(Don't feel daunted by the instructions... pictures and videos to be updated soon!)
First off, congratulations on taking the first step ...or continuing... on your health and fitness journey. I welcome you.
Secondly, here are some tips to keep in mind before your movement warm up and as you complete any fitness challenge. Biggest thing I can say, to actively avoid injury always start here before beginning your workouts or after your cardio warm-up.
😁 Okie dokie... Let's get to it!
Step 1 - Sit or Stand for a moment and assess the way your body feels. This may seem strange to begin with but, we live so fast most of the time, taking a minute is very important to listen to our breath, our body, and our mind. Breath in deeply through your nose and exhale softly through your mouth. Make mental notes of any tightness, stiffness, soreness and release tension as you exhale slowly. Understand... the next few minutes are for you.
Step 2 - Take a 60 second walk. Keep the pace easy we are just getting your blood moving and heart rate up. If you're unable to walk, that's ok too. Steadily move. Pump your arms, slow and steady, and lift your feet in your chair like you're walking or move what you can. This is to ease into movement not to exert yourself.
Step 3 - Complete the following movement Warm-up. Do each repetition (rep) with controlled movement and each continuing rep should feel a little deeper or stretch a little further to increase your range of movement and warm up the joint. Always remember proper form (the 3 B's):
Bold Stance. Chest up, top of the head supported from ceiling and shoulders rolled back and down. This is the set stance before and during any exercise.
Braced Core (easiest way is to pretend someone was about to punch you in the stomach 😬 - your internal stomach should feel tight). This keeps your lower back stable and spine protected.
Breathe with the movement while supported. Oxygen helps blood flow into our muscles and clean toxins away as we workout (along with many other benefits).
Complete 10 reps of each exercise below. Arms and legs count separately each side. Moves can be held if the stretch feels good but no longer than 4-6 seconds before your workout. You're goal is to make the movement smooth and consistent.
Neck Reliever: 5 reps rolling your head side to side, not backwards. Chin down to chest, slow and controlled like a pendulum with increased depth and pause at the top. Then 5 neck clocks. Side to side ticking motion, slow and steady without shrugging the shoulders up. Avoid forcing the movement.
Arm Circles: 10 forward -10 backward. This can be alternating each side or one side and then the other. If you're sitting or have shoulder limitations do elbow circles instead. Bend your elbow at a relaxed 90 degrees and rotate just your shoulder. Keep chest forward, top of head up and core braced. Do not push through pain. Limit your range of motion or slow down your movement if any discomfort is felt. Remember to brace the core, this will limit side to side shifting.
Arm Crossovers: Swing your arms so they cross in front of you at shoulder height. Keep your elbows slightly bent and alternate the top arm each time. Make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together without arching your back and feel the stretch in your back when you bring your arms forward.
Brace Race: Breath in and sqeeeeeeeze your abdominals as hard as you can while you breath out through your mouth. You should feel your core working and hear your breath as you exhale. Use caution if you have any lung dysfunction or heart condition and ease into the squeeze.
Leg Swings: If you are standing make sure your core is braced. You'll want to shift your balance to one side and kick your leg forward and back. Use something waist height to help keep your balance if needed. Try not to let your lower back arch while swinging, if your core is braced this will be harder to do. Everyone's range of motion will be different. Swing just enough to feel your hip and butt working. If you are sitting, squeeze your butt and alternate lifting your legs off the ground. They can be fully straight or slightly bent whichever is achievable with proper form. When that gets too easy, lift both legs off of the floor, with core braced, and quickly pulse them in the air, alternating each leg. Make sure you engage your butt muscles and keep your core strong.
Hip Openers: If you are standing use something around waist height to keep balanced. Lift your knee up as high as it will go and flex the foot so the bottom is parallel with the floor. Move your knee across your body to the opposite side to feel the stretch on the outside of your hip then at the same height bring it out to the side. Lower it and repeat on the same side until all reps are complete. This is like the arm circle but with your hip instead. Again, don't push through pain. Everybody's hips are different, ease into the movement. If you are sitting, open and close your hip starting with the left side then do the right. Use caution if you have hip problems, it may be best to lay on a bed. You should feel this in the inside and outside of your leg.
Knee Pulses: Stand about shoulder width apart and feet pointed slightly out. Weight your feet into the ground through the heels and complete the 3 B's for proper starting form. Pretend you're going to sit down but changed your mind about a quarter way through. Track your knees over your toes. Use caution if you have knee problems but this is a good way to stretch the tendons in your knees. If you are sitting, root your feet shoulder width apart on the floor in front of you. Alternating each side, extend at the knee and keep your thigh on the chair. Lower back down with control. Repeat to complete 10 reps each leg.
Ankle Circles: Use something waist height for balance if needed. Extend one leg out in front of you about 45 degrees and rotate the ankle with your foot pointed. Try to draw a big circle with your big toe in one direction 10 times and then reverse for 10 reps.
Now that you're all warmed up, you are ready to tackle any fitness challenge.
I know it may seem intimidating to get started. This can even feel overwhelming. But I assure you, once you progress through the exercises above a few times, the time it takes gets shorter and shorter. Ultimately, you really learn to appreciate the movement your body CAN do and love the improvements you make over time. Treat every day like it's your first day and you are on your way to success.
Take care and remember Today is Day One... Always.
~ Kelsey Hoople, Certified Personal Training Specialist (PTS), Nutrition Coach and Meditation Instructor