All Articles Tagged "exercise"

5 Cute, Affordable Gym Bags To Help Get You Motivated To Work Out

February 5th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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gym bag 6

Half the struggle of getting yourself motivated to go the gym is finding the time and energy to pack your gym bag. But trust me, once it’s packed, shoes, sports bra, colorful ensemble inside, you have something pushing you throughout the day to make sure you visit your gym before calling it a night. That bag you’re carrying.

The bag you take with you, if attractive enough, can store not only gym clothes but serve as a handbag too. Like the Sole Society Leighton stripe duffle bag above. So to help keep you in good spirits about working up a sweat, and to help you move on from stuffing your things in your tote bag or whatever bag you can find, here are five very cute and very affordable gym bags that you should treat yourself to. If you’ve been keeping up with your New Year’s resolution and getting that body right and tight, you deserve a little treat.

gym bag 1

Nike Gym Club $35

Don’t want anything too flashy? Keep it simple with this sleek, black Nike gym bag.

Gym bag 2

Steve Madden Bvoyagee Large Quilted Active Tote $42.99

Love bright colors and prints? Steve Madden’s Bvoyagee bag is about to be your best friend.

 

Gym bag 3

Under Armour UA Big Logo Tote $29.95

As a lover of all things green, I love this Under Armour Big Logo Tote. And a tote bag definitely gives everyday purse vibes when compared to bigger, bulkier gym bags.

gym bag 4

Puma Fit At Large Sports Bag $60

The mix of bright pink and melon make this durable Puma bag flashy, and a must-have item.

gym bag 5

ban.do Extreme Hearts Canvas Duffel Bag $54

You might not love the gym, but you’ll love carrying this bag to the gym. The ban.do is covered in hearts and will help you be stylish but also prepared with all your go-to workout items when you hit the streets.

Happy exercising!

Toot It And Boot It: 5 Great Exercises To Lift And Tone Your Butt

January 29th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Look, when I first got back in the gym, I never was that concerned with trying to change my posterior. I just wanted to drop the pounds. But when I started working with a trainer, it became apparent that we were going to spend at least 10 minutes out of every session, squatting for dear life. There were even classes in my gym dedicated to a better butt. I was not here for it.

But all that inadvertent squatting eventually paid off in ways that I never imagined. I wouldn’t say my booty is anything you would turn your head at on the street, but as someone who used to have more belly than backside, it’s definitely sitting up high these days. Bootylicious. Seriously, ask my fiancé…

So with that being said, if part of your fitness goals include perking up your derriere, these are my favorite (actually, they’re terrible but effective) exercises to get the job done.

 

Pulse Lunges

Full lunges aren’t really my cup of tea because of a knee injury, but pulse lunges go a long way in helping that butt sit pretty.

As you can see, you need to get in a typical lunge stance (one foot to the front, the other to the back). As you dip down, instead of doing a full lunge where your knee almost touches the ground, dip about halfway and pulse up and down at a quick pace. Three sets of at least 15 each on each leg will have your backside burning–but that’s a good thing.

Hip Lifts

I got hip to the benefits of a good hip lift after doing bridge poses in my yoga classes. And while both feet are on the ground, and the hips are lifted up high in that pose, the one-legged hip lift variation can really get those muscles in your glutes tight.

Lay on your back, arms flat next to you. Bring one leg close to your butt and bring the other one up high. Using your core and tightening the muscles in your butt, bring the high leg up and down–without bringing it all the way to the ground.

Donkey Kicks

They call them donkey kicks for a reason! This exercise is a beast on your backside.

Get on all fours with your hands right under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Bend your right knee, flex your right foot and lift said limb up to your hip. Lower your knee back down, but don’t let it touch the floor. That’s one full rep. Switch legs and repeat three times on each side for 15 reps.

Weighted Sumo Squats

Drop down low. Sounds fun, right? Not really. Especially not when you’re doing a sumo squat with a dumbbell or kettlebell. Still, it works wonders.

Get yourself a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell (I would recommend a 12-15). You can hold it horizontally or vertically. Hold it out in front of your waist. Spread your feet out wide. Tighten your core and lower your body down, pushing your hips back and keeping your knees behind your toes. Pause and then come back up. That’s one rep. Repeat.

Squat Jumps

These are actually a little fun, but they’re also quite intense.

So many people think they’re doing a squat correctly, but often, that’s not the case. When doing the typical squat, you want to get low, try to keep your chest up (unlike the woman in the gif) and keep your knees behind your toes. Once you have that down pat, when it’s time to come back up, jump, extend your arms to your side and lower back down into your squat. That’s one rep. You know what to do: repeat.

*Bonus* Barbell Squats

This one is a personal favorite as I’m doing a lot of arm and shoulder work these days. Barbell squats are like normal squats, except you’re holding weight on your shoulders as you come down into position. When you squat down, be sure to position your weight at the front of your feet.

Good luck and happy booty lifting!

 

 

Switch It Up: 5 Intense (And Much Better) Ways To Do A Plank

January 26th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Shutterstock

Planks suck. I think we can all agree that standing on your elbows or hands in an upright position for any amount of time can really get that vein popping in your head and make you feel like you’re short of breath. However…if you’re going to do them to get your core right and tight, you should maximize your efforts and do more than just the classic “stay put” plank for 30 seconds or so. Switch it up!

The following planks will do quite a number on your core and make that six-pack pop. And if you’re just starting to work on your core, have these exercises ready after doing 30 minutes of cardio. Repetition is everything, so do three sets of each plank exercise for at least 30 seconds (but a minute will really have you feeling the burn). And don’t think you have to be teeny, tiny to have a strong core and abs poking through. Enough of these planks will definitely have you flexing in your bedroom mirror.

 

Plank Jacks

It’s like jumping jacks, but on the ground. These are great for your core and your lower back!

  • Rest on your forearms
  • Have your body form a straight line (keep that butt down!)
  • Contract your abs (a.k.a., tighten them)
  • Jump the feet out to the sides at the same time
  • Return the feet back to your starting position–that’s one full rep

 

spiderman plank

Spiderman Planks

This one is a bit more complicated and will work that core, the glutes and, of course, your arms.

  • Start on your hands in a push-up position plank
  • Keep your butt down
  • Contract your abs
  • Do a push-up and bring your right knee towards your right elbow–that’s one full rep
  • Return to the plank position and then alternate sides

fashion & beauty

Plank Rocks

Previous options a little too hard for you? The old-school plank rock is taxing without exerting as much energy.

  • Rest on your forearms
  • Dig your toes and elbows in the ground and contract your abs
  • Pull your shoulders forward
  • Rock your shoulders back, creating tension
  • Try to keep the front of your feet from coming down flat (we would recommend doing this in shoes…)

Mountain Climbers

Yes, old-school mountain climbers your gym teacher always used to make you do are a form of a plank. A friend who is an instructor who specializes in core workouts said it was one of the best workouts one could do to get those abs poppin’.

  • Start on your hands in push-up position plank
  • Keep your arched back and butt down
  • Raise your right knee to your chest and return to the starting position
  • Raise your left knee to your chest and return to the starting position
  • Alternate

 

fitness exercise black fitness plank kai wheeler

TRX Plank

And if the previously mentioned core workouts are too boring, get some TRX bands, hook them up at the gym, and suspend your legs in the air for quite the complicated plank. You can leave your legs straight (keep that butt down, unlike the woman above) and hold a plank, or you can pull your legs in and do some atomic push-ups. The advanced move will work your abs, shoulders, chest and arms:

  • Slip your feet into the suspension cradles
  • Keep your feet pointed down to the floor
  • Raise up to a push-up position plank
  • Lower your body down into a push-up
  • As you come up, bring your knees in toward your elbows
  • Hold for a second or two, and then release your legs back to the starting position

Do you have a favorite (make that preferred) plank workout? Share below!

The Misogyny Is Real At The Gym

January 21st, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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The idea of seeking membership at a women’s gym probably sounds like you’re doing the absolute most, but after going from a women-only gym back to the mean halls of a co-ed facility, I can honestly say that I miss the days of all-women everything.

The thing about facilities catered to the ladies is that the environment is usually an encouraging, do-your-thing-because-I’m-not-paying-attention vibe. You don’t think about what you’re wearing. If your underwear is showing through your tights, if your shirt comes up and your gut and stretch marks make an appearance, or if you struggle through a cardio step class while everyone else gets their Shaun T on, no one bats an eye, and you don’t feel vulnerable. You’re all there for the same thing: to try and do better about your health. And even when the occasional man would appear, whether he was working at the front desk or coming in to train, aside from giving him a “What the hell are you doing in here?” stare, we went about our business unbothered. Hopping around in Zumba, pedaling on the bikes, chatting in the locker room while waiting for an unoccupied shower. The usual.

Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and flowers, as there were definitely some subpar and outdated machines in my facility. And the women-only gym I attended didn’t go over a 12 in weights. And did I mention that the facility, no matter which one I attended in the city, was always quite small? But aside from that, I made the most of what they had to offer.

Still, I eventually had to take my money elsewhere after locations closest to my home shut down. I was sad about it. My women-only gym was the start of my fitness journey. Where I began to see the pounds go. Where I first gave a personal trainer a try. Where I took my first yoga class. We encouraged one another in that gym, knew each other’s names and watched people’s kids as they would run around in the daycare room. It was a great place. But having a stable regimen and motivation, I sucked it up and felt I would be just fine heading back to a co-ed gym.

It hasn’t taken long for me to be reminded of why I didn’t like those types of facilities in the first place: Men think they own the joint.

I’ve literally been weightlifting with a weighted bar, standing behind a group of men taking up all the mirror space, and had a guy come up to me and ask, “Hey, can I see that real quick?” All that, despite the fact that a curl bar of the same weight was available for him to use. But, you know, I was just goofing around with it, right?

I’ve had gym managers hound me about why I needed to get a personal trainer to help me meet my goals while male gym-goers would simply say, “I’m good” and be left alone.

I’ve been in yoga with about 20 women where we were laying in Savasana (corpse) pose, quietly breathing, and watched a man barrel in, walk right through the middle of the class to get a mat from the back, and walk right back out. No f–ks given to the session he was disrupting, a class that he hadn’t even bothered to walk quietly to the back of.

I’ve seen men ogle women during both yoga and Zumba, pretending that they’re just trying to get a paper towel.

I’ve seen men take up a whole private workout room floor, no attention paid to the people around them, so they could do rope and box jumps while the rest of us had to pick a corner of the room.

And just yesterday a man asked me “Are you almost done?” with the Stairmaster machine because he said he usually likes to put his gym bag on the side where I am, and would prefer to use my machine.

Guys, get over yourselves.

For the most part, most men at the gym usually keep to themselves. But there are often a few who give off the vibe that they don’t feel like your form of exercise is a valid one. Whatever you’re doing ain’t sh*t to them. They don’t seem to respect space, and others think you’re only wearing those tights so they can have a good view. Basically, some gym-going men don’t take you seriously. Plain and simple.

These types of men, the misogynists of the gym-going bunch, are the ones who come up to you to tell you that you need to squat deeper. They huff and puff when you take longer than they would like to fill up your water bottle. And they say, “The cross-trainers are on the other side of the gym, love” when you work your way into the free-weight area. They’re the men who believe that the gym is a zone solely for men and that your presence in it, in some ways, is either disruptive or titillating. It’s common, and quite vexing.

As it stands in most facets of life, men enjoying behaving as though they are the gatekeepers to just about everything, including the gym. And while it can be disheartening, we have to remind ourselves of the bigger picture, of why we’re in the gym in the first place. Not to impress a musclehead, protein-guzzling, sweaty-ball smelling jerk, but to improve our health. So excuse me if I decide I’m not going to get off of the Stairmaster because you say so, or if I give you the death stare while in Warrior II cause you’re staring at my ass, or if I grab the 20-pound weight as I stand next to you with your 15-pounder, sir. While you may have come to dictate who can do what when and where in your presence, I came to work out.

Fitness Trackers Can Actually Decrease Your Enjoyment In Healthy Activities–Like Walking

January 20th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Corbis

Corbis

I’ve had a Fitbit for about a year now, and it definitely played a big part in helping me lose weight last year. With a goal of 10,000 steps a day, I was pushed to walk, dance, step–do everything to the max. But I will be honest in saying that now that most of my family and friends have the fitness tracker and invite me to take part in walking challenges every week since the new year began, I’m a little burned out with all of it. That’s probably because, according to a new study from Duke professor Jordan Etkin, trackers could be decreasing people’s enjoyment in the activities they encourage us to participate in more.

Etkin’s study, “The Hidden Cost of Personal Quantification,” which will appear in the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, found that the more information we have about the amount of steps we take, the calories we burn, the minutes we were “active” and more can make engaging in walking, and other activities, feel like a chore. The less fun these things are, the more reason we find to stop doing them. That, of course, is the total opposite of what fitness trackers are supposed to be about.

Etkins said that anything we start quantifying, we are less excited about. The more you measure and track what you do, what you eat, how long you do things and how much you eat, it becomes a pain. The Duke professor told USA Today that she was encouraged to do the study after getting her father a Fitbit and watching him like it less and less.

“He seemed very focused on those quantitive outcomes, and as a result he became much more stressed about how much he walked,” Etkins said. “Even though tracking output can encourage us to do more, it also sucks the fun out of activities we previously enjoyed, which makes us enjoy them less and be less likely to keep doing them in the future.”

How has your fitness tracker impacted your workout habits in a positive or negative way? Do you enjoy keeping up with all that info or has it become a drag?

 

Could Your House Be Making You Fat?

January 20th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

You’ve been working it out, but your house could be doing a better job of helping you stay on track. Check out these ways that your house, yes, your house, can make you fat to see if your crib is guilty.

Are You Having Sex At The Gym? Because 25% Of Gym-Goers Are

January 20th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Corbis

There was a scene in the first season of Being Mary Jane where the always conflicted title character runs into Andre, the married man she unknowingly had an affair with, after trying to avoid him.

He follows her into the women’s locker room where they have an argument about him being dishonest that ends with Andre telling her how much he loves her. Eventually, they end up having sex in one of the tiny gym showers, an old-school one with the white plastic-y curtains. And while it was indeed a steamy scene (no pun intended), I couldn’t get over the idea of having one’s body up against the walls of a shower that had been used by hundreds of funky people. An ordinary locker room shower surface is probably rife with, at the least, some athlete’s foot and ringworm waiting to happen.

And while I couldn’t see myself rolling around in the germs at the gym while trying to get some loving, a recent survey found that quite a few gym dwellers are having sex in such facilities. About a quarter of them.

According to the UK’s Metro, Ann Summers, who surveyed 2,000 Brits, found that 25 percent of respondents admitted to having sex in their workout facility. More than half said they use the gym as a place to meet people (to hell with working out!), and 10 percent stated that they carry condoms in their gym bag to be protected and ready for whatever.

About 45 percent of women surveyed said they attract men while on the cross trainer machine, which tones and lifts the butt. And men prefer to hit the lateral pulldown machine to attract the honeys while working on their biceps and pecs.

Twenty percent of respondents said they’ve hooked up with a trainer, and more than 80 percent said they’ve made connections by using dating apps while in the gym.

In case you were wondering, 31 percent of those who admitted getting it in at the gym were gay while 49 percent of participants were straight. The other 20 percent identified as bisexual.

Again, this survey was taken across the pond (and it didn’t say where exactly people were scurrying off to in the gym for sex), so this may not be as common here (though, somehow, I have a feeling it is). But I can’t help but ask if you would ever be interested in being sexually spontaneous at the gym? Why or why not? Or, if you’re brave enough to answer, have you ever had sex in the gym?

 

 

The Amount Of Cardio You Need To Burn Off 12 Of Your Favorite Foods

January 13th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Need a reason to think twice before indulging in your favorite snack? The math whizzes over at Buddy Loans calculated how much cardio you need to burn off your favorite snacks. And let’s just say, it won’t be a quick walk in the park.

Girl Talk: Does Anyone Else Have An Intense Urge To Poop After Working Out?

January 11th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Shutterstock

I have always worked out, but I have to be honest in saying that I wasn’t sincerely serious about it until last year. After years of working out and then eating God knows what after the fact, I started taking my eating habits seriously and making fitness a priority.

Nowadays, I work out for about an hour at the least, four to five times a week in an attempt to build muscle (I’m going for Angela Bassett arms with old-school Janet Jackson abs and Serena Williams’s butt). I do a mix of cardio (either a class, Stairmaster or running) and strength training, and usually feel pretty good when my workout is complete. You know, accomplished and all that jazz.

But then that urge hits. There I am, minding my business, waiting for the train, and then I get that feeling. It’s a feeling similar to the one I get when I eat something I know I have no business consuming, and then I have to prepare for my body to reject it. (Like the time I did the Daniel Fast and tried to eat Chinese food right after I finished 21 days of clean eating. Bad idea.)

I scurry home, increasing my pace during my 15-minute walk from the train to my apartment, and the minute I open the door, it’s like my bowels know I’m near the bathroom. I literally have to throw my bag and coat to the ground and run to the toilet, where I finally sit and get a ridiculous amount of satisfaction. Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty! I’m free at last.

I initially assumed that I had been eating poorly, or that my stomach had somehow become more sensitive than normal. But then I would enter the locker room and notice that folks were dumping the same loads in the gym that I was holding onto for my bathroom at home. (If you were wondering how I knew exactly, the smell was a dead giveaway.) And then I also noticed threads online with people asking, “Why do I have to poop after I workout?” and “Why do I have such huge bowel movements after exercising?” and “Is it normal to poop a lot more?”

So what is going on? Well, it seems that regular exercise equates to regular pooping. As Dr. Sophie Balzora told Buzzfeed, your bowels are moving around just as much as you are during exercise. This is especially true for serious runners, who complain of “runner’s trot.” The discomfort you feel comes from “pounding on the pavement and that mechanical disturbance, the jostling of the intestines. It seems obvious when you compare it to, say, cyclists, who are seated the whole time.”

She also noted that you may also have to poop due to the lack of blood flowing to your intestines during exercise, and dehydration.

And on a side note, if you’re trying to avoid eating crap, opting for foods like peanuts, raisins, fresh fruits, yogurt and more can make your bowels move a lot more.

But all in all, it’s been proven that more workouts equate to more poop.

A few years ago, Swedish scientists did a study comparing the gastrointestinal activity of a group of athletes during a week of heavy training and a week of rest. During the heavy training week, subjects had more bowel movements and not just that, but looser stools.

I’m one who appreciates a good trip to the toilet to do No. 2, especially when I’m in the comfort of my own home, still, the increase in toilet trips did alarm me at one point. But no worries if you’re feeling a little distressed over gastrointestinal distress. A daily poop does the body good–unless it’s a stool with blood, bad cramping, increasing weight loss, and really strong diarrhea. In that case, you definitely have a bigger problem than post-exercise pooping.

Can you relate to the need to go, and badly, after a good workout?

The New Diet: How to Focus On Why You Gained Instead Of How To Lose

December 8th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Could changing your perspective be the key to losing weight for good? Focusing on why you gained, not how to lose could be the key to ending yo-yo dieting according to this new study.

Here’s how to identify the overeating mistakes that lead to dieting, because getting your eating habits together is more than half of the battle.