports to encourage:

* Basketball: You don’t have to fill up the court with players—a one-on-one game can be a great cardio workout. Players need to be quick, versatile, and coordinated. Plus, you’d be surprised at how a sudden jump for a rebound or a block attempt can recruit the same muscles that you’d use in a plyometric workout.

* Swimming: Nothing gets your heart pounding like a race in the pool. Swimming requires us to use just about every one of our muscles. Bonus: The water acts as resistance, which we don’t normally get on land, so we have to work extra hard to move around.

* Tennis: Because this sport mimics interval training—i.e., repeated short bursts of movements followed by a period of rest—it can also be a great endurance workout. And it demands a lot of our muscles; your arms have to constantly return the ball and your legs need to move with speed and agility.

Helping your kids lead an active, healthy lifestyle does require some effort—but it might be easier than you think. Remember:

  • Be an example.
  • Set some time aside each day for your children to run around.
  • Take part in the activities with them.

Lastly, choose sports that are fun, and activities that will spark the imagination. That way, your kids will be even more enthusiastic about getting in shape.

 Maria Masters is the associate health editor at Family CircleTJ Loos is a certified personal trainer at Tilton Fitness in Galloway, New Jersey; he’s coaching the Avagliano kids’ coach for the Healthy Family Challenge.


Challenge Yourself: 4 Exercises You Can Do With Your Husband

The Avagliano Family

We’ve all been there before: Caught between the ambitious goal of heading to the gym and the more likely reality of vegging out on the couch while watching NCIS. And when those feelings arise, it helps to have a little push from a workout buddy.

“Encouragement and support are two big factors that can help you stay in shape,” says Anna Erik, from Tilton Fitness, where the Avaglianos work out. “You’re more likely to succeed if you have someone rooting for you and working to achieve similar goals.”

In that case, perhaps the perfect partner is the guy who’s already at home. Think about it: He’s close by, helpful, and can’t easily duck out of requests.

Use Erik’s 30-minute, total-body workout to keep you—and your spouse—in shape this season. (And ladies, go easy on him.)

Warm-up: BOSU-ball step-ups
Place a BOSU-ball on the floor at your feet. With your right foot, step on the center of the ball, then step forward with your left. Take a step back with your right foot, followed by your left. Repeat for 5 minutes.

Squat with Plank Arm Reach
Stand with both feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended in front of you, facing your partner. Slowly squat (as if you were sitting on a seat) until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Next, place your hands on the floor, and jump or walk to a plank position. Keeping your hands on the floor and arms shoulder-width apart, reach for your partner’s hands one-at-a-time. (Remember to keep your core braced and your back straight.) Jump or walk back to the plank position, and stand up. Repeat 20 times.

Cardio: 1-minute Jumping Jacks

Partner-Assisted Single Arm Chest Press: Stand facing your partner, with your right leg about one foot in front of your left. Place your palms together with your partner’s, at chest-level. One partner should push forward, while the other resists. Try this for TK seconds at a time. Repeat 20 times, then switch sides.

Cardio: 1-minute Jump Rope

Lunge with Medicine-Ball Twist: Start by standing to one side of your partner, about an arm’s length away. Hold a medicine ball in both hands next to your chest, and keep your feet at hip-width apart. As you take one step forward with your right leg, and sink down until your knee is bent at a 90-degree angle, twist your body to the right and hand the ball off to your partner. (Your left leg should come down about 1-inch above the ground and your core should be braced.) Then step forward with your left foot. Next have your partner do the lunge, twist and return the ball to you. Continue lunging, switching the ball back and forth between the two of you. Repeat for 30 times.

Cardio: 1-minute Mountain Climbers
Get on the floor in a push-up position, with your hands on the ground and arms shoulder-width apart. Keep your core braced your back in a straight line from your shoulders to feet. Bring your right knee forward to your chest, then back to the starting position. Then switch legs, bringing your left knee to your chest, and back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat 15 times.

Squat Walk with Medicine-Ball Raise:
Stand facing your partner with your feet shoulder-width apart. Holding a medicine ball with both hands in front of you, near your hips, step to the side with your right foot and descend into a squat until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. (Your partner should step out with his left foot, to mirror you.) Raise the ball to shoulder-level, keeping your core braced and your arms straight and hand it off to your partner. Stand back up, bringing your left foot closer to the right. Walk 15 steps to the right, and repeat to the left.

Cardio: 1-minute Running up and Down the Stairs

Medicine-Ball Sit-Ups:
Lie down on the floor, opposite your partner. Your knees should be bent, with the tips of your toes touching his. Holding a medicine ball at chest level and keeping your core straight, sit up and toss the ball to your partner. Lower yourself down to the starting position and rise in time for him to toss the ball back to you after he’s done a sit-up. Repeat 20 times.

 Maria Masters is the associate health editor at Family Circle.


Challenge Yourself: Drink Healthy Smoothies and Get Your Daily Fruit and Veggie Servings

Carrot-Peach Smoothie

You may not be avoiding produce like your kid. But chances are neither of you are getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables you should either. That’s where homemade smoothies can save the day. Not only are they packed with vitamins and minerals, but they’re also filled with fiber and natural sugars, unlike so many other drinks on the market. Plug in your blender and try whipping up these two delicious recipes from smoothie books that just hit shelves this spring.

Eastern Apricot Pistachio Smoothie
Serves: 2 (352 calories per serving)

Ingredients:
1/3 cup pistachios
2 ½ cups chopped cucumber
10 dried apricots
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 ½ cups water
Directions

  1. In a high speed blender, combine pistachios, cucumber, apricots, parsley, and water
  2. Blend until completely smooth

Credit: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Smoothies (Alpha Books)

 

Celerapple Frapple
Serves: 4 (124 calories per serving)

Ingredients:
1 cup romaine lettuce
3 Granny Smith apples
2 celery stalks
2 cups orange juice

Directions

  1. Combine lettuce, apples, celery, and 1 cup juice into blender, and blend until smooth
  2. Add remaining 1 cup juice, and continue to blend until smoothie reaches desired consistency

Credit: 201 Healthy Smoothies & Juices for Kids (Adams Media)

For more delicious summer drink recipes, check out “10 Supercharged Smoothies.”