fitness

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: 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.


Peggy, Week #21: 10 Truths To Help You Lose Weight

peggy avagliano

So, what have we learned? If I had to make a short list of what I’m taking away from the challenge, here’s what the past (nearly) six months have taught me and my family.

Focus on three basics:

  • Exercise. Nothing else will help you fit into the jeans you want to wear. Find an activity you love. Make it easy for you to do it.
  • Drink water! Eight glasses a day. It works! You will want to eat less, and you will feel better.
  • Plan ahead. Fast food is the easy option for those who are not prepared. Be prepared, and you will eat healthier and save money!

Make smart choices:

  • Avoid buying junk food. If I buy foods that are bad for me, I will eat them. I have no willpower when it comes to chocolate. The best solution: Get rid of the junk, do not buy more and don’t make any at home.
  • Don’t have just any old dessert. I used to eat ice cream sundaes with peanut butter and hot fudge sauce. Now I have a cup of sorbet or vanilla frozen yogurt with raspberries and bananas. Make Jello and sugar free pudding with fat free milk.
  • Give in if it makes sense. If you really want something, eat it, but be conscious of the amount of food you consume. For example, if you really want an ice cram, have it. But not while you are sitting in front of the television or talking on the phone and distracted. Enjoy it. Make the calories count.

Be accountable:

  • Track your results. Use sparkpeople.com or any of the free websites on line to track your results. Buy a Fitbit or other tracking device. I loved mine, and wish I had not lost it. These devices help to make you accountable to yourself! Other websites, like Earndit.com tie into the Fitbit site and reward you with gift certificates for achieving your goals!
  • Get a buddy. Having someone to share your weight loss journey with makes it easier to stick with it.

Never, ever, ever give up:

  • If you totally blow your new diet, just start again the next day. Do not feel like you should wait to start over on Monday, since you blew it on Friday night. You’ll have a reason to not start on Monday too!

Begin right now:

  • You’ll never lose weight simply by reading about it. Start today.

What one truth of weight loss do you believe everyone needs to know? Post a comment and let me know!


Challenge #6: The Grand Finale

healthy family challenge 2012

It all comes down to this. After five months, the Lehmans and Avaglianos will have to use all the skills they’ve learned before a final weigh-in. Who will come out victorious? And who will win the entire Healthy Family Challenge 2012? Check in every day as our families head toward the finish line.