Friday, November 29, 2013

Burpee Burn: Weekend Workout Challenge

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving! I don't know if it's an after effect of yesterday, or if this was a really tough workout, but this one was HARD for me! My thighs were burning like crazy! 

I am going to be posting workouts all weekend, so be sure to check back tomorrow for a new one. :) I am also starting a month long exercise challenge for December. It's a commitment to getting in a minimum of 15 minutes of exercise per day. During the holidays it can be hard to stick to your workouts, but it's important to make time for your health all year long. Research has shown that most people put on weight over the holidays. Unfortunately the majority of people don't lose that weight, and it starts to accumulate each year, which can result in an unhealthy proportion of body fat. If you're up to the challenge let me know in the comments below, on facebook, or on twitter

Enjoy today's workout and get ready to Burpee!

PS I started this workout with a 1 mile run (7 minutes, 15 seconds) and finished it with another mile to cool down (8 minutes). You can substitute jump roping, walking, or cardio of your choice, or repeat the workout. :)

Beginner: 10 reps, 2 Burpees
Intermediate: 15 reps, 3 Burpees
Advanced: 20 reps, 5 Burpees

*Cardio Warm Up

1. Frogger
2. Jump Squat
3. Mountain Climber
4. Lunge Jump
5. Russian Kick
6. Surfer
7. Push-up Jack
8. Ninja Jump
9. Pendulum Hop
10. Low Jacks

*Cardio Cool Down

Monday, November 25, 2013

Better Buns: Jump and Burn Workout

Hi Everyone!

This is the second workout in my "Jump and Burn" workout series. The first workout was: Plank and Burn which focused on strengthening the core and fat burning. 

Today's workout is focused on the lower body. I used a jump rope and dumbbells, but all exercises can also be performed with body weight. Always work to your own level, and focus on form. If you can't maintain form while using a weight stick with body weight until you build up the strength and stability. 

This workout targets the entire lower half in every plane of movement. That means you are utilizing all of the small and large muscles and creating balanced strength throughout your body. 

Enjoy the workout!

PS FitnessRX recently shared a great article about the benefits of jump roping: Jump Into Quick Fat Loss

Max Reps Jump Roping during each 30 second interval.
Max Reps during each 50 second interval. 
Total Workout Time: 20 Minutes

*High Knees can be substituted for Jumping Rope. 

1. Squat Jump
-Jump Rope
2. Side Lunge Punch
-Jump Rope
3. Single Leg Hip Thrust (right)
-Jump Rope
4. Single Leg Hip Thrust (left)
-Jump Rope
5. Monkey Tuck Jump
-Jump Rope
6. Plie Jump
-Jump Rope
7. Romanian Deadlift
-Jump Rope
8. Chair Lunge
-Jump Rope
9. Sit to Stand (right)
-Jump Rope
10. Sit to Stand (left)
-Jump Rope
11. Curtsy Lunge Kick (right)
-Jump Rope
12. Curtsy Lunge Kick (left)
-Jump Rope
13. Step Up (right)
-Jump Rope
14. Step Up (left)
-Jump Rope
15. Burpee
During Romanian Dead-lifts keep your back flat and weights close to your legs. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jump and Tone Boot Camp

Hi Everyone!

Jesse and I are back to teaching fitness classes two nights a week. Tuesday is Boot Camp, and Thursday is yoga. 

I have shared some of the boot camp routines we taught last semester:
Full Body Bender Boot Camp at Home
Bender Boot Camp

I have also been working on updating the tabs on my page. If you are looking for more yoga workouts you can find them here: Bender Yoga Workouts.

Today's workout is a variation of the first boot camp class we taught this semester. There are several ways to do this workout:

1. AMRAP: Select a specific time limit that fits your workout schedule and repeat this routine as many times as you can in that time period. 

2. Intervals: 50 seconds max reps, 30 seconds of jump rope or high knees in between exercises.

3. Reps: Complete the routine for reps as I demonstrate in the video. 

In our class we completed intervals for max rep intervals, and we took them through the routine 3X with minimal breaks. That made the total workout time 40 minutes, plus warm up and cool down. 

Have a great weekend!

Repeat 1-3X

*After each exercise complete cardio of choice (jump rope or high knees). 

1. Burpee
2. Toe Tap Sit-ups
3. Lunge Kick (right)
4. Lunge Kick (left)
5. Side Plank Reach Through (right)
6. Side Plank Reach Through (left)
7. Leg Series (right)
8. Leg Series (left)
9. Leg Lift Plank
10. Pendulum Squat

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Plank and Burn: Jump Rope and Plank for Tighter Abs: 20 Minutes


Hi Everyone!

This was my workout yesterday. I alternated jump roping with 15 different plank variations to work the entire mid-section and back. Being able to do the plank with proper form results in more than just stronger abs, it also improves the strength and resilience of your low back. This helps prevent injury, and relieve low back pain. 

If you aren't sure if you have proper form ask someone, look at yourself in a mirror or have someone take your picture while you hold plank. 

Although this is an incredibly effective exercise, it is often performed inaccurately. 

During Leg Lift Plank don't allow the back to arch.
Maintain a strong core throughout the movement to support the low back
and activate the glutes. 
I hope you all enjoy this workout. Remember, if you don't have a jump rope you can substitute high knees or mountain climbers in between planks. 

Have fun!

*Plank 50 seconds per exercise, Jump Rope 30 seconds between each exercise. 
The entire routine takes 20 minutes. 

1. Forearm Plank
-Jump Rope
2. Right Side Plank
-Jump Rope
3. Left Side Plank
-Jump Rope
4. Chatarunga Plank
-Jump Rope
5. Rotating Plank (on the forearm)
-Jump Rope
6. Knee Drop Plank
-Jump Rope
7. Plank Jack
-Jump Rope
8. Elbow Tap Plank (right)
-Jump Rope
9. Elbow Tap Plank (left)
-Jump Rope
10. Leg Lift Plank
-Jump Rope
11. Plank Crunch
-Jump Rope
12. Side Plank Hip Lift (right)
-Jump Rope
13. Walk the Plank 
-Jump Rope
14. Side Plank Hip Lift (left)
-Jump Rope
15. Plank Step
-Jump Rope

Saturday, November 16, 2013

17 Lbs and Counting: One Woman's Journey in Weight Loss and Philanthropy: Inspiration

Hi Everyone!

Today I am happy to share with you an inspiring weight loss success story. This summer my friend Rose started her journey to lose weight and make a difference in the world. For every ten pounds she loses she is making charitable donations to different causes, and blogging about her journey/experiences along the way.

You can find her blog here: My Change for a Ten and her facebook page here: My Change For a Ten Facebook.

Rose's first charity included a donation of time and food to the homeless people of Skid Row and the Monday Night Mission.

Since starting her blog Rose has successfully lost and kept off 17 pounds, and she is going strong and getting healthier along the way.

Check out my interview with Rose below,

Congratulations on losing your first 10 lbs! What made you decide to celebrate your success by donating to charity? 

When I moved to California I felt myself feeling more connected to the universe and felt more of an overall sense of well being. I am one with nature and all creatures of the planet. I decided I wanted to help with charities as much as possible to give back and share my love of life. In 2012 I planned Downward Dog For Cats, a Yoga event in Griffith Park in Los Angeles to raise funds for a local animal shelter. At the same time my weight had become a lingering issue, and I was losing and gaining the same ten pounds for one year. I realized when I do something for charity I always follow through, but I did not have the same success with my weight loss. I am a former dancer and it had been my wish to return to my former shape and embrace turning 47 on the most positive note. I am also a poet writer, so in July 2013 I came up with the idea if I were to combine my love of making a difference with my weight loss and fitness goals I would not have any excuses, and I could write about my journey and the charities in a blog. When I decided to take on this venture my co-worker Mike who is now a good friend offered to be my personal trainer and help me with the charities. The first week of my blog I was cast in a Richard Simmons video, all of these things came together at the exact time and I was so inspired and ready to take on my new challenge. Of course my best friend Melissa Bender has always been such an inspiration. Her journey is awe inspiring and she always looks to help people be a better version of who they are. I could not have started this without the help of my friends.
What have you been doing to achieve your fitness/health goals?  
In the beginning I walked daily, and went to Richard Simmons classes following the video. He is very inspiring. I have been working out with my trainer Mike once a week since July, and I attend Yogaworks in West Hollywood three to five times a week. I attend yoga at Pink Iron with Nicole once a week. I am now running with Mike, and on my own. I am a beginner runner but I am determined to take on this new challenge and he thinks I can do a 5k soon. When at home I do Melissa Bender videos and her yoga videos. I plan to return to ballet classes eventually. I eat extremely healthy, and I watch my sodium, fat , cholesterol and portion sizes. In three months I have not allowed myself a cheat day, but come Thanksgiving I will cheat with a little abandon.

What is your first charity? 
My first charity is The Monday Night Mission. They are a group who feeds the homeless at Skid Row in Los Angeles Monday through Friday evenings. I donated food and also donated dinner courtesy of my employers at Seasons 52 in Century City California. When I told Seasons 52 what I was doing they offered to donate food on my behalf. Chef Jessica prepared an amazing pasta and chicken dish with baguettes. I am so grateful to Chef Jessica and the whole management team for their support. I also donated my time and service to the cause. Helping the homeless has always been a goal for me. I wrote a poem about the subject when I lived in NYC.
What made you choose them? 
I have been following their Facebook Page and I have wanted to help them for some time. The work they do is truly selfless and beautiful. No soul forgotten.
What was your favorite part of the experience? 
The way everyone comes together for the better of mankind. No egos, no judgement. We are all the same, connected to the core that is our humanity. The people who serve and donate are selfless angels.
Most difficult part? 
The reality of the injustices that occur right under our noses. Skid Row is tragic, and Mel from The Monday Night Mission took us on a tour of Skid Row after our service and it was terribly disturbing and sad. Afterwards I was emotionally numb until the middle of the night. At that point the emotions and tears flowed and I was able to write about my experience. I plan to assist them again in the near future.
Who helped you on your first mission? 
Mike was on board since the beginning, so it was Mike, his girlfriend Maria, my friend Courtney, her boyfriend Danny and of course myself. Chef Jessica and Seasons 52 helped with the amazing donated dinner.
What is your next charity? 
I am currently searching for a 20 pound charity. My original twenty pound charity is now my thirty pound charity since it is going to take more planning. Since the holidays are approaching I was thinking about spending some time at a Nursing Home during December as my 20 pound goal. I am researching at the moment.
How close are you to your next weight loss goal? 
I am 3 pounds away from my 20 pound weight loss goal and charity but I do not do the charity until I am five pounds past the weight milestone. That way I know the weight is off for good even if my weight fluctuates.
Has your fitness program changed at all along the way? 
It has evolved. Mike changes up our workouts always, and I have excelled at some of the exercise moves that were so difficult in the beginning. My yoga practice is evolving as well, I am so much stronger and I can now do wheel pose on my head and I did my first shoulder stand. I am now running, something I thought I would never attempt.
What inspires you to keep going on days you don't feel like it? 
I am truly enjoying the process as well as the results and I love to exercise and do yoga. Knowing I am able to help with charities and in the meantime become healthier and stronger keeps me moving forward. I have people telling my that my journey is inspiring them. I believe we all are here to motivate and inspire each other. My saying is to remove the letter e from the word ego and just go for it.
Favorite healthy food: 
I am obsessed with Think Thin Bars, Brownie Crunch. They are sugar free, gluten free and at six am in the morning I enjoy one with my cup of coffee. I am also great at making healthy vegetarian soups and chili. Just tonight I made a Lentil and Black bean Chili with sweet potatoes and assorted vegetables. My husband James loves my soups and has become healthier as well and is also starting his own fitness journey. He has lost 16 pounds since I began my mission. I am rubbing off on him and he is extremely grateful. He now speed walks over an hour a day and has an extra pep in his step.
Favorite Workout Move: 
Balance poses, I have amazing balance.
Favorite moment on your journey: 
I have a few and it is all about the people that have touched me along the way. The Richard Simmons video was amazing. Getting to know Mr Simmons has been a blessing and he is so inspiring. At the video I made three new friends. Francie who I have become very close with, and Susan and Joanne who I will see in November when they visit Los Angeles. Getting to know Mike, who went from being a co-worker who I did not know at all, to becoming my inspiring trainer and good friend. The Monday Night Mission and all the people who give so much of themselves. I am humbled by the beauty of humanity. I have become so liberated, and I am conquering my fears along the way.
Overall goal: 
I was 197 pounds when I began and I am now 180 pounds. I hope to reach 130-140. That gives me a lot of time to help more charities and I am up for the challenge. I also plan to improve on my running, and do a few 5k's in the future. I want to eventually take ballet classes and ballroom/latin classes again. To improve and evolve in my yoga practice, and eventually to get certified so I can help others as I have been helped.
Love and Light

Thursday, November 14, 2013

15 Minute HIIT: Quick Full Body Workout

Hi Everyone!

It's a HIIT day! :)

I love interval training, and this full body routine was fun. I was still tired from teaching a boot camp class the other night, but it felt great to get myself moving. 

I hope you all enjoy this routine. If you're up for it repeat it 2-3 times. 

Have fun!

Max reps during each 50 second interval, 10 seconds of rest between exercises. 

1. High Knees
2. Spiderman Push-ups
3. Russians
4. Warrior Deadlift (right)
5. Warrior Deadlift (left)
6. Mountain Climbers
7. Temple Tap Abs
8. Frog Hopper
9. Curtsy Lunge Kick (right)
10. Curtsy Lunge Kick (left)
11. Burpee
12. Heel Tap Plank
13. Plank Pop-Up
14. Plie Squat
15. High Knees

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Balsamic Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Hi Everyone!

I enjoyed this recipe so much that I had to share it. :)

I made this for dinner, and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch for two days afterward. Normally Jesse isn't a fan of sweet potatoes, but he loved them mashed. The sweet potatoes would make a great healthy addition to your Thanksgiving table in a few weeks. On days focused on indulgence it is great to have some healthy alternatives available. 

The recipes are below!

Balsamic Chicken

4 Chicken Breast
4-5 Cloves of Garlic
1 cup fresh Basil
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar (use less for lighter flavor, more to increase the taste)
1/4 cup water
1 cup sliced Mushrooms (I used one whole package of baby bella mushrooms)
1 pack Cherry Tomatoes (sliced)
1 medium Onion sliced

-Pre-heat over to 375 degrees.
-In a blender combine: garlic, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and water. Blend until pureed. 

-Place chicken breasts in baking dish with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and onions. Pureed mixture can be poured over the entire dish or directly over the chicken. 

-Bake until chicken is baked completely through (approximately 30-40 minutes). 

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
*I made enough sweet potatoes for 7-8 meals. 

-3 Large Sweet Potatoes (3 lbs)
-1.5 tablespoons butter (optional)
-3/4 cup skim milk
-4-5 tablespoons Plain Greek Yogurt (0% fat)
-Salt and Pepper to taste
(milk and greek yogurt proportions can be varied to achieve your desired mashed potato texture. Add ingredients slowly as you mix potatoes.)
(*for a more savory version of these potatoes add 3 cloves of garlic, lightly sauteed in the butter before adding to potatoes). 

-Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Place them in a large pot, cover with water and boil until tender. Potato pieces should fall off of a fork when speared. Do not over-boil or potatoes will become mushy. 

-If using garlic saute in butter.

-Return potatoes to pan.

-Add milk, and Greek yogurt. Mash potatoes until desired consistency is achieved. (I used an electric hand mixer, and added milk  and Greek yogurt slowly. I increased the creaminess by adjusting the amount of Greek Yogurt to the proportions listed in the recipe). 

-Salt and Pepper to taste. 

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Better Booty Workout: Glutes, Hamstrings, Thighs, Legs

Hi Everyone!

Today's workout is all about the lower body! I used dumbbells and a barbell for this workout, but all exercises can be performed with body weight or dumbbells. Select whatever is going to challenge you the most!

Even though this was a non-plyometric workout I was dripping with sweat and breathing heavy from the challenge of the workout. I followed it up with an easy paced 1 mile run on the treadmill. 

Now I am cooking a healthy dinner (which will double as my lunch for tomorrow). Tonight's menu is baked balsamic chicken and mashed sweet potatoes. I have never made mashed potatoes before, so I am excited to see how they come out. I will share the recipes so check back for that. :)

Today's workout had me sweating!

Beginner: 10 Reps
Intermediate: 15 Reps
Advanced: 20 Reps

1. Front Squat
2. Mountain Climber
3. Lunge Kick (right)
4. Lunge Kick (left)
5. Hip Thrust Frogger
6. Bulgarian Split Squat (right)
7. Bulgarian Split Squat (left)
8. Romanian Deadlift
9. Hip Thrust (right)
10. Hip Thrust (left)

Lunge Kick (part 1): Both Knees form 90 Degree Angles. Front knee over ankle.

Lunge Kick Part 2: Kick the rear leg to a comfortable height.
Return to starting position. 

Split Squat (part 1): Back foot rests comfortably on a sturdy surface. 

Split Squat (part 2): Lower your body, bringing the front thigh parallel to the ground.
Knee stays behind your toes.
Straighten the front leg to return to starting position. 

Hip Thrust Frogger: In between each exercise return to a solid plank.
Form a straight line from shoulders, hips, to heels. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Full Body Workout: Strengthen, Sweat and Run

Hi Everyone!

This was my workout last night, and I really enjoyed this one. I came home from work feeling tired, took a quick nap, and woke up rejuvenated and ready to go!

I alternated cardio rounds in between each workout set. I ran on my treadmill, but the other option is to complete the jump rope workout video at the bottom of this post (1 round=6 minutes), or do another form of cardio of choice. The goal is to get your heart rate up, and work up a sweat. 

My cardio of choice today was mile repeats. I ran a total of 4 miles during this workout. 

Remember to always work to your level, and adjust the challenge to your needs. :)

Enjoy the workout!

Beginner: 10 reps
Intermediate: 15 reps
Advanced: 20 reps


1. Surfer
2. Single Leg Step-Up (right)
3. Single Leg Step-Up (left)
4. Curtsy Lunge (right)
5. Curtsy Lunge (left)


1. Knee Drop Plank
2. Side Plank Elbow Tap (right)
3. Side Plank Elbow Tap (left)
4. Leg/Hip Lift
5. Bicycle


1. Twisted (Oblique) Push-up
2. Dips
3. Rowing Shrug
4. Tricep Push-up (right)
5. Tricep Push-up (left)


How to Use a Foam Roller to Decrease Post Workout Soreness

Hi Everyone!

In this video I demonstrate how to use a foam roller to decrease pain in your shins, hamstring, calves, quads and shoulders. 

Foam rolling is a great way to give yourself a deep tissue massage. Foam rolling can breakdown scar tissue and adhesion's that build up within your muscles, increasing blood flow and improving muscle flexibility. Foam rolling immediately after a workout, and following it up with static stretching can help prevent the build-up of scar tissue in your body. 

Improving your blood flow does more than speed up the healing process, it also increases your bodies abilities to provide oxygen and nutrients to your body. It helps prevent shortening of muscles which can lead to bio-mechanical issues and repetitive strain injuries.  

This simple tool can improve the speed at which you heal, and help prevent injury, and you can reap the benefits with as little as 5-10 minutes of foam rolling. 

The first time you try it it might feel painful. Try to pause on areas that feel tight. These are the areas that need your attention most. 

The benefits of taking care of your body are plentiful, so take a little time for yourself and foam roll. :)


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

20 Minute Yoga Flow and Stretch

Hi Everyone!

This was my workout last night. It's a yoga flow and stretch. It's quick (20 Minutes), but it felt great to do some yoga. 

With yoga (and any exercise) it's very important to listen to your body. You want to challenge yourself, but you never want to bounce in any poses (for example trying to touch your toes: reach as far as you can, but don't bounce up and down to stretch further). 

Also, your balance can vary from one side of your body to the other. I have better balance standing on my right foot than my left. Everyone is different. Challenge yourself. 

I included an inversion in this routine. In the video I talk about supporting the pose through your arms. You do not want to put pressure through your head. If you don't have the strength to do this yet keep building up to it. 

If you have uncontrolled or poorly controlled high blood pressure, neck problems (herniated disks, etc), or glaucoma skip the headstand. 

Health is more important than attempting to do a yoga pose or exercise. :)

Enjoy the workout!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Belly Fat Burn: 10 Minute HIIT and Bonus Dip Stand Workout

Hi Everyone!

My workout today was separated into two parts: 10 Minute HIIT Belly Fat Burn, and a bonus round with the dip station. Both videos are below. 

I repeated the HIIT workout twice, and only went through the dip stand routine once (although I am going to repeat the dip stand routine one more time tonight before my shower). 

I hope you enjoy the workout. Jesse went through it with me on the second round, and we both found it challenging. I am going to be increasing the intensity this week. 

Last night Jesse and I went to my sister's annual Halloween party, and I got to dress up as Wonder Woman. It was a lot of fun. I love Halloween, and typically seize the chance to dress up as one of my favorite superheros. :)

I hope you all enjoy the workout(s)!

Max reps during each 50 second Interval, 10 seconds of rest between exercises. 

1. Mountain Climber
2. Russian Twist
3. Frogger
4. Crunch & Tap
5. Russian Kicks
6. Temple Tap Abs
7. Plank Jacks
8. Heel Tap Abs
9. Donkey Kick
10. Hip Lift

1. Reverse Pushup
2. Leg Raise
3. Ab Twist
4. L-Lift
5. Tick Tock Abs

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lean Muscle, Fat Blaster and Jump Rope Workout

Hi Everyone!

Today's workout has two parts (both videos are below). I started off with a 6 minute Jump Rope cardio workout/warm-up. If you want to maximize your benefits during a workout you should always warm up. 

Jumping Rope is also a great stand-alone workout. Check out: Health Benefits of Jumping Rope. You can always add jump roping before or after any workout. I don't talk about it enough, but you should always warm-up and cool-down to optimize the benefits of your workout. You will be able to complete the workout at a higher intensity, and increase the benefits of your metabolic system if you are warmed up. Stretching should be completed post-workout. 

Part 2 of the workout is a Lean Muscle, Fat Blaster. It's a great workout for building strength and definition, while simultaneously burning away fat. It's a HIIT workout, so push during each 50 second interval, and rest for 10 seconds between exercises. Remember to always listen to your body, and work at your own pace. If you are just starting out don't be discouraged if it's hard. Write down what you are able to do the first day, and make your goal to improve on that each time you do the workout. 


PS I was in Beast-Mode today so I followed this up with a 4 mile run (at an easy pace) outside with Jesse. I did one round of each of the workouts below. If you aren't running you can increase the number of rounds, or make it work with your schedule/routine. 

Repeat: 1-3 Times

Repeat: 1-3 Times

1. Burpee
2. Lunge Kick (right)
3. Lunge Kick (left)
4. Plank Lift to Down Dog
5. Table Kick (right)
6. Table Kick (left)
7. Russian Kick Push-up
8. Pendulum Squat
9. Monkey Jump Push-up
10. Lunge Twist