Fitness news – Health Care
Tag

Fitness news

Browsing

Chelsea Handler loves a good core challenge—so says the comedian/actor/TV host herself, as well as her trainer Ben Bruno, who’s worked with Handler for the last three years.

“I always harass my trainer @benbrunotraining for never working my abs hard enough,” Handler recently wrote on Instagram. Bruno, who also trains Kate Upton and Victoria’s Secret Model Barbara Fialho, confirmed the claim: “Ever since I’ve trained Chelsea she’s complained that the ab work I give her isn’t hard enough,” the Los Angeles-based trainer wrote in a repost on his own Instagram.

The solution? An unnamed, tough-as-hell core move that Bruno gave Handler last week. It’s an advanced variation of a V-hold made even tougher with a single-arm overhead shoulder press.

“This works and it hurts,” wrote Handler, when sharing a video via Instagram of her demo’ing the grueling exercise.

“I may have finally shut her up with this one,” Bruno wrote when reposting the video, which you can check out via @benbrunotraining here:

The exercise primarily targets your core, but it also engages major muscles in your upper and lower half.

Specifically, the move works your pectorals, deltoids, triceps, rectus abdominis (aka, your abs, the muscles that run vertically on your abdomen), obliques, thoracic spine (the upper and mid-back), lumbar spine (lower back), hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings, Mark DiSalvo, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SELF.

“It’s definitely a muscle stimulator,” Clancy says. “You’ll really feel the midsection and surrounding areas and shoulders.”

It requires a high level of core stability—which is why it's so challenging.

“This is a very advanced move,” Mike Clancy, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, tell SELF. It requires a huge amount of core stability to do.

To perform this move correctly, you have to “keep a steady torso and avoid twisting or falling backward, which is much easier said than done,” Bruno wrote.

This requires continual contraction of your frontal core muscles (mainly, your abs) as well as the muscles in your mid and lower back. You’ll also need strength and flexibility in your hamstrings and calves to be able to lift and extend your legs, and keep them extended, says DiSalvo.

Sneaky balance work is also at play.

Because your tailbone is the only body part making contact with the ground while your entire core tries to hold steady and your upper body performs a weighted movement, this exercise requires a certain level of balance and spatial awareness to master, says DiSalvo.

Advertisement

This balance component makes the core stabilization that much more challenging. Doing a balance-intensive move like this really ignites your core stabilizing muscles, and smaller core muscles in general, that are usually “very foreign to people,” DiSalvo says. These oft-neglected muscles become the major forces that keep your body upright during a complex balance and stability move like this.

The one-arm dumbbell presses make the move even more difficult.

“This off-balance strength training movement requires further core stabilization,” explains Clancy. By adding in the dumbbell press with just one arm at a time, “you’re creating an imbalance in your upper body and you have to really activate your core to keep yourself from tipping over.”

In other words, this is move pretty much all about that core stabilization, which makes it an incredible—and incredibly difficult—total-body exercise.

When performing this move, going slow is the key to success. You can’t rush through the overhead presses, otherwise, you’d risk losing your balance. “This can help you learn how to better control your shoulder movements, especially during the eccentric phase [i.e. when you’re lowering the weight down],” says Clancy.

Because Handler’s move is very advanced, here’s a four-step progression that can help you work up to it.Dead Bug

  • Lie faceup with your arms extended toward the ceiling.
  • Lift your legs over your hips and bend your knees so your legs are at 90-degree angles.
  • Contract your core and press your lower back into the floor. Take a deep breath in.
  • Keeping your core tight and your lower back pressed to the floor, exhale and slowly extend your left leg toward the floor while bringing your right arm overhead.
  • Slowly return your arm and leg to the starting position.
  • Repeat with your opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating movements for 30 to 60 seconds.

This basic core move works your rectus abdominis and your transverse abdominis (the deepest ab muscle that wraps around your sides and spine) as well as your hips and shoulders, says DiSalvo. Your lower back should stay pressed to the floor as you perform this move. Think about pressing your spine down every time you exhale.

Once you’re able to do this move for at least 60 seconds continuously, you’re ready for the next move.

V-up Hold

  • Sit on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you, your butt firmly planted, and your hands resting by your sides.
  • Make sure your core is tight, your chest is elevated, your shoulders are down and back (not hunched), and your head is naturally in line with your spine.
  • From here, lift both legs off the ground, keeping them as straight as you can.
  • Lift both hands off the ground so that your tailbone is the only point of contact with the ground.
  • Lean your torso slightly backward so that your body forms a V shape.
  • Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.

Advertisement

If you feel intense tension in your spine as you reach the V position, bend your knees slightly to take the pressure off, says Clancy.

Once you’re able to easily hold this position for at least 60 seconds (preferably 90 or more), you’re ready for the next move.

V-up Hold With Twist

  • Sit on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you, your butt firmly planted, and your hands resting by your sides.
  • Make sure your core is tight, your chest is elevated, your shoulders are down and back (not hunched), and your head is naturally in line with your spine.
  • From here, lift both legs off the ground, keeping them as straight as you can.
  • Lift both hands off the ground so that your tailbone is the only point of contact with the ground.
  • Lean your torso slightly backward so that your body forms a V shape.
  • Once you’re in this position, start slowly twisting your shoulders—a few inches to the left and then a few inches to the right. Each twist should take 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Try to keep you core and legs as still as possible as you perform the twists so that your shoulders and upper back are the only moving parts.
  • Continue twisting for 30 to 90 seconds.

Once you easily can do this for at least 90 seconds, you can try the next step—Handler’s move.

Advanced V-Hold With Overhead Shoulder Press

  • Sit on the floor next to a dumbbell, with your hips square, legs stretched out in front of you, butt firmly planted, and hands resting by your sides.
  • Make sure your core is tight, your chest is elevated, your shoulders are down and back (not hunched), and your head is naturally in line with your spine.
  • From here, lift both legs off the ground, keeping them as straight as you can. Lift both hands off the ground so that your tailbone is the only point of contact with the ground.
  • Lean your torso slightly backward so that your body forms a V shape.
  • Grab the dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing away from you. Curl your bicep up and bend your elbow to bring the dumbbell to shoulder height, while maintaining good posture and balance. Extend your left arm straight up and out to the side. This is the starting position.
  • Press the dumbbell straight up toward the ceiling for one count, and bring it back down for two to four counts. This is 1 rep.
  • Do 3 to 10 reps on each side and then switch arms for another 3 to 10 reps.

Advertisement

Some people, like Handler, may be able to fully extend their legs in the V position. That’s great—but it’s totally OK if you’re not at that level. As Bruno writes, “You’ll want to start with bent knees, a more upright torso, and the feet hovering just off the floor. As you improve, you can straighten the legs, raise the feet, and lean back like Chelsea is doing here.”

If your shoulders feel pinched and/or you can’t extend your elbow all the way as you attempt the presses, your shoulders are likely internally rotated too far forward (aka hunched), says DiSalvo. “Lots of people have internally rotated shoulders and you may not be able to fix this on the spot.” If that’s the case, put the weight down and reset your positioning.

When readjusting yourself, “you want to visualize your sternum coming forward and your shoulders dropping slightly," says DiSalvo. Think about keeping your core tight and lower back flat, and try not to throw your belly forward, he adds.

Doing the moves in this progression will help strengthen and stabilize your core, while also working many major muscles in your upper and lower half. Just know: Handler's move is seriously advanced, so for most of us, it will take some time and dedication to nail.

When a spring snowstorm hit New York City on Wednesday, Karlie Kloss pushed her way through it—literally. In an Instagram video that she captioned “sNOw days off,” the supermodel and marathon runner took to the slushy streets outside of celeb-favorite gym Dogpound to push an exercise sled loaded with Dogpound founder Kirk Myers.

You can check out the video via Kloss’s Instagram here:

This snow plow–esque movement, known as weighted sled pushes, looks extremely badass—and that’s because it is.

The sled push, which is meant to be an all-out, high-intensity exercise, requires simultaneous engagement from your back, glutes, hips, core, hamstrings, calves, triceps, and shoulders, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist Mike Clancy tells SELF. "Aside from your biceps and chest muscles, every other muscle group is in full engagement.” Basically, it's an incredible total-body exercise.

To do the move, you have to brace your core, flex your glutes, and extend your spine to drive your legs through the ground as hard as you can, explains Clancy. From there, the goal is to transfer the force through your legs upward to your midbody, out to the shoulders, triceps, and hands, and into the weighted sled.

While your lower half pumps as hard as possible during this movement, your upper body should stay tight—and still. “You are contracting your entire upper body to be a stable base through which your lower body and core can transfer strength,” Mark DiSalvo, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SELF. The forceful, fast movements required by your lower body combined with the prolonged contraction of your upper body make weighted sled pushes a great total-body movement.

And because weighted sled pushes are meant to be performed in short bursts and at 100 percent effort, they’re great form of high-intensity training, says DiSalvo.

If you use the correct equipment, sled pushes are “one of the safest hard things you can do,” says DiSalvo.

Unlike more traditional strength training moves, like bench presses or deadlifts, “you don’t run the risk of dropping anything on yourself, and if you get tired, you just stop,” DiSalvo says.

Sled pushes are also pretty foolproof to execute. “You don’t have to worry as much about form failure because either the sled will move or it won’t move,” says Clancy. “It’s an auto-correcting exercise in the sense that your form has to be at a satisfactory level in order for the sled to move.”

The surface on which you perform weighted sled pushes can impact the difficulty of the move.

“As a rule of thumb, the less friction on the surface, the easier it will be,” says DiSalvo. Pushing on grass, astroturf fields, or in Kloss’s case, snowy streets, will be easier than pavement, for example.

Advertisement

“It’s not a huge factor,” DiSalvo adds, “but you might get a little performance increase.”

There are a few things you should keep in mind before attempting a weighted sled push.

If you’re brand new to sled pushes, it’s a good idea to have a certified trainer or other fitness professional supervise your efforts and begin. You'll also want to begin with much less weight than Kloss. About a third or half of your body weight is a solid place to start, says DiSalvo. “That should be a very manageable starting point and you can increase it from there,” he adds.

And for safety’s sake, you should only attempt this move with proper, professional-grade gym equipment, says DiSalvo. Don’t try subbing an exercise sled for a heavy piece of furniture, for example, as that could increase your risk of injury. Some gyms and (even public parks) will have exercise sleds. You can also find them online.

Here’s how to do a weighted sled push:

  • Wrap both hands around the sled and stack your elbows and wrists in line with your shoulders.
  • Lock your elbows and scapula [shoulder blades] in place. “You want to be very firm through your back and chest,” says DiSalvo.
  • Position your upper body in one straight line from the base of your neck to your hips.
  • Standing on your toes, begin pushing forward as hard as you can, pumping your legs as high and fast as you can.
  • As you move, your lower body positioning should be very similar to how you would perform an all-out sprint. This means having flexed hips, with your thighs high and close to your torso; flexed, high knees; and flexed feet. This triple flexion helps your body wind itself up like a spring and then release against the ground with enough energy and power to propel yourself—and the sled—forward.
  • Push as hard as you can for 15 seconds, followed by two minutes of rest. Repeat one or two times.

As you get stronger, decrease the amount of rest between reps until you achieve a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio (e.g. pushing for 15 seconds with 30 seconds of rest). Once you can do 4 to 5 reps with a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio, bump up the time of your output in 10- to 15-second increments, and from there, increase the weight in 15- to 20-pound increments.

It’s important to keep your feet flexed and stay on your toes/the balls of your feet as you push forward as this will maximize your force. If you’re not getting a good connection with the ground, “you will feel like the Road Runner,” says DiSalvo. “Your feet will be moving fast but you won’t be going anywhere.” If you feel any tension or strain in your hips and/or lower back as you perform a sled push, it’s likely a sign that you need to bring your hips forward and your legs further back behind you.

If you don’t have access to a sled, here are two other moves you can do to reap similar benefits.Treadmill Pushes

  • Hop on a treadmill and resist the urge to press any buttons. The machine should remain off during the entirety of this move.
  • Place your hands close together on the handles and grip your thumbs on the same side of the handles as your other fingers (an overhand grip).
  • Stack your shoulders on top of your hands to put your body at an inclined, angled position. Your upper body should be in one straight line from the base of your neck to your hips.
  • Begin moving the belt by pumping your legs upwards and forwards in the triple flexion motion described above. You should be landing on your toes.
  • Push as hard and as fast as you can for 10 to 20 seconds. This is 1 rep.
  • Rest for one to two minutes, and then repeat one to two more times.

Advertisement

As you get stronger, decrease the amount of rest in between each rep. Once you achieve a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio, increase the number of sets. Once you can do 4 to 5 sets with a 1:2 work to rest ratio, you can increase the time of your push.

Treadmill pushes are “a good entry point to weighted sled pushes,” says Clancy. “Your job is to make the belt spin as fast as you can.”

Farmer's Walk

  • Grab a set of heavier weights—dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells. As with the sled pushes, it’s a good idea to start with a total weight that’s a third to a half of your body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, start with 25- to 35-pound dumbbells in each hand.
  • Place the weights on the ground, with one weight on either side of you.
  • When you’re ready, bend your knees to lower yourself down to reach the weights. Grab the weights firmly with each hand and squeeze your core and glutes and drive through your heels to push yourself—and the weights—up.
  • Straighten your back and look straight ahead.
  • Keeping good posture, take small, quick steps forward for 30 seconds.
  • Stop, and bend your knees to place the weights back down on the ground in a controlled manner. This is 1 rep.
  • Rest for 2 minutes and repeat for another rep.

This move won’t provide the same exact muscular benefits as the sled pushes, but it is a great high-intensity exercise that targets your core, shoulders, upper back, glutes, and quads, says DiSalvo. Just know: Because you are carrying weight (rather than pushing it), it’s not as foolproof to execute and the risk of injury is slightly higher. That’s why it’s important to start light with both weight and reps, really focus on maintaining good posture, and raise and lower the weights with control.

Celebrity trainer Kira Stokes loves making fitness more fun. The New York City–based certified trainer, fitness instructor, and creator of the Stoked Method whose clients include Fuller House actor Candace Cameron Bure, frequently shares exercises on social media that somehow look as enjoyable as they do difficult—like beachside jumping rope, a partner ballet-esque cardio circuit, and pull-ups on an NYC crosswalk sign.

On Wednesday, Stokes shared via Instagram yet another example of exercise meets entertainment: a move she created that she calls Chicago inspired plank walks (as in the musical), thanks to a slow, sultry twisting of the legs.

“I’m constantly creating and trying to find new options for planks,” Stokes tells SELF about the inspiration behind this challenging movement. “They are an important exercise, and holding a solid basic plank is challenging in and of itself, but people can get bored…it’s fun to find ways to spice it up.”

You can check out the video here:

This move provides all of the core-strengthening benefits of a basic plank—and then some.

A plank is a great exercise because it targets both the rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think abs) and the transverse abdominis (the deepest ab muscle that wraps around your sides and spine), explains Stokes. When most people think about their core, they just picture the abs, but “what’s equally important is your transverse abdominis,” says Stokes.

It plays a key role in stabilizing your body. “The transverse abdominis is an intrinsic core stabilizer, which means it helps stabilize your core and spine to help your body function correctly,” Cori Lefkowith, Orange County–based personal trainer and founder of Redefining Strength, previously told SELF.

These Chicago-inspired plank walks target the rectus and transverse abdominis, as well as the internal and external obliques (the muscles on the sides of your stomach), which are not typically engaged during a standard plank, Stokes says. Your obliques help you bend to one side and perform any type of twisting motion, and they are another important part of building a strong and stable core. Basically, for this massive muscle group to do its job, it needs to rely on the strength from each part—that's why it’s important to target various muscles within the core, and not just the abs.

Advertisement

“It’s good to keep your core guessing,” adds Stokes. These Chicago-style plank walks certainly do that.

It also works a few big muscles beyond your core.

This plank variation also works your lats (the broadest muscle on your back), shoulders, and triceps, as well as your gluteus medius (the smaller hip abductor muscle on the outer side of your butt that supports the hip and rotational movement of the thigh), and your hip adductor muscles (inner thighs). In other words, it’s a great total-body move.

The slow, twisting rotations make it so you target different muscles at different times. When you bring your knee to the same-side elbow, you’ll tap into your glute medius as well as your internal and external obliques. As you glide your knee across your body to the opposite elbow, you’ll target the inner thigh and internal obliques. And as you put your foot back down on the ground, you’ll contract your lower obliques and lower transverse abdominis as well as your inner thigh.

Here’s how to do the move:

  • Start in a high plank with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, wrists directly under your shoulders, and your core, glutes, and quads engaged.
  • Lift your right leg, bend your knee, and bring it toward your right elbow. Pause here for two seconds.
  • Keeping your right knee bent and lifted, rotate your knee and hips and swivel your left foot as you bring your right knee to your left elbow. Pause here for two seconds.
  • Straighten your right leg and place your right foot on the floor to the left of your left foot. Your legs will be crossed. Pause here for two seconds.
  • Repeat this series with your left leg, bringing it first to your left elbow and then to your right elbow before crossing it over your right leg and lowering it to the floor.
  • Continue for 60 seconds. Work up to three sets of 60 seconds.

As you bring your knee to the opposite elbow, be sure to pivot the foot that’s still on the floor about 45 degrees in the direction of the opposite elbow. This will prevent you from overtorquing your lower back, says Stokes.

Also, as you perform the twists, hug your knee into your chest as tightly as possible. In doing this, you’ll likely feel slight tension in your hip flexor. Don’t be concerned, says Stokes—this is natural. You should also be continually pressing up through your palms and shoulder blades, as this will increase the engagement in your lats and lower abdomen.

When doing this move, remember: “Pace is a part of form,” Stokes says. This exercise is meant to be performed slowly—even slower than she demos in the video, she says. Stokes recommends a two-second pause at the top of each separate motion to hone in on the muscles that are working. “When you’re going through your flow, if you can slow it down and take a moment at each point of contraction, you will allow your muscles time to understand how they are supposed to be reacting,” Stokes says.

And lastly, before attempting this variation—or any plank variation, for that matter—make sure you’ve mastered a basic plank, Stokes says. That means drawing your belly button toward your spine, lifting your hips, tucking your pelvis (to make sure your lower back is not arched), and squeezing your glutes. When you can comfortably hold a regular plank for at least 60 seconds, try adding a dramatic flourish with these super challenging (and super fun) Chicago-style plank walks.

Just when you thought the mermaid trend was starting to disappear (finally), a new YouTube workout series is here to remind you that the allure of the mythical sea goddess will never go away.

"The 8-Week Mermaid Transformation Series" is a new workout series available on YouTube. It's created by Fin Fun Mermaid, a company that sells pool-friendly mermaid tails. (And yes, they do come in adult sizes.) Fin Fun partnered with USA Swimming–certified coach Christine Dustin to create a workout plan that promises to help you channel your inner Ariel.

The sport is literally called mermaiding. What makes it different from regular swimming, according to Dustin, are the body rolls that help propel you forward—and also the mermaid tail you may or may not choose to wear.

While it may seem like mermaid fitness is kind of jumping the, er, shark, it actually makes sense as a workout.

"Like swimming, mermaiding is a full-body workout, but it especially focuses on the core muscles," Dustin tells SELF. (The reason it's so core-heavy is because there's an emphasis on moving the body in a rolling motion—you'll see what we mean in a minute.) Mermaiding, like swimming, is also gentle on the joints. "Water provides a resistance you don’t get on land, while also giving a low-impact environment that leads to few injuries," she adds. And it's a killer cardio workout. "The workout strengthens your heart, increases your lung capacity, and improves your flexibility, [in addition to working muscles throughout] your entire body," Dustin tells SELF. What more could you ask for? (A mermaid tail of your own, perhaps?)

In the first video of the series, Dustin shows swimmers how to do three different types of dolphin kicks.

You can check out the video here:

After swimming freestyle for a lap or two to warm up, you'll start off with a 25-yard dolphin kick swim. Get in position on your belly with your arms stretched out in front of you—up to you if you want to cross your hands on top of each other so that they better mimic a dolphin's nose. Then, you'll use your feet to kick and propel you forward. "When you do the dolphin kick, remember you want to roll through your whole body," Dustin explains. That means starting the rolling motion with your hands and ending with your toes. "Make sure you press down your chest, your hips go up, and don't bend your knees too much."

Then, Dustin teaches the next type of dolphin kick. This time, you'll hold both arms against your sides. The biggest difference is that you start the rolling motion with your head and chest instead of your hands. Picture the graceful way a mermaid swims through the water, and you'll have a good idea how what this should look like.

Advertisement

For the third and final type of dolphin kick, you'll swim on your back, holding one arm above your head, the other at your side. "Dolphin kick on your back is pretty much the same as on your front," Dustin explains. Roll through your head, chest, core, and legs to help propel your body forward.

The finisher is a 100-yard mermaid swim—which basically just means that you swim whatever stroke makes you feel the most like a mermaid.

If you do choose to take up mermaiding, be prepared to work most of your major muscle groups, from your arms to your abs to your legs.

Your entire core has to engage as you execute that rolling motion, your legs have to work hard to propel you forward, and many muscles in your upper body, specifically your lats (the broadest muscles in your back), rhomboids (the muscles that let your shoulder blades retract), deltoids (your shoulders), and triceps, all have to engage as well, Belinda Kiriakou, certified personal trainer and sport and fitness manager at Blue Diamond Resorts, tells SELF.

As the eight-week series continues, Dustin hopes to convert all her viewers into mermaiding faithfuls. "Mermaiding is a lifetime sport," says Dustin. "Mermaiding can be enjoyed when you are 9 or when you are in your 90s." Tail is optional, but honestly, if you're going to do it, you might as well go all out.

Actor Jordana Brewster is no newbie to the big screen—or to the gym. The Fast & Furious star has been working the Hollywood circuit since 1995, and she’s also been working with celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak for more than a decade.

Throughout the years, Pasternak, who has trained Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Julianne Hough and Jessica Simpson, among other celebs, has given us glimpses of just how hard Brewster works during their sweat sessions (see here, here, here, and here for recent examples). On Saturday, he shared even more evidence of Brewster’s dedication in an Instagram video of her cranking out a classic (yet seriously challenging) lower-body move: the jump lunge.

You can check out the move, via @harleypasternak, here:

“I am a huge fan [of jump lunges],” Ashley Walter, Chicago-based certified personal trainer, tells SELF.
“[They] strengthen your lower body, improve your balance, and challenge your core muscles.”

The jump lunge is a great exercise for a number of reasons. For starters, it provides all of the lower-body strengthening benefits of a regular lunge—and then some.

When performing a jump lunge, you’ll simultaneously work all of the lower-body muscles targeted by a standard lunge, including the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, Stephanie Mansour, Chicago-based certified personal trainer, tells SELF.

You’ll also work your core—specifically your transverse abdominis (the deepest ab muscle that wraps around your sides and spine) and rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think "abs")—as well as the stabilizing muscles around your hips, she adds. Core strength is required for standard lunges too, but it’s even more important with jump lunges to “stabilize the hips and upper body throughout the movement,” explains Walter.

In other words, jump lunges are basically a tougher, more challenging version of standard lunges, with extra core and hip stabilization work thrown in, too.

The plyometric element of the jump lunge makes this move a stellar cardio, balance, agility, power, speed, and coordination challenge.

The jumps are what really up the ante of this move, transforming what would otherwise be standard lunges into a plyometric cardio move, says Walter. “I love including this move in at-home workouts because it does not require equipment and is a great move for anyone looking to do more [high-intensity interval training] (HIIT),” she adds.

Advertisement

“It’s not just strength and it’s not just cardio,” says Mansour of this move. “It’s two in one.”

Make that more like seven in one. The explosive element of this movement tests your speed and power, which are especially important skills in many sports, and because you are jumping up and switching your stance mid-air, you're working your agility, balance, and coordination as well, says Mansour.

Because this move is high-impact, there are a few things to consider before giving it a go.

Before you try jump lunges for yourself (more on that below), it’s important to master both walking lunges and jump squats, recommends Mansour. You should be able to comfortably do 8 reps of each with solid form before attempting jump lunges. (For walking lunges, that means 8 reps on each side, or 16 lunges total.)

Another caveat: Any jumping movement that involves a great deal of core strength and balance to land safely is generally not advised for anyone with knee pain, says Walter, as well as anyone with low-back pain, adds Mansour. For a lower-impact alternative, you can do alternating lunges without a jump and add in a weight like a medicine ball or dumbbells to make the move more challenging, suggests Walter. But if you do have any sort of pain, you should always check in with your doctor before starting a new exercise to make sure it's safe for you.

All that said, if you’re ready to try jumping lunges, here’s how to do them:

Remi Pyrdol
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Step back (about 2 feet) with your left foot, landing on the ball of your left foot and keeping your heel off the floor.
  • Bend both knees to create two 90-degree angles with your legs. Bend your elbows and put your hands on your hips. (You can also naturally move your arms with your legs, as shown in the gif above.) In this positioning, your shoulders should be directly above your hips and your chest should be upright (not leaning forward or back). Your right shin should be perpendicular to the floor and your right knee should be stacked above your right ankle. Your left thigh should be perpendicular to the floor. Your butt and core should be engaged.
  • Push through the heel of your right foot and the ball of your left foot to jump up.
  • As you jump, switch your stance so that your right foot goes back about 2 feet, landing on the ball of your right foot and keeping your heel off the ground. Your left foot is now in front, flat on the floor, facing forward.
  • Bend both knees again to create two 90-degrees angles with your legs. This is 1 rep.
  • Without pausing, push through the heel of your left foot and the ball of your right foot to jump up, switching your stance again and sinking down into the lunge.
  • Continue with this sequence, jumping and switching your stance in between each lunge.
  • Do 8 reps.

To get the most out of the move, your jumps should feel controlled and be done continuously, with no stopping between reps.

You want to really stick your landings and maintain correct body positioning throughout, with your core engaged, back straight, and hips pushed back, says Mansour. It may help to put markers on the floor so you know where to land to keep your feet hip-distance apart and in the correct positioning to form 90 degree angles when you lower into the lunge.

On said landings, your front foot should be making full contact with the ground—not just your tiptoes, says Mansour. Your back foot will be slightly lifted, with your toes and the ball of your foot grounded.

If you are having trouble sticking your landings or otherwise feel wobbly, you can add extra stability into the movement by holding onto a chair or bar, or gripping TRX bands as you jump, says Mansour. Your torso should stay upright throughout. ”Don’t lean forward or backward,” says Mansour. If you find your torso naturally tilting forward, clasp your hands behind your head to help shift your weight back.

Lastly, the reps should be performed as one continuous movement. Don’t pause at the bottom of each lunge like you would with a regular lunge. “You don’t want to reset and lose your momentum,” says Mansour. For this reason, it’s OK if your back knee doesn’t bend down as far as it might in a stationary lunge, she says, as taking a moment to sink down further into the lunge could sacrifice the explosive intensity of the move.

CrossFit already has a reputation for hardcore, next-level workouts. Add the intensity of competition into the mix, and you've got the CrossFit Games, in which athletes compete for the title of "fittest on Earth." From May 18 to June 3, 2018, athletes from across the country will compete in the CrossFit Games Regionals. If you're new to the games, now is the time to tune in and cheer on your favorites.

First, a quick description of how the CrossFit Games work:

Anyone aged 14 and older can compete in the CrossFit Games, which started back in 2007. Athletes are grouped into divisions according to sex and age, and compete against others in their own division to advance. This year's games started with an open level, in which athletes across the world competed in five workouts over five weeks. Every Thursday, the CrossFit Games announced a new workout. Athletes had until the following Monday to submit their best score—verified with a video link or proof from a certified CrossFit coach—to the games website. The top 200 competitors from each division advanced to the next step: The online qualifier.

Over four days in April, these athletes participated in four workouts, which were videoed and supervised by a registered judge. After they completed the workouts, CrossFit judges reviewed the videos of the 40 athletes with the top scores in each division. Once the scores were verified, the top 20 male and female athletes in each age division were invited to continue to the next level of competition.

That brings us to the events about to begin: the CrossFit Regionals. Athletes are grouped by 18 regions, spanning North America, South America, Central America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. From May 18 to June 3, athletes will compete in live, three-day competitions. Fans can even buy tickets to a local regional competition. Eighty teenagers, 40 men, 40 women, and 40 teams then advance to the finals in Madison, Wisconsin, held from August 1 to August 5.

Here's how to watch the upcoming CrossFit Games Regionals:

If you can't make it IRL to a local competition, you can watch the regionals online on Facebook Live, CrossFit's website, and CBSSports.com, as well as on TV on CBS. You can also access the stream via the CBS Sports app. Week one begins with the East, South, and Europe regionals May 18 through 20. Week two is the Central, West, and Latin American regionals from May 25 through 27. Week three finishes the round with the Atlantic, Meridian, and Pacific regionals from June 1 through 3. Events stream all day, every day, from 9 A.M. to at least 4 P.M.

Plus, a couple can't-miss events CrossFit trainers suggest tuning in for if you're new to the games:

The regionals consist of six events, each involving a mix of individual moves like rope climbs, burpees, deadlifts, bench presses, and much, much more. Check the full schedule here for a breakdown of events.

According to Conor Murphy, certified CrossFit trainer at Reebok HQ, one of the best events for people outside of the CrossFit community to witness is called the Strongman's Fear. "The movements are relatively simple, to the point where you can understand how strong and skilled these men and women are at the top. The weights are easily relatable," Murphy tells SELF. Simple definitely doesn't mean easy, though.

Watch a demo of the Strongman event from last year's games here:

"I think fans just like watching people move heavy weights around," says Michael Martino, certified CrossFit trainer at Brick in NYC. (He's not wrong.) Martino suggests newbies tune into the high-scale gymnastics events like the handstand walk, which takes place on Saturday, and handstand push-ups (50 of them!) on Sunday.

The CrossFit Games winners walk away with cold, hard, much-deserved cash. This year, the individual champion wins $300,000, and the top 20 competitors will also leave with prize money. Now, can we get someone to pay us for watching?

Back in April, Kate Hudson announced that she is expecting her third child. At the time, she let fans in on how she was feeling: "If you’ve wondered why I’ve been so absent on my social channels it's because I have never been more sick! It was the most sick first trimester of all my children." Less than two months later, it's great to see that Hudson is out and about—and back in the gym again. Her longtime trainer Nicole Stuart, Pilates instructor and creator of the QE2 app, shared a photo on Instagram of Hudson, belly out, holding a set of dumbbells.

It's pretty well known that Hudson is a Pilates fanatic. She has been practicing it regularly for years, and is continuing to do so during her pregnancy, though Stuart tells SELF, "She's taking it easier and really slowing things down to a more moderate pace."

Doing Pilates during pregnancy can actually be really beneficial.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) encourages exercising during pregnancy, saying that if you're healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it's safe to exercise, and actually has lots of benefits. They suggest various forms like walking, swimming, stationary biking, and modified versions of yoga and Pilates. The organization really only advises against contact sports and activities with a high risk of falling. Otherwise (and as long as your doctor hasn't given you special instructions), you can stick with your regular workout routine.

Jessica Shepherd, M.D., ob/gyn and founder of HerViewpoint, an online women's health forum, tells SELF that since Pilates focuses on strengthening the core, it can actually be helpful during pregnancy. "[It can help] facilitate the growth of the abdominal muscles and stretching of those muscles during pregnancy. It promotes good posture as well," she says. "As you get further along, you start leaning more forward and can develop lordosis of the spine [arching of the lower back] to compensate for your [belly]. That puts more pressure on the back, and Pilates will help with that." Pilates also helps improve breathing, Shepherd adds, which "may help improve your ability to relax during the delivery process and focus on your breathing—which is a big part of it."

Stuart often suggests mat Pilates to her pregnant clients because it's easy to modify the exercises (to accommodate a growing belly), and "you still feel like you can get a great workout without pushing too hard or overextending yourself," she says.

Advertisement

Shepherd adds that you should certainly make sure to talk to your doctor about your exercise routine during pregnancy to "make sure there are no contraindications, because every pregnancy is different." If you're looking to take up Pilates for the first time during pregnancy, she suggests getting it cleared with your doctor first, and also working with an instructor to make sure you are doing it with proper form.

As for Hudson? Stuart says she likes to lead her, and all of her pregnant clients, through a series of three hip exercises.

Why hips? As your belly grows, limited mobility makes it harder to contract your abdominals in certain ways, she explains. These hip-focused exercises help you engage your abs in a more comfortable way, since they are done by lying on your side. (Many trainers and physical therapists also recommend avoiding “conventional” ab exercises that may overwork the rectus abdominis abs—like crunches—in order to limit the amount of ab separation you experience during pregnancy.) And as Shepherd explains, exercises that help increase flexibility and mobility of the hips can help you during labor and delivery.

Each of these three moves can be done on a Pilates reformer or simply a yoga mat.

First, Stuart has Hudson start off with side-lying bent-leg raises. Here's how to do them: Lie on your side with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, Stuart says. Then, lift your top leg up and down, keeping it parallel to the floor. Think of it as a fire hydrant exercise that's just done lying on your side. Lift up and down 10 to 15 times, then repeat on the other side.

Next up are clamshells. Here's how to do them: Keep your knees in the same starting position, but this time keep both feet on the floor and "open your top knee and then close it." Picture a clamshell opening. Your feet should stay touching the whole time. Lift your knee 10 to 15 times before repeating on the other side.

The final move is a modified clamshell with a kick. Here's how to do it: Do the clamshell exercise explained above, but this time, when your top knee is in the raised position, kick your leg up to the ceiling. After holding for a beat, bring your feet back together and then bring your knee back to the starting position. Once again, do this move 10 to 15 times on each side.

Shay Mitchell isn’t shy about her workouts. The actor-slash-model regularly posts Instagram Stories that candidly chronicle her training. From assisted pull-ups to burpees, battle ropes, lunges, and mountain climbers (plus many more), it’s clear that Mitchell relies on a variety of moves to stay strong.

Now, thanks to new Instagram Story series that Mitchell posted on Monday, we can add another exercise to that impressive—and impressively long—list: banded plank hand walks.

Here’s a look at the move:

And from another angle:

This advanced plank variation is a total-body strengthening move with extra emphasis on your upper half.

“This is a full-body move, but the main focus is very much the deltoids [shoulders] and core,” Mark DiSalvo, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SELF.

Within the core, these planks work the rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think “abs”) and obliques (muscles on the sides of your stomach), as well as your latissimus dorsi (or lats, the wide muscles of your upper back), triceps, pectoralis major (a thin, fan-shaped muscle in the chest), pectoralis minor (a thin, triangular muscle in the upper chest), and the stabilizing muscles in your hips, DiSalvo adds.

Advertisement

With each hand walk, “you’re abducting (or opening) your shoulder,” says DiSalvo, and the deltoids are the prime movers that drive this abduction.

In addition to intense shoulder strengthening, this move can also help stabilize your shoulders as it focuses on proper positioning of the joint, says DiSalvo. “There’s also a little bit of a coordination component, too, because you have to maintain a plank, and at the same time, do resisted abduction with your arm,” he adds.

The resistance band increases the strengthening benefits for your shoulders.

If you take a careful look at the screenshots, you’ll see Mitchell has a thin resistance band looped around her wrists as she performs these walks. This added element ups the challenge of this move, particularly for the shoulders and core.

“Adding a band on top of this move provides an extra progression through added resistance,” James Brewer, NYC-based certified personal trainer and certified Spin and TRX instructor, tells SELF.

Anytime you add a band, you’re using a training method referred to as "accommodating resistance," explains DiSalvo. What that essentially means is that the further you move the banded section of your body from the starting position, the more resistance you will feel. In this specific exercise, as you move your banded hands out and away from your body, you’re challenging your ability to maintain quality shoulder torque and tension in your core.

The band will also help “fire up your deltoids,” says DiSalvo, which makes it easier for you to focus on engaging this specific muscle that should be the main driver in this exercise.

It’s also an anti-rotation movement for your lower half.

With each arm movement, you are removing one of your four points of contact with the ground, explains DiSalvo. That means you have to stabilize yourself on just three points of contact-—a more difficult feat—until your arm lands on the ground again.

During these moments of reduced stability, you need to create and maintain tension in your core, glutes, and legs in order to keep your lower half fixed in place, explains DiSalvo. This component makes the movement an “anti-rotation” exercise, a class of movements that involve contracting your core and holding it completely still while keeping the rest of your body within just one singular plane, or direction, of motion.

“Anti-rotation movements are very good for anyone who wants to generate more power from their core and also perfect their form,” Andrew Schuth, certified personal trainer with Los Angeles–based studio Burn 60, previously told SELF. The anti-rotation element in these banded hand plank walks will help you do just that.

Here’s how to do the move:

  • Grab a light- to medium-strength resistance band and loop it around your wrists.
  • Get on all fours and press up into high plank with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, arms extended, hands flat on the floor, wrists directly under your shoulders, and your core, glutes, and quads engaged.
  • Pay extra attention to your hand and elbow positioning here, says DiSalvo. You want to turn your thumbs toward each other and apply pressure evenly through your hands. Point your elbows directly behind you, with your elbow creases pointing directly forward. With these cues in mind, you should feel your shoulders engage. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your core, hips, and lower half as still as possible, lift your right hand off the ground and move it to the right about 6 inches. Place it on the ground and pause for a moment.
  • Lift your right hand off the ground again and move it back to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
  • Repeat with the left arm. This is 2 reps.
  • Do 20 reps, alternating sides.

Advertisement

It's important to make sure that you are externally rotating your shoulders, says DiSalvo, which you can do by following the hand and elbow cues described above. By doing so, you will recruit your lats and create the needed torque through your shoulders to do this move correctly. You’ll also avoid over-stressing your shoulders, elbows, and wrists.

If you feel your hips raising up as you move your arms, slow your pace and think about bracing your core to stabilize your lower half, says Brewer. If you cannot keep your hips relatively still while moving your arms, regress to a standard plank to build up the needed core strength to master this more advanced variation. Also: Go easy on the pace. “Take your time to suck in your abs, press your belly button straight down, and perform these move with slow control,” says Brewer.

On that note, keep in mind the goal of this exercise is endurance, adds DiSalvo. “It’s not about how big of a band you can use, but rather about creating a nice burn in your shoulders by using a light- to moderate-weight resistance band over the course of many reps.” Because it takes a while to warm up your shoulders, start with a light resistance band, he adds, and switch to a medium-strength resistance band about halfway through. That said, if you can easily do 20 consecutive reps on each side with perfect form, you can increase the difficulty of this move by using a stronger resistance band.

This exercise would be especially great if tacked onto a calisthenics-focused workout, says DiSalvo, because that type of workout typically doesn’t hit the shoulders directly.

You can also do this move as part of longer plank series, says Brewer. Grab a second resistance band and loop it around your ankles. Do 30 seconds of banded plank hand walks to your right side, then 30 seconds of plank jacks (keeping your upper body completely still as you work your glutes and legs), then 30 seconds of banded plank hand walks to your left side, then another 30 seconds of plank jacks, for an all-around, efficient, total-body circuit.

Julianne Hough is an endless source of fitness inspiration. Thanks to her years as a professional dancer, physical activity is just a part of her lifestyle. But even more importantly, she knows how to keep her gym sessions fun. And although her days are packed between acting, dancing, and spearheading an athleisure line for MPG Sport, she always manages to make time for fitness.

This week, Hough shared a full at-home workout on Instagram Stories. From what he could gather from the sped-up video, her routine included glutes work, a cardio circuit, and a cool-down—and a pause to dance on her husband Brooks Laich and play with her pup.

Instagram/@juleshough

In the video, Hough alternates between three cardio machines: a rower, an indoor skiing machine called a SkiErg, and an air bike (a type of stationary bike that pits air resistance against you to challenge you as you pedal). We asked CeCe Marizu, certified personal trainer at Daily Burn, to help us break down this segment into a quick cardio circuit you can try at home.

"To spice up your cardio workout, a circuit is always fun," Marizu tells SELF. If you're just looking to get some steady-state cardio in, she recommends spending 15 minutes on each piece of equipment, for a total of 45 minutes. Not only do the multiple machines help break up the boredom of a basic cardio workout, but they also "work your cardiovascular system and fire up different muscle groups."

You can also treat a cardio machine circuit like a specific version of high-intensity interval training by alternating sets of short, intense bursts of effort on each machine with periods of rest. "Like all interval training, cardio circuits allow you to get maximum results in minimal time," says Ben Wegman, NASM-certified trainer and chief curriculum officer at Fhitting Room NYC and Sweat Sessions instructor. Getting your heart rate high for a short period of time is a really efficient way to challenge your cardiovascular system when you're short on time; resting in between lets you recover enough to go hard again in the next burst of intensity.

Cardio circuits in general are also great because they give you a chance to gauge your own endurance and understand exactly how far your body can go, Marizu says—which helps you keep track of your progress. And by using these pieces of equipment, you can get just as good of a cardio workout with lower impact than you would if you were running.

Here, Marizu suggests an interval workout you can do on the rower, SkiErg, and air bike (or regular stationary bike if that's what you have in your gym):

  • 3 minutes on the rower
  • 60 seconds of rest
  • 2 minutes on the SkiErg
  • 60 seconds of rest
  • 30 seconds to 1 minute on the air bike

Repeat the circuit 2 to 4 times based on "how hard you want to push yourself that day," says Marizu. "Listen to your body!" Cardio circuits "train your endurance," she says, so the more you practice, the closer you'll get to being able to speed through even more reps.

As Hough has explained to SELF before, she's a big fan of getting your workout in whenever, wherever—while keeping fitness fun. Hence the dancing on her workout buddy, which, of course, we wholeheartedly endorse.

Working out at home is something I’ve never really been into. I totally see the time- and money-saving appeal, but the thought of getting sweaty in the same space that I cook, sleep, and otherwise chill in just doesn’t entice me. I also find that when my couch is 2 feet away and my legs are burning, it’s very easy for me to stop what I’m doing and crawl onto it. And on top of that, unless I’m going for a run or a bike ride, where the surrounding scenery sufficiently distracts me, I pretty much hate working out alone. I get bored, and it’s hard for me to push myself.

So call me a slacker or maybe I’m just an exercise extrovert, but whatever the reason(s), working out at home just isn’t my jam.

Or rather, that’s how it was…until last Monday night, when I did something out of character and took an hour-long, tough-as-hell Tabata-style workout class. In my bedroom. Alone.

OK, I wasn’t really all by myself. Thanks to the magic of Google Hangouts, I was with 15 strangers and Nashville-based celebrity trainer Erin Oprea. We were taking part in one of the virtual interactive training sessions that Oprea, trainer to Carrie Underwood, Kelsea Ballerini, and Jana Kramer, among others, has been hosting weekly since February for anyone on the internet—famous or not. Since everyone in the class is viewable via video chat, Oprea guides the group (typically 15 to 30-ish people), step-by-step, through a 50-minute workout, giving live feedback on form and personalized encouragement throughout.

Virtual training sessions like this one—whether they're via FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, or another platform—are popular among celebrities, who are often traveling and on-the-go. (Oprea does virtual sessions with many of her famous clients); trainer Kira Stokes regularly FaceTimes client Candace Cameron Bure.) But they're not just for the rich and famous. Many personal trainers and group fitness instructors have started to add a variety of virtual training options to their own lists of services. Google “virtual personal training” and you’ll get literally millions of hits.

So when Oprea invited me, At-Home Exercise Loather, to join a class (she comped the $42.50 single-class cost for me), I swallowed my distaste and decided I should at least see what these virtual sessions are all about.

The verdict? It was weird and wonderful and the best damn workout I’ve done in a while.

Trainer Erin Oprea's at-home setup for teaching virtual fitness classesCourtesy of Erin Oprea

Before the class, I felt weirdly nervous and awkward about the fact that everyone could see me on their screens.

I registered for the class via email about a week in advance, and at that time, was pointed toward a list on Oprea’s website of everything I’d need for the class: a yoga mat, a set of light weights, a sweat towel, water, and “party pants and a great attitude.” Then, a few hours before the designated time on the day of, I got an email from Oprea with detailed instructions for how to log onto the Google Hangout platform and tips for properly setting up my computer (I could have also used my iPhone) so that Oprea could best observe my form.

Advertisement

Reading the instructions made me oddly nervous, especially the parts that reiterated how visible I would be, like “Center the camera on your hips so floor and standing exercises are in view all the time,” and “Turn the lights up!! If possible, use lights that shine on your face. This will make the picture more clear.” Of course I can be seen in an IRL workout class, too, and the thought of that doesn’t freak me out. But the whole working-out-on-my-bedroom-floor-while-broadcasting-that-footage-to-strangers-across-the-internet thing really just didn't sit well with me.

At any rate, I ignored the butterflies battering my insides and several minutes shy of 6 P.M. CST, clicked the link to join the class and flicked on my camera. The main screen lit up with a clear view of Oprea’s living room, which you’re probably familiar with if you follow her on Instagram. Several sets of dumbbells sat alongside a yoga mat, water bowl, and sweat towel, as Oprea’s Bernese Mountain Dog padded in and out of the screen. A friendly, omniscient voice—which I later learned belonged to Oprea’s adorable husband Sean—welcomed me and gave a few tips for how to best position my camera so Oprea could be “sure to see me.” (Cue nervous butterflies again.) On the side of my screen, I could see a tiny video of myself, sitting anxiously on the carpet next to my bed, workout tools at the ready, along with tiny videos of all the other attendees, who seemed to be similarly tuning in from their bedrooms and living rooms. The screens were too small to discern if they, too, were feeling awkward.

My at-home personal training center (AKA my bedroom floor).

Soon enough, I got super sweaty and forgot about the strangeness of it all.

At 6 P.M. on the dot, Oprea literally bounded sideways onto the screen, wearing American flag-print shorts in honor of the Fourth of July and greeting us with her signature enthusiasm and pep. She wasn’t a scary drill sergeant instructor like I imagine some famous trainers may be, but an instantly likable, extremely energetic goofball, jumping and down on screen and pumping her arms to rally the group. I instinctively laughed, and quickly forgot about the oddness of this unconventional situation.

Today’s class, Oprea then explained, would be a full-body Tabata workout—20 seconds of high-intensity effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times for a four-minute long burst of exercise. The class would be comprised of various four-minute bursts that together target nearly every major muscle group. Oprea turned on an early 2000’s-inspired hip-hop/R&B playlist (think: Nelly and Ginuwine), and we started with a quick cardio warm-up of jumping jacks, high knees, and butt kicks, which got me sweaty within minutes.

We followed Oprea through a 50-minute high-intensity workout, during which she gave feedback in real time.

Post warm-up, we dove right into our first Tabata round, a grueling set of one-legged lunge jumps. I consider myself to be a generally fit person, but something about those lunges set my quads on fire in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time, and the fire remained lit the rest of class.

Advertisement

Oprea explained each exercise by demo’ing it for us beforehand, and she also talked to us throughout the Tabata rounds, giving cues and tips for proper form as we moved through a series of arm, core, glute, and leg moves, including push-ups, one-legged glute bridges, squat pulses, sumo squats, crunches, an especially brutal core exercise that she dubs “butterfly pulses,” and tricep extensions.

The fast pace of the class, and the live encouragement and feedback from Oprea—she addressed each person by name a couple of times throughout class, giving helpful, specific notes like, "Jenny, widen your stance on those squats," or doling out compliments on good form—made this feel very similar to the experience of an in-person class at a boutique studio. And despite the intensity, it was also just plain fun. During a particularly rough squat sequence, Oprea told us to “dance it out” with our upper bodies to distract us. The collective, obedient boogey-ing that followed cracked me up.

Because I knew in the back of my mind that I was constantly on camera, I was also much more motivated to keep pushing through the burn than if I’d been doing this same workout off an app or from a pre-recorded YouTube video, where no one would witness my mid-squat water break.

Toward the end of class, we did a descending push-up and shoulder press challenge where we started at 10 reps of each exercise, and worked our way down, rep-by-rep, to just one rep of each. By the end of this, the burn in my shoulders was on par with the burn in my butt and legs.

The class concluded with 10 minutes of stretching and chatting, where Oprea invited us to ask any health/fitness-related questions. No one had any burning inquiries (maybe, like me, they were all too tired to speak?), so Oprea instead told us about her Fourth of July plans and gave details on future classes.

I exited the class tired but proud, prematurely sore, and ready for a shower, which, conveniently, was two steps away.

After reflecting on my experience, I can see several big advantages to virtual training, along with a few drawbacks.

As cheesy as it may sound, what I enjoyed the most about the class that it expanded my definition of what is possible. As I wrote (OK, griped) before, I’m really not into the whole at-home workout thing, but the virtual classes showed me that a) it’s possible and b) not only that, but it can be fun and effective, too. I’m not saying that I’m going to be doing Tabata classes in my bedroom every night now, but I do have a newfound appreciation for what can be accomplished with limited space and equipment, as long as you have the right attitude, proper motivation, and quality instruction.

There are other major perks to virtual training, including time saved (I didn’t have to spend 20 minutes trekking to and from the gym), money saved (a semi-private training session at my local gym would have cost me upwards of $50, compared to the $42.50 Oprea charges per session) and convenience (what can be easier than working out from your living room?!). And unlike other forms of virtual fitness—like apps or pre-recorded videos—you get personalized encouragement and feedback from a real person on the other end of your screen.

All that said, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Although a virtual trainer can watch your form and give live feedback, they (obviously) can’t physically adjust you, which can be a super helpful way to learn proper form, especially if you’re a fitness newbie who may not yet understand the more technical verbal cues—like “tilt your pelvic floor” or “tuck your tailbone.” Also, depending on the quality of your tech set-up, it may be difficult for a trainer to notice smaller hiccups in your form that someone in person might catch more readily. Lastly, working out live with a personal trainer will likely be pricier than using a non-interactive app. After all, you are getting their time, attention, and personalized expertise.

If you’re interested in virtual training, there are a few things you should consider before booking your first session. First and foremost, do your research on the trainer.

You always want to make sure you're signing up for sessions with a reputable pro. There are lots of “fitness experts” out there, but not everyone has had formal training, which covers important things like injury prevention, exercise modifications, and safe technique. Look for someone who carries a certification from a large reputable organizations such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Council on Exercise, National Strength and Conditioning Association, or the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Advertisement

Second, consider your goals and reasons for wanting a virtual personal trainer. Do you want to learn how to do specific exercises or new workout formats, like Tabata or HIIT? Are you looking for direct feedback on your form? Or perhaps you’re seeking the motivation and encouragement of a personal cheerleader? Whatever your reason, keep that in mind as you’re evaluating potential trainers to determine whose experience and approach to fitness may be right for you.

Lastly, think about the space that you have available at home, and evaluate if it’s actually feasible for you to work out there on the reg. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my session with Oprea, if I were to do it again, I’d opt for a different set-up that allowed more space, perhaps by pushing aside the furniture in my living room or setting up a mini station on my balcony. My bedroom floor, comfy as the carpet may be, was a wee bit cramped.

Here are a few resources where you can learn more.

If you’re interested in Oprea’s classes—they’re held Mondays at 6 P.M. CST—check out her website for more info and registration details.

Other resources offering group and/or individual live virtual personal training sessions include Gixo, VFit Studio and MyBodWellness.