Yoga Mat Yumminess: Part One Monday, Jun 4 2012 

As part of my get-ready-for-Beach fitness plan, I have kicked my Pilates workouts into high gear.

Whether you prefer a mat workout or to sweat and stretch on the Reformer or other machines, you need to surround yourself with quality equipment. An essential part of any Pilates or Yoga workout is a great mat. I have tried my fair share of yoga mat variety over the years, and a clear winner has emerged.

 

I am partial to the “The Mat” by lululemon. I have a bright pink version and LOVE it. I pretty much worship everything by lululemon, but this mat is actually made of superior materials that prevent slipping and scrunching throughout the workout. The rubber and cushioning are all perfect for any pose you can imagine. I also indulged in the “strap mat” which makes trekking to and from the gym (and keeping my mat perfectly rolled up during storage) a cinch.

 

 

 

 

There are certainly other viable options for quality yoga and Pilates gear. I’ve tried almost every material, color and size of mat. Everyone will find their own preference through their own journey, and my favorite is my wonderful pink lululemon friend.

 

What is your favorite yoga mat?

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of flexionfitness.com

second photo courtesy of shop.lululemon.com

third photo courtesy of shopcrazy.com

Inner Thigh Insanity Tuesday, May 22 2012 

Ahh, summer. Spending long, leisurely days lounging at the beach, soaking up the sun and refreshing ocean breeze. Sipping pina coladas on the deck watching the sunset.

Pulling subconsciously at your too-tight bikini as you attempt to infiltrate a fun game of beach volleyball. Wincing as you remove your cover-up, or refusing to lay out sans jean shorts, lest someone witness your gym absence for the bleak winter months.

 

My least favorite body part has to be my inner thigh area. The seemingly impossible-to-tone fleshy area plagues many women. Along with the tummy, butt, legs, and hips. But those inner thighs are killer. I have found they are insanely difficult to tone- no amount of squats, lunges, runs on the treadmill or Zumba classes will ever make that area attractive.

To be 1000% honest, the only results I have ever seen take hold of my inner thighs have come courtesy of a few select Pilates moves. As a certified Mat Pilates trainer, these are my favorite (in a love/hate way) exercises to do lying on my side. You don’t need to devote hours per day to a grueling, private session. Just indulge in these 4 moves for 20 minutes per day, and watch your legs transform before your eyes!

Side Leg Lifts: These are simple, but they seem to work wonders. Be sure to keep your core strong (no slouching or pooching) and move at your own pace. I do 3 sets of 10 lifts on each leg.

Scissors: Keeping both legs straight, and stretching behind both knees as much as you can, alternate legs. Keep your core engaged and remember to inhale and exhale deeply. I try to pull each leg a teeny bit closer each time. I do 3 sets of 6 reps on each leg.

Bicycles: You will feel these babies working. I recommend finding a Mat Pilates class near you or watching a decent instructional video to properly grasp this technique, but I like to think of it as “extending your leg in front, straightening behind the knee as much as possible, and keeping your hips as still as possible, swing your straightened leg around in a clockwise motion, extending all the way behind you and then bend you knee in to your chest again” I do 3 sets of 6 on each side, in each direction. Enjoy!

Side Stretching Lifts: not the technical name for this move, but the stretch part is vital. After you’ve endured the bicycles, firmly plant the foot of your top leg flat onto your mat in front of your abs, and then lift your bottom leg in swift, controlled motions. This should feel ah-may-zing after you’ve really worked those thigh muscles (you’ll feel this in the inner thighs as well as outer butt/hips- yay!)

Of course, when beginning any new exercise regimen, consult your health care or fitness professional. I am a Pilates instructor, but of course everyone is different and every body is different. Please do not continue a fitness program that causes you pain in your lower back (or anywhere, for that matter)- you want to feel sore like you worked the muscles the day after a work out, not like you are unable to walk.

 

Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen, these Pilates moves will whip those inner thighs into beach-ready shape. No more cover-ups needed. See you on the beach!

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of shutterstock.com

second photo courtesy of avaxhome.ws

third photo courtesy of womenshealthmag.com

fourth photo courtesy of pilatesonfifth.com

fifth photo courtesy of purelyfitness.com

sixth photo courtesy of pilatesonfifth.com

Fitness Focus: Brandi Glanville Tuesday, Apr 24 2012 

She’s not only the snarky, refreshing newcomer on the most recent season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or the famously-spurned ex-wife of dog Eddie Cibrian. She’s also a mother of two boys with an incredible body. And for the record, how much does that suck that whenever someone (for the most part) writes about her or thinks about her, the Eddie Cibrian/Leann Rimes stuff comes up? That must be hard for her.

Anyway, I really enjoyed her on RHOBH, and thought she was hilariously honest, funny and likeable. Just the breath of fresh air that the glitzy zip code needed.  So I’ll stop talking about her dramatic divorce now, and move on to gushing about her gorgeous body.

 

At 5’9, Brandi was obviously a former model- not surprising anyone, right? She’s another hard-working celebrity mom who credits her body to the leaning, lengthening Pilates, starting during her first pregnancy nine years ago. She says she now hits the Pilates studio three times a week, after dropping her boys off at school.

She’s also a fan of the outdoors, staying active with hiking, biking and walking her dogs. Of course she doesn’t eat like a glutton either, focusing on a healthy diet, complete with perfect portion control. She sounds so normal about her exercise regimen, making it sounds attainable and a normal, healthy part of her life. She obviously values her appearance but isn’t obsessed with herself, and that in itself is something else to emulate.

She may be trying that whole “normal Hollywood mom” thing, but her body is anything but ordinary.

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of examiner.cm

second photo courtesy of examiner.com

third photo courtesy of celebrityfocus.com

Fitness Focus: Cameron Diaz Wednesday, Mar 28 2012 

Remember that incredible shot from Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle with Cameron Diaz and Demi Moore, two of Hollywood’s hottest bodies, squaring off in their respective white and black bikinis? Yeah, the girl works out.

Hollywood has admired Cameron’s smokin’ bod for years. As I search for bikini workout inspiration, any image of Cameron has me doing squats and lunges right in my living room. 

 

Here are some of her go-to workouts:

 

Staying Active

Cameron has always loved to surf, run or take part in any outdoor activity that keeps her body in perfect shape. Here she is paddle boarding.

 

 

 

Getting’ Leggy With it

Cam loves to show off her stems, and if mine started at my neck and went on for days, I’d love to too. While Cameron and her trainer both maintain that she is committed to a regimen of healthy eating, and that she doesn’t live in the gym, they both admit that she works hard for her body.

Cameron credits Pilates (mat and Reformer), reverse lunges, curtsy squats (I worship these, in a love/hate sort of way) as well as plenty of cardio and using free weights.

She also swears by the squeezable ball-and it’s actually pretty easy to incorporate that into your Pilates routine once a week.

The Couple That Sweats Together

Cameron has also always shown an affinity for working out with the man in her life. Whether it’s that famous photo of her and JT smooching on surf boards, or if she’s hitting the gym with A-Rod, it’s no surprise that Cameron incorporates fitness into her daily life, and it’s only natural that her (equally gorgeous) mate would accompany her for a good workout. 

 

 

What’s your favorite workout to try and look more like Cameron?

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of cinemastore.it

second photo courtesy of bestactress.info

third photo courtesy of fitsugar.com

fourth photo courtesy of popsugar.com

fifth photo courtesy of fitsugar.com

sixth photo courtesy of zimbio.com

seventh photo courtesy of justjared.com

eighth photo courtesy of thislondon.co.uk

ninth photo courtesy of twistednews.com

 

Fave Ab Workout: Side Plank Sunday, Mar 18 2012 

Holy summer weather, Batman! A solid 80 degree day every day this week is making me anxious to hit the gym ASAP so I can feel better in my shorts and tank tops and of course, the dreaded bikini since summer has arrived in Charleston!

I love a good ab workout. I love that sore feeling that somehow makes the thought of food unbearable. Teaching Pilates, where 90% of the hour-long class was primarily abs, I always tried to work in some oblique work in there to get that hard-to-achieve toned look. My go-to move has been the side plank. I tend to lower down onto my elbow for a few, then push up onto my head then go back down to finish the set once my wrist starts to tremble.

My favorite part is adding the twist move: reaching my arm up to the sky, then tucking and twisting under my body as far under and around as possible just makes me feel great. I love this so much that I add it in even when I’m not doing Pilates and work it into my strength training- standing with one leg straight and one knee bent onto the weight bench, I lean forward, hold a small weight in my hand and twist under as much I can. LOVE!

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of cookinglight.com

second photo courtesy of fitnessmagazine.com

Fitness Focus: Gwen Stefani Tuesday, Sep 6 2011 

The original “It” girl, Gwen Stefani is just too cool for words. Her video for “Cool” might just be one of my all-time faves, and not because the girl looks good in everything.

 

 

 

Originally known for her sexy husky voice and stellar dance moves with her band, she’s now recognized around the world as a fashion icon. She even designs her own super popular brand, L.A.M.B. She’s been married to her smokin’ husband Gavin Rossdale for 9 years, and they have two equally cool named sons, Kingston who was born in 2006 and Zuma, whose name made headlines in 2008. She just has the undeniable “cool” factor (maybe that’s why the video is so amazing?) and she gives off that distinct impression that she could kick your ass and look gorgeous doing so.

In April, she opened up to Elle UK about her strict workout regimen (her honesty is just so refreshing I can’t stand it) She doesn’t claim to eat cupcakes and fried chicken all day, never work out and just shimmy into those skinny jeans with no work at all. She admits, “I work out five days a week. I can’t imagine not doing it” and once told Harper’s Bazaar that she’s “always on a diet”. So just what workout is she doing to maintain that slammin’ body- at 41 years old?! That’s right- she rocked that black bikini and IN-sane abs in August of 2011.

Well, Gwen’s always been a tough girl, just like one of the guys. So it’s not surprising that she thrive son cardio and weight lifting. She runs constantly, but not in the gym. Of course her baby weight just melted right off, to reveal an even hotter Gwen. Her trainer Gunnar Peterson has shared a few of the moves that help sculpt Gwen’s rock-hard body.

 

He recommends a squat with a 5-10 pound twist: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent 90 degrees, with palms facing forward. Keeping chest up, squat down.

As you lift back up through glutes, twist body to the left, allowing feet to pivot so that right heel lifts off the floor. At the same time, press dumbbells overhead.

Return to start. Switch sides and repeat.

Do 16 reps, alternating sides. Do 3 sets.

 

 

Wow, so a couple of those, and not only will you feel the burn, but you’re on your way to looking as hella good as Ms. Stefani.

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of contactmusic.com

second photo courtesy of styleamor.com

third photo courtesy of topfatlosstrainer.com

fourth photo courtesy of justjared.buzznet.com

fifth photo courtesy of babble.com

sixth photo courtesy of picgifs.com

Fitness Focus: Jennifer Aniston Friday, Aug 26 2011 

Perhaps a more appropriate title for this post would be Fitness “Freak”. Because that’s what Jennifer Aniston is. Besides being perhaps the most recognizable face in Hollywood and the Sexiest Woman Alive a few times over, (Details magazine and Daily Motion, just to name a few) she is a fitness fan-a-tic, and has the killer body to prove it.

 

 

She’s famous for her gorgeous hair, her hearty laugh, that ex-husband, her tumultuous love life since then, and her fierce love for her dogs.

That body is just an extra on the list of fabulous things about Jennifer Aniston. To achieve that Holy Grail of a fit body, she takes care of herself through running, and has been one of the most vocal (read: video-starring) celebrities about the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of yoga.

 

According to her friend and yoga guru, Mandy Ingber, and her DVD , Jen’s favorite pose is Tree Pose. This pose truly engages the whole body, working those inner thigh muscles, activating the core, and opening the lungs to breathe in some fresh air. From the looks of her, Jen also spends some serious time in front and side planks, Butterfly pose, Sun Salutations, plie squats with Temple, Warrior poses, and basically any other toning, tough stance you can think of.

(Btw- Mandy has also gone on the record and called Jen a “freak” for being able to hold tree pose longer than she can!)

So what’s the secret of Jen’s success? Is it all that Smart Water she’s been promoting? Perhaps it stems from her inner peace, and ability to center herself and remain calm and balanced despite the hectic chaos swirling around her.  

Balance seems to be the key in Jen’s world. She told the Daily Mirror “Work, exercise, diet, you need balance.” Use whatever word you want-if yoga is the secret to looking this amazing at 42, it’s worth a shot! Sign me up for the next yoga class, please!

 

 

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of thegloss.com

second photo courtesy of munfitnessblog.com

third photo courtesy of celebrityworkoutsanddiets.com

fourth photo courtesy of examiner.com

Fitness Focus: Elisabeth Hasselbeck Sunday, Aug 21 2011 

This adorable, big-as-a-minute co-host of The View has certainly made a name for herself. She’s become known for her unapologetic attitude, outspoken political views as well as those itsy bitsy Michael Kors outfis she dons every day.

This New England native (yay!) became a huge voice for celiacs, people suffering from gluten intolerance. She has spoken publicly about her struggle, and wrote a book, The G-Free Diet: A Fluten-Free Survival Guide to help others who need to rid their lives of all things gluten.

This means she sustains herself with corn, potatoes, rice, beans, nuts, seeds, soymilk or whole milk, plus lots of fruit and veggies and juices. She’s started a platform about healthy living and not giving up the foods you love, or becoming a social outcast when dining out at restaurants. Her go-to snacks? Almonds, fresh fruits and lots and lots of water.

She’s also a huge workout fan. Married to pro athlete Tim Hasselbeck, Elisabeth is no stranger to strenuous physical activity. She starred on Survivor back in 2001 and in June of 2004 she ran through the busy streets of New York City carrying the Olympic Torch before the games kicked off in Athens, Greece.

The girl has confidence to spare. In 2008, at age 31, she graced the cover of Fitness magazine just 14 weeks (!) after giving birth to her second child (she now has three: Grace, Taylor Thomas and youngest Isaiah) and spoke about her focus toward health, not weight. She shared some of her workout tips, courtesy of La Palestra, which include running, strength training and lots of core strengthening exercises.

But her whole fitness program is dedicated to making her stronger and healthier as a whole person, not focusing on certain trouble areas she wants to fix. She only does a long, luxurious run once a week now, as opposed to running her body into the ground every day like she used to do, in her pre-baby days. Her program stresses the importance of rest days, and that her plan is to “feel renewed, strong, and determined” as a new mom, as opposed to skinny and starving.

It’s working for Elisabeth, so if that’s the secret to looking this slammin’, sign us up!

Whether you agree or disagree with her conservative views or the way she debates on The View, her confidence about her body, and healthy attitude about working out and eating right as a busy mom make Elisabeth Hasselbeck an intriguing, intelligent fitness inspiration.

For more about Elisabeth’s Fitness cover shoot workout tips, check out fitnesmagazine.com

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of askmen.com

second photo courtesy of celebritydietdoctor.com

third photo courtesy of fitnessmagazine.com

fourth photo courtesy of celebritybabies.people.com

fifith photo courtesy of marketwire.com

Fitness Focus: Zoe Saldana Sunday, Aug 14 2011 

Remember when Zoe Saldana was just the hot, spunky ballerina Eva Rodriguez? Think way back to pre-Givenchy dress moment on the Red Carpet, pre-Star Trek iconic role, pre-magazine covers, pre-Avatar (you know, the highest grossing movie of all time)…

As much as her life has changed for the more successful and recognizable, this starlet has kept her workout plan simple and consistent. The Pilates devotee trains three times a week, using her professional dance background to keep her body sculpted, long and lean (yes that really was her dancing in afore-mentioned Center Stage!) She admits it’s not easy to stay motivated and balanced, and that she loves her some personal trainer time.

 

She let slip that “If I didn’t have a trainer to push me, I’d go for a walk for about 15 minutes”- well, looks like she has one helluva trainer pushing her! This Calvin Klein ad (insanely sexy TV monologue not included, so sorry) proves that she really knows how to work it out in the gym.

 

 

 

Zoe treats her body well, with a balanced, healthy diet, sprinkled with indulgences. “I pig out on pasta” she gushed to Women’s Health. Whatever she’s going, it’s working!

 

Her spunky attitude, positive outlook on her body and fitness, and her natural stunning glow certainly has made her one to watch.

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of huffingtonpost.com

second photo courtesy of oprah.com

third photo courtesy of fashionwindows.com

Fitness Focus: Kelly Ripa Thursday, Jul 28 2011 

 

“’Cause she’s Kelly. And she’s Ripa. She’s Kelly Ripa.” To quote the delicious Sean Hayes character Jack on the erstwhile hit Will & Grace, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t adore the adorable morning TV host.

 

Recently, Mrs. Mark Consuelos made ripples when she compared men’s chivalry of paying for dinner to a woman enduring childbirth, and equating the experiences and responsibilities. She’s also made headlines and tabloid covers for her rockin’ bod, with some claiming she’s too thin or too ripped (well, maybe she’s just trying to match her last name!)

 

This former soap actress and mother of three is quite the busy lady. With her morning gig on Live with Regis and Kelly, her 2003 TV sitcom Hope & Faith, those Fruit20 and Electrolux ad campaigns, and taking care of a super hot soap opera actor husband and three kids, she certainly has a lot on her plate.

But from the looks of her, she isn’t eating anything on her plate except salad.

 

The girl is super tiny. And fit. And strong. And buff. While we may not all possess the willpower to stay away from chocolate chip cookies or pizza like Kelly, I’ve delved into discovered some of her surefire workout tips that help her keep that slammin’ body.

 

Shape magazine led a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Kelly’s workout regimen, to find out how she stays so slim. Some reveals:

1. Sitting with your hands behind you, lift your hips up off the floor. Lift the right knee slowly, keeping toes pointed toward the ceiling. Your leg should be bent about 90 degrees. Keep elbows softly bent and then lower hips down to the floor. Repeat several times on each leg. Kelly alternates with both straight and bent arms.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Standing next to a tall counter or chair, balance on your right leg with your toes turned toward the chair/counter. Balancing on your bent right elbow on the chair, raise your left leg off the floor, keeping it parallel to the floor, with your toes pointed and knee bent. In 2 small pulses, bring your leg forward until it is directly in front of you, then do 2 small pulses back to starting position. Do several reps for about 2 minutes, then switch legs. You will feel the burn!

Of course, these are just a few of Kelly’s go-to moves. She also incorporates squats, exercise balls, rolling crunches, surfing and running into her routine. Hit up shape.com to see more of Kelly’s tricks for staying so trim!

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of tv. popcrunch.com

second photo courtesy of daytimeconfidential.com

third & fourth photos courtesy of shape.com

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