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Barre, the ballet-inspired workout that focuses on isometric strength training, continues to gain new fans around the country due to its quick results and unique, graceful movements. Get a taste of this increasingly popular way to work out with this routine developed by BarreAmped creator and fitness instructor Suzanne Bowen. The total-body barre workout can be done anywhere you have a ledge or some other support for balance. These six effective moves will have your muscles shaking and working. Grab your mat, some light hand weights and a stopwatch, then warm up for five minutes and try it for yourself!
Up & Back with Arm Sculpt
To begin, hold on to something sturdy for balance and grip a light weight in your left hand. Extend left leg forward while keeping the right knee soft and hips squared. Take your left arm straight back behind rib cage as you feel your triceps contract.
On your inhale, hinge at the hips, bend your left leg and move the torso to face down as you reach the left leg straight back and your left arm forward. Exhale and return to start move. Continue for one minute.
Make it easier: Decrease range of motion, hand weight size or duration.
Make it harder: Increase time to 90 seconds and, with each move, pause and pulse arm and leg 10 times.
Troubleshoot: Be careful not to lock out the standing knee. Make sure that the leg is moving straight. When you hinge to move the leg back behind your body, bend the knee and press it back.
Works: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders and triceps.
Fiddler with Rear Shoulder Lift
From the last rep of "Up and Back" above, hold that hinge. Bend your elbow and face palm to the back, keeping the arm in line with your shoulder. Bend your left knee and point toes, then lift your right heel. Pulse left knee and elbow up in tiny moves up and down for one minute.
Make it easier: Drop right heel down, drop the weight and stay more upright.
Make it harder: Hinge more parallel to the floor, dip down a little lower in the right knee and increase duration to 90 seconds.
Troubleshoot: Keep hips square, right knee soft and core tight so that you don't move the lower back at all.
Works: Glutes, hamstrings, calves, rear deltoid, lower back.
Wide Second Middle Shoulder Lift
Holding support with right hand and weight in left hand, which is in front of hips, step out into a wide plie position and raise heels up. Stand up, keeping your heels lifted and raise your left arm to shoulder height. Move down and up slowly within this full range of motion. Repeat for one minute.
Make it easier: Keep heels down, decrease duration.
Make it harder: At the end of the 60 seconds, keep arm lifted, bend knees to the lowest point and pulse for 30 more seconds.
Troubleshoot: Ensure that knees and feet are tracking by making sure not to turn your feet out too much. With the heels up, keep the weight on your big and second toes, and less on the pinky toes. Keep your heels below the knees.
Works: Quads, inner thighs, calves and middle deltoids.
Turn around and repeat the first three exercises on the other side.
Tabletop Bent Knee Lift
On a mat, bring your hands below the shoulders and your knees underneath the hips. Place weight behind the front knee, securing it so it does not fall out. Tuck your back toes under and lift knee off mat as you raise the front of the leg up. Keep your core tight and pulse the front bent leg up for one minute.
Make it easier: Keep back knee down on the mat and/or do not use a weight behind the knee.
Make it harder: Move front knee in a full range of motion (all the way down and all the way back up) for 30 seconds, then pulse at the top for 30 seconds.
Works: Shoulders, arms, chest, glutes, hamstrings, quads, abs and lower back.
Troubleshoot: Keep everything in the upper body lifted and engaged. Do not let your neck or lower back sag. Core should be lifted to ensure that movement is in the leg lifting, not the lower back.
Repeat on the other side.
Single Straight Leg Stretch
Lie face up on the mat, draw legs up, keeping them as straight as possible, and feel your abs lift. Raise shoulder carriage and keep your head in line with the spine as you gaze up and ahead. Inhale. On the exhale, lower your front leg down as your bring your back leg up, keeping both legs straight. Inhale and exhale to change legs. Repeat for one minute.
Make it easier: Lower your shoulder carriage and your head down to the mat. Keep knees soft or slightly bent and decrease the range of motion.
Make it harder: Speed up the leg motions while maintaining control and stability through the core.
Troubleshoot: This move requires flexibility in the hamstrings and strength in the abdominal muslces. If you feel a strain in your neck, try pulling the abs in more. If your neck is still straining, lower your head and shoulders to the mat, but stay very connected to your core. As you build strength, attempt to lift the upper torso and head back up. Also, try not to tuck your chin, but instead keep your head in line with the spine.
Works: Abdominal wall and hip flexors. Stretches hamstrings.
Mermaid Bridge with Chest Lift
Lying face-up on the mat, bring your knees together and your feet apart, keeping your feet close to the hips. Holding a light weight in each hand, bring your arms straight above the chest with palms facing knees. Inhale. On the exhale, press your hips up and lower arms down to either side of the shoulders. Inhale as you lower the hips back down and lift your arms. Repeat this move for one minute.
Make it easier: Rather than creating the mermaid shape with the legs and feet, keep legs parallel and hip-distance and keep your heels down.
Make it harder: At the end of the minute, keep hips up, then lower and lift the arms for an additional 30 seconds.
Troubleshoot: It will be tempting to lift the lower body so high that the upper back begins to leave the mat. To avoid this pressure on your neck, be careful to keep you upper back in contact with the mat throughout the move. Also, as you lift your heels to create the mermaid shape, make sure that you are not turning your ankles out too much. In barre exercises, always consider alignment.
Works: Chest, lower back, inner thights and glutes.
About the Author
Classically trained at the prestigious Lotte Berk Method in NYC, Suzanne Bowen is the creator of Suzanne Bowen Fitness #SBF, an efficient mind-body technique that combines cutting-edge cardio, intelligent strengthening and dynamic stretching. Students flock to Suzanne because of her encouraging, no nonsense, straightforward teaching approach that provides targeted and overall results while guiding people to be the best they can be. From her training in modern and classical dance, Pilates, yoga and deep stretching, Suzanne has also developed the highly successful BarreAmped program that is licensed to over 50 studios worldwide and continues to grow under her tutelage. ''BarreAmped'' (Classic Barre) and ''BarreAmped Boot Camp,'' her newest DVDs, epitomize the best of her Barre targeted workouts and are available on Amazon and www.suzannebowenfitness.com. Read More ›
Shakira didn’t get those world famous abs without dance, which, on its own, is enough to sell us on dancing our way to fitness. Whether it’s Zumba, belly dance or just getting down at a wedding, dancing is a legitimate aerobic exercise that burns major calories. You’ll work muscles you didn’t know you had and get your blood flowing, while simultaneously reducing stress and improving your posture. Still on the fence? Consider this:
- A dance step counts toward your daily step count
- Dancing is good for your heart
- You could burn as many calories as popular forms of exercise, including swimming or riding a bicycle.
The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Burning Fat Before you get started, educate yourself on the many benefits of kicking up your dancing shoes. You might be surprised by how much your body appreciates a good dance party.
14-Minute Cardio Dance Workout If your only taste of Bollywood and Indian dance is the credits sequence of Slumdog Millionaire, you are truly missing out on a colorful and fun tradition. Familiarize yourself with the high-energy dance form with this intense—but so fun!—cardio workout.
16-Minute Bollywood Cardio Workout If every form of exercise was this much fun, we would have no problem working out every day! Work your hips, abs and more in this enjoyable workout led by fitness star Hemalayaa.
All About Zumba For many people, Zumba, the popular Latin-inspired exercise class, put dance fitness on the map. Your muscles aren’t the only thing that will be sore after hitting a Zumba class—chances are your cheeks will get a workout from smiling as you dance the hour away.
5 Dance Moves Anyone Can Do Even if you swear you’ve been cursed with two left feet, you’ll still be able to master these dance moves. Get an introduction to the vibrancy of Cuban Mambo as internationally acclaimed choreographer Kimberly Miguel Mullen leads you through five basic moves.
Proof You Can Be a Talented Dancer at Any Size If the thought of dancing makes you cringe with embarrassment, here’s a fun reminder that you don’t have to be a stick-thin principal ballet dancer to twirl your way around the dance floor.
Like us, our friends at Acacia are also dance fitness advocates and have the high-energy workouts to prove it. Check out some of their online exercise videos and DVDs for more dancing that will challenge your muscles and your stamina.
AcaciaTV Everyone can be a part of National Dance Day, right in their own living room, thanks to AcaciaTV’s large selection of dance workouts. For a fun sweat that will never be boring, check out the Dance and Be Fit series, which includes Latin-inspired moves, hip hop cardio and more.
Shazzy Fitness DVDs Inspirational music fuses with hip-hop beats in two new DVDs from Shazzy Fitness, A Time to Dance and In the Beginning. Led by professional dancers, including two former NBA Atlanta Hawks A-Town Dancers, the DVDs include multiple 10-minute workouts that allow you to mix and match each day. Stream the workouts at home for a family-friendly dance workout that will energize the body and elevate the spirit.
Suzanne Bowen Fitness Fitness and lifestyle expert Suzanne Bowen takes the ballet-inspired barre workout to the next level with her BarreAmped DVD series. Combining dance, Pilates, yoga and her own training methods, Suzanne’s unique style and challenging sequences offer a full-body workout for anyone, including pregnant moms. In addition to BarreAmped Sleek & Toned Prenatal Workout for pre- and post-natal fitness, dance fans can also purchase BarreAmped BOOT CAMP, the original BarreAmped, BarreAmped Cardio Fat Burn or stream workouts online.
Feeling ready to get down? Tell us: Which dance exercise do you love? Or, which ones would you like to try?
AcaciaTV is a leading subscription-based streaming fitness service easily accessible on a variety of platforms/devices. Members have complete access to more than 100 workouts in a diverse range of disciplines which they can stream anywhere at any time. AcaciaTV now features new themed 20-minute workouts each month from trainers Kristin McGee, Amanda Young, Deazie Gibson, Gerren Liles and Liz LeFrois. Consumers can visit TV at US.Acacia.TV and easily try out the service with its 10-day free trial. The channel is for all fitness levels, offering workouts from beginners through advanced. Subscription to the service includes access to AcaciaTV’s Facebook fitness community which offers additional support and a group forum for all members.SparkPeople members can receive 25% off any membership for a year with the code ACACIASPARK.
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There is a delicate art to creating the perfect exercise playlist. The beats need to keep you motivated, the lyrics should make you happy and the pace should be upbeat. A well-crafted playlist has the power to propel your workout to the next level, and that's something worth celebrating!
Lucky for you, we teamed up with the folks at Yes! Fitness Music to take some of the guesswork out of the elusive perfect playlist. This mix of familiar pop favorites and bumping house music is as entertaining as it is motivating--the playlist includes over an hour's worth of music at 135 beats per minute to help you really maximize your workouts. Read More ›
The family that gets active together, stays together. Bringing the family together for a day or an afternoon of movement is both fun and offers an opportunity to stay connected even when schedules are hectic. Plus, you’ll be instilling great health and fitness values in your children. Make a commitment to unleash your inner child and spend valuable quality time with those you love by trying some of these family-friendly activities.
Zoo Adventure Walk Lions and tigers and fitness, oh my! Consider taking your family to the zoo for an educational and fun way to get your move on. Track your steps and the distance covered during your zoo adventure by wearing a pedometer or using an app on your phone. Keep the kids engaged by encouraging them to count the number of steps between animal exhibits and the number of different animals they encounter. Plus, the fun doesn’t have to stop when you leave the zoo! Back at home, take turns acting out all the different animals.
Obstacle Course Earn the title of Parent (or Grandparent) of the Week by creating an obstacle course in the backyard or at a local park. All you need is outdoor chalk, a hula hoop, ball, bucket or trash can, cones and a towel to build a fun and challenging circuit. Do each station once, then repeat the entire circuit for a total of ten times through.
- Jumping Jacks 10
- Hula hoop Try to keep the hoop moving for one minute.
- Push-Ups 10-15
- Hopscotch Set up the classic game with chalk or tape.
- Basketball Bounce the basketball 10 times before throwing it into an empty bucket or trash can.
- Toe Touch Hops Reach to the sky, reach down to touch your toes, then swing arms up and jump hop to the sky. Do this 10 times.
- Cone Drills With a set of at least five rubber cones, have everyone weave in and out of the cones before running back to the first cone. Repeat this 10 times. If you don’t have cones, be creative by using water bottles or washcloths.
- Beatle Bug Sit-Ups Start on your back and then bring knees and upper body together like a bug. Stay in this position, then repeat 15 more times.
Jump Rope Grab a jump rope and spend some time in the driveway as everyone takes turns jumping. Compete to see who can jump the most consecutive times and challenge each other to try new tricks.
DIY Slip and Slide Spray a large piece of tarp with water and a little baby oil, set the hose at the top of the tarp and you’re in business. Let everyone take turns running and sliding as far as they can along the tarp. (Note: If you live in an area with water usage concerns, use a low flow of water.)
Volleyball Set up your own volleyball fun using a clothesline and ball. Choose teams and play on!
Fire Fly Run Mason jars and a setting sun are all you need for this fun nighttime activity. Hit your local park or another open space where the fireflies will be out in numbers. Run around as everyone tries to spot and catch the fireflies—just remember to let them go after you catch them.
Flashlight Tag Arm everyone with a flashlight and head to the backyard to run around as you try to ‘’tag’’ people by shining a flashlight on them.
Dance Party Gather everyone outside or in the living room for a dance party. Play each family member’s favorite songs while you all do crazy moves and express yourself through dance.
How do you get your family moving? Share you favorite family activity in the comments!
About the Author
Kim Truman is an all-around trainer and nutrition coach based in Dallas, Texas. She is well-known for her enthusiastic and motivational coaching style, as well as her high-energy workout programs. Discover more about Kim and her mission at www.kimtrumanfitness.com.
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This year, let’s do Mother’s Day the healthy way. We love delicious, leisurely brunches just as much as the next person, but how did long lines and too many pancakes become the best way to honor all that mom does? Why not show mom you love her by treating her to a healthy outing, instead? No matter where you live, there are plenty of active activities that will get your blood pumping while you spend quality time with the woman who always remembered to cut the crusts off your PB&J. (Or, if you’re a mom yourself, suggest that your kids take you out for one of these fun and healthy events this Sunday.)
Kayak or Canoe If the weather cooperates, seek out the nearest body of water and rent a two-person kayak or canoe. Gliding down a river or through a lake as you admire the great outdoors will be so enjoyable you won’t even notice that you’re exercising your arm muscles and core. You’ll burn over 200 calories in under 30 minutes with this fun warm-weather activity. Plus, there’s no better place to talk about life and love and dreams than out on the quiet water.
Fitness Class Between TRX, barre, Zumba, hula hooping, SoulCycle and others, there’s probably a fitness trend that has caught your eye. Indulge your curiosity and try something new together this Mother’s Day. Grab mom, pick out a class she’s always wanted to try and head out for a morning workout. If you’re not into paying for a class, try an at-home video like this 17-Minute Barre Workout or the 20-Minute Fat Blaster, instead. After you get your sweat on, whip up a batch of smoothies to reward yourself and spend some time laughing about those crazy Zumba moves.
Bike Ride Hop on two wheels and spend an afternoon looping through your local bike trail together. Even on a leisurely ride, you’ll still burn major calories without even realizing. In just 30 minutes riding casually, you can burn almost 200 calories. Pick a scenic trail for maximum enjoyment.
Park Your local park is a great place to spend an afternoon and is especially fun with the family. Challenge your family to a basketball game or see who can swing the highest. You’re all sure to feel like kids again as you work your way across the monkey bars. Make a whole day of it by packing a healthy picnic!
Hike Break out your hiking shoes and water bottle and hit a trail in the woods together. Hike up hills and over uneven terrain to challenge yourself, or find an easy trail where you can work to spot wildlife or identify birds. Thirty minutes on the trail with hills will burn up to 170 calories. Pack some homemade, no-bake protein bars for a mid-hike break to enjoy your surroundings and your company, of course.
Golf Skip the golf cart and carry your own clubs for an extra challenge at the golf course. Walking from hole to hole is a great workout for your legs, and you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on life events as you stroll together. If your long game is a little rusty, head to the driving range for an afternoon in the sun competing to see who can make the ball fly farthest. After exerting so much energy, you’ll enjoy that lunch at the club even more.
Run Many cities host Mother’s Day races, so check your local events guide to see if you can sign up together. If you’re not in prime racing form, why not make Mother’s Day the first day of training? Pick from one of the many exciting or wacky 5Ks out there and draw up a training schedule. Not only will you be building up your endurance and fitness levels, but at the end you get to share another special day with one another. Don’t know where to start? Try one of these flexible 5K training plans.
Garden Sounds leisurely, but any real gardener will tell you that working in the yard can be a full-body workout. Between squatting, raking and digging, a typical day of gardening will challenge all your muscle groups. Plus, the end result will yield beautiful plants and vegetables that mom can enjoy all year round. Get some ideas for gardening in the city, easy vegetables to plant and more in our Gardening Guide.
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The muscles of your core work together to support posture, protect the spine and improve agility, balance and power, making core strength training an important part of any fitness routine. Unfortunately, for many people, core strength training and back pain or discomfort go hand in hand. Often resulting from weak muscles and poor form, back pain is no reason to avoid core strength training, though. In fact, properly performed core exercises can simultaneously help protect your back and strengthen the abs at the same time.
Decrease the probability of injury with these back-friendly core strength exercises. Read More ›
The walk-up song is a time-honored tradition in Major League Baseball, offering players a brief moment in the big game to express themselves—and oftentimes their culture or state—by way of song. A great walk-up song has the power to get fans up on their feet, maybe intimidate the pitcher and make that long walk from the on-deck circle to the batter's box a walk that inspires confidence and a bit of swagger. While some players opt for viral guilty pleasures, an unexpected slow jam or the not-so-subtly smug, most players pick beats that get their adrenaline going and the crowd jumping, making them perfect for cardio or HIIT workouts.
To celebrate the return of America’s National Past Time, we pulled together a spring soundtrack featuring a walk-up song from one player on each team in Major League Baseball. These are the songs that get baseball’s All-Stars, Golden Glove winners, Rookie of the Year recipients and popular players pumped when they step into the batter’s box, so pop in your headphones and find out if they have the right stuff to get your heart pumping, too.
All music from MLB.com.
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Ah, rain. Some people love it—The smell! The soothing sound!—while others despise it—Wet shoes! My hair!—but no matter your opinion, we can all agree that the rain has inspired some pretty killer songs. With beach season coming just after these April showers, spring is the perfect time to take your training to the next level and we’ve got just the tunes to get you moving. Embrace spring’s rainy days with this eclectic rain-inspired playlist.
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I hate working out! There, I said it. We all have reasons for exercising, but for many of us, it’s not because we genuinely love it. Working out has a slew of health benefits, makes us feel and look better, and can even slow down the aging process and help boost our immune systems. But sometimes, those reasons alone aren't motivating enough to get us up off the couch if exercise isn't already an established part of our routines. So, how do we go from being sedentary to making fitness a regular part of our daily lives? Honestly, the hardest part is getting started—and these five steps will help give you the motivation you need to make that first step (literally and figuratively). Read More ›
Neck pain is one of the most common problems that many of us experience. Studies show that 30% of people experience neck pain, with women affected more often than men. The neck includes seven segments (or vertebrae) with discs acting as shock-absorbers between the segments. The vertebrae are supported by 18 groups of muscles that maintain support and allow function. Why so many muscles? Well, the head weighs about 10 pounds and sits about 10 inches above the shoulders with only the neck to support it. No wonder it gets sore from time to time!
So, how do we keep our neck healthy and strong? The answer is maintaining motion and strength exercises. So let’s look at both. And remember, if you experience pain, stop the exercise and consult your doctor. And don’t feel you have to do all of the exercises. Pick the ones that help the most and don’t cause increased pain. Read More ›
Perhaps the most common question I receive from patients is, ''I can’t exercise because of knee arthritis. What do I do?'' Over 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 suffer from knee arthritis. This can make exercising more challenging. As a result, many people with knee pain from arthritis just stop exercising. This can lead to obesity, loss of muscle tone, worsening of the arthritis and depression. You heard that right--exercise improves knee arthritis, and lack of exercise makes it worse! If you have knee arthritis, there are some moves you may wish to avoid until your symptoms improve:
1. Bending the knee while bearing weight
2. Flexing the knee past ninety degrees
3. Stressing the ligaments by leaping from side to side
If the above moves cause you discomfort, below are some alternative exercises that will move the knee joint safely while strengthening all the supporting muscles.
You will want to be on the floor for most of these exercises, so take your time getting down and back up again. Use a thick rug or exercise mat for comfort. If you have a firm mattress, you can even do some of these moves in bed. Read More ›
It sounds like you're referring to a "calories in vs. calories out" type of equation. First you need to understand that one pound of fat is made up of roughly 3,500 extra calories. So in order to lose one pound of fat, you need to create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories. Read More ›
Up until seven years ago when I discovered my passion for running, I, like many of you, found myself doing all that I could to meet my calories burn goal by the end of the week. When I first began my journey to healthy living, getting on the elliptical for just 10 minutes at a time was a challenge. But over time I no longer had the motivation to get on it each morning to log-in my 60 minutes of activity. The elliptical was no longer a challenge for me. I began to despise my workouts even though I knew of the benefits. I needed something new to change up my exercise routine.
Having vowed I would never give up my quest for healthy living, I joined a gym not too far from my home. In the beginning it was so much fun. I was exposed to so many new and exciting things; everything from new cardio equipment, to weight machines, free weights, even spinning, yoga and Pilates classes. I was like a kid in a candy store. Every day allowed me the opportunity to try something new. But even with all the exposure to new things, I soon found my motivation waning after a few short months. I started viewing exercise as a punishment.
This is when I decided to give running a try. I love being outside and I love a good challenge. I love competing against myself. Running fits all the criteria that best suits my personality which is why I believe I am still running after all these years. Read More ›
It's no secret that there are many people who don't like to exercise for one reason or another, but at the same time, there are many others that really enjoy it. Why is there such a love it or hate it attitude towards exercise? There are numerous answers to that question and some might say that they had a really bad past experience, they find it boring and haven't found something that is enjoyable, or they may not see the instant gratification (weight loss) that they are looking for when it comes to exercise. As many of you know, what motivates one person to do something may not work for the next person.
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Do you ever feel like you don't have enough time to get a good workout in during the day? No need to fret because you can still get an effective cardio workout in just 10 minutes. I gave up the all-or-nothing thinking years ago and have done my best to commit to at least 10 minutes of exercise each day. It all really DOES add up! Even if you did just 10 minutes of exercise a day, that is 70 minutes of exercise for the week, which is better than not doing anything at all and you can still see the benefits from doing that.
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