All Hail the Kettlebell

Is it weird to love – like REALLY love – a piece of fitness equipment? Especially one that has caused you so much pain?

Probably, but I’m owning it. I love kettlebells. They’re an incredibly versatile tool, and they’re so darn effective. So when I had the opportunity to pitch the “Belly Shrink” section of Shape, I went straight to the bells. Yes, they’re known for revving your heart rate and strengthening your posterior chain, but they’re also great for the core.

And just when I think there’s no improving the good, old-fashioned kettlebell, they go ahead and make ’em gold and sparkly!

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To read the full article, check out the April 2017 issue of Shape!

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Because No One Wants the Flu

Last year right around this time I had my first legit, knock-down, “will I ever feel normal again?” case of the flu, and I really don’t want a repeat performance in 2017.

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Me with the flu, February 2016

I am a highly superstitious person, so even writing that down feels like saying “Macbeth” in a theater, but I’ll take my chances for the sake of this post.

For the first time ever, I got the flu shot. (I know it’s only for a few strains, but I’ll take whatever I can get.) And, in addition to  taking my multi-vitamin, sleeping 7+ hours (or at least really trying to), exercising, eating salads, and burying healing crystals in my neighbor’s back yard (just kidding… maybe), I’m greasing up my feet with this little combo:

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Remember last time when we talked about secondary metabolites? Well these oils are from plants that may help with your immunity. On Guard is a blend of wild orange, clove, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary oils. Lemon is, of course, from lemons. Together they smell a bit like a frosted lemon pound cake.

DIY Immunity Oil 

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You’ll need:

Fill your container about 5% of the way with an equal combination of On Guard and Lemon.

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Cap off with carrier oil and label accordingly. Apply to the soles of your feet in the morning and before bed. Consider it just one more weapon in your flu-fighting arsenal!

Interested in essential oils? Visit my Doterra site: Mydoterra.com/jenessaconnor 

 

DIY: Essential Oil Blend for Headaches

I gotta admit that since becoming a Doterra rep I’ve been having fun geeking out on something totally new. I’m currently reading The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils by Kurt Shnaubelt, Ph.D., to help myself better understand how and why certain essential oils affect the human body.

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Blends: Balance, Breathe, Serenity, Motivate. Single oils: Grapefruit. Personal care: Deep Blue Rub for sore muscles, and EO Spa Hand & Body lotion to use with oils.

There’s a lot to learn, but one simple concept is that plants have two main categories of substances: primary metabolites and secondary metabolites. Primary metabolites are all the proteins, carbohydrates, fats and genetic materials that make up the mass of the plant and perform its basic functions, while the secondary metabolites are the substances that have developed and evolved over time to help with its protection and survival. For example, secondary metabolites may help a plant repel herbivores or fight off parasites. From an essential oils perspective, secondary metabolites are the substances that are of most interest, as we can use them in a similar fashion to help with common, everyday ailments and annoyances.

Like headaches.

Is anything worse? Okay, many things are far, far worse, but headaches suck because they are just bad enough to ruin your day and sabotage your productivity, but not so bad that you feel justified in calling in sick or cancelling your plans. We’re expected to just tough it out or pop a couple ibuprofen and get over it. I’m not opposed to OTC headache meds at all (I take them for the occasional head-splitter), but they can mess with your stomach, and some people prefer to avoid swallowing pills if they can.

Perhaps there’s a more natural way to deal with headaches?

DIY Headache Oil 

You’ll need:

For an oil or salve, you want to aim for about a 5% dilution, which looks something like this in a 5 ml bottle. (You don’t need all that much.)

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This is a pretty equal combination of lavender and peppermint – both are used in aromatherapy to help with headaches. I went a little heavier on the peppermint because I like its cooling effect on the skin.

The best way to transfer the oil is to hold the bottle right up against the container.

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Fill the rest of the roller with fractionated coconut oil and snap on the roller top. (Note: weightlifting, chalk and kettlebell swings do not a hand model make.)

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Label it however your like (or don’t). I had these stickers left over from samples. (Make a few extra rollers and give them as gifts to all your stressed out friends!)

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Rub it on your temples, forehead, wrists and neck. Take deep belly breaths.

Not into DIY?

If the thought of making your own headache oil actually gives you a headache, I recommend checking out this Past Tense rollerball, which also includes wintergreen, frankincense, cilantro, marjoram, roman chamomile, basil, and rosemary.

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You know that feeling of being trapped in a hot, stuffy room for an hour and then finally stepping outside into bright, chilly sunshine? Like, your sweaty neck gets all frosty and your head and nasal passages clear? And you know you should probably put on a coat, but the cold just feels so darn refreshing? Past Tense is that feeling in a little rollerball.

For more information on essential oils, or to place an order, visit www.mydoterra.com/jenessaconnor

Home Workouts for When the Weather Sucks

I have regular access to three gyms, all of which are within a 15-minute walk. But sometimes – especially when the wind is whipping down the slushy streets of Brooklyn – I just don’t have it in me to layer up and leave the house. Luckily, as a personal trainer and fitness nerd, I’ve amassed a decent collection of multi-purpose exercise equipment:

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Ab Carver Pro, 15 lb slam ball, old ass dumbbell, and ALL the bands.

(Aside: I posted this same photo on Instagram the other night, and my friend Sara commented that it looked like I’d raided the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ supply closet.)

If I were a programming a workout for a client, I would sit down and spend some dedicated time considering their goals and interests so I could put together a workout that balanced cardio, resistance training and mobility. But, honestly, I was pressed for time and feeling spontaneous, so I just kinda winged it… And it turned out to be fun and challenging.

The lesson – planning exercise can help keep you on track with your goals, but sometimes overthinking workouts can get in the way of actually doing them.

If you’re curious, Here’s what I did:

2 sets of

Tabata: no push-up burpee (I have downstairs neighbors)

6-minute AMRAP of

3 sets of banded monster walks

  • forward, backward, left, right

Tabata: alternating banded pull-aparts and curtsy squats

5 Rounds:

3 Rounds with ab roller

  • 10 forward
  • 5 right
  • 5 left

Turkish Get-up practice with dumbbell – I struggle with form/sequencing on this, so I’ve been trying to fit in some practice time at the end of workouts.

I got it all done in under an hour, and I was super sweaty. Success!

If you’re interested in adding home workouts to your schedule but don’t have much in the way of equipment, here’s a little workout I put together for a recent Men’s Journal article. You only need a chair!

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Question: Do you work out at home? What are some of your tips and/or challenges?

My Day as a Devil

As discussed in my previous post, I spend most of my days working independently at home in my sweatpants with a cat in my lap and a mug of coffee within reach. But every once in a while my job gets me out of the house and transports me to exotic, faraway locations like…

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Image Source: The Prudential Center

Newark, New Jersey!

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit The Prudential Center for a tour and on-site workout with the strength and conditioning team for the New Jersey Devils. Everything I know about training for the ice comes from movies like The Mighty Ducks and The Cutting Edge (toe pick!), so I accepted the invite in the name of continuing education.

The circuit workout that head coach Joe Lorincz programmed  wasn’t all that different from a typical CrossFit EMOM, or an AMRAP I might put together for a client interested in slimming down and building muscle. We cycled through a short warm-up of power moves like box jumps and medball slams, and then moved into a lengthier circuit filled with strength training exercises like weighted carries, sled pushes, deadlifts, and ring rows. But there were a few hockey-specific tweaks, like a focus on balance. After the workout, I had the chance to chat with Coach Lorincz for this article for Men’s Journal.

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I’m not sure I’m ready to hit the ice (unless it’s with my ass – that’s a guarantee any time I put on skates). But I am thinking about how to better address posture and balance in my own workouts. Even if you’re not zipping around on razor blades, being able to stand on one foot is important in everyday life (we do it every time we run, climb stairs, step over puddles…), and balance becomes increasingly important as we age and become more susceptible to falls and resulting injury.

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Post workout with the Devils’ strength and conditioning coaches

Looking for one small way to address balance training into your workout? Try adding walking knee hugs to your warm-up.  You’ll stretch the hips, glutes, and hamstrings and challenge your ability to balance on one foot.