Health and Fitness

Health: Dump the Gym, Save the $$. Work Your A-Off Watching RHOA, Y&R, or Whatever.

By now, you know I’m on a one-woman mission to whip EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU into optimal shape–inside and out. Not that I’m all perfect though–I’m travelling this journey to goddess-dom with you too. I don’t need to beat into you that us black ladies have the highest percentage of “biggins,” highest rates of diabetes, blood pressure and strokes.

Diabetes? That’s my mom. High blood pressure? My dear dad died after his brain was ravaged by multiple strokes. So…yeah. I’m a little obsessive about health and fitness, and you’re just going to have to deal with it, okay?

I know some of you are gym rats, and I can respect that…really. But did you know that if you go to the gym and run on that machine like a meth-addicted gerbil all the time, your body gets used to it. Take a look around that next time you go–look at the regulars on those elliptical machines and I bet you’ll see those same ladies month after month, not shedding a pound. Plus, they’re flabby because their too scared to work their muscles for fear of looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ugly sister.

And Midwest and East Coast ladies, let’s be honest. How many of you are ACTUALLY leaving your house to go to the gym in that weather you’re having over yonder? Thought so.

Stay Home and Work Out in Front of the TEE VEE, Unshowered, and Even Undressed.

Here’s my home gym. It’s all I need to stay in shape. Notice what’s NOT there–treadmills, Ab Flex, Ass Flex, none of that.

Switch It Up, Keep it Fresh.

I too have had to snap out of my routine a bit, switch it up because your muscles have a memory and if you keep doing the same stuff over and over it stops working. Damned muscles and their blasted memories.

That’s why circuit training has become a new fascination with me. Let me explain the basics of circuit training, and THEN, I’ll give you MY version of it.

“Circuit training combines aerobic fitness with strength exercises, making it a very efficient way to workout. By limiting rest periods between exercises, your workout turns into cardio mixed with the resistance training. Circuit training is also easy to follow and provides a great full body workout,” says New York-based fitness expert Steve Ettinger.

Brass tacks: cardio + resistance training = heart health, weight loss, and general physical hotness.

Now I could give you some boring stuff to do for your circuit training regemin, but since when do I ever do things like a normal person?

First off, in order to effectively circuit train, you need a timer of some sort. This can be a pain, because you constantly have to time a start and stop period. I have a recommendation, but it’s a bit pricey–the Finis Circuit Trainer:

Here’s why I like it: you can program active and rest periods so you don’t have to think about it, and you can also program the amount of cycles. It’s also portable and water resistant, so you can even use it for exercise by the pool.

But…I use this with a twist. I work hard on a particular series of exercises for three minutes, then during the “rest” period, I actually do something to bring up my heart rate.

Por ejemplo:

3 minutes yoga vinyasas

1 minute cardio exercise. This could be ANYTHING. I’ll hula hoop. Dance to a fast-paced tune on my I-Touch, do jumping jacks…whatever. Here’s my new toy: The iMainGo. I can program my iPod to my workout tunes, insert it right into the speaker box and get a good sound indoor and outdoors. Plus, it comes in a cute pink:

3 minutes pilates (100’s, roll ups, single leg circles, rolling like a ball)

1 minute cardio

3 minutes upper body training (7 lb dumbells for bicep curls, lunges, chest press) or resistance bands:

…or lower body resistance:

1 minute yoga balance practice (tree pose, head stand (damned you, elusive head stand! I will conqure you!)

3 minutes of deep stretching. I can. not. stress. enough. You MUST stretch. Especially if you try my workout for the first time, you be sore as hay-ell. In Dr. Christopher Oswald’s book, Stretching for Fitness, Health and Performance, you should follow six rules for stretching:

  • Warm up your muscles to get the blood flowing.(which is what you did with the yoga vinyasas)
  • Be gentle
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Breath deeply to improve circulation of the muscles
  • Do not bounce. You might break something.
  • Stretch both sides.

So what are you waiting for? Step awaaaaaaaaaaaay from the computer.

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