Feel the Burn: 4th of July Firecracker Plyo Workout

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This past Monday we did a themed workout at Team LUNA Chix Portland Run practice in honor of the upcoming holiday. And there’s no way to pay better tribute to the explosive power of all those 4th of July fireworks shows than with plyometrics, of course!

Plyometric workouts are great for runners because this type of training helps produce greater power and efficiency through the recruitment of more muscle fibers. In layman’s terms: When you train your muscles to contract more quickly and forcefully, you can really amp up your strength and speed.

Hint: If you’re not familiar with some of the moves listed, simply Google the term, and you’ll be able to find a description or video of it in action.

And, as always, remember to go at your own pace and use proper form. Think quality over quantity when it comes to this workout!

Do you utilize plyometrics in your training?

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May Goal Check-In

 

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You know how when you start running, it can be pretty uncomfortable, discouraging and fill you with self-doubt? Well, that’s also how the initial few months with your first baby can feel.

Am I doing this correctly? I have no clue. Is this normal? Who knows. Is he happy? I sure hope so. 

But then you push through, eventually hit your stride, and that’s when things finally start to click. That’s exactly how this past month felt.

Not that we’ve got everything figured out — far from it! But we’ve started to get into a good rhythm as a family and find some semblance of a life outside of diapers, naps, bottles and mountains of laundry.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

After last month’s initial excitement of being cleared to work out again, my goal for May was to address any weaknesses from the last year of bodily changes, as well as help protect myself against future issues — i.e. “mommy slump” from feedings or back pain from picking up a rapidly-growing kiddo.

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Enter the wonderful Angi McClure, who runs a program here in Portland call Body401k. She’s not about quick fixes; her work focuses on in vesting in body longevity because, let’s face it, we’re in ’em for the long haul, so the least we can do is take good care of ’em.

I worked out with Angi while I was pregnant, and I know a lot of the work we did helped me stay strong while carrying Wyatt and recover quickly after. So now that I’m getting back into my fitness routine, I’ve resumed sessions because it’s one thing to be cleared to work out and it’s quite another to proceed properly while learning how to navigate the ‘new normal’ of your body.

Another awesome component of postnatal fitness? Stroller Strides.

If all goes to hell, at least I can count on this workout each week. Not only do I get to bring Wyatt along to a butt-kicker of a workout, but it’s also a fantastic way to commiserate connect with other moms in the area.

2. Training

My first official post-baby race (Wanderlust 108‘s 5k) is under my belt, and what can I say? It was rainy, it was cold, the course was hilly and I was huffing and puffing the whole time.

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But thanks to the encouragement of several of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates, I got it done. No PR’s, no course records — just the satisfaction of knowing I finished, I have a baseline from which to work, and things can only get better from here.

That said, my grand plans to start building mileage this month in an effort to work into training for this fall’s Portland Marathon was an epic fail. I did manage to get a few miles in each week, but I’m currently thinking I’ll have to re-set expectations when it comes to that race.

3. Community

We had a busy but successful month with Team LUNA Chix Portland Run, thanks to our inaugural “Community Week” in which we teamed up with other local businesses and groups to highlight all the great things going on here in PDX.

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We ran, we yoga’d, we bootcamped, we shopped and we volunteered, all in the name of helping to get the word out about what we do, as well as show some love for a few of the great stores, studios and charities in the area.

Up next? In addition to our weekly workouts (Mondays, 6:30 pm at Duniway track), we’re working on organizing a scavenger hunt, as well as more events with our favorite people and places in the fitness community.

Check out our Facebook page for details, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates on what we’ve got going on each week.

4. Career

As I mentioned last month, I ended up extending my maternity leave from my company, Pulse Creative, through May. Mama intuition told me that Wyatt needed a full three months of being my sole focus, and I’m fortunate enough to have clients who are very understanding when it comes to balancing family with work.

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Having my Wanderlust gig, however, did allow me to ease back into things by leading the warm-up at the event’s 5K. And I even squeezed in a few client calls and informal proposals to get a few things in the queue for when I start to ramp back up in June.

5. Life

I’m pretty sure having a child is going to teach me many life lessons, the first of which are:

  1. You cannot control everything.
  2. You cannot do it all.

The way in which Wyatt was born did a pretty good job teaching me no. 1, and life with a baby is schooling me no. 2…every. single. day.

I’ve learned that there are two keys to surviving the first few months with an infant: delegation and outsourcing. Family and friends have been literal lifesavers for me and Ben, whether they’ve dropped off food, stopped by for a visit, shared war stories, helped with a feeding or stayed up practically all night to help us get a few hours of sleep (thanks, MOP!).

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But it’s other little luxuries like having someone come in to tidy up your looks-like-a-bomb-went-off apartment every few weeks or a few precious hours here and there with an extra pair of hands, thanks to this awesome flexible childcare service, that help make a job that’s 24/7 — with no breaks, sick days or vacation — a little more sustainable.

Which leads me to the third, and perhaps the most important, life lesson I’ve learned so far from Wyatt’s past few months on this planet:

Happy moms make happy babies. 

My pediatrician told me this early on, but it wasn’t until recently that I fully understood what he meant — i.e. it’s important to be able to take a step back once in a while and make a little time for myself to regroup.

Not only does this give me better perspective as a mom, but also does wonders for me as a person when I have those oh-my-God-what-did-I-get-myself-into moments where I feel totally overwhelmed and impossibly unprepared.

Because, as I’m learning from my more seasoned parent friends, that feeling never quite goes away!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

10-Minute EMOM Lower-Body Burner

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We tried a new (to me) format in one of my strength training classes recently, and it was A) so challenging and B) so much fun, that I wanted to share it here so you can jump on the bandwagon, too.

EMOM stands for “Every Minute on the Minute.” It’s a type of training where you complete a specific set of movements or exercises at the top of every minute, rest until the end of the minute, and then start all over again once the next minute begins.

EMOM workouts are not only time-efficient, but they’re also focused on quality over quantity; instead of racing the clock and getting sloppy, you simply do your predetermined number of reps, then recover until the next minute comes around. Many people find that EMOMs help with pacing, too, because there’s minimal rest between sets as the clock keeps on ticking.

Here’s a sample I’ve created if you want to add some lower-body zing to the end of your workouts a few times a week:

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EMOMs are also butt-kickers, I might add. While not meant to totally replace your workouts — that defeats the purpose with this type of short-form interval training — they’re a great supplement to your usual routine when you want to kick things up a notch in the strength, endurance and cardiovascular departments.

And don’t forget to use rest periods to analyze your performance each minute. How were you feeling? How was your form? Is your pace slowing? Each new minute is a chance to refocus, track progress and set goals, which is a fantastic motivator for workouts.

 To EMOM or not to EMOM — what’s your take?

Valentine’s Day Partner Workout

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Instead of (or, let’s be honest, before) hitting the couch and starting that next Netflix marathon this Valentine’s Day, grab a partner and get your hearts pumping with this bodyweight circuit workout.

How it works: Assign one move in each circuit to yourself and the other to your partner. Repeat as many repetitions of that exercise as you can in 30 seconds before swapping exercises. Once you’ve completed four rounds of alternating moves per circuit (4 minutes), take a minute to rest before moving on to the next circuit.

Flying solo? Don’t sweat it. You can still do this workout on your own, utilizing the same format, before you hit the town!

Valentine's Partner Workout

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day or are you planning on boycotting this year?

My 10 Favorite (Free!) Online Workout Resources

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As much as I’m excited about Baby H’s impending arrival, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit nervous about squeezing in workouts with a wee one who could care less about schedules, classes and training cycles. While s/he will be a priority from here on out, I don’t want to entirely lose my “me” time — those regular sweat sessions that help me fight stress, make goals, feel good about myself and (as I’ve heard) allow me to be a better mom.

Fortunately, though, I’m not alone in this endeavor. There’s a wealth of fit mamas out there who are not only great role models, but on whom us newbies can also lean for advice when it comes to navigating this “new normal” with grace and a sense of humor!

Case in point: My college friend and sorority sister, Angela, who is so many inspiring things…a successful lawyer, a mother of three and an avid marathoner and Ironman 70.3 finisher. We connected recently about postnatal training, which she now does mostly at home whether it’s running on the treadmill, riding her bike trainer or doing yoga in front of the TV.

Angela's also an amazing role model for her kiddos; here, she helped her daughter run her first 5k!

Angela’s also an amazing role model for her kiddos; here, her daughter ran her first 5k!

Note to self: Apparently the rhythmic thumping of the treadmill is a great way to lull newborns to sleep. Thanks for the tip, Ang 🙂

One thing she said she’s missing, however, are some solid workout resources to help her keep her home workout mojo between training for races. And being that I’m about to venture into the same territory, she figured it might be a topic I’d like to explore (yes!), so I’ve been on a quest to find what I think are the best free fitness resources online at the moment.

Here’s what I came up with:

1. One-Stop Shop: Fitness Blender

Founded by a husband and wife team, Daniel and Kelli, it offers a wide selection of full-length video workouts in all kinds of categories. Whether you’re looking for cardio, strength, stretching or more, I love that you can search by workout length, body focus, training type and equipment needed for a sweat session that’s customized to your needs.

2. Spinning: Spinning Freak

While this site doesn’t host guided at-home cycling classes, per se, I do think it’s one of the most legit bike workout resources on the web. I don’t know about you, but instead of watching people with poor form yell out cues, I’d much rather download workout profiles and their corresponding playlists and go at it on my own; that way, you’ve got all the zone and cadence information you need for a fantastic, focused ride.

3. High-Intensity Interval Training: Body Rock

If you’re short on time and looking to maximize your results, this is a must-visit site for its high-quality videos, creative moves, basic equipment and short but very intense workouts. Expect lots of cardio and (mostly) bodyweight circuit workouts, all of which are modifiable for a range of skill levels and either come with detailed descriptions and pictures or are well-instructed in video format.

4. Strength Training: XHit

Bodybuilder types beware, this site’s more geared toward a peek behind the scenes of celebrity fitness routines with a range of lower body, upper body and core strengthening exercises, as well a number of seven day workout plans. But I like that you can piece together different videos to target the areas of your choice, so consider it a complement to your usual routine or a way to mix things up on those days where you just can’t make it to the gym.

5. Yoga: Do Yoga With Me

Get your OM on any which way you choose, thanks to an incredible offering of classes from this site. Not only are instructors top-notch, but you can also sort videos by difficulty, class length, style and teacher — plus there are a number of instructional videos that focus on the basics and skill-building for honing your practice at home.

6. Programs from Favorite Trainers: Be Fit

If you’re inspired by working out with popular trainers such as Jillian Michaels, Denise Austin, Jane Fonda, Billy Blanks Jr., Tara Stiles and more, then this is the place to go for all kinds of fitness programs. Not only does it offer a new video each weekday, but it’s also got a huge range of videos to cater to every craving, whether you’re looking to burn fat, sculpt muscle, tone up or slim down.

7. Pilates: FT Pilates

While it hasn’t been updated in some time, this site still offers a number of specific, mostly-bodyweight workouts that are fun, informative and allow you to target different areas of the body for flexibility and toning. One of my favorites is the stability ball workout, but I’ll also piece together other shorter videos for a full-body routine.

8. Bodyweight: Make Your Body Work

As a professional weight loss coach and “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” in 2013, Dave Smith offers almost 80 full workouts, as well as a bunch of other videos with advice for adopting a healthier lifestyle. Each workout challenges your entire body, include elements of cardio, strength and core conditioning, plus offers different difficulty levels that provide up to four distinct options for every single move.

9. Miscellaneous: eFit30

Interested in exploring Primal Movements or Air Yoga? This Australian-based site gives plenty of variety to keep you from getting bored, yet it still offer offers a number of your traditional yoga, Pilates, bootcamp, total-body and high-intensity interval training videos to keep you active when you just aren’t able to hit up the gym.

10. On-The-Go: Nike Training Club App

When all else fails (or if I’m just too lazy to look up a workout on my computer), I know I can always count on NTC to deliver an ass-kicking via my iPhone that will leave me crumpled on the floor in a happy, sweaty heap. The app features more than 100 workouts led by Nike Master Trainers, complete with audio cues, video guides and step-by-step images to ensure good form and make following along a breeze.

Do you have any favorite online resources for free, at-home workouts? If so, please let us know below! 

January Jump-Start: Full-Body Stability Ball Workout

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It’s January, so there’s a good chance you A) made some kind of resolution to lose weight or get in better shape, and B) are already sick of fighting the crowds at the gym this month.

We’ll I’ve got some good news, and it comes in the form of an at-home workout that’s effective, adaptable for all levels and — dare I say — fun?!

That’s right; it’s tough to keep a smile off your face when you’re playing around on a giant bouncing ball. Yes, even if you’re drenched in sweat and feeling the burn.

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All you need is a stability ball and access to your favorite piece of cardio equipment, which could also be a set of stairs or the great outdoors if you’re determined to steer clear of resolution-goers this month.

At home, feel free to try this in front of the TV or break it up into chunks throughout the day. If you don’t happen to have a ball, no problem — just grab one at the gym, find yourself an uncrowded corner and get to work.

And if you really want a treat, finish off your workout with a few of these stretches. Not only do they feel great, but they’re also a good way to support your body so it can really settle into the positions and properly relax. Ahhh…

Are you doubling down on gym time this month or avoiding that place like the plague?

December Goal Check-In

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It’s almost time to say “sayonara” to 2015! But before we go, I’ve got one final monthly check-in for this calendar year.

I’ll be doing a more thorough review of the year’s goals in an upcoming post. In the meantime, however, this one’s more about progress made during this last 31-day push.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest:

1. Seeking Balance

After November’s turkey trot, the racing bug bit me hard (if you can call it that…because I’m not able to actually ‘race’). I wanted nothing more than to get a holiday run on the calendar, but cooler heads prevailed in the end when I realized that we had too much going on with baby stuff, holiday prep and travel.

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Instead, Ben and I opted to keep December low-key when it came to pre-planned fitness events. We had enough to keep us busy between work, doctor’s appointments and parties, so workouts ended up becoming more social as a result.

Here’s a tip: If you’re feeling over-scheduled, kill two birds with one stone and make a fitness date with friends. Not only will you get to re-connect, but you’ll also work off some of those extra cocktails or cookies in the process!

2. Training Smarter

Dear Running,

As much as it pains me to say this, we’re going to have to take some time apart. It’s not you — it’s me — and I hate to do this to you because you’ve always been there, but I hope we can try again when the time is right.

Love, Me

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After a decent five-miler earlier this month, I had a no good, horrible, very bad treadmill run mid-month that made me 99.9% sure running is off the table for the foreseeable future. Despite my best efforts — support belt, cushy shoes, hydration, slower pace, etc. — it was uncomfortable bordering on painful, so I cut my planned four-miler in half and ended up making up the difference with walking.

I’m thankful to have made it this far with intermittent jogs, and I’ve been keeping consistent over the holidays with lots of walking and at-home body weight workouts, all of which were much easier when on the road without regular access to a gym. It was all about being flexible, cross-training and modifying when needed!

3. Facing Fears

Aside from this week, I’m giving myself a pat on the back for continuing to make it to the pool regularly. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s quickly becoming a favorite activity because it feels so lovely to give my joints a break from all the extra weight.

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The toughest part remains just getting there, but once I hit the water it’s all good. And I’m pretty sure Baby H is happy, too, because is feels like s/he just chills out once I find my zone while bobbing back and forth down the lane.

And, yes, believe it or not — I’m looking forward to continuing this little tradition into the New Year, too.

4. Pushing Myself

It took a combination of objective and subjective feedback this month to realize that as I enter the 3rd trimester, “pushing” is a relative term — as in, balls-to-the-wall workouts are now a no-no, if not an impossibility. Rather, it’s all about consistency and keeping myself in check…which sometimes proves to be a challenge in and of itself.

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Thankfully, though, I’ve been utilizing a great book from one of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates and fellow preggo, Sharlene Murphy: The Pregnant Athlete. It debunks the myth that you can’t have a safe, healthy pregnancy and maintain a high level of fitness — and it’s been a great source of motivation and inspiration when I catch myself occasionally getting bummed out about what I can’t do right now.

Another tip: Focus on the positive. Just as every pregnancy is different, so is everyone’s range of activity while pregnant; even if you can’t push like you’re used to in one area, there’s a good chance you can still make progress in another.

5. Giving Back

Our lovely LUNA crew was out representing in full force despite of less-than-desirable weather for this year’s Holiday Half on December 13. Of note was the aforementioned Sharlene, who completed the 5k at nearly 39 weeks pregnant, and Katie Wilkes for successfully running her first half marathon. Way to go, ladies!

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And in other news, we’re hard at work assembling our 2016 team. As of December 15, we officially closed applications, so we’re now in the process of reviewing all of them and making some tough decisions (we got so many great applicants; thanks to everyone for your interest and enthusiasm!) before notifying our new team leaders.

We’ll be making the official announcement in January, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, please give us a follow via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts so you can stay in the loop during our upcoming season.

How’d you do with your 2015 goals?