Make a Splash: The Health Benefits of Water Workouts!

The pool is an amazing place to get fit – and believe me, if you build the right workout, you’ll find yourself sweaty and sore after just a short amount of time! From using weights to some specific swimming drills, build strength and endurance the next time you’re in the water.

As a personal trainer, I can tell you that moving your workout to the water can be a great way to work up a sweat, build muscles, increase your cardiovascular fitness, and much more.

Before you go jumping right in, there are a few safety pointers to keep in mind:

  • Even strong swimmers can get a cramp, find themselves in deeper water than they can handle, or just need a break. So never, ever work out in the water alone. Grab a buddy or, better yet, buddies, so you can always have at least one person out of the water to keep an eye on things
  • If you’re in the pool, stay close to the side. Not only is it there for you if you need a rest, it’s a great place to do many of the exercises themselves!
  • If you’re outside, watch out for the elements! Slather yourself in sunscreen so you don’t get burned, take a look around to make sure you won’t be near any boats or other people, and make sure that you find safe footing in a sandy spot
  • Stay hydrated. Just because you’re in the water doesn’t mean the water is in you! And you may not feel yourself sweat, so be sure to stay on top of your hydration and take breaks if you need them

And as always, never start a fitness regime of any kind without your medical provider’s approval.

Let’s break the workout options down into cardio, strength training, and flexibility. You can focus on one or mix up your routine to include all three! Just make sure you warm up and cool down at the beginning and end of the workout.


Before you get in the water, make certain that your muscles are warmed up and you’ve started to get that heart rate going. Try marching in place for a few minutes, maybe even raising and lowering your arms to increase the intensity. A few static stretches may also feel good, so gently take one arm across your body and hold it there for 30 seconds before switching sides. Do the same to loosen up your legs: bend your right foot behind you and grab it with your right arm, bringing it as close to your glutes as possible. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.


Ready to Go?

Start with a few laps! If you’re a strong swimmer, I recommend that you do a short individual medley (IM). Try one lap each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Your form matters, of course, but you’re not in the Olympic trials, so just work on doing the lap as fast as you can.

  • Need more intensity? Try two laps of each stroke, and then go for several (3-5) sets. Add flip turns if you know how, or alternate sets with arms only (dragging your legs behind) and legs only (using a kickboard or putting your arms out in front for balance)
  • Too intense? The breaststroke is something almost everyone can do, because you don’t have to put your face fully in the water. But it still gets your heart rate going, so do as many laps as you can until you start to feel like you’re getting a good workout

Jog in place: Find a spot where your feet can touch but you’re underwater up to your waist or stomach. Start slowly, then pick up the pace. How high can you get your knees? Try doing this for 60-second intervals: one minute on, one minute off.

  • Need more intensity? Try jogging while holding both arms in the air, or even holding a light waterproof weight or block.

Squat jumps: Find a spot where your feet can touch but you’re underwater up to your waist or stomach. With your feet about hips-width apart, bend your knees until the water’s up to your neck, then push off and jump as high as you can.

  • Need more intensity? Go all the way underwater and clap your hands above your head as you jump up

Pool wall kicks: Starting with your face toward the wall, put both hands on the side and gently push yourself back until your body is floating, close to parallel with the ground. Flutter your legs up and down and start to pick up the pace until it feels like the right intensity. Try doing this for 30-second intervals.

  • Need more intensity? Put your face in the water and breathe from side to side, rather than keeping your face out of the water

Ready to change it up? Flip over so you’re on your back, with your arms resting on the pool wall, perpendicular to your body (in a T shape). Engaging your core muscles, flutter your legs up and down for 30-second intervals


Let’s build some muscle!

Pool arm dips: Starting with your face toward the wall, put your hands on the side about shoulder-distance apart. Keeping your elbows in so they’re brushing the side of your body, press down into your hands so your body comes out of the water. Push up as high as you can without locking your elbows, then gently lower your body back down. Try 10 repetitions, and then try to complete three full sets.

  • Ready to change it up? Sit on the side of the pool with your fingers pointed behind you (and your wrists facing forward). Gently lower your body into the water, but hold your body up so that your elbows and shoulders are at a 90-degree angle. Engaging your triceps, gently press down into your hands, straightening your arms, then lower again. These tricep dips can be pretty intense, so start with five repetitions and three full sets.

Wall push-offs: With your back to the wall, crouch down until you’re underwater to your shoulders. In one move, tuck your knees into your chest and bring your feet behind you, so you push off the wall as hard as you can. This is an explosive move, so the harder you push and the closer you start to the wall, the more you’ll engage your quads!

  • You can vary the intensity of this by keeping your head above the water or pushing off underwater and seeing how long you can swim without coming up for a breath.

If you have waterproof weights, add these in! You can do underwater tricep push-downs and kick-backs, underwater bicep curls, and much more.


It’s time to embrace your inner synchronized swimmer!

Synchronized starfish: Start by floating on your back, then extend your arms up so your body creates a long line. Keeping the arms straight, bring your wrists toward the sides of your body, dragging them through the water until your arms are straight down at your sides. Reverse the move so that your wrists go from your hips back up above your head.

  • You may need to keep a kickboard or float between your legs for balance!
  • Time to add on! At the same time as you bring your arms down, take your straight legs out to the sides, separating the ankles and stretching as far as you can go. At the end of the move, your arms will be at your sides and your legs will form an inverted V. Switch, so that your arms go back up and your legs come together.

Scissor stretches. Start by floating on your back, then bring one knee into your chest, wrapping both arms around it. Hold it there for 30 seconds, then switch sides. You’ll need to engage your core muscles to stay floating, and the more you pull the knee in, the deeper the stretch will be.


That’s the workout! And don’t be fooled – it may look like water dripping off your face, but a lot of it is sweat, so take five to ten minutes and really take it easy before leaving the water. I like to do a few laps of sidestroke or breaststroke, with my face out of the water. You can also float on your back, keeping still and bringing your breath back to normal. And remember, when you get out, a few static stretches can help ease the delayed onset muscle soreness you may feel a day or two after the workout.


Banishing Belly Fat

Belly fat. Cue the collective sigh, because we all know that the struggle is very, very real. On the one hand, we are surrounded by celebrities who seem to have perfect bodies, bounce back from a baby, and “age” with nary a fine line, while we work desk jobs and dream of that perfect Gisele midsection. What if I told you that your midsection isn’t as hopeless as you thought? That’s right, you can lose belly fat. But it is going to take a little work, and no, there is no magical tool that will do it for you.

First off, what are the reasons for excess belly fat?

Quite simply, your belly pooch has resulted from an imbalance in calories in vs. calories worked out. Regardless of who we are, the human body produces fat when calorie intake is in excess. Even so, you might be eating half the calories of your best friend, and she loses weight while you do not. The reason is that some people are simply blessed with high resting metabolisms. One more reason to envy Gisele.

Another reason you might be holding excess weight around your middle? Hormones. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone fluctuate with our ages, and imbalances of those hormones can result in weight being more likely to deposit in certain areas. Yet another hormone might be to blame: cortisol, aka the stress hormone. If you are stressed out (often about trying to lose weight, which just results in a vicious cycle!), your cortisol levels will rise, and your body will start to hold on to weight, often in your midsection.

Finally, some of us are just genetically predisposed to depositing weight around our middles due to our body shape or just the way that our bodies work. For example, “apple shapes” tend to retain weight around their middles, while “pear shapes” carry weight lower.

Beyond Vanity: Another Very Important Reason to Care About Belly Fat

Belly fat is more than just skin-deep: fat around your midsection can actually be a powerful indicator of your long-term health. Visceral fat – fat that surrounds your organs and is largely present around your midsection – is a major contributor to such health issues as Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, heart disease, and even certain cancers. In short, whittling down your middle can save your life!

How to Get Rid of Excess Belly Fat:

First, you must address the reasons for the belly fat in the first place: Diet and exercise? Hormones? Genetics? You might even need to get a doctor involved, particularly if you think that you are at risk for having visceral fat or hormonal imbalances that are preventing you from losing weight.

Most important in losing belly fat is to remember that you cannot “spot reduce,” or lose weight ONLY in a certain place. So while you might wish that you could just do 100 crunches a night for a six-pack, it might also comfort you to know that you don’t have to do 100 crunches a night to get a better, slimmer midsection!

Rather, you need to focus on burning calories by increasing your heart rate in a workout that incorporates both strength training and moderate- to high-intensity cardio. This will provide the added benefit of increasing your resting metabolic rate (remember that friend who can eat all the cheeseburgers?), because by adding strength or resistance training (lower immediate calorie burning) to moderate- to high-intensity cardio (high immediate calorie burning), you will increase lean muscle mass, which will increase your resting metabolism, and thus help you burn more calories just by being alive!

So get that heart rate up, even if you do so in spurts. Look for exercise classes that incorporate HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, principles, or add in cardio bursts to your circuit workout. Focus on total-body exercises, which will engage more muscles simultaneously, and thus burn more calories and develop more lean muscle

Some of the best core-strengthening exercises are traditional planks, side planks, leg lowers and raises, exercise ball pass-offs, and properly executed bicycle crunches.

Core-strengthening exercises should be incorporated into every workout you do, whether sprinkled throughout or in one 5-minute block.

Banish the Bloat: Dietary Changes That Will Combat Belly Fat

Working out does not guarantee a flat tummy, but a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can yield big results.

Watch sodium intake: Buy low-sodium products and add your own salt, preferably in the form of sea salt (not table salt)

Decrease processed foods and artificial sweeteners, which can increase inflammation and also cause gas in your belly.

Reach for whole, natural fats over “fake” or added fats. Think avocado or natural nut butter over salted butter. If you have to have butter, reach for smaller amounts of the real thing, and not margarine. But see if you really need butter as much as you think. You might not.

Increase fiber intake and go for whole grains. Aim for 25-30 g daily, but if you normally have a low-fiber diet, do so gradually so that you don’t inadvertently cause bloat as you stomach gets used to the new food!

Another added benefit of actually getting out there and getting moving? As you “work it out,” you may find that you are able to deal with some of your stressors, sleep better, and thus lower cortisol levels (which are causing you to hold on to that excess fat).

You might not be able to spot reduce, but by strengthening your core as you make some dietary changes, decrease stress, and increase your calorie burn, that killer body will be revealed as the fat melts away!


From Exercise to Aquasize

The history of aqua therapy dates to the fifth century, when bathing in thermal springs was considered not only hygienic, but also as having remedial effects. It wasn’t until the 20th century that we began to see the use of water as an outlet for exercise. Since then, the therapeutic and remedial properties of water-based exercises on cardiovascular and metabolic health have been and continue to be extensively studied. Modern aquatic fitness classes take place in pools, and classes are designed with the intent of increasing your pulmonary and cardiovascular health without risking unnecessary joint and muscle pain.

Today, aqua fitness is a type of exercise that is performed in a vertical position, either in chest-deep water or while suspended in deep water with a foam flotation belt. This type of exercise uses water as resistance, which allows the constant engagement of complementary muscle groups. The waves created during a group aqua fitness class also add to the intensity of the workout by creating instability and turbulence, forcing participants to work harder to balance than they would have to on land.

Aqua fitness has extraordinary effects on your overall health. Because of hydrostatic pressure (the varying amounts of pressure you feel at different depths of the pool) a person’s heart and lungs are able to work between 30 percent and 60 percent harder than on land, while experiencing nearly the same amount of fatigue.

Who Does Aqua Fitness Benefit?

In short, aqua fitness has something to offer for everyone. In the water, most exercises are low- to moderate-impact and are suitable for a wide range of ability levels. Programs like arthritis therapy and aqua yoga are of lower intensity than Aqua Zumba but are not necessarily limited to senior participants or people with arthritis. Conversely, aqua jogging and general aquasize programs are not limited to higher-level athletes. Even in high-intensity programs, a good instructor will offer modifications for moves in order to make the workouts less impactful on weak joints, and enjoyable for a broad range of participants. If you are overweight, pregnant, or have painful joints, the sensation of buoyancy in the water creates a great sense of relief.

Every class has something unique to offer, and choosing the one that is right for you might take some time. Ask if there are any “first time free” classes offered at your facility to help guide your decision.

Which Class is Right for You?

Before joining your first aqua fitness program, it’s important to identify exactly what you’re trying to gain from it. Most aquatic facilities offer a diverse selection of classes to target the individual needs of their members.

Temperature Control

Because humans evolved to be endotherms – we generate energy and maintain our own body temperatures – and because water is a strong conductor of heat, even the subtlest drop in temperature may make it feel like you are swimming in the Arctic Ocean. People who are unable to move vigorously, have little body fat, or have little functional muscle mass are likely to become too cold during slow-moving/therapy-based exercises and may need to make some modifications. If you feel your body temperature starting to drop during a workout, there are several things you can do to maintain comfort:

  1. Stay in one spot.As you move around in the water, your body heat will disperse. If you have the option to perform moves without leaving your spot, the water immediately surrounding your body will stay warm.
  2. Bundle up!As long as your facility allows it, feel free to wear a light T-shirt, tights, or bathing cap during your workout. A wetsuit, while seemingly effective, will be too buoyant for most aqua fitness classes, and will be difficult to remove quickly if you become overheated.
  3. Increase the intensity.If you are instructed to perform a move that isolates one part of your body, such as your pectorals, and feel your core temperature dropping, move your legs vigorously to preserve your body heat.
  4. Increase the intensity even more.If you feel comfortable enough to increase the overall power of your moves, do it! You’ll generate much more body heat, as well as improve the overall effect of your workout.
  5. Stretch in the shower.Every class you attend should end in a five-minute guided stretch. If you find that you begin to shiver during this period, continue the routine in a warm shower.

On the other hand, higher-intensity workouts such as Aqua Zumba and aqua jogging are meant to be done in cooler temperatures, but it’s difficult for any facility to meet everyone’s needs. If you find yourself in an aquatic environment with only one pool and the temperature is too warm for the workout that you’re doing, you might feel uncomfortable. Some suggestions for keeping cool are:

  1. Drink cold water.Bring a water bottle to every class that you attend – even the ones in cold water. Keep the water bottle on the edge of the pool deck – out of the way of the instructor – and hydrate, or pour it over your head, as necessary.
  2. If you’re pressed for time or can’t afford to get your hair wet, try another suggestion for keeping cool. Alternately, if you’re planning on showering after the class, a quick submersion of your head works almost instantly to dissipate heat.
  3. Slow down.As moves get faster, your body will inevitably produce more heat. Assess which moves will help your reach your personal goals, and slow down the others.

The ways in which people use water has evolved greatly over the years, but its beneficial properties are undisputed. Water offers resistance, buoyancy, and comfort, all of which come together to help create workouts that are specific to individuals’ needs. Whether you choose to partake in an aquatic fitness program for rehabilitation, strength, cardio, or for the social aspect, the water has something to offer everyone. Water is abundant in pools, lakes, and oceans; take advantage of it.

Interested? Try a class at AquaFit and save up to 18% on (


A Guide to Postpartum Fitness

In an era when we are surrounded by images of celebrities bouncing back effortlessly after having a baby, it can be difficult to have realistic expectations for your postpartum fitness journey. The focus on returning to your pre-baby body also can take the focus away from the real reasons behind engaging in postpartum fitness: long-term health and happiness for you and your baby. Pursuing postpartum fitness will not only help you achieve certain superficial physical goals, but also provide myriad mental and life benefits, from self-care to an improved ability to care for your baby.

When considering your return to fitness after giving birth, setting yourself up for healthy, realistic expectations should be at the forefront of your mind. It is easy to be convinced by the media and celebrities that achieving that “pre-baby bod” is easy, painless, and should happen extremely quickly. Unfortunately, while many celebrity moms have succeeded in empowering new mothers to pursue body confidence, they have also set new moms up for accomplishing their goals within an abbreviated timeline.

Why are celebrities able to achieve such results in such a short amount of time? The simple answer is a combination of fortunate genetics and even more fortunate circumstances. Remember, celebrities often have a whole staff and team to help them rebound to that amazing body; also, they are PAID to do this, and their careers demand it! Remember that celebrities are, in many ways, professional athletes: they are in exemplary physical condition and have personal trainers, dietitians, and nannies on staff to make sure that they return to that amazing pre-baby body. Furthermore, they are usually blessed with the genetics to help them, and years of maintenance encourage their bodies to rebound to their previous states. Focus on your own journey!

While genetics and circumstances – such as the amount of time and thought that you can devote to returning to fitness – are major elements in your body’s resiliency, so too are level of fitness at time of birth and age. A 40-year-old woman who has maintained a steady fitness regime of workouts and healthy eating for years might recover faster than a new mother who is 30 years old but has always led a sedentary lifestyle. As a general rule, however, one can expect that the more advanced in age and less fit one is, the harder and longer the process will be, and greater care that will need to be taken to ensure a safe and sustainable health and fitness lifestyle postpartum.

So, you have given birth. Congratulations! What can you expect from your fitness journey?

First and foremost, check with your doctor! Depending on the method of delivery and any complications that might have occurred, you may need total rest for your abdomen during the first two months.

The first six weeks after giving birth, expect to be cleared for walking only. With the change in your lifestyle and taking care of a little one on a less-than-optimal sleep schedule, you will likely be grateful to have permission not to work out! Feeling pressure to get back at it or cut calories? Remember that in the weeks following birth, your body is healing from the inside out, not to mention that you may also be producing milk for your child. The physical repairs, changes in lifestyle and hours spent awake, and breastfeeding will actually increase your caloric needs, often by as many as 500 extra calories a day for breastfeeding alone. Talk to your doctor to determine how much weight loss is safe during this time; losing weight too quickly can be a sign that something is wrong.

Many new mothers are surprised to discover that, even without a baby inside, they still have a bump! Don’t worry, the baby-less bump will go down with time; if it does not, you may be dealing with diastasis recti.

Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti, or separation of the large abdominal muscles, is a condition that affects approximately 1 in 200,000 pregnant women. If you are still not seeing your belly flatten at all in the weeks or months following birth, or if there appears to be a drastic or uneven pooch at any time, talk to your doctor, as you may have diastasis recti. This will impact your return to fitness.

Diastasis recti is more prevalent in women with babies of larger birth weight, women with multiple births, and women over 35. Though rarely painful, it is a relatively serious condition that will impact the way you use your body and, if not treated correctly through physical therapy, can be permanent. Have your doctor examine you during your post-delivery appointments; if diastasis recti is present, consult a physical therapist immediately. Avoid exercises such as planks, situps, and even yoga poses such as downward dog.

During these first six weeks, focus on the joys and trials of new motherhood, as well as your mental and physical health through proper nutrition, sleep, gentle stretching, and, if necessary, counseling.

Six Weeks to Three Months

After your six-week appointment is the time to really start to buckle down on your nutrition. Remember, you are not only fueling your own body’s return to health and fitness, but also feeding that cutie in your arms! All the more reason to fuel for success with a diet full of veggies, whole foods, and quality proteins. Talk to your doctor about the calorie intake necessary for breastfeeding, because while you might have weight loss on the mind, your body needs sufficient fuel for the baby as well. A food journal is a great place to start.

Your doctor will begin to determine if you are fit for exercise at your six-week appointment. If your physician gives you the go-ahead, start to plan a return-to-fitness program. A balanced mix of cardio, strength training, and stability work will help you feel and look your best. But don’t expect to start out where you left off; instead, plan on starting gently and gradually increasing intensity month by month.

You might start with a full week of stroller walking with some bodyweight squats, triceps dips, and baby-weight biceps curls interspersed throughout. The second week might see you engage in some postpartum yoga or Pilates classes (find licensed practitioners!) and light weights at the gym. If you are new to working out with weights, hire a professional who can show you the proper way to work out your new body.  

Three to Six Months

Now might be a great time to try running! Aim for a total of 10 minutes of running your first time out, and gradually extend that time by adding in more intervals and more time running. Also, when you are walking, make it a working, not idling, walk. Make sure to hydrate and have a small snack with protein and carbohydrates after, such as a small, low-sugar granola bar (look for one with more protein than sugar, and less than 150 calories), or half an apple with a piece of string cheese.

Expect to be slower when running, to fatigue more easily, and to not to be able to carry the same amount of weight. That’s okay! You are going to set new post-baby personal records every day. Consider every workout a success and treat that time as self-care time, whether you meet up with girlfriends or enjoy the quiet.

During the first six months of your health and fitness journey, you’ll have weeks where you make incredible progress and weeks when you find that you plateau or even slip up. When less-successful weeks occur, remind yourself that this truly is a journey and that everybody is unique. Focus on your successes and what you can do, not what you can’t. Because you may not be able to do that pullup just yet. You might not be cleared for running, but that doesn’t mean that stairs are off-limits. You might have to carry your baby to comfort and get him or her to sleep, but that just means you have a little extra weight for you squats.

Set accessible goals that make sense for you and your lifestyle, above all, and enlist help to achieve those goals. Don’t assume that your body is going to respond the same way that it did before your child – fluctuating hormones, pelvic changes, and more will likely result in a body that seems to have a mind of its own for a little while.

6 Months to 1 Year

Six months after giving birth is a great time to assess your progress and potentially set new goals. If you have been stroller walking for the duration of your postpartum fitness journey, why not try stroller running and even set a goal of running a 5K with your baby in front of you? Maybe try your hand at a new form of exercise, like kickboxing or Zumba!

By the time your baby is about 9 months old, you should find that you are cleared for most all exercise and that you have made substantial progress in working toward your fitness and health goals. If you are no longer breastfeeding, remember that your diet may also require some changes to achieve any weight loss goals. That said, with the increase in fitness and activity as well as lean muscle mass, you might find that you actually need to eat more than before! If you have questions, consult a registered dietitian who can help you maintain your results.

You may have gotten into your postpartum fitness journey as a way to get back to your pre-baby body, but if you go about postpartum fitness correctly, you will likely find that activity is an indispensable part of your daily or weekly life. Keep it up, Mama, and set an amazing example for your kiddo to lead a life of health and happiness!


What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Working Out

Whether you’re a gym rat or a fitness beginner, we all have days when we don’t feel like working out. Maybe it’s been a stressful week, and you just want to get home and relax. Perhaps you’ve been working out for weeks and are feeling frustrated that you aren’t seeing results. Maybe you used to go to the gym regularly but fell off, and you’re now having a hard time returning. Or maybe you just have no idea where to start and are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect.

Whatever the reason, sometimes we just don’t feel like working out. Here are some tactics to get you through.

Make a Plan

The first step to reaching any goal is setting the goal in the first place. Try to make your goals S.M.A.R.T:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

This is usually the part that trips people up. Many people know they want to feel better, but they don’t know what will get them there because they haven’t given it much thought. Losing weight is measurable goal, but it isn’t terribly specific. How much weight do you want to lose? Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds, which is specific and measurable. It’s also more realistic and attainable than saying you want to lose 50 pounds is (which is still attainable, but much more difficult). Next, ask yourself whether the goal is relevant. If there’s no real reason you want to lose weight, you likely won’t stick to the goal. It must have some relevance in your life to matter to you. Finally, make it time bound by putting some constraints on the goal. How quickly do you want to lose 10 pounds? Two weeks may not be attainable, but two months might be. By making your goal time bound, you’re adding some built-in motivation and accountability.

Figure out What’s Holding you Back

Before you can implement steps to reach your goal, it’s important to determine what’s been holding you back so far. Are you struggling to feel motivated? Is working out hard because you don’t have a babysitter? You can’t justify the cost of a gym membership or personal trainer? Whatever is holding you back, it’s important to acknowledge it so you can get past it.

It’s also important to make sure you’re ready. Fitness, like any other habit, requires you to be ready to make a change in your life. Per the transtheoretical model of behavior change, if a person is not ready to make a change, it won’t stick. It’s important to understand which stage you’re in and that we can relapse and reenter at any stage. Slipping up every now and then does not set you back to square one.

Break the Plan Into Smaller Pieces

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your goals won’t be accomplished in one fell swoop either. Take that big goal you set and break it into smaller pieces. Sure, maybe you want to go to the gym five days a week, but how realistic is that when you’re first starting out? Set a smaller goal to start, such as working out three days a week, and celebrate when you accomplish it. You’ll feel great about hitting these goals, which will make you more likely to continue.

Not only can you break your plan into smaller pieces, but also you can break your workout into smaller pieces! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30–60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20–60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week). The good news is that research has shown that it is just as effective if you break these workouts into 10-minute intervals – if you’re working at the right intensity. As such, a 10-minute body weight workout before work, a 30-minute brisk walk at lunch, and 20 minutes on the stationary bike after work count as 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.

Remove Excuses Before They Arise

This comes from identifying what has been holding you back. Get your gym bag ready at night before you go to bed so if you’re running late in the morning, you won’t skip bringing it. If you want to get up early for a run, lay out your workout clothes and get to bed early. That way, all you will need to do is throw them on, lace up your shoes and head out the door. Choose a time to work out and stick with it by creating an appointment in your calendar. You wouldn’t cancel a meeting with a coworker, so don’t cancel an appointment with yourself for your workout.

Working out for a specific event or goal, like a wedding or a high school reunion, can be great for motivation. The pitfall is that once that event has passed, it can be hard to maintain the motivation for working out that existed before. To maintain that motivation long term, it’s important to find your why. This is the real reason behind working out. For some people, it is becoming fitter so they aren’t out of breath while playing with their children. Others want to lose weight to live longer and to be around for their family. It could include wanting more energy to get through the day. Whatever the reason, it’s personal and it’s something that will last long term. When you know your why and are reminded of it every day, it’s a whole lot easier to get up before sunrise for a run.


Walk Your Way to Fitness

Walking is more than a way to get from here to there. Tossing on a pair of sneakers and heading out for a stroll has numerous health benefits that go way beyond weight loss. If you are new to exercise, recovering from an injury, or just hoping to spend more time in nature, walking is the perfect first step.

Getting Started on a Walking Program

The best part about walking for health and fitness is that all you need is a pair of sneakers. If you have an injury, or are recovering from one, or if you struggle doing weight-bearing activities, it is recommended that you consult your physician before incorporating any physical activity into your routine.

Once you are committed to starting a walking program, schedule 15–20 minutes 5 times a week to get outside and find your stride.

Day 1 should involve a brisk walk for 15 minutes that is slightly faster than a leisure stroll, but not so quick that you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation. Assess how you feel after your first day. A little soreness can be expected if you are not used to walking for longer intervals.

Repeat your 15-minute route on Day 2. If you woke up feeling great after your first walk, tack on an extra 5 minutes on the second day.

If you are feeling fatigued, Day 3 can be used as a rest day. However, if you are still feeling energized and strong, go for another 15- to 20-minute walk.

Day 4 will be your final walk before you rest day, so really try and push yourself. If you have been maintaining 15 minutes all week, bump it up to 20 minutes. If you have been going for 20-minute walks, aim for 25 minutes.

Day 5 is the perfect time to rest and reflect on your success so far this week. You have already walked between 60 and 80 minutes, which is about half the amount of moderate weekly exercise recommended by the Mayo Clinic.

Now that your legs are rested, it’s time to push yourself with a 25–35 minute walk. You’re going to be walking farther than you have all week, so make sure you start out slower than usual and gradually build speed over the duration of your walk.

Day 7 is your last rest day for the week. Keep this framework each week while adding time, distance, and speed to your workouts. Before you know it, you will be walking for 60 minutes straight!

What’s in a Number?

If you have been walking for a while and are ready to kick it up a notch, strap on your step counter, and aim to be part of the 10,000 Steps a Day Club. While 10,000 steps isn’t an official recommendation by the Center for Disease Control, it is an achievable goal to help you stay healthy and active. By walking 10,000 steps each day, you are covering roughly 5 miles (there’s roughly 2,000 steps per mile) while burning an additional 3,500 calories a week. That is equivalent to 1 lb of fat! Here are some changes you can make to help you get your steps in.

  1. Walk to work: If you live within walking distance of your office, this is an easy change to make. Start by vowing to walk to work three days a week. Not only will you get more steps in, but the fresh air will leave you feeling alert and focused by the time you arrive at the office.
  2. Skip a stop: If you commute on a bus, metro, or train, get off a stop or two before your workplace. These extra few blocks will quickly add up on your step counter.
  3. Back of the lot: When heading to the shopping mall or grocery store, choose a parking space far from the entrance. Not only will you get extra steps in, but you will also have lots of parking spaces available and no worries about carts or car doors dinging you.
  4. Take the stairs: Skip the elevator and head for the stairwell. Climbing stairs is a great way to tone your legs and behind, while improving your cardiovascular fitness. If you work on the 20th floor of a high-rise, taking the stairs might seem like an impossible task – especially first thing in the morning. Instead of dismissing the idea, hop off the elevator a few floors early and continue your commute in the stairwell. Slowly add more floors until you can conquer them all.
  5. Lunch hour stroll: Keep a pair of sneakers at your desk and head out of the office on your lunch break for a walk. It’s a great time to get some fresh air, clear your head, and relax a little before a long afternoon of meetings and emails.
  6. After-dinner routine: Make it part of your evening routine to head outside for a stroll after dinner. It’s a great opportunity to set a healthy example and bond with your family. The dishes can wait.

Unexpected Benefits of Walking

Losing weight, toning your legs and buttocks, and having more energy are great benefits associated with walking, but these aren’t the only benefits your body will experience when you lace up your shoes. You might be surprised by these additional health benefits associated with walking.

  1. Happiness: Exercise is a great way to boost your mood. Going for a brisk walk can help reduce anxiety and stress.
  2. Dementia Prevention: Going for a 30–40 minute walk a few times a week can prevent brain shrinkage and memory loss.
  3. Digestion: Going for a walk after a meal can help speed up your rate of digestion. A quick 15-minute walk will stimulate your midsection and help you feel less bloated.
  4. Immunity Boost: Studies suggest that walking for 30 to 40 minutes will boost the amount of immune system cells in your body. This increase in cells remains for several hours after exercising.2Also, when a person follows a regular workout routine, there appears to be a cumulative effect that helps protect the body from illness over time.

Whether you have had a stressful day or you want to start on a weight-loss journey, walking is the perfect solution. Start today by slipping on your tennis shoes and exploring your neighborhood. You might be surprised by how quickly you notice the benefits.


Five-Minute Workout Bursts For Your Busy Days

I know I am not unique in having a gross shortfall in discretionary time. It appears there is a never-ending list of appointments and things to do and not nearly enough time for self-care. Tim Ferris, who wrote The 4-Hour Body, asks, “What if we could find the Minimal Effective Dose (MED) for activities of daily living so that we could free up time to do the things we really want to do?” I agree. Who doesn’t want more time in their day?

So, what would an MED mean for fitness? When it comes to fitness, it seems that an hour-long class at the gym or repeated lengthy bouts on your elliptical are what we are told it takes to get fit. But what if I told you there are other ways to be fit, and they might be more effective, make you smarter, and help you live longer?

How do these short bursts of exercise work? Short-burst workouts are intended to be highly versatile for your busy schedule. Ideally, you perform these burst workouts whenever you have a few free minutes during your day.

What Are The Benefits of a Five-Minute Burst Workout?

Improved athletic capacity: Burst or high-intensity workouts increase athletic output by building endurance and strength in a different way than slow, steady workouts.

Improved glucose metabolism: Our ability to regulate our glucose levels improves significantly with high-intensity workouts.

Heightened resting metabolic rate or afterburn: Although it may not appear you have burned many calories during a burst session, your ability to burn more calories steadily throughout the rest of the day will be markedly improved over traditional cardio.

Faster and more efficient: Because the intensity is heightened, there is no need, nor is it safe, to perform extended versions of burst workouts. By their very nature they are designed to be short and sweet.

Better brain function: Brain structure and cognition have been shown to improve with intense burst-type exercise. Even better, the best improvements are seen in areas of the brain where age-related decline tends to occur.

Boost in human growth hormone and fat burning: HGH is going to elevate after a burst exercise session to restore lost glycogen. Fat will then be burned as a result of elevated HGH. Although we aren’t in “fat burning” mode during burst exercise, the fat burning that occurs after the workout, during recovery, is of far greater benefit.

Improved longevity: When you perform burst exercise you get an increase in anti-aging and anabolic hormones. These hormones are essential for healing and slowing the aging process.

What Are The Rules of The Burst Workout Game?

  1. Always be safe and know your limits.
  2. If you are not sweating and panting by the end of the five minutes, you have done something grievously wrong.
  3. Don’t cheat. Go the full interval.
  4. Make sure to get warmed up. Walking briskly or some gentle dynamic stretching is very effective.
  5. Stretch after your burst. These circuits are very challenging and stretching can make a big difference between possessing calves like painful rocks or feeling like a million dollars.
  6. If you are a beginner, start slowly. These individual bursts build on each other. Go at a pace that allows you to safely execute the whole five-minute circuit.

Five Five-Minute Burst Workouts to do in The Comfort of Your Own Home

KITCHEN: Push a kitchen chair against a door or wall so that it is secure. Start with 30 seconds of step-ups on the chair. Perform these as intensely as you can muster. Next, turn around, facing away from the chair. Put your hands on the chair with your legs straight out in front of you. Perform 30 seconds of triceps dips. Continue facing away from the chair. Place the top of your foot on the chair so you are in a lunge position with your back leg elevated onto the chair. Perform single-leg squats with one leg extended for 30 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat circuit again. For the fifth and final minute do box jumps (jump-ups) onto the chair for one minute.

BEDROOM: This is a core series. What better place to take care of those love handles than in the bedroom, where they are seen a little more frequently? You only need a tiny space to perform this circuit. Start in a side-plank position. Slowly touch the downside hip to the floor and come back up again. Repeat until your 30 seconds are up (side-plank with hip touches). Roll forward into a plank position and bring your right knee between your arms. Gently tap the inside of each elbow for 15 seconds and then change knees (plank with knee touches to inside of elbows). Turn over onto your back and perform the bicycle abdominal exercise. Do this by touching the right knee to the left elbow and then switch. Perform these for 30 seconds. Use control and keep your core engaged the whole time. Finally, stand up quickly and do the high-knees exercise for 30 seconds by bringing each knee up to your chest separately in a vigorous, exaggerated running motion. Repeat this circuit two times.

STAIRS: Sprint up and down your stairs for one minute. Do 20 jumping jacks. Sprint up and down the stairs again for one minute. Follow with 10 push-ups. Repeat the stair sprints, alternating the push-ups and jumping jacks in between sprints. Do a total of four 1-minute sprints.

FAMILY ROOM: In this workout, we are going to do 20-second bursts of effort with 10-second rests. Start with 20 seconds of vigorous mountain climbers by getting into a plank position and “running .” Get your knees as close to the space inside your arms as possible. Rest for 10 seconds. Stand and get into a squat position. Jump up and then back down into a squat position. Don’t let your butt drop past your knees during these squat jumps. Perform with intensity for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. From a standing position, bend over and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Perform a modified inchworm by walking your arms out until your body is in a plank position. Briskly walk the arms back into your starting position and stand up. Repeat this modified inchworm for 30 seconds, keeping the core engaged. Take a 10-second rest and then head to the coffee table for incline push-ups. Place your hands on the coffee table or couch so you are in an incline plank position. Holding your core tight, perform incline push-ups for 20 seconds. Modify as needed. Finally, after your last 10-second rest, get into a side plank position. If you are able, raise your top leg and arm so that you are in the shape of a star, for side star plank. Hold for 20 seconds. Only do one side per circuit and then switch the next time through. Rest for 10 seconds. Go through the circuit two times for a total of five minutes.

Now that you know the many benefits to short burst-style workouts and how easy they are to incorporate into your day, I can’t wait for you to try them. Remember to start easy and build your intensity as you get used to each exercise. Pay special attention to form and maintaining control of your body. If you would like additional information on the benefits of burst workouts for body and brain, follow up with the resources listed below.









Emirati women have been recognized for their pivotal role in the community and their contribution to the development and advancement of the UAE on various areas and levels. Over the years, Emirati women have broken all sorts of barriers and have been triumphant in spreading awareness about sports, fitness and health. Emirati women are taking matters into their own hands and achieving the goals they set for themselves in an effort to inspire other young girls and women to do the same. Today (August 28) marks the 3rd Emirati Women’s Day, so here we feature some incredibly influential local women and their achievements in the fitness and sports industry

‘Make time for yourself, love your body, do everything you do with passion. If you do not like a sport, try another one”. Never give up is the message Amna Al Merri wants to convey to women. Al Merri- a 24 year old bioengineer by profession and certified gym trainer and weight-lifting instructor serves as an inspiration to all women. She works for the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) but her true passion lies in the women-only running club in Dubai which she founded along with her three friends. The running club provides free training to women of all nationalities to urge them to focus on their health and fitness. This love for physical fitness led to the creation of Anagow, which means “I am strong” in Arabic. Al Merri loved that her self-esteem and energy levels were boosted through exercising and wanted to inspire more Emirati women to start running and wanted to encourage them to be healthy.  “We train with different running programmes, timing each member so that they can one day participate in the marathon. We use body weight to do weight-bearing exercises and many of our members are now participating in marathons,” said Al Merri.

Amal Mourad is one of the first female Emirati parkour coaches and calisthenics athlete in the Middle East. It can be overwhelming to start a new sport but she explains why she loves Parkour so much- “My favorite part of parkour is that you’re overcoming the obstacles that are in your head that you have created for yourself . When I first started practicing the sport it liberated me from a lot of things, I wasn’t afraid anymore, I wasn’t afraid of being who I really am, I wasn’t afraid of trying something new, I wasn’t afraid of what people thought about me, I wasn’t afraid to fall, I actually learned how to land”. As challenging as Parkour was she didn’t let it stop her.

On the other hand, coming from Abu Dhabi was a woman who defied all odds and chose to become a figure skater. “I’m covered, I’m Muslim, I’m from a desert country but I’m doing a winter sport and it’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with it.” Words spoken by Zahra Lari who is the first Emirati figure skater. Lari proves that there is nothing you can’t do when you put your mind to it. Being a hijabi or from a desert country did not stand in her way to achieve her dreams. She aspires to compete in the Winter Olympics and would be the first person to represent the UAE in such an event. Both women are prime examples of chasing your dreams and being able to compete and participate in sports even if they are outside your comfort zone.

Emirati women are constantly engaging in sports and fitness. The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio were especially momentous because Nada Al Bedwawi made history for not only being the youngest female to carry the UAE flag in the opening ceremony but also the for being the first female to represent the country in swimming. She was quoted as saying “It’s been a great honor to represent my country and, most importantly, represent the young Emirati girls, especially those who want to do sports.” Sexism is still prevalent in sporting events and Al Bedwawi is hoping that this perception will shift as more female athletes compete. “My main goal is to break down these barriers, these gender barriers, and pave the way for other female swimmers,” said Al Bedwawi after her 50m freestyle heat. “Especially in our country, people are reluctant to start something new.

Another female athlete breaking barriers is Ayesha Al Balooshi, an Emirati weightlifter. This was only the second time that a female weightlifter has represented the UAE, the other being Khadija Mohammed, who competed in London four years ago. Al Balooshi walked away proud saying “I achieved my Olympic goals, I walked behind the flag in the opening ceremony and proved that nothing is impossible for Emirati girls who can do wonders in all games.” As the women left the Olympics, they left with the hope that the games inspire more Emirati women to participate in sports and as Al Badwari says, “The dream is that when we return to the Olympics in four years time, we arrive with many more athletes — and especially more women.”

Besides the Olympics, here are a few Emirati females blazing a trail in their respective fields

  1. 15-year-old Alia Al Shamsi became the first female swimmer to fly the UAE flag in a competition when she swam the 50m and 100m breaststroke and 50m backstroke at the Arab Championships in Dubai.
  2. Track and field athlete Fatima Al Hosani won a silver medal in discus throw at the Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Doha.
  3. The UAE Cycling Federation formed a women’s national team in 2012 and their four-medal haul at the Arab Track Championships in Sharjah was an unprecedented feat for them.

This day is part of a bigger movement to increase female empowerment in the Middle East and there would be no women’s empowerment in the UAE without the critical support provided by the political leadership and so, we hope to see more Emirati women in sports paving the way to more success and bigger achievements.

Using a BOSU Ball for Full-Body Fitness

What in the heck is a BOSU ball, and how do I use it? The BOSU ball is a unique-looking piece of workout equipment that you may have seen at the gym but aren’t sure how to use. Flat on one side with half of a stability ball on the other, it can be used in countless ways to challenge your strength and balance. With the ball side up, you can work your small stabilizer muscles while maintaining a relatively stable platform. Ball-side-down removes that stable platform and forces you to rely even more heavily on your stabilizer muscles and your core. As far as the movements themselves, you can do just about anything on a BOSU ball for a full-body workout.

From your biceps and triceps to your chest and shoulders, the BOSU ball can give you a complete upper-body workout. However, we’re going to focus on a few popular exercise and how to incorporate the BOSU ball in them.

You’ve probably heard of or been doing squats already. After all, they’re one of the best workouts for all the muscles in your lower body. But there are several ways to modify your squat by adding the BOSU. We’ll focus on two. For the first, start with the BOSU ball side up. Step on (carefully!), and practice keeping your balance as you squat until your upper legs are parallel to the floor, then return to a standing position. Make sure your weight doesn’t float to the front of your feet, or you’ll be putting too much pressure on your knees. If you have no problem keeping your balance with the BOSU ball side up, it’s time to flip it over. Put one foot on the flat side of the BOSU along the edge. Carefully lift your other foot to the opposite side, and balance with the ball in the middle. Try to keep the BOSU steady as you squat to parallel and return to a standing position. By flipping the BOSU ball side down, you’ll be working against a platform that moves a full 360 degrees, challenging your balance and strength.

To do lunges with your BOSU, begin with the ball side up. From here, you can either step up onto the BOSU or start on the ball and step down to the floor. With either approach, balance your weight between your back foot’s toes and your front foot’s heel. Lower your back knee toward the floor while your front knee moves toward a 90-degree angle, tracking over your toes.

If you want to hit more of your glutes, a bridge is a great bet! Lie with your back on the floor, and place your feet on the BOSU. If you’re a beginner, start ball side up. If you’re more advanced, flip your BOSU over. With both feet on the BOSU, squeeze your glutes, and press your hips toward the ceiling. Pause at the top, and lower your body back to the floor with control. If you’re ready to take it to the next level, try a single-leg bridge. With one foot on the BOSU and your hips pressed toward the ceiling, raise your other leg. Make sure you don’t swing your leg for leverage. Instead, squeeze your glutes to raise and lower with control. 


Who doesn’t want a stronger core? Many of your favorite (or not-so-favorite) ab and core exercises can be replicated and kicked up a notch using the BOSU ball. From the plank to sit-ups and even bicycle crunches, the BOSU adds an extra level of instability to every move.

Let’s start with the plank. The idea behind any plank is to keep your spine in alignment while you engage the muscles in your core, lower body, and upper body. For all the BOSU plank progressions, flip the ball side down. For beginners, start on your knees, and begin the way you would for the beginner BOSU push-up. Now hold it. Even as your body shakes, keep holding. If you want to take it a step further, raise up on your toes while you hold the position. Be careful that the ball doesn’t move side to side! Try to keep it as stable as possible, and don’t forget to breathe. If you’re looking for an even bigger challenge, try doing your plank on a single leg with your other raised. As you complete your circuit, switch legs to make sure you get an even workout.












These are just a few of the innumerable exercises that are possible with the BOSU ball. Even if you have no other piece of equipment at your disposal, you’ll be able to challenge every muscle in your body. As with any exercise, safety should be your number one priority. Always consult with a physician or personal trainer before beginning any exercise plan.


Kickstart your fitness regime with KickBoxing!


Did you know that kickboxing can revolutionize not only your body, but your life? An incredible workout, kickboxing is a fun, effective alternative to traditional strength and cardio workouts, transforming your body composition and overall health. Even more impressive, kickboxing also has a valuable function as it teaches you to defend yourself, improves reaction times, balance, and coordination, and empowers you to take charge of your life beyond the gym. Kickboxing is the workout that won’t quit and it will teach you not to quit, either.

Popularized in the 1990s, kickboxing is a sport based on kicking and punching that is a combination of various types of martial arts and boxing. There are several different types of kickboxing, with the most common being fighting (contact) kickboxing and fitness kickboxing (sometimes referred to as cardio kickboxing). Fitness kickboxing can be either contact or non-contact. Equipment is not always necessary, but depending on the style of kickboxing you are doing, you might find yourself using a punching bag and boxing gloves!

Looking to unleash some stress, in a fun, non-judgmental environment? Maybe you simply want to improve your body composition and get fitter without being a cardio bunny. Perhaps you are in great shape, but you need a confidence boost? Or are you looking to improve your reaction time and feel safer? Luckily, regardless of the category you fall into, kickboxing will satisfy your needs in a dynamic, fun, and high-energy workout atmosphere.

Don’t worry if you are new to exercise; kickboxing offers something to everyone. Start with shorter, less complicated, non-contact classes (classes will always give recommendations for experience levels). The first punch you ever throw should not be against someone else! Additionally, don’t worry if you never want to spar – many lifelong kickboxing lovers have never sparred!

Kickboxing studios often offer classes dedicated to beginners, teaching common combinations and technique for routine moves. All classes should be scalable to your fitness level, and instructors should accommodate anyone and everyone who wants to join. If you find that you are in a class that is far too advanced, ask if another teacher offers the classes, or try another studio. Don’t give up!

Kickboxing produces tangible physical results as you shred fat and burn calories with the high intensity intervals that elevate your heart rate but also allow for active recovery before you boost that heart rate again. All the while, even though you may not be using weights, you are building strength and toning muscles all over your body by creating your own resistance. You will be amazed at how exhausting and satisfying punching air can be!

If you are looking for an outlet for pent-up frustrations and stresses, kickboxing might be your answer! If you are stressed out, kickboxing allows you to unleash your power and release the stressors of the day, while also instilling a discipline that calms you down and brings you back to center. Alternatively, if you are struggling to find your voice, kickboxing can empower you to find your inner worth and confidence in the studio as well as the rest of your life. Whether you are high strung or super-shy, kickboxing can help you find balance.

One of the few completely functional fitness or exercise practices, kickboxing teaches participants real self-defense skills while improving balance and reaction times. If you’ve ever felt physically threatened, kickboxing can help you learn how to protect yourself on a basic level through daily practice, and there are even self-defense-specific kickboxing classes. Hopefully, you will never need to use those self-defense skills and will only notice that you are lighter on your feet and more reactive in traffic.

Whether you need to build confidence or work out some pent-up stress, looking to lose fat or build muscle, kickboxing will deliver what you need. You will be able to track how much your fitness improves by your recovery times, watch your coordination increase in your ability to follow complicated combinations, and you will be breathing easier when you deal with frustrating or threatening situations. What are you waiting for?