Tag Archives: fitness

Welcome Back Jen

I promised I would get more consistent on the blog, so here I am.  I am still working on updating the subsequent tabs of the site, but the main thing is – I AM POSTING.  I thought it would be good to reintroduce myself.  What I have been doing over the past two years and what people are reading a lot of on my blog.

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This is me Jen D.  Jenny D.  Jen Duf.  In my former life, I was a college pole vaulter at Virginia Tech.  I moved to Charlotte after getting a graduate degree in Accounting.  I passed my CPA exam and went to work for a large accounting firm before I realized for me to have babies, I physically had to be around my husband.  I traveled for work most weeks Monday through Thursday.  While on the road, maintaining my fitness was extremely difficult.

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As good as corporate America thinks they are at maintaining “wellness” programs for their employees, they are failing.  There is no such thing as work life balance.  I have learned it is all a counter balance.  You simply cannot balance it all.  I left public accounting the week before my wedding.  I started my new job in industry (a 40 hour a week in town job) the Monday after my honeymoon.  I also started my career in fitness a few months later when I joined the Flywheel team.

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My second pregnancy at 23 Weeks.

Long story short, I found out once I was physically in town, getting pregnant wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).  I began hormones to get a normal period before taking Clomid to conceive my first child.  I started my blog in private while I was pregnant with my first child.  I shared with close friends and family once a week.  Each week, someone else wanted to be added to the list. Eventually, I made it public.

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During my second pregnancy, you really got to see the full story.  My first trimester, I suffered a subchorionic hematoma and didn’t leave my couch much for 2 weeks.  We slowly watched the hematoma disappear as the burden of miscarriage passed.  My daughter Morgan is a blessing. To this day her infectious smile shows the joy that she has for life.

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I left full time work to be a mom.  I passed my personal trainer certification.  I started a new hustle. To get started in personal training, I did a few things to learn:

  • I worked at the YMCA for an hourly wage.
  • I taught bootcamps at SmartCore Fitness.
  • I visited everything.
  • I started training myself for various events. Played around with methodologies.
  • I formed Cross Conditioning.
  • I continued to seek out the people that are the best at what they do (and people did’t know them yet).
  • I ALWAYS ask for feedback.  Trust me, you can always get better.

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Through documenting it all, I learned a bunch of cool things, which I will share, but before I do, let me share where I am at now.

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  1. I have three little girls – My angels.  If I can teach these girls anything, it’s how to love themselves.  Be proud.  Work hard.  Treat everyone the same.  If you train with me, you have likely seen them, met them or been entertained by them.
  2. Cross Conditioning is still going strong – I guess I should start posting again on the Instagram site.  You see, what happened is, after I had my third daughter, I decided that my core group would stay my core group with less workouts per month.  No longer would this be an obstacle race training group, but rather a group centered around intentional planned workouts each week both in person and on your own.  I will now admit that running plays a big part in that.   We still meet regularly.  We still compete.  I simply haven’t had a need to market it.

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3.  My personal training business has significantly grown. Both in person and through programming.  Most people need guidance when it comes to exercise.  It isn’t natural to them.  The thought of getting to a gym, figuring out what to do and executing is overwhelming.  I literally spend hours a month doing that for people.  When will you be out of town? Where do you like to workout?  What are your goals?  There is a way to do it.  Most importantly, I hold you accountable through human interaction.

4.  I co-founded a pop up fitness company called EMERGE – Let’s face it, exercise is not in a great place to the mass.  Some trainers are fueled by the appearance of big numbers over the quality of instruction and execution.  Through EMERGE, five fitness gurus in Charlotte look to come together to bridge that gap.  How do you execute effectively, giving participants a safe workout, while also feeling the energy of a big group?  In a few pop up events a month, we give that to you.  Check it out.

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5. I’m still teaching Flywheel. If you know me, I would do any workout that I would give a client.  I am still a hardcore believer in the Flywheel ride in regards to cross training and low impact exercise.  If fulfills a gap that other brands cannot hit.  I also feel the value in being able to provide my clients with that service when I am in the studio. I’m pretty limited to early mornings, but you can catch me subbing in the evening windows once every other month or so.

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6. I am still running a lot.  I love competing.  I don’t chase people.  I know what I want to do and I try to execute it. I don’t make excuses.  I can only learn from each experience.   I want my people to do the same thing.  The next two races on my calendar are the Orthhcarolina 10K and Around the Crown 10K.  Join me for one or both.  I will also be competing in Beers and Burpees in September.

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Grand scheme of things, I’m present.  I love what I do.  Sometimes I’m too much of a people pleaser.  I want everyone to be happy.  I am learning though. I am getting tougher.  what are people reading on my blog these days:

  • A lot about pregnancy – specifically, pregnancy on a bachelorette, my hematoma, postpartum and my weekly logs.
  • ARUBA – my husband and I went on this amazing vacation to Aruba after the birth of my first daughter.  I posted a lot of good tips on Aruba.  Eats, drinks, activities. I also posted a workout on the beach!
  • Race Recaps – obstacle racing, run racing, you name it.  People want to hear about the course and how tos on hydration, obstacles and time.

What have I learned from all of this:

  • Small groups are the best groups.  I love a big crowd.  It looks cool right?  I build long term clients in intimate situations though.  Small groups.  I like talking to people.  I like helping people.  I want to see people feel good about themselves and feel acknowledged.
  • Everything is not what it appears.  Don’t read too much into someone’s social. I know a ton of fitness professionals that are killing the game and never get on Instagram.
  • The fitness hustle is real.  I talk about this a lot.  Most fitness professionals are not set up for retirement.  Hi millennials.  When you decide to pursue your passion understand this, do you want to be teaching cycle classes when you are 60 because you didn’t save money when you were younger?  While all of your friends are retired what will be cool then?  Take a good hard look at that when deciding to go into a profession that doesn’t have insurance, benefits, retirement.  This is my CPA side talking.  Did I tell you I like to help people?

I hope this was an easy to read version of what’s good for my new peeps.  Sorry to reiterate if you already know me.  Like something you read?  Contact me!

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Love, love, love.  Jen

 

 

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Savage Race Charlotte 2019 Recap

Let me preface this with saying I have been bad about posting.  I haven’t even been looking at my own blog.  The funny thing is, other people are.  I used to be so good about just posting every day stuff.  Not sponsored content, but real stuff.  I vow to be better.

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Here we go.  Savage Race 2019.  I did the Blitz (or short course race) in 2018.  After teaching a Flywheel class and running a few miles with friends after class, my husband and I headed up to the course.  We jogged and “monkeyed” around finishing in the top three in both of our age groups.  I suppose it was time for us to move to the competitive wave and hit the long course.

Day of race, our back door knob broke making it impossible for us to shut the door.  With three kids and a babysitter in 90 degree heat it made it difficult for us to leave for over four house to make the trek up to the race and back.  That said, my husband opted to head to Lowes, replace the door knob and take his chances on being late.  I took my own car and gave myself plenty of time to warm up.  Just typing that makes me sound super selfish.  Sorry Jeff.

Race launched at 9 AM sharp.  Men and women competitive athletes start at the same time. I truly don’t like that.  While some men should be at the start line ahead of me, most men need an ego check with how fast some of the women are.  Fellas, let the ladies move to the front.

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The course was all trail running, as evidenced by my Garmin map above.  Disregard the temperature.  That cannot be right.  Little to no shade the first four miles.  We ran quite a bit before we hit the first obstacle.  This was good as it gave people room to make space.  Bear with me.  Some of the obstacle names are inappropriate.  I will do my best to explain and post pictures.

  • Obstacle 1 – Barn Doors – An 8 foot wall with gaps to assist you climbing up and over.  Picture a ladder of two by fours.  No problems here.  At this point everyone is so fresh, obstacles like this can be done by almost anyone without assistance.
  • Obstacle 2 – Low Crawl – Picture a muddy pit with barb wire.  You have to crawl on your knees and elbows under the barb wire in the mud.  Pretty standard obstacle in these types of races.  Easy, but dirty.
  • Obstacle 3 – Squeeze Play –  Sorry – no pictures of this – they had these barrels that were on the ground attached to a pole.  You had to lift the barrels up and crawl underneath them. Easy once you got the hang of it.

By the time we got through obstacle three we had hit mile 1.  Whoop whoop!  I can’t tell by looking at the map where the water stations were, but I can tell you there were a lot of them.  While I am here let me talk about them.

  1. The water was in bottles.  Weird.  I have never seen this.  So whatever you didn’t drink was wasted.  But at least you knew it was clean.  Was it costly?  Probably.
  2. I stopped at EVERY water station.  Trust me when I say you should get water whenever you can in a race longer than one hour.
  3. I drank water, and I also dumped water on my body.  The heat was intense.  Drink 8 ounces, dump 8 ounces over the top of your head or your chest.  Bring core temperature down.

Back to the race.

  • Obstacle 4 – Mud N Guts  – more crawling around in mud on your hands and knees.  I hate getting muddy.  No lie.  I will swim, run, jump off a cliff, but I hate being covered in mud.  Easy for anyone.
  • Obstacle 5 – Back Scratcher – Four alternating five foot walls.  Some you jumped over, some you climbed under.  Again, at this point in the race with or without assistance this should not be an obstacle people struggle with.
  • Obstacle 6 – Big Cheese – Another wall with places to put your hands and feet as you climbed over it.  Again, with basic core strength and little to no assistance this is easy for most.
  • Obstacle 7 – Swamp Donkey – I don’t remember what this is. Can’t really find it. I think it was us running through a bunch of muddy water.  My biggest tip anytime you have to do this:  Run on the outside, not right down the middle.  It’s shallower and you can keep your hands out of the water.  The last thing you want to do is get your hands wet unless you have to – especially muddy.

We are now at mile 2.  I ran the first two miles around a 7:30 min/mile on trails.  That is fast.  With little to no shade, my legs were already starting to feel toast.  We must move on though.  I had my husband within eyesight the first 1-2 miles before I got slowed down on some on the tall people exercises.

  • Obstacle 8 – The Great Wall – I broke my finger on this obstacle the year before.  This year, I cleared it no problem.  96 inches tall. What’s that? 8 feet?  I got this on my first try as this another standard obstacle I have seen in other races.
  • Obstacle 9 – Venus Guy Trap – Inverted walls.  Jumping over straight walls is one thing. Try them at a slant.  It’s a different kind of control.  Again, this was no problem.
  • Obstacle 10 – Teeter Tuber – I was cruising y’all.  I had no doubt I was going to crush this course.  Until the Teeter Tuber.  I wish I had a picture.  I had to shimmy up a slippery tube that would at some point teeter totter over and leave me on the other side.  My biggest advice on this obstacle is to try one tube.  If you can’t catch your feet and hands, move on quickly.  I used SO much energy on my first tube and actually lost a lot of confidence.  The second I moved to another tub, I made it through very quickly.  That was not after I had lost several MINUTES of time though!

At we are at mile 3.  Lots of running to get to obstacle number 11 and 12.

  • Obstacle 11 – Battering Ram – I actually love this obstacle.  See below.  This was a picture from last year.  You have to heave these metal sliders across a pole.  Switching to a different set half way through.  Grip intensive, yet not a problem for me.

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  • Obstacle 12 – Big Ass Cargo – It is what the name implies.  Climb up a cargo ladder suspended in a tall A-frame and back down the other side.  Stay tight to places the ladder is attached to the frame.  It is easier to move up and down the tighter parts o the net rather than the sagging middle parts.
  •  Obstacle 13 – Chopsticks – NEW! – by this obstacle we had looped back around to the “spectator zone”.  It’s always more fun when people are watching. I did not find this obstacle hard, yet a good test of core strength and the ability to slow down enough to get through on try number 1.

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  • Obstacle 14 – Shriveled Richard – I told you the names were inappropriate.  You are literally submerging yourself from head to toe in ice water to swim underneath floating walls.  I’ll let my facial expression do the talking.  The ice bath was a welcome relief to the flaming temperatures.

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  • Obstacle 15 – Slippery Incline – Now that they got us soaking wet, they asked us to scale a slippery inverted wall by using a rope to assist us up and over.  Much harder than it looks, yet doable.  No tips here other than walk your way up the wall allowing your weight to sit into your hips while trusting your grip strength.
  • Obstacle 16 – Inversion Therapy – This was another new obstacle close to the spectator zone.  I wish I had pictures.  Friends, ADVICE – hook your feet around and let the legs slide.  I warped through this fast because I had high socks on and used my hands to let my legs slide.  You are hanging upside down on a tube shimmying backwards to the bell.

Introduce Mile 4.  We ran quite a bit again into the woods before we came across the next obstacle and mile.

  • Obstacle 17 – Wheel World – I had made SPACE between myself and any other ladies and men at this point.  The photographer (who was suspended off the top of the rig) actually directed me down the best lane for photos.  Thank you!  I love this obstacle.  There aren’t enough obstacles like this in OCR.  Thank you Savage Race for this good one.

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  • Obstacle 18 – Lumberjack Lane – Remember this infamous photo? See below.  This log is a joke.  While I was coming around the bend to return my log, I heard a male in front of me scream and yell about a snake.  Um hell no.  I wasn’t about to run through that area by myself.  Y’all I legit stopped and waited for the next guy so I could follow him through the path.  We did not see a snake, but I know one was out there.
  • Obstacle 19 – Davy Jones’ Locker – Here come the height obstacles – Just to get to the top of this structure was a challenge. As seen by the pictures below. By the time I made it to the top, I wasn’t sure how to proceed other than jump out and away from the structure.  My attempt to keep my hands by my side epically failed.  As did my attempt to keep a normal face.

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  • Obstacle 20 – Twirly Bird – I will be the first to admit, I “failed” two obstacles on first attempt.  The tube obstacle I talked about above and the Twirly Bird.  Note, I did get them on second attempt, which in Savage Race rules counts.  I saw another Spartan SGX coach, Sam, at this obstacle and asked for pointers.  The last time I had seen him was when I was pregnant at the Spartan Race obstacle specialist training.  His tip (which was the key to me passing) – hold as high as you can on the netting and hand holds.  I was trying to actually use the hand holds.  Don’t do that.  Use the rope that supports the handles.  I used a flexed arm grip all the way across in the event that I dropped.  Through all of my chatting and failing, another girl caught up with me!
  • Obstacle 21 – Pedal for the Medal – Instead of trying to pass her, I used a new strategy.  I could hear her breathing hard.  I knew I had her beat on the run and we were matched on obstacle efficiency.  So, I followed her.  When I got to this obstacle I destroyed it.  That’s not me below, but that’s what I did.  Put both feet on one side. Not one foot on each side.  I don’t do deadlifts and hamstring curls for nothing.  I legit crushed this.

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  • Obstacle 22 – Twin Peaks – Matched warped walls to run up and over.  They have redone this obstacle and made it easier by placing footing in the ramps.
  • Obstacle 23 – Sawtooth – The infamous Savage Race monkey bars.  Again, now that my upper body strength and grip strength are so solid, I love stuff like this.  Could I do it over and over without failing?  I would rerun the race all day to hit stuff like this.

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  • Obstacle 24 – Nuttsmasher – As the name implies, if you fall you would smash your nuts.  Maybe. If you have them.  Pictures are from last year. We ran through mile 5 by the time we got here.

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  • Obstacle 25 – Colossus – Lots of trail running to get us to the next mile and end of the race.  I kept running behind the same girl. It was kind of fun at that point.  We chatted.  I probably annoyed her.  We climbed up another structure to go down a big slide.  Again, you’ve got to love my facial expressions.

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  • Obstacle 26 – Kiss My Walls – the death obstacle to my husband and many others.  The girl that I had been following tried this obstacle first.  To which she fell.  I took my shot on one wall and completely crushed it.  At that point, I knew I had her.  This is where climbing is important as a component to obstacle training.  And BODY AWARENESS!  Slowing down long enough to move across.  The fastest girl on the course couldn’t get through this obstacle.  That’s money out of her pocket over a basic grip strength obstacle.
  • Obstacle 27 – Piece of Queso – New!  I liked this.  I actually had caught up to 5th place at this point and had a shot at catching her as she worked her way through it and I started.

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  • Obstacle 28 – Blazed – Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time.  I jumped the fire as  she crossed the finish line.

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My takeaways.  I had FUN.  Was I uncomfortable? YES.  Here’s the deal.  I am 3 months out from turning 35.  Moving into a new age group.  There were women from Colorado, Florida, South Carolina.  All over.  I do not focus significantly on my nutrition.  I drink beer and wine quite regularly.  I took an anniversary vacation two weeks before the race.  I walk 20K+ steps a day between doing workouts and taking care of three kids.  I guess what I’m trying to say is I did pretty bad ass for everything I have going on.  No matter how I finished, I am proud.  If you think that is my ego talking, you don’t know me.  I want nothing more than for the people I surround myself with to be proud of themselves.

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The Road To Home

Wow, the past two weeks (or months) have been busy.  As I launched my very own fitness program and workout model (www.crossconditioningocr.com), I have also taken a real dose of both the good and bad of the Charlotte fitness industry.  While it might seem like my plan came together pretty seamlessly, there was a lot of failure before I found a home for each and every one of my workouts.  There has been a wake up call.  To be honest, through the process, I have really found out who my biggest advocates are.  People I expected to be there, haven’t been there.  People I never would have guessed would help, have reached out.  I am a people pleaser, so this has been the toughest lesson for me to learn.  I just can’t make everyone happy.

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I had an incredible Mother’s Day (my first with my youngest daughter).  I began the holiday by doing a very informal photo shoot with other moms from Flywheel Charlotte. With everything going on and some of the drama that I talked about above, I have really been forced to focus my energy on those relationships that have seen me through my latest venture.  I have focused more on family.  On making sure my girls are happy.

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A trip home couldn’t have come at a better time. As close as the place that I grew up is from us (Roanoke, VA), we don’t really go back enough without a reason to.  Hence, we were headed back to attend a wedding for one of the clients that I train.  My parents recently put their house on the market in Virginia so this really may be one of the last times we head up north without staying in a hotel.  It’s kind of mind blowing.

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The wedding just so happened to be taking place the same weekend as my husband and I’s anniversary. That said, we headed up Thursday night, so we could sneak away on Friday night for a nice dinner to celebrate four years of being married.  We left the girls in good hands with my mom, grandparents (the girl’s great grandparents) and my sister Amanda.

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They had a blast (and so did we).  I will just throw it out there – I was never as close with my mom’s parents growing up.  They spent the first part of my life in New York City before moving to the South to be close to us.  Our relationship has developed over time as has my relationship with my mom and sister.  While we have always been close, since becoming a mom I have come to admire the strength of a woman with children.  It’s a super tough job whether you are working full time or not.  My mom has become my crutch in some circumstances.  She has listened, and offered advice at times.  She is the first one to have my back.  I love her for that.

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I spent Saturday morning going on a long run by myself.  Since the first day of my program was set to start the following week, I wanted to take a moment to isolate myself.  Remember where I started.  Remember what drives me.  As I ran through the Blue Ridge Parkway and absorbed the beauty that my hometown has to offer, I got kind of emotional.  My family sure didn’t come from much.  It has always been the little things that make us happy.  My husband was raised the same way.  As tough as I may seem, because of this, I feel for people.  I don’t hold grudges.  I want everyone to find the best version of themselves.

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With time to kill after my run (and before the wedding was set to start), I regrouped with the girls, my husband and my mom to check out Center in the Square located in Downtown Roanoke.  For just a few dollars, we checked out the science museum, butterfly garden and aquarium before making one final stop at the candy store adjacent to the building’s lobby.

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We prepped for the wedding early to give us time to stop and see my Great Aunt Reva on the way.  Little did I know, she lived less than five miles away from the site of the wedding.  Stopping in Christiansburg, along Route 8, just miles away from Floyd, VA, I was flooded with even more emotions.  My Great Aunt Reva lives just a few minutes away from Blacksburg (home to Virginia Tech – where I went to college) and less than thirty minutes from my grandpa’s farm in Floyd, VA.  It is safe to safe the first 25 years of my life revolved around this area.  I might even describe it more as the place I grew up.  I am so happy that the girls got to spend time with one of my dad’s few surviving aunts and/or uncles.  She is truly incredible.

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After a quick change, the girls were ready to go to the wedding (and so were we).  It was beautiful.  It was so special to meet my client’s family and friends in such an intimate manner.  The girls did as best they could.  My oldest daughter described the bride as a princess.  How beautiful did she look?  I swear I never used to get emotional at weddings until I had my own.  Once I experienced the incredible feeling of getting married, I began see how much these two have to look forward to.  I really feel for them how and special this union is.

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I have always said that all important life events happen for a reason.  There is a greater calling to each decision that we make.  After debating whether to head up to Virginia for the wedding, I truly feel like it was meant to be.  I have been struggling a little bit accepting some of the challenges that have come from me doing things on my own.  Being home and around the people that mean the most to me really reaffirmed that I am doing the right things.  That I am happy.

 

Front Porch Workout Part 2

Can you believe it has been almost two weeks since I posted an at-home workout? With all of the travel that we have been doing my workouts have been less organized. I love structure, so I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back home and on a routine. This is the perfect time of the year to work out in the morning outdoors. The temperature is mild, but not too hot, and the sun is rising by 6:00 AM. To seem more adaptable to any surrounding, I wanted to post a workout today that you could do on your driveway/sidewalk/front porch.

photo 4-19 The only equipment that you need is either a set of dumbbells or a kettlebell. I went with dumbbells (since I really haven’t swung a heavy kettle bell in a few weeks). Don’t try to be superman (or woman). I start my watch when I start my warm up. Workout today took just over twenty-five minutes. Perfect for a Monday (when I typically seem to have more going on than most other weekdays).

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Warm up – I utilized my driveway to warm up. Using approximately 10-15 meters one way, I started off doing the following exercises down and back, two times each:

  • Slow jog
  • Side shuffles w/arm extension (face same direction on way back)
  • Imperial walkers
  • High knees
  • Butt kicks
  • Skips

Workout – I will be the first to admit that since I have been gone for a few weeks, I didn’t do as much strength work as I should have. Today, I really wanted to focus on my legs and abs. Admittedly, my go to strength exercise out of town was upper body (pushup and dips). Repeat the following circuit four times through sequentially.

  • 10 Kettlebell swings (or dumbbells)
  • 10 Burpees
  • 10 Weighted Squats – do goblet squats if you have a kettlebell OR hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side if you have dumbbells.
  • 10 Tricep dips (off your front porch or steps)
  • Abs – Place feet on front porch steps. Hold a plank for 10 seconds with hands on the ground in front of steps. After 10 seconds, slowly bring your right knee to your right elbow, then back to starting. Repeat with left leg. Do 10 each leg.
  • 10 Squat Jumps (each leg) – Stand perpendicular to your front porch step. Place the leg closest to the step on the step. The other leg will be on the ground. Squat down, and then explode up. Do 10, and then switch sides. (Remember these from my beach workout?)

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  • 10 Burpees
  • 10 Squats with Leg Raise – Start in same position as the squat jumps. Lower into a squat, as you rise out of the squat, lift the leg that was on the ground out to the side as you straighten the leg on the step. Do 10, and then switch sides.
  • 10 Bicep Curls
  • Abs – Side Planks with Crunch. Hold a side plank with one arm on the front porch step (feet extended to ground). If you have the stability, crunch your top elbow to your top knee. Do 10, and then switch sides.

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Sun was starting to rise as I was finishing the workout ,and the baby was waking up for the day.  Loved getting to enjoy the beautiful flowers that we planted the day before. Happy Monday!

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