The weather in DC has been really crummy this week, and the forecast today is calling for even more cold and wet. While I know there are quite a few of you out there braving the elements to get in your workouts, some days I raise the white flag and elect to fit crash in the comfort of my tiny cozy apartment. Or, in cases like Snowmageddon or Hurricane Sandy, there are times when I am actually stranded inside and can’t get to a studio.
That being said, I wanted to share with you what equipment I have tucked away for such an occasion. I lovingly refer to this hodge-podge collection of gadgets as my “home gym.” My apartment has extremely limited storage space, so I had to be judicious when picking out what types of things I thought would deliver a varied and effective workout. After a few years of trial and error, I’ve whittled it down to what you see in the photo. Here’s the breakdown:
TRX: This jack-of-all-trades tool is a must for anyone with limited space or lots of frequent flyer miles. It’s small, lightweight, travels easily, can be hung over doors, trees, basketball hoops, or clipped onto other gym equipment, and delivers a powerhouse full-body workout for any fitness level. It’s one of the best investments I’ve made and I absolutely love using it at home because I never get bored with all of the options it offers. My only wish is that I had more space to play around in – that narrow hallway you see isn’t very forgiving – but it does the trick when I’m stuck indoors and need to sweat.
Sandbag: I purchased mine online from Ultimate Sandbag, but have also experimented with a few home made (and less expensive) prototypes as well. Any bag of basmati rice, cat litter, dog food, or potting soil will do the trick. Throw it into a duffle bag with handles, and voila! The sandbag is another great tool that delivers full-body conditioning and has incredible versatility. The Ultimate Sandbag website has a few videos of what working out with a sandbag looks like – if you’re interested, I recommend checking it out to get some ideas.
15 lb. weights: This seemed like a good in-between weight to work with. I didn’t want to buy multiple sets of free weights, so I just picked a number that was not too light and not too heavy. There was really no science involved. These can easily double up if I need to do 30 lb. one arm rows or something like that. I use these mostly for arm exercises and for one-arm plank rows.
jump rope: My downstairs neighbor would have me evicted if I used this in my apartment, so I go to the lobby or laundry room and do my jump roping there. Sure, I look kind of crazy, but it’s better than the alternative of me not working out and being cooped up indoors. Then we can talk about crazy. Jump rope a killer way to warm up before using the TRX, an excellent cardio workout when done on its own, or a great addition to an interval workout using the sandbag.
10 lb medicine ball: To be honest, if I had to toss one piece of equipment, this would be the first to go. I originally purchased it with the intention of using it for ab and arm exercises, and I have occasionally thrown it into the mix if I’m feeling really creative. Because it’s a bit mushy, it works great for balance exercises like these push-up variations.
dip station, ballet barre (not shown): No, I don’t have either of these installed in my apartment, but I do have two kitchen table chairs that work just as well. Stand in between them to create an advanced dip (like this), or use the seat of one chair to do dips with your feet on the ground (like this). Want to practice your favorite barre method moves but can’t get to the studio? A chair works for that as well. I’ve tried this barre workout from Whole Living before and would recommend it. Try it and let me know what you think!
Fitness isn’t something reserved for studios or gyms, and it certainly shouldn’t have to cost very much. Sure, a gym is a convenient place to work up a sweat, but if it’s not available to you, don’t let that stand in the way of taking care of your health and reaching your goals. Just know that sometimes you have to get a little creative and bring fitness to where you are. I hope my “home gym” gives you some ideas.
So if it snows today, as predicted, just know that the crashes will continue uninterrupted from my glamorous home studio. Do your worst, weatherman!
Crash Course: The Nike store in Georgetown is offering a live version of their popular fitness app - Nike Training Club - every Monday evening at 8 p.m. What does this mean for you? The chance to sweat it out with some of the area’s top trainers in an incredibly high-energy environment. And the best part? It’s free.
Maybe it’s the remorse over losing my beloved Barnes and Noble bookstore, but I had not been back to this Georgetown location since it became a Nike store in October 2012. Shame on me. Nike did an incredible job with renovating the three-story building and it is truly an impressive space. I’m partial to the subtle homages to Georgetown basketball scattered throughout the store (like the court-themed floor speckled with blue and grey), but as an alum, can you blame me?
I walked into the store and signed in at the Nike Training Club (NTC) desk. The music was blaring and there was a lot of commotion going on all over the place. Immediately, I knew this was going to be the perfect cure for a case of the Mondays. One of the employees asked if I wanted to test drive a pair of Nike trainers, and I happily obliged. I have been meaning to purchase a pair of trainers to use at the gym so I can reserve my running shoes for miles on the pavement, so this was a convenient coincidence.
I am used to wearing running shoes, and walking around in a minimal shoe without a lot of padding or support took some getting used to. That said, I didn’t even think twice about them during the workout – they were light, had lots of ventilation, and totally did the trick.
After putting my belongings in a bag check area, I stopped by the FuelBand counter to snap on my loaner for the evening. Everyone in the class got to try one. These gadgets created quite a lot of buzz when they came on the market last year, and I was really excited for the chance to see how it worked in person. Because most of the features require plugging the band into a computer, we were only able to watch our “fuel” numbers go up as we progressed through the workout – but that was fun and I have no complaints.
Enough of the gadgets – it’s time to workout! We took our places in the middle of the store and waited for marching orders from the trainers. There were two rules. One: no matter what, don’t stop moving. Two: no matter what, have fun. The DJ turned up the music and before we knew it, we were off and running.
I mean that literally. See? There’s no need for a track when you can do your sprint workout while running in place.
I was dripping in sweat within the first 5 minutes. This workout was intense from start to finish and the energy-level in the room was sky high the entire time. The trainers would come by and cheer people on, and spontaneous shouts of “you got this!” or “keep it up!” competed with the DJ during some of the most frantic sets. Here we are again…running in place. It is so much harder than it sounds. I’m the yellow blur in the corner, trying desperately to keep up.
I took a quick break from the ab portion to snap a photo. You know, for the sake of the blog (ha!). You can see Deanna and Chris working the room, making sure we were all reaching for our toes and using the right technique.
We partnered up for the middle portion of the workout and I was paired with the tallest guy in the room. We made for a hilariously haphazard duo, particularly when one of the exercises called for knee raises to your partner’s waist height. Let’s just say I ended up doing a routine worthy of a Rockette audition. In the end, we worked as a team, laughed about it, and made it work.
After a rocking, non-stop 45 minutes, it was time to cool down and take one final look at our FuelBands. We were all challenged to make it over 1000 points – and I did! I am not entirely sure what the points-to-calorie conversion is, but I have a sneaking suspicion the workout delivered a huge burn. I was winded, sweaty, and oh so happy.
There were a few items to grab for post-workout refueling: Somersaults seed and grain crackers, Nuun electrolyte drink tablets, and bottled water. The crackers were just the salty fix I craved after sweating up a storm, and I grabbed a lemon-lime Nuun to keep in my gym bag for later. Have you tried either of these?
Bottom line: this is a killer, not-to-be missed workout. Is it a huge marketing push for Nike? Absolutely. But any opportunity for Washingtonians to have access to top trainers in such a fun environment for zero cost is okay by me. I will definitely be back…once the soreness wears off.
I downloaded the Nike Training Club app on my iPhone and am excited to start using it. I love finding new exercise combos and having the freedom of being able to do top-notch workouts anywhere, any time. Ah, the joys of technology.
What apps do you use to motivate and inspire your workouts?
Crash Course: Jaime Andrews Fitness is a boutique studio that offers personal training, workshops, wellness coaching, corporate wellness initiatives, and a signature boot camp class. Boot camp is offered at various times on Monday, Wednesday, Friday (earliest is 5:45 a.m.) and on Saturday mornings. Class sizes are small, are held inside or outside depending on the weather, and the price is extremely competitive. Click here for the full schedule.
I love working out outside. I love trying vicious new exercise combos. And I love a good value. So it’s no surprise that I loved the Saturday morning Jaime Andrews Fitness boot camp I crashed last weekend. I met up with the group at Jaime’s studio in Logan Circle – remember this adorable space where I took a yoga class with Vigor Fit and Well? Same space. It’s located in an apartment building on N street NW. Remember it’s a one way street, and look for the blue awning if you have trouble finding it.
Because the weather was a balmy 55 degrees, we opted to take the class outside. No complaints here! There were six of us total and all of us decided it would be more fun to workout al fresco in January while we can. We walked from the studio to the National City Christian Church on Thomas Circle. Jaime wasted no time, and because the temperature was wavering between almost cold and kind of cold, we were thankful to get right into the warm up. Think burpees, stairs, sit ups, and lunges…and keep that rotation going until we all had warmed up our muscles and worked up a sweat. At this point, most of us were thinking, “what cold?”
After a short run around the block, we completed a partner exercise circuit involving squats and a push up pyramid. One partner did air squats while the other did pushups, and so on. The pyramid started with two pushups and went all the way to ten and back down again. And don’t let those air squats fool you. By the time my partner and I were coming back down the pyramid, my arms were shaking and my legs were saying “mercy!” Thanks to Jaime for snapping a shot of the group as we sweated it out. This was tough!
Next up: mountain climber sets followed by more stairs. We were all starting to get really tuckered out at this point, and my legs and glutes were seriously not happy with me. But that’s what I love about a boot camp class: you get to rediscover all of those little (or big) muscle groups you have been neglecting. To help us push through our fatigue, Jaime was a constant source of encouragement and positive energy. She remained upbeat throughout the entire class and was yelling out “great job!” to everyone in the class by name. That’s one of the positive aspects of being in such a small group, you really get personalized attention…whether you want it or not!
Just a short shout-out to Studio S in Cincinnati for giving me the free bike tee I had on. It’s a basic American Apparel shirt, size small, and is shrunken enough to be surprisingly comfortable during a workout. I don’t normally wear cotton tshirts, but this one is soft and really did the trick. Now, if only it could make my legs go faster while running down those stairs. Mush!
We ended boot camp with tabata rounds of twisting side planks. Tabata the name of a four minute circuit of 20 seconds at max effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. The fun thing about it is that you can use almost any exercise you can think of, as long as you push to your maximum effort during those 20 seconds. Click here for more information and examples of how you can try it at home. The twisting side planks sounded like they’d be easy, but after the push-up pyramid, my arms were a wobbly mess trying to keep my body in the air.
I didn’t even bother to take photos at this point because my arms were too busy being schooled in the art of pain tolerance. Thanks again to Jaime for helping a blogger out and capturing this pensive moment of pain and intense focus (or, rather, an intense desire for those four minutes to be over).
I’d like to send a big “thank you” to Jaime and her boot camp crew for reintroducing me to all sorts of forgotten muscles and helping me find an entirely new level of soreness. I had a great time sweating it out with them and loved the supportive, encouraging, positive atmosphere. Considering the price, small and personalized environment, and tush-kicking workout…this class is definitely a hidden gem I look forward to crashing again soon.
Crash Course: Put away the leg warmers and the unitards, ladies, because this isn’t your mamma’s Jazzercise class. While the name may spark visions of big hair and shiny spandex, today’s Jazzercise is a lot like what you find at other dance-based classes gaining traction in gyms across the city (think Zumba, Masala Bhangra, etc.). The difference? Jazzercise is the original dance-party-turned-workout, and takes its role as leader of the pack seriously. The classes blend aerobics, yoga, Pilates, strength training, and kickboxing to the tunes of Top 40 hits. Think of it as going out dancing with your girlfriends…while burning up to 600 calories and without the creepy onlooker at the bar. Click here for a full schedule of class times.
I admit it – when I heard that Jazzercise was still around, I was shocked. Wasn’t this the exercise phenomenon of the 80s, where ladies in unitards bopped and leg-lifted leg warmers to the tune of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”? At least in my mind, that was totally the case. So when an email from Jazzercise of Arlington landed in my inbox, I started to break a sweat just thinking of the time warp I would have to keep up with. It would be Richard Simmons. Jane Fonda. And me.
So imagine my surprise when I stepped onto my designated purple square on the studio floor, bracing for impact, and heard Ke$ha come over the sound system. That’s right, the “I brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack” 25-year-old pop star was helping us kick things off. Mind. Blown.
That’s when it hit me. Jazzercise is all grown up and making a headline-worthy comeback. The total lack of leg warmers or leotards when I walked in should have been a dead giveaway, but the remaining dread I had about participating in a “Sweating to the Oldies” style workout was dashed within the first few minutes. The entire class was set to current pop music, including hits from Ptbull, Pink, Rhianna, Taylor Swift, and the ever ubiquitous Gangnam Style. To be honest, the entire hour felt like a night out dancing with the girls. Singing along at the top of your lungs optional.
A few things to know about Jazzercise:
Jazzercise is the original dance aerobics class and got its start way before newcomers Zumba, Bhangra, and Dance Trance.
Unlike other dance classes, there are no mirrors in any of the Jazzercise studios. No mirrors means no self-judgement and no need for self consciousness. Go nuts. The instructor is trained to give easy-to-follow verbal cues, so follow along with her and you’ll be just fine. It’s like a live version of the Dance Dance Revolution video game.
According to the website, you can burn up to 600 calories in one class. I couldn’t tell you how many calories I burned, but if you want to reach that upper range, you’re going to need to come down with some serious dance fever. Go big or go home.
Classes involve warm up, cardio dance segment, aerobic cool down, toning with weights, and a final warm down. Each and every segment is adaptable for all ability levels.
New songs and routines are used every 10 weeks to keep things fresh. So, if you hate Ke$ha or Taylor Swift, stick it out for a few weeks and there’ll be a new crop of pop stars to dance with next time.
The Jazzercise Arlington crowd was absolutely awesome. From the first moment I walked in the door, I was greeted by friendly faces who helped me store my belongings in the row of lockers and walked me to the restroom to change. There is no changing room at the studio, but a bathroom stall always does the trick in a pinch.
One thing that blew me away was the incredible range of ages and abilities in the room. There were women in their twenties all the way into their 70s, those who had dancers bodies and those who didn’t, and each one was able to follow along and do the routines. The other thing that blew me away? The positive, fun, supportive environment that exploded from the dance floor throughout the entire class. Women were singing along, laughing, interacting with the instructor, and slapping high-fives. Kind of like this:
Renee was leading the class tonight. I could not get over her energy and passion. She was on the ball for every song, gave excellent verbal cues, and I would highly recommend her class for anyone who wants to try Jazzercise for the first time. Thanks Renee!
Would you try Jazzercise?
* Jazzercise kindly comped my walk in fee, but all opinions are my own.