Finding the Time

It is always nice to have the luxury of walking into a gym and having your pick of any workout machine you would like. However, whether it be cost of gyms near you or that you are running short on time, sometimes, the gym just isn’t going to happen. Now- you may be thinking, this is a great excuse….WRONG!  There is no excuse for not getting 20-30 minutes minimum of exercise in a day. Although you may not have access to fancy gym exercise equipment, or space for big, chunky exercise machines in your home,  there is ALWAYS a solution.

Here are a few solutions for your time sensitive schedule, your “I have no space for that” attitude and the best possible ways to maximize your workouts at home.


1.HIIT and Bodyweight Exercises

Now, I know you’ve heard it before - “HIIT training is the best” - but is it? For some, YES. It IS the best. Especially, for those time sensitive days, where all you have is 20 minutes in between work and errands and before you have to get the kids from school. HIIT can work for any body part. You can do an ab workout, such as 30 second crunches, 20 seconds rest, 30 second plank hold, 20 seconds rest, 30 second jack knife each side, 20 seconds rest and so on. If you have hand weights at home, you can also integrate weight training into your HIIT to increase intensity.


2. The Abs Company

What kind of company would we be if we didn’t provide a solution to your problem? However, this is not my time to try and sell you on every product we have ever invented. This is where I tell you that you can save space, use 1 piece of equipment for an affordable price and get in some intense workouts, even if you only have 10-20 minutes. The new X3SElite is the Sissy Squat 2.0. We have designed this piece of equipment to not only fit anywhere, but to also give you the luxury of having a multipurpose exercise machine in your home. The Abs Company also has me, Emily Carrara, the TAC in-house trainer. I am also a resource for you in anyway that you need. Whether it be to help with machines, workouts or helping you map out your fitness goals and how to reach these goals the right way, I am here for you.


3. Using Your Own Backyard

Walk outside! Go for a walk, jog, run or do some sprints! We often forget about using nature to our advantage. If it’s cold, bundle up or shovel if there is snow. There are always ways to use your backyard and surrounding areas as a tool to help you on your fitness journey. Exercise machines help, but they are not the only way. Of course, as you progress in your fitness journey, you will have to incorporate different forms of training. However, I have been seriously training for about 4-5 years now and still go on walks around my neighborhood. If my 88 year old grandmother, who has had multiple surgeries and a busier schedule than I do, can find time and motivation to go walk outside everyday, so can you. Working out is the best way to live a long and healthy life.


4. Utilizing Social Media

Ah, a las, my favorite part about today’s day in age - social media. Social media is  growing every single day. More and more resources are available EVERY DAY for people who want motivation, different exercises, meditation, what to eat, networks and connections to get information from professionals and the list goes on. It is all at our fingertips. USE IT! I have been in a rut myself, what do I do? Throw on a podcast or a workout video for things such as: at home exercises, ab workouts, HIIT training circuits, and so on. Set it up on your phone or computer and get to work. If you are going to waste time on your phone everyday (and now, you can see how much time you actually do spend on each app courtesy of the new IOS update), use that time to do something productive with your phone - use it to exercise.  

If 20 minutes is too long, at least get 10 minutes in. It is said that 75% of the population doesn’t even get 10 minutes of exercise in per day. I firmly believe that it's due to a lack of motivation more than it is a lack of time. If you need that motivation, figure out your “why”.  THAT alone should motivate you. If you need accountability, ask a friend or a family member to remind you and cheer you on. Utilize online coaches or set an alarm on your phone everyday. Do what works best for you, but just do it.

Best Ab Workout?

“What is the best ab workout?” “Do ab machines work?” “How do I target my lower abs?”

I know these types of questions all too well. Not only have I asked them myself, but as a fitness professional, I get them all the time in the fitness industry. Most people walk into a gym and don’t know exactly what to use or how to target specific areas of their core. Crunches? Effective, but, BORING! Planks? Effective, great for stabilizing the core, but, BORING! Let’s face it, ab workouts can be boring. After a tough workout, the last thing people want to do is core. However, there are a few ways to make sure you are getting your core workout in, without having to dread the post workout floor exercises.

1. Engage Your Core
During your workout, engage and brace your core during every movement. Being aware of your core during every movement will help with stabilization and help keep your back straight. It will also help with overall posture and help avoid injury.

During compound movements, such as a deadlift, it is often easy to forget about your core when the movement localizes in your legs and back. However, your legs and back are both a part of your core and foundation. By bracing your core, it helps keep that back straight. Once your back and shoulders round, your legs pick up a lot of slack. Throwing out your lower back by lifting a heavy load then becomes a serious potential issue.

2. Work Them Into Circuits
An easy way to ensure you are getting those ab workouts in, is by incorporating them into your workout. For my training program, I do a lot of circuits and supersets. I have found that by not only engaging my core, but also incorporating exercises such as planks, v-up and russian twists into my circuits, I don’t feel bad about being too tired after my workout to run myself through an ab workout sequence.

This method is also helpful because it can turn even a weight training sequence into a little HIIT workout, which is optimal for fat loss. It is important to push yourself, whether it means an extra set or sometimes just getting to the gym at all. HIIT is perfect for those days to maximize your workout, especially, if you don’t have a lot of time to spare.

3. Use Ab Exercise Equipment
As I touched on before, many people don’t know what to do when it comes to ab workouts. It doesn’t always have to be movements on the floor; in fact, most gyms have abdominal exercise equipment somewhere. The Ab Coaster and the Vertical Crunch are great machines for users of all fitness levels. Another good thing about ab machines, is that a lot of them allow you to add and remove weight depending on personal preference.

I know new ab machines can seem scary, especially if you’ve never used them before. However, you must start somewhere and ab machines are a great way to fill in the blanks when you don’t know what to do or if what you are doing is actually working! These are designed to guide you and to make sure you are targeting all of those tough spots that floor exercises may not touch.

Ab exercises are a great way to switch up your workouts and give your other muscles a break. Next time you hit the gym, give it a try! Try out a machine you’ve never used, give your workout a revamp with a new superset or transform your workout into a sweaty HIIT session! Break up some bicep curls with 10 leg raises and 10 butterfly crunches. You won’t regret it and you will leave the gym feeling more accomplished, knowing you hit your abs too!

Emily Carrara is our resident personal trainer and Social Media Manager. She’s a  graduate of James Madison University where she studied Marketing and Business. As a lifelong athlete, she has always had a love for fitness. She is now working towards her NASM certification and is a 1st Phorm Legionnaire.

What Does Your GUT Tell You?

Check out this great post on Gut Health by our guest blogger Karissa Leifken.  Karissa is a Certified Integrative Health Coach and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science. Follow Karissa on Instagram: @Karisslee_


What Does Your Gut Tell You?

What if I told you that the vast majority of people are neglecting one huge aspect of their health? What if I also told you that this thing being neglected, is likely the root cause to most people’s ailments?

I’m talking about your GUT.

Most aren’t aware of the massive importance of paying attention to gut health; and that’s okay because I’m about to give a brief synopsis of the gut’s role in our health.

The gut is essentially like a second brain. The health of your gut plays a tremendous role in the health of the rest of your body. Often overlooked, the gut microbiota is an ecosystem of bacteria, thriving within a host — A.K.A us. The health of the ecosystem depends on the health of the host AND vice versa.

An unhealthy ecosystem (unbalanced microbiota) can lead to a number of ailments within the host. And conversely, an unhealthy host can lead to an unbalanced and unhealthy ecosystem.

To elaborate further on this, the gut influences numerous mechanisms within the body, including:
Inflammation — inflammation in the gut can lead to systemic inflammation within the body.
Immune / Autoimmunity — the greatest number of our immune cells are housed, nice and cozy, in our small intestine. Inflammation and unbalanced microbiota can lead to immune / autoimmune issues.
Nutrient Absorption — poor nutrient absorption (due to inflammation) can lead to a number of issues, such as slowed metabolism, dry or thinning hair and nails, fatigue, etc.

Additionally, there are also multiple connections within the body, in which the gut is front and center:
The Gut-Brain Connection
The Gut-Thyroid Connection
The Gut-Skin Connection
The Gut-Sleep Connection
The Gut-Metabolism Connection
The Gut-Hormone Connection

Without going into too much detail about all of the above, it is clear that the gut is something that needs and deserves our attention.

SO — what can you start doing on a daily basis to ensure your gut is healthy and your ecosystem is thriving?

Let’s start with food. What foods are the best for gut health?

Considering everyone’s ecosystem can be a little different, it’s important to do some trial and error to determine which foods feel the best for you. But as a general recommendation, I like to start with incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods. The term “anti-inflammatory” in regards to food, means that these foods do not cause your gut to trigger an immune response and/or symptoms (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc.). Below are a few examples of anti-inflammatory foods:
Green Leafy Vegetables (spinach, kale, bokchoy, collard greens, etc.)
Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, apples, etc.)
Omega-3’s (salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc.)
Nuts & seeds (almonds, walnuts, etc.)
Olive Oil

We want to facilitate an ecosystem in which inflammation is at a minimum. By controlling inflammation, you are making room for good bacteria to take over and thus create a healthier, and more diverse ecosystem.

The next thing I like to recommend is to take a high-quality probiotic and (if needed) digestive enzymes. Probiotics are supplements which provide the host with healthy bacterial species that work to rebalance the gut microbiota and increase diversity in the ecosystem. However, not all probiotics are created equal, which is why it’s imperative to find a high quality one that works best for you.

Digestive Enzymes are supplements that facilitate in the digestion process in the small intestine when food is consumed. The reason for taking this type of supplement is for those who do not secrete adequate amounts of bile and pancreatic enzymes to digest food. When there is a deficiency of these enzymes, symptoms like bloating, constipation, and diarrhea may occur. Supplementing with digestive enzymes can aid in the healing of your gut and improve your ecosystem.

Lastly, a topic that is vastly overlooked, is stress. Chronic stress, whether it’s occurring from a job you hate, lack of sleep, poor diet, too much caffeine, over-exercise, etc., is another culprit of poor gut health. As stated above, the health of the ecosystem is dependent on the health of the host. A constant state of stress can manifest in many ways, but specifically in inflammation, which as we’ve discussed is a no-no for gut health. When attempting to monitor and reduce stress, I like to have my clients incorporate more mindful activities into their daily routine, such as mediation, journaling, and active breathing exercises. I also will make recommendations to cut back on caffeine, incorporate more rest days from vigorous exercise, get adequate rest with 6-8 hours of quality sleep per night, engage in daily walking or some sort of low-impact movement, and to get outside in nature.

These recommendations that I’ve listed above are a great starting point for someone who feels they need to improve their gut health. It’s important to note, however, that every person is different and trial and error is a part of the process to figuring out what works best for you.

I hope by the end of this blog, you are more familiar with the role the gut plays in our overall health and can walk away with some tips to start healing your gut and being a healthier you!

Thank you to our guest blogger Karissa Leifken for this great post about Gut Health.  Karissa is a Certified Integrative Health Coach and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science. She is currently studying for her Masters in Nutrition Science with a focus in Dietetics. Her goal is for people to discover their potential and how good their bodies are designed to feel.  Follow Karissa on Instagram: @Karisslee_