Thursday, October 28, 2010

Get in Shape with Ballroom Dancing

Among other things, I’m a ballroom dancer. While I mostly do it for the fun and the social aspect, it can also be a great workout, and it’s one you may not have thought of!

I’m happy to see  how many people have gotten involved in the dance craze through watching “Dancing with the Stars” over the past few years. There’s just something about the music, the dances, the level of competition, and the sarcastic responses from the judges. But there is also something else to be noticed with the professional dancers – their bodies. Not one single professional dancer had an ounce of fat anywhere on their body. What you saw was lean, toned, and muscular abs, arms, and legs. You probably would never think that ballroom dancing can produce such a workout, but it’s actually one of the best physical fitness programs available.

A ballroom dancing couple. Illustration by Dav...Image via WikipediaBallroom dancing is much more than a slow dance around a moonlit dance floor. There are several types of dances involved with ballroom dancing, ones that involve twirls, kicks, twists, and bends. In fact, ballroom dancing gives you the opportunity to move your body in a way that you would otherwise never experience – not even in an aerobics class.

It’s no secret that most people looking to get fit or lose weight are intimidated by the gym. Not only are you surrounded by people with a better body than you, but often you find yourself having to wait for a machine or struggling to keep up in a class. Ballroom dancing is a great way of making exercise fun, and it’s an activity you can do together with your partner or spouse. Unfortunately, some people continue to live inactive lifestyles because they just can’t find a physical activity they like to do.

You may be surprised to learn that ballroom dancing can burn just as much fat and calories (if not more) than a session at the gym. Depending upon the style of dance, you can easily burn between 200 and 400 calories. For example, the foxtrot or the waltz provide an easy and gentle workout and will burn around 200 calories. This is comparable to a brisk walk in the park or thirty minutes on the elliptical (but a lot more fun). On the other hand, dances like the jive or paso doble can burn over 400 calories, which is comparable to an intense step aerobics class.

While walking on a treadmill or doing crunches are well-known exercises, they only work certain parts of your body – which leave you to workout longer in order to cover the rest. Ballroom dancing literally works every part of your body and every major muscle group. You are more likely to see results faster due to the challenge your body endures with dancing.

And if you don’t have a partner to take with you to dance class, don’t let that stop you from experiencing the glide around the dance floor. Many classes will pair you up once you arrive, and you may meet some great friends or something more! Most people who get into ballroom dancing have lots of fun, and are more likely to dance longer which extends the duration of their workout. So trade in your walking shoes for some dance shoes, and dance your way into better shape!

(You can also get a great, fun dance workout in your own home using videos — there are lots of good dance exercise videos out there now. You can find several at good prices on
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bodyweight Workout Video

Following the theme of Saturday’s post, here is a short video with an easy bodyweight workout – no equipment (except a mat) needed!  This is a good one to throw in on the days when you don’t have a lot of time, but still need to get your exercise for the day. You can do just one set (reps are specified for each exercise in the video), or multiple sets for a more challenging workout.

(If video does not appear below, just click the link to view.)
Bodyweight Workout Video – No Exercise Equipment Routine
Personal trainer Stephen Cabral takes Sarah through a total body work out that uses just body weight. Build muscle and tone up. No gym required. This exercise video can be done anywhe…

For more easy and fun workouts using bodyweight training (as well as others), visit, or find some other good exercise resources and videos here.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Recent News on Bodyweight Training

For getting fit, one of the most important first steps is to start strengthening your muscles.

This doesn’t mean you have to look like a bodybuilder, with bulging biceps and ripped abs. What it does mean is that your muscles are the building blocks that keep everything moving smoothly. They keep your bones in (hopefully) proper alignment to prevent pain, they move your joints to maintain flexibility, and they burn calories and fat. Without muscles, you wouldn’t even be able to sit up, let alone stand, squat, run, reach, or do any other physical action.

Hundred Pushups Challenge - before Increasing your muscle strength (for the vast majority of Americans) is essential to building a healthier body. However, not everyone has the time (or resources) to go to the gym every day, and purchasing a whole set of weights and workout gear for your home is not always feasible. Luckily, God gave us all – every single one of us – the only tool you really need to build strong muscles….

Your own body!

Bodyweight training strengthens your muscles without the use of weights or equipment. (Many forms of Yoga and Pilates use this method.)  All you usually need is an exercise mat.

Not only that, but whereas traditional weight training focuses on strengthening one muscle group at a time (which can lead to imbalance and even injury), body weight training tends to utilize multiple muscle groups at once, which is much more natural and easier on the body, since this is how your muscles are naturally meant to be used (remember our motto – everything is connected!).

Here are some useful articles on bodyweight training, including some easy exercises you can try at home.

5 Reasons You Should Love Bodyweight Exercises
Exercises using weights tend to be more complicated because so many of them are done awkwardly in order to target only one muscle group. Bodyweight exercises though are intuitive, tend to target more than one muscle group and are easier …
Publish Date:
10/12/2010 17:22

5 REASONS WHY BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES ARE BETTER! Many people wake up, weigh themselves on the scale and decide to lose weight. Then the next thing they.
Publish Date:
10/12/2010 7:39

Bodyweight Calisthenics: The Progressive Training Workout Routine
You can create the best workout routine for strength building through the use of these simple bodyweight exercises. Unfortunately, these commonly used exercises focus less on strength and more on endurance. Would you rather be able to …
Publish Date:
10/23/2010 9:15

For more easy, fun exercise ideas, visit

* Please note: All suggestions and articles on this blog are the opinions of the author or other contributors, and have not been evaluated for safety in your particular situation. One should consult with one’s personal fitness coach or healthcare practitioner before beginning any exercise program, especially if your fitness level is currently low.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to Work with Activities for All Ages

If you have children that are not very close in age, or run a daycare with a wide range of  ages it can be tricky to plan activities that will engage everyone.  But it is not impossible.

Shockingly diverse kindergarten group in ParisImage via WikipediaThere are activities that can be planned so that everyone can participate in at their own level, or ones where the older children can help the younger.  Don’t despair about the age gap  or feel that you need to plan something different for everyone.  Follow the tips below as a  guide or starting point to including everyone in your summertime activities.

Indoor or outdoor crafts are perfect for kids of all ages.  Provide the materials and general  instructions and see the different masterpieces that will be created.  When making crafts keep in mind that the instructions are more of a starting point.  Let kids use their  imagination to make it all their own.  You will be pleased with the results when fewer restrictions are put on a child’s imagination when creating artwork or other hands-on  crafts.

Old-fashioned games of hide-and-seek or tag are games that children of all ages will enjoy.  The added benefit of the physical activity will run of some of the abundant energy children possess.  By participating yourself you can fit in your own exercise for the day

Let older children help facilitate the summer activities that you plan.  By engaging the older children to help the younger they will feel a sense of responsibility and importance.  This is a summer activity in itself — teaching leadership to children will help in many aspects of their lives.

When the situation warrants it, let the older and younger children do their own things.  But don’t feel that you can’t combine the activities too; it is easier for you and great for the kids.
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Exercises for Relieving Back Pain

Although today’s topic doesn’t really address the fun side of exercise, it’s one that has been on my mind a lot this week, with my most recent episode of debilitating back pain.

ChiropracticImage via WikipediaThese come upon me from time to time — used to be a lot more frequent a few years ago, but regular chiropractic care and a good exercise regimen has narrowed down my major incidences of pain to about once a year.

This most recent one was probably the worst in several years (which you can see as either good or bad, I suppose).

The worst part of back pain, for me, is how much it affects my everyday life. Little things we take for granted (going to the bathroom, getting into – or out of – the car, putting on pants…) become incredible challenges that sometimes appear insurmountable. After every episode, I approach my back exercises (which sometimes start to seem tedious) with a new determination and appreciation. My favorite and most effective ones can be found in the recommendations on our main website: (they are inexpensive, and easy to find), or get a good free video and book on reducing back pain quickly and naturally.

But I thought I’d throw a good video out there for you all today (click the link below if the video doesn’t appear). Hopefully this helps some reduce or avoid the kind of back  pain I’ve had to deal with for the past week (thankfully after a few chiropractic visits, and some very limited stretching, it seems to be resolving at last): **

Exercises to Reduce Back Pain : Exercises for Back Pain Relief: The Bird Dog
This basic stretch will relieve lower back pain. Learn how to do the bird dog exercise to ease lower back pain in this free back pain relief video from a fitness expert. Expert: Kristie LaTray Contact: Bio: Kristie LaTr…

** (Keep in mind that one should not engage in any exercise without proper preparation, and if you are experiencing severe pain, please use common sense, and consult your doctor or chiropractor before trying any exercise or stretch.)
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lose Your Belly by Improving Your Posture

Everyone knows the children’s song about the leg bone being connected to the hip bone, but how many people really take it to heart? Obviously, everyone knows that the leg bone does in fact attach to the hip bone; that’s not the point. Probably not many people really stop to think about how related and interconnected the parts of the human body really are. In an illustration of this point, the back and stomach muscles are all affected by one another as they form a girdle around the lower torso. It stands to reason, then, that your posture affects how your tummy looks, and the strength of your stomach muscles affects your posture.

Collage of varius Gray's muscle pictures by Mi...Image via Wikipedia Stand Up Straight
This first step to losing a belly is to stand and sit up straight. This actually has a few different effects. First of all, slouching accentuates belly fat, so simply sitting up will make you appear slimmer. Second, proper posture help improves the strength of your back, which of course makes it easier to maintain proper posture longer. Third, poor posture leads to back pain, which makes stomach exercises difficult. Having good posture will make it easier for you to work out your stomach muscles and whittle down that belly. Lastly, a nice straight posture enhances blood flow throughout the body, particularly to the legs and lower back, both of which are involved in many stomach exercises. So, if you are trying to lose a belly, the first step is to simply sit and stand up as straight as possible as often as possible. Do that, and you are already on your way!

Back Extension
For the reader familiar with the crunchless crunch, this move will seem similar but backwards. For this exercise, you will need to start by lying on your stomach with your forehead on the floor. You may use a mat or towel to cushion your pelvis and head. Position your arms by your sides, palms up. Contract your back muscles to lift your torso off the floor. Hold the contraction briefly, then release and slowly lower your torso back down to the floor. Repeat for an entire set.

The next part of this exercise begins by extended your arms out above your head (picture a superhero flying through the air). Now lift your legs off the floor simultaneously while keeping your head and arms held in place. Try to imagine your legs growing longer as you are lifting them up. Hold your legs up briefly, then slowly lower them back to the floor.

Doing these two things will help you strengthen your back and correct your posture, which are great first steps to losing an unwanted belly. You will also want to continue working on your back muscles and other core muscles, such as the transverse and rectus abdominus. Stomach exercises that work the core will help you straighten up your posture, lose belly fat, and gain muscle tone in both your back and tummy. As with any workout routine, be sure to consult a professional before beginning and always warm up properly to avoid injury.

* Please note: All suggestions and articles on this blog are the opinions of the author or other contributors, and have not been evaluated for safety in your particular situation. One should consult with one’s personal fitness coach or healthcare practitioner before beginning any exercise program, especially if your fitness level is currently low.

Related articles on Abdominal Exercises:
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to Get Your Kids to Exercise More

Boy Plays With Dog
Although one of the best ways for kids to stay healthy is to get a lot or regular daily exercise, with the proliferation of video games, and longer and longer school days (in many areas), it can be difficult to get your kids to get motivated and get off the couch (especially if you have trouble with this yourself!).

This new study shows great results with getting your kids to exercise… by getting a dog!  Read on to find out more about this health-saving idea, and see if it sounds right for you and your family.

Want Kids to Get Exercise? Get a Dog
Researchers say owning a dog could encourage children to be active and help combat rising childhood obesity.
Publish Date:
09/24/2010 20:01

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fun Salsa Dance Workout Video

One of my favorite workouts is….dancing!!

Salsa is a great one, as it is not only fun, fast, and sexy, but it’s become a very popular dance in nightclubs over the past few years, so you may even become the hit of the party when you break out some of these moves! (Note: If the video doesn’t show up, just click the link below.)

This free video gives you a quick and fun Salsa workout (for more fun exercise video recommendations, just visit

Sizzling Salsa – Dance Off The Inches
Dance off the inches. Sizzling Salsa. Take the work out of your workouts and just dance. Getting fit doesn’t have to feel like work. Anyone can dance off the inches – we’ve made it easy. Just 10 moves are all you need to dance this sizzling routine -…

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Ways to Make Exercise Fun

Making exercise enjoyable is key to keeping yourself motivated to do it every day! Here are some interesting new ways to keep it fun and enjoyable, so you’ll want to do it more and more.  (You gotta love the title of the first one!)  :-)

Salsa dancingWalking is one of the easiest ways to get your daily exercise, and the article below offers some tips for keeping it interesting. Dancing has always been one of THE most fun ways to exercise that there is – and one of my favorites.  Not only is it good for your body, but it’s also a great social outlet and good way to meet others who enjoy dancing as well – so now you’ll have friends to go out and get your groove on with – this is one that you’ll totally forget even counts as exercise, you’ll be having so much fun!

How to Make Exercise More Fun Than Sex
Okay, okay, maybe not the orgasm thing (not ruling anything out, though), but what if you could find a way to exercise that was so outrageous, so exhilarating, so much fun you couldn’t wait to do more of it every single day. …
Publish Date:
12/04/2007 11:29

50 Ways to Beat Walking Exercise Boredom « fashionable, mode
Find a walking pal. The commitment will get you out of the house; the talk makes the walk fun. 16. Learn a foreign language. Listen to language tapes as you walk. 17. Listen to books on tape. “You’ll exercise your mind as well as your …
Publish Date:
10/03/2010 1:44

48 Fun Ways to Exercise | zen habits
Do lots of different things, and again, focus on having fun, and doing it often. Michelle and Casen’s class, which has created the excellent Kids Read and Ride program, took this advice to heart and came up with 48 Fun Ways to Exercise. …
Publish Date:
12/09/2009 21:01

How to Exercise with Salsa Dancing for Aerobic Fitness
Salsa dancing is fun choice for aerobic exercise as it engages the total body and increases the heart rate while moving to upbeat rhythms. Here are some ways to workout with Salsa dancing exercises for enhanced aerobic fitness. …
Publish Date:
10/02/2010 20:07
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Exercise As Power Source

In this day and age it can be very difficult indeed to get to the gym.  Life is very hectic and busy, which can create a serious challenge for remaining  consistent in exercising each day.  Exercise is however, just what we all need to reduce stress, and give the body the extra energy it needs to carry out your normal daily activities.

Dumbbell deadlift.Image via WikipediaThe best results of exercise are achieved through the use of refined techniques, functional exercises, cardio, the right nutrition, variety, awareness,  consistency, and motivation over a period of time.
The refined techniques mean correct form to isolate muscles or to target areas of the body.  Efficiency is needed to ensure correct (and non-harmful) stimulation of the muscles.  With weight lifting, which is also known as  resistance training, you’ll need to eliminate excess momentum.

It is also important to move the weight through a full range of motion.  Full range of motion causes the muscle to contract for the right amount of time and helps to ensure the right length of the tendons. The goal here is to strengthen the joints of your body by stimulating the muscles.

Cadence is also helpful. This is a term which refers to the rate in which the resistance or the weight moves.  The best results with cadence are gained by SLOW movements which will cause the muscle to contract for a longer period of time.  You can mix it up with a series of fast and slow cadence, which is very beneficial for sports type training.

Using the correct angles will achieve muscle isolation in target areas and help to decrease the risk of injuries, which is very important for those using heavy weights.

Functional type exercise is a popular technique that will stimulate the core and torso of your body while you work on another muscle group at the same time (typical of the types of movement you experience in your “functional” daily life, when you are normally not using one set of muscles in isolation from the others).
As an example, when you perform a dumbbell press while lying on an exercise ball. Your abdominal muscles and the core muscles will contract to hold your body into this position, while your chest and tricep muscles will push the dumbbells up.  This type of exercise and challenge will cause maximum stimulation to your body and keep the workout interesting and refreshing.  (This is why I love yoga, which utilizes all muscles in the body together at the same time!)

Cardio is another type of exercise that can be great for the heart and lungs, when done properly.  The total number of calories you burn is very important along with maintaining the right heart rate.  The formula for your  heart rate is 220 minus your age times 60 for the lower number, then 220 minus your age and times 80 for the upper number.

This is also known as fat burning zone.  Cardio will also de-toxify the body and help to strengthen the immune system along with other benefits.  The muscles will contract and pass the lymph along, which will allow the immune system to clear away dead cells and bring new ones in.

You must be careful, however, not to over do it. Working too long at this pace can stress your  heart and other systems, and actually be detrimental to your health, so be careful when doing cardio, and make sure to mix it up with slow weight-bearing exercises, and interval training.

159/365 The Work OutImage by JD’na via FlickrAnytime you exercise, warming up is very important, as it will prepare your body for the more  demanding workout of cardio.  You should always allow 15 – 30 minutes prior to weight lifting and 10 – 15 minutes prior to cardio exercises.  You should also stretch as well, as this will help get the blood flowing through your muscles and get them limber as well.

An ideal schedule for working out is to warm up then follow with cardio.  You can lift weights or do yoga or Pilates on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday then cardio/interval training only on Tuesday and Thursday.

Even though you may think your schedule is simply too busy to maintain a schedule for working out, you’ll find that adding exercise will actually add MORE time, as you’ll have a lot more energy in your normal everyday life, and be able to get more done.  You can think of exercise as the batteries that will help to give your life power.

* Please note: All suggestions and articles on this blog are the opinions of the author or other contributors, and have not been evaluated for safety in your particular situation. One should consult with one’s personal fitness coach or healthcare practitioner before beginning any exercise program, especially if your fitness level is currently low.
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