It’s officially summer and that means late sunsets, beach days, and sit ups. Time to get in shape! I called Helen Ryan, a personal trainer and a single mother of two who is conscious of saving time and money. Here are Helen’s tips.
1. Use your own body weight. “Everyone underestimates the power of the pushup,” she said. “It works every muscle in the upper body.” Put your knees down to start and build up slowly.
2. Take advantage of free equipment. Using a park bench, lower your body with your arms braced behind you. This works the back of your arms, a flabby-prone spot.
3. Purchase a stability ball for under $15. Helen says it is one of the best – and cheapest – pieces of equipment. Place the ball between your back and a wall and roll down into a squat. Lean into the ball to find a comfortable position. This strengths your butt, thighs, inner thighs, hamstrings, and quads. (Stability balls on sale are priced around $10, or check garage sale listings.)
4. While lifting an appropriate-sized weight to curl your biceps, stand on a fluffy pillow. (By comparison, a stability board costs about $130, Helen says). This engages your stomach and core, making it more challenging for your whole body. The more unstable your body is the harder your body has to work.
5. Instead of buying gliding disks (~$15 a pair) use paper plates. In plank position, which is like the start of a push up but your forearms are on the floor, put a paper plate under one foot. Drag the paper plate foot toward your chest to work your core. Carefully work up to 8-10 on each side. To work your butt and outer thigh, drag the paper plate foot out to the side as if you were outlining an arc.
6. Lunge with paper plates. Standing next to the kitchen counter (or something else you can grab onto), make a slow, smooth lunge by sliding the foot that is on a paper plate forward. You can also lunge out to the side. Hold onto the counter and go slide out and back very slowly.
7. Go for a walk.
8. Buy a piece of exercise equipment called tubing. Tubing comes with handles and costs $10 or less. Mount it in your doorway and use it to work your upper body, front and back. You can wrap the around feet and do biceps pull ups. Here is a list of tubing exercises.
9. BONUS TIP FOR VERY FIT FOLKS! With your arms in push up position put your toes on your stability ball and do an advanced push up. Or pull your knees toward your chest for a tough ab workout. Make this exercise slightly easier by putting your elbows on a coffee table or bench.
For more tips, visit Helen’s web site, FlexYourBody.com.