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“Dance” Your Way Fit

Ever find yourself thinking that you need to workout, 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. And since recently becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom/homemaker, I have found it a unique challenge finding motivation transitioning back into the very active lifestyle I had before pregnancy (especially since I can’t run with Little C in the jogging stroller for a few more months). I’ve also been spoiling myself with lots of indulgent cooking/baking (breastfeeding makes a lady ravenous!). 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  🙂
She’s a pretty cute dance partner, right?
Okay, so they’re not exactly “dance” parties. More like “workout moves” parties. But if you tell yourself you’re just gonna dance to some music, it might help you get your head in the workout game if you’re not quite in the mood for exercise. 
Here’s what I do:
Get out some workout equipment, like so…
Turn on some music and get moving!
Here’s a sample of my typical dance 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.
    • Inflatable Exercise 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. **2019 EDIT** Please don’t do these if you are recently postpartum like I was! These will worsen your ab separation (diastasis recti). 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 🙂  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 🙂
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 make a playlist or dance through a couple songs, you’ll be having enough fun to keep going 🙂

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 🙂

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 😉 **2019 UPDATE** Four kids later, I now have a gym membership so I can use the childcare service, ha!
What are YOUR favorite home workouts? I’m always game 
for more variety and creativity!

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