Tag Archives: tips

4 Moves to Release Tension in the Neck & Shoulders Using a Tennis Ball

If we feel tight or tense anywhere, it’s often in our neck, shoulders and upper back. Yoga leaders Amy Younkman and Cary Fyfe share 4 fantastic and easy ways you can use simple tennis balls to release that tension from the comfort of your own home or even while traveling.

 

You Might Also Like:

Advertisements

5 Tips for Proper Running Technique

iGnite instructor and running expert Alli Phillips shares her top 5 tips for proper running form and technique to improve running efficiency and speed, prevent common running injuries, and allow runners to enjoy this most elemental, fundamental, and wonderful exercise for a lifetime.  Running with better form will make you more efficient and faster; and vice versa, running faster makes you more efficient and improves form.

1. Upper body alignment

  • Stay in a stacked vertical plank: head in alignment with shoulders, ribs and hips.
  • Strong core: all runners should have a strong core to support that vertical plank, so be sure to include some good core strengthening exercises into your running routine
  • Relax the shoulders

2. Lower body position

  • Pelvis under ribs: keep hips neutrally aligned under the ribs. Think of your pelvis like a bucket, not tipping it one way or another, hold it steady under your vertical plank.
  • Strong glutes: be sure to incorporate glute-strengthening exercises like squats, lunges & step-ups in your running routine because strong hips & glutes will help maintain that neutral pelvis
  • Keep  soft, slightly bent knees through all points in your run, keeping your knee like a loaded spring. This reduces the impact on your joints.
  • Feet under the hips

3.  Foot placement or strike

  • You want to the foot to land right under the hip when you’re running
  • Forefoot takes the weight

4. Forward lean

  • When you run, you want a slightly forward lean with your full body
  • Lean & drive from your hips (or your center of mass)
  • Maintain neutral connected plank position as you lean forward

5.  Cadence

  • Fast Turnover: to go faster, simply increase the rate of your step — don’t widen your stride
  • Quick light steps

DRILL: Sub-Max Sprints
Complete this drill after a 10 minute warm-up. This drill will teach your body how to maintain proper running form at a higher cadence/speed.

  1. Run in place 5-10 seconds focusing on body position and high cadence/turnover
  2. Lean or “fall forward” and run fast for 20-60 seconds or until your cadence slows and/or form is lost

Repeat 3-10 times based on your level of fitness.

 

You Might Also Like:

Family Fitness FUNdamentals

iGnite Exercise Playdate

by Alli Phillips M.Ed.

A child’s first and most important teachers are her/his parents, and just as daily reading to our children helps develop literacy, daily exercise teaches our children healthy living practices.  Furthermore, exercising on our own, with a group, with neighbors and friends, and especially with our children and families, demonstrates that we value our health, as well as theirs.  Weaving exercise into daily routines teaches kids that fitness is a way of life, how we live, and how we live well.

The Cross-Training Playdate class I teach for iGnite is offered for women with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, and provides moms the opportunity to get out, exercise, and “play” with other moms, while their children enjoy a built-in playdate of their own.  And, women who attend this class, while enjoying an exercise fix and some “mommy-time,” are also modeling healthy habits for their children and creating for them a “fitness-lifestyle” framework.

DEVELOPING A FITNESS LIFESTYLE
Suggestions for Mommies of Young Children (and Daddies too!)

MAKE A PLAN
Based on your current level of fitness, your goals, your work schedule, and your family’s routine, devise a daily exercise plan by which you achieve the weekly totals below:

  1. 100+ minutes of aerobic conditioning 
  2. 30+ minutes of muscular endurance and strength training
  3. 30+ minutes of flexibility and balance work
  • Write your plan in your calendar. 
  • Expect the unexpected…. Having kids means “stuff” will come up and there will be days, weeks, even months when you are not able to exercise as much as you’ve planned….
  • Keep an attitude of gratitude for your current level of health and fitness and your families’, and enjoy any amount of time you have for exercise.
  • Be kind, patient, and gentle with yourself when/if you do not or cannot stick to “the plan.”   It takes time to develop a fitness-lifestyle, and even after exercise routines are established, they are ever-changing and evolving. So, plan to….
  • Make changes to your routine periodically, mindful of what from your original plan is working and what is not, and what activities and exercise modalities “enhance and improve your quality of life.”

 

BREAK IT UP. SQUEEZE IT IN.
If you do not have a ½ hour or hour block of time in your day for a large “workout meal”, try to “break it up” and “squeeze it in” with shorter bouts of exercise, “exercise snacking,” throughout the day. Actually, the fitness benefits of “exercise snacking” are equal to or greater than those of longer-duration exercise if the intensity is higher. So… no time for your regular workout class? Run the stairs in your house between sets of push-ups and squats during your baby’s morning nap; after a picnic lunch with your toddler at the park, play chase between sets of lunges and dips; and/or after dinner take a family-walk in the neighborhood followed by a game of “Yoga-Simon-Says.” What a great day of exercise!… Make that a great day, period.

playdate3 

KEEP IT SIMPLE

  • Aerobic conditioning can be as simple as a walk or bike ride with your children, to/from school, the neighborhood library, or the grocery store. Or for moms of babies, “cardio stepping” on your front porch during your infant’s morning nap is a great way to get a quick aerobic-fix.
  • Muscular endurance and strength work need be nothing more than squats and push-ups thrown into your day whenever you have the opportunity.
  • And a few simple yoga poses like down-dog, warrior I, II, III, and plank, mixed into your daily routine will improve your balance and flexibility, not to mention calm your mind and open your heart.

MAKE IT FUN
As I mentioned, parents are role models and we teach our children by example, but our children teach us too! My children have taught (and continue to teach) me how to make exercise play, and vice-versa, how to make play exercise. With older kids the opportunities for “play-based fitness” are endless; sports are an obvious way to enjoy exercise with our children; but equally fun are good-old-fashioned playground games like tag, duck-duck-goose, hop-scotch, jump-rope, and relays. Also, neighborhood-public tennis and basketball courts and tracks may be available for trike-bike-and-scooter-riding; so while the kids run, ride, and/or scoot around, mommy can do the same. Finally, for moms with babies and very young kids, squats beside a baby’s crib or a child’s bed can turn into a game of peek-a-boo, push-ups with a 2-year-old on your back can become a game of “bucking-bronco,” and yoga poses can be integrated into “tummy-time” for infants or a game of “Yoga Simon Says” for toddlers.

abs

THE FUNdamental EXERCISES
These simple exercises are ALL you need for a well-rounded fitness program.  They can be integrated easily into the daily routines of women at various stages of mommy-hood, adjusted for all levels of fitness, and tailored to personal goals. And with a little imagination, creativity, and inspiration from your children, they can also be incorporated into “play.”

Lower Body 

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Step-Ups

Upper Body

  • Push-ups
  • Dips
  • Rows or Pull-ups

Core

  • Plank
  • Ab Crunches
  • Back Extensions

Flexibility & Balance

  • Yoga
  • Down Dog
  • Warrior I, II, III
  • Plank/Side-Plank
  • Twists

Cardio 

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Aerobic Stepping – on stairs, a curb, or low ledge
  • Jump Rope
  • Track, Tennis Court, or BBall Court Drills
  • Playground Circuits

plank

downward dog

…Now go play! 

alli teaching

Alli Phillips has years of experience teaching child-friendly exercise classes for moms in the Austin, Texas area, and she teaches iGnite’s Cross Training Playdate class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:45am in central Austin.

During this class, moms enjoy a cross-training opportunity while their babies, toddlers and pre-school age children enjoy the outdoors and playtime in the park. Lifting primarily body weight, this mom-specific class emphasizes functional fitness, fundamental strength training, cardiovascular conditioning and yoga-based flow. Not only does this class leave moms feeling rejuvenated and strong, but it’s a perfect time to model healthy habits and actions to our children.   All fitness levels are welcome.  View the class schedule here.

RELATED POSTS:

5 Rules to Safely Exercise in Summer Heat

by Catherine Hearn

by Catherine Hearn

Summer is HOT in Texas, this we know. With average high temperatures for June and July in the mid-90s, we often find ourselves avoiding the outdoors and consequently missing out on the energizing, rejuvenating and relaxing benefits of spending time in nature. This summer, instead of letting the heat dictate your plans for you, enjoy the heat smartly so that you can still enjoy being active and outside. How so? Plan your time outdoors strategically by scheduling outdoor activities as close to sunrise and sunset as possible. For us Austinites, that means around 6:30am and 8:25pm. On the other hand, if you do find yourself exercising outdoors during the heat of the day, here are a few pointers to help keep you safe and as comfortable as possible:

  1. Hydrate! Drink fluids before you feel thirsty, as thirst is not a good indicator of either dehydration or fluid needs.
  2. Allow yourself to acclimatize to exercising in the heat (which can take 10-14 days). Until your body is completely adjusted to the intense heat, reduce the intensity of your exercise.
  3. Dress as lightly as possible and in fabrics that breathe or wick away moisture. The more loose-fitting the better!
  4. Wear sunscreen with a rating of at least 20-30
  5. Always wear a hat if you will be exposed to direct sun rays. The head is a prominent place to gain heat, not just to lose it!

Long story short, don’t dread the Texas summer heat — outsmart it!

Leave a Comment

LIVE WELL LIBRARY: Helpful Tips for Beautiful, Healthy Skin

Tips for Healthy, Beautiful Skin

Is anyone else’s skin particularly dry lately? As we all know, the cold, dry winter months can be very harsh on our skin. That’s why this month we’re bringing you helpful tips for maintaining healthy, beautiful skin, courtesy of Ann Webb, founder and creator of Skin by Ann Webb.

  1. Exfoliate daily, but be gentle.  Removing dead skin cells is your single most important step to younger-looking skin. It is important that your exfoliator be gentle so that you can use it often. A great option is a wet washcloth.
  2. Hydrate your skin throughout the day.  We are all born with plump, round skin cells that are full of water, but over time we lose this water due to cell barrier weakening, free radicals, pollution and UV rays. In order to combat this process, strengthen the cell barrier with antioxidants, vitamins and protecting extracts throughout the day.
  3. Skip extractions to avoid enlarging your pores.  The extraction process is incredibly harsh on your pores and, if done regularly, stretches out the delicate skin and allows room for additional oil to seep in your pores. You can never truly make pores smaller, you can only make them appear smaller by avoiding unnecessary extraction procedures and by bleaching out the melanin that affects the color of your pores.
  4. Use the skin products you use on your face on your neck and chest as well.  “It amazes me how many times my clients have told me they never thought of putting products on their neck, chest, or hands,” says Ann. Don’t make the mistake of allowing your neck and hands to age faster than your face.
  5. Sleep on silk to avoid abrading your skin.  There are very few people outside the field of dermatology who are aware of how abrasive the majority of fabric materials can be to the face, even natural fabrics like cotton. Silk is a natural, breathable fabric recognized for its kindness to the aging process. It is also hypoallergenic, so there is no risk of sensitivity.

For more skin tips by Ann, visit www.awskinclinic.com

Wisdom from the Big Bang Birthday

Dad playing football with all the grandkids

Dad playing football with all the grandkids

See the distant road rather than the mud on the windshield.
— Bill Swinney (Kathleen’s father)

Action Item:
Fill your life with joyful, positive and passionate people, thoughts and things and remain focused on them. Never forget that life is an adventure.

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

This month we celebrated my Dad’s big BANG 88th birthday at his ranch. Seriously, it was a bang of a birthday, as he has an authentic Civil War cannon that he loves to fire to commemorate another year of his ‘great adventure.’ This year we had an Eight Bang Salute celebrating 88 years on the 8th of July.

Dad has shared his enthusiasm for adventure with his six children throughout his life, and he taught us that nothing is impossible!! For example, when we were young he threw six ropes off the back of the boat and had us get up and ski together. In the mid 60’s, he created the first parasailing expedition by going to the local Army Surplus Store and purchasing an old parachute. He cut holes in it, tied it to the back of the boat with a ski rope and took off with one of my brothers dangling from the parachute in a small makeshift rope seat. It was quite a site to see back then!

Just four years ago at the age of 84 he decided to build a big new ranch house by himself. He has always had an altruistic spirit and hired some ex-cons and a one legged carpenter to assist him. He finished his pride and joy in less than a year. Unfortunately, the ex-cons returned to rob him and stole his truck!

Following the big bang birthday I received a hand-written letter from my Dad — something he does a couple times a year to all of his children. He expressed his joy for life, along with incredible wisdom. This is what he wrote:

“Life has been a great adventure for me—and it continues to be so. Remember these things:

  • Believe there are opportunities for success instead of pitfalls leading to failure. Don’t let trivialities get you side tracked

  • There are a myriad of positive ways to view life—so keep the negative out of play.

  • Remember the redeeming value of rest and the exhilarating value of work and KEEP THEM IN BALANCE.

  • The body will follow the mind until it collapses with fatigue, so if you can keep your body fit and strong then you can get more performance as your mind pushes the body into high test situations.

  • Most importantly, remember the human body is the most complex chemical plant God created and the chemicals are dispersed by how one thinks. Thinking positively dispenses chemicals that lead to accomplishment, and daily accomplishment puts “OLD AGE” on hold! Sounds simple, BUT IT WORKS!!”

This is only one of many wisdom notes my father has written me and eventually I will share them all. Until then, I do not doubt that Dad will someday meet our Heavenly Father, exhausted and exhilarated from truly living and thoroughly enjoying this life that He so generously gave us. The thought “What if I would have…?” will never enter his mind, and I strive to carry on his grandiose passion and joy for life.

I found this 67 year old inspiration water skiing barefoot with a friend and while I not sure I want to ski barefoot at 67, she inspires me to never stop. She’s pretty remarkable!!

Leave a Comment