Budget Fitness: Top 5 Exercises

What do you do when your money is tight and your clothes are a little too snug? Oftentimes our fitness pursuits will fall to the wayside. Fitness should always be an investment and can still be part of the budget even when money is an issue. Here are 5 great indoor exercises that you can do at home to help tighten your belt (without squeezing your wallet):

1. The Push Up Begin in a “plank” position, hands on the floor shoulder width apart and legs about hip width apart or wider (to reduce the intensity). Firm your abdominals and draw the thighs toward the sky to keep the body flat like a board. As you inhale lower the body toward the floor evenly and on the exhale push up to starting position. Check out my video Push Up for some interesting variations.

2. The “Chair” Squat – Stand a few inches away from a chair, as if you were about to sit down. As you inhale, bend your knees and lower your hips down so that they hover a couple of inches away from the chair (you know you’ve gone far enough when your legs begin to engage). Exhale as you press through the feet and firm your gluteus maximus (aka “glutes”) to lift yourself up to a standing position. If balance becomes an issue extend your arms toward the wall in front of you as you lower your hips.  Make sure to keep your toes and knees pointing forward. Check out my video Creative Total Body Sculpt for a fun variation.

3. The Reverse Lunge – Stand with feet hip width apart. Lift your right foot off the floor and extend it, allowing the ball of the right foot to touch the floor a few feet behind you. Slowly bend both knees to allow for a ninety-degree bend in the front and back leg. Once you feel your legs engage press through the front foot and bring yourself to a standing position. Repeat with the left leg. Check out my video Dynamic Power Workout for more advanced variations.

4. Pilates Side Kicks – This classic series is amazing for sculpting lean thighs and firm abdominals. Check out my video Pilates Side Kicks for a demonstration.

5. Mountain Climbers – Begin in plank position; draw your right knee underneath the chest as you draw the abdominals toward the spine. Extend the right leg back to plank position and repeat on the left side. Continue switching sides at a controlled and rhythmic pace. Check out my video Training Session for a demonstration.

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Why do you TRAIN?

Motivation plays a major role in one’s ability to stick with a training regimen. Does motivation derive from the ability to fit into your favorite pair of jeans, look like the celebrity of the hour or does our motivation derive from an intrinsic desire to be healthy?

“Yo-Yo” fitness is the consequence of training for the wrong reason. Training for the wrong reason will not give you the willpower to complete the last thirty minutes on the treadmill, nor will it motivate you to drive through the heavy LA traffic to get to your gym.

The best motivation comes from within and is sustainable when one realizes the power that training can have on the development of an individual’s strength and confidence, which inevitably leads to success.

On the weight room floor and on the yoga mat we spend hours committed to achieving a goal. We face the obstacles of fatigue, fear and weakness but ever so often we discover our ability to find the inner strength necessary to succeed. On the mat and on the gym floor we develop the coping skills necessary to face each challenge with confidence.

TRAIN for tenacity and resilience every day!

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Train: Control and surrender

A healthy body is one that maintains balance. A healthy body can summon the strength necessary to lift, push or pull an object of resistance. In the same breath a healthy body must have the capacity to extend, release and gracefully move in multiple directions.

The path of the “corporate warrior” oftentimes leads to financial success and security but along the way the “corporate warrior” may sacrifice the health of their body and mind.

Yoga can replenish the “corporate warrior” due to its ability to calm the mind and regain balance in the body. Two excellent poses for the “corporate warrior” in all of us are Trikonasana (the “Triangle”) and Parsvakonasana (the “Side Angle”). These two poses challenge the “corporate warrior” to resist and release at the same time. During each pose the body is challenged to mindfully engage certain muscle groups while consciously releasing (or extending) others.

The concept of simultaneous “control and surrender” at first may seem counter-intuitive but when an individual achieves it their actions become efficient, fluid and natural. When the “corporate warrior” applies this concept into their work and life they have the tools necessary to overcome the most difficult challenge without sacrificing their peace of mind.

Incorporate Trikonasana and Parsvakonasana into your fitness routine today:

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Last chance: Beach body abs

Rock hard, washboard and ripped Abs of steel have always been one of the most popular (yet elusive) goals of most gym members. Hence the popularity of the “crunch” and huge areas of gyms that are dedicated to the abdominal workout.

One of the biggest myths about Beach Body Abs is that more crunches equals faster results. Oftentimes, this mindset leads to excessive focus on this particular body part and neglect of the other body parts (like the legs and arms). The consequence of this type of behavior is that your body will not reap the benefit of a total body workout, which can enhance the calories burned (creating a caloric deficit).

When creating a caloric deficit, calories burned are greater than calories consumed. When the body is faced with a caloric deficit then it will burn excess calories and excess fat, allowing the abdominal musculature to “show” (which is often hidden beneath a layer of bodyfat).

Another important factor that will stand between you and your Beach Body Abs is your diet. Professional beach bodies (fitness/bikini models) pay careful attention to their diets so that they can maintain the necessary caloric deficit required to keep their bodyfat low so that their beach body abs are ready for the spotlight.

Check out Part 2 of Ozzie’s Beach Body Challenge for a routine designed to help you get your beach body abs!

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Last chance: Beach body

One more month left until summer officially comes to a close!

  • Have you frolicked on the beach in your bikini or swim trunks?
  • Did tourists on the beach mistake you for a swimsuit model?
  • Did you feel comfortable enough to sit around half naked in the sun this summer?

If you answered “no” to these questions or if your beach body dreams didn’t pan out like you thought they would then you are not alone. Work obligations, limited time and procrastination are the usual culprits that prevent us from achieving our beach body but the good thing is that you have four weeks to turn it around!   Four weeks may not seem like a long time but with a strategic fitness program, your beach body may be within reach before the summer ends.

Check out Part 1 of Ozzie’s Beach Body Challenge to help you reach your fitness goals!

In addition to incorporating a great workout routine, make sure your eating habits are up to par.

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Train: The spine

Each time we stand up straight to walk to our car, embrace a loved one or shake our body on the dance floor we should thank our spine. Every day our spine and its surrounding musculature battle the force of gravity to keep us erect.

Our spine is in its happiest and most comfortable position when we mindfully sit up or stand up with proper posture. The reality for most of us, however, is that our posture will suffer when we sit at our desk hunched over computers and slouched in chairs. These hard to break habits are the consequence of failing to listen to our mothers’ constant nagging (“Sit up straight!”). In this position our spine is at a disadvantage and the surrounding musculature cannot work in harmony. The resulting imbalance causes excessive tightness in one area and corresponding weakness in the opposing muscle groups.

As the hours, days and years pass the situation gets worse and our body starts to conform to this new posture, which can cause major issues such as herniated discs/bulging discs (in the low back and neck), excessive tightness in the chest, headaches and an inability to sit/stand up straight (the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” look has never been attractive).

The spinal musculature, like any other muscle group, will benefit from a program that incorporates strength and flexibility. Check out the following video for some great exercises to incorporate into your fitness routine today!

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The Pros and Cons of Dieting

The word diet is defined as “a particular selection of food, as designed or prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition or to prevent or treat a disease”.  In this context the word diet doesn’t seem so bad but in reality most people view a diet as a significant restriction of calories and the denial of your favorite foods.

A diet is beneficial toward the reduction of weight and body fat.  It can play a major role in one’s risk for hypertension, diabetes and fatigue (among other things).  Generally, the diet is designed to help one achieve a healthier lifestyle.

A diet goes wrong when it deprives the individual of foods and experiences that they desire.  Adherence to a strict diet can prevent a person from indulging in their favorite foods, enjoying dinner with friends and can even lead to an individual falling off the wagon (when the temptation becomes too great).

Healthy eating habits should be a part of everyone’s “to do” list. When strategically designed, a diet can be manageable, enjoyable and sustainable.  In fact, when identifying the best “diet” for you it is important to choose a healthy eating program that you can incorporate into your life for the long haul.  Incorporating a long-term eating plan prevents the” yo-yo” phenomena in which you lose weight only to gain it back once the diet is over.

A sensible diet will traditionally incorporate a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Recruiting the assistance of a nutritionist or dietitian can be a useful tool to develop a meal plan that can strategically incorporate some of your favorite foods without disrupting your caloric requirements.

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Train: Body control

Total body awareness and control are the skills that separate the elite athlete from the amateur.  Cultivating these skills takes tremendous time and a strategic effort. Yoga can be used off the field to develop these skills.

Yoga arm balances like Vasisthasana (the side arm balance) require the athlete to harmoniously activate muscles of the upper body, lower body and core to hold the pose.

The upper back muscles deliver a tremendous effort to keep the chest open while the core must deliver a counter acting force to maintain a balanced and neural spine.  The muscles of the side body (obliques and outer thighs) engage to prevent the athlete’s body weight from sinking into the notably smaller platforms of the grounded hand and outer edge of the grounded foot.

The athlete must also resist the powerful urge of the shoulder blades to rise toward the ears. As this internal battle takes place the athlete makes a conscious effort to maintain a sense of peace and stability in the pose.

On the field the elite athlete has mastered this internal muscular struggle and reached a state of balance and harmony in his/her body and mind.  Enhance your body awareness and control by incorporating Yoga w/Ozzie: Vasisthasana into your routine!

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Train: Preventing shoulder injury

Throwing a ball, swinging a racquet or just doing too many push ups in the gym puts the athlete at risk for a muscular imbalance in the chest, back and shoulder complex.  Muscular imbalances lead to numerous injuries in the shoulder (think rotator cuff) and even the low back due to “rounded shoulders” (think hunchback of Notre Dame) revealing excessive tightness (caused by overuse) in the front of the chest and weakness in the upper back.

To prevent injury it is necessary to incorporate a balanced workout regimen that will strengthen the chest, back, anterior delts (front of shoulders) and posterior delts (back of shoulders).  Two classic yoga poses, Chaturanga and Cobra, can get the job done!

The interesting thing about these two yoga poses is that as you transition from one to the other the body is required to activate the muscles sequentially (as one muscle group activates, the opposing muscles must stabilize and vice versa).   This form of movement is quite different than machines that isolate one muscle group at a time.

Incorporate these two poses into your chest/back/shoulder routine to teach your muscles to work as a team!  Try doing 3 sets of 5-8 reps, move through each transition with a slow and controlled speed (let the slow pace of your breathing guide you). Check out Yoga w/Ozzie: Chaturanga and Cobra for a demonstration.

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Super Juices, Magic Pills, Enchanted Water

Over the past few years the fitness industry has been inundated with a swarm of super juices, magic pills and enchanted water.  In some cases, these products have been promoted as groundbreaking innovations that promise to heal multiple ailments, help you shed pounds and change your life.

Some consumers swear by these products while others have been thoroughly disappointed and have wasted hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars.  Whatever the experience, the truth is that obtaining a healthier lifestyle cannot be achieved by the purchase of a single product.

Living healthy requires a lifestyle change that extends into a variety of areas of an individual’s life.

It begins with the mind. To live healthy we must make a conscious effort to do so as our current environment will often lead us toward an unhealthy lifestyle.  Excessive work hours, fast food, high stress relationships, smog, depression, anxiety, inconsistent workouts and a lack of time make unhealthy living the norm.

It leads to the kitchen.
Out of sight, out of mind.  One of the easiest ways to begin on a path toward healthier living is to stock your pantry with food that is good for you.  When lean meats, oatmeal, fruits, nuts and veggies are the only food in the house it is much easier to stick to your commitment to consume healthier foods. It is not uncommon that after weeks of indulging on healthier food alternatives, the craving for “not so healthy” foods (cakes, pies, cookies, etc.) begins to dwindle.

It continues at the gym. Fitness is big business, which is good news and bad news for the consumer.  On one hand there are lots of products on the market that promise miraculous results but deliver a hole in your wallet.  On the other hand lots of gyms are offering great deals on memberships so you can work off the pounds the old fashioned way.

It ends with you. In fitness you are the entity that stands in the way of having the body of your dreams. It is your commitment, your consistency and your desire to reach your fitness goals that will keep you moving in the right direction.

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