Dance your way fit

Ever find yourself thinking that you need to work-out, but don’t really WANT to? Yes, even though I love exercise and recreational activities, I too sometimes lack the motivation. But, fortunately, my better side gives in and lifelong fitness habits remind me that it’s time to get moving.

Since recently becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom/homemaker, I have found it a unique challenge to stay active (especially since I can’t run with Little C in the jogging stroller until she’s a few months old), and finding a babysitter on a weekly basis…so I can surf or play pick-up soccer ๐Ÿ™‚ …isn’t the easiest or most economical situation for us right now. AND I have recently been spoiling myself with lots of indulgent cooking/baking, SO, to counter all that, this brings me to my latest workout routine to get in shape:

Dance parties in my living room. 
By myself. 
(Well, with Little C as my sole spectator (unless she’s napping  ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, they’re not exactly “dance” parties. More like “workout moves” parties.  All I do is get out some workout equipment (below)…

…grab my wireless bluetooth earpiece and set my phone to my Cascada music station on Pandora (don’t judge; techno and the like makes me sweat), and workout to a few songs or for a set period of time, i.e. 4 songs or 20 minutes. Shorter or longer, depending on my mood…or how hungry I am; this morning I worked out before eating breakfast with these in the oven. I’ll admit, the tempting scent of baking cinnamon shortened my workout a tad ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Here’s a sample of my typical song-party workout:

  • Warm-up with some yoga: sun salutations and vinyasa flow series (forward bend, chattaranga, up-dog, down-dog, plank push-up, repeat). Sometimes I’ll throw some crescent and warrior poses in there, too.
  • Kick-boxing. This comprises a good chunk of my overall work-out. Punches with jabs, crosses, upper-cuts. Side-kicks, front kicks, back-kicks (my fave to work the hammies & glutes), and combos of kicks and punches together. After a couple minutes, I’ll add the 3 lb dumbbells with my punches.
  • Abs/core. These make up another good slice of the workout.
    • With the fitness ball
      • Knee-ups
      • Hip-pikes
      • Traditional sit-ups, including short pulses
      • Cross sit-ups, including short pulses
      • Over-head medicine ball crunch, which leads me to the medicine ball…
    • Medicine ball
      • Standing overhead “hoola-hoops”. Circulate in one direction (while circulating hips, too) and then switch directions.
      • Torso twists. Put one foot in front of the other like your taking a big step. Keep your feet firmly on the ground and holding the medicine ball, you will twist to the opposite side, i.e. if your left foot is forward, twist to your right while holding the ball at chest level (be sure your head follows your shoulders as you twist with the ball). You should feel your muscles working on the right side. Then switch sides. 
      • If you’re working with a partner you can face each other (lying on your backs) and hold the ball behind your head, do a crunch and then lightly toss the ball to your partner for them to do the same exercise. Keep “playing toss” while doing crunches. Keep track of how many you can do and make a new goal together ๐Ÿ™‚  Also, make sure the ball is not too heavy for this exercise; mine is 8 lbs and just right for me.
  • Free weights. Like I said, I’ll use the 3 lb dumbbells with my kick-boxing punches (sometimes I’ll do straight arm lifts, too, but I feel like my shoulders and neck are already somewhat chronically tense, so I try not to work those as the sole muscle group focus). The bigger 10 lb weight I will use for bicep curls and behind the head tricep extensions. 
  • Whenever I can’t think of a move, I’ll resort to good’ol jumping jacks. In fact, you can play around with the jacks and do traditional side jacks, or switch to front jacks (feet and arms move vertically instead of horizontally), and criss-cross-feet jacks. The possibilities are endless and my goal is to keep moving. You can also try squatting side shuffles (like you’re playing defense in basketball), deep squats, burpees/star jumps, etc.
  • If Pandora throws me a curve-ball and suddenly plays a much slower-paced song, then I’ll slow my routine down, take a rest and stretch, do some yoga, or do some sit-ups to match the beat of the slower tempo. 
  • Sometimes I’ll pretend I’m back in college and go a little dance-crazy. If you have mad dance skills (I don’t), you could just dance your way through a few songs and get a great workout, too. My actual “dance” moves are quite limited, so I stick with the workout moves. 
Okay, that’s my latest fitness strategy in a nutshell ๐Ÿ™‚

As for the time, this really doesn’t take that long. Like I said, choose however many songs or minutes you want to workout for and go from there. Chances are that if you only choose 2 songs or 6 minutes, you’ll be having so much fun towards the end that you’ll keep on going ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are some other definite pros to this kind of workout:

1) I’m guessing it would work great with the kiddos involved. My Little C is only 2 1/2 months old, but as she gets a little older, I can’t imagine her NOT liking a dance party with mom in the livingroom, right?! Haha.

2) It’s flexible. Choose 2 songs or 8. Slip it in before work to wake you up or at home between laundry and dinner. You can also choose how many reps of each exercise or simply do jumping jacks and crunches if nothing else appeals to you.

3) It’s within the privacy of your own home. Nobody gets to see you bust a move to Lady Gaga or Def Leppard…unless your front blinds are wide open.

4) Mood booster. Feeling down, non-productive, tired, irritated, etc?? Music is a powerful tool and getting up and moving around to the rhythm of your favorite music (even if it’s classical!) is a sure way to lift your spirits, engage your mind doing something productive, and give your physical body the strength it needs….which all lead to a happier you, (or ME, in my case ๐Ÿ™‚

5) FREEEEE. Oftentimes I bemoan the fact that I’m not “doing anything” with my BS in Exercise Science. But then I remember that at least I have a wealth of knowledge to comfortably maintain my own fitness at a level that suits my needs and not have to pay a gym membership ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hopefully this is a start to sharing my ideas with a few of you and vice versa!

What are YOUR favorite at-home exercises? I’m definitely game 
for more variety and creativity ๐Ÿ™‚

If you have questions about any of the exercises I listed above, please feel free to ask!

Side Note: Lately I have also checked out a couple of workout DVDs from the public library (a seven minute walk away from my apartment–looooove that it’s so close!). I highly recommend that you utilize the library in as many ways possible, e.g. I also cancelled my Netflix subscription since their movie selection is pretty decent!).

Side Tip: I’ve realized these past few weeks that if I can just change into my workout clothes, I feel instantly more motivated to go on that run or workout in my living room. Maybe the same will work for you!

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