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May 2011

How to Build a Better Bottom

By Penny Hoff

The hardest body part to reshape is the gluteus maximus, the junk in the trunk, the caboose, patootie, booty, arse, badonkadonk — whatever you want to call it. The world of behinds is divided into three distinct categories.

The first group has not enough butt, sometimes known as flat butts, also referred to as party platter butts. These are the people you see on America’s Funniest Videos in the pants-falling-down category .

A little known side benefit of having some junk in your trunk is that it keeps your pants from falling down. Paula Dean is an excellent example. She is by no definition thin, but(t) her butt could be a serving tray and when she wears spanks she has been known to lose her pants.

The second group has too much butt and this is where the majority of adult women end up. They never lose their drawers. Ever. Instead, their struggle is to get their pants ON.

The third group has never looked back there and has no opinion whatsoever about their own tush. Many men are grouped here. If you fall into this category you can skip the rest of this article and go sit on yours.

Unlike belly fat, which, if you have the bad kind, can be lethal, fanny bulge is just annoying and unhealthy in a more vague and overall unhealthy way. This is due to the anatomical fact that no vital organs are stored in our hiney, although I have known some men who’ve made me wonder if this is true for all humans.

If you don’t like what you’ve got back there, here’s what you can do:

If Your Rump Is Flat:

• Lunges and squats with heavy weights can give the appearance of lift and separation if you have good form. Lift a challengingly heavy weight for your size and work through your heels. By that, I mean keep your weight out of your toes, because you don’t want to work the front of your leg.

• Remember the Jane Fonda bridge? Lie on your back, feet under knees and pulse the hips up like 10,000 times. This will directly work the glutes. Add weights and let them rest on your your pelvis as you lift or alternate legs for added challenge.

• Do stair climbing, either on a machine or preferably on real stairs. The major mover in your body when you climb is the glutes.

• If you really yearn for a bubble butt and don’t want to work for it (and it is hard work) you can purchase a handy little undergarment called Bubbles Bodywear. which adds some silicone to it’s padded panty. Bubbles Bodywear are the Ebony to Spank’s Ivory. Uniquely similar in opposite, yet equally important ways. It may sound ridiculous but if those of us with a tummy bulge can spend $40 on Spanks then $30 for a bubble butt sounds like a reasonable investment to those who’d rather have something on their party platter.

If Your Rump Is Too Big:

• Do tons of cardio, preferably running or if not running, jogging. Nothing will more effectively reduce your rear-end size like high-impact cardio. Don’t bike a ton of biking or do heavy-weighted squats/lunges. If you do indoor cycling classes, keep your toes angled up and your heels in a dropped position.

• Do LSD workouts. This stands for Long, Slow Distance. Try for a 60 minute walk, vigorous golfing or tennis. Any length of time over 45 minutes will be burning fat stores and if your fat is in your behind then 30 minute workouts aren’t gonna cut it.

• There is no such thing as spot reduction. You just have to lose weight. The densest weight stores are around the hips so if you drop the extra pounds, chances are it will go from your trunk.

• If all else fails, wear black.

And finally, if you can’t be with the butt you love, Honey, love the butt you’re with.

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    May 2011

    The Top 10 Exercises of the 80s: Where Are They Now?

    By Penny Hoff

    Still long for the days of Jane Fonda, leg warmers and coordinating leotards/scrunchies?

    Look no further — these 10 workouts from the 1980s will have you wanting to blast “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (on your modern-day iPod)…

    Click the picture to get started!

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      May 2011

      Why Menopause is Killing Those Abs

      Can any woman at, say 46 years old, put her hand on that space below her ribs and above her hips and experience spontaneous, genuine thoughts of self-satisfaction and appreciation? If so, I’d like to meet her, take her out for lunch. Then I also want to put my hand on her tummy and feel what she’s feeling.

      The desire to have a flat tummy, which — I regret to say, I believe is hard-wired into every woman — is followed almost immediately by an equally hard-wired urge — which is to go see if there are anymore Oreos in the cupboard.

      As women get into their 40s and 50s, even women I call “flat bellies” tend to develop a pooch. Our metabolism naturally slows down, so our weight goes up if we don’t reduce our food intake.

      I talk to many women who complain that pounds are harder to lose, even with restrictive diets. And often the pounds settle around the midsection. Much of this is due to hormonal fluctuations, but can also be attributed lifestyle issues.

      Here’s what you can do to flatten that pooch:

      Exercise the Inner Core Muscles:

      When we think of CORE we think of crunches, which are fine for strengthening the external abdominals, but doing too many crunches can sometimes make the abs look even bulkier.

      If your pooch is below your belly button, you need to work the deep muscles of the abs, specifically, the transverse abdominus (TA) muscles. Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken these deep muscles and often the weakness doesn’t surface until after a decade or so. I like to say that these muscles become sleepy and are often associated with stress incontinence (mini pee when you sneeze) and back problems.

      Here’s what to do to isolate these muscles. Put a belt around your waistline just below the navel (a little lower than you might wear a belt). As you fasten it, relax your belly and fasten it so that it is not snug at all but not loose either.

      Then draw your belly waaay in, as far in as you possibly can (if you are doing this right it’ll be hard to breathe — the TA muscles are attached to your diaphragm, which is your breathing muscle)!

      Now stand and do some side twists and some side bends, all the while sucking your belly way in. Aim for a minute of continuously drawing in while you do side bends and twists.

      It will feel weird but hard in a deep yet subtle way.

      You can also do this without a belt after you master the drawing-in feeling, but the belt helps to give you feedback on how deeply you are engaging your TA muscles.

      Then, start to do it at red lights, in the grocery store line and especially when you see a cute guy! Next, work your TA’s while biking or walking (it’s hard to do running but go for it).

      The more you wake up these deep muscles, the more chance you have of flattening your pooch.

      A sign that you are progressing is if you can draw the belly in, maintain it and resume regular breathing. This indicates that you’ve been able to differenciate between your diaphragm muscles and your TA’s.

      It’s call muscle specificity.

      There are also some lifestyle things you can try to de-pooch yourself:

      Give Up The Caffiene:

      This grieves me to badmouth coffee. Recent research has proven that caffeine boosts your workout (on average, two cups of coffee can give you 10 more minutes of the treadmill — an appreciable endurance boost I love that). So it is excellent for enhancing your workout.

      Many women have said that giving up coffee has positively changed their experience of menopause, which is accompanied by lots of, what I call, “heat” in the form of hot flashes, night sweats or dryness in the vajayjay (Oprah coined it). Among other symptoms.

      Caffeine has an immediate effect on our adrenal glands, triggering an adrenaline rush, which signals the release of cortisol (the fight or fight hormone) which sends a signal to our central nervous system to get the hell outta here — even if there’s nowhere to go.

      Insulin is racing through your blood stream by now, which leads to a sugar crash, which makes you crave starchy carbohydrates, (the fastest form of energy) which, if consumed, is quickly stored in your abdominal area. Your visceral (belly) fat cells are pretty much screaming, “Give me that! I can squeeze that in here! Quick! Hide it in here in case we don’t survive! — We can stretch!”

      The pooch is the most available (and lethal) fat storage area in your body. Which can often lead to jeans not fitting, triggering a vile, nasty mood. So you bitch at your kids and bite your husband’s head off, eventually leading to divorce and ruining your whole life.

      Just consider it.

      Only if you have a meno-pooch.

      When menopausal changes start to happen, caffeine can make all your symptoms worse. And in the trickle down theory, caffeine can give you a meno-pooch.

      But I know you like that cup of coffee.

      Finally, there are some nutritional changes you can make to reduce your pooch:

      Try A 7-Day George Washington Diet:

      All this means is eating clean. Don’t eat (or drink) anything that wasn’t available a couple hundred years ago. Can you be open-minded and disciplined enough to try it for one week? Maybe you are competitive. Get some of your girlfriends to take the challenge.

      You don’t need to limit your intake, just stick with fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein etc. Just nothing processed.

      When you eliminate additives, your liver doesn’t have to clean all the crap out of every bite you eat, so you will have more energy (on the other hand, if your liver is overworked you will be tired).

      Plus you will feel less bloated. This clean diet will help clear out all the digestive sludge that may have accumulated in your belly.

      None of these ideas are torturous. You don’t have to try all three of these techniques at once, but if you do, you will have better odds of flatter abs.

      Make sure to follow Penny on Twitter @pennylovehoff or visit her website for more health tips.

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        Apr 2011

        The Third Diet-Day Hump: How to Overcome the Trap

        By Penny Love Hoff

        Getty Images

        The third day of any diet is absolutely the worst.

        Author Martha Beck wrote a book called “The Four-Day Win” in which she explains that if you can make it through day three of any diet you are 90 percent more likely to get to your goal.

        Firstly, we often eat out of habit, because we want to, not because we are hungry. Eating is extremely enjoyable.

        Hunger is something very different. Hunger is a demand, not an option. Real hunger, although part of the daily life of millions of people on this planet, is uncommon in our Western world except among the very poor and those engaged in dieting. One thing you learn from the worst moments in a diet is what hunger really is.

        Getting familiar with hunger teaches you how disconnected your desire to eat is from your body’s need for calories and how important it is, because of that, to control what you eat by some means other than instinct or will power.

        This is where meal planning comes in. Planning meals in advance may seem like a pain and a real joy-kill as far as ruining the spontaneity that makes life enjoyable.

        Eating is important; it’s one of very few things in life that isn’t optional. If you don’t eat, you die. But it is also true that if you eat too much for too long, you die.

        You wouldn’t entertain the idea of investing in a company that didn’t have a budget, where the staff said, “We just spend whatever we feel like most days. It’ll all work out in the long run.” Not only would such a company probably go bankrupt, its department heads would have no way of knowing where the money was going and they’d have no way to measure actual performance against goals to discover where problems lay.

        But by trying to “play it by ear” about what you eat or to try to balance your long term calorie intake meal by meal or by making every food decision on the spur of the moment, you’re placing something even more precious than your money, your own health, in the hands of a process that inevitably leads to major health complications.

        Two hundred calories might not seem like much but if you are on a diet this is a 10 percent increase over the number of calories you need to eat maintain your weight.

        If this happens regularly enough, there’s a small shift in the balance between calories in and calories out.

        If your balance slips up by as little as 150 calories a day — the rest of your sister’s smoothie, a piece of leftover bagel — the scale will start to creep up. Granted, it will only be a third of a pound a week, but the trend line will start to rise.

        That’s why meal planning is key.

        No matter how long or severe your diet, the first 72 hours are the worst. This sad fact forces most people to abandon their diet which, if continued, would soon yield sustainable weight loss without undue discomfort.

        Planning a diet from an understanding of how weight loss really works gives you a handle on how long you’ll have to endure its unpleasantness. Knowing how feedback can control your weight equips you with at least intellectual confidence that once you’ve lost weight you’ll never have to go through that again.

        This explains the rocky start every dieter must endure. There is a delay, usually between 48 and 72 hours, between the time you cut back on calories and when fat burning begins in earnest. In those hours, you will experience the most severe shortage of nutrition in the entire course of your diet. You’ll feel cold, weak, irritable, tired yet prone to sleep poorly, and a constant, gnawing hunger that urges you toward the refrigerator and implores you to rethink your resolve to lose weight. It will feel worse than the idea of your vacationing friends on the beach in their bikinis.

        What must be endured in the first few days of a diet is an investment that will pay off in reduced suffering later on. It’s worth comparing the undeniable aggravation of dieting with the inestimably less enjoyable by-product of excess weight: heart attacks, strokes, and premature death. If you think of a balance sheet with three days of hunger on one side and six weeks of recuperation from a coronary on the other, it’s a lot easier to get through the first days into the long haul where dieting becomes at most a nuisance to be tolerated.

        You won’t be as hungry after four days. That’s only 96 hours. Get four days behind you. It’ll be over before your friends step off the plane complaining that their belt is too tight.

        Make sure to follow Penny on Twitter @pennylovehoff or visit her website for more health tips.

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