Get outside and grind with this park workout!
Bicycle Crunch // Pyramid reps
Leg Lifts // Pyramid reps
Plank Hold // 10 seconds per position
Knee Lifts // Pyramid reps
In and Outs // Pyramid reps
Wipers // Pyramid reps
L-Sit Burnout // To failure
“Pyramid reps” means that for each subsequent set, you are decreasing the number of reps you do by 1, for any specified exercise. For example, in set 1, you would do 10 Leg Lifts, and in set 2, you would do 9, and so on and so forth.
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One of the most irritating things to do is search aimlessly for fitness tips that’ll help me stay on track, only to find all the things that I already knew. Because I was a cross-country runner I know most of the basic tips and tricks for working out, and I’m often looking for advice that’s a little more advanced. If you’re like me and you already know the basics but you’re still struggling to stay committed to your workout schedule, here are some tips for you.
Try to pinpoint why you’re struggling, aka reflection and introspection
It’s easier said than done, but reflection and introspection are certainly worthwhile. Think about a time in your life when you were very fit (or very committed to a particular activity). What was going on during that time that motivated you? It was easy to pinpoint my motivation when I was running cross-country during high school: I had a team who depended on me to show up and run as hard as I could. The next time I was committed to running was during a summer I lived in D.C. It took a long time and a ton of reflecting to realize that it was loneliness and boredom that motivated me to exercise. Figuring out the reasoning behind your commitment to something can be very informative for staying committed in the future.
Learn to forgive yourself when you don’t exercise every day
You won’t get very far if you’re constantly berating yourself for skipping a workout. You should think of exercise as a fun, stress-relieving activity — not some mandatory assignment you have to get done. That attitude isn’t sustainable for developing a long-term, healthy relationship with exercise.
K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid!)
Is your gym far away from where you live or work? Did you plan a long route to run? Does your workout require a bunch of equipment? Sometimes it helps to simplify things. Make your workouts simple, short and above all, fun! You’re more likely to follow through on your workouts if they’re simple and easy. Remember, it’s about consistency, not complexity (and you can always make workouts more challenging if they get too easy).
Journal about your workouts
What’s going through your mind when it’s time to workout but you really don’t want to? Writing out those feelings in a journal can also help with pinpointing exactly why you’re struggling. It’s also important to journal when you do work out. Write about what activity you did, for how long and what you enjoyed about it. Knowing what workouts you enjoy and why will help you create a regular workout routine you'll want to do.
Donate those too-small clothes and buy ones that fit
Get rid of all your clothes that are too small if at all possible. Some people use their clothes that no longer fit as motivation to exercise and lose weight — this is one of the worst motivation strategies of all time. It literally never works. You just end up feeling discouraged if you’re doing well with your workouts but still can’t fit into those pants, that dress, etc. Don’t use too small clothes as motivation or you’ll be doomed to fail.
Focus on your inner voice
Find your inner voice and listen to it. One of the greatest struggles of running or going to the gym is feeling self-conscious, wondering whether other people are judging you. Let’s keep it 100: There is most likely someone who’s judging you. That’s where your inner voice comes in. Ignore them. Focus only on what you’re doing and whatever it was that motivated you to work out. Allow your powerful inner voice to drown out the haters.
Forget what your friends and family are telling you
What works for friends and family isn’t necessarily going to work for you. It’s great to have their support. Thank them for supporting you, and try some of their suggestions if you feel inclined to. But keep in mind that people are opinionated and will provide suggestions that work great for them, but might not be well-suited for you. Unless your friend or family member is a fitness expert of some kind (i.e., trainer, nutritionist, dietitian) who’s creating an individualized meal or exercise plan for you, take what they say with a grain of salt.
Only do activities that you enjoy
This goes right along with listening to your inner voice. Be open to trying out a variety of fitness activities, but stick with the activities that you like. What’s trendy or activities that other people enjoy might not be fun for you — and there’s nothing wrong with that! Find the activities that you like and stick with those.
Reassess your fitness goals, but this time make them S.M.A.R.T.
Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely.
For example: Let’s say your goal is to lose weight. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight this year,” re-write your goal to be as detailed and clear as possible: By August 1, 2016 (timely), I will lose 15 pounds (realistic) and maintain that weight loss (specific) by exercising at least three times per week and eating healthy meals in appropriate portion sizes (actionable). I will weigh myself no more than once per month to check my progress (measurable).
Now you have a clear and detailed plan laid out. All you have to do is make sure you have the resources to carry out your plan: A place you can exercise (the gym, the park or a space in your home), articles to read and videos to watch to keep you going.
Use yourself, not others, as a source of #fitspiration
You — yes YOU — are a wonderful, powerful, beautiful human being. You are strong and you are accomplished. Think about all that your body has done for you. It carries you through life everyday and doesn't fall apart. That's magnificent! Next time you're struggling to workout, think about everything you have accomplished (whether it's fitness related or not). Think about how far you've already come. Channel those positive thoughts in order to motivate yourself to exercise. Trust me, this will be a much better way to motivate yourself than staring at athletes' Instagram accounts wishing you could do what they're doing.
You can succeed at working out. I believe in you, and I’m here to support anyone who’s struggling because I’m struggling, too. But if these cats can do it, so can we!
Let’s struggle through this and succeed together.
What’s the best fitness advice you were given? Let us know by sharing and commenting on Facebook!
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Get chiseled in your dorm room or at the office!
Ab Rollouts // To failure
Russian Twists // 25 reps
In & Outs // 25 reps
Plank // 1 minute
Chair Knee Tucks // 8 reps per side
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If you’re like me, sticking to a workout routine isn’t on your list of strengths. Whether I was in a gym, at a park or on a track, my workout regimens never lasted more than a month — until I started pole dancing.
Entering the dance studio for the first time, I was introduced to an art form that required a full-body workout, which I do wearing 6+ inch heels. I eventually learned ways to use my muscles to perform gravity-defying tricks and put my jiggly thighs to good use with twerking techniques my instructor showed me.
Of course, when I tell people I pole dance, they typically think I’m working late nights in clubs with titles like 'King of Diamonds' or 'Cheetahs.' I have to explain that I’m just an amateur who dances for fun, while at the same time thinking to myself, “I wish I was on that level.”
Like other types of dance that include a level of sensuality, people have several misconceptions about pole dancing. There a a few things some folks just don’t understand.
1. Pole dancing is a sport
Pole dancers don’t just dance, we build muscle, stretch until we can achieve contortion-like shapes with our bodies and compete to be the best. We are athletes.
Pole dancers compete for titles at local, state, national and international levels. Some of the best fly around the world to compete.
Like other athletes, competitive dancers train for several hours a day to learn new combos and routines. It takes flexibility and muscular strength to pole, and the best dancers have the toughest skin – literally. Pole requires the dancer to embrace the uncomfortable feeling of metal rubbing up against soft skin. The pole leaves scars, burns, bruises and, if we’re lucky, calluses. Those who’ve been dancing for a while get used to the pain, while others learn to smile through it.
We also have a uniform. Bra and panty-like outfits are the norm. For safety reasons, the more skin, the better. Dancers need flesh to grip the pole. Cloth doesn’t stick to metal, but skin can. The more clothes we wear, the more likely we are to slide off the pole when doing even some of the most basic tricks. Some tricks can’t even be performed without bare skin, so many of us will dance nearly naked.
Because of all of the athleticism pole requires and its international interest, many have been fighting to get pole qualified as an Olympic Sport. I don’t see why not. There are several not-as-rigorous sports already in the Olympic line-up, ahem… table tennis.
2. There’s #BlackGirMagic in pole dancing
Black pole dancers are doing exactly what Beyoncé told us to do — slay. Though many think that only thin white women pole dance, black dancers excel in the pole world. Black pole divas take home medals in competitions, own pole fitness studios across the U.S., and show off their skills in music videos, on-stage performances and showcases.
The organization Black Girls Pole celebrates these achievements. It encourages black dancers to thrive in their pole-related businesses, competitions and artistry through celebrating black women with sickening skills.
3. Many of us aren’t here for your slut shaming
Despite the tremendous amount of athleticism required for a dancer to hold her own on the pole, the dance carries a stigma.
People see the high heels and barely-there wardrobe and immediately judge. They sometimes relate all forms of pole dancing to the sex industry, which doesn’t quite match up with society’s expectations for women to be 'pure.'
Unfortunately, all dancers aren’t treated equally in the pole world either. Some pole dancers engage in a form of slut-shaming by shunning strippers. Some dancers attempt to completely distance themselves from strippers. Certain competitions ban strippers from competing. These attempts to dissociate from strippers neglects to give credit where credit is due. Slut-shaming pole dancers appropriate strippers’ moves and styles, but slap the label 'pole fitness' on their brand and swear it’s completely different. It’s sort of reminiscent of what occurs in the movie Bring it On.
Other members of the pole dance community embrace a more intersectional view. Many of us recognize that the titles 'pole fitness' and 'pole dancer' can include a combination of pole instructors, dance students, exotic dancers, strippers, go-go dancers, studio owners, music video dancers, and/or more. We support pole dancers of all kinds.
Besides, demonizing stripping and/or pole dancing for its sexual nature clouds people’s ability to see that pole dancers of all types are magical. Who else can hold their entire body weight upside down while twerking on the ceiling with no hands, all while make it look completely effortless?
So next time you judge, think about how much training it would take you to get on their level.
Pole dancing is addictive.
I have friends who’ve traded in their living room furniture for a pole, dance mirror and practice space. Some dancers train for hours to master new tricks and combos. I know dancers who take a pause from their adventures abroad to hit up the nearest pole studio in whatever cities they’re traveling through.
Pole dancers enjoy creating stunning routines that include morphing our bodies into beautiful shapes. For many of us, this art form is a lot more inviting than a typical gym routine. We like dancing at studios that embrace our various body types and encourage us to move our bodies in new, sometimes sensual ways. Nothing feels better than mastering a new trick or combo you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
So strap on those 7-inch heels, grab a pair of leather booty shorts (the shorter the better) and hit up your local pole dance studio.
Shae Collins manages awomynsworth.com, a blog that aims a black feminist lens at all things involving race, gender, and pop culture. Laugh with her on Twitter @awomynsworth
Have you tried pole dancing? Let us know your experience in the comments below!
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Let's talk about Rihanna's "Work." You heard it and loved it. You watched the music video and loved it. What if you did cardio to it? Turn up and work out at the same time to this "Work" and Rihanna-inspired fitness video featuring Caleb Marshall, Haley Jordan and Bria McCarthy. View more videos from The Fitness Marshall here.
Share this workout video on Twitter or Facebook below!
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Check out our 7 tips on how to get and keep your abs!
Tip 1: Drink water!
Tip 2: Burn fat! Burn more calories than you consume
Tip 3: Chill with the alcohol
Tip 4: Eat smaller meals more frequently
Tip 5: Build muscle for a higher metabolism
Tip 6: Get your sleep
Tip 7: Be consistent with your healthy habits!
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We've already talked about the importance of developing relationship goals for ourselves. Although, if you're single, sometimes it feels impossible to figure out how to make your solitude enjoyable. I'm here to tell you, all things are possible with a little bit of effort!
Here are 7 ways to enjoy your alone time:
Many people are afraid to travel alone, due to the dangers of wandering in a foreign land, domestically or abroad. Not having someone to help punch out the phantom mugger that we all fear is going get us can be discouraging. But have you ever considered that you're probably going somewhere foreign by yourself at least once a week? It could be that restaurant that you wanted to try after your homegirl told you that it served the best sangria. Or because your homeboy came with the illest lineup, you decided to drive the extra 30 minutes to his barber to level up on your fade game. Traveling outside of your comfort zone or out of the country is just taking it to the next level. Take a leap!
TravelByKeren: Keren Osman has just started a company aimed at providing those who want to make the leap to travel alone with resources and tips to create the grandest experiences. Using her own travel study and personal experience, Keren can help you take that jaunt to the country you've been admiring in pictures.
The Flight Deal: This is a great daily newsletter that sends everyone on the mailing list a page of either fleeting or less visible flight deals, mostly out of the country. It's a good reminder to travel, and a great resource for the spontaneous traveler.
One of my best friends calls playing video games "interactive reading," which I find hilarious. No shade to his fellow gamers, but there's nothing like getting lost in a sci-fi novel or an engrossing biography. Reading helps us build our imaginations in a way that playing video games or watching television simply can't. By removing the overly accessible visuals, we're challenged to take the words that we see and create worlds in our minds.
Cool books I recommend:
Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire
3. Pamper yourself
Everyone loves to be pampered, but not everyone has the cash for regular massages or spa days. What better way to enjoy some peace and quiet than to pamper yourself for yourself! Don't sleep on upping your mani-pedi game and saving yourself that $30-50 every two weeks.
Here's a cool DIY spa kit to check out!
4. Work out
I'll be honest: I didn't even want to add this one to the list because when I think of working out, the initial feeling I get is the opposite of enjoyable. Especially alone. If you're like me, you may have to be creative with how you decide to sweat. Personally, I like to infuse meditation or nature into my workout to avoid feeling like it's a punishment. Swimming feels therapeutic and hiking feels like I'm giving my lungs a treat with some clean, fresh air.
Check out the free entrance days for your state parks!
5. Make a vision board
For me, this is a focused exercise that started when I realized I had no friends to spend New Year's Eve with. Either folks were broke, with their significant other or spending what seemed like a gazillion dollars on what I was sure would be some of the lamest parties of all time. I decided that instead of wasting my money or sleeping to bring in the new year, I would bring it in focusing on what I wanted to accomplish personally, professionally, and emotionally in the next year. The first year I did it was such an amazing experience that I spent the next two New Year's Eves creating vision boards by myself, even though my social circumstances had improved. It doesn't have to be New Year's Eve for you to take a moment to recalibrate and zone in on your goals. Vision boards are a reminder of our desires and priorities for becoming our highest selves.
6. Catch up on the news
Now that we've all apparently gotten in "Formation," suggested therapists for Kanye, and officially made Morgan Freeman our GPS voice, do we know what's going on in the world of global politics? Have we researched the local laws, measures and local governmental candidates that will be on the ballot in our upcoming elections? Although social media often skews our perceptions into believing that the frills are actually of great importance, it's still necessary that we keep up on the parts of society that might seem far away, but actually affect our day-to-day lives.
Here's a list of the most and least trusted news outlets in America.
This one's for the inner child in all of us! Yes, we're grown, but sometimes it's nice to lie in the grass, stare at the sky and daydream about everything from the life you most desired to the non-sensical things that make us laugh. Daydreaming can also be a form of meditation: Unplug, unwind and let your mind roam freely.
Ultimately, being alone doesn't have to be a negative thing. A favorite quote of mine is: "My alone feels so good, I'll only have you if you're sweeter than my solitude," by Warsaw Shire.
What are some of your favorite ways to spend time alone? Let's get the conversation going!
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Get to your local gym and get it in with this gym ab workout!
Get your sweat on in the gym with this ab circuit!
Bicycle Crunch // 30 reps
Ab Pulldowns // Reps vary - 3 sets
Oblique Raises // Reps vary - 3 sets
Dumbbell Knee Raises // Reps vary - 3 sets
Russian Twists // 20 reps - 2 sets
Ab Rollouts // To failure - 3 sets
Rep ranges for weighted exercises: 8-10 for building mass/size, 12-15 for toning. Set your weight accordingly so that you are tiring out by the last rep!
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If you reside in or around (or plan to visit) the New York City area, check out these black-owned fitness centers and classes to get you snatched! Summer bodies are definitely made in the winter, so there's no time like the present to get a jumpstart on a healthier lifestyle. No matter your fitness level, there's something for everyone — yoga, pilates, boxing, kickboxing and running are just some of the options listed below. The key is to try something different, and surely you'll find the perfect regimen tailored to your individual needs.
Now let's get fit!
1. Asali Yoga
WHAT YOU GET: A semi-private boutique yoga studio in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood
2. Brownstone Wellness
WHAT YOU GET: Resistance training, corrective exercise, stretching, yoga, nutrition and holistic ways of healing
WHAT YOU GET: Caribbean-inspired dance workouts
4. Gerren Liles Fitness
WHAT YOU GET: Equinox group fitness instructor, ReebokONE ambassador and Founder of Vision Fitness
5. Be the Better with Barrington
WHAT YOU GET: One of the most elite and efficient Personal Trainers in NYC who will help people at ALL levels of fitness
6. Locale NYC
WHAT YOU GET: A boutique yoga studio, specializing in holistic health
7. Work Hard Train Harder
WHAT YOU GET: Boot camp, boxing classes and personal training
8. Move with Grace
WHAT YOU GET: Yoga and juice bar
9. LaFemme Suite
WHAT YOU GET: Pole exercise classes
10. Alvin Ailey (Extension)
WHAT YOU GET: Public classes, no experience necessary
11. Punch Fitness Center
WHAT YOU GET: Boxing
12. Rad Experience
WHAT YOU GET: Fitness parties, online, small group and private training and nutrition counseling
13. Black Girls Run
WHAT YOU GET: Women's group run
14. Black Men Run
WHAT YOU GET: Men's group run
New Yorkers, what are some of your favorite black-owned workout spots? Inquiring minds want to know. Sound off in the comments below!
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