Ellipse Fitness

Taste The Rainbow: A Visual Nutrition Guide

Eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk for chronic disease, by ensuring you are providing your body with all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrition it needs.

The different colors are made possible different phytochemicals and can be an easy way to visually see what vitamins and minerals fruits and veggies provide. If you tend to eat the same colors all the time, you are likely missing out on certain green, red, white, purple/blue, and/or yellow/orange phytonutrients.

Still Not Convinced?

Generally, when we think of eating protein it’s not a vegetable. Did you know 1 cup of broccoli has almost 6 grams of protein?!!? In addition to being a protein source, broccoli and it’s green friends offer calcium, iron, folate, and B vitamins. Folate, a B vitamin, is important to make DNA and genetic material, especially for pregnant women’s developing babies, and warding off heart disease and depression. So let’s start there shall we?

GREEN

Start by adding a serving of a nutritionally dense vegetable like kale and spinach to check that GREEN phytonutrient box. Leafy greens are generally contain omega-3 fatty acids which are important and sometimes difficult to work your diet. Vitamin K is another great reason to seek out greens.

Make it even simpler by tossing a handful of spinach in your smoothie…you won’t even taste it! I know that sounds like BS – go try it!

ORANGE/YELLOW

ORANGE/YELLOW fruits and vegetables improve your immune system and promote eye health (reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration) with their vitamin A and C. Try adding your “orange” colors like orange bell peppers, carrots, yellow summer squash, roasted winter squash and/or fruits like mandarin orange slices to your salads.

RED

Foods with RED phytochemicals have a very protective antioxidant effect. They can can ward off or inhibit tumors in our bodies. Try some red peppers, tomatoes, beets, cherries, apples, watermelon, and more!

BLUE/PURPLE

Like red fruit and vegetables, BLUE/PURPLE foods are plump with antioxidants especially anthocyanin. Berries are a powerhouse when it comes to antioxidants, helping to protect the skin, aid in cardiovascular health, and improve our memory!

Pro Tips

• When shopping, look at your cart. If you find most of your choices are the same one or two colors, swap out a few to increase the colors — and phytonutrients — in your cart.

• 1/2 cup of chopped raw vegetables or fruit makes one serving. Less dense foods, like leafy greens, take up more space, so 1 cup chopped counts as a serving.

• Think in twos when it comes to vegetable/fruit servings. Try to eat two servings in the morning, two in the afternoon, and two at night.

• We have a tremendous amount of access to fresh vegetables this time of year, but keep in mind that frozen vegetables are picked and frozen quickly, thus retaining virtually the same nutrient density as fresh – even though the flavor may be slightly affected.

6 Foods for a Higher Metabolism!

Ready to start a fire?? These foods (and drinks) will not only jumpstart your metabolism, but also offer you other great health and weight management benefits!

1. Cinnamon

Loved by most, but many don’t really know where it comes from other than maybe that it comes from a tree. Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of cinnamon trees. The inner bark is extracted and the woody parts removed. When it dries, you get that curled wood that you see sold as cinnamon sticks. Cinnamaldehyde is the active ingredient responsible for cinnamon’s ability to boost the metabolism.

In regards to body protective antioxidants, cinnamon wins by a landslide even over foods like garlic and oregano! Cinnamon helps fight insulin resistance (we need insulin to move sugar from our bloodstream to our cells…when resisted, we have too much sugar floating around) and it interferes, in a good way, with how much sugar enters our blood stream in the first place after a meal. Both HUGE factors for weight maintenance and metabolic health.

2. Green Tea

In addition to cancer fighting and anti-inflammatory properties, Green Tea can help boost your metabolism and increase your fat burning rate! It is unclear whether these benefits are attributed to caffeine alone or to Tea specifically. Studies have also shown that drinking Green Tea may improve insulin sensitivity.

Fun Fact: Oolong and Black Tea come from the same plant as Green Tea, the difference simply being how long the leaves are allowed to oxidize which turns them black (Oolong being in the middle of Green and Black Tea). While the antioxidant profile differs, generally the health benefits remain constant from Green to Black Tea.

3. Spicy Peppers

Spicy food heats you up – no doubt about that! But eating spicy peppers (or cayenne pepper) at a meal, for example, burns only about 10 extra calories. However, consuming capsaicin has been shown to reduce overall hunger throughout the day which certainly can help you adhere to your diet! It may also aid in digestive health, and in animal studies it has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

4. Coffee

Coffee can boost your metabolism up to 11% boost with its caffeine, like green tea. It seems to affect/benefit lean people most though AND if you are a regular coffee (vs occasional) drinker you may not see the same affect.

It’s not all “meh” news though…you can still have your coffee and get your protein in! Try an Iced-Mocha Coffee for the hot summer days: mix 1.5 scoops of Ellipse Chocolate Protein Powder with ½ c unsweetened almond milk. Add 1.5 cups iced coffee.

5. Spices

Kind of lumping a few things in here, but spices like ginger and turmeric can help raise your metabolism with their thermogenic effects.

Ginger can increase calorie burn by increasing blood flow and thus body temperature. Granted this increase is relatively small, it can’t hurt to add into your meal rotation. (Quick side note: Ginger can interact with certain medications like Warfarin, an anticoagulant – so refer to your doctor’s recommendation).

Grab some broccoli and sweet peppers and fresh basil at the farmer’s market for this super quick dish; Ginger Basil Chicken And Rice.

6. Coconut Oil

We’ve probably all heard that coconut oil is a good choice when it comes to oils. But why? Coconut oil offers a different effect than other oils by raising the GOOD/HDL cholesterol levels in your blood with its medium chain triglycerides and increase calories burned.

2 TBSP seems to be about the recommended amount per day to help reduce belly fat.

BBQ Side Dishes and Summer Salads!

It is Summer time and BBQ season, so this week we have several recipes for you using the fresh produce you should be able to find at your local markets!

Green Beans

Green beans are in season! Like other legumes, green beans contain high fiber to keep you full longer. 1 cup of green beans has just 44 calories plus offers a good source of vitamin K, C, and folate. Eating green beans fresh or with a quick steam method will retain the most nutrients. Store fresh green beans unwashed in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer for up to 7 days.

Try this marinated bean salad to bring to your next BBQ: it combines green beans, kidney beans, and lima beans (swap out if you are not a lima fan!), tomato, and fresh herbs, olive oil, and lemon juice. That perfect “Fresh” salad for the summer!

Tomatoes

Keep ripe tomatoes on the counter away from sunlight. When the tomatoes become (too) soft, toss in the fridge. Keep in mind at the end of the season that green tomatoes can be placed stem side down in a paper bag to ripen (give it time though, it usually takes a while!). Tomatoes are full of water and fiber as well as a good source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, and folate.

Serve yourself up a simple fresh side dish: 1 chopped cucumber + 1 chopped tomato + olive oil and salt. Delish!

Potato Salad

Going to that BBQ and need a dish to pass? Potato salads can be laden with heavy dressings and little nutrition. Add some extra veg and pull back on the heaviness with this potato salad makeover!

Tri-Colored Pepper Potato Salad uses red potatoes, sweet peppers, onions and a lighter sauce of white wine, chicken broth, lemon juice, garlic, dijon, and salt/pepper! TIP: Make it extra colorful with purple, red, and golden potatoes. You can find a 5# bag of cute little fully washed rainbow baby potatoes at Costco. Just cut in half and you are ready to go!

Berries and Melons

Blueberries and melons are coming into season! Find a local blueberry picking patch by searching Google for “Pick your own blueberries” and local patches will pop up. Blueberries are loaded with fiber and antioxidants (one of the highest antioxidant foods actually) plus low in calories. Melons are also a good addition to your diet with their high-water content, vitamin C and other great nutrients depending on the melon choice.

Bring the best of both worlds together with this Melon Berry Fruit Salad. Combine melons and berries with honey, lime juice, and mint. A perfect summer side dish to bring to your next BBQ/picnic. TIP: Store cut melon for about 3 days. If you find yourself with extra, freeze on a cookie sheet before tossing into a container for easy use.

Carrots

Carrots are coming into season! Did you know baby carrots have a lower nutritional vitamin quantity than full sized carrots? BUT WAIT! Baby carrots are actually a small carrot/carrots not allowed to fully mature, NOT the carrots we typically think of in bags (called manufactured baby carrots).

Bagged “baby” carrots are typically carrots that are grown closer together to have a narrow shaft but grow 8-10 inches long. They are then chopped apart and tumbled. The peels go to compost or are used as cattle feed. These carrots have similar, if not the same, nutritional quantities as their standard counterpart. When baby bagged carrots were first “invented” they were shaved down “ugly” carrots.

Summer Squash

Summer squash includes yellow squash, zucchini, and cute little different squash like the pattypan (looks like a little flying disc with scalloped edges) or ball squashes.

With both green beans and summer squash coming into season, there’s no better combination than the Summer Chicken Sauté from our own blog!

Muscle Prep and Recovery Basics

First off, this article is a follow-up to our Ellipse Movement Basics 101 blog post last month. If you haven’t had a chance to check that out, please do! It is one of the most informative and important articles for those of you who are working out or looking to get started.

We’ve spent a good amount of time talking about various movement patterns. To move better we also need to prepare our bodies and help them recover.

Just as important as the movement itself is getting the muscles healthy enough to progress. Foam rolling increases blood flow, increases the temperature of the muscle, and works out adhesions. After foam rolling, do your body a favor and run through some stretches/movements of areas that cause you problems or anything that a Physical Therapist or Orthopedic Doctor has told you to do.

Use the time in the gym before your workout vs just standing or sitting around waiting to begin! What are the odds that you’ll do specific stretches or movements at home or at any other time? Make it a routine and your body will thank you!

Not sure what stretches/movements will help you the most? Ask your trainer. They can not only answer your questions but likely know areas that could use some TLC based on your form throughout your sessions.

Recovery

Your recovery will also impact your movements and the ability to perform at your highest level. Make sure to get enough shut eye (7-9 hours/night), drink enough water (4-6 cups PLUS, but this varies a lot by body, temperature, and activities), and eat a balanced diet (more vegetables, more vegetables, more vegetables).

Other Tools

In addition to a foam roller, try using a tennis ball for those spots a roller just can’t hit. Need a new approach? Stand near a wall and use the tennis ball and/or foam roller in a standing position to put pressure on the right spot. Use a Theracane for more focused areas or hard to reach areas on the back. On a really sore day, ice your sore muscles for 20 minutes to speed up recovery.

Move better, recover better, and perform better!

Start the Harvest Season Off Right!

The Early Summer Harvest!

Ah summer! Mid-June is when several vegetables are starting to be harvested. Nothing tastes quite as great as freshly harvested veggies! Although many factors are at play, the nutrients and vitamin content of fruits and vegetables start decreasing after they are harvested. In some cases that can be as short as 24 hours and others within a week.

If your produce makes a long trip from a field, to a processing area, to a supermarket, you have already narrowed that window significantly! If you can’t grow your own produce, consider a local farmer’s market or CSA to get your produce from the field to your table in a shorter amount of time to retain the most nutrients. (Check out this past blog post about CSA’s and local markets!)

Depending on the spring weather, typically just coming into season mid-June are: beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, scallions, and kohlrabi. You’ll also find lettuce greens, arugula, kale, peas, radishes, and rhubarb are already in (and perhaps almost past) season!

Beets!

Did you know? Swiss chard is a bottomless beet! Standard small beets are best for roasting or steaming. Try grating beets and sautéing in a pan with some butter or olive oil. Use the leaves too like you would kale. Beets can be bagged and stored in your crisper drawer for 7-10 days.

Salad Greens!

Salad greens are high in nutrients and low in calories which make them great if you are watching your diet. There are many varieties of greens so mix and match for a variety of tastes, textures, and nutrients.

PRO TIP: If you are not using your salad greens immediately, after the greens have been washed and dried, line a container with paper towels and loosely place the greens on and cover with a piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

Click here for a ranking of the most nutritious greens. HINT: number one is NOT spinach or kale…and certainly not iceberg lettuce!

Want more? Learn how to construct the Perfect Salad!

Broccoli!

Broccoli heads are the unopened flowers of the broccoli. When stored too long the green head of “buds” start to turn yellow and lose their nutritional value. Do NOT store broccoli in a sealed container or plastic bag. If in a plastic bag, make sure the bag is open or has holes poked in it; it needs to have air flow. It should be misted lightly or unwashed and then wrapped loosely in damp paper towels and refrigerated. Consume within a couple days or 1-week max.

Try this recipe to get more broccoli in your days! Combining zucchini “noodles”, traditional spaghetti, broccoli, peas, and pesto sauce. Toss in some chicken/protein and you’ve got a meal ready to serve! Love zucchini? Double the amount of zucchini and reduce the amount of traditional spaghetti…or fully replace it!

Bok Choy!

Bok Choy is a great source of fiber as a cruciferous vegetable. It also contains healthy amounts of vitamins C, K, and A (beta-carotene). Store bok choy in a zip bag and remove any extra air. Toss it in the crisper and serve within about a week.

Pick up some bok choy and serve it up with this classic Ellipse Ginger Chicken Recipe! This tasty meal combines chicken breast, bok choy, ginger, leeks, orange, lentils and curry!

Kohlrabi

Stock up now! The bulbs do great in the refrigerator for quite some time, but you’ll want to use/process the stems and stalks right away as they will get limp otherwise. Kohlrabi is in the “brassica” family which is the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts. Kohlrabi stems can be used raw in salads like kale, but more commonly the kohlrabi bulb can be peeled and eaten raw (tastes great with hummus or ranch too!) or shredded into a coleslaw.

Try roasting kohlrabi! It’s fantastic! A simple recipe can be found here.

What are you waiting for?? Go shopping and get to eating!!

100 Workout Challenge 2019!

100 WORKOUT CHALLENGE STARTS JULY 1!

Get 100 workouts in before 2020 and win big!

Not only do we offer a little incentive, but you will win big results, heaps of confidence, and a newfound drive to be your best self!

So many of our veterans started out with a 100 Workout Challenge and they are STILL going strong years later! Sound Unattainable?

*At just 4 workouts per week you will hit your 100 by New Years – with a couple of slush days to spare!*

*Are you a “first or last” competitor?? At 6 days a week you can crank out 100 workouts before HALLOWEEN! Think you’re up to the challenge?

Green Bay area:  SIGN ME UP NOW!

St. Louis area:  SIGN ME UP NOW!

 

Members need only pick up a card at the front desk.

See yourself in the mirror the way you dream to see yourself in your head!

What is “Activated Charcoal” Anyway?

What is activated charcoal?

Today, activated charcoal is “trendy” and can be found highlighted in health and beauty products from toothpaste to body wash. It can also be purchased in capsule or powder form that can now be found in many retail stores as well as online. It’s a form of carbon that is porous that allows for chemical reactions and has most commonly been used for water filtration and as a treatment for poisoning. This week we’ll look at how it works, if it’s safe, and more!

Is It Safe?

You might think to yourself, “is it carcinogenic?” No.

This is different than burned food type charcoal or the charcoal lumps you use in your grill (above). Activated charcoal is created from a variety of wood, bamboo and/or coconut shells; which is burned anaerobically; without oxygen. Hot gas is used to convert it into charcoal. Hot air/oxygen is then used to blow out the gases and leave a porous charcoal.

How Does It Work?

Charcoal becomes “Activated” when steam or hot air is used to erode its internal surface. This increases its ability to bind to other things.

Vocab Word! Adsorption – This is when toxins/elements bind to the surface of the charcoal. Activated charcoal has a porous surface that is negatively charged. Positively charged toxins bond to it and it aids them in safely leaving the body. It’s been said that charcoal can attract 100 times its weight in actual toxic material! (according to www.beatcancer.org).

What Are The PROs & CONs?

PRO:

Activated charcoal has been used for years to absorb toxins from drug overdoses and poison ingestion. Some suggest activated charcoal can ease digestion, reduce gas (like beano before a gassy meal), lower cholesterol, prevent/treat stomach bugs and eliminate diarrhea. They have also long been used as water filters. The “extras” in water attach to the porous surface of the charcoal to clean up your water. Just be sure to replace your filters…it’s not just a suggestion! Once the porous surface is filled with toxins, it can’t hold any more and the filter is no longer working.

CON:

Just like activated charcoal can absorb toxins, it can also absorb other things you may not be aware of, like medication. It has been seen to limit the effectiveness of birth control, and some other vitamins/nutrients. In the pros, it was mentioned that activated charcoal can ease diarrhea, but it can also possibly cause vomiting and constipation at high doses.

No matter the dose, be sure to consume plenty of water if you choose to supplement with activated charcoal, and as always – solicit an opinion from your Primary Care Physician!

Summary

Like anything, do your homework and make an informed choice. Science hasn’t had a chance to dive deep into activated charcoal yet to prove its pros and cons outside of poison treatment.

Want to try it out? You can try to using it to whiten your teeth! Check out this link below to learn how to use an old toothbrush and a capsule of activated charcoal – which will absorbs the plaque! Just keep in mind – charcoal is black, so it looks a little funny at first!

https://www.mamanatural.com/charcoal-teeth-whitening/

National Hamburger Day, National Olive Day, and MORE!

This week in addition to Memorial Day we had some very strange national holidays that we thought it’d be fun to talk about and offer some nutritional suggestions with! First let’s talk about the one we are probably all familiar with:

Memorial Day

Today we honor those who died in active military service. By 1890, every former state of the union recognized Memorial Day, but just those that died in the Civil War. This didn’t start to change until after World War I. While remembering the real reasons for today’s holiday, many will kick off the summer and picnic season. Don’t let your goals fall by the wayside.

Give some of your picnic classics, like potato salad, a twist! Instead of a mayo-based potato salad, try swapping out plain Greek yogurt. Check out this link for a great potato salad recipe made with yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, and fresh dill to get that classic flavor.

Want more? Here’s 8 things you might not know about Memorial Day!

National Hamburger Day

Now of course, this plays off Memorial Day nicely as the picnic season has jumped into full gear. Hamburgers CAN be a part of a healthy diet. Consider what parts may derail you, like a huge doughy bun, perhaps a slew of condiments, that slathered cheese, or maybe it’s the side dishes.

Find the biggest offender and make a healthy swap. Small changes can lead to big results. Change out the bun or consider eating it open-faced. Can’t toss the bun quite yet? Try a sprouted grain bun. Looking for something a little new? Check out Smart Baking Company for some low calorie, low carb bun and snack options.

*BONUS*
Here’s a review by our very own Heather Trevarthen:

“First – Buns. I tried the sesame seed buns. I tried a bite just plain. They definitely have a different taste. I wasn’t sure I would love it with a burger so played it safe by toasting it. Toasted, I thought it was a great alternative!

Second – snack cakes. OMG…these are delicious. Low cal, low carb, low glycemic index, and protein from their main ingredient of egg whites! These are light, fluffy, and full of flavor. Loved them. Kids loved them too! I gave them a bite and then hoarded the rest for myself. LOL!”

So, here’s a purchase link that will get you 10% off when used with promo code: EllipseAllouez

If you try them, please let us know your review!

National Senior Health & Fitness Day

Many of us have a “senior” in our lives and all of us want ourselves and our loved ones to age gracefully. Reportedly, 86% of hip fractures occur in men and women 65 and older, and after a hip fracture general life expectancy diminishes. (Source)

Seniors can protect themselves from injury by incorporating good nutrition, aerobic training, strength training, and balance work into their daily life. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Encouraging simple things like balancing on one foot for x amount of time or squatting to a chair (for safety) will help make these movements a part of their routine. Encourage good nutrition by sharing your healthy picnic sides, from this week, to introduce easy nutrition transformations.

National Olive Day

Rejoice olive lovers, olives have a laundry list of health benefits! Olives contain only 4-6% carbs which is almost all fiber. Olives are an unusual fruit (yes a fruit since they grow from a tree and have a pit; they are a stone fruit like a plum) with their high fat content. The fat in olives is heavy in oleic acid which has been shown to decrease inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease. Go ahead and spread that olive tapenade on your wrap or toss some olives in your next picnic side dish!

It’s Picnic Season!

It’s picnic season and you may be looking for some picnic salads or a dish to pass without sabotaging your nutrition goals with another fruit fluff dessert or mayo laden salad! Do your research and find a couple recipes that are a “Safe bet”. Bring a dish that you know you is a healthy option and load your plate up with that one first and choose wisely among the rest.

Not sure where to start? Give this salad recipe a shot: red potatoes, onions, and sweet peppers tossed with a delicious sauce of apple cider vinegar, white wine, chicken broth, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Picnic ready!

For even more search the blog for a bunch of great recipes! Simply search for an ingredient or even the word “salad”. Search for Cabbage and you’ll find a great Kale and Cabbage Slaw recipe: kale + green and red cabbage tossed with a delicious sauce. Yum!

Shake the Afternoon Slump!

During our onboarding process, we have found that many people indicate the termed “afternoon slump”.

You know, that tired feeling like you would just love a quick nap to be able to finish out the day. There is good news! For the most part, this is normal, but there are things to consider and ways to help combat it. This week we’ll chat about afternoon slumps!

Get Some Sunshine!

You might be able to cure this simply by listening to some upbeat music and/or getting out in the sunshine for a few minutes for a quick boost!

Was it my lunch?

Maybe, maybe not. Research has shown that the slump can even happen without having eaten lunch. However, keeping a level glycemic load in the body can help offset a natural afternoon slump. You need a proper balance of carbs, protein, and fats. A high carb lunch can set you up for a quick drive in energy, but you will quickly find the drop that follows it. Also, make sure you stay hydrated! Even a 1.5% drop in hydration can cause drowsiness.

Was it a poor night’s sleep?

Could be! CHRONIC afternoon slumps or general sleepiness could indicate a medical condition (like a metabolic disorder, PCOS, or sleep apnea) or medication side effects. Be sure to check with your doctor if you have chronic fatigue.

Medical conditions aside, a poor night’s sleep can come back to bite you in the afternoon. Adult bodies need 7-9 hours of QUALITY and UNINTERRUPTED sleep to allow it to run through its full recovery process (mentally and physically!). A quick 10-minute power nap can help with that afternoon slump, though. Just make sure it doesn’t turn into a longer nap which can interrupt a normal night’s sleep.

I had a healthy lunch – what’s wrong with me?

You’re human! The human body runs in a circadian rhythm. By nature, the body naturally dips in energy between midnight and daybreak, then again, a smaller dip between 2p and 4p. Just like near bedtime, your core body temperature drops signaling to your brain that it’s time to sleep – a smaller version of that happens midafternoon. This will typically result in a quick drop in energy, alertness, and focus. As you age, the mid-afternoon slump will likely be more noticeable than in younger years.

TIP: Your body associate’s stillness with sleep. Been sitting a long time? Get up and move around!

It’s the afternoon and it hit me! Now what?

Well maybe we should start with what won’t work? A quick sugar high like a Mountain Dew, candy bar, or a triple shot of mocha in your coffee. These will simply exaggerate your energy very briefly before causing an even bigger dip/low point.

Caffeine can certainly offer some aid, remember to try and keep a full day’s caffeine load to 400mg or less.

What else CAN help? A short bout of exercise like going for a walk or jog. Exercise can produce endorphins and release tension which can offset fatigue.

In the end, get a good night’s sleep, eat well, exercise, and listen to your body! Or, go work for the Huffington Post where they offer “The Oasis”…sleep pods for their employees!

I work shift work. What about me?

Night shifts and swing shifts are tough on the body in regard to circadian rhythm (mentioned above). “Afternoon slump” aside, non-traditional job hours still require a good 7-9 hours of sleep each day otherwise you will fall into a sleep-debt mode that needs to be fulfilled as soon as possible to prevent the increased likeliness of disease.

With night shifts, do not delay going to bed when you are tired! The longer you delay, the more alert you will become. Still try to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, putting your phone on “do not disturb”.

Some other tricks are to eat a small snack before bed and making sure your sleep environment is quiet, dark, and cool.

Ellipse Basic Movements 101

There are several foundational movements that our training program is centered around here at Ellipse Fitness, and we want to take a moment to break these things down for you. It is ALWAYS most important that we clean up our movement patterns and move functionally BEFORE we consider adding heavy loads.

STRENGTH TRAINING

Packing The Shoulders

Kickboxing, presses, pushes (whether it’s push ups or even while lying down for a chest press) are all better, more stable, and safer when the shoulders are packed.

Try this when standing: push your shoulders as far down and away from your ears as you can, tucking your shoulder blades into your back pockets. Packing our shoulders is easiest to feel and perfect with a farmer’s carry. Roll them back and down as far as you can.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are a dynamic and explosive hip hinge. There are no arm-lifts or squats in a kettlebell swing. Keep the kb swinging through upper thighs; somewhere above the knees. As it drops toward the knees the back becomes at risk and there is more squatting involved. For single arm? We are not looking for rotation, but maintaining alignment with an offset load.

Shoulder Press

A Shoulder Press and Push Press are DIFFERENT! A push press is started by a “push” from the legs; creating momentum. The point of a push press is to push past a “sticking point”.

When a shoulder press is called for, do a shoulder press…maybe just that last rep that you can’t quite complete can be assisted with a push. Shoulder press, also called an overhead press, should be completed with core engagement.

Squats

Squats are best performed when thinking about the feet first and work up. Set your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Grip the floor, putting pressure on the outside of the foot, but also driving through your big toe. Drop your torso between your hips. Come out of the squat by pushing through the outer heel, driving the knees out and tucking the tail (think pointing your belt buckle toward your chin) and breathing into your lower back.

Split Squat

Although there are similarities to a squat, a split squat requires more balance, stability, coordination, and single leg strength. Try this! Start is a kneeling position. Your legs will have two 90 degree angles. From there, stand! Come back down to just a hover or feather touch to the ground. Too intense? Stack a pad or two under your kneeling stance to reduce how deep you have to go.

Pushups

Love them or hate them, Push Ups strengthen our chest, shoulders, triceps, and core (when properly engaged). Not sure you are engaging your core during a pushup? Try a Hand-Release Push Up. Start your body on top of a stacked airex pad or two (or 3!). Hands on either side of the pad, elbows at 45 degrees.

Step ONE: LIFT the hips/engage the core. Then and only then, push through the hands to your full pushup position. Reset each time to perfect your form.

Hollow Body Hold

The hollow body hold is a foundation movement patterns from kickboxing, to squatting, to slamming balls on the floor. Knowing how to properly hold the hollow body position will stabilize your core and not only improve your performance, but also keep you much safer (especially your back) along the way! TIP: When fully contracted, your upper torso will lift upward slightly, but it’s only from the flattening of your lower back. You do not crunch. Imagine a strong, engaged position hanging from the pull up bar.

Bicycles

Start with the contraction of a hollow body and THEN begin your bicycle movement. The shoulder blade will peel off the floor. The upper body movement comes from that “peeling”, NOT the reaching of an elbow. Keep the elbows wide and drawn back. Your bicycle legs should move more like stairs than a bike.

KICKBOXING

Boxing/Guarded Stance

Start your boxing strong with a proper guarded stance. You can test your strong stance by having someone giving you a little shove from each direction…you shouldn’t tip! Try it on your friends – with a warning! Your shoulders are packed in guarded position, and hands fisted by the cheek bones.

Pivots

Pivoting in boxing is crucial from a safety standpoint! Pivot your foot so your hips are squared to the bag. Your ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder will all be in alignment and you’ll be fully facing the bag. In the end, this not only keeps you safe, but you’ll also get the full power of your hip into your punch and engage more core muscles. Make sure to come back to the guarded stance after each punch and kick!

Round Kick

A round kick starts with the upper leg elevated and the lower leg parallel to the floor; the chambered position. The foot on the floor is turned out slightly. Aim with your shin, not your toe. It’s the snap the gives the most power to the kick. A repeating roundhouse kick will demonstrate the amount of balance and control needed for a well-developed kick. Chamber your leg and fire!

Boxing Punches

You hear the cues in almost every boxing class, but have your punches improved over time? Do they feel more stable, powerful, controlled? Go for an ALMOST full extension. Tighten your fist (pretend you are actually punching someone), turn the palm of your hand down toward the floor, and strive to connect with the pointer finger and index finger.

Visualization in boxing works wonders. If there was someone in front of you and you were punching, would it be with a loose hand? You can get as much or as little as you want out of a boxing workout based on what you put into it, and we don’t mean faster speed!