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! 
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Baby H: 32-Week Update

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A girlfriend (who also happens to be pregnant and due around the same time) recently shared with me a great description of what it’s like at this point of pregnancy: It feels like you don’t have much time left, but there’s still a long way to go.

As in, there’s a lot that needs to be done before our new roomie arrives — crib setup, car-seat installation, clothes washing, hospital bag packing! — but then again two more months of living day-in and day-out in this state feels like it might get old…very soon, if not already. So, without further ado, here’s our 32-week “bumpdate”…

Month Eight: Estimated at a little more than three pounds (as of our most recent ultrasound) and anywhere from 17-19 inches long from end to end, Baby H’s new job is to start packing on the pounds in preparation for life outside the womb. According to my app, all senses are operational, too, which is exciting because I’m constantly wondering what’s going on in there with each little thump or squirm that I feel!

Weight Gained: Still hovering at a little more than 20 pounds. I was expecting that number to be higher after all my holiday indulgences, but my doctor says I’m tracking just fine for total gain, so I’m just loading up on good fats with things like eggs, nuts, avocados (and maybe the occasional ice cream sundae) to help Baby H build up that fat to help with temperature regulation and energy after birth.

Workouts: It’s high time to take it down a notch. Not only am I limiting cardio to 30-minute sessions, per my doctor’s recommendation, but I’m also following the talk test more strictly. And I’m also sticking with low-impact cross-training, which means more barre, Pilates, light weights, yoga and the like.

Symptoms: I miss being able to eat whatever I want without feeling full very quickly. Maybe it’s the way Baby H is sitting, but my eyes are quite literally bigger than my stomach at every meal. Normally, I’m a three-square-meals kinda gal with snacking in between, but I’m learning that six smaller ones might be more my speed at this point.

Food Aversions: None, thank goodness. Just getting a little tired of my snack of choice (nuts), so I’ve been searching out new products and recipes to keep from getting bored while trying to consume enough good fats. Stay tuned for more on that!

Food Cravings: Oranges. I can’t get enough of ’em. Which is also convenient because it’s peak cold and flu season, and I could use all the immunity help I can get. We got a box of our favorites delivered direct from Florida, and I’m in heaven. Otherwise, it’s been tough to try to limit the sweets so I can leave some room for high-density foods, such as eggs, avocado, nuts, coconut, etc.

Sleep: It never fails — get a group of preggos together, and inevitably the conversation turns to how much sleep we’re not getting at this point. It fluctuates, depending on the night, but let’s just say I’m operating on average numbers that I’ve never before considered sustainable. Yet, I know I’ll be looking back in a few months and wishing I was getting as much shuteye as I am at the moment, sans baby!

Looking Forward To: All the nesting, which means things are getting real. We’re starting to plan our hospital bags, logisticize a dedicated space for Baby H in our apartment (much to our dogs’ dismay, as their domain is shrinking), wash tiny clothes (Dreft smell!) and gather all the other necessary gear.

Boy/Girl Suspicions: I still don’t have a strong feeling. Ben’s mom surprised us over the holidays at a family dinner with something really fun — she had a dozen each of pink cupcakes and blue cupcakes, and people got to vote by selecting their dessert. In the end, blue won. But it’s also worth saying that my new chiropractor, unprompted, said her vote is for pink. So I think it’s safe to say that this kid’s got everyone stumped.

Any Fun Stories? Baby H apparently has a sense of humor. And some impressive flexibility skills. Or we’re just getting a sneak peek at a future trouble-maker. At my last ultrasound, s/he was sitting comfortably breech — butt down and legs up overhead — although s/he usually prefers to tuck both feet under my ribs. Apparently I have a few more weeks until Baby H may settle into a final position, although s/he seems pretty darn comfortable hanging out as-is!

Stay tuned for the month nine update in a few weeks…

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?

My 5 Goals for 2016

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‘Tis the season to look back at 2015’s learnings so we can get another batch of goals going for 2016!

But first things first: It’s been really tough to get as specific and measurable as I’d like when I know things will be up in the air with the arrival of Baby H in March. Since I’m not sure exactly what my own labor, delivery, recovery and life with a baby will entail, I’ve decided to take a more “agile” (read: iterative) approach and make educated guesses at goals, which I’ll revise quarterly throughout the year.

And in case you’re wondering — yes, I’m still working toward my long-term goals of going further (another 50k and possibly an eventual 50-miler) and faster (sub-4 marathon), but I’m realistic enough to know that this may not won’t be the year for all of that. So my plan is to continue to lay the foundation to be able to focus on some stretch goals down the road.

As you’ll see, not all my goals are fitness-oriented this year because there are some other areas in which I’d like to focus good chunks of time. But in the meantime, here’s what I’ll be working on for the next 12 months (well, aside from that whole ‘having a baby and keeping it alive’ thing):

1. Health & Fitness: Until Baby H arrives, my goal is to continue regular workouts with a mix of cardio, strength and flexiblity work 5-6 days per week. I’m hoping that my continued prenatal movement classes and other prep will allow me to avoid a c-section, but you never know…so depending on how delivery/recovery goes, I’m expecting anywhere from 6-12 weeks of easing back in with long walks and gentle cross-training. From there, my next step is to get back into ZOOM+Performance around April or May to get baseline measurements done so I can set more specific goals and a timeline for getting safely into a training cycle.

2. Training: There’s no better way to get motivated to get back in shape than with a race, so I’m already signed up for the Portland Marathon next October. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can start training for it in June, but my plan for the race (to simply complete it or run for a time) is TBD until after Baby H arrives. In terms of other events, they’re also pending recovery, but I’m eyeing my first duathlon, as well as some other shorter events (5ks, trail races, etc.) in between, so I can proudly represent as part of the Coeur Sports 2016 team!

3. Community: We’re baaaaack! Team LUNA Chix Portland Run is gearing up for its second season, and we’re in the process of going through applications for new team members. I’ll announce our new team in mid-January, and in February we’ll have a local retreat before the season officially kicks off in April. We’ve got some ambitious goals in terms of growing the team and raising awareness, as well as fundraising $1500+ for our charity partner, the Breast Cancer Fund — but we couldn’t be more excited to ring in a new year together!

4. Career: While this blog is what I call my “passion project,” I’ve actually got a day job in marketing and PR. In fact, as some of you may know, I launched Pulse Creative (my consulting business!) in 2015 after years of agency life and working in-house. It’s been growing steadily in the sixth months since its inception, and I’ve been very fortunate that most of my work has been referral-based, but my goal is to double revenue for 2016. So, shameless plug: If you know of anyone in need of marketing, PR or copywriting services, please let me know; I always appreciate referrals 🙂

5. Life: Finally, after hearing rave reviews from friends about Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” I’ve been inspired to de-clutter our apartment. Whether it’s nesting instinct kicking in, or just the fact that I’m tired of keeping half my clothing in our storage unit, it’s high time to shed all of those unused goods and make space for more streamlined living. My goal now is to finish the book by mid-month, and then I’ll put it in action in January and February. I’m nervous because it’s tough getting rid of “stuff” you think you need — but I’m excited to bring Baby H home to a place that feels lighter and brighter as a result!

What’s on your to-do list for 2016? 

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? 

Baby H: 28-Week Update

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The third trimester has arrived, and it’s sure making its presence known. I’m starting to slow down a bit as I enter the seventh month with Baby H, but we’re still hanging in there…and both growing by the day! Here’s our 28-week “bumpdate”…

Month Seven: Weighing in at a whopping 2.5 pounds and almost 16 inches long from end to end, Baby H is (hopefully) getting ready to settle into the proper position for birth (head down) soon before s/he starts running out of room. Fingers crossed. Until then, it’s a dance party in my belly — both day and night — while new skills are being added to the repertoire of movements, including blinking, coughing, sucking, hiccuping and taking practice breaths.

Weight Gained: Right around 20 pounds (!), which is starting to feel a little cumbersome because bending over is no longer an option. I’m not so much concerned about the number as I am keeping my daily eating habits consistent — or, rather, trying to keep them reasonable during the holidays. This is NOT the time for dieting or being super strict; believe me — I’m definitely having fun. But if I hear one more time the, “But, you’re eating for TWO!” excuse, I may start carrying a sign that says, “Just because my belly is starting to rival that of the jolly man in the red suit doesn’t mean I need that fourth helping of cookies.”

Workouts: The type fluctuates depending on my mood…but the frequency is consistent! I’ve even managed to do a few short jogs here and there — which is much needed both mentally and for fresh air when we get a break in the rain. Some things (cycling, yoga, anything where I’ve got to bend over or twist) are starting to feel more uncomfortable since Baby H is riding low, but others feel great (Pilates, swimming, elliptical, bootcamp, barre), so I’m doing what I can while I still can because I know this will likely be a moving target. Also, per my ZOOM+Performance recommendations, I’ve been experimenting with Gyrotonic, which is great for posture, alignment, flexibility, breath/body awareness and more.

Symptoms: Ugh. As someone who can usually eat whatever she wants, I’m no longer taking an efficient digestive system for granted. Everything’s fine while I’m eating, but a full meal now hits me HARD 15-20 minutes later and then takes what feels like hours to process through my stomach. And it usually leaves a lovely parting gift of heartburn and acid reflux. I’m learning to eat smaller portions more frequently, though, which helps.

The belly is now front and center, too, which requires more thought when maneuvering around. It feels so odd to have to think about my approach to simple tasks like putting on underwear, shoes, socks, etc. (basically anything requiring bending over) rather than just acting out of habit. Basically, there’s a lot contorting and heaving myself around once I’m in a good position so I can give gravity some of the workload…and I still end up completely out of breath in the process.

Food Aversions: Nada. But God help you if you get near me with a lit cigarette. Every time I walk through a cloud of irresponsibly-exhaled smoke (PSA: If you insist on slowly killing yourself, that’s your choice. But please blow those toxic fumes upward or downwind so it doesn’t boomerang back and hit other people in the face!), I have to hold my breath and am starting to dole out the dirty looks pretty liberally.

Food Cravings: Does ‘nesting’ count when it happens in the kitchen? I’ve been having fun experimenting with new recipes, and I’m trying to make sure they’re a good balance of nutrient-dense and delicious. Other than that, I’ve been putting my egg scramble in heavy rotation for extra protein, and I can’t pass up dairy. I also can’t seem to say no to the leftover holiday treats that Ben’s bringing home from the office…but I’m trying to limit myself to a sensible serving or two instead of a whole box or bag.

Sleep: What is that, and where do I get some? Between regular bathroom trips, worrying about work details slipping through the cracks (I don’t care what people say — ‘baby brain’ is a real thing!) and prepping for the impending arrival of our little one, sometimes it’s tough to get back to sleep when I wake up in the middle of the night. And other times I just wake up HUNGRY, so I choose to believe that s/he must also be going through a growth spurt (versus the alternative, which is that my rear just going through a growth spurt, LOL).

Looking Forward To: Setting up a dedicated space for Baby H, washing tiny clothes (i.e. smelling that delicious newborn detergent) and putting together all the related gear. Since I work on my computer for a large part of the day, it’s probably part nesting and part me craving some non-screen time. I’m also anxiously awaiting our next ultrasound, which I’m not sure when will happen — but the curiosity of what this kid looks like now (versus our last one, which I think was around 19 weeks) and what the heck s/he is doing in there when I’m feeling certain movements is killing me!

Boy/Girl Suspicions: I don’t have a clue one way or another, but if I were to hazard a guess right now, I think I’d be more surprised if it’s a boy. It’s fun to have other people guess, though; everyone who looks at my belly seems to have a strong opinion one way or another — although the responses for Team Pink and Team Blue have been split pretty evenly!

Any Fun Stories? Ben and I recently attended our first official baby class: an all-day seminar on Newborn Care & Breastfeeding. It was informative, worthwhile…and eye-opening! Although I have some experience from helping with my nephew a few years back, it was good to have a refresher. Ben especially liked the swaddling competition. And, if you follow me on Instagram, perhaps you’ve seen that he’s been practicing his technique? I’d say he nailed it.

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Stay tuned for the month eight update in a few weeks…

Tabata HIIT Holiday Workout

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, yes. But it’s also the time of year that can start to undo all the hard work you’ve put in over the past 11 months.

Think the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s aren’t taking a toll on your waistline? Despite media exaggerations, the average person only puts on a measly pound or two.

So what’s the problem? Well, it’s not so much the weight gain, but the fact that most people won’t ever lose that weight…so the scale slowly starts to creep up over the years.

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But the good news is that you can do something about it. A lot, actually.

Don’t wait until January 1st to commit to a healthy eating and regular exercise regimen. And being strapped for time over the next few months is no excuse, which is why I put together this quick Tabata High-Intensity-Interval-Training Holiday workout — not only can you do it anywhere, but it also doesn’t require any equipment.

In just 30 minutes, you can get your heart rate up, burn some calories and build muscle — all of which will help you hit those New Year’s goals early. Now that’s something you can toast to on December 31st!

What’s your game plan for avoiding unnecessary holiday weight gain?