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When I work with private clients, they usually want to focus on one of three areas: abs, hips and backs of the arms–the triceps. Fortunately, if you are losing weight in addition to doing exercises, your arms will be the first to show improvement. And if you’re frugal like me, you’ll love knowing you can effectively tone your arms right at home. Plus, doing dips on your stairs may be safer than doing them on a bench as the smaller height of the step limits the depth of the dip and prevents you from lowering yourself too far and risking shoulder injury.

This great simple exercise provides many benefits:

  • tones backs of the arms
  • strengthens shoulders and chest
  • stretches shoulders
  • works core
  • increases overall upper-body strength

Next time you walk past your stairs, take one minute to shape your arms!

Abs are really easy to work without equipment. Typically, we get down on the mat for crunches, leg lifts and planks. With this move, you don’t even have to get all the way down to the floor–just sit on your steps.

Work your way up to twenty reps of these flutter kicks, and shoot for a couple sets throughout the day. The Flutter Kick exercise has lots of great benefits:

  • Strengthens core
  • Firms thighs
  • Improves posture
  • Develops focus
  • Works on balance

In part two of our No Gym Required series, we’ll be doing push-ups on the stairs. This is an ideal way to work our way up to “regular” floor push-ups. Doing this move on the stairs allows us get a full range of motion that may not be possible on the floor depending on your strength level. Even if you never get to the floor push-up, you can still strengthen and shape your upper body with this move.

Be sure your shoulders are above your hands, your body straight and core engaged as you lift and lower yourself. Try to get your ribcage as close to the stairs as possible. Do ten reps of this move several times a week, and you’ll reap these benefits:

  • increased core strength
  • toned arms
  • sculpted shoulders
  • overall upper body conditioning

When people find out I teach fitness classes, they often exclaim, “I wish I had time to exercise!” Parents often feel guilty about taking time to work out when we have so much to do between taking care of home, family and career. Fortunately, we have everything we need for a full-body workout right here at home.

This vlog begins a five-part series of exercises you can do on the stairs. One reason these moves are so great is that you only need a minute to do each one. This is doable between loads of laundry, picking up the living room or putting away groceries. If you have more time, spend more time, but even grabbing one minute of each of these moves a couple times a day will help you get strong, firm and healthy.

We start with lunges. This move targets butt & legs and burns a lot of calories. If you can keep it up for 20 minutes, you’ll gain cardiovascular benefits as well. Next time you pass by the stairs, take the opportunity to strengthen your legs and burn some calories.

Our Kid’s Yoga Pose Series ends with Snake Pose. This backbend feels great to kids and adults alike, but you need to follow good form to avoid compressing the discs in  your spine. Many people immediately straighten their arms because the abdominal stretch feels so good, but then they experience sharp pain in the lower back. To do this pose correctly, follow these steps:

  1. Lie belly down, and place your hands beside your chest.
  2. Lift your kneecaps off the ground slightly.
  3. Pull your hands back towards your feet to create length in the front of the body.
  4. As you pull your hands back, shimmy side to side and slowly lift your chest off the ground.
  5. Come up as high as is comfortable without straightening your arms.

Snake Pose offers many benefits:

  • improves posture
  • increases spinal mobility
  • stretches chest, lungs, shoulders and abdominals
  • firms glutes and back muscles
  • soothes digestive organs

This pose works very well with young children who like to “flap their wings” and tell me what color butterfly they are. But young or older, everyone will find relief from tight inner thighs with this seated posture. Do Butterfly Pose on your floor, couch or bed, and enjoy these benefits:

  • stretches inner thighs
  • opens hips
  • improves posture
  • relieves back pain
  • increases lower-body flexibility

One of the things I love about yoga is that it reminds us of when we were children and turned upside down, rolled around, balanced on our hands and twisted ourselves into strange shapes just for fun. When I teach yoga to kids, they take right to it because they intuitively understand the playful aspect of the poses.

This week starts a series of vlogs highlighting various yoga postures you can share with your children, and you’ll all benefit. To kick it off, let’s try Crow Pose. This arm balance is always a hit with the kids and offers many benefits:

  • develops the ability to focus
  • increases upper body strength
  • improves balance
  • cultivates coordination
  • builds confidence

Do you find it hard to carve out time to get to the gym or take a class? You’re like many of us juggling work, home responsibilities, parenting and a myriad of other tasks. Fortunately, you do not need to leave your home to get a good workout. Body-weight only exercises are the rage. Not only are they challenging and effective, they can be done anywhere in the house. Even if you only have 5 minutes to spare while you’re cleaning, you can make it work with an intense, focused move like this Dip & Lift that targets your chest, arms, butt and hamstrings. Start off with a few, work your way up to 3 sets of 10 reps, and come summertime sleeveless weather, you’ll be glad you did.

During my years as a personal trainer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with all kinds of people. For the most part, they share two dilemmas: not knowing what exercises to do and not having enough time to do them. Fortunately, when you correctly perform the best exercises to meet your goal, it doesn’t take nearly as much time as you might think. I’ve chosen three movements to effectively work your core right on your kitchen chair. Work up to three sets of ten of each, then cycle through them again if you have the time.

  • Seated Elbow-to-Knee: works obliques
  • Bicycle: tones every muscle in the abdominal group
  • Pendulum: strengthens upper body in conjunction with abs and hip flexors

Next time you finish your morning coffee, push back from the table and give these a try!

In our fast-paced lives, it can be hard to settle easily into sleep. Electronics stimulate the nervous system and keep our minds racing. Busy after-school schedules can prevent deep relaxation as we prepare for bed. Yoga can combat these challenges and prepare the body for restful sleep so needed for healthy children and adults in several ways:

  • Deep breathing: the yogic technique of focusing on breath helps the nervous system to relax.
  • Stretches: Knee/Chest Pose and Reclining One-Leg Twist stretch and unwind back, hip and abdominal muscles that work all day to maintain posture.
  • Restorative Poses: Reclining Cobbler’s Pose and Constructive Rest Pose relax and calm the entire body.

It only takes a few minutes to help your children unwind and get ready for deep, restful sleep, and it may start them on a life-long journey of wellness and good health.

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