Small space, big workout
October 14, 2007
It starts with that extra dinner roll.
So buttery and warm.
Then the touchdown on TV distracts you from the spoon that scoops round two of the stuffing.
By the time you hear the call, “I hope you have room for pie,” the top button has long been undone.
Your willpower decreases with every extra familial or friendly accomplice seated around the table.
But the tradition of holiday feasting doesn’t have to be a caloric conspiracy.
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And don’t use the crutch that the closed quarters of a hotel room or relative’s sofa sleeper keep you from doing anything about packing on inevitable “winter insulation.”
Bernice Trujillo is a nationally certified personal trainer with Level IV Pilates accreditation. The 30-year Steamboat Springs resident works with Peak Fitness Center and Forever Fit of Steamboat Springs and has tailored countless customized workout programs for locals to take from the gym to their homes.
But if the thought of transforming relaxing spaces into workout areas irks you, don’t worry. Halfway between the convict banging out knuckle pushups in lockdown to the caffeinated suburbanite jazzer-punching to Billy Blanks’ or Richard Simmons’ latest videos are a few simple exercises Trujillo has based on a central mantra that would make Joseph Pilates proud – align the spine and work the core muscles.
Still not budging off the couch and onto the floor? Keep in mind the oft-cited, landmark study in 2000 by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. A diverse cross-section of 195 volunteers measured in the study suggested that Americans only gain about a pound during the “winter holiday season,” from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Not bad, but the key piece of knowledge the study found was that this weight is never lost, pointing to the conclusion that folks, “accumulate a large proportion of their yearly weight gain over the winter holiday season.”
Serving sizes and selective splurging are only half of the puzzle. Staying fit is the other, and all you need is floor space and your own body weight – so start moving and save me some stuffing.
1. Grab a resistance band
Start with a five- to 10-minute warm-up to elevate your heart rate. This can be as simple as going for a quick walk, taking a few trips up the stairs or possibly jumping rope, assuming you have room and rope to spare.
Next, consider breaking out a resistance band. Most manufacturers’ bands cost less than $10 and pack away easily. A knotted piece of nylon webbing slung halfway up the band and lodged above the hinge of a closed door sets up an ideal core and upper body strength training routine.
Trujillo said to engage your abdominals from the pelvic floor up by doing a simple chest press motion.
“You tighten through your abdominals and lower back – just by hanging on, I’m using my core,” Trujillo said.
With an upright stance, squeeze to engage your pectorals and press your hands forward, bringing them together at the same rate as they extend in front of you.
2. The perfect lunges
A classic ski preparatory exercise to keep you mindful of posture is a basic lunge. Trujillo said adding weight to such exercises with a pair of compact dumbbells not only complements the exercise but also can help prevent osteoporosis.
“The purpose is posture,” Trujillo said, pointing out the importance of looking straight ahead, keeping your shoulder blades down and lifting through your rib cage. “You’re lengthening through the head, so you can have total extension through the torso.”
Trujillo sees posture expansion as the balance to weight training, which “shortens muscles.”
With dumbbells, you also can add a basic bicep curl to the lunge motion.
“These exercises are complementary to any heavy weight lifting you’re doing back home,” Trujillo said. “You’re making the muscle you already have more efficient.”
She suggested starting off the chest press and lunge exercises with low set and high rep counts, for instance, starting at two sets of 20 reps.
3. Stability balls offer versatility
A third key piece of equipment to bring along would be an inflatable stability ball with a hand pump (often packaged together for $10 to $20). Of the broad range of ball exercises to keep your core “fired,” and enhance core stability, Trujillo suggested progressing from ordinary push-ups to ones performed with feet elevated on the ball’s unstable surface.
“As you squeeze your ‘glutes,’ you get axial elongation from the top of your head through your toes,” Trujillo said.
Maintaining the three-pronged prone position helps fire multiple muscle fibers throughout your trunk, and the slower you perform the decline push-up (working toward going down, bending your elbows for two seconds, holding for two seconds, and then pressing up for four seconds) only promotes more muscle growth and efficiency.
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