Balancing for fitness and fun: Balance exercises for home and travel

By Marina Aagaard, MFT. Photo: Henrik Elstrup. Location: Aros. My Rainbow Panorama
Better balance in everyday life and sport? Do balance training anytime, anywhere. Indoors and outdoors. At every possibility e.g. when waiting for a train or a plane: It is ‘free’ training for the brain and muscles, strength, stability and mobility. 

Here I am balancing at Aros Museum, Aarhus, a popular city to visit says Lonely Planet.

Benefits

Many muscles a.o. stabilizing muscles of the legs and core.

Starting position

  • Stand firmly on stand leg foot.
  • Straight back, upright position, straight leg with relaxed knee.
  • Neck in neutral position. Gaze at a fixed point.
  • The free leg is in a specific position depending on the variation (see below).
  • The arms in a specific position depending on variation and preference (see below).

Performance

  • Stand on one leg.
  • Keep your arms on your chest (for a one-leg balance test) or sides (for a stork-balance test) or overhead (typical for the yoga tree exercise).
    Other arm positions are also possible and recommended as variations.
  • Keep the free leg bent. Often you support the free leg foot at opposite knee – e.g. for a balance test).
    Knee is in front, to the side of or behind the body.
    Or hold the free leg straight and lifted (for athletes) to the front, the side or the back.
  • Keep the balance from a few seconds up to 2 minutes. Then increase difficulty.
  • Eyes open. Or close one eye at a time. Or close both eyes.

Single-leg balance

On one foot firmly on the floor. Free foot by stand leg knee. Arms crossed at the chest.

Stork Balance

On the ball of the foot, heel lifted well above the floor. Free foot by stand leg knee. Hands at the sides.

Yoga Tree

On one foot firmly on the floor. Free legs rotated outward with the foot placed high on inner thigh (adductors). Hands – palms together – over head.

Flamingo

On one foot firmly on the floor. Free leg is bent 90 degrees, the thigh is next to or behind stand leg. Arm position is optional.

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T-balance (sagittal scale)

On one foot firmly on the floor. Body forward in a horizontal position. Free leg and torso aligned. Arms back or out. Can also be done with body turned sideways, frontal position (frontal scale).

Training Volume

You can do bodyweight balances every day if you desire.

Enjoy your workout.


Balance test for health (stroke risk)

 

Travel fitness: 100 Workout Basic Step Raw circuit training

Af Marina Aagaard, MFT

The 100 Workout of the day is based on the seven basic steps of Sports Aerobic plus three variations. A cardiovascular, and maybe stamina, workout.
For fast and easy exercise in the gym, at the job, at home or when you travel.

100 workouts are popular time-efficient circuit training workouts with a common feature:

10 or fewer exercises repeated 10-100 times or for a period of 10-100 seconds.
There are numerous models. Here is an easy one.

I designed this for Travel Fitness and for Ski Fitness (part of workout) and it works; your heart rate and energy level increases – as well as energy consumption.

The workout consists of raw basic steps in mixed impact with the feet in and out of contact with the surface, but it can be adapted as desired for pure

High impact, with propulsion, both feet leave the ground (replace walk with gallop).

Low impact, with one foot on the ground at all times (replace jack with step out jack).

Too hard? Lower intensity by using smaller movements and slower tempo.

Too easy? Increase intensity by using bigger movements and faster tempo.

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100 Workout Basic Step Raw

100 WALK or GALLOP
90 JOG or RUN
80 SKIP low skip, variation: 20 legs front, 20 side, 20 back, 20 front
70 KNEELIFT, low impact or high impact – maybe double tempo high knees
60 KICK, variation: 20 high kick front, 20 side, hip abduction, 20 back, hip extension
50 JUMPING JACK, high impact, or low impact, step out jack
40 LUNGE tap back low impact, 20 basic, 20 right/left or high impact jump lunge
30 JUMP focus on being light on your toes
20 TWIST jump feet side to side, 180 degrees
10 SQUAT JUMP parallel squat and high jump

100 Workouts

  • Fast workout for cardiovascular exercise og strength-endurance.
  • Principle: 100-90-80-70-60-50-40-30-20-10. Number of repetitions or seconds.
  • Circuit principle: 1-3 rounds. Start over after last movement.

Warning 1: When working out within a time frame, do not get sloppy, maintain good form.

Warning 2: Many 100 workouts result in extra muscle fatigue. Be careful, avoid injury.

Warning 3: Many 100 workouts promise a set number of kJ burned. May happen or not.

Fitness and wellness travel: Budva, Montenegro

Af Marina Aagaard, MFT

Summertime is holiday time. Holiday travel dreams are plentiful, however, in order for them to come to life, the travels dream should be affordable; research is needed.
Earlier this year I attended a holiday and travel show and got a tip.
Montenegro is becoming a ‘new’ European destination for summer holidays and this year the travel agencies have bargain introduction offers.

Montenegro Budva klippe Foto Henrik Elstrup

So recently my husband and I found an interesting offer; one week in Montenegro including plane trip (at a cost corresponding to roughly the price of one night in an average Danish hotel), so off we went to a new destination.

According to the author of a Montenegro tour guide, author and speaker Tom Noergaard:

”I have travelled all over Europa, and there is no doubt in my mind, that Montenegro is one of the most beautiful countries. Here you have mountains, which are comparable to the Alps in France, Switzerland and Austria, and at the same time you are at a destination, where you can count on sun, warmth and good weather during all of the summer season. Apart form 300 km coastline, there are many interesting sights in the back country as well as some really beautiful cities like Kotor on UNESCOs World Heritage Site list”.

M Biogradska

Montenegro, Crna Gora, Црна Гора, “Black Mountain”
Montenegro is situated south of Croatia, west of Bosnia i Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo, and north of Albania. To the west is the Adriatic Sea.
The capital is Podgorica, which is situated in the middle of the country (below Milenijum bridge).

Montenegro Podgorica Milenijum bridge Henrik Elstrup

Montenegro has a population of approx. 620.000 and the language is Montenegrin. Luckily most people you meet speak English. Every once in a while though you need a phrasebook, a map and some sign language …

Holiday time
Montenegro looks a bit like Croatia, which is a favourite Danish holiday destination:
Big beaches and beautiful national parks with mountains, forests and lakes.

Montenegro Tara canyon view Marina Aagaard fitness blogMontenegro Tara canyon Marina Aagaard fitness blog

And it is great for those loving activity-packed holidays with sailing, rafting, diving, cycling, running, hiking etc. (photo: Tara river, 144 km long; running through Tara River Gorge, 82 km, the deepest river canyon in Europa, 1300 m, number two in the world after Colorado Canyon, USA.

For those interested in history, culture and architecture, there are many interesting old cities and monasteries, e.g. in Cetinje, the former capital. The sign on the square shows number of kilometers to the great museums around the world.

M Cetinje museumsskiltMontenegro Cetinje Monestary photo Henrik Elstrup     Montenegro Cetinje foto Marina Aagaard fitness blog

Pre season advantages: Weather not too hot, 20-25 degr. C; nice. Not too many other tourists. The travel is very cheap.

Pre season disadvantages: The beaches are a bit dirty at places (‘summer cleaning’ is ongoing). Some restaurants and bars are still closed. Weather is somewhat unstable.

Budva
Our trip in May went to Budva.
Budva is situated at the Montenegrin Riviera. It is a cozy small town with a marina and a beautiful old town, stari grad. At the same time Budva Riviera is a festival-centre with more than 10 festivals and concerts during summer.

M strand by
A nice town for either a family holiday or partying. Also a nice base for trips around Montenegro.

You should check the Budva calendar. We accidentally landed in Budva in the middle of The Great Carnival of Budva with participants from 12 lande countries.
That spelt three days with lots of colours, dancing and entertainment. One big free party.

Montenegro Budva Carnival og bymur Foto Henrik Elstrup

However, like all popular tourist destinations, the town adapts to ‘popular demand’, so the hotels and restaurants are fairly international and touristic.
You pay in euro in Montenegro and prices are fairly cheap, however, surprisingly, as Budva and neighbouring cities, including Tivat, are becoming increasingly popular with the rich and famous, there are many hotels, shops and restaurants with very high prices.

Visit Montenegro Top 5 Must Visit places

  • Durmitor; national park); nice, even in rainy weather.
  • Tivat; small town, big marina for multi-million dollar yachts.
  • Perast by Boka Bay, the entire bay area is a ‘must visit’.
  • Skadar Lake; large, beautiful popular lake (area).
  • Sveti Stefan (hotel-island); residence of many superstars. Earlier you could visit the island, now it is closed to the public and controlled by guards …; you have to watch from a distance, unless you book a room at five star plus prices.

Aagaards Top 5 Must Visit places

Kotor
An absolute must-see and you need a day for this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A small town with a very big and beautiful medieval town boasting some of the worlds narrowest alleys. Kotor comes with an interesting challenge:
On the mountain behind the town, there is a fortress and the ancient walls. From an alley in the back part of town you can take a walk to the top (cost 3-4 euro), or rather a stair walk of approx. 1350 steps (and they are oversized). Not for the weakly, but a to-do trip for everyone else, for the exercise and a fantastic view of Kotor and Boka Bay.

M Kotor bymur   M Kotor streetM Kotor stairsM Kotor udsigt fra bjerg

Budva and the Riviera
A 3-4 hour walk of mixed views; past due, worn-out, ugly and new, beautiful, stylish.
We took a walk along the beaches from Budva to Sveti Stefan. A free ride and one of the highlights of our tour. Exercise the easy way combined with some very diverse nature and culture experiences. You cannot walk by the beach all the way, though, as some are private hotel beaches; you need to go up to the street a couple of times.

Montenegro klipper i vandM Zoffs fish bar

Lovcen National Park
A low-budget busride to Lovcen National Park, from the heat by the water to the mountains with snow in may. Cool in every sense of the word. On the top of Jezerski, 1749 a.s.l., there is a mausoleum for Petar II Petrovic Njegos. First walk the 461 steps, then walk via the path (with no railings) to the mausoleum.

It is worth the 5 Euro to enter. It is an impressive structure with lots of cool marble.

M Lovcen mausoleumMontenegro Lovcen Mausoleum foto Henrik Elstrup   Montenegro Lovcen Mausoleum foto Henrik Elstrup   Montenegro Lovcen Mausoleum

You can (and should) eat in the small restaurant right by the stairs. The restaurant is nice, the view is awesome and the food is very good … but bring your own toilet paper (scarce in many small Montenegrin restaurants).

Tivat
Tivat is a small town without major attractions … apart from the harbour, which is well worth a visit. Formerly a naval harbour, now a luxury marina for mega-yachts …
and you can buy your own yacht there, e.g. 30-40 mio. USD.

Montenegro Tivat yacht  Marina Aagaard fitness blogM Tivat mega yachts

If you don’t want a boat, but just want to part with your money, you can visit a casino, which there are quite a few of. Local guides claim that part of Casino Royale was filmed in Montenegro, while internet sources state, that it was in the Czech Republic.

Durmitor National Park
Montenegros first and biggest national park from 1952, 39.000 acres, with Durmitor mountain, 2522 m, a 898 m deep cave and many lakes; the biggest is the Black Lake, Crno Jezero, which really is tow lakes, Little Lake and Big Lake, connected by a small stream. The Black Lake is a popular vacation spot (here on a rainy day).

M Black lake Crno Jedarska

Much more Montenegro
A week is not enough, there are so many places to visit; like Herceg Novi up north, Bar down south (with thousand year old olive trees), Podgorica and rather a long way from there; the monestary built into a mountain, Manastir Ostrog, from 1650, which is visited every year by many believers from different faiths.

M Ostrog monestary

Holiday fitness
A holiday is a wellness experience in itself and on this little holiday it was topped by a few days with two days with spa and fitness. Our budget hotel Lucic was very nice, next to the city centre and a super room, but without any amenities apart from a small breakfast buffet with pancakes and omelet, but no vegetables or fruit at all (so buy your own).

But for wellness, within walking distance (5-10 minutes) you could visit the spa at the luxury hotel Avala, which has a super nice pool and an o.k. sauna and steam bath.
And a fully equipped fitness centre with free weights, machines and even Kinesis (advanced pulley system).

M Avala wellness ude og inde poolM Avala wellness infinity pool aftenM Avala fitness kinesisM Avala fitness jog

This is probably not the last time I will visit Montenegro. There is still a lot to see. And it is very easy and cheap to get around in their small mini-busses.
You can also rent a car, if you are fearless that is; the Montenegrins drive quite fast and without a care, so along all the roads, you will see the word ‘Autoslep’ (towing) and contact numbers on rocks, buildings and signs.

M Autoslep sten

More about Montenegro

Visit Montenegro
Montenegro Wikipedia
Branislav Strugar: Montenegro
All about Montenegro

More photos by husband; Montenegro, Henrik Elstrup 500 px

Holiday Fitness Circuit Tips: I Know What I Did This Summer

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

You should live in the present; not in the past or in the future. However, I do like looking at photos, a.o. holiday photos, that brings out happy memories from days of the past, e.g. of the summer holiday with my family.
Right now autumn, read rain and storm, is starting to show its moody face here in Denmark, so it is nice with some sunshine, if only online.

Plitvice Lakes Croatia photo Marina AagaardPhoto above: Summertime in the National Park Plitvice Lakes, Croatia.
Beautiful landscape. Extraordinary colours. 
A must-see for waterfall-lovers.

A little about the holiday and a lot about circuit fitness (ideas and comments):

When my sister and I were younger, our family of four did not travel or go abroad during holidays. But for the past five years each year we, now a small group of eight, have spent a week at varying holiday destinations in south-eastern Europe; there is plenty of sun, beaches (beautiful nature) and reasonable prices.

IMG_4850

My sister, a former-competitive-bodybuilder-turned-golfer-and marathoner, has two young teens, who are very active, so a resort catering for families, with seaside access, pools and all-inclusive sports, is required for summer holidays these years.
This year it was the Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar, Croatia. The resort had two areas; for those with campers and mobile homes … and those without, a.o. us; brand new spacey holiday flats (photo above).

IMG_4881

No holiday resort without an entertainment team. This team did some straaaange aerobics with isometric holds (photo above), but also some super aqua aerobics with jumping and dancing. Apart from lots of aerobics and dancing, there were numerous other team-led (or self-organized) land and water sports activities.

Fitness wise? The ‘fitness centre’ was a small room with a very limited array of older fitness apparatus. Just outside, however, you had the option of hiring a personal trainer and working out with suspension equpiment, kettlebells and weights.

I opted out on that and decided to go for fitness in the forrest …

The Fitness Circuit at Zaton Holiday Resort

A brilliant feature of the camp was the Trim Staza (fitness station) track in the forrest. The track was used for walking, power walking, jogging and running of campers of all ages, a really nice experience because of the medium-soft surface cushioning your every step and the shade of the trees; outdoor fitness at its best.

Fitness tip for holidays and travelling
A circuit program of approx. 20-30 min. 2-4 times a week is a great activity: You keep (get?) fit, maintain weight, stay healthy and well in minimal time.

The Zaton resort track was about 1,5-2 km (~ 1 mile) long (yes, forgot my Polar GPS!) and had 18 fitness stations evenly distributed for approximately every 100 metres (ensuring a manageable running-distance). 

Some stations were great, some were not so great, however, at every station you could do your own thing, if you wanted or needed an alternative.

Note: The stations, bright red, were easy to spot and had fairly clear illustrations. Only one had text on technique; at closer inspection it appeared, that all stations had at some stage had text, but it had come of. In most cases, though, you could figure out what to do. 

For fitness buffs, holiday fitness enthusiasts and exercisers in general here is a short rundown of the fitness stations for information, inspiration and motivation.

Outdoor Fitness Circuit Trim Staza Style

Ready, set, go (I did several times, because it was great fun):

Zaton outdoor bane

Station 1: Arm swings. A warm-up exercise. Upper-body limbering movement.

Performed with care, these are good for shoulder mobility. But avoid big ballistic arm swings. Too fast, too big … no good for people with shoulder problems.

IMG_5985

Station 2: Bend and extend. Warm-up exercise. Whole body (lower back) preparation.

Performed slowly and with control a good exercise for the back side.
Performed too fast without control: A lumbar back killer, be careful out there.

IMG_5988

Station 3: Arm circles. A warm-up exercise. Limbering movement for the shoulders.

Ahhh, what is this? Something for the shoulders; o.k. in small doses for mobility, but do not go overboard in this; also it will not tone the arms and shoulders …

IMG_5993

Station 4: Upper body circles. Warm-up exercise. For the shoulders.

My interpretation of station as not 100 % clear from sign. Sidebends continuing in a circular motion and repeating the other way. Upper body (spine) mobilization.

If you have back problems, this is not recommended. Start with controlled small range of motion movements, e.g. easy sidebends with arms at sides.

IMG_6002 Station 5: Mill turns. Warm-up exercise. For the spine and shoulders.

A well-known gymnastics warm-up exercise, but it is very hard on the back. I avoid it myself and do not recommend it.
You lean forward, while carrying the weight of the head with a long lever (spine); then you twist, turn, in this bent-over position: There is considerable torque on your spinal discs/vertebrae.

Alternative: Stand upright and turn side to side with control, easy rotation for mobility.

IMG_6008

Station 6: Pull-up (or chin-up shown here). Great back and arm strength exercise.

Grip bar and perform with a wide grip (pull-up) or a narrow grip (chin-up). Both will work the upper back muscle latissimus dorsi and the front of arm muscles biceps brachii. The width of the grip determines how (much) you involve the active muscles.

This is a hard bodyweight exercise, almost impossible for beginners, so a modified exercise could be 1) with partner assistance; have someone help you on the up-phase or 2) jump up/pull yourself as high as possible and lower yourself down or step up on something and step off and lower yourself down.
You could also just hang there for grip strength.

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Station 7: Clean and press variation. A complex strength exercise for legs, lower back (back) and arms.

A great functional exercise. Picking up something from the ground and lifting it overhead. Many muscles at work. You bend down, use the legs, and extend legs and back lifting the (odd) object. The object lifted stays close to the body.
However on the sign it is difficult to see exact starting position; it look a bit like a straight leg movement, which requires extra attention and keeping the back straight. Not an exercise for people with lower back problems.

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Station 8: Jump over Slide under. Agility (and cardio) exercise.

Sign is not 100 % clear on what the exercise is. However, you can create your own fun and challenging exercises. The beam is on an incline allowing for different options.
At the lower end jumping over from side to side is possible.
Stay on the spot or travel forward with different running, hopping, crawling moves.

IMG_6049 Station 9: Suspended core work. Upper body strength, endurance and mobility.

From the sign it looks as if you are supposed to hang from the hands with feet supported and make circular movements with the hips. Tried it, it seemed strange, even though diverse movements are a good thing … 

Option: inverse (reverse) pull-ups. Upper back, front of arm strength  (incline; easier).

Hang from hands feet support. Body at a slight (harder) og steep (easier) incline. Pull yourself up by bending the arms and pulling them back. Lower with control.

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Station 10: Dynamic balance on beam (tree). Balancing exercise.

No illustration at all on this station, so it is up to your imagination. Walk, jog, hop, jump on the two different-sized wooden beams; hold, stick, keep the balance.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.

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Station 11: Dynamic balance on tree stumps. Balancing exercise.

Illustration is somewhat hard to decipher, so it is up to your imagination. Walk or hop, maybe with a stick/hold, from stump to stump. Keep the balance.
For variety include moves to and from the ground.

Alternative: Step-up (buttock and leg exercise). Stay by one high stump: Step up and down with same leg (e.g. 8-16 times). Change leg and repeat.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.

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Station 12: Side hopping/jumping. Agility exercise.

Jump or hop sideways over the low beam, on the spot or travelling forward.
If it feels too hard, you can just sidestep over the beam.
For variety include moves to and from the ground. Or use the hands.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.

IMG_6150Station 13: Upper body exercise (of your choice).

Station illustration looks like the exercise muscle-up (first pull-up, then straight into the press position shown), however, this is not possible, as the beam is far too thick.
You have to find your own variation. Here (after a clumsy climb) I just do shoulder depression; hold the position with shoulders neutral/lowered.
Note: Station 13 was an ‘unlucky’ station; it was starting to disintegrate.

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Station 14: Arm circles. A warm-up exercise. Limbering movement for the shoulders.

A repeat of station 3. Circles with the arms (shoulders) again? This looks like a warm-up or mobility exercise (best performed at moderate pace). No real training effect or relevanse in circuit training like this.
I would perhaps do some circular push-ups instead.

If performing these shoulder circles, circle first one way, then the other way.

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Station 15: Push-ups (upper-body strength (endurance) exercise. Super exercise.

Here incline push-up, which is easier, than the regular push-up. Hands on beam, bend and extend elbows (keeping body in a straight line).

Variation: Decline push-up with more shoulder focus. Feet on beam. Hands on ground. Bend and extend elbows (keeping body in a straight line).

IMG_6175Station 16: Squat jump (deep), forward and backward. Lower body power.

Illustration shows jump (arms pull back and forth for take-off, land with arms in front).
Variation: Instead of jumping forward and backward, you can just step backward and start again. Or do regular squat jumps up and down on the spot.

IMG_6193

Station 17: Side hopping/jumping. Agility exercise.

A repeat of station 12? Jump or hop sideways over the low beam, on the spot or travelling forward. For variety include moves to and from the ground. Or use the hands.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.

IMG_6208

Station 18: Pendulum swing. Aerobic exercise.

This station is cardiovascular training. Similar to when you run or walk from station to station. So is it necessary? Well, as running is a sagittal (forward/backward) plane movement, while this a frontal plane movement, it can be fine for variety.

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Even if I was not too keen on all the stations in this circuit, I think that outdoor circuit fitness in general – and also this particular set-up – is brilliant.

Circuit fitness is great for variety every once in a while.
Have a go, too.

Time travelling for body and mind: Riga, Latvia.

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On a very recent four-day trip to Riga, the capital and largest city of Latvia (696,600 inhabitants), a birthday present from my husband, I kept fit mainly by walking the streets for hours and hours; when you are interested in architecture and design, there is a lot to see in Riga, the European Capital of Culture, 2014:
Interesting buildings, museums and structures (photo: Vansu Bridge) of many time periods including incredible art noveau buildings and wooden houses.
Save some cab money; a (brisk) walk is great for the heart and weight maintenance. 

Riga Vansu bridge photo Marina Aagaard

Riga roof with large cat sculpture photo: Marina Aagaard and Henrik Elstrup

The art nouveau area is the largest in Europa, maybe the World, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is definately worth seeing: It is like being in another time.

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup
Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik ElstrupRiga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup and Marina AagaardRiga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik ElstrupRiga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup

The wooden houses found in several areas of the city, some seemingly disintegrating and others recently restored, are also unique and recognized by UNESCO.

Riga wood houses UNESCO photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga wood houses UNESCO photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga tram and wood houses photo: Marina Aagaard and Henrik Elstrup

Riga wood houses UNESCO photo Henrik Elstrup

Hairdressing and beauty salon in Riga …

Riga skønhedssalon

And some more modern houses with roofs a little less ordinary ………………….

Riga tag kænguruRiga wood houses modern house photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga is not only for art and architecture lovers. It is also for party people (and some say for people looking for a date) with lots of clubs, bars and restaurants.

I can vouch for the restaurants: Everywhere I had a meal, the food was good, and especially so at the Biblioteka No1 (French/European) and Monterosso (Italian).

Riga Biblioteka Mushroom salad photo Marina Aagaard           Riga Biblioteka Beetroot ravioli photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Monterosso spinach ravioli photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Monterosso Haute Cuisine Lasagne photo Marina Aagaard 

Good food and a comfy bed aka wellness.
What more do you need?

The comfy bed was at a modern and reasonably priced hotel some 5 km away from the city centre; Name came as no surprise: Elefant hotel!

Riga Elefant elefant side

Eat. Work. Eat. Work out. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
And some travelling seeing sights, that’s neat …

Bon appetite!

Express Fitness # 1: Interval Training For Travel or Home

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Stay fit and healthy without wasting time. Even if you are travelling, on holiday or have a busy life with little time for exercising, you need to take care of your health, the foundation of fitness, wellness and performance. The good news is, that you can have great results with minimal time investment. The number one option is:

  • Interval training (yes, it’s for you, no, it’s not just for athletes)

Interval running for travel fitness or home fitness

Interval running on the Zaton Holiday Resort, Croatia, (soft) running track. Nice .

Interval training
As the saying goes: With interval training you will double your results in half the time!
Or something to that effect …
The definition: A series of repetitions of a work period (higher intensity) followed by a rest period (low intensity).

The (active) rest periods are crucial to succes; you need to recover in order to put just as much energy into the next work period: So no push-ups etc. during rest periods, that is not interval training. 

More and more recent research points to interval training for just 3-4 minutes per time/week as enough for becoming healthy and fit and even loose weight.
In reality, though, this is too little, as you need 1) a warm-up and cool-down and 2) to train at higher intensities, than most will be able to, to get the mentioned results.

Interval training is, however, the number one way to get fit fast for everybody. Interval training is not just very high intensity training. It is interval work at intensities higher than during continuus exercise. This means, that exercising just a little harder than you normally do will work!
Of course, if you are in shape, you should work at high intensity to get even better results.

There are numerous ways to do interval training and it can be tailor-made to meet specific needs. You can have short intervals or long intervals or fartlek, various speeds and intensities. All intervals, though, will improve your cardiovascular fitness and body composition.

If you are new to interval training try these super-easy sample programs:

  • 5 repetitions: 1 : 1 min., e.g. jog for 1 minute, walk for 1 min.: 10 min. ex. warm-up.
  • 10 repetitions: 30 : 30 sec., e.g. jog for 30 sec., walk 30 sec.: 10 min. ex. warm-up.

Or:

  • From lamppost/tree to lamppost/tree: Run/jog/powerwalk as fast as you can.
    Then walk, focus on breathing, to the next lamppost/tree. Repeat 5-20 times.

Try it. What do you think?

Travel Fitness and Cruise Ship Fitness: Improve Your Fitness (Program)

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On a recent cruise I was at the ship’s fitness centre every day, because I needed to practice some training programs for workshops.
Day in and day out I witnessed a classical fitness scenario, lots of movement with little effect, and decided to do a tiny travel fitness tutorial, as it is possible to double your workout investment in half the time.

At sea fitness centre

The cruise ship fitness centre had lots of machines, some free weights and ample space for floorwork, but also the typical ‘fitness scene’ throughout the week:
Women at the cardio machines (not for hours, though, due to a 20 minute time limit) and on the floor doing 100’s of 80’s callanetics exercises, while the men where at the fitness machines working out.

Optimal travel fitness: It is time to move on. You want to trim and tone?
You must crank up exercise quality. You will get twice the effect in half the time!
This can be done with bodyweight exercises or with machine exercises.
A travel fitness program can be done in a very short time, 10-30 minutes:

3-10 minute warm-up (or extended cardio).
5-7 exercises for the major muscles
8-12 repetitions of each exercise.
3-10 minute cool-down/stretching for the major muscles.

Maximize workout time. Go from exercise to exercise without pauses (circuit training).
If you want more, you just start over from the first exercise, e.g. 2-4 rounds.

Machine exercises are simple, but effective for novices and beginners. So, if you are not used to doing fitness, and would like to try to get fit (or keep fit), while at a hotel or a cruise ship, the fitness machines provide an easy method of working out. You can do it.
Do that instead of hanging onto the same old mat exercises; don’t waste your time.

Important note: Some trainers will tell you not to use machines, as they are not really functional, and instead recommend free weight exercises.
However, if you are not ready or up to it, it is a lot better to use machines, than 1) not exercise at all or 2) do free weight exercises incorrectly.
If you are used to work out or have a trainer to assist you, it is another matter.

Free weight and bodyweight exercises are multi-dimensional and functional, e.g. relates to everyday and sports activities.
However, they do require 1) some knowledge of movement to be safe and 2) full body movements, full range of motion and in some instances speed to be really effective.
Below some exercises to get you started with bodyweight exercises; they trim, tone and burn fat all at the same time:

Happy holiday (or at home) fitness!