Tag Archives: workout

Silhouette young woman, exercise on the beach at sunset.

BYOB: Bring Your Own Workout for Summer Vacations

By Jen Fuller-Allen

J Smith Young Y.M.C.A Programs Director

Vacations are a wonderful opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy a chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Vacations were designed for us to rest, but some worry that all their hard work in the gym will go down the drain after a week or so of vacation. Not to worry. Your body will benefit from a small break and from the variation of your normal routine.

Your first option is truly to rest. Take a few days to let your body recover from exercise, catch up on your sleep and give yourself a chance truly to relax. Resting is just as important as working out because it’s an equal part of the total process required to build strength, endurance, and muscle. Working out breaks down your body tissues. Resistance training breaks down muscles causing microscopic tears. When the muscle heals and rebuilds itself, you grow stronger. Rest days allow your body the time needed to rebuild.

Sleep is also an important part of the process to get stronger. Your body produces more growth hormone during the REM cycle of sleep, which aids your body in repairing and rebuilding muscles post-workout. Sleep is also a very important part of keeping you healthy in general. If you are skimping on your sleep at home, a vacation is a great opportunity to sleep a little later and help your body recover.

If the idea of resting for a week is more than you can handle, here are a few quick and easy ideas to incorporate fitness into your vacation without spending all your time in the gym with your days of rest and relaxation.

  1. Bike around your destination. Bring your own bike or rent one from your vacation destination. Use it to explore your surroundings or to go to and from dinner. For most of us, almost all of our time commuting at home is spent in a car. Try to limit your time in the car on vacation as much as possible and make your travel time active time.
  2. Try something new – you can canoe, kayak or paddleboard at the beach. Try hiking, skiing, or rock climbing in the mountains – no matter where you are, there is sure to be something you haven’t tried before or something you don’t get to do frequently.
  3. Pretend that the elevators don’t work. Use the stairs whenever possible for a little added calorie burn.
  4. If it’s within a mile, walk. Walk to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the shops across the street. Lots of short bursts of activity will add up and you will have the opportunity to see lots of sights you might have missed from the car. If you wear an activity tracker, make it your goal to hit 12,000 steps a day instead of 10,000.
  5. Stretch – use this opportunity to try yoga, Pilates, or just spend time stretching outdoors and enjoy the quiet. You can easily create your own routine, download a free app for a workout that you can follow, or visit a class.
  6. Tabata – this is a quick and easy (and super challenging) workout for anyone. Select an exercise, preferably a bodyweight one, and perform that exercise as many times as possible for 20 seconds. Work as hard as you can in the 20 seconds, bringing your heart rate up as high as possible. Rest for ten seconds and then repeat for 8 total rounds (4 minutes of total time). Use a watch with a timer or a tabata timer app to help you keep track. Your goal is to do 4 rounds of tabata total (16 minutes). A full body tabata workout would include squats, pushups, planks, and burpees. You can substitute any exercise you can think of for those listed — just be ready to repeat it for four minutes. You can break it up with some core work or add in some interval run/walking at the end to make it a little bit longer.
  7. Visit a new gym. If you have a YMCA membership, your membership is good at any YMCA through membership reciprocity, so take a new class or try out another facility. If you aren’t a Y member, ask your hotel if they have any special deals worked out with local gyms that you could visit.
  8. Play a game with your friends and family. Volleyball, tennis, golf – anything that you all enjoy and will get you moving will fit the bill.
  9. Find a hill near you – walk, run, skip, lunge, backpedal (walking or running backwards), and sprint to the top of the hill and jog back down. If you want to make it a little harder, do 10 pushups every time you get to the top of the hill and hold a plank at the bottom of the bill for 30 seconds. Repeat the entire routine for 20 minutes.
  10. Use your body as your resistance for your workout. Bodyweight workouts are wonderful – they easily incorporate your entire body and can get your heart rate up in a hurry. Look for 10 minute body weight workouts on Pinterest – you may be surprised at how difficult they are.


If you want a more challenging outdoor workout – try this one.

-          Walk or run to a local park.

-          Wall sit with your back against a wall or phone pole – try to hold it for 1 minute.

-          Run to the monkey bars and either complete 10 pull ups or hang on the bar for 30 seconds at a time (repeat 10 times).

-          Complete a set of 10 tricep dips off a park bench or set of parallel bars.

-          Bear crawl in the grass for 30 seconds. (Bend down and put your hands on the ground. Try to keep your back flat as you crawl forward as fast as you can.)

-          Crab walk for 30 seconds. (Sit on the ground and bridge up with your hips so you look like a table top. Walk forward on your hands and feet as fast as you can.)

-          Hang on the bar again and try to do 10 knee lifts to your chest. If that’s too hard, hold a plank on the ground for 1 minute. Complete both exercises if you want an added challenge.

-          For your finisher, complete 10 burpee/broad jumps (From a standing position, bend down and put your hands on the ground. Now jump your legs out behind you, so that you end up in the top position of a push-up. Perform a push-up and then reverse the motion quickly and come back up. Immediately broad jump as far forward as you can.)

You can repeat the entire circuit or run/walk back to your starting point.


Exercise doesn’t have to be confined to four walls of a gym. No matter where you are, there are lots of options to find a way to work a little activity into your day.




Resolution Recap: Getting Back Up After Falling Off the Horse

By Stacy Hilton Vanzant, Certified Personal Trainer

CalendarGrab your calendar and circle four days of your week. Go ahead, circle any four days of your week during which you can schedule 30 minutes to an hour of your time. These can be weekdays or weekends, whatever is convenient for your schedule.

That’s all it takes! The New Year has come and gone and you’re in the same place you were on January 15th or maybe even sooner. If you were one of those people who set a New Year’s resolution, then you’re probably in the majority that didn’t keep up with it either. Now what?

Just because you missed the New Year’s resolution hype or messed up in your attempt doesn’t mean that the year is worth giving up on. You can make the choice any day to continue on your mission to feel better and make better choices.

I recently started on a very restrictive diet. It wasn’t in an effort to lose weight, it was to isolate certain food groups and see how my body reacted when I removed them. Then after two weeks I was to add those items back into my diet one at a time and see how I felt.

This diet was daunting! It required planning my meals daily. Many of the food groups I had to remove are in most of our everyday meals, so eating outside of my own kitchen was not an option. I would prep for my meals throughout the week but on day four of the same lunch I was completely over it! It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it; I had already made it through day three. It’s that I couldn’t wrap my head around making it throughout an entire two weeks. All I could think about was everything I couldn’t eat and how difficult planning my meals all day for 14 days was on me.

So, I stopped. I stopped and ate the things that I wasn’t supposed to, which made me feel not only physically bad but mentally bad like I had given up and failed myself. I took a break from the so-called “elimination diet.” I was beating myself up over screwing up something so simple. I was mad that I didn’t have the self-control to continue and do this to feel better. I had to take a step back and re-focus.

Going back to the drawing board with a clear head was now the goal. I needed to do more research, so I planned and understood what ingredients were in foods that I shouldn’t be eating. I searched endless online recipes to find some variety in my food selection. After spending a few days of wrapping my head around the diet’s limitations, I began to see the opportunities.

What had once felt unattainable now became feasible. Planning a variety of meals and knowing the restaurants I could eat in and still be okay opened my eyes to the wide opportunities of this diet. Starting the diet again wasn’t nearly as hard as it had been the first time around. I was open and accepting and looking forward to the challenge.

What had changed in my perception? It’s simple: preparation!

During the first attempt I wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t properly looked at all the options, so my diet choices were limited and too few. After spending some time preparing and becoming more knowledgeable about the restrictions, completing the diet during two weeks became my number one goal.

Another key area that improved my option to succeed was the modifications I made. Modifications were important on a smaller but very impactful level. If we needed to eat out one evening because of work schedules, then I knew the places that were available and had already prepared myself for what I could eat. Sure, I did my very best to stick to the diet, but a few modifications weren’t going to kill me. And in the end, the diet was completed!

What does this mean for you and your New Year’s Resolution Fail? It’s simple. There were reasons why your first attempt wasn’t successful. Possibly a lack of planning or unrealistic expectations for success were primary causes. It could have been an attempt at a diet with poor planning or an exercise regimen that lacked design and preparation. Whatever the case may be, you’ll need to see why it failed before you can be successful.

When I work with my personal training clients I always give them tools to be successful. If I only work with them for 30 minutes or an hour one day a week on one particular area then I have failed them. But if they leave from a training session with new ideas, exercises or informative information, they can continue to grow well after their time with me, advance on their own time, and be ready for our next session.

Lastly, make modifications! If an exercise routine is too difficult for you in the beginning, make a modification! Jumping jacks are a great example of this idea. Many people suffer from bad knees or hips so jumping jacks are not an option for them. Instead, raise your arms and step your toes out and tap to the side. It’s the same motion as a jumping jack except it eliminates the jumping part. Marching, walking in place, quick feet, and jump rope are also good modifications for jumping jacks. When you make a modification you aren’t failing, you’re making it accessible so you can succeed.

Sometimes we need a little help to get back on track and re-focus. Here is a planned four day workout for you to try. Go back to your calendar and look at the four dates that you circled. Plan to do a workout from the options below on each day that you designated and planned on your calendar. You can do this! Success wasn’t built without a plan.



10 Forward Walking Lunges

10 Reverse Walking Lunges

10 Forward Walking Lunges with Bicep Curls

10 Reverse Walking Lunges with Shoulder Press

30 Seconds Jumping Jacks

30 Seconds Jump Rope

10 Push-ups

10 Tricep Dips

10 Walking Knees to Chest

10 Leg Raises (standing or lying)

30 Seconds High Knees

30 Seconds Butt Kicks

Repeat 3 times



30 Squats (hands behind head)

20 Push-ups

10 Sit-ups or Crunches

30 Front Punches

20 Second Plank Hold

10 Burpees

30 Lateral Lunges

20 Tricep Dips

10 Sit-ups or Crunches

30 Second Wall Sit

20 Seconds Fast Run in Place

10 Sit-ups or Crunches

Repeat 3 times



Run/jog/walk up flight of stairs 2 times

15 Push-ups

10 Hip Bridges

5 Squat Taps

3 Burpees

Repeat Workout 3 times adding 5 reps to each exercise each time repeated



45 Second Sprint/Speed Walk

15 Jumping Jacks/Taps

30 Second Mountain Climbers/High Knees

30 Second Plank

45 Second Sprint/Speed Walk

15 Jumping Jacks/Taps

30 Second Reverse Lunges

45 Plank

45 Second Sprint/Speed Walk

15 Jumping Jacks/Taps

30 Second Squat Pulses

60 Second Plank

Repeat 3 times


Let’s Get Physical

by Jen Fuller-Allen

You don’t have to wait for the New Year to start a new fitness regimen.  You can start integrating healthy habits before the hype of weight loss in January. Healthy lifestyles affect various aspects of your life. By making a positive lifestyle change you can see benefits emotionally, physically, spiritually and even with your relationships on an individual level as well as with your family.

1. Exercise improves your mood & increases self-esteem.

Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out. You’ll also look better and feel better when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Regular physical activity can even help prevent depression.

2. Exercise combats chronic diseases.

Regular physical activity can help you prevent — or manage — high blood pressure. Your cholesterol will benefit, too. Regular physical activity boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol while decreasing triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaques in your arteries. Regular physical activity can help you prevent Type II diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.

3. Exercise helps you manage your weight.

When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn — and the easier it is to keep your weight under control. Dedicated workouts are great, but physical activity you accumulate throughout the day helps you burn calories, too.

4. Exercise boosts your energy level.

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can leave you breathing easier. Regular physical activity helps your entire cardiovascular system — the circulation of blood through your heart and blood vessels — work more efficiently. When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you’ll have more energy to do the things you enjoy.

5. Exercise promotes better sleep.

A good night’s sleep can improve your concentration, productivity and mood. And you guessed it — physical activity is sometimes the key to better sleep. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. There’s a caveat, however. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you may be too energized to fall asleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to exercise earlier in the day.

6. Exercise can be fun!

Physical activity doesn’t have to be drudgery. Take a ballroom dancing class. Check out a local climbing wall or hiking trail. Push your kids on the swings or climb with them on the jungle gym. Plan a neighborhood kickball or touch football game. Find a physical activity you enjoy and go for it. If you get bored, try something new. If you’re moving, it counts!

7.  Exercise increases mental focus.

Did you know that the latest research shows that exercise helps keep the brain sharp well into old age? Anything that involves mental acuity (focus and concentration) is improved. You also stand a much better chance of avoiding such diseases as Alzheimer’s and senility.

8. Exercise improves your relationships with others. 

It provides you with an outlet for your stress, allowing you to be more relaxed and able to focus more on others. If you exercise with a partner or family member, it provides a perfect opportunity to improve communication and strengthen your bond by committing to doing something together.

9. Exercise can decrease stress levels.

The worries and stresses of everyday living (commuting, work demands, conflicts etc.) can stick with you long after the work day is done. Exercise right after work is the perfect natural therapy that can change your mood. You’ll sleep better too!

Things we can do as a family to stay fit…

  • Find a partner or class to be accountable to – spouse, fellow pastor, friend, child, anyone…..
  • Walk together
  • Ride bikes
  • Play in the yard
  • Go to the park
  • Play hopscotch, basketball, soccer or any other games as a family
  • It is good for us to teach these healthy choices to our children as well.
    • By setting an example for our children, we encourage them to embrace healthy habits from a young age and help to increase their brain development, decrease their risk of obesity and other childhood diseases, improve their self-esteem and spend more time together as a family.

Think about what motivates you to make a healthy lifestyle change – write it down and stick it on your mirror at home

Decide HOW & WHEN you will exercise – make a written plan and schedule it in your calendar.  Don’t break that appointment with yourself.

Easy ways to add exercise to every day:

  • Take the stairs
  • Park your car at the end of the lot
  • Do jumping jacks or march in place during commercials on TV
  • Use a pedometer – aim for 10,000 steps a day

I would encourage you to track your exercise – set a goal of 30 minutes a day/three days a week or three family walks a week or a certain number of steps on your pedometer – anything that you enjoy – then record it on your calendar just like all your other appointments. When you finish, write it down so you can see your progress – you can use a calendar, a sheet of paper or a website. Sparkpeople.com allows you to track food and exercise – you can use it for either one.  There are also lots of articles, workouts and recipes you can use.

15-minute circuit

Perform 10 of each exercise in order a total of 5 times (no equipment required)

  • Squat
  • Push-ups
  • Plank
  • Dip
  • Sit-ups

Quick Cardio – no equipment required – all can be high or low impact

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Jump Rope
  • Quick Feet
  • Power Heels
  • Jump Squat
  • High Knees (add arms)
  • Hamstring run
  • Front Kicks
  • Arm Punches/Speed bag Arms
  • Run/Walk up & down stairs
  • Walk/Run in all directions at a track or in your driveway


Weight Circuit:  You can use anything from dumbbells to canned vegetables

Arms Legs
Bicep Curls Squats
Tricep Kickbacks Plies
Shoulder Press Right Front Lunge
Front Lat Raise Left Front Lunge
Side Lat Raise Right Lateral Lunge
Back Row Left Lateral Lunge
Pull-Ups Calf Raise
Chest Press Hamstring Bridge Lift

(*Weights – begin with 2 sets of 8 reps; work up to 3 sets of 8-10 reps each)