Sunday Sweat Talk {January Joiners}

Hello! Time for the second edition of Sunday Sweat Talk. If you missed the first week of my new blog series, check it out here. Otherwise, it’s time to talk!

Sunday Sweat Talk

Let’s talk about…

January Joiners

Ay, ay, AY. Where do I even begin?

We all know that January is the most popular time of year for people to join the gym. It seems like everyone and their mom resolves to lose weight and start a new fitness routine right after the holidays, which is great. The instructor/trainer/healthy living blogger/coach side of me screams YES! I’m psyched that so many people are there. It makes me happy to see people trying to better themselves. I absolutely love the increased energy and vibe in all the group exercise classes. I want to reach out to every single person, tell them to stick with it, and encourage them to keep coming back for more. The problem is, I know they won’t.

This is where I struggle. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I get seriously annoyed with the excessive crowds. I can’t handle people just wandering around, groups just standing around talking, and don’t even get me started on the parking lot. I feel like a gym snob for how frustrated I get when MY favorite elliptical is taken or a newbie is standing in MY spot in class. And God forbid if someone uses MY shower stall at 7:05am. Because I own these things, right?

All the 365 a day gym-goers keep saying things like, “oh just give it three weeks” or “it’s okay, all the January Joiners will all be gone by February.” Which is kind of true. I don’t want to sound mean, and I’m not saying this based on any kind of assumption that the newbies will fail. I’m basing it on my experience working at a gym for seven years now. It just happens. But us usuals? We shouldn’t WANT these people to go away. We should want them to succeed, right!? It’s hard to encourage and inspire without being intimidating, but we need to at least TRY. Imagine being the newcomer, not knowing where to start, and overhearing a conversation among fit Lulu-clad women saying “ugh, I just wish they would all go away.” How’s THAT going to make anyone want to come back for more?

That said, maybe WE are actually part of the the solution to not letting the January Joiners fall off the fitness wagon after a month. People’s motivation certainly has to come from within over anything else, but it could actually be one of us gym rats that keeps someone going all year long. I know it might be hard, but let’s try to smile, say hello, and extend a warm welcome to those who look like they just need a friendly face. The crowds WILL die down, and we know not everyone will stay around, but if our encouragement can help at least a few people stick with it for the long haul, well that’s just awesome.

Here are some related links I stumbled upon this week that may interest you:

Let’s talk about…

My workouts from last week

  • Sunday: 20 minutes of 30/30/30 cardio intervals on the elliptical, legs and shoulder strength supersets, medicine ball ab circuit
  • Monday: Took Lauren‘s 6am spin class
  • Tuesday: Return to Two A Day Tuesday, and it ROCKED. Liz taught a great kickboxing class, and I was on FIRE teaching my Interval class (if I do say so myself). I love the new format I taught and the new moves I did, so I’ll definitely share this one with you guys soon. I was happy to be back to my normal teaching self!
  • Wednesday: Rest day
  • Thursday: Taught my 6am class with a similar format as I did on Tuesday
  • Friday: 35 minutes of 60/60/60 cardio intervals on the elliptical, then a quick ab circuit in the weight room
  • Saturday: 25 minutes on the spin bike (did my own mini spin class), chest and back strength supersets, and the same medicine ball ab circuit as Sunday

medicine ball circuit

Let’s talk about…

My workout plan for this week

  • Sunday: Emily’s 20/20/20 class
  • Monday: Not sure yet. I’m on the waitlist for Lauren’s spin class again, so I have my fingers crossed for that.
  • Tuesday: Two A Day Tuesday – taking Liz’s kickboxing and then teaching my Interval class. I’m thinking about doing some timed circuit work this week. Thoughts?
  • Wednesday: Rest day
  • Thursday: Teaching my 6am class. Anyone have format requests?
  • Friday: TBD
  • Saturday: TBD – I’m thinking a legs day with Tim

Let’s talk about…

This workout blast from the past

Try this: 40 minutes of H.I.I.T to moderate intervals on the treadmill

Then let me know what you think. 😉

Readers, time to talk!

  • Do you welcome the “January Joiners” or do they frustrate you? Are you a January Joiner yourself? Any advice on how to encourage others to stick with it?
  • Have your gyms been super crowded this week? Any tips for navigating the crowds?
  • What about your own workouts? How’d they go this week? What are you working on?
  • Anyone have anything else to share?

Looking forward to hearing from you guys! Hope your weekends wind down nicely today.

Bodyweight Plank Variations

It’s no secret that planks are one of my favorite exercises.

I love planksI honestly think the majority of my workouts involve a plank in some way, shape, or form.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, in my opinion the plank is THE best abdominal exercise.  Many people associate “nice abs” with having a six-pack and doing endless crunches, but let me tell you that you it’s much more important to establish a strong CORE deep down.  Why?  Because having a strong core helps us stabilize our bodies.  It helps us keep balance.  Having a strong core (more than just our abs, people!) helps us use our strength in other parts of the body more effectively and efficiently.  Once you improve your stabilization, you may just notice other improvements as well, whether it be decreased injury, improved posture, or just a more toned stomach in general.  You can crunch away all day, but if you are looking for the most bang for your buck… plank away!


Don’t be hatin.  I seriously just love planks.

That being said, I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my favorite types of planks.  But I realized as I was having poor Tim take picture after picture that I have too many favorites there are just so many different kinds out there.  So in order to a) keep this post to a decent length and b) have Tim remain willing to snap so many random pictures of me, I’ve decided to restrict this post to my favorite BODYWEIGHT planks – no equipment necessary!  I’ll save my plank variations with equipment for another time. 😉

Bodyweight Plank Variations

Elbow Plank
This is just your regular ole plank — keep butts down, but abs tight so you don’t drop your hips.  The wider your feet are, the wider your base, and the easier the plank will be.

Elbow Plank

If you are new to planks, don’t fret!  Here’s a modified version, just drop your knees to the ground:

Modified elbow plank

Straight arm plank
Same rules apply, just keep the hands right beneath the shoulders.

Straight arm plank

Plank with alternating leg lifts
These can be done in either the elbow or straight arm version.  Just alternate lifting one leg at a time, keeping proper form.  You don’t need to lift the legs very high to be effective!

Elbow plank with alternating leg lifts

Plank with hip dips
These can be done in either the elbow or straight arm version, but I prefer elbow.  Drop the hips down a couple of inches, then lift back up to starting position.

Elbow plank with hip dips

Plank with knee hover
These can be done in either the elbow or straight arm version, but I prefer straight to get more “hover.”  Just drop the knees so they hover over the ground, then lift back up to starting position.

Straight arm plank with knee hover

Rocking planks
These can be done in either the elbow or straight arm version.  Rock forward (over the toes), then return to starting position.

Rolling planks

Uneven plank
I recommend straight arms for this one because it is better for form.  Reach one arm forward and the opposite leg back.  This one is tough for balance, try not to twist!

Uneven plank

Plank knee to chest
I recommend straight arms for this one, as you’ll have more room to pull in the knee.  Alternate driving one knee at a time toward your chest.

Plank knee to chest

Plank cross knees
I recommend straight arms for this one again.  Alternate driving one knee at a time toward your opposite shoulder.

Plank cross knee to chest

Spiderman planks
This can be done in either the elbow or straight arm versions.  This time, drive the knee toward the elbow on the same side of your body.  Keep alternating in this pattern.

Spiderman planks

Walking planks
Walk the plank!  Walk your arms first to the right (2 o’clock) then back to the center and continue to the left (10 o’clock).  Continue like this.  I recommend straight arms for this one.

Walking planks

Up down planks
Start in an elbow plank.  Alternate “walking” your hands up and down from elbow to straight.  Up left, up right, down left, down right.  Reverse sides.

Up Up Down Down

Plank jacks
This is a good one to get the heart rate up.  Jumping jacks, in plank form — hop your feet out and in.

Plank jacks

Side planks
Side planks can be done in elbow or straight arm version.  No matter which you choose, try to keep your hip lifted as you hold your balance.

Side Planks

To modify, just place the knee on the ground or drop the top leg:

Modified side plank

Side planks with hip dips
Same as above, just drop the hips down and up.  Lower and lift!

Side planks with hip dips

Reverse planks
These are important to do to make sure you aren’t overworking the front of the body.  I recommend straight arms, and make sure not to drop the neck and let your head hang back.

Reverse planks

Reverse planks with alternating leg lifts
Same as above, just alternate lifting one leg at a time.

Reverse plank with alternating leg lifts

A common question I get from clients is whether straight arm planks or elbow planks are more effective.  My answer is always that both are effective for core stability, but the elbow variations tend to work the core slightly more, while the straight arm variations tend to put more weight into the shoulders and therefore work the arms a little more with the core.  For those with shoulder issues stick with elbow versions.  Otherwise, I’d say a nice variety of both types is your best bet!

Another common question I get is how to increase plank time.  While I am ALL about trying to increase your plank time, I would advise against doing the same elbow or straight arm plank every single day for a long length of time.  “Plank a days” are okay, but I think it’s more beneficial to change up the type of planks you are doing daily so that you challenge different muscles and avoid any imbalance issues.  Maybe test your time once a week!

What are YOUR favorite bodyweight plank variations?  What did I miss?

A couple of favorites I remembered after taking the pictures for this post were side to side hip dips, side planks with rotations, and plank kick to tucks!

One closing thought for today:


Plank away, friends!

Weekend So Far

Good morning!

First things first – my bestie got engaged this weekend!  A huge congrats to Slesh and Will.  My heart is so happy for the two of them.  Party time!  Yaaaaaayyyy.

Despite Tim leaving me all by my lonesome to go skiing, it’s been a pretty good weekend so far.  Friday night was a much-needed gym friends night out.  One of the instructors plays in a band, so the rest of us gym gals decided to head into the city to see them play.  We started the night with dinner at Brownstone.  We shared two flat breads among the table, and I ordered a salmon entrée that consisted of seared Atlantic salmon with strawberry BBQ sauce, sweet mashed potatoes, and asparagus.  So good!  I also enjoyed a tasty blueberry cocktail.

Friday Night

I felt it necessary to include a selfie in my Friday night pictures because I rarely put on clothes that aren’t either a) the same work clothes over and over, or b) gym outfits.  I love my Limited shirt!

After dinner we headed on over to the Beehive.  Our group of ten pretended to be classy while Amy’s band totally rocked it.  It was fun to do something different and see Amy in her element playing the keyboard on stage.


Fun night!  But then again, it always is with the gym ladies.

Saturday began at the Y for a burpee workout date with Ashley.

120 Burpees

Ooof.  This was the final workout to complete Best Body Bootcamp Round 4, so we really wanted to do it.  It was the same workout I did last week with Kaylin and Ash, but I could definitely feel myself progress.  I didn’t have to drop weights on the step ups > bicep curls > overhead presses.  And I did most of the plank > pushup > rows on my feet with the heavier weight, thanks to Ashley’s genius idea of just turning the weights so palms face in.  Who knew!  As expected, I was a sweaty mess by the end.


The rest of Saturday afternoon involved lots of errands, including a stop at the 40% friends and family event at the New Balance Factory store.  I am always on the hunt for sneakers that don’t bother my feet, and after a very long conversation with a very helpful and patient employee, I decided to buy the 997 cross-trainer.

New Balance Cross Trainers

I am going to trial them in class next week and see how they feel.  I still don’t feel 100% convinced that they were the right choice, but we’ll see.  Again I will plea to you readers, does anyone know a good cross training sneaker with a wider forefoot/toe box?  I swear they don’t exist!

To make sure my time in NB wasn’t a waste (in case I return the shoes), I bought a tank top for good measure.

NB Tank

The rest of my Saturday was spent doing lots of things around the house, meeting my parents for pizza and salad at Stone Hearth Pizza, and relaxing <— yes, relaxing!

I’m off to do a couple of productive things, then I’m heading over to my friend Shannon‘s apartment for the afternoon.  She is teaching me how to make a quilt out of all my old Providence College t-shirts that I don’t wear anymore but don’t want to throw away.  I’m not very crafty in this sense, so we’ll see how it goes!

How are your weekends going so far?