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Move of the Month


Brought to you by Anita Parker, B. Ed., B. Sc., AFLCA trainer, RYT200 - www.absolutelyfitness.ca
Please note: Not all exercises are suitable for everyone. Consult your doctor before beginning this or any other exercise program.

TerraFrog's Move of the Month - The Burpee - Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

CARDIO/STRENGTH: The Burpee

February 2013

Benefits: Burpees have gotten a bad reputation over the years. But, guess what? Burpees are great! And, there is a burpee for everyone! If you perform the burpee variation best suited for your abilities, it’s almost like you have a home gym in a single movement--no equipment or gym fee required! The burpee involves pretty much every muscle in your body, as well as your heart and lungs, thus offering tremendous “bang” for your workout time invested.

How-to: Broken down, the burpee is two things: a squat and a plank. No matter what variation you choose, it is highly recommended that you place your hands on a raised platform (about 8 inches or more). This helps protect low back strain and keeps your head above your heart to prevent dizziness.

Basic Burpee – Begin standing, Squat down, placing your hand on a raised platform. Walk back into a full body plank position. Walk your feet back to the hands. Stand up.

More Intensity/Safety: Jumping adds more intensity, but also more risk for injury. Keep your core engaged and knees soft when jumping. There are three places to add a jump:

  • The safest place to jump is when coming back up to the standing position.
  • The next safest place to jump is when bringing your feet back to your hands.
  • The riskiest place to jump (i.e. requires the most core strength) is when moving into the plank position.


TerraFrog's Move of the Month - Wide Child’s Pose with Rotation - Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

MINDBODY: Wide Child’s Pose with Rotation

March 2012

Benefits: Ahhh... With just a bit of gravity and easy breathing, you can release every bit of stress and tension held in the muscles along your spine and hips.

How-to: Take off your shoes. Begin on your hands and knees. Place your big toes together, knees apart, and sit back onto your heels. Gently nestle your torso toward the floor. Lay your right arm on the floor (across your chest, palm up) until you feel a comfortable stretch across the right side of your mid back. Find a comfortable position for the right side of your forehead on the floor, chin tucked slightly to keep your neck in alignment. Finally, wrap your left arm around to the back of your torso, with the back of your hand resting in the vicinity of your left kidney. Now, relax and take ten easy breaths (or more!), noticing how tension dissolves away with each exhalation. Repeat everything on the other side.

Safety: This pose involves a deep bend of the knees. Place a rolled up towel or yoga mat behind the knees to reduce the bend. Sit back into the towel.


TerraFrog's Move of the Month - Alternating Front Kick - Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

CARDIO: Alternating Front Kick

January 2012

Benefits: Front kicks are a challenging cardiovascular exercise because they involve repetitive, rhythmic movement with large muscle groups through a large range of motion. Too many front kicks can unnecessarily fatigue your hip flexors, but you can certainly add them to your heart-pumping, calorie-burning repertoire.

How-to: Stand tall with good posture. With control, bring one leg up to waist height. Hinge at the hips, leaning your torso slightly forward and bring your opposite hand toward the lifted foot. Return to start position and repeat with other limbs. Turn on some good music and repeat, repeat, repeat! Note, when you are ready to change movements, this alternating front kick pairs well with some speed skaters (TerraFrog Move of the Month July 2010).

More intensity: Add in some impact by hopping as you lift your legs.

Safety: Always keep your knees soft to absorb impact. You can move quickly, but make sure you move with control, and keep your core muscles engaged throughout.


TerraFrog's Move of the Month - Rainbow Plank - Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

STRENGTH: Rainbow Plank

December 2011

Benefits: Any type of plank is an effective upper body, lower body, and core strengthening exercise. The Rainbow Plank (doesn't that sound pleasant?!) adds in some extra gluteal and hamstring work.

How-to: Begin on your hands and knees. For this plank variation, keep your arms straight and wrists stacked under your shoulders. This plank can also be done with your forearms on the floor. Extend your legs back one at a time with your toes tucked under and your knees off of the floor.

While holding the plank position, pick one foot up, step it to the side away from the midline of the body, and then step it back. Create a rainbow arc with your heel, instead of just sliding your toes laterally and back. Repeat with other foot. Repeat alternating foot movements as many times as you can during the plank hold, 20-60 seconds, building endurance over time.

Safety notes: Keep your pelvis level with the floor, neither sagging nor spiked. Be especially careful not to sag through your low back when you create the rainbow shape. Move with control, keep your core muscles engaged throughout the exercise, and remember to breathe.


TerraFrog's Move of the Month - Balance Flow - Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

MIND/BODY:
Balance Flow

November 2011

Benefits: Balance training is an essential component to every fitness regimen whether you are in the Pilates studio or Bootcamp class. Standing on one leg demands great endurance from muscles involved in good posture and joint stability, so when you get back to two feet, life is easy!

How-to: Ground your supporting right foot into the mat. Press down firmly with the ball of your big toe, ball of your pinky toe, and centre of your heel. Shift your body weight over the supporting foot. Bend your left knee and bring the left thigh up to parallel with the floor. Keeping the left leg raised, straighten the knee to press your toes out in front of you. Reach your arms overhead. This is position #1, and you will be inhaling during this pose. Remember, coordinating movement and breath is fundamental to mind/body training.

Next, come into a T-balance by hinging your torso and arms forward and extending your left leg behind you. This is position #2, and you will be exhaling during this pose. Your arms can be reaching forward (more intense) or toward the floor (less intense).

Flow between positions #1 and #2 – inhale standing balance, exhale T-balance – for as many times as you can endure, perhaps 6 to 12 repetitions. Repeat on other side. Remember, core engagement and a fixed gaze point facilitates balance.

More intensity: Hold onto something weighted, such as a medicine ball or dumbbell. In position #1, the medicine ball is overhead. In position #2, the medicine ball is reaching toward the floor. As you move between positions #1 and #2, pull the medicine ball in toward your chest.

Safety notes: Keep your core muscles engaged throughout the exercise. Be sure to coordinate your inhalation and exhalation with the designated phase of the movement.


TerraFrog's Move of the Month - Step-Up - Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

STRENGTH: Step-Up

September/October 2011

Benefits: The step-up is in the same "family" of exercises as the squat and lunge, challenging every lower body muscle in a single step!

How-to: Stand facing your step. Place your right foot on the step and lift your body up, placing your left foot by your right foot. Now, step back down with your right foot, then left. This is one repetition with your right foot leading (R, L, R, L, just like regular walking). Perform 8-12 repetitions with one foot leading.. Then, repeat another 8-12 repetitions with your other foot.

More intensity: Instead of stepping R, L, R, L, keep your lead foot on the step for the entire 8-12 repetitions. When you lift your body up, simply tap your non-lead foot/toe on the step, and then lower it down putting it back on the floor. Still need more intensity? Hold onto some light dumbbells or add a knee up.

Safety notes: Beware of "kerplunking!" Lift and lower your body with control. The height of step needs to high enough to offer a sufficient challenge but not so high that it causes your knee to bend more than 90 degrees. The height of two steps on a typical staircase or a kitchen chair would be the maximum height to attempt, depending on an individual's height.


TerraFrog's Move of the Month - Jump Rope - Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

CARDIO: Jump Rope

July/August 2011

Benefits: Jumping rope is the crème de la crème of cardiovascular fitness exercise. A jump rope is the most effective and least expensive piece of fitness equipment on the planet.

How-to: If you want to get serious about jumping rope, you can certainly seek out resources to hone advanced jumping technique. However, step one is simply to get both feet off the ground and let the rope pass underneath. Let your muscle memory from elementary school prevail!

More intensity: Jumping rope is intense. Gradually work it into your regular cardiovascular routine. For example, you could do three sets of stationary cycling for 10 minutes and jump rope for 5 minutes. When jumping, you may need to jump for 10-30 seconds and then take 10-30 seconds of rest, before gradually increasing your jumping time and decreasing your rest time. You can adjust the intensity of jumping by increasing or decreasing the speed of the rope and choosing to perform a single or double hop between each rotation.

Safety notes: Adjust the length of the rope so that, if you are standing on the middle of the rope with one foot, the handles reach your armpits. Wear good, supportive footwear. Jump on the balls of your feet, and try to keep your impact distributed evenly between both feet. Keep your knees soft. Use your wrists to turn the handles and keep your shoulders relaxed and your arms close to your body.


TerraFrog's Move of the Month - Yoga Pushups - Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

Yoga Push-Up

June 2011

Benefits: Fuse your regular pushup with a few yoga poses for a total-body strengthening and stretching experience. You’ll enjoy moving your spine like an ocean’s wave in synch with your breath.

How-to: Begin in a knee plank position, arms straight. Exhale, and lower your body down toward the floor, bending your elbows and keeping them tucked in by your ribcage. Inhale, and press the front of your pelvis into the mat and come into a slight back extension with your torso, with the option to lift your legs off the floor as well. Exhale, and press back to child’s pose. Inhale, and come back up to plank position and repeat.

More intensity: Perform plank and down phase of pushup from toes instead of knees. Press back into downward-facing dog pose instead of child’s pose.

Safety notes: Keep your core muscles engaged throughout the exercise. Be sure to coordinate your inhalation and exhalation with the designated phase of the movement.


TerraFrog's Move of the Month Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

Plié Squat With or Without a Jump*

*If you choose the jumping variation, be sure not to hold onto any weighted resistance.
May 2011

Why bother? Squats are for everyone. Many, many times each day we perform some type of squatting activity, so making this exercise part of your fitness regimen is very functional. The key is to find the squat variation and intensity that is suitable for your fitness level, abilities, and goals.

Squats involve every muscle in your lower body and core – quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, abdominals and erector spinae. The plié squat (wide stance with feet turned out slightly) is particularly advantageous, because it is easier to perform with regard to knee and low back safety, and it has the added benefit of some inner thigh muscle recruitment.

Tell me how! Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, feet turned out about 45 degrees. (The outward rotation originates from the hip joint, so be sure the kneecaps and toes are pointing in the same direction.) Your knees are slightly bent at the top of the exercise. Engage your abdominals and tuck in your pelvis slightly. Bend your knees to lower down, no further than a 90 degrees, with your thighs parallel to the floor. Pause for a moment, and then return to standing. Repeat 8-15 times, 2-3 sets.

More intensity please! Make the move more athletic. Option 1: Hold weighted resistance (dumbbells, medicine ball, etc.) close to your torso. Squat with control. Option 2: Add a jump. Keep your knees soft to absorb the impact, and do not hold onto any weighted resistance.

Safety first! Engage your abdominal muscles throughout the exercise to help support the low back. Keep your head and chest lifted. Make sure all the bending comes from the knees and hips, not from the low back. Be respectful of your current level of fitness, because your goal is to get stronger, not injured.


TerraFrog's Move of the Month Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

Bicycle Crunch

April 2011

Why bother? This exercise builds endurance in the core muscles of the trunk that are responsible for good posture. Crunching exercises primarily strengthen the most external rectus abdominus muscle; however, because with the bicycle crunch your feet are off the floor, deeper core muscles are activated here as well.

Tell me how!Lie on your back with your low back pressed into the floor. Place your fingers lightly at the base of your skull and tuck in your chin slightly. Tuck your knees into your chest. Position 1: Nose to knees. Position 2: Straighten one leg and twist your opposite shoulder to the knee that is still bent. Come back to position 1. Repeat.

Safety first! Keep your low back firmly pressed into the floor. Stay relaxed in your neck.


TerraFrog's Move of the Month Brought to you by Anita Parker, www.absolutelyfitness.ca

Yoga: Locust (Salambhasana)

March 2011

Why bother? Daily repetitive movement patterns cause misalignment of our shoulder, spine, hip and knee joints. The Yoga Locust pose is a gentle and effective backbend for strengthening the mid back, low back, and legs, as well as counteracting joint imbalances.

Tell me how! Lie on your stomach on your yoga mat. Wiggle a little bit to release your body into the floor. Press the front of your pelvis firmly into the floor. This is your anchor point for the movement. Align your hands under your shoulders, palms on the floor and your elbows alongside your ribcage. Roll your shoulders open, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Recruit strength from your torso to lift into a gentle backbend. Only come up as high as you can, without using your arms. For a greater upper body challenge, straighten your arms toward your feet, palms inward and middle fingers aligned with the midline of your outer thigh. Remember to keep your shoulders rotated open and mid-back engaged. Your final option is to bring your legs into play by lifting both legs a few inches off the floor, firing your gluteal muscles all the way down your legs toward your heels and out the base of each of your big toes. Remember, the front of your pelvis is fixed into the mat.

Hold this posture for 3-5 deep, calm, even breaths, breathing in and out through your nose. On an exhalation, press back into child's pose (balasana), recovering for 3-5 breaths.

Safety first! Keep your pelvis firmly pressed into the floor. Only come up as high as is comfortable. Stay relaxed in your neck.


Yoga: Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

February 2011

Why bother? Hamstring flexibility is directly related to lower back health. Come into this posture properly and stay here as long as you like, letting gravity and your breath gently influence the flexibility of the lower body muscles that attach and pull down on the pelvis.

Tell me how! Begin seated with your legs extended out, sitting tall, arms alongside your body, and hands pressing into the floor. Engage your abdominals (pull your navel to your spine), and bend your knees if it makes sitting upright more manageable. Inhale and reach your arms up and extend your spine. Then, exhale and hinge at your hips to bring your torso forward in the direction of your toes. Bend your knees as much as you need to keep your lower abdomen in contact with your thighs. Once you are as far forward as you can get, relax through the mid/upper back and neck. Hold onto your shins, ankles, or bottoms of your feet. With each exhale, draw your torso closer to your thighs.

Safety first! Remember to breathe. Feel gentle tension in the hamstring muscles, being careful not to overstretch.


Side Elbow Plank

January 2011

Why bother? This exercise builds endurance in the core muscles of the trunk that are responsible for good posture, as well as shoulder stabilizers.

Tell me how! Place your right elbow on the mat, directly under your right shoulder. Press your forearm into the mat to create distance between your shoulder and your ear, keeping your spine long and all upper body muscles strong. Create a side plank position with your knees stacked, right knee in contact with the floor. You have a straight line from your head, to your pelvis, to your knees. Engage your abdominals (pull your navel to your spine), resisting the force of gravity. Remember to breathe. Hold this position for 20 – 60 seconds, building endurance over time. Repeat on other side.

More intensity please! Lengthen the side plank by having your feet in contact with the floor instead of your knees. You could add movement, such as hip drops/lifts or torso rotations. Make sure you don’t compromise good technique for a higher intensity variation.

Safety first! Keep your free hand on the floor for extra help with balance. Only hold the exercise for as long as you are able to with good technique.


Reverse Lunge with a Twist

December 2010

Why bother? Target every muscle in your lower body and core with this “twist” on an old favourite.

Tell me how! Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, arms crossed at your chest. Bend your knees and stride back with your right foot into a lunge position. Left knee is aligned over the left ankle. Right knee is bent. Toes of right foot are in contact with the floor while the heel is lifted off. While in this position, twist your torso to the right, centre, left, centre. Then, come back to your starting position. Repeat with the other leg. Repeat 8 – 12 times on each leg.

More intensity please! Hold a light dumbbell in each hand, keeping your elbows bent and tucked in by your sides. Twist with control.

Safety first! Engage your abdominal muscles throughout the exercise to help support the low back. Keep your head and chest lifted. Make sure all the bending comes from the knees and hips, rather than the low back.


Yoga: Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

September 2010

Why bother? This foundational yoga posture strengthens your ankles, legs, abdominals and lower back for better posture, balance, and even athletic performance.

Tell me how! Shift your weight onto your left foot. Use your hands to bring the right foot up to the left inner thigh. Press your right foot strongly into the left thigh bone, toes pointing downward. Simultaneously open your right knee to the right and your left hip to the left. Root your supporting foot strongly into the floor, and lift the crown of your head to the ceiling. Draw your navel to your spine, and it is helpful to gaze at a focal point. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Come out of the posture and repeat on the other side.

Safety first! Remember to breathe. Avoid pressing your right foot into the left knee. If you feel pain in the shin or bottom of the foot, come out of the posture.


Elbow Plank

August 2010

Why bother? This exercise builds endurance in the core muscles of the trunk that are responsible for good posture, as well as shoulder stabilizers.

Tell me how! Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Place your elbows on the floor, directly under your shoulders. Press your forearms into the floor. Broaden across your mid back, creating distance between your shoulder blades. Extend one leg back, tucking the toes under and keeping the knee off the floor. Repeat with the other leg. Your pelvis is not sagging, nor is it spiked up to the ceiling. You have a straight line from your head, shoulders, hips, to ankles. Engage your abdominal muscles (pull your navel to your spine), resisting the force of gravity. Remember to breathe. Hold for 20-60 seconds, building your endurance over time.

More intensity please! There are many variations to the basic plank, thus making the exercise more challenging. For example, you can dip your hips from side to side, working your oblique abdominal muscles. You can alternately lift one foot off the floor, making the remaining leg (and core!) work harder. Make sure you don’t compromise good technique for a higher intensity variation.

Safety first! If the exercise seems to difficult, do a half-plank by placing your knees on the floor instead of the toes. Only hold the exercise for as long as you are able to with good technique.


Speed Skater

July 2010

Why bother? This lateral movement is fantastic for getting your heart pumping and all your leg muscles working.

Tell me how! Step laterally onto your right foot. Cross and reach your left toes diagonally behind you. Repeat, stepping left and crossing right toes diagonally behind. Perform this challenging cardiovascular movement for 60- to 90-second intervals interspersed with other cardio or strength-training movements.

More intensity please! Instead of stepping, you can jump laterally onto the supporting foot/leg. Keep your knees soft to absorb the impact. Also, you can bend more at the hips and knees and reach your fingers to the floor.

Safety first! Engage your abdominal muscles throughout the exercise to help support the low back. Keep your head and chest lifted. Make sure all the bending comes from the knees and hips, not from the low back..