Workout Wednesday: Pregnancy Safe Circuits

So, yep, you guessed it… still no baby!

I’m now 5 days beyond my due date, which is pretty normal for a first time mama, but I’m getting a little impatient nonetheless! I can’t wait to meet this little lady and to start to learn all about her quirks, her personality, and who she’s going to turn into.

If you read my post a couple of weeks ago about my workout progression throughout pregnancy, you should remember that I’ve remained pretty active this whole time. I started out doing pretty much everything I was pre-pregnancy, minus the extremely heavy, max-0ut lifts on my bigger compound lifts. That worked for me for a while, until my body started to tell me to slow down and take it down a few notches. Slowly, this has gotten me to where I am today — long walks (but not too long, this bladder being crushed by a baby’s head can only take so much!), and some light circuits at home. Yes, I’m still getting in some near daily exercise, but it certainly is a far cry from my normal routine. For instance, I went out for a slow but steady hike on Monday, and didn’t crank it up the inclines like I normally would.

I find that I feel better overall if I move though — walks are crucial to keeping my legs and hips from feeling too tight, and light circuits just help me to feel more energized during this time when my body is literally sustaining a full sized baby!

I thought I’d share a couple of quick at home circuits that are safe for pregnancy, in case there are any other soon-to-be-mamas out there who can’t quite figure out a routine. But the great thing is that these can be used by anyone — they are great circuits for beginners, and the intensity can be ramped up for anyone looking for a quick at-home workout when they don’t have time for the gym.

My staples throughout the end of this pregnancy have been goblet squats and incline push ups. I’m trying to keep these arms as strong as possible, and trying to maintain what muscle I can in my lower body without doing too much or causing pain. My ability to do single leg exercises for lower body differs by the day, and really just depends on the amount of SI joint (where the pelvis meets the lower part of your spine) pain I’m having at any given time.

Also, you’ll note that I do include glute bridges here, which require me to lay on my back. It is a common rule for pregnant women to avoid laying on their back for extended periods of time, but has been found to be safe for a few minutes as long as you feel ok doing it. If your doctor has given you a strict “no”, or if you don’t feel comfortable doing these, please substitute a different exercise such as fire hydrant kicks on all fours to attack those glutes.

pregnancy-safe-circuit-1

pregnancy-safe-circuit-2

Circuit #1:

Equipment Needed: Kettlebell and/or set of medium dumbbells, chair or bench

Exercises:

Goblet Squat: Holding the KB or one dumbbell directly in front of and against your chest, feet about shoulder width apart and feet turned slightly out. Squat down between hips, keeping core engaged and back flat.

Incline push up: Push up on bench or chair, heights suitable to your fitness level.

OHP: Overhead Press. Stand with core engaged and a dumbbell in each hand, or KB in one hand. If using dumbbells, alternate pressing overhead with palms facing away from you. If using KB, finish reps on one side before moving to other side.

Feet Elevated Glute Bridge: Lie on your back with both feet up on chair or bench, scoot your butt close to the bench. Driving your heels down into the bench, squeeze your glutes and lift hips up so that you form a straight line from knees to shoulders.

Donkey Kicks: Starting on all fours, alternate kicking each leg straight back, squeezing each glute with kick. Make sure to keep core engaged and back flat.

Circuit #2

Equipment Needed: Resistance band loop and/or resistance band mini loop

Exercises: 

Band Squats: If using mini band, place band around ankles. If using full size band loop, hold one end, and loop the remaining band around the outsides of your feet, so that you are standing inside loop, hands by your waist. Squat to your normal position.

Side Kick Outs: Keeping band or mini band in the same position, start with both knees slightly bent. Alternate kicking each leg out to the side against the resistance of the band.

Band Shuffles: Keeping band or mini band in same position, bend to about a quarter squat position. Shuffle sideways for 10 steps, then back in the opposite direction for 10 steps.

Band Pull Aparts: Grasp band in both hands, directly in front of chest with arms outstretched. Keeping arms straight, bring hands away from each other to the sides, essentially pulling band across your chest. Squeeze the muscles between your shoulder blades at the end of the motion.

Band Split Squats: Split Squat with resistance band under front foot. Grasp band near knee, calf, or ankle; holding the band lower for more resistance.

Band Rows: If using full band loop, stand on band with both feet. Keeping back flat, hinge at hips and bend forward. Grasp band low, and complete bent over row with both arms. If using mini band, start in lunge position with band under front foot. Grasp band with opposite hand and perform single arm rows for all reps before switching foot/hand.

Again, these can be great little at home circuits for anyone, beginner, pregnant, or just someone looking for a quick session on a busy day!

Enjoy, and hopefully I’ll be back with some news for you very soon!

 

 

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Workout Wednesday: Full Body Lift for Beginners

Years ago, when I first got into weight lifting, I remember how aimlessly I would wander around the gym trying to figure out what the heck I should be doing. I knew I wanted to get stronger, and I had a great working knowledge of most of the equipment, but it was putting it all together that was giving me the most trouble. I found myself just doing things haphazardly — a few bicep curls here, some walking lunges there, and then calling it a day.

Sure, I was beginning my journey of building muscle and getting stronger, but I definitely wasn’t maximizing my time in the gym. And I certainly wasn’t getting the most out of my fitness experience that I could have.

Since then, I find that this is true for many people who are just starting to explore the world of strength training. Maybe they have been shown how to do a few lifts with good form, but without a program, what does that matter? Many women, especially, who are new to the weight room might be scared off because of this (maybe leading to the lack of women in the weights area, as discussed in this recent post). Even if they’re not totally scared off though, they  might just do a couple of things and then go back to what they are used to. A few exercises are better than none, but what would be even better would be to go in there with a plan, lift like a boss, and know that you’re getting the best work in.

Today’s full body lift is for the person (man or woman) who has a basic understanding of movement patterns but isn’t quite sure yet what to do with them. As I’m a believer that beginners should start with full body days before moving on to upper/lower body splits, this will target the whole body and hit the major movement patterns that form the base for all of our daily movements.

Full Body Lift

One important thing to remember is that this shouldn’t take you very long! When I first gave one of my clients her first program, one of her early questions was “These workouts are only taking me about 45 minutes, shouldn’t I be doing more?” And the answer is no! At least at the beginning, many highly effective workouts can be done in an hour or less. There is no need for everyone to be spending two hours in the gym every day, and frankly many of us just don’t have time for that. As long as you’re working hard and doing the work you need to do, the time is really the least of your concerns.

Goblet Squat – Hold a dumbbell, upright, at your chest. It should be right against your chest, not out in front of you which can strain your shoulders and upper back. Starting with your legs at about shoulder width apart, sit your hips back into your squat, imagining that you’re squatting between your hips — not pushing your knees forward like many people want to do. Keep your core engaged and back flat during the entire movement.

DB Bench Press – DB = Dumbbell. Choose two dumbbells that you know you can lift. Start out on the lighter side for your first set to get the movement down and to warm your shoulders up a little bit. After this warm up set, then go into your 3 work sets. Lying flat on your back, feet flat on the floor, engage your core and squeeze your glutes. Begin with dumbbells at chest height with palms facing in front of you. Raise up over your chest at an even pace, then lower carefully just to chest height — not below.

DB Romanian Deadlift – Again, this is for someone who has been shown the proper movement patterns, i.e. hip hinging. If this is not familiar to you, work with someone to practice this movement before trying to load it with weight. Standing with feet hip width apart and “soft” knees (not bent but not locked), hold 2 dumbbells in front of your thighs. Keeping your core engaged and shoulders pulled back (lats turned “on”), push your hips back until your torso bends forward. Dumbbells should be traveling right along your thighs, not farther out in front of you.  Keep pushing hips back until your dumbbells reach about knee level or you feel a tightness in your hamstrings. Allow your knees to bend slightly with this motion. Squeeze your glutes and return to the top position, being careful to not over arch your back at the top.

Bent Over Single Arm Row – For this you will be at a bench with one knee and corresponding hand resting on the bench. The other leg will have your foot on the floor, and you will be holding the dumbbell at that side. Bend so that your back is flat, and DB is down by the side of your down foot. Keeping palm facing in and elbow tucked towards your body, raise elbow so that dumbbell ends up next to your side. Squeeze your back muscles between your shoulder blades, then return to bottom position. It is extremely important to keep your back flat during this entire exercise.

Dumbbell Rear Lunge – Holding a dumbbell in each hand, step one foot back into a lunge. Make sure that you step back and then straight down, instead of letting your front knee fall forward over your foot. Alternate feet to complete set.

Standing Cable Row – Set the cable machine so that it is at about waist height. Holding the handles so that your palms are facing each other, stand with your core braced and knees slightly bent. Squeezing those back muscles between your shoulder blades, pull arms back, elbows bent, until hands are about at your sides. Slowly return to start.

Standing Pallof Press – Check out this post for explanation if you missed it!

Side Plank –Pretty self explanatory, no? For more of a challenge with this, stack your feet one on top of the other. For a little bit of an easier exercise, stagger your feet one in front of the other.

Key Points:

  • Know your abilities. If any of these are foreign to you, consider working with a professional in person to learn the specific movement patterns of the squat, hip hinge, push and pull.
  • Always begin with a dynamic warmup to get your body  moving properly before you load any movements. This is not optional! For a dynamic warmup, click here.
  • When working with weights, be conscious of form at all times. Yes, this includes when you’re picking up your weights from the floor — never let that back round out, especially when there is weight on the other end.
  • Take your time! Don’t rush through these. Make each movement slow, deliberate, and take care of your form. Rest in between sets and in between exercises.
  • Challenge yourself! If you go through this and don’t feel like you did a whole heck of a lot, that means you need heavier weight. Don’t go too far too soon, but use weights that are challenging, that you can’t just fly through each exercise without thinking about it.
  • Enjoy! You’re getting stronger today! 

Workout Wednesday: Train Your Core Without Crunches (Or Planks!)

Ah, core exercises.

What comes to mind when someone says “ab workout?”

Is it the sit up test that you did in the 5th grade gym class Presidential Challenge? (God, I hated that).

Is it planks for minutes upon grueling minutes?

Unfortunately, core workout for many people falls into those two categories, or at least variations of those two things. The good news, though, is that there are far more (and better) exercises that you can do to train your core without having to suffer through either of these.

Not to mention, being pregnant, there are certain exercises that I now have to avoid, such as crunches, for various reasons. A)Laying on my back is a no-no, as it can occlude blood flow to the baby. B) Diastasis recti is a thing. A thing I don’t want.

But, BUT! This is not just a pregnancy post. Truth be told, crunches are not in my repertoire of core exercises anyway, and they haven’t been for quite some time due to many theories about repetitive spinal flexion, and the fact that I really don’t think they do much of anything, anyway. Planks are something I do, but I don’t utilize them as a training staple — and I certainly don’t believe in super long held planks as something that is necessary or functional for real life. Why not train our core in a way that we may be using it in our daily lives?

The main purpose of our core is to stabilize the rest of our body, correct? To provide a strong base from which our limbs move, while at the same time protecting our spine from unhealthy movements. So unless someone can tell me why they think sit ups and crunches are the best way to do that, we’re going to move on to some much better, and more effective core exercises.

And the bonus is that these are safe for the mama’s-to-be as well! Keep in mind that these are my favorites — of course there are more out there. But try to swap out your planks or crunches for some of these full-body core activation exercises, and see if you can feel the difference !

Carries –  These are great because they can be done anywhere — at home or in the gym. All you need is a dumbbell or kettle bell, and a little bit of space to walk. Carries are a great way to engage your core while moving other parts of your body, which is extremely functional for real life (carrying a heavy bag of groceries or a heavy suitcase/duffel comes to mind!)

There are 3 different positions you can utilize for carries. From most advanced to most beginner-friendly, try one of these soon:

Overhead Carry: Make sure that your arm holding the weight remains completely straight, with elbow right next to your ear (not translating in front of or behind your head). Grip the weight tightly, be conscious to not let your shoulders creep up by your ears (pull your shoulder blades back and down). Keeping your core engaged, walk slowly for a predetermined distance — usually 10-20 yards to start, but this will depend on your level. And you can always turn and walk “laps” if you don’t have that much space. 

OH carry KB

Rack Position Carry: Carry the weight at your chest, with elbow bent and palm facing your body. Your knuckles will be just about resting on your collar bone. The most important things here are to make sure your wrist is strong and straight, not bending under the weight, and also to keep shoulders tightly down. Keep your elbow in by your side, brace your core, and walk. 

rack position carry KB

Farmers Carry: These will be done with the weight down by your side, and are the most beginner friendly of the carries. These can usually be done with a heavier weight, which will benefit your grip strength as well. Keeping your torso upright (not bending towards or away from the weight), keep your core engaged and walk straight ahead. Make sure to keep your shoulders tucked down — again not letting that shoulder on your weighted side creep up by your ears. 

farmers carry KB

With carries, I generally will do 2-3 reps of overhead or rack position carries a couple of times per week, transitioning from overhead to rack position when I become fatigued and can’t hold a proper position anymore. Remember, proper form is much more important than doing one of these for a long distance!

Pallof Press – Pallof Press is another amazing core exercise, one that I utilize with almost all of my rehab patients as well as my personal training/group fitness clients. I learned this one from one of the greats — Tony Gentilcore (if you don’t read his blog, you’re missing out BIG time). Again, it engages your core in a very functional way, allowing you to brace and stabilize your core while moving your upper body limbs.

standing pallof press

To start, stand next to a cable machine or resistance band that is about at chest height. The band/cable should be at your side. Grasp the band, standing with core braced and knees slightly bent, an “athletic position”. Bring the band to your chest, and then straight out in front of you until arms are straight. You will be using your core to avoid letting it twist you back towards the cable or band attachment. Remember to breathe! 

kneeling pallof press

An alternate position here is a half kneeling position, where your “down” leg is the one that is closest to the band attachment/cable machine. The arm positioning and core bracing cues will be the same. 

Wood choppers- Similar to the Pallof Press, wood choppers can be done with either a cable machine at the gym or resistance bands, that are attached at a height that is a little bit taller than you, or at least at shoulder height. Standing with your core engaged and knees slightly bent, begin the movement holding the band high up on the side that it is attached. Keeping your arms straight, bring the band/cable down in a diagonal pattern across your body, ending low on the opposite side. Complete reps on one side before turning and completing on the opposite side.

Standing wood chopper abs

Similar to Pallof Press, these can also be done in a 1/2 kneeling position to increase the challenge a little bit. 

kneeling woodchopper abs

I’m not sure why I look so sad here..I promise I wasn’t! 🙂 

Land Mines- Land mines are one of my favorite core exercises, but they do require a barbell so they may need to be done at the gym, unless you have a very impressive home gym! If you don’t have a “Land Mine” attachment for the barbell — essentially a set up that attaches at one end to let it pivot, these can still be done easily, all you’ll need is a corner of the room. Place one end of the barbell in a corner to keep it from rolling around. Pick up the other end, and hold it at chest height — you may have to play around a little bit with hand positioning to find the right fit for you. I tend to hold with my Left hand above my Right hand on the base of the barbell, just because that is more comfortable for me.

Bring the barbell straight out in front of you, then slowly and with control, bring it down by your right side, keeping your left arm straight. Use your core to then swing the barbell back up and down to the left side, this time keeping your right arm straight. As you are moving the barbell from side to side, your goal is to keep your torso completely still, not letting it rotate with the weight of the barbell.

landmine 2

Landmine 1

These are pretty advanced and I wouldn’t start with any weight on the barbell at first — just those 45 pounds goes a long way!

Readers: Do you utilize any of these in your training? What are your favorite core exercises? 

 

Workout Wednesday: Barbell Complex

Ah, the barbell complex. The little known, vastly underused form of fitness where you can quickly combine a strength and cardio workout into one.

Interested?

Many of the workouts I post on these “Workout Wednesdays” end up being things that you can do quickly, or on the go. Since we’re all so busy all the time, I figure that’s what a lot of people need most, especially since a top excuse for not working out is not having enough time! This one, although it does need some gym equipment, can certainly be done as a quickie or as a finisher to a longer workout, and that’s what’s so great about it. If you’re a beginner to weight lifting, I would recommend sticking to just the barbell itself and making this your entire workout. If you’re a little bit more advanced but don’t have much time, just add a little bit of weight and work work work — this is definitely the type of workout where you get out of it exactly what you put into it.

The key with a barbell complex is to string together a grouping of exercises that you can do sequentially, with out breaks in between. Yes, your muscles will burn. Yes, your heart rate will go way up and you’ll be breathing heavy. Yes, you will get a full body workout with this in just a very short time. Sound good?

One thing to remember is that although you can attach this as a finisher to another longer workout, I do not recommend doing so to a workout that is already extremely taxing on your CNS, such as a heavy lift day or HIIT session. This should go along with a lighter lift or a lighter cardio day, so that you are sure you can keep good form throughout each portion of the complex. For instance, I did this at the end of a moderate spin session, but I wouldn’t have done this after doing high intensity hill sprints or a heavy dead lift day.

Ready?

  

barbell complex 

For the lunges and RDLs, that’s 5 reps for each leg before moving on to the next exercise. Please be careful when transferring the barbell to the low row position from the front loaded position; if you need to re-wrack momentarily for safety, that’s ok! 

Remember during all of these: Keep your core engaged (but don’t forget to breathe!), and keep your back flat. It’s not a bad idea to video your first round from the side view so that you can look at your form (especially your back), and make sure that you’re maintaining a good position even when you start to get fatigued.

Complete each exercise in the series for the reps provided. Try not to rest between exercises during the complex, but take 2-3 minutes rest between each one. Repeat this to your ability, generally if this is done as your whole workout you would do 4-5 rounds.

Enjoy!

Workout Wednesday: Full Body Circuit

Howdy and how’s everyone doing? I must say, that even though we’re a couple weeks into the new year, I’m still having a hard time believing it’s already 2016. I don’t really understand how time goes by so fast these days, but I suppose there’s nothing I can really do about that.

Many times over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had to get a little creative with workouts at home since my gym was closed for the holidays. I’m back in the weight room in full force now, but I must say that it was kind of nice to step away for a couple of weeks and focus more on smaller movements and mobility. It also didn’t hurt that the weather here in the Northeast has been pretty mild, allowing me to keep running outside and running hills into January! Can’t complain about that.

I was more than ready to get back in there last week to keep working after my recent deadlift PR, but my time away was not wasted. I was able to come up with some pretty challenging workouts at home, although we do have a pretty decent library of workout equipment that we’ve built up throughout the years. Today’s workout doesn’t require a lot of equipment though, so it really doesn’t matter what you have at home. You could even take this one to the gym for one of those days where you’re feeling kind of lost but want to get some work in! I completed this with just one heavy KB and one lighter KB, but you could do the same with just a couple of dumbbells as well, or even some resistance bands if you have those at home.

Are you ready to bookend your circuit with some serious burpee action? Well here ya go.

Burpee Bookend

  • Goblet Squat: Hold the KB or DB in front of your chest and perform a squat. Remember to keep the weight close to your chest so that you’re not straining your back to hold it out in front of you. Remember to sit that butt back and keep your chest up!
  • Push Ups – Do these on the floor as traditional push ups or on a chair/bench as elevated push ups, if you cannot complete traditional pushups with good form.
  • Jump Squats – Lower down into a squat. Explode up, jumping with both legs. Land softly down into your squat. Weight these by holding a KB or DB close to your chest.
  • V-Ups – Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms overhead. Keeping legs as straight as possible and arms overhead, using your core, bring your torso up into a “V” shape, with your butt still on the ground.  To make these a little bit easier, keep your knees bent to about 45 degrees.
  • Rear Lunge – Start standing. Step R leg back into a lunge, return to standing. Step L leg back into a lunge, return to standing. That is 1 rep. Weight these for more of a challenge, by holding a KB at your chest or a DB in the hand that corresponds to the leg that stays forward.
  • 1/2 Kneeling OHP- Start in 1/2 kneeling position (one knee on ground and one knee up in front of you). If R knee is on ground, hold weight in R hand at shoulder level, palm facing forward. Raise up until your arm is straight and then slowly back down to start. Complete 10 reps on one side before switching to opposite side.
  • Skater Jumps – Starting on R foot with knee slightly bent, jump laterally to your left, landing on L leg with knee slightly bent. Push off L foot and return to R. This is one rep. Continue moving side to side continuously. Hold a weight at your chest to make these more difficult.

We’ve got burpees at the beginning and end of this circuit to give you a bit of a metabolic push along with your strength work. This can be done with just a couple of weights or resistance bands, or even just your own body weight depending on your level/what you have available.  For a little bit of an extra push, stay active between sets of burpees with weighted carries, walking lunges, or another exercise of your choice!

Ready, Go!

 

Vacation Workout Quickies

If you are a fellow Bostonian, can I get a HELL YEAH for the weather this week? Finally some sun, temps into the 40s and 50s, and a reassurance that we may get out of this winter alive (and sane) after all. I know I can’t be the only one who has been basking in the sun for the last few days. I’ve made a point to get off the train a couple stops early just to walk more, and even made it out for a beautiful 4 mile run along the Charles River on Wednesday. Since I hadn’t run outside since the fall, I wasn’t sure how things would go for these old legs. But honestly I think the pure joy of sunlight took over, and it was a pretty blissful experience! The juxtaposition of the snowy views and the warm sun on my back didn’t hurt either. There really is a lot of beauty in our daily lives that we can miss if we’re not paying attention!

Ok, off my little Vitamin-D filled soapbox about appreciating the little things. Today’s post is inspired by the fact that although the warmer temps and sun this week have been encouraging, I’m well aware that we’re not in the clear yet. It’s only the beginning of March, and I’m sure Mother Nature has her own ideas about when she’ll actually let us fully thaw for spring.

Because we’ve still got some cold to go, most people I know are either in the middle of or planning a tropical vacation right about now, hence why today I’m giving you a couple of workout quickies. I know that when I’m on vacation, I still like to get a good sweat going on most days, but I don’t want to spend all of my time in the gym when I could be enjoying the beach. So whether you’re heading to a tropical resort, or just looking for a couple quick workouts for some busy days, here you go!

These are actually two quick workout circuits that I did while on my Honeymoon in December. This view from the resort gym made it easy to get things done, but all in all each of these will only take 20-30 minutes, depending on how tough you make them. The other good thing is that they both require very little equipment, just a treadmill for one and a dumbbell or kettelbell for the other. So even if your resort gym (or home gym) isn’t fully equipped, you can still get some good work in!

itrainthereforieat2

Just to be clear, you are first completing 10 reps of the burpees and squats, then 9, then 8, and on all the way to 1 each. As the graphic says, try to take as little rest as possible and complete this for time. To make this workout harder, start the pyramid at 15 instead of 10 — this sounds a lot easier than it actually is if you’re working hard! Additionally, use a little bit more weight on your goblet squats if you want more of a challenge, or make the push-ups traditional, and not incline.

itrainthereforeieat

As much as I don’t love treadmill work, I actually really loved doing this workout. Make sure you get a good warm up in before your sprints though, in order to avoid muscle strains or other injury. Make sure to go all out on the incline sprints, and set the incline at a level that is challenging for you. I think I did these at a 10% incline. In the “recover” aspect of the treadmill work, you are simply standing on the sides of the treadmill, NOT incline walking. If you are not accustomed to treadmill intervals in this manner, be very careful getting on and off the belt — use the hand rails!

The floor work is pretty self explanatory. To make this workout harder, take only 1 min rest between the treadmill and floor sessions. To make it easier, take 3-5 min rest.

Readers: Do any of you have tropical vacations coming up? What types of workouts do you typically do on vacation? 

The Biggest Lie In Women’s Fitness

As a blogger, I am extremely fortunate to be contacted by many fitness studios, brands, and other things fitness related to try out their products, classes, etc. I normally love these offers, and even when something is not necessarily in my wheelhouse, I’ll usually give it a try, unless it’s something that I do not feel comfortable supporting on my blog.

However, recently I was contacted by a new fitness studio about giving one of their classes a try. I’m not going to specify here, because I’m not here to make any enemies, I just want to get my point across. Anyway, this particular studio described their class to me in the email. And I’ll admit, they had me for most of it. I was just about to click “Reply” and write, “I’d love to try it out!” when one of the last lines of the email stood out like a sore thumb.

Our classes help to create lean, elongated muscles, they said.

Wait, what?

 I’m open to trying different types of fitness classes. I’m not so stuck in the weight room that I can’t see the rest of the fitness world out there. But when you flat out lie in your marketing to women about your product, that’s where I draw the line. There is no class or fitness routine that will elongate your muscles — that is actually physically impossible.

If your class is something that gets women off their couch and gets them moving and having a good time, that’s wonderful, and I’m all for it. But it’s these lies that get to me and make me question your product. Why are we perpetuating the myth that women should work out to create “lean, elongated” muscles? Why are we not teaching women the truth, that if they want to appear more defined, they must build muscle and lose body fat. And if they want those muscles to appear longer than they already are, than the only option there is, quite frankly, to get new parents.

It’s this lie that keeps women paying for these fantasy fitness classes, even when they’re not developing the ballerina’s body they’ve always dreamed of. Scientifically speaking, the length of ones muscles is determined strictly by genetics, and cannot be changed over time into a longer, leaner form.  Do you know why ballerinas have the long, thin bodies that they do? Genetics. Trust me, years of plie squats will never turn my legs into dancers legs, and I know that because it’s pure science. Some woman who is promised “long, lean” muscles who dreams of that dancer’s body? She may believe that that can be achieved by certain classes because she does get an awfully good burn by doing endless reps of leg raises. But what happens when she never achieves this look — has she failed, because she can not recreate her genes into a thin dancer’s body? Of course not, but she may not know that.

ballet

[Source] Sorry, but this body type is NOT possible unless you were born with it. 

I recently had a conversation with a local fitness instructor who told me that most of the women that come to her classes only want to do body weight exercises, because those are what they think are going to give them the body that they want. Should this instructor continue giving her clients what they want, even though those desires are built upon the “long and lean” myth of women’s fitness? It’s a tough call, especially when you consider that because there are plenty of classes out there pushing this myth, going against the grain could potentially cause this instructor to lose paying clients.

So I guess the question is, are fitness studios just savvy marketers for using the key words that women want to hear — lean, long, sculpt, and tone? I, for one, believe that it’s not smart, but deceptive, and there is a huge disservice being done here. Women’s fitness should not be built upon lies, it should be built upon positivity, motivation, and reality. Women need to know that they will not develop a long, lean dancer’s body just by going to certain types of classes, just as they won’t turn into hulked out body builders by going to other types of classes.

Women need to be taught that the Tracy Anderson’s of the world are frauds, and that their legs will not become too big from spin class, nor will they become bulky from lifting heavier than 5 lbs.

This all being said, I just want to be clear here. There are many types of classes out there that are so far outside of what I normally do for fitness. This doesn’t mean that they’re bad, or that they’re not worthwhile, there are just certain things that I feel are more beneficial and more fun for me. When something comes across my inbox, I’m not usually one to poo-poo it just because it’s different, or because it’s not my go-to fitness method — I’m certainly not of the mindset that everyone out there has to be following the same routine in order to be fit. Heck, I’ll try a Zumba class if it’s offered to me, mostly because I just want to dance! It’s the lies and the wrong information that I have a problem with — feeding into women’s fitness myths through shady marketing is not the way to help women become healthier.

Buzz words aside, women deserve realistic expectations of how their bodies can change and what their bodies can do. There have been some amazing campaigns lately, such as the Like A Girl from Always, I Will What I Want from Under Armour, Be More Human from Reebok, and my personal favorite, This Girl Can. These are the types of marketing campaigns that truly show us what women’s bodies are capable of, and that show us that there is so much more to fitness than creating impossibly elongated muscles. Luckily, I think these are the future of women’s fitness, we just need to get more fitness studios to realize that there is so much more to a quality workout than creating a slim aesthetic.

Readers: Are you more attracted to classes that promise a long, lean look? What is it about a fitness class that attracts you to it? If you don’t really do classes, what types of fitness marketing appeal to you more– Aesthetic or performance based?