I LOVE group exercise classes. Sometimes I need to do something different and shake up my exercise routine. With so many options out there -- from Zumba to CrossFit, Boot Camp to Body Pump -- there seems to be something for everyone. This should be a reason to celebrate since it gives people many options to get moving. The celebration ends early, though, when people get hurt.
The New York Times recently wrote about the surge in injuries coming out of Zumba classes. Zumba, if you're not familiar, is a Latin-influenced dance-exercise class. As the article explains, its target audience is those who don't necessarily think "traditional" exercise is for them. The issue is, though, that Zumba IS exercise and there IS proper form to be mindful about, just like every other exercise class. In every class, it is the duty of the instructor to not only teach the steps but teach them safely and to pay attention to what people are doing. The problems start when this isn't the case.
So what should you look out for when trying out a new class? Here are a few points:
If any of you are lucky enough to live close to Juicy Cafe in Seattle, you may have had the chance to enjoy their taco bowl on Taco Tuesdays. I'm telling you: It's just about the best food on earth. Since I couldn't make it to Juicy yesterday, I decided to just make a version of a taco bowl myself. It wasn't the same thing but it was delicious nonetheless. Here is a photo of the yumminess (LOL, I need some tips on food dressing; please share if you have some...):
The recipe, which is on the back of Trader Joe's Taco Mix seasoning packet and tweaked by me, is super easy. If you don't have a Trader Joe's nearby, use any taco seasoning you fancy (you can usually find some already made in the seasoning aisles in grocery stores). It takes about 45 minutes total to make and is a really great option for a weekday dinner. Makes 4 servings.
1 cup brown rice (not the instant kind; I like truRoots Germinated Brown Rice)
1 3/4 cups water
1 tbsp canola oil
2 cups chopped kale
1 lb chicken breast, cubed
6 tsp Trader Joe's Taco Mix seasoning
1 14-oz can low sodium tomato sauce
Guacamole and Pico de Gallo optional
First, get water boiling in a small saucepan and add the rice. Cover and lower heat; simmer for 25-30 minutes. Let stand for about 10, still covered, so it can steam.
In the meantime, heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add kale and saute for about 1-2 minutes. Add chicken and seasoning and toss around for 5 minutes, until chicken is browned and almost cooked through. Add in the tomato sauce and simmer for 5 more minutes, or until the mixture has thickened to your liking.
Serve over rice and garnish with guacamole and pico de gallo if you'd like. A little cilantro would also be a nice touch.
One serving has about 385 calories, 7.5 grams of fat, 50 grams of carbs and 32 grams of protein! If you choose to add this, two tbsp of guacamole or 30 grams of avocado = 50 more calories.
This is my first summer in Seattle and I’ve come to learn that when it’s nice out, working out in the gym or inside the house are not options. Even at 6:00AM, as long as it’s not raining and it’s just warm enough, I take my clients outside. It doesn’t make much sense to take a lot of equipment outside but the great thing is you don’t have to! All you need is a towel, water and sun screen. Here is a great total-body workout that will snap you into shape outside -- or wherever you may be this 4th of July weekend!
Start out with some dynamic stretching to get the body warmed up.
KNEE HUGS: Stand up nice and tall and hug one knee into your chest. Hold the stretch for 2 seconds, release the knee, take a step and bring the other knee into your chest. Repeat 10 times on each side.
PULL BACKS: Stand up nice and tall and bring one foot up to your butt, holding your ankle. You should feel the stretch in your quad but to feel it more in your hip flexor, bring your hip forward about an inch. Hold the stretch for 2 seconds, release the ankle, take a step and bring the other ankle to your butt. Repeat 10 times on each side.
INCHWORMS: Bend down, reaching for the floor with your hands and walk yourself out into a plank position. Hold the plank for a second and walk your feet back to your hands. Remain bent over and repeat the movement. Repeat 8-10 times.
ARM CIRCLES: Make big arm circles forwards 10 times; switch directions for another 10 times.
Do the following exercises back-to-back in a circuit with little to no rest between exercises. Take a 2-3 minute break after the last exercise and repeat the entire circuit 1 or 2 more times, depending on how you're feeling. Remember to drink a lot of water, especially if it’s hot. It might be tempting to work out in direct sunlight to get some color but resist the urge and find some shade.
With feet hip-to-shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward, hinge at your hips and sit back and down, keeping your spine long and belly button in. Squeeze your glutes to help bring you back to standing. Repeat 12-15 times.
PUSH-UP WITH ROTATION:
Get in pushup position. Keeping a neutral spine and your belly button in, bend your elbows to bring your chest toward the ground; push yourself up and rotate yourself into a side plank. Return to pushup position and repeat, rotating to the other side. Repeat 5-7 times on each side.
Bending your knees, get yourself down towards the ground with your hands on the floor. With your weight in your hands, jump your feet back so you’re in a plank position. Jump your feet back toward your hands and jump up into the air. Do this at your own pace but the faster you do it, the faster your heart will pump. Repeat 9 times.
LUNGE TO BALANCE:
Step forward into a lunge position, making sure your toes are pointing forward and the angle of your front shin and torso are parallel; keep most of your weight in the front foot. Push off the front foot to get back to standing but don’t let that foot touch the ground; balance on the opposite leg for 2 seconds. Repeat the movement 12 times and then switch legs.
Lie down on your stomach on your towel with your arms by your sides. Using only your mid-back, squeeze your shoulder blades together and down. Slowly bring your shoulders back down. Repeat 12-15 times.
Flip over to your back and bend your knees so that your heels are a few inches away from your glutes, toes pointed forward. Push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to bring your hips up into a bridge. Keep your belly button pulled in and don’t let the natural curve in your back change as you squeeze your hips up. Hold the bridge for 2 seconds and come back down. Repeat 15 times.
Squat down the same way you did in the first exercise but this time, using your glutes to help you, jump up into the air and land back into your squat position. Make sure the landing is soft and that your hips hinge back as you come down. Use your arms to give you momentum. Repeat 10-12 times.
Gently cool down by repeating the dynamic stretches.
And that's it, y'all! Remember to stretch after your workout, drink some more water and enjoy the rest of the day.