Three Fitness Trends to Shake Up Your Routine

January 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm , by

It’s not yet the end of January, which means you’re probably still on track for reaching your healthy resolutions. But maybe you’re starting to get really, really bored with the elliptical? We normally eschew trendy exercise routines, but trying something new (and maybe a little outside your comfort zone) every once in a while is a great way to keep things interesting. Here are a few fun fitness trends you might want to check out.

1. Spin for the Soul
Spinning classes have always been popular at gyms, but cycling seems to be taking over. You may have heard about the almost cult-like classes at SoulCycle, described recently as “part dance party, part therapy, part communal high,” or the rival Flywheel Sports, which bills classes as an “amazing escape.” If you need a new obsession, you might start there. Or you could try spinning for good at Cycle for Survival, a series of fundraising events at Equinox Fitness Clubs across the country. Participants spend the day cycling to raise money for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s rare cancer research, a sadly underfunded cause. Anyone can sign up! Learn more here.

2. Unwind with Self-Massage
The MELT method is a series of gentle exercises and self-massage techniques using balls and foam rollers. Sue Hitzmann, a manual therapist and exercise instructor who developed the technique, opens her new book by explaining how she learned to manipulate natural “vibrations” to “restore balance in the body.” Sounds wacky, I know. But I decided to try one of her classes here in New York City recently because I’ve heard foam rollers can work wonders on achy muscles, and I wanted to learn more. Hitzmann showed us simple exercises for massaging our feet and hands using rubber balls, along with some breathing techniques. It felt pretty good, but it wasn’t until we moved on to massaging our spines using a soft foam roller that I converted. I sit at my computer constantly, which is murder for the neck and shoulders. I’ve tried everything from yoga to chair massages, but nothing has released the tension in my upper back as quickly as Hitzmann’s techniques. You can buy supplies and how-to DVDs at Hitzmann’s web site or look up a MELT class near you.

3. Play Like A Kid
Gyms can be expensive or intimidating, which is why we love the idea of “natural movement” fitness. If harsh lighting and communal locker rooms just don’t sound appealing, something like MovNat might be right for you. Instead of training by lifting weights or running on a treadmill, natural movement systems like MovNat focus on the ways you played as a kid: running, jumping, climbing and so on. Erwan Le Corre, who created MovNat in 2008, recently described it this way to Time HealthLand: “This isn’t about the elite fitness of winning gold medals. It is about doing the movements that make us humans, and acquiring a physical competence that we can maintain for a lifetime.”



5 Stick-to-Your-Workout Tips from Harley Pasternak

February 1, 2011 at 10:41 am , by

Harley PasternakYou may remember celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak from last August’s outdoor workout story. Since we’re officially one month into our weight loss resolutions (and we wish we looked a little more like Jennifer Hudson and Katy Perry), we asked him for some tips to stick with your workout, and to make sure you don’t get injured while doing it:

  1. Keep Moving. Many of us let sore muscles or common injuries derail our fitness routines. The key is to not let them become an excuse to give up all together. You can actually work out around injuries, by temporarily trying out a different activity focused on other muscle groups, and making sure you’re properly treating your injuries to get back on track. Sore muscles or sprains, for instance, can be treated with bandages/braces or hot and cold therapy.
  2. Exercise Hidden Muscles. As a culture that celebrates flat tummies and sculpted pecs, many people actually overdevelop muscles on the front of the body because these are most visible when we look in the mirror. When some muscles are overdeveloped, others tend to not be developed enough, and that leaves you susceptible to injury. The key to address this is to work towards balance by assessing where your vulnerabilities lie, and focusing on the antagonistic muscles (the triceps to your biceps, the hamstrings to your quads) during your workouts.
  3. Choose Your Footwear Carefully. It’s important to wear shoes that are the right fit for the activity you are doing. If you are walking, wear walking shoes, and if you’re running, wear running shoes. Cross-trainers are great for activities that require quick side-to-side movements or fast changes between different fitness activities.
  4. Work Out at Home. You don’t need to spend a fortune on fitness gear to work out at home. Cans of soup or led pipes are just as effective as dumbbells. You can also try my 3-in-1 barbell/dumbbell kit called the Harley Bar, which was specifically designed for my celebrity clients who are sometimes too busy to make it to the gym.  Simple muscle strengthening exercises help prevent your chances of getting injured, so maintain your strength with household items when you can’t make it to the gym.
  5. Adjust to the Weather. When it’s cold outside, your muscles aren’t as warm or pliable and are at a higher risk for injury. Throw snow and ice into the mix, and winter weather can wreak havoc on your body. If the weather is cold and you want to exercise outside, make sure to thoroughly warm up your muscles first, and to bundle up with 2-3 layers.  For everyday outdoor activities, avoid sudden movements. When you first step outside remember that your muscles are cold, so also try not to sprint to catch the bus or run when you are late to work.

Make Your Marriage Happier in 2011

January 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm , by

We know your list of resolutions grows longer by the day.  And while slimming down, getting healthy, reading more books and your other must-dos are definitely important, keeping your marriage strong and healthy should be near (or at) the top of your priorities. Even if last year was a great one for you and your spouse, there are surely still things to improve on, and if you’ve run into some trouble lately, now is the perfect time to get to work on making your partnership a happy one. Because as every couple, young and old, can agree, a peaceful marriage takes a little effort!

The experts behind our Can This Marriage Be Saved? column have seen every issue under the sun, from the serious to the silly, that cause fights between spouses. Here are some of their top suggestions of what to do to make your marriage a solid, happy, loving and lasting one.

1.Trust each other. Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy marriage, and being secure in your relationship will help you fully commit to it.

2. Communicate. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and leave the mind-reading to Madam Sofie’s taro cards.

3. Fight fair. You may win the battle but you’ll lose the war, and your marriage along with it, if you always go for the lowest blow. Anger is inevitable, and what matters is how you deal with it.

4. Quit the power struggles. Respect and accept each other’s differences. Whether your way to get the upper hand is to be passive-aggressive or domineering, one-upmanship is dangerous cycle.

5. Talk about money. Financial issues are often cited as the number-one trigger for divorce, and they often mask other, deeper issues within the marriage. Your money styles don’t have to match, but you have to be honest about them.

6. Have sex. So simple yet so complicated. Though they’re bound to happen to any long-wed couple, sexual issues can influence all other aspects of a marriage. It’s a short leap from questioning a sex life to questioning the health of a marriage altogether.

7. Be parenting teammates. When you undermine each other in front of your kids, you’re setting them up to do the same when they’re married adults. You should be allies, not adversaries.

What’s your secret to a happy marriage? Do you have any tips for getting through the tough times, working together or staying in love? Have anything to add to our experts’ advice? Share them in the comments!

For more helpful and thought-provoking marriage advice, “like” LHJ on Facebook and download our free printable marriage tips exclusively for fans! And don’t miss our daily marriage ideas on Twitter! Follow us @MarriageBeSaved.

Marriage tips courtesy of Seven Secrets of a Happy Marriage, by Margery D. Rosen and the editors of Ladies’ Home Journal, Workman Publishing (c) 2002.

Are You Giving Up Something for Lent?

February 17, 2010 at 1:32 pm , by

gchatThis might sound silly, but in the spirit of Lent, I’m giving up Gchat/AIM.*

I’m addicted to the Internet. Facebook, Twitter, email, you name it. My particular “vice”: GChat. I love chatting. I need chatting. In this fast-food-fast-cars-fast-lane age of interconnectedness, the interwebs keeps me up-to-date with my friends, family and coworkers. It’s not all a bad thing. How else could I conduct five conversations at the same time?

But it also keeps me distracted. Women are good multi-taskers (we’re women after all), but we also need to slow things down. I have a sneaky suspicion that if we took some time to pause and reflect on our lives—our work lives, personal lives and spiritual lives—we’d feel a little saner, a little more grounded.

Are you giving up something for Lent? Or doing something to better yourself during Lent? (Hint, hint: This is also the perfect time to rededicate yourself to those New Year’s fitness resolutions).

*Okay, maybe no GChat after 7pm.

Photo courtesty of enda_001

Resolution #1: Doing (Even More) Good This Year

January 4, 2010 at 10:49 am , by

volunteers-nologo-150x200As you know by now, doing good is a big part of our mission here at LHJ. We truly believe that even the smallest good deeds add up to a better world. So that’s why we’d like to take a time-out during this season of resolutions to remind our readers (and ourselves) to make doing good a priority this year. Making a list of goals for 2010? Don’t forget this one!

So let’s pledge together: This year I will do more good. Whether that’s holding the door open for a stranger, buying a cup of coffee for a coworker, donating money to a cause I care about, or giving my time to volunteer, I will make an effort to do something—even if it’s just a small act of kindness—every day this year.

Need some ideas to get started? Check out our Do Good page, 31 ways to give back, family volunteering ideas, and 9 heartwarming acts of kindness.