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Fitness & Motherhood

Sweetheart Workout

        Have been staying inside and keeping warm this week? Cocoa, comfort snacks and too much time on the computer? Sounds like you need a Sweetheart Workout to round out this Valentine's Day!   Instead of dressing up and heading out for a romantic dinner, grab your sports bra and tennis shoes for a different kind of Valentine's Day bonding.  Below I have a quick workout that can be done with your sweetheart and once your workout is complete you can munch on a few of those Valentine candies!

            Turn on your favorite romantic (yet peppy) songs and get started.  There are only six exercises followed by some stretching, so if you can find a sitter you might be able to sneak in a fancy dinner too!

-Partner Wall Sit-Do this exercise for 1-2 minutes, get in wall sit position back to back with your partner.

-Sit Up High Fives-Start out toe to toe and when you both are at the top give a high five.  Do two sets of 25.

-Stacked Push-Ups-One person has their feet on their partner’s back and performs 15 push ups.  Each individual should do two sets.

-Back to Back Squat with a Ball-This exercise needs both individuals to be in a squat position back to back.  Rotate to your left and pass the ball and your partner will grab the ball and pass it to you on their left.  This is a great exercise for your core and legs!  Do two sets of one minute for this exercise.

-Wall Sit and Tricep Dip-One person will be in a wall sit while their partner will be performing tricep dips off the other’s knees.  Do two sets of one minute so each person can perform the wall sit and tricep dips.

-Partner Stretch-Make sure to stretch those muscles once you are finished.   Having some help doing these stretches might make the stretch a little deeper.  Your last stretch should be a hug and kiss for your sweaty Valentine!

            Enjoy your sweaty Valentine’s Day this year!  Just remember the couples that sweat together, stay together!  Happy Valentine’s Day!


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All You Need is an App!

Have you tried to elbow your way into a gym this month?  They are packed!  If you are discouraged by the crowds, I have a suggestion for you: get fit with your phone or iPad instead! We all know that technology is amazing and always progressing but the fact that you can get a full body workout from an app is amazing!

Below I have a list of some free apps that you can download onto your phone or tablet. The great thing about using an app is that it can be done anywhere; your living room during your child's naptime or while on vacation with your family. Your Smartphone can do amazing things for your health; it can calculate the distance of your run and track your meals. As moms we know that an hour workout is impossible to fit in most days; try these apps for some fun and quick workouts!

runkeeper appRunKeeper-With this app users can track running, walking, cycling and hiking. The app will give statistics for pace, distance, time and calories burned.

MapMyRun-This app tracks pace, distance, route navigation, calorie counting and nutrition. 

MyFitnessPal-There is a database of over two million foods that makes it easy for users to keep track of calories.

Nike Training Club-This app lets you choose from 100 different workouts that vary from 15, 30 and 45 minute workouts. Nike Training Club

Couch to 5K-This app is for beginning runners that requires 30 minutes a day, three days a week for eight weeks. At the end of the program you will successfully run a 5K!

Sworkit-This app provides random or customizable circuit workouts for various muscle groups and lengths of time. This app lets you choose between strength training, yoga or stretching routines.

Ab Trainer-Download this app and receive different abdominal exercises to tone that tummy!

FitStar, Tony Gonzalez-This app lets you create your own workout plan that you will actually want to use.

Simply Yoga-Have your own yoga teacher with you wherever you go, choose between a 20, 40 or 60 minute workout.

7 Minute Workout-Download this app for a quick 7 minute workout that you can do anywhere. This workout consists of bodyweight exercises, you can always do more than one round!

This is just a quick overview of a handful of free fitness apps. There are many more out there. The great thing is that they are free so there is no commitment! Grab your phone or iPad and start downloading and getting fit! Here's to a great 2014 filled with happiness, health and fitness!

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The Holiday Hustle

We are right in the middle of the holiday hustle and bustle; checking off Christmas lists, wrapping presents, baking, traveling and entertaining. At the bottom of your list you might find working out; how can you find time for this in the middle of the holidays? In between parties and cookie exchanges it is hard to make fitness a priority but if you have a few spare minutes you can!

We will all be enjoying some extra helpings at Christmas dinner, taste testing Santa's cookies and eating some New Year's Eve appetizers so a little exercise will do you good! Follow the exercises below for a ten minute workout, the Holiday Hustle! You can do this first thing in the morning or last thing at night, it's only ten minutes but you will feel great afterwards! We can all find ten minutes, right?

Do each exercise for one minute each.
Jumping jacks
Mountain Climbers
Push Ups
Calf Raises
Tricep Dips
Wall Sit

Have an amazing holiday season surrounded by your friends and family!

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Feeling the Heat

As you know I am a fitness instructor who focuses on pre and postnatal fitness. My favorite types of workouts involve high impact exercises with bursts of cardio. While I love intense workouts and playing contact sports I also LOVE yoga!

I haven't done yoga formally since having Cooper..... and that was four years ago. My excuse? It was hard to find a class time that fit with my family's busy schedule. Over the years I did a few yoga dvd's, met up with some friends and did yoga and even taught a few yoga inspired classes at Stroller Strides but none of them compared to taking yoga in a studio. Recently a friend found a Groupon for Stafford House of Yoga and three of us took advantage of this great deal.

I was so excited to get back into yoga! We jumped right in with a goal of taking two classes a week. The studio was a little drive from our house so we carpooled and had some girl time. There are so many classes to choose from but I was most excited about the Hot Yoga classes they offer. I had never taken Hot Yoga but was excited to see what all the hype is about.

The Hot Yoga was just as I expected; amazing and HOT! The first hot class I walked into I was a little surprised at how hot it actually is. The temperature in the room was always 102 to 104 degrees. The sweat started rolling before we even started moving! The class was full of flowing, vinyasas and seated and standing poses. Each time you would wipe the sweat you would start sweating again immediately! I would never think to do any other type of exercise in 104 degrees but there is something about the HOT yoga that is very relaxing, calming, challenging and refreshing that keeps you coming back. Another perk of the HOT yoga class was the cold towel soaked in essential oil they give you during relaxation that smells amazing and cools you right off. I know that to some people this sounds awful, sweating profusely for an hour and a half but give it a try. Make sure you bring plenty of water, a towel to wipe yourself off and maybe even a change of clothes for after class.

We took a variety of the classes they offered; Power Yoga, Relax and Restore Yoga, Pilates, Hot Flow and Hot Yoga. All of the classes were great and it was so nice to experience each type of yoga. We definitely got our money's worth! Stafford House of Yoga offers so many classes that all fitness levels are welcome, they have chair yoga for beginners and Power Yoga for advanced practitioners. I will definitely invest in this Groupon again; it felt so great to get back into the FLOW of things!

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A Meeting of Two Bloggers


Last week I had a new experience of reaching out to fellow Fredericksburg Parent blogger and mom of two boys, Brenda Sapanghlia. She and her son joined myself and fellow Stroller Striders for her first Stroller Strides class, ( I was thrilled to have her and she did an amazing job!

I was a little nervous to tell you the truth, knowing that we would both be writing about our experience. Would she find a flaw in my class that I didn't know existed? I was planning on holding class outdoors but at the last minute I moved the class indoors due to the chilly temperatures. That location change added a little more stress because I had to make some changes to the workout. Would she feel nervous entering a group of new women? I hoped that when she arrived to class she would find a group of welcoming, friendly moms, happy babies and a great workout. Brenda and I had been emailing each other in advance and I could tell she was a great person so that made me feel a little better! I set aside my nervousness and started class like I always do with introductions and a warm up.

Brenda had her second baby a few months ago and just like any new mom she is ready to start working out and getting back into pre-baby shape. I hope she comes to another class (and brings a friend or two if she wants.) I think she left class feeling sweaty, motivated and excited about the new friendships and people she met. Joining a fitness group like Stroller Strides is a great first step to regaining confidence, friendships for you and your little one and living a healthier lifestyle.

I commend Brenda for stretching herself and for trying something new, and if any of you out there want to follow in her footsteps, here is one of the mini-routines that I suggest for moms looking to lose that pregnancy weight and tone up after baby:

30 jumping jacks
1 minute wall sit
2 minute stair run/walk
15 push ups
30 calf raises
30 crunches
15 tricep dips
1 minute plank

I also tried something new this week too with the blog collaboration, and I am very happy with the end result. Let's all keep moving, both physically and otherwise, moms and dads! We can do great things when we try!



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Sunday, Football & Fitness

Are you a huge football fan and glued to the television all day Sunday? Are you watching to keep up with your fantasy football team or are you a casual viewer of your husband's favorite team? Whatever your situation may be I have a way that you can watch the game and get fit at the same time! Your entire family can join in on the fun! Instead of eating pizza and chips during the game you can work on your six-pack!

The best part of this workout is that you can choose the length of time you will be exercising. If you are a beginner, maybe just the first quarter, or if you are a veteran, the whole game! The great thing is that the football season lasts 17 weeks and you have the option of following this routine on Thursday, Sunday and Monday!

Follow the exercises listed below for a full body workout while watching your favorite team. Even if your team loses you still win in the end!
First Down=5 Push Ups
Touchdown=20 Push Ups
Interception=20 Squats
Fumble=10 Squats
Sack=10 Sit Ups
Defensive Touchdown=20 Burpees
Field Goal=10 Sit-Ups
Extra Point=25 Jumping Jacks
Unnecessary Roughness Penalty=30 second Wall Sit

Have fun with this workout. It's a new, healthier take on Sunday football games! Hold the chips and pizza and lace up those tennis shoes!

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Body After Baby

Pregnancy and childbirth put an enormous strain on your body. Housing another human being for nine months stretches, strains, pulls and swells your body in ways you never thought possible and that you never read about in your pregnancy books! Exercise is key to returning to that pre-pregnancy body.

Below are some tips to get you on the right track. Remember to get permission from your doctor at your postnatal checkup before starting a new exercise routine. Research has shown that women who jump start their fitness routine within a few months of childbirth are more successful at losing pregnancy weight than women who wait more than six months to start a fitness routine. That means get started now!

1. Walking-Walking is simple, cheap and effective. You can start walking a short distance shortly after having the baby, only do what feels comfortable to you. The great thing about walking is you choose the distance and speed. The more walking you do the more strength and cardiovascular strength you will build. Put the baby in the stroller, grab your husband and the dog and take a walk!

2. Kegel Exercises- These exercises won't make you lose weight but they are essential. Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. During pregnancy and childbirth the pelvic floor can become stretched and weakened causing urine control problems. I know after having two children as soon as I started doing jumping jacks or another high impact exercise I needed to run to the bathroom! I have added Kegel exercises to my daily routine and can now jump without taking a bathroom break!

3. Exercise alongside your baby- If you have your little one by your side it's hard to make an excuse to not workout. Put your little one in the stroller and jog around the neighborhood, join an exercise group like Stroller Strides of Fredericksburg where you exercise alongside your baby or put on a yoga DVD and workout while your baby lays next to you on your yoga mat.

4. Cardio-Try to schedule cardio into your schedule 3-4 times a week. Start off slow with walking and work your way up to farther distances or faster speeds. If you are time crunched try some cardio intervals. For example, jumping jacks, jump squats, mountain climbers and Burpees.

5. Abdominal Exercises-Target those abdominals with some ab exercises. These exercises will strengthen your core. A few to start with are plank, crunches and windshield wipers.

Being active does not only help you get in shape but will also make you feel better. Women who exercise and are more active after childbirth have a reduced chance of developing postpartum depression. Grab that baby and get moving, remember only do what your body is comfortable with. Developing a workout schedule for the week will allow you to become more successful. Good luck!

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CrossFit at Home

CrossFit, I am sure you have heard of this workout before but do you really know what it entails? CrossFit gyms or "boxes" are opening everywhere; there are CrossFit games on ESPN and you might see a Reebok CrossFit commercial while flipping through the channels. This high-intensity workout seems to be everywhere!

CrossFit is a training program that people of all shapes and sizes use to improve their physical well-being and cardiovascular fitness. The workouts are extremely varied and challenging but modifications can be made for all fitness levels. Each day a different exercise routine is given, a WOD (Workout of the Day) which is timed. The goal of each workout is to perform the workout as fast as you can. Many gyms use AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) when assigning workouts. For example the AMRAP is set at 20 minutes and you try to do as many rounds as possible in the allotted time with as little rest as possible.

I know everyone doesn't have the time or money (they can be a bit pricey), to join a CrossFit program but you can do your own CrossFit workouts at home. As with all fitness programs you should consult your physician before starting a new workout regimen. The official CrossFit website, posts a daily workout (WOD) which can be done at home or in your own gym. The posted workouts are free! Depending on the workout you might not have all the equipment needed, just make a few modifications.

Another great place to find great at-home CrossFit workouts is Pinterest. I have been using CrossFit style workouts in Stroller Strides for the past year, it's a great way to strengthen your full body in a short amount of time. Next time you are on Pinterest, (I know you are!), pin a few at home CrossFit workouts and do them while you are watching your favorite show.

I know it's hard to find the time to fit in a daily workout, but try to add a 20 minute CrossFit routine to your day. The great part of setting the timer for your workout is to see the growth in your workouts. You can do CrossFit workouts at your own pace. Have fun and take your intensity level up a notch!

Below you will find two different CrossFit routines to try at home. Do each workout for 20 minutes with limited rest.

5 push-ups                              5 Burpees
10 sit-ups                                10 sit-ups
15 squats                                15 lunges

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The Mission to Change

Summer is right around the corner and everyone wants to look their absolute best! Many of us want to look great in our bathing suit and shorts but don't know where to start. Instead of doing 200 sit ups a day, try a balanced approach.

There is currently a nationwide challenge going on called Mom on a Mission. This challenge not only aims for you to get in great shape but to make some healthy lifestyle changes. Even if you aren't participating in the challenge you can still practice some of these lifestyle changes on your own. Grab a friend, spouse or co-worker and get a jump start on a new, healthy you! I have been participating in the challenge for a week and I am definitely much more conscious of my choices and actions.

When you are ready to make a positive lifestyle change there are three areas that need to be focused on; fitness, behavior and nutrition. Just a reminder before starting a new fitness regimen please consult a physician. Whether your goal is to run a 5K or start doing yoga, being active is what's important. Start your week off by scheduling your workouts for the week. If you see them on the calendar you will be more committed to them. Try to participate in physical activity daily whether it's walking the dog, playing outside with your little ones or running five miles. It is also important to challenge yourself by setting goals. I am currently participating in two different exercise challenges, a plank and Burpee challenge. Due to my competitive nature, my friends and I are all participating and pushing ourselves physically to be our best. Working out is always more fun with a friend so start your own fitness challenge; there are so many to choose from and if you need an idea look on Pinterest!

There are certain behaviors that you do during the day that influence your health and well being. Here are some behavior tips that will improve your overall life. When eating meals designate one room in the house to eat in, try not to eat in front of the TV, bedroom or in the car; this only leads to unnecessary snacking. Try brushing and flossing your teeth after dinner, you will be less likely to snack. I know we have all heard this before, but get a good nights sleep, your body needs time to recharge. This is definitely easier said than done as any mom knows!
Finally to balance out your healthy lifestyle changes you need to be aware of your nutrition. This definitely doesn't mean you can't enjoy your meals, you can have a cupcake or bowl of ice cream just know your portion size. Something that I am doing now is logging my food, I have never done this before but heard that it was effective and it is! The other day my son wanted to buy a bag of candy at the store and we didn't get it because I knew if we did I would grab a handful and then have to write that in my journal! I am also very aware of my water intake, trying to drink 64 oz a day which is hard for me but I am doing it.

When you incorporate fitness, behavior and nutrition changes into your daily life you will start to see changes. Not only will you be looking great but you will also be feeling great! Don't feel that you need to adopt all of these changes at once, choose one or two and start being the best you! Good luck as we all challenge ourselves to change for the better!

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About Alison

Alison Neal is the owner of Stroller Strides of Fredericksburg. Stroller Strides is a total body workout that is done alongside your baby. Each instructor modifies the workouts for all fitness levels. As a mother, Alison knows it is hard to fit workouts into a busy schedule, but follow her blog right here for great fitness and healthy living tips! You can also learn more about Stroller Strides by visiting her website.


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The opinions and/or views expressed on this blog represent the thoughts of individual blogger and not necessarily those of Fredericksburg Parent & Family Magazine or any of its employees or staff.