Fitness Guides and Gear

Bodyweight Workout For Beginners/Returners

For some folks the idea of integrating exercise into your life can be daunting. With all the gym commercials, fitness influencers on social media, and sexy underwear advertisements it can indeed feel like having a fitness lifestyle is too much to handle. A lot of work. Unattainable.

Let me clear up some of the unnecessary messages that are out there, and give you a great starter workout!

First of all – to live a lifestyle that successfully includes exercise does not mean you have to have six pack abs, Carrie Underwood legs, or a sculpted rear end. You can indeed be on a healthy track, and be “in shape” with some cellulite and a small muffin top.

Yes I am sure we would all love to look utterly fantastic, but unless we put in some extraordinary amount of diet and physical effort, and for some of us, figure out how to change our genetics, it’s not reasonable. It’s not attainable. But what is attainable is a healthy resting heart rate, a strong core to support our low back, and cardiovascular skills to keep us playing with our kids. That is what an exercise lifestyle is really about – not about looking hot and sweaty in a sports bra. Eventually you may indeed look in the mirror post workout and look and feel amazingly attractive, but you don’t need the six pack abs to feel that way. Whatever healthier, happier version of yourself comes out of incorporating exercise into your life IS GOOD ENOUGH!

For my beginners, or my getting-back-into-it’ers, I have an at-home, zero equipment (okay, one chair is needed, but I know you have one) workout for you. It does not take too much time, and you can even do it on the go as you travel. If you read this, and do this, please let me know how you felt about it! I appreciate feedback.

Note: If you have any health concerns, or chronic physical injuries, please confirm with a medical professional before attempting these exercises. If you need to seek an alternative exercise for one of these, ask me and I can help you. If this is too easy for you – GREAT! If it is too difficult, play around with the number of repetitions or amount of time. Decrease if you have to, and add weights when appropriate, if available.

Fitness Guides and Gear

My Favorite Things – Fitness Edition

Ever bought something online at the mercy of hoping some group of strangers reviews were truthful? I find myself looking for key details, a substantial amount of positive opinions, and for clothes I definitely need picture proof before I’ll pull the purchase trigger.

The holiday gift buying season is upon us, whether you’re ready for it or not, and for anyone looking for ideas for that fitness guru/exercise buddy/fit mom in your life, I’m giving some reviews and ideas from items I have fallen in love with – not just like, love! I like finding useful little things that make big impact on my daily life, without costing a bunch of money. All of these items cost $35 or less! So here you go:

Duduma Polarized Sports Sunglasses

If you dislike squinting while running, and hate when sunglasses slip down your nose or rub the top of your ears raw, then I have some great (inexpensive – yay!) sunglasses to recommend.

These things are only $20, and they have lasted me in high heat and humidity, through marathons, and they stay in place! No you’re likely not going to pair them with a cute dress, they are for outdoor exercise activity as they definitely look sporty. They look very gender neutral too, so even my husband has borrowed them for runs and playing softball.

Aurorae Yoga – The Ultimate Racer Back Tank Top

Let me be clear – this tank top is pictured as being worn alone and giving full coverage. That’s not true unless your chest hangs quite low. But! I don’t like the feeling of loose tank tops when I’m working up a big sweat. Nor do I like to constantly have to pull it back into place. This tank is fitted, soaks up the sweat, and I wear it underneath another tank/tee/sweatshirt. I currently own three! They are limited on stock right now, so hurry if you want one. They are true to size, and the material is stretchy and comfortable. They are long in length, so if you have a problem with shirts being too short for your long torso, I highly recommend adding this to your exercise wardrobe.

Dasuta Sport Athletic Headbands

As I’m writing this I’m starting to see a trend – I love things that stay in place as constantly having to reposition my shades, shirts, pants, headbands would drive me crazy. So these headbands! If you follow me on Instagram (@couragetosweat) you have likely seen me in these. I wear them any time I exercise outside. They absorb sweat so it doesn’t trickle down my forehead. They cover up my crazy hair and flyaways. They come in several colors to make an outfit more fun, or to even help you be seen if you’re out running at dusk or dawn. Andddd they stay in place! They’re also stretchy without hurting your head like the small tights ones often do. They also hold up very well going through the washer and dryer.

ANBES Wireless Earbuds

I have not tested out the battery length for these to hold up during a full marathon, however they have worked for multiple hour workouts without recharging, so for 5Ks, 10Ks, or lifting, they will do the job! There are SO many options for wireless earbuds at all different price points. Searching for them can honestly be a headache. I previously tried two other brands that didn’t work. I also refuse to pay the price Apple is asking. One brand wouldn’t stay in my ears, and the other had a crappy battery life, but these stay in my ears and last – yay! They have a loop that goes around the outer ear that is not uncomfortable, it simply helps me feel that they’re truly secure so as I’m moving from exercise to exercise they stay in position. You can run, do burpees and pushups in these with no problem. They simply sync with the bluetooth on your phone, and off you go!

Contraband Pink Label 5137 Womens Padded Weight Lifting Gloves

These come in a few different colors, so pick your style. They help me when my hands are sweaty so the bar doesn’t slip from my hands. They also help me avoid calluses so I don’t get “man hands” from lifting. They also give me a better grip on the pull-up bar, since I can’t quite 100% rely solely on my strength yet to stay up there. They don’t feel hot, and I can easily transition from weights to bodyweight exercises without bothering to take them on and off.

WOD Nation Pull-Up Assistance Bands

Let’s be real here – pull-ups are not easy! They take a lot of strength and practice. They require good form or you’re bound to hurt in a number of areas. If you don’t have access to a pull-up bar that has the knee bench to assist you, or you simply don’t like that, these bands are perfect! There are different sizes and colors depending on your weight and how many pull-ups you can currently do. You simply wrap the band around the top of the pull-up bar (please carefully read the instructions online or watch a video before attempting this!) and then stick a foot into the part of the band that is hanging down, and voila! You’re on your way to gaining pull-up strength. These bands are tight and sturdy, so if the bar is quite high, do not bust your butt or pull a muscle trying to stick your leg into this thing from standing on the ground. Grab an exercise box, bench, or even a chair to help you safely get into this. These are easily portable, so if you plan to exercise at a park with equipment, you can bring it along in your bag.

CRZ Yoga Racerback Tank

Full confession – I may have a tank top problem. I own many. Like many, many… They’re my go-to tops. There’s going out tanks, bedtime tanks, exercising tanks, wear under a sweater tanks, and so on. I don’t love them all, and I’m definitely not brand loyal which is likely why I’ve tried so many, but this one I recently found and I fell in love. I should buy more – no, no stop Jen… It’s a sturdy material, absorbs sweat, does not require another tank underneath, is a great length, and truthfully I feel attractive in it. I like a good workout tank that not only stays in place while exercising, but makes me look good so I feel confident. It is fitted but thick so it’s more forgiving.

And there you have it! If you have any favorite fitness-related items you recommend, send them my way! Happy shopping!