Posts filed under Fitness

My Top Pregnancy Fitness Tips (Plus 4 Awesome Prenatal Workout Classes)

Pregnancy Fitness & Prenatal Workouts

I used to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to hit up Barry’s Bootcamp, a hot power yoga class (with weights) or train for a half marathon before work. Then I got pregnant and yeahhhh...not so much. My workouts really changed.

For the first trimester I had crippling fatigue and couldn’t fathom any cardio besides walking. And in general I had no desire to run, jump or do anything high-impact (although many other moms-to-be keep pounding the pavement right up until their due dates). And I encountered many “joys” of pregnancy that affected my workouts, like heartburn/acid reflux, swollen legs and feet, shortness of breath due to squished lungs, loss of balance and generally feeling big, heavy and uncomfortable. Sexy!!

That being said, I made it a priority to work out 3-5 times a week for all 40 weeks (I’m currently at 39 weeks, 4 days). This helped me keep my energy up, manage my weight gain (even while eating anything I wanted … and I do mean anything), avoid any back pain and most importantly, stay healthy and sane through an emotional roller coaster of a year.

Every person is different and every pregnancy is different, and what was right for me is not necessarily what’s right for everyone else. There are a few general rules when it comes to prenatal fitness - avoid any extremely heated workouts, sports where you are in danger of falling or getting hit in the stomach (i.e. horseback riding, softball) and forgo many core exercises since your abs are, as one instructor told me, “busy doing other things.” But for the most part, we are all on our own journeys. These fitness tips and classes are just what worked for me.

My Top 7 Pregnancy Fitness Tips

  1. Check in with your doctor

    Your OBGYN is the best person to advise you on what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Check in with her or him before starting (or continuing) any workouts, and ask about modifications, too, especially for anything core-focused or that has you laying on your back.

  2. Listen to your body

    Sounds corny but it’s true. Feeling tired? Skip a workout and nap instead, or choose a mellow yoga class or a walk. Need a break? Take one. A move doesn’t feel good? Stop doing it immediately. Only you know your body, so trust it and do what’s right for you and your baby. Which brings me to…

  3. Leave your ego at the door

    Newsflash: when you’re pregnant, you probably won’t be the fastest, strongest, most advanced person in class. You won’t be able to do everything you used to do. Which kinda sucks. But hey, that’s the way it is, and that’s okay. So just accept that you can do the very best you can for where you are in your pregnancy...and that it’s more than enough.

  4. Talk to your instructor

    Tell every instructor that you’re pregnant before class starts. They’ll be able to advise you about any moves that you should avoid (even if they seem like they’d be fine!), and are usually happy to help you modify throughout class.

  5. Fuel up and hydrate

    Eat a snack or small meal 1-2 hours before and after a workout to keep your blood sugar steady and make sure you’re not running on empty. Also, hydration is SUPER important while pregnant or breastfeeding, so make sure to drink water before, during and after your workouts.

  6. Focus on your pelvic floor

    Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, which support the bowel, bladder and uterus. Keeping them strong will help you bounce back after birth and can benefit everything from your sex life to your underwear (as in, you won’t pee your pants as much xo). A few moves to try: Kegels, squats, bridges and bird dogs.

  7. Think of workouts as training

    Giving birth and being a mom take major strength and stamina, so it helped me to look at pregnancy as 9 months of physical training. I’m hoping that cardio sessions will help me power through labor and delivery, and that strength workouts will make it easier to lift car seats, strollers, diaper boxes...oh, and the baby.

My Top 4 Pregnancy Workout Classes

  1. Spin

    Spin class is a great low-impact cardio workout that needs minimal modifications during pregnancy! I did SoulCycle or another spin class about 1-2 times per week during my 2nd and 3rd trimester and it was a great way to safely get my heart rate up and really sweat, plus tone my legs and arms, in 45 minutes.

    Modifications: raise up the handlebar to make room for your belly, “run” instead of sprint, sit down or take breaks when needed, forgo the choreography if needed

  2. Lagree Pilates

    Core40 has been one of my absolute favorite workouts for years and I never want to give it up. Plus, I’ve heard from MULTIPLE sources that women who continue with Lagree up until the end of pregnancy have quick and easy births - maybe due to all the squatting and lower-body strengthening? Whatever, I’ll take it! Plus it’s low-impact and only 40 minutes.

    Modifications: use the pole for balance, replace center core and oblique sections with additional arm or leg exercises in 2nd and 3rd trimesters, avoid Ramped classes in 3rd trimester when your balance can be off

  3. TRX

    This is a fantastic strength-building workout that worked for me throughout pregnancy. There are so many moves to tone your arms, shoulders, back, butt and legs, and the cardio bursts are typically easy to modify (i.e. swap jumping jacks for step-out jacks, burpees for squat kicks, etc.).

    Modifications: replace ab and oblique exercises with additional arm or leg exercises in 2nd and 3rd trimester, choose low-impact cardio options, modify any moves that require suspending your foot (or feet) in the strap that might affect your balance

  4. Walking or hiking

    The ultimate pregnancy workout. You can do it anytime, anywhere, even if you didn’t have an established workout regimen pre-pregnancy. It’s also a good default when you get too big or uncomfortable for other workouts. To amp it up, pick up the pace and add hills or stairs.

    Modifications: none needed! Switch things up with new walking paths, hiking trails (I love the All Trails app to find new ones) or stairway walks for more of a glute burn.

P.S. Wondering where prenatal yoga fits into all of this? Well...it doesn’t, for me anyway. I tried one very popular, highly recommended class and ended up leaving halfway in. Personally I just felt it was wayyy too slow-paced, too touchy-feely (we had to go around the room and each talk about our pregnancy and how our bodies were feeling :-| ) and too long (90 minutes). I ultimately felt like I got a better workout walking to the class than actually taking it. But others love prenatal and swear by it! So if that’s you, go on with your bad self.


Posted on December 20, 2018 and filed under Fitness.

30 Days to a 5-Minute Plank

30 Days to a 5-Minute Plank

Happy August friends!

How is it August already? No clue, but summer is flying by and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Luckily, we’ve got another whole month until Labor Day, which means we’ve still got time to work on our summer bodies (which is definitely needed since I spent last weekend eating steak, cake and champagne, it’s fine).

Enter the August Plank Challenge. This 30-day program will take you from a 20-second plank to a 5-MINUTE PLANK! I know. I know. Five minutes sounds like an eternity, but let me tell you – I did this challenge last year, and after doing a 5-minute plank you feel seriously badass. And, not only are planks an awesome core conditioning exercise, but they work your glutes, hamstrings, quads, obliques and help give you fab posture and balance.

Start today, August 1, and you’ll be rocking Navy Seal-esque planks come September, straight up.

Take the Plank Challenge

After making it through the challenge before, here are my top tips:

  1. Use padding. Spending up to 5 minutes on your elbows on a hard surface is not fun. Get thee to a yoga mat, or plank on a folded blanket or towel.

  2. Form is everything. Your form will make the difference between an effective plank that works the right muscles, and a potential injury. Keep your neck and spine long, eyes gazing down at your thumbs, shoulders right over your elbows, abs pulled up and in, heels shooting back behind you. Learn more here.

  3. Mix it up. Keep things interesting by adding variations to your plank: dip your hips from side to side, bend one knee down to touch the floor and then reverse, step your feet out and in again, or pop up to your hands for a minute.

  4. Distract yoself. It’s absolutely critical to provide a pleasant distraction, or those 5 minutes will feel like 5 hours. TV is a no go since proper form requires you to be staring down at the floor. Enter YouTube videos on your cell phone! They’re usually several minutes long already (at least), and you can nestle the phone right between your elbows. My fave is watching abspirational music videos - Britney, Christina (back in the day), Shakira, J.Lo, Beyonce. Listening to podcasts or the radio are also acceptable.

  5. Breathe! You’ll never make it through the challenge if you’re not getting enough oxygen. Take deep breaths in through the nose filling the lungs, and out through the mouth.

 

Alright what do you say? Are you with me?

 

Posted on August 1, 2017 and filed under Fitness.

Barry’s Bootcamp vs OrangeTheory: Smackdown

Photo: OrangeTheory Fitness

Photo: OrangeTheory Fitness

Coke or Pepsi. Biggie or Tupac. And perhaps the most pressing, pertinent, polarizing question of our time … Barry’s Bootcamp or OrangeTheory Fitness.

If you’re looking to take your fitness to the next level in 2017 (hellooo New Year’s resolutions), Barry’s and OrangeTheory are two of the best heart-pounding workouts in the city (in my opinion, and I’ve tried almost every workout in San Francisco). Both are 60-minute high-intensity workouts alternating between treadmill intervals and heavy weights with a bench. So they must be pretty much the same then, right?

Not quite. While Barry’s and OT are similar, there are major differences that will probably define which one you gravitate towards – and which one you will succeed at. Here’s the lowdown on how they stack up, and which one is my fave.


The Workout: Barry’s

The Barry’s workout is my favorite, for one simple reason: the intervals are shorter. In one class you’ll hit the treadmill and the weights two to four times each, for super quick and dirty sessions. n OT, most classes only switch once between treadmill and weights/rower Let me put it to you this way: would you rather stay on the treadmill for 8 minutes, or 28 minutes? You see what I’m saying. Also, Barry’s classes target different body sections throughout the week  (abs one day, butt the next) so you can focus on areas you want to improve. At OT, although each class centers on either Strength, Endurance, or Power, it’s hard to target specific body parts.

The Equipment: OrangeTheory

Barry’s does boast a lot of variety in their workouts – weights, resistance bands, “dynamic mode” on the treadmill where you power the machine with your own strength – but OT takes the cake here. Not only do you rotate between treadmill and weights, but you also spend a considerable amount of time on the rowing machine (which is hard AF, by the way), plus they have TRX straps and ab rollers, which add countless new exercises into the mix.

The Amenities: Barry’s

Like many places in SF, OrangeTheory’s studio is pretty cramped. The FiDi location only has two bathroom stalls and two showers, no complimentary towels, and the locker area is more crowded than Muni at rush hour. Barry’s is  more spacious, has real locker rooms with more showers and bathrooms, complimentary towels, AND a protein smoothie bar with more than 20 delicious, low-calorie concoctions that you can order before class so they’re ready when your sweat-drenched self emerges. No contest.

The Tracking: OrangeTheory

At OT, you wear a heart rate monitor for every workout, and your heart rate shows up on big screens the whole time. Your goal is to stay in the peak calorie-burning “Orange Zone,” as long as possible to get the biggest afterburn. After each class, you get an email with your stats – calories burned, minutes in the Orange Zone, and more. That tracking makes me push harder – when I see that I’m thisclose to getting in the Orange zone, I amp up my speed or incline to compete with myself, trying each time to log more minutes in the Orange zone than I did last week. At first I was worried that everyone would be looking at and judging *my* heart rate, but seriously no one is concerned with anyone but themselves (also, they don’t know my name).

The Vibe: Barry’s

OrangeTheory has cool orange lighting and fun tunes, but it can’t hold a candle to Barry’s dark, clubby vibe, pounding music, and ultra-hot trainers yelling at you to run the fuck faster. Everyone around you is super into it, and that energy is contagious. The whole experience is intense, inspiring, and downright awesome.

The Welcome Factor: OrangeTheory

Barry’s can be intimidating. It’s typically full of ultra-fit, lean, buff, often shirtless people rocking the newest Lululemon swag and nailing 12.0s on their treadmill sprints. If you’re easing into working out, or not a runner, I could see this being a major turnoff. OrangeTheory is much more welcoming. In each class I see a variety of ages, body types, and fitness levels, and they have a designated track for power walkers if running isn’t your thing. Plus, they have an elliptical and bike for anyone injured who need an alternative to the treadmill or rower.

The Price: Tie

Pricing for both varies by location (and like everything – sob – SF is one of the most expensive #kill), but is comparable. My 4-classes-per-month membership at OT is $120; a 5-class pack at Barry’s is $155. That nets out to be $30 and $31 per class, so not much difference.

The Locations: OrangeTheory

Personally, I love that OT has a location in the Financial District, which is right by my office. They also have a SOMA studio, and way more around the Bay Area in Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Redwood City, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, and Solano (where?), with new locations coming in Berkeley, Emeryville, and Pinole. Barry’s has spots in SOMA and the Marina – and also a new FiDi location coming soon which I am STOKED about – but just doesn’t cover as many hoods.

The Verdict: Barry’s

At the end of the day, I prefer Barry’s for the short intervals, nice amenities, and high-vibe environment. However, I’d recommend OrangeTheory for anyone who loves tracking their progress, gets off on the rowing machine, or is a power walker instead of a runner. And I switch off between them to keep things interesting and keep my body guessing.

For both classes, the main thing to remember is this: the workout is only as hard as you make it. You control how fast you’re going on the treadmill, how heavy your weights are, how hard you push yourself. I totally believe you can get the same intensity, same strength-building, and same calorie burn at either class … you just better work, bitch.

Which workout is your favorite and why? Let me know!

Posted on January 25, 2017 and filed under Fitness.

My Week in Workouts

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I’m pretty much obsessed with working out. Anyone surprised? Anyone?

Seriously, working out keeps me feeling healthy, happy, strong and sane. I started seriously focusing on my fitness about six years ago, and it’s amazing how much more confident I am now. Getting fit has also made it easier for me to handle tough or stressful situations, because working out is both a form of meditation and an emotional outlet for me. If I sweat it out in the morning, I’m energized and ready to take on the day; if I work out in the evening, I blow off any steam or work stress so I can enjoy the night ahead. It’s also one of my favorite things to do with my friends and family! Basically, working out is something I can’t live without.

BUT ... I get bored easily. Over the years, I’ve gone through phases including long-distance running, bootcamp, TRX, barre, Burn, you name it. Since I moved to my new Noe Valley hood, I can’t get enough of Spin and Lagree Fitness (a.k.a “Pilates on crack") at Core40's Noe-Mission studio (in an old church - so cool), but I also make an effort to mix it up to keep my muscles and my mind guessing. A few days ago I tried my first P90X workout at the Salesforce fitness center and yeah … I still can't lift my arms.

Anyway, here’s what a typical week of workouts looks like for me lately.


Sunday: Barry’s Bootcamp

Sixty minutes of getting my butt kicked in alternating sprints and heavy-ass weights, burpees, crunches and all the others. Sweaty and sometimes painful, but always worth it.

Monday: Core40 Full Body

My absolute fave. This Lagree class full of plank-to-pikes and super-slow lunges makes you shake to your core for 40 nonstop minutes.

Tuesday: Rest day!

Wednesday: CorePower Yoga Sculpt

Zen this is not. High-energy yoga with weights, cardio bursts, pushups, bicep curls, you name it. Oh, did I mention it’s a bazillion degrees? Sixty minutes and I’m drenched. And just disgusting.

Thursday: SoulCycle

Tapping it back to the beat and spinning those legs like crazy for 45 minutes, including a fast-paced set of arm weights and some motivational soul-searching. A good mood is guaranteed after.

Friday: Core40 Combo

The best of both worlds: 25 minutes of Spin, 25 minutes of Pilates. It moves FAST and before you know it, cardio and strength training are done and done.

Saturday: Lyon Street Steps

Met up with my girlfriends for a DIY bootcamp workout: strength moves like squats and Russian twists alternated with runs up the steps. Sunny, social, and so much fun. Followed with brunch and bellinis because … it’s us. Find more great stairs to run in SF here.


What do you think? Any faves, or other workouts I should be trying? Let me know! xoxo

 

Posted on February 24, 2016 and filed under Fitness.

How to Stay (Mostly) Healthy on Vacation

Me, getting my sculpt on before my afternoon Sauv B in Koh Samui, Thailand

Me, getting my sculpt on before my afternoon Sauv B in Koh Samui, Thailand

Have you ever come back from vacation feeling like absolute death? (Cancun 2011, I’m talking to you). Hey, it happens to the best of us – we finally get a few precious days away from the office and instantly spiral into a black hole of #treatyoself food choices and workouts that consist primarily of heavy margarita pitcher-lifting.

But the thing is, you don’t need to quarantine yourself in a yoga detox retreat to have a healthy-ish vacation. I just spent two weeks traveling around Thailand, and although I had my fair share of piña coladas and Pad Thai (so. good.), I didn’t completely fall off the wellness wagon. Here are my top tips for balancing fun and fitness while traveling.

 

FITNESS

Pack your gear. You won’t work out if you don’t have anything to work out in. Period. So bring your sneakers, socks and at least one workout outfit (you can always do laundry if needed). Bonus points for totable equipment like resistance bands or fitness DVDs.

Get creative. No one wants to be stuck in a stuffy hotel fitness center when it’s sunny and gorgeous outside. So think outside the gym. Check out fitness classes in the area, sprint a nearby set of stairs, or do a few planks by the pool (when no one’s around, obvi). In Thailand I grabbed two 5-pounders from the weight room and took them down to the beach for an interval workout. Hey, whatever works!

Make sightseeing active. There are tons of ways to experience a new culture and work up a sweat at the same time. I’ve climbed a volcano in Greece, snorkeled in Costa Rica, kayaked in Thailand, hiked through the desert in Israel and biked the Bali countryside. City-bound? Scaling the steps at tourist destinations like the Eiffel Tower, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Duomo totally counts.

Run! Going for a jog, whether it’s on sand or cobblestone, is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and discover a new place while getting your heart rate up. If you’re alone, stick to populated areas during daylight and make sure you have some kind of map handy. Love, Mom.

 

FOOD

Avoid airplane food. It’s terrible for you and is guaranteed to taste sick (and not in the good way). Instead, eat before you travel and pack snacks for the flight (think kale chips, Kind bars, apple slices, protein balls, almond butter and banana sandwiches on wheat bread). If you have a layover, grab a real meal at the airport.

Eat a healthy breakfast. You’ll start the day energized, and make sure that at least a third of your meals on the trip are healthy. Most hotels and resorts have decent breakfast options like eggs, wheat toast, healthy cereals, yogurt and fruit. Renting a place? Even better – you can pick up your own healthy items at a grocery or corner store.

Limit sugary and frozen drinks. They’re full of calories and won’t even get you that buzzed. Sure, a few daiquiris are fine. But for your long-term strategy (this is a marathon, not a sprint, people), stick to simple low-sugar cocktails, wine, champagne or light beer.

Splurge wisely. Go ahead, indulge...and enjoy it! This is vacation, after all. But choose local delicacies over standard fatty fare you can find at home. When in Rome, go for homemade pastas and red wine, not cheeseburgers. In Paris, savor fresh-baked croissants and baguettes, not French fries. You get the idea.


The bottom line? It’s totally fine – even emotionally necessary – to kick back, relax, and loosen your belt a notch while on vacation. But you’ll make the most of your time off if you feel energetic, healthy and happy. And it'll definitely lessen those dreaded back-to-work blues once you return to reality.

 

Posted on September 11, 2015 and filed under Fitness, Lifestyle.