Fitness & Wellness

Workout Tips For Busy Moms

Workout Tips For Busy Moms

Mothers (and dads) have the hardest job in the world and receive the smallest amount of credit for that particular task. They give up personal time to ensure the family is well taken care of and their needs are met. Many moms work outside the home besides doing tasks around the house and being a mother. That leaves little spare time to attend to their own needs. The problem is, if Mom’s health needs and fitness needs aren’t met, she can’t continue to do the work because the energy just won’t be there. Here are some workout tips for busy moms.

You count! You’re important! Never forget that!

Moms tend to feel guilty when using time for anything for themselves, including fitness. It’s not selfish to workout regularly. In fact, quite the opposite. It’s selfish not to take care of yourself. If you’re sick, who will take care of the family AND you? When you workout regularly, you build endurance and can get tasks completed much faster. That leaves more time in your schedule.

Find quick effective workouts.

We provide workouts that only take 35 minutes of time, yet provide an hour of benefit. That’s a time saving bargain. Kettlebells are probably the most efficient total body exercise, plus they are amazing calorie burning routines to help you shed pounds faster. There’s no “law” that says you have to workout an hour to get maximum benefit, especially if you choose your exercise method wisely. You’ll save time and get quick results when you know the most efficient exercises to do.

Take a class and use what you’ve learned at home.

Maybe you can’t always attend the sessions at the gym, but you might be able to make it a special project for one boot camp, learning the routines and movements then using them at home when the boot camp ends. In fact, one mother attended boot camp and worked out with her kids at home, turning their basement into her next boot camp location. The kids actually loved it and they got to spend time together getting healthy.

– Get up a little earlier to exercise before the family gets up. It’s tough, but you can pack a lot into a short time if you know the right workouts. It also boosts your metabolism for the day.

– Check your schedule to see if there’s wasted time or an activity that isn’t necessary in your day. Sometimes we continue something out of habit, even though we’ve outgrown it or no longer enjoy it. This time could be used for exercising.

– Assign chores to family members. While you’ll hear a lot of yowling about doing chores, it not only will relieve some of your time crunch, it will help make the kids more independent, makes them an important part of the family and teaches responsibility. It shouldn’t all fall on your shoulders.

– Don’t forget to include good nutrition for both you and the family. If your lunch is a candy bar from the office snack machine or a donut you eat on the run, it’s time to change up and feed your body right.

Back To School Workouts

Back To School Workouts

There was a time when school starting meant more “me” time for mothers. That’s not true anymore. There are so many after school activities and many mothers also work, making the schedule even more hectic. Here are some back to school workouts that will save you time and can fit into almost any schedule. If you can’t carve out the full half hour, try ten minutes at a time. The key is to get your heart racing and get moving for at least ten minute sessions. Even walking at a brisk pace will do.

Find a way to exercise that fits in the schedule.

Set an example and walk your child to school. Of course, this isn’t possible if you have to go directly to work or live miles from the school, but a mile or two can make it happen. Put on your sneakers, comfortable clothing and give yourself extra time. If you’re out of shape and it’s over two miles, start walking with you child after school until you’re ready for the big route all the way there or home. Don’t just wait in the car for them while they’re at ball practice, do some walking while you wait. Change into comfortable clothing before you arrive and spend that time getting your exercise. You may even know the other parents waiting and get them to join you.

Start early burning calories.

Getting just ten minutes in the morning can boost your metabolism for the day. It gets your circulation going and can give you the energy to get your day started. A ten minute workout means you have to do quick intervals with little or no break in between. Always start with stretches and warm up exercises, such as headrolls, shoulder rolls, windmills, hip rock, knee roll then move onto something more strenuous. You can use lunges, a mountain climber or other type of exercise that gets you breathing hard for a set of ten. Add squats and lunges-ten reps each. Do some ab exercises such as crunches, burbees, cradle rock and V-sits-all ten reps each moving rapidly from one to another. Finish it with running in place, jumping jacks and/or other aerobic style exercise.

Fill in with every day types of activities that will get you breathing hard.

If you’ve never tried to sprint up stairs, especially more than one floor, it’s worth the effort if you want a good exercise. One small study included twelve women who lived a sedentary lifestyle. The study had them start by going up a staircase of 200 steps first, once a day and by the end of two months six times a day. The final result was that, although it only took 12 minutes to climb the steps (and ride the elevator down) they improved their fitness level and cholesterol level so much it lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 33 percent.

– Squeezing in ten to fifteen minutes of exercise can be done while watching television. Run in place while the program is on and get down and dirty, doing the tough stuff during commercial. If you watch a lot of TV, you’ll be fit in no time.

– Have fun with the family. After school, enjoy some time with the kids. Whether you’re shooting hoops or playing tag, all of you will get a workout.

– Carve out “me” time and workout at the gym at least three times a week. Getting time for yourself is important. We offer a 35 minute workout to keep it short and sweet, while getting the maximum results. This is the easiest way to get exercise because the plan is already laid out for you.

– Learn to use kettlebells. These are extremely efficient total body workouts that don’t require a lot of time to maximize the benefit.

Do You Have A Summer Bucket List

Do You Have A Summer Bucket List

Everyone has special dreams and things they want to do in their lifetime, but those are often large long term goals. You’ll get just as much satisfaction from life if you also create smaller ones you can achieve right now in just one season. Here are some ideas for a summer bucket list that you might want to add to your list that are fun, challenging and will make your summer special.

Start with getting fit.

Of course, you had to know that as a personal trainer, I would include that one at the top of the list. Even though we’re on the last months of summer, it’s not too late to start a program of fitness. Fitness programs are two fold. The first part is eating healthy, with the second half a program of regular exercise. Even though fitness programs are meant to be lifestyle changes, you can still dip your foot into the fitness waters this summer to get a taste of the wonderful benefits it brings. Many people sign up for boot camps to start their programs. In fact, we have a special 21 day program that can help you do just that. Once you get a sampling of how much fun working out with kettlebells can be and the rapid changes you’ll see in your fitness level, you’ll be hooked and ready for other physical challenges.

Is hiking through our beautiful area on your bucket list?

There are some beautiful areas to see and experience in Fairfax County and these could be great additions to your summer bucket list. The Cross County trail is one of them. It’s not groomed, but it is maintained as a trail, allowing you to get a more vivid picture of our area before it was populated. Walking Burke Lake Park’s trail or one of the segments of the Potomac Heritage trails could also be an exciting adventure. Make sure you’re fit enough to tackle the workout, by getting your body ready first with a program of exercise.

You’ll be glad you created a summer bucket list if you dive into creating healthy cuisine.

While working out and getting stronger is part of the picture, you need the right type of fuel to make your body operate at top performance. That’s where healthy eating comes into the picture. Healthy eating isn’t dieting, but making smarter decisions when it comes to food. It becomes almost addictive to find and test recipes that provide the maximum nutrients and least number of calories.

Having a summer bucket list will get you started on a more productive and active lifestyle. You’ll tackle things that you might otherwise put off as a “some day” desire and experience more out of life than you otherwise might.

Even though I focus on fitness because it’s my life’s work and love, summer bucket lists can include mental things, like finally reading a classic or learning to play an instrument.

Your summer bucket list can include very specific things, such as losing weight and fitting into those skinny jeans that have been gathering dust on the shelf or in the drawer for several years.

Writing out the things you’ve always wanted to do is the first step to doing them. Set down and create a list of things and pick two or three to accomplish this summer.

Document Your Successes

Document Your Successes

Whether you’re exercising, sticking with a budget or working on a scientific breakthrough, you need to document your successes, as well as chart what didn’t work. Both provide valuable information. It helps you understand what works and also what doesn’t work. Remember, there are no failures in the world if you use your findings, just information on what doesn’t work to solve the problem or get your body its fittest.

Documenting your progress is extremely motivating.

Rather than judging your progress on the scales, which sometimes is deceptive and doesn’t tell the whole story, people who track their progress have proof on paper that they’re able to do far more than they could when they started. It’s tough to remember how hard an exercise was when you started or how tired you were after doing just a few. When you have a written account it’s clear that you’ve gone from 10 reps to 30 or lifted 30 pounds when just five was tough at first.

Documenting progress can change a workout to a challenge.

It seems everyone loves a game and enjoys conquering it and climbing the ladder to new levels. You see people on the bus, waiting in airports and even in the office playing their favorites and enjoying every minute of it. When you track your progress, you’re creating a game, especially if you’ve built in benchmarks, indicating you’ve “leveled up.” It adds fun to the equation and makes you look forward to each workout that could take you to a new level.

Document progress for the same reason trainers do.

Trainers track your progress so they know when to make the workout tougher. With each workout your fitness level improves to a small degree and when that improvement is enough, the trainer adjusts the workout to reflect the new level of fitness. When you track your workout, you’re doing the same, looking for improvement to raise the bar. That way you’ll always be working at maximum potential.

Tracking your workout helps prevent that workout from being repetitive, which can lead to plateauing as the body becomes more efficient doing it.

You can see how long it took to see progress when you track and make adjustments to improve progress. It’s an important tool to get the most out of each workout.

Tracking keeps you more aware of your goals, helping you focus on it. Your head has to be into the workout as much as your body is to get the most benefit.

“Winners keep score” is an old saying that has merit. When you track, you’re forced to record your progress, so you’re more apt to try harder.

Drink More Water Effortlessly

Drink More Water Effortlessly

There’s a good reason to learn to drink more water effortlessly. Water is essential for survival! You can go three weeks without food, but only three days without water. This not so complex drink has huge health benefits and can also curb your appetite and help you lose weight faster. Not only does it help you feel fuller, drinking water actually helps boost the amount of calories your body burns. It’s called diet-induced thermogenesis.

Sometimes, you eat because you’re thirsty and not because you’re hungry.

The body is tricky some times. When you’re thirsty, it will do anything to get you to hydrate it, even make you feel hungry. Remember, food contains water. Think of those times when you were starved for a juicy piece of fruit. You might have just needed a tall glass of H2O. Dehydration has similar feelings to hunger. You feel slow and sluggish, totally exhausted. Your stomach can gurgle and you might even feel light headed. If you’ve ever had a hangover, much of the problem comes from dehydration.

When you drink extra water, besides weight loss and energy, there are other benefits.

Water helps boost your immune system, while also improving your complexion. You’ll be less prone to irregularity when you have adequate water in your system, which means you’ll be less prone to bloating. Water is also a great diuretic, helping to eliminate water weight gain. It helps relieve headaches and makes muscles less susceptible to sprains and strains. It flushes toxins out of the body, helps prevent urinary tract infections and kidney stones too.

Boosting the amount of water you drink is easy when you keep it on hand.

Not all water tastes the same. Some of the members of Underground Athlete have water from wells, rather than city water. They say it tastes fantastic. Rather than buy water, they wash and refill empty water bottles and refrigerate them, making it easier to grab a bottle. Access to water is important. If you have it ready, you’re more likely to drink it. Flavoring water with a bit of lemon, an orange slice or even a leaf of mint or basil can make it taste fantastic. You’ll be more likely to think of it as a treat.

Get into the habit of ordering water with a meal, rather than soft drinks when you’re in a restaurant. It’s cheaper and far better for you.

Carry a bottle with you and sip on it throughout the day. If you have it, you’ll drink it.

Get a water filter to make water taste better and fill a pitcher for the refrigerator or put it in bottles.

Order a glass of water or have one ready if eating at home to drink before each meal. It will fill you up and not out.

Do You Know Your Portion Sizes

Do You Know Your Portion Sizes

Weight loss isn’t easy, but you can learn to choose healthy food and make it not only easier, but delicious, too. However, even when choosing healthy food, some foods need to be eating sparingly. That means you should have only one or two portions a day. In order to do that, you need to know how much is a portion. Do you know your portion sizes? It can make the difference between successful weight loss and weight gain.

Overeating is a national epidemic.

Learning portion control is a help in preventing overeating. While you may be able to load up at a buffet and go back for seconds, it doesn’t mean you should—even if you want to get all your money’s worth of food! Stuffing yourself not only jeopardizes your weight loss program, it creates other problems, such as bloating and stretches your stomach so you eat more afterward. You’ll learn to eat less and feel less hungry when you have portion control.

Your brain won’t help much if your body is hungry.

Studies show that most people’s sense of portions goes out the window when they’re body is starved for something to eat. That’s why learning a few tips can help make it easier, since most people won’t take the time to measure, weigh and calculate each portion. Let’s face it, I don’t want to do that either. It interferes with the enjoyment of the meal and makes you feel more like you’re conducting a scientific experiment.

Here are some quick tips on portion sizes that don’t require a scale.

When eating meat, poultry or fish, the cut should be as thick as a deck of cards. You can also judge it by your hand size. Look at the size of your palm without considering fingers or thumb. That’s a portion of meat. Pasta served with an ice cream scoop is one portion. (You don’t have to use one, that’s just a visual aid.) A serving of veggies is the size of your fist. Look at your computer mouse and you’ll see how big a potato should be. Those huge pancakes are far too big for a portion. It should be the size of a CD. Your thumb is a good measure for a stick of cheese, but for cubed cheese, one portion is the size of two dice. If you cup one hand, you’ll be able to pour in one portion of pretzels, chips or other snacks.

One way to help you maintain smaller portions is to use a smaller plate. The amount on the plate then look bigger.

Studies show that people drink less beverage when it’s served in a tall thin glass over a short wide one.

Drink a tall glass of water before the meal to fill you up and address any dehydration issues you may have. Sometimes, those can leave you feeling hungry.

You’ll have less tendency to overeat if you wear formfitting clothing. When your waistband starts binding, you’ll notice you’ve had too much.

Workout Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

Workout Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

workout mistakesIf you want to get the most out of your workout and see the results you want without working harder, here are some common workout mistakes that you can avoid. You normally see people doing these things at big box gyms, where there’s nobody to help. These errors can do more than just make your workout harder with slower results, they also can be the cause of injury. See if you fall into the group that needs to make some corrections.

Using the wrong form for exercises, including lifting is at the top of the list for common mistakes.

Using the wrong form has its consequences, the worst being injury that can set you back for months. When your form is off, you won’t get the best results and may spend twice the time you would to see your hard work pay off, which can be discouraging and dampen motivation. It often takes more than just watching the exercise performed correctly, you need someone to watch to insure you do the movements right. It’s easy to feel like they’re correct, but that doesn’t mean it’s so. Get help to learn the right way to prevent injury and boost your results.

Thinking if it hurts that it must be doing some good is a big mistake.

It’s one thing to work through some minor aches, but quite another to face a massive pain and ignore it. While some people don’t push themselves enough, others push beyond a safe level. They move too quickly, increasing the intensity and length of each workout to the point that it causes injury. It’s far better to measure your progress by number of reps, time it took to do them, intensity and amount of weight used for exercising than use the level of pain as a marker.

Failure to plan is one of the biggest mistakes.

Not only do you need to set goals, you need a plan to reach those goals and a way of tracking your progress to be successful. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to know when you’ve reached your destination? Goal setting and tracking helps you stay motivated, too. It allows you to look back on the progress you’ve made on those days when you’re ready to quit. It also gives you direction and keeps you on track, relieving you of trying to remember where you were at the workout previously.

While some people try to push their progress too fast, others don’t adjust their program, even after they improve their level of fitness. They miss a great opportunity to improve their progress and reach an even higher level of fitness.

Many people fail to include diet as part of their workout program. The right type of diet is important for more than just loosing weight. Since each person has different goals and needs, we provide individual help in nutritional planning.

Working out alone is better than not working out at all, but it can be a mistake. Having the support of a like-minded community can bring huge benefits to everyone.

One reason I started underground athlete is to provide people who are serious about getting into shape the guidance and help they need to get their fittest, fastest.

How To Stay Healthy On Vacation

How To Stay Healthy On Vacation

healthy on vacationIt’s that time of year when people start taking vacations. Some travel by car, while others hop on a plane to get to their destination. I can’t tell you how many times clients come back with extra pounds or a set back in their fitness program. You can stay healthy on vacation if you plan for it. Just making a few adjustments for time and dietary concerns can help you stay fit and even enjoy your vacation more.

Traveling long distances by car or in a plane can take its toll.

If you’re flying, eat before you go to the airport or take a healthy snack or meal along to eat while you wait for your plane. Not only does airport food tend to be highly processed and higher in calories but lower in nutrition at the food courts, it’s also quite pricey. You’ll save calories and money. Be prepared for your food to go through the security checkpoint by having it in a container if it’s homemade or tucked in your carry on if it has its own wrapper. For those driving, a small cooler of healthy snacks or small meals in a cooler are far better than stopping at an unknown or fast food restaurant along the way. It’s best not to eat in the car, but make a stop at a rest station where you can enjoy your meal. Eat smaller more frequent meals on the road.

Whether you’re flying or driving, get exercise with other forms of transportation.

While you might have to rent a car if you’re flying, that doesn’t mean you have to use it all the time. Walking or renting a bike is an excellent option. Many places rent bikes for people who want to see the sites and enjoy the surrounding atmosphere. In Chicago, for instance, there are several bike rentals, which also include skate rentals and quadcycles, one of which is at Navy Pier. It’s the perfect way to cover a lot of territory, yet get an up close and personal view of the city, while staying fit. You’ll find bike rentals in many larger cities.

Prepare in advance by checking out the facilities or having a workout you can do anywhere.

Many hotels have workout facilities, so when you’re planning, consider that before making reservations. If you’re staying with family or friends or don’t have an available gym, plan your workout ahead. If you’re doing strength training, resistance bands take very little space and can help you get a great workout. Body weight exercises don’t require any equipment, so it’s another practical option. A trainer can help design a plan that you can use when you’re on the go.

Schedule your workout into your plans to insure you do it. You can use sightseeing and hiking for cardio workouts.

Stick with your dietary plan as close as you can, but allow yourself the luxury of splurging at a few meals. Sure, splurging will set you back a little, but if you’re in a town with a restaurant you’ve been dying to try, it’s worth the one-time splurge. You can still look for healthy foods on the menu.

Relax and enjoy. This is a vacation, remember? Take time to soak in everything, but don’t stress yourself out to do it. It’s time to renew yourself.

Visit the local farmer’s markets. You can often pick up a low cost lunch that comes right out of the garden.

Rise Up

Rise Up

rise upAnybody ready to rise up and take charge of their body, health and life may have great resolve initially, but may not know the path to follow. That’s where UA can help. We provide guidance based on your level of fitness, special needs and goals. Before we create any program for a member of our community, we assess their overall fitness in all areas, balance, strength, endurance and flexibility. We identify weaker muscle group, too. We consider any special needs, such as physical limitations that might require an adjustment to form or exercise and the member’s ultimate goals. Only then do we create an individualized program.

When you’re ready to rise up, nutrition plays an important role.

No fitness program would be complete without a complete nutrition program. You need not only adequate nutrition to build muscles, but also the appropriate caloric intake. If you have too many calories, you’ll gain weight or won’t lose it, with too few calories, you’ll put your body into starvation mode, slowing your metabolism and making it hard to lose weight. Everyone has different needs, different preferences and different ways they process some foods. We consider all aspects to help you rise up.

Your mindset plays a huge role when you choose to rise up.

I can almost guarantee that everyone that wants to take charge of their life, particularly their body, has great resolve in the beginning. However, it doesn’t take long before that resolve wains and disappears if there’s no help in the area of motivation. We provide that motivation to help keep you on the track of real change. Our supportive community of like-minded individuals also help you stay on track. Staying motivated is the key to a successful lifestyle change and staying fit for the rest of your life.

Tracking and recovery time are important aspects.

In order to get anywhere, you need a road map and signs along the way to let you know you’re headed in the right direction. We track your progress to help identify trouble spots, detours that are needed and identify the progress made. Tracking is an aid to know when you’ve made progress and when to increase the difficulty of the workout. You’ll always have concrete feedback when your progress is tracked.

You don’t need to struggle on your own when you’re ready to rise up and take charge. We have the knowledge and programs that work.

Sharing your determination and workout time with a like-minded community will help deepen the resolve.

You’ll see results faster with our help and results are a huge motivation.

After just a short time, you’ll notice the difference in your energy level, strength and endurance.

Basics of Program Design: Balancing Pushes and Pulls

Basics of Program Design: Balancing Pushes and Pulls

“I read part of it all the way through” – Samuel Goldwyn

Here’s hoping that you read all of this all the way through (if nothing else than for the picture of the cute puppy balancing). Program design encompasses far too much to
attempt to cover in a single blog post. I do, however, want to talk about the importance of balancing some of the variables that go into it. Anyone can just throw a single workout together
without too much trouble, but that doesn’t mean that day will be good, nor does it mean it will fit into the rest of the week well either.

No, not that type of balance, although it is cool too.

An easy concept to think about is balancing upper body pushes and pulls (think bench press and rows respectively). A good starting point for a lot of people is to have a pull:push ratio
of 2:1, or even 3:1 in some cases. Eventually the goal would be to get this ratio closer to 1:1 over time though for most. What this means is for every horizontal or vertical push you do, you
should do twice or three times as many horizontal or vertical pushes (mouthful of jargon I know, so let me simplify). A vertical push/pull is done with your arms overhead, such as when doing overhead presses or pulldowns respectively. A horizontal push/pull is done with your arms goingforward or backward, such as during DB bench presses or rows respectively. So, for every “chest” or push exercise you do try to do two “back” or pulling exercises as a rule of thumb.

Most people benefit from prioritizing pulls in training because of the nature of society currently. Lots of people sit all day at work with potentially poor posture, go to the gym only to
train the mirror muscles (the chest, biceps, abs, etc.), etc. Below is an example of two upper body days to make this easier to see visually.

Day 1
Bench Press 3 x 6
1 Arm DB Row 3 x 10ea
Seated DB OH Press 3 x 10
Lat Pulldown 4 x 10 ea
Chest Supported Row 3 x 15
Rear Delt Fly 3 x 15

Day 2
Bent Over Row 4 x 8
DB Bench Press 4 x 8
½ kneel 1 arm cable row 3 x 10ea
Cable fly 3 x 12
Sled row 3 x 10 yards
TRX body row 3 x 12

There are times and reasons for deviating from a balanced program but that doesn’t mean it should only be that way. A few exceptions (but not all) are:

  • If you are a powerlifter or olympic lifter
  • You have a lagging body part/area you want to add mass or strength too
  • Have an injury and can’t train a certain part of your body

Powerlifters and Olympic lifters must train in specific ways that will allow them to excel at their sport. Powerlifters for example, must prioritize the big 3 (bench, squat, and deadlift)
which can mean other things don’t get given the same attention. There might be less single leg work done, less upper body pulling (think rows, pull-ups, etc.), among other things.

If someone’s chest is lacking in size and strength, then it could be a good idea to add more volume (sets x reps x weight) to that area for a time. Regardless of the reasons for focusing
on this area it will undoubtedly throw off the balance of the program to an extent. This is why it’s might be beneficial to do from time to time but not for the majority of your training

With few exceptions, you can almost always train with an injury (unless you’re in a full body cast or something severe). If you hurt your right leg then that means there is still plenty of
upper body work that can be done. In addition, there is plenty of single leg work that can be done on the left leg as well.


See, I wasn’t kidding about the cute puppy balancing

When looking at a program to examine whether it is balanced well or not, you can’t just look at one day, but instead you must look at the entire week (AKA microcycle). Better yet,
ideally you would look at the whole month and even the year (depending on how far ahead you plan). When looking at an entire year of training most of the time spent training should be done with balanced programming (barring the exceptions above).

Are you a competitive power lifter who does a ton of pressing and not quite as much pulling? Cool, no worries. Spend a month or so after a meet working on increasing your pulling volume before going into another couple months of powerlifting specific training. Got a body part that is lagging behind in terms of muscular development? Just allocate more volume towards that muscle group for a month or so before going back to a more well rounded program. Programs don’t have to be 100% perfectly balanced all the time, nor should they be. But it’s an important thing to keep in mind when writing programs for yourself or someone else.

Rise Up!