Starting an Exercise Program in Four Easy Steps

Starting an exercise program or routine can be overwhelming. There are so many options and sometimes a very unclear path to follow. For years I’ve been helping clients and friends start and continue their exercise programs. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just follow these four EASY steps.

Step 1:

Decide what’s feasible for you to do. If it’s a 10-minute walk, three times a week – that’s great! Pick something you can be successful at. Don’t go from the couch to committing to working out for 60 minutes, five days a week. That’s probably not sustainable long term. You can work up to that type of a goal, but your body is probably not ready for that! Some ideas of activities include: 10-minute walk, 30-minute class, 20 minutes of bodyweight exercises, 15 minutes of stretching, 20 minutes of swimming or water walking, walking the stairs at work for 10 minutes or a 15-minute online workout video.

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Get Ready for Summer Workout

After a long winter, I’m always anxious for warmer weather and the opportunity to spend more time outside. Now is the ideal time to start ramping up your activity levels, so you are ready for those summer hikes, bike rides, marathon yard work sessions and trips to the pool.

As with any change in your fitness routine, start small. Don’t go from the couch to a 60-minute spinning session. Start with 20 or 30-minute workout sessions a few times a week. These sessions might be walks around the neighborhood or 30-minute strength training classes. Just make sure you aren’t asking too much of your body the first day/week.

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Choose Your Own Workout

During our recent vacation, my son started reading “choose your adventure” books. He could choose what path he wanted the story to take. (If the robot gets blown up, turn to page 8, but if you want the robot to battle other machines, turn to page 12.)

So many of my clients groan when a certain workout movement is prescribed. I hear endless, “Anything but this movement” comments. So, I decided to use my son’s book as inspiration for a workout.

I created a “Choose Your Workout” for them to do. They had a choice – burpees or plank walkouts, squats or lunges, push-ups or triceps dips, etc.

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Intense Workout You Can Do in a Small Space

Spring Break has come and gone, and I’m not ready to get back to the real world! We were fortunate enough to be able to get away, and I’m still enjoying the relaxed routine we fell into during vacation.

Whenever I’m on vacation, I like the challenge of coming up with a small-space, full-body workout. Hotel rooms, dorm rooms or even apartments can make it challenging to work out. This is a workout I created this past week, and I really liked it. It was challenging enough that I felt like I was getting a good workout, but I was able to do it in a small area.

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How to Get Rid of Those Flabby Underarms – Best Triceps Exercises

Many of us want to banish that fat on the back of our arms that we not-so-lovingly refer to as bat wings, lunch lady arms or turkey wings. As a personal trainer, triceps are the muscle group that I hear the most complaints about. Everyone wants toned, ripped triceps muscles.

Triceps do so much more than you realize. They work in coordination with other muscles to perform tasks like pushing a door shut or doing a push-up. They are also used in smaller scale movements such as writing. While the biceps bend your elbow, the triceps help extend your elbow. Triceps also make your upper body stronger, which means you can throw a ball or shoot a basketball with more force.

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How to Lose Belly Fat

Toning and shrinking the belly area is a hot topic among my clients. It seems like everyone wants to have firmer, more defined abs. I get it - we all want to have that envy-inducing six-pack!

You will often here fitness professionals joke that a six-pack is made in the kitchen. They are absolutely right! What you eat has the biggest impact on the size of your belly. You can do 100 crunches a day and still not see any progress. You might strengthen your core, but if you have fat on top of your muscles, it will be hard to see the definition.  

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No-Equipment Workouts For At Home

This winter has been brutal. Lots of snow and ice. It’s easy to skip your workout – no one wants to risk his or her life in order to squeeze in a trip to the gym! If you are stuck at home but really want to work out, check out some of my favorite at-home workouts included below. They are bodyweight workouts that require no equipment! Click on the image to link to more detailed instructions for the various movements.

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Fit February Challenge: 5-Minute Workouts

As a trainer, if I could have one “wish” come true, it would be for more people to just get moving. I’m not talking about taking on a huge, new workout regimen or trying the latest fitness craze. I want people who haven’t had the time to start exercising or have struggled to get back into the habit of exercising to just move. For 5-10 minutes. That’s it.

The logistics of starting an exercise program can be daunting – where to do it, how to do it and when to find the time to do it. My goal for February is to set small, five-minute goals that are manageable and logistically doable.

So, here is my challenge for this week: five minutes of activity, three times a week. You pick the days…just get moving for three days. Challenge a friend or spouse to join you.

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Ultimate Core Workout

Although we covet and drool over an impressive set of abdominal muscles, we often overlook how much support those muscles provide in our bodies! Your core (abdominal muscles, back muscles, pelvic core muscles and diaphragm) is the support system for a multitude of movements: bending forward, straightening up to standing, bending back, bending to the side, twisting your torso as well as stabilizing your spine.

When we think about working our core, we often just focus on abdominal movements, but we need to be working our backs and strengthening our pelvic core muscles, too! Many people suffer from lower back pain, and strengthening your core is a great way to help combat back tightness and weakness.

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Feel the Burn Dumbbell Workout

Strength training gets a bad reputation. We often think it has to be this lengthy, intense process that takes hours to complete. That’s not the case at all – just a few minutes can have an impact! We also associate resistance training with the gym, but you can easily do a full-body workout from home.

I’m including a workout that you can do with minimal equipment. Grab a set of dumbbells, and you are good to go.

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FAST, Full-Body Workout

There is never enough time in the day to get everything done. If I don’t schedule in a time to work out (and actually adhere to that schedule), the day will end with me being too exhausted to work out. I’ve experienced it too many times to count.

I designed this workout to be a quick, full-body challenge. It requires no equipment, so you can do it at home, in your office during lunch or at the gym

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How to Squeeze in Workouts During the Holidays

As the craziness of the holidays take over our schedules, it’s harder to find time to fit in workouts. I’ve found that if I identify small blocks of time for workouts, I can usually fit in a quick workout. I aim to work out for 20 minutes. That’s it. Sometimes 20 minutes seems impossible, so I set my timer for 10 minutes and walk the stairs. Any kind of activity is beneficial - it doesn’t have to be an intense, hour-long class at the gym!

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The Ultimate Leg Workout

I have spent years learning how to embrace my curves; although I have become more comfortable with my body’s natural shape, I still try to work on the areas where my body likes to store fat. I am a pear-shaped body type, so I tend to gain weight in my butt and thighs. I try to work my lower body often because I want to have as much strength in my glute and quadricep muscles as possible, and I would rather have muscle than fat.

This workout is one that will get your heart rate up but also strengthen your legs.

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10-Minute Upper Body Workouts

Strength training doesn’t have to be an hour-long endeavor. Many of us don’t have hours to devote to working out. We often look at strength training as an all or nothing pursuit – either we have the time to do it or we don’t do it at all.

Today’s workout is intended to combat that mindset. I’m including two upper body, equipment-free workouts that you can do in 10 minutes. 

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The Science of Exercise: Benefits for Your Mind and Body

Exercise provides amazing benefits for our bodies and minds. People who participate in regular exercise, have an up to 50 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes, up to 35 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke as well as 20 percent lower risk of breast cancer. Those are some pretty impressive statistics…but there’s more!

Exercise can reduce symptoms of depression, and it can help reverse the effects of stress on us and our aging process.  Studies have also found that regular exercising can help individuals with asthma, as it reduces the airway inflammation.

Exercise does amazing things for our bodies and minds. People who participate in regular exercise, have an up to 50 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes, up to 35 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke as well as 20 percent lower risk of breast cancer. Those are some pretty impressive statistics…but there’s more!

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Full-Body Dumbbell Workout

Some of my favorite workouts are created by accident.   This workout is a result of one of those recent workout sessions. I knew I wanted to do a strength training session with minimal equipment, and I needed it to be full-body.

The only equipment this workout utilizes are dumbbells. If you don’t have any dumbbells, you can easily do this workout with bottles of water or no weights at all. Repeat each circuit for a total of three times before moving on to the next circuit.

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Hate Working Out? Try This Alphabet Workout

A former client of mine posted a picture on my Facebook page last week featuring another trainer’s alphabet workout. She commented that it was just like something I would make my clients do! Little did she know, I’m a huge fan of alphabet workouts.  If you are constantly watching the clock while working out, then this one is for you. Time flies by while you are doing it.

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Popsicle Stick Workout

I like to be surprised – a card in the mail, a compliment from a stranger or an unexpected call from a friend.  (Let’s be honest – getting a surprise check or gift in the mail is the BEST.) I especially love it when my husband surprises me by doing the dishes or folding the laundry!

I also like to be surprised during a workout. When I create my workouts, I always know what’s coming next. Sometimes I take a class or go for a group workout that someone else is leading to give me that “surprise” workout. If time is short and I don’t have time to find a class to attend, this popsicle stick workout is a great “at home” surprise workout.

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