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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Cheers to a Happy & Healthy 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #12

Today is day #12 in our 12 Days of Christmas Exercises and though it's tempting to forget about exercise and just bake Christmas cookies... today's exercise is a Family Walk! This an exercise that even the family dog can participate in!

Gather your family members, lace up your sneakers, and stroll the neighborhood. Take time to catch each other up on what's new, tell your family all about how you love and appreciate them, and reminisce about past Christmas holidays. Can't seem to fit the walk in during daylight hours today? Bundle up and take your walk after dinner tonight in the dark- the perfect time to check out the neighbors' light displays and see if you can spot Santa's sleigh (wink, wink).

Enjoy your walk and in the words of St. Nicolas himself, "Happy Christmas to all... and to all a good night!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #11

The end of our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises is drawing near as today is day #11! So far we've worked our lower body with lunges, squats, wall sits, calf raises, and more. We've worked our upper body with bicep curls, tricep dips, arm circles and we even snuck in some core work too... so what to do with one of our last days of Christmas? How about some CARDIO?! Cardio bursts raise your heart rate, challenge your endurance level, and can be a lot of fun if you're creative with them! Here are some ideas to get your heart rate pumping and keep your kiddos entertained while you do it:
  • Get your feet moving with some Maniacs (also known as "happy feet" or "fast feet") in front of your child and surprise them with tickles. Name the body parts you're tickling and it turns into a little educational time too.
  • Use your arms in a cardio burst and do some Jumping Jacks! Involve your children by counting aloud while you do it... mix it up by counting Spanish, French or any other language in which you can count to 10!
  • Is your house a bit on the messy side? Playroom littered with toys? Make it a game! Get low (no rear ends in the air, please!) and Side Shuffle about the room cleaning things up as fast as you can. The result- a quick cardio burst and a clean floor!
  • Out for a walk in the neighborhood? Integrate your cardio bursts into your walk. Pick a spot ahead of you and Sprint to reach it- full speed ahead! When you get there return your pace to a power walk or jog and get ready for the next sprint. Have your little ones help you select your next goal... the big tree, the stop sign, or the inflatable snowman in the front yard and have fun with it!
Have you been following our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises? Tell us what you'd like to see for Day #12!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #10

Today is day #10 in our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises series. Today's exercise, that works the entire shoulder girdle, is Arm Circles.

To perform arm circles, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms straight out to the sides (palms up) so that your body forms a "T". Soften your knees, pull your abdominal muscles in tight, and roll your shoulders back and down. Start with by making small circular motions (slow and controlled) with both arms. You can increase the resistance by holding small dumbbells or household items (such as canned goods or water bottles) in each hand.

Do 20-50 circles and then change your circle direction and repeat. For the next set, turn your palms down and do two sets of arm circles (one forward, one backward) to work the muscles in a different way.

Please do not attempt this if you have not yet been cleared by your physician to exercise.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #9

Today is our 9th day in our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises series! The movement today works the Core (abdominal and lower back muscles) and is called a Opposite-Arm-and-Leg Horizontal Reach.

In quadruped (hands and knees) position, tighten your abdominal muscles and squeeze your glutes (aka: your butt muscles). Simultaneously extend one leg and opposite arm out long, parallel to the floor. Try to hold your body in still, plank-like position from fingertips to toes, with your head and spine in neutral alignment and remember to breathe! Hold the position for 15–60 seconds and then switch sides. In addition to working your transversus abdominis and obliques (aka- ab muscles), this exercise engages glutes, hamstrings, back extensors and your shoulders... a true multi-tasking move and great for pregnant moms!

Please do not attempt this move if you have not yet been cleared by your physician to exercise!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #8

Today is day #8 in our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises! We do these often in Stroller Strides class so if you're a regular you'll recognize these as Butt Busters! That's right... this combination move will tone and strengthen your lower body, especially those glutes.

Try a set of 8-10 Butt Busters on each leg and more if you're up for a bigger better burn! Add in the hop if you're up for a bigger challenge too.

Please do not attempt this if you have not yet been cleared by your physician to exercise.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #7

Today is the 7th day in our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises! The exercise we're highlighting today is for our Biceps and is a standard Bicep Curl. Your biceps are located on the front side of your upper arms.

In Stroller Strides class we do bicep curls using our exercise tubing but if you don't happen to have any exercise tubing handy try using small dumbbells, canned goods from your pantry or water bottles to provide the resistance.

If you're using exercise tubing start with your tubing anchored underneath one or both feet and hold the handles in your hands. For all other "weights"- place one of whatever you're using in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or one in front of the other in a split stance. Your palms should be facing forward/up with your abdominals pulled in tight and shoulders rolled back and down.

Squeezing with your biceps, keeping your elbows glued to your side, curl both arms up towards your shoulders, hold for 1 second, and slowly release. Repeat 12-15 times for 3 sets. Keep control of the "weight" at all times. Be careful not to swing your arms or arch your back... that's cheating and you might hurt yourself that way.

Please do not attempt this if you have not yet been cleared by your physician to exercise!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #6

Today is our 6th day of our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises and we've got so much shopping and decorating on our minds today that we'll keep it simple with Calf Raises! Your calf muscles (also known as your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) are located on the back side of your lower legs.

To perform a calf raise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft, abdominals pulled in tight, and shoulders rolled back and down. Squeezing with your calf muscles, raise your heels off of the ground and lower. Use your stroller handlebar, a wall, or another stable object to help you maintain your balance if necessary. Try 3 sets of 12-15 calf raises with a brief rest in between sets.

Want to change it up a bit? Keep things interesting? Try any of the following variations:
  • Turn your toes in and perform calf raises in this position
  • Turn your toes out and perform calf raises in this position
  • Alternate between squats and calf raises
Please do not attempt this if you have not yet been cleared by your physician to exercise!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #5

Today is the 5th day in our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises and you might want to sit down for this one... against the wall, that is! Today's exercise is a Wall Sit! This exercise works the quadricep- the large, 4-part muscle at the front of the thigh that runs vertically from the hip/pelvis down to the knee and helps to straighten and stabilize the knee.

Place your back against a bare wall and lower down into a sitting position. Ideally (this may be something you need to work up to) your thighs should be parallel to the ground. Press your shoulder blades and head back against the wall and open up your chest. For less intensity or if you suffer from knee pain, don't come down quite so far into a deep wall sit- minimize the flexion of the joint.

See how long you can stay in the position before the burning in your thighs gets to be too intense. Distractions work well for taking your mind off of the discomfort- try singing a few verses of your child's favorite song to them or see if you can stay in your wall sit through an entire commercial break during your favorite show! The more you practice the longer you'll be able to hold it and the stronger your quadriceps will be!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #4

The 4th day in our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises is a combination of a traditional push-up and the yoga move, Downward Facing Dog. This combination exercise works our shoulders and our chest and is called the Downward Dog Push-up. Lisa Druxman, our Stroller Strides Chief Founding Mother, demonstrates the Downward Dog Push-up in the video below. Try 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions and focus on your form! This is another great exercise for getting your shoulders into "Little Black Dress" shape for all of those holiday parties you've been invited to!

Please do not attempt this if you have not yet been cleared by your physician to exercise!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #3

Today is the 3rd day in our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises and it is the Rope Climb Crunch. This exercise works the rectus abdominus. This abdominal muscle runs vertically up and down the front of your abdomen and plays a key role in maintaining good posture.

Lay down on your back, hold both arms above you, and imagine there is a rope hanging down from the sky. Using your arms, pull on the imaginary rope bringing your torso higher and higher off the ground. If you're able, come all the way up to the top, sitting up tall. This is a slow, concentrated contraction for the rectus abdominus.

Slowly lower your torso back down to the ground as you climb down the imaginary rope with your arms. Repeat this movement until you are unable to maintain good control while raising up or lowering back to the floor. The stronger your abdominals get the more you will be able to do!

Please do not attempt this if you have not been cleared by your physician to exercise!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #2

Today is the 2nd of our 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises. This is a tricep dip with a leg extension for added intensity (demonstrated by our Stroller Strides National Fitness Director, Farel Hruska and narrated by our CEO and Founding Mother, Lisa Druxman).

Your tricep is located in the backside of your upper arm. Tighten up your triceps (to prevent unnecessary wiggling) with 3 sets of 10. Make sure to pick a stable chair or bench to use for this exercise- one that will not slide out from under you. Please do not attempt this until you have been cleared by your physician to exercise!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises: #1

The holiday season can keep us SO busy but now is NOT the time to give up your exercise routine! Stroller Strides of Midtown Raleigh is committed to helping moms make strides in fitness, motherhood, and life and we're here to help you stay focused over the holidays!

Stay tuned to our blog for The 12 Days of (Christmas) Exercises! Over the next 24 days we'll bring you 12 exercises that you can do on your own to stay fit while you're away. Staying in town? Augment your Stroller Strides workout by doing these at home on days we don't have class! Please don't attempt these exercises if you have not yet been cleared by your physician to exercise.

Our first day will focus on the lower body with a bit of ab work thrown in at the end.... enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our December Mom of the Month!

Our Mom of the Month program honors moms for their efforts to lead healthy lifestyles while giving us a chance to get to know them better at the same time!

Our December Mom of the Month is Alicia Stephens, aka Court's mom! Alicia moved from Brooklyn, NY to Raleigh in early summer/late spring and starting taking Stroller Strides classes at North Hills in July. She and Court rarely miss a class or playgroup and we love having them around! Alicia's smiles, warmth, and authenticity make her fast friends with all of her classmates.
Alicia recently completed the NYC Marathon in early November and is already itching for another one! She plans to become a certified Stroller Strides instructor in the New Year and will be teaching for Stroller Strides of Midtown Raleigh! We're excited to have you on the team, Alicia & Court! Here are a few more details to help you get to know Alicia a little better...

Hometown - Haiku, Maui, Hawaii

Education - B.A. in Public Policy and Master of Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill
Stroller Strides
Member since - July 2010
Members of your Family - husband Jon, son Court, dog Edith
Current Career -Mom!
What was your childhood ambition? - to be a U.S. Senator
What does motherhood mean to you? It has completely transformed me and has challenged (in a good way) some fundamental things that I thought I knew about myself. Becoming a mother has enabled me to live in the moment a lot more and to become more conscious of the world that I create for my child.
What is the furthest you have been from home? Lucerne, Switzerland
What has Stroller Strides done for you? Most importantly, it has provided me with a wonderful group of women. It also has strengthened my core and my arms, two elements of exercise that I always neglected before now, and both of which are so important to proper form in long-distance running.
What is your favorite exercise? All of our arm work with tubes around the escalators
What is your proudest moment? Achieving my goal of natural childbirth, despite 24+ hours of labor and 2.5 hours of pushing. Second to that, I am also pretty proud of the various marathons I have completed, despite not being very athletic or sports-oriented during my school years.
What are three of your favorite things (besides your family!)? Everything about my home island of Maui, all beaches, and oatmeal raisin cookies
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us or makes you unique. My husband and I actually got married twice on our wedding day, first in the morning at a tiny and simple ceremony in my childhood church, and then later that afternoon in a civil ceremony with all of our family and friends present.
If we asked your spouse what they think your best qualities are, what would they say? He replied "your determination and your ability to connect authentically with a broad range of people."