Author: Piper Phillips

Elliptigo Review: How’s it Work + Where to Buy

TURN YOUR RIDE INTO A GLIDE

Thinking about an ElliptiGO elliptical bicycle? Here’s a quick quiz to decide if it’s right for you:

  • Do you like exercising outdoors?
  • Do you ever find bicycling uncomfortable or tedious?
  • Do you enjoy running?
  • Do you want your fitness to be fun?
  • Have you ever been sidelined from high-impact exercise due to an injury?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you just might be in the market for an ElliptiGO. In fact, the ElliptiGO was invented by Bryan Pate in 2005 simply because he answered “yes” to all of the questions above.

What is the ElliptiGo? A Brief History…

When Bryan was told at only 32 years old that he could no longer participate in high-impact exercise, he set out to find a piece of low impact exercise equipment designed for outdoor use.

As a former cyclist, he didn’t want to return to traditional cycling, and he didn’t want to spend his days cooped up at the gym.

The only problem?

He couldn’t find an alternative! Frustrated and determined, Bryan turned to Brent Teal, a degreed mechanical engineer and competitive ultra marathoner.

Over the course of five years, Brent and Bryan poured countless hours into their project, developed numerous prototypes and finally began selling their invention to consumers in 2010. It may have been a long ride to take the ElliptiGO from conception to reality, but their efforts have paid off and elliptical cycling is growing by leaps and bounds.

See the ElliptiGO in action >>

Despite the fact that I’ve coveted the ElliptiGO since 2006, well before they hit the market, I have yet to get one of my own.

As bummed as I am about not crossing this off my fitness bucket list (yet), I was pumped when Bryan Pate made himself available to do an interview in order to share a little more about the ElliptiGO and the sport of elliptical cycling.

Read on and be motivated!

How to Use the ElliptiGo: A Q&A With the Inventors of ELLIPTICAL CYCLING

GirlsGoneSporty (GGS): For someone who has never tried an ElliptiGO before, how long does it take before you start feeling comfortable?

Bryan Pate (BP): It’s a really quick initial learning curve – just a few seconds before you realize it’s really easy to balance and ride. Most people start feeling comfortable within the first minute of riding. That said, we like for people to take it out for a good 15 to 30 minutes on their first try so they can experience how well it performs over a variety of terrain like hills, turns and so forth. This also allows them to really feel the workout experience.

GGS: Just from a functional standpoint, how hard is it to use?

BP: Really easy. It balances surprisingly well. Basically, if you can ride a bike, you can ride an ElliptiGO. It handles similarly to a bike. The steering input is longer, so it takes five or six turns before you really get comfortable making sharp corners, but once you’ve figured that out, you’ll find it performs like a bike in terms of handling.

Should You Buy an ElliptiGo?

Elliptical CyclingGGS: Who is the ElliptiGO best suited for – who is your preferred customer?

BP: The ElliptiGO is great for anyone who is looking for a fun, comfortable form of low-impact cardio exercise outdoors. It’s designed to deliver a great workout that’s basically equivalent to running, but without the pounding experienced during running. It’s perfect for:

The former runner who wants the running experience but can’t handle the impact
The injured runner who is trying to get back into running or stay in shape while injured
The fitness enthusiast who isn’t conditioned to endure the conventional road bike riding position (doesn’t like the seat pain or has lower back/neck issues that make the riding position too uncomfortable) or doesn’t want to spend the time required to get in a good workout on a road bike.

Because the ElliptiGO is more like running, you can get in a good workout in just 30-45 minutes,

GGS: How is the ElliptiGO being used by athletes and “regular people” both in a day-to-day capacity and in pursuit of bigger goals?

BP: The ElliptiGO has been adopted by elite athletes at a surprising rate, and this year there are more than a dozen Olympic hopefuls who have been using it as a core part of their training.

The athletes adopting the ElliptiGO tend to be seasoned runners who have let go of the “only running makes you faster” mentality for training, and have embraced the ElliptiGO as a way to cut down on running mileage while increasing their overall cardiovascular conditioning time with the theory that this will get them into better shape with less chance of injury. For a pro runner, that combination provides a tremendous advantage in terms of performance.

The proof is in the pudding, and we’ve already seen a number of athletes who use this training philosophy and have set personal records this year.

Elliptical cyclingIn addition to runners, we have triathletes, adventure racers and a number of professional baseball, football, soccer and basketball players who are using the ElliptiGO. Although these sports are different from running, the reasons the ElliptiGO attracts these athletes are basically the same – using the ElliptiGO is a fun, non-damaging form of cardio training that delivers real performance improvements while reducing the likelihood of injury.

While it’s great that there are so many elite runners and pro athletes using the ElliptiGO, they are dwarfed by the number of “regular” people (like us) who are using the ElliptiGO to train for their own sports and running events, to lose weight or to simply evolve their exercise routine.

These folks range in age from 40-70 and usually share a common enthusiasm for exercise and fitness – even if they have allowed themselves to get out of shape recently. Most are former runners who had to give it up because of lower-extremity injuries. Once they start using the ElliptiGO, it’s amazing how they really fall in love with it and I can’t tell you the number of emails we get each month from customers who say that the ElliptiGO changed their lives.

That’s one element of the ElliptiGO that we didn’t expect – how much it improves our customers’ lives and how thankful they are for that. It’s probably my favorite part of the whole experience so far.

THE ELLIPTIGO WORKOUT: CALORIE BURN COMPARISON

GGS: You mentioned in our previous conversations that the University of California San Diego (UCSD) is doing a study on the caloric burn rate of the bike – have you seen the results yet?

BP: Yes. UCSD completed the study several months ago. They had two conclusions from this study: First, that the ElliptiGO burns approximately 33% more calories than a road bike at a given velocity. And second, that the ElliptiGO was more equal to running than cycling is in terms of heart rate, rate of perceived exertion and energy expenditure. We think these two factors are what enable riding the ElliptiGO to be about as efficient as running in terms of getting in your workout.

THE SPORT OF ELLIPTICAL CYCLING

GGS: What are your goals for the company and for elliptical cycling as a sport? What types of events have you already held and how are you working to grow the sport?

BP: One of our core missions as a company is to create a new sport around elliptical cycles. We’ve held two World Championships, which have drawn competitors from five countries so far. An Australian won the first championship and last year Team Canada won the team competition.

The championship event consists of a 4,209 foot elevation gain through an 11.7-mile climb up Palomar Mountain in California, which is ranked the 16th toughest cycling climb in the country. We also do a flat course time-trial event, where many competitors will average over 20 mph. The climb feels like running a half-marathon and the time trial feels like running a 5K, so they are very different events, but very competitive and fun.

This year a group of customers secured an elliptical cycling category in a bike race in Ohio called Calvin’s Challenge where ElliptiGO riders set records for fastest 100-mile ride and fastest 50-mile ride. Thirty-seven people have joined the Century Club so far, which consists of the first 100 riders to complete an organized cycling event of 100-miles or longer.

We expect this year’s World Championships to be the most competitive and well attended event so far, and we’re continuing to focus on building the sport of elliptical cycling.

Try Before You Buy?

GGS: Are there opportunities for potential buyers to test out an ElliptiGO before ordering their own?

BP: Absolutely!

We have a dealer network of more than 250 retailers spread across the country. You can find the dealer nearest you buy using the dealer locator on our website: www.elliptigo.com.

In the unlikely event that there isn’t a dealer nearby, you can take advantage of our 30-day no questions asked money-back guarantee, which lets you purchase an ElliptiGO directly through our website and if you don’t absolutely love it, you can return it for any reason for a full refund, less return shipping/transportation.

We get fewer than 1-percent of our ElliptiGOs returned.

GGS: Anything else readers should know?

BP: The only thing worth adding is to acknowledge that the ElliptiGO is expensive. The bottom line is that it’s expensive because it works, and to get it to work, we had to use costly parts and materials. You’ll see the quality of these parts and materials when you take a look at the ElliptiGO.

When you compare the cost to a high-quality elliptical trainer or a nice road bike, you’ll find that it’s actually priced very competitively.

Review Summary

I can’t thank Bryan enough for taking the time to talk to me, and I’d also like to add that I can’t wait to be in a position to host a GirlsGoneSporty ElliptiGO Team.

There’s nothing I’d love more than to suit up a group of women on pink ElliptiGOs and head to the hills of California to participate in the World Championships. It may be a couple years down the road before we can make that happen, but I’ll start taking names now!

Who wants to be on the first ever GirlsGoneSporty ElliptiGO Team?

5 Tips to Stay Motivated to Reach Your Fitness Goals

KEEP YOUR MENTAL GAME FOCUSED

I am all about having goals – long-term, short-term, or any-term! They make me happy. I love challenging myself to be better, to do better.

To continue working on being a better version of myself.

But the difference between having long-term, short-term or any-term goals, and actually reaching those goals, is hard work… and maybe a few tears.

  • Dedication
  • Determination
  • Inspiration
  • Commitment.
  • And perhaps most importantly, motivation.

Yes. Without motivation, reaching your goals (or my goals) is next to impossible. And the thing about motivation, is once you have it, you have to hold on to it every step of the way until you reach your goal.

But holding on tightly to motivation doesn’t always work. No. Sometimes motivation slips right through your fingertips. And unless you are mindful of it, remaining motivated could be the very thing that holds you back from reaching your goals.

You know exactly what I am talking about. There has been a time in your life, and a time in my life, when a goal was set. A goal was worked toward. Then at some point, motivation slipped away. It was still within reach, but not close enough to get back. And as a result, the goal was not reached.

If you’ve ever tried, but failed to reach your goal – if you’re starting to lose the motivation to continue. I’m here to tell you, don’t give up. It can be different this time, and it will be different this time, as long as you’re mindful of what you can do to stay motivated.

Our Top 5 Tips for Reaching Your Goals

tips for staying motivated

1. Change your mindset

I’m talking about changing the way you think about yourself. Starting right now. Yes. You are no longer a person who doesn’t exercise. You are an athlete. You are no longer a person who tries to lose weight. You are losing weight.

And you are no longer a person who wants to make healthier food choices. Because you are already are making healthy food choices.

So think about your goal.

And think about what you are doing right now to reach that goal. And even if what you are doing right now to reach your goal feels small, it counts. Because you see, making a change. Reaching a goal takes commitment.

And that commitment starts when you change your mindset.

2. Be proud of yourself

Most of us fail miserably at feeling proud of ourselves before we reach our goal. But every single day we have a choice to do that thing – you know the one – the thing that takes hard work.

The thing that requires following through on the commitment we have made to ourselves. The one that takes being honest with ourselves – to get to where we want to go, to change what we want to change. But in a single day, we are not crossing the finish line.

We are not losing all the weight. We are not getting a degree. We are not having a baby. That all takes time. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be proud of ourselves along the way.

Every single day, each and every one of us has the opportunity to feel proud of ourselves.

So ask yourself this, and be honest: What are you proud of today? Have you already done it? If not, go out and do it. Don’t wait until you’ve lost all the weight, or until a challenging or overwhelming lifestyle change has been made.

Don’t wait until all your bills are paid off. Don’t wait until you get the test results. Give yourself permission to be proud of the things you have done today to get where you want to go, to change what you want to change.

However small, or however big that thing is, fall in love with it, and be proud of yourself.

3. Switch things up

Whether you are training for a race, trying to lose weight, or looking to tone up, doing the same workout day after day to reach our goal, is downright boring.

So run on a dirt trail instead the pavement, or run a different route.

Try a new recipe, do yoga, lift weights, and challenge yourself. Challenge your body and challenge your mind to do and feel something different.

4. Make a list of the whys

When you’re working toward a goal, things start to feel difficult. Sometimes it doesn’t feel worth it anymore, or you just feel like giving up.

This is when having a list of the reasons why you want to reach your goal becomes important. Refer to your list as often as you need to. This list is your lifeline, your reminder why you made your goal. Your reminder that you’re worth it – that reaching your goal is worth it.

And most importantly, why reaching your goal is more important than staying the same.

5. Give yourself a break

There is no perfect way to reach your goal.

At some point, you will miss a workout, or not stick to your diet for a day. Be gentle with yourself. Because your next workout, your next meal, gives you another opportunity to stay committed to your why – stay committed to your goal.

You see, you just have to show up, and keep showing up, until you reach your goal. Because there is no perfection in how you reach your goal, the only perfection lies in whether or not you give up on your goal.

Best Back Exercises for Women

A strong back is a sexy back, and a well-shaped back requires regular attention in the weight room. You don’t have to do a million lat pulldowns or pullups to get the look you want, though! Just add a few of these exercises suggested by GGS Ambassadors as great back exercises for women.

Don’t forget your low back!

The low back is frequently neglected, but it’s super important when it comes to whole health. Strengthening your low back can help prevent or reduce low back pain and also helps with posture and overall core strength.

Best Lower Back Exercises for Women

1. Back extensions or backward situps on a stability ball

One great exercise for strengthening the low back are back extensions on a stability ball. Not familiar? You may have heard of them by a different name.

Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador Glenda Rigby of PinkShamrock.MerrittIsland concurs that these are great, “My favorite back exercises are backwards situps on my Pilates ball!” No matter what you call them, they’re going to help you get the strong, sexy back you desire!

2. Locust pose

The Locust pose is a yoga term for a static exercise similar to the more commonly known “Superman” exercise designed to strengthen the low back.

Ambassador Nicole Bobco of Masters2Marathons explains, “I do these a few times a week (in addition to a few other lower back core exercises) because it helps keep my SI joint issue from aching since it is more ‘loose’, something that’s generally more common in women due to body physiology.” Perform the exercise as follows:

  • Lie face down and arch your upper back just a few inches off the floor, keeping your neck straight and aligned by looking at the floor. Keep your arms along your sides, “Like you are flying streamlined,” Bobco says.
  • Lift both legs a few inches off the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Rest and repeat a few times.

3. Locust pose

Robin Callarman of Unquenchable Laughter agrees that yoga’s a lifesaver, “For back exercises I love yoga! It doesn’t seem like much, compared to all the lifting exercises that are out there, but having your back be flexible and open helps with everything else!”

Best Mid and upper back Exercises for Women

Your mid and upper back generally get all the love – and for good reason! Your lats, traps and rhomboids are large muscles that each play an important role in upper body and arm movement.

1. T-bar rows

Most people are familiar with exercises like pullups and seated rows, but two Girls Gone Sporty ambassadors, Joanna Broadbent of Sports Bras and Sippy Cups, and Melissa Chestnut of MelRUNStheworld, both love T-bar rows. Joanna explains, “They work your middle back and your lats and give you the awesome v-taper.” Check out Melissa performing the exercise:

2. Pushup Lawnmowers

Another great move that will get your entire upper body working is the pushup lawnmowers exercise suggested by Katy from Fit in Heels.

Simply complete one push up and move immediately into a one-armed row. If you’re feeling especially motivated, hold a dumbbell in each hand and perform the row with a dumbbell.

Best Alternatives to Squats and Lunges + Modifications

The Thrillist 31-day fitness challenge alternatives to squats and lunges

Hey, y’all!

If you landed on this page, chances are you’ve signed up for Thrillist’s 31-Day Gym-Free Fitness Challenge – I’m so glad you’re taking part! Lots of you have been contacting me about alternatives to squats and lunges, primarily due to your bum knees.

I get it.

Sometimes these exercises hurt me, too. Below you’ll find a whole slew of options, but I want to make a few notes before proceeding:

  1. If you’re dealing with an acute injury (something that just happened and is causing intense pain), please don’t start or continue the program until you’ve either: 1) talked to a doctor and you’ve been cleared to exercise, or 2) you’ve given the injury time to rest and it’s no longer causing acute pain. Preferably do both.
  2. I’m not a doctor and I’m not there with you to see or interpret which exercises or motions are causing pain. Use your best judgment when selecting alternative exercises and focus on those movements that don’t irritate or exacerbate whatever you’ve got going on. Not every exercise listed below will work for every person. 
  3. When in doubt, rest or stick to low-impact cardio, such as walking, swimming, or cycling. Even if you’re gung-ho to get on track with your exercise routine, it’s best to allow injuries the chance to heal, and it’s best not to exacerbate chronic issues you already have. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to a lifetime of health.

Now that that’s out of the way, feel free to proceed! I’m embedding videos of each exercise (some are mine, some are other people’s) below, with a few quick notes on proper form. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments, on Twitter or Instagram @girlsgonesporty, or through email: [email protected]

Another note! Many of these exercises are unilateral, which means they work each side individually. Make sure you always balance out the exercise by performing the same number of sets, reps, and/or time to each side. If you have questions about this, ask!

Equipment: While the Thrillist exercises are all equipment-free, some of these variations do suggest equipment, namely dumbbells, a stability ball (you can sub sliders or paper plates), resistance band, and a low step or bench.

Best Squat and lunge modifications

Squats and lunges aren’t for everyone, so there’s no need to feel bad if they’re completely off-limits for you, but if you can slowly work your way up to these movements, I highly recommend trying.

You see, both exercises are compound, closed-chain, functional moves that target all of the major muscle groups of your lower body while also engaging your core. They’re also great for developing and maintaining bone mass through the legs, hips and low back.

If you want to try a few modifications, check these versions out:

1. Shallow squats

Shallow squats are essentially the typical squat movement, but you only perform roughly the top quarter of the exercise. So instead of squatting down until your knees form 90-degree angles, you just press your hips back and lower your glutes a few inches.

You can do these up against a table or counter, as shown in the video below, or without, as shown in this video (they wouldn’t let me embed it – sorry!).

Just remember, keep your weight in your heels (try wiggling your toes while you squat to prevent yourself from shifting your weight to the balls of your feet), and initiate the movement by pressing your hips back first, rather than bending your knees first.

2. Wall squat

The wall squat is a static exercise that helps build strength at the exact angle where your knees and hips are positioned.

You can perform wall squats with any degree of bend in your knees, so there’s absolutely no reason you have to perform the exercise with your knees bent at 90-degrees.

Another advantage is that because you’re pressing your hips and torso against the wall, you remove some of the pressure from your lower body while still challenging your quads, hamstrings, glutes and core.

3. Chair squat

Chair squats are a good alternative because they focus on the “negative” or eccentric half of the squat, where you control the downward movement as you sit down into a chair. They also help you focus on proper squat form.

If you’re working your way up to a regular squat, don’t even worry about how you stand up from the chair after you squat down.

Stand up in whatever way feels comfortable to you, reposition yourself, then sit down again, using proper chair squat form.

4. Reverse lunge (shallow or deep)

Doing a reverse lunge is easier than doing a forward or walking lunge because you maintain more control over your torso and weight placement (your center of gravity doesn’t shift forward with your forward momentum), making it easier maintain proper form, particularly in your front foot.

Just make sure when you step backward, you keep your weight in your front heel (remember to do the toe-wiggle, like with squats), so when you bend your knees into the lunge, your front knee remains behind your toes, and aligned with your toes. You can try shallow or deep reverse lunges.

I love this example video, but again, they won’t let me embed it.

5. Static lunge (shallow or deep)

With the static lunge, you start with your feet staggered, one in front of the other, and you maintain this staggered position throughout the exercise.

As you perform each lunge, with a shallow or deep range of motion, you focus completely on proper lunge form without worrying about shifting your center of gravity forward or backward as you would when taking steps to the front or back.

As always, remember to keep your weight in your front heel and your torso upright and straight as you lunge.

Best Alternatives to squats and lunges

If for any reason, you want to ditch the squats and lunges suggested in the Thrillist 31 Day Gym-Free Fitness Challenge, that’s completely fine.

Here are some options for you to consider. Not all of them will feel comfortable for everyone, so give each movement a test to select the ones you like the best.

The first five exercises listed below are compound in nature, targeting more muscle groups at the same time, while the last couple exercises do more to isolate the hamstrings and glutes.

You can also sub in single-leg deadlifts or bridges, both of which are already included periodically in the Thrillist fitness challenge.

1. Step-ups

Step-ups are very similar to lunges in terms of the muscles worked, but because you have control over the height of the step and the change in forward momentum and center of gravity shift due to an overall smaller step-width, they tend to be easier on the knees.

Start with a low step – about 12- to 18-inches tall, and work your way up to a taller step or bench as you feel ready. As always, remember to keep your weight in the heel of your front foot.

Also, step down carefully from the step, fully controlling the downward motion.

2. Lateral box step-ups

Lateral box step-ups are a good alternative to squats, with the added bonus of greater engagement of the abductors and adductors. Start slowly with a low step, about eight- to 18-inches in height, gradually working your way up to a taller step or bench.

Remain in a “baby squat” with a slight bend in your hips and knees throughout the exercise, and make sure you’re fully planting your foot on the step, with your weight in your heel, before shifting your weight to perform the lateral movement.

As you get stronger, you can progress to a lateral step-over (shown below), crossing up and over the box.

3. Bear squats

Personally, I’m a huge fan of bear squats, as they’re a full-body exercise that takes you through the same range of motion as traditional squats, without placing as much weight on your lower-body joints. That said, they’re not for everyone, especially since they require a decent level of core strength and shoulder flexibility.

The key thing to remember about bear squats is that your knees never touch the ground.  You start in a high plank position, then press your hips back toward your heels as you bend your knees and extend your shoulders.

It’s as if you were performing a traditional squat, but from a plank position rather than a standing position.

When you’ve squatted back as far as you can (never letting your knees touch down!), you press through the balls of your feet and extend forward, returning to the plank.

4. Dumbbell Romanian deadlifts

Dumbbell deadlifts are a great way to work your posterior chain – the muscles along the back half of your body.

Make sure you focus on form – this exercise should primarily work your glutes and hamstrings, using them to “pull” you to the standing position, rather than relying on your back to do the bulk of the work.

As with most of the exercises on this list, remember to keep your weight centered over your heels, and be sure to initiate the movement by pressing your hips backward, keeping your core tight and strong throughout.

5. Lateral band walks

Lateral band walks aren’t a perfect substitute for squats or lunges, but they do engage many of the same muscle groups while also working the abductors.

If you can, lower yourself into a shallow squat while performing the band walks, pressing your hips back and bending your knees slightly (doesn’t have to be much!) as you perform the movement.

As you step to the side, your center of gravity will shift, so move slowly at first, focusing on form, without allowing your momentum to take over.

6. Stability ball or slider hamstring curls

To target your hamstrings and glutes, try performing a modifed hamstring curl using a stability ball, sliders, paper plates, or even a towel. I’m including several sample videos below so you can see the differences.

The main thing to remember is that your hips should remain lifted, glutes and core engaged, before and during the entire hamstring curl movement.

These are surprisingly challenging, so stop if or when your form starts to suffer.

If you choose to use paper plates, a towel, or sliders, make sure the apparatus moves smoothly across the floor. You don’t want it to awkwardly stick or catch during the exercise.

7. Quadruped hip extension

Quadruped hip extensions are great for targeting your glutes unilaterally. Really concentrate on squeezing the glute of the acting leg, controlling the exercise throughout.

Consider adding a resistance band for a greater challenge. Remember to keep your hips level and as steady as possible throughout the exercise.

Best Cardio alternatives to Squats

There are some cardio-based exercises included in the Thrillist fitness challenge that might not be comfortable if you have a hard time with squats and lunges. Consider subbing in the following, as needed.

1. Jumping jacks (jumping or stepping)

Select between the higher-impact, traditional jumping jack, or the lower-impact step-out version.

2. Side slides (slow or fast)

You can perform side slides fast, as shown, or you can slow them down and step them out for a lower-impact, lower-intensity option.

3. Bear crawl

Bear crawls are already included in the Thrillist challenge, but they’re a great alternative to burpees or mountain climbers if your knees can handle ’em.

4. High-knees

Step them out like an overexaggerated march, or jog them out at full speed.

5. Butt kicks

The video only shows butt kicks at-speed, but you can also slow them down to a walk, reducing the impact and intensity. Just make sure to swing your arms as you do the exercise to help get your heart rate high.

6. Inchworms

This exercise is included in the upper body days of the Thrillist challenge, but it’s a good substitute for more lower-body focused cardio. If you have some space to move, try the version shown in the second video.

7. Crab walks

If you don’t have shoulder pain, this is another good alternative for lower body-focused cardio.

8. High-low planks

Your lower body maintains static strength, while your upper body and core get a killer workout.

9. Lateral walking planks

This active motion is great if you have a strong core and shoulders. If you tend to have shoulder pain, this wouldn’t be my first substitution suggestion.

Grokker Review: Free Online Yoga Fitness Cooking Classes

Grokker: A SERVICE WORTH USING

Despite the fact that I’m (clearly) involved in the online fitness world, I’ve been a bit slow to adopt online fitness services as go-to resources for classes.

Early iterations seemed clunky and inaccessible, and I’ve always questioned the draw of following along to a video on a tiny phone or tablet screen.

Now, maybe it’s the fact that I have a computer hooked up to my TV, so I can actively use the Internet on a 39-inch screen, but I’m starting to come around to the idea of using online class services for my own workouts. And my attitude started to shift with the introduction of Grokker.

Grokker is currently a free video service that offers on-demand HD videos of yoga, fitness and cooking classes. Eventually Grokker will charge for access to their premium videos, but for now you can get them all!

The service’s founder, Lorna Borenstein, has done an excellent job of sourcing high-quality instructors to cover a broad subject matter. I’ve personally taken a 30 minute cardio-kickboxing class and a 45 minute strength-building workout, and I found both courses fun, challenging and well-conducted.

I haven’t tried any of the yoga or cooking classes yet, but the options are excellent. For instance, I’m looking forward to giving the Yoga for Athletes: Post Workout Practice a try, as well as the Spicy Thai Basil Chicken recipe (I’ve been wanting to learn Thai cooking for years).

Grokker Pros:

  • Wide variety of videos, including gourmet cooking, meditation, high intensity interval training, and more
  • Currently free
  • Easy to navigate, follow instructors and interact with other users
  • Ability to ask questions and receive support
  • In addition to Grokker’s premium, in-house videos, the service helps aggregate other great videos from around the web
  • You can save videos for future use
  • You can print out workouts to take with you when you don’t have access to the Internet

Other Considerations:

  • There will eventually be a fee for the premium Grokker videos – when this will be implemented and what it will cost isn’t clear.
  • There are already so many videos to choose from that it can feel a bit overwhelming. They have lots of categories to choose from, and there’s also a search function that appears to work well, so don’t hesitate to put those to use!
  • When creating your profile, you can indicate interests so that Grokker can provide suggested videos to you. This is a nice feature, but I’ve found that the videos they suggest aren’t necessarily the videos I want to try. This may become better over time, with use, but for now it’s a bit spotty.

Final Verdict: Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I really like the Grokker service. It’s functional, varied, and because of the wide selection of videos, I can try some things I’ve never tried before, such as Qigong. Also, the fact that it’s functioning so well while still in beta makes me think that there are only better things to come. While of course I wish the service would remain free forever, they simply can’t offer such high-quality without a price attached. As long as the prices they roll out are reasonable, I see no reason why Grokker won’t continue to grow and thrive.

Do you use online fitness video services? Which ones have you tried, and do you use them often?

Header image credit: Video still from Grokker.com

Best 10 Minute Jump Rope Workout for Burning the Most Calories

SKIP THROUGH YOUR WORKOUT

Jumping rope is an excellent high-intensity, high-impact workout that blasts calories at roughly the same rate as running at a 6 mph pace. In fact, according to Discovery Health’s Activity Burn Rate Calculator, a 150-lb. person burns roughly 113 calories during a 10 minute, moderately-paced jump rope workout.

The best part is that because the workout is so intense, your body will actually continue to burn more calories during rest and recovery, increasing your total calorie burn.

By adding just a few of these short, high-intensity workouts to your regular fitness routine, you may see significant, long-lasting results. Plus, all that hopping will help you sculpt stellar calves!

Check out our jump rope tips and try our quick, 10-minute workout!

8 TIPS BEFORE GETTING STARTED

  1. Choose the right rope. Your son’s plastic, segmented rope probably isn’t your best bet. Look for a rope that has sturdy, comfortable handles, an adjustable rope length and a solid cord. The type of cord is up to you, but look for ropes that offer sealed ball bearings for smooth, even rotation.
  2. Choose the right length. A rope that’s too long or too short can significantly impact your jumping success. When testing out a rope, stand on the center of the rope and pull the handles (without stretching the rope beyond its natural length) as high as you can under your armpits. You’ll know the rope is the right length when the handles reach the height of your sternum. If you have an adjustable rope, simply adjust the length until it reaches this height.
  3. Consider weighted handles. If you want to increase the intensity of your workout, consider getting a rope with weighted handles. Most of these ropes allow you to remove the weights, so you can start without them and add them back when you’re ready to make your workout harder.
  4. Remember practice makes perfect. If you haven’t jumped rope since elementary school recess, you’re probably going to flub it up! Don’t worry about it, just keep on trying. It takes time to find the rhythm, and as long as you keep at it, you’ll be a jump rope phenom in no time!
  5. Avoid the “in between” bounces. You want to jump at a steady rate so that you jump once for every rope turn. It’s a tempting habit to swing the rope slowly and add an extra “hop” between turns. There’s nothing overtly wrong with this, but as you add tricks to your routine, the extra bounce could throw you off.
  6. Give it a rest! If you find yourself becoming exhausted, and you’re only a minute into your routine, don’t sweat it! Jumping rope is tough. Take a break to catch your breath, then start back up again. Just remember, your 10 minute workout doesn’t include your breaks. Keep an eye on the clock and tack on time for every break you take.
  7. Do what you can. This is an extension of the “practice makes perfect” rule. If all you can do right now is skip, that’s okay! Do 10 minutes of skipping. If you think you’re ready to progress to jumps, one-legged jumps or other tricks, go ahead and progress. Changing up the routine is what keeps it interesting, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple.
  8. Go at your own pace, but push yourself. Start at a slow or moderate pace to get the rhythm of jumping down, but as you’re able, increase the speed of your jumping routine. The faster you go, the harder you’ll work and the more calories you’ll burn. Even if you just pick up the pace for 30 seconds here or there, that extra effort will pay off in the end.

10 MINUTE JUMP ROPE ROUTINE

Add this jump rope routine to your workout once or twice a week. It makes a great addition to a strength training workout, or you can fit it in early before you head to work.

  • 0:00 – 1:00, Standard skips

Skip in place, almost as if you’re jogging, alternating feet as you rotate the rope.

  • 1:01 – 2:00, Standard jumps

Hop in place with both feet together, hopping once for each rope rotation.

  • 2:01 – 2:30, One-legged jump

Hop in place on your right leg only, hopping once for each rope rotation.

  • 2:31 – 3:00, One-legged jump, opposite leg

Hop in place on your left leg only, hopping once for each rope rotation.

  • 3:01 – 4:00, Reverse jumps

Start with the rope in front of your feet and rotate it in the opposite direction; it should rotate backward over your head and forward under your feet.

  • 4:01 – 5:00, Criss-Cross jumps

Begin jumping using your standard jump; after you’ve jumped over the rope once, quickly cross your arms in front of your body so that your arms are crossed before the next jump; after the second jump, quickly uncross your arms so that they’re back to normal before the next jump; continue criss-crossing your arms back and forth for the duration of the exercise.

  • 5:01 – 6:00, Ski mogul jumps

Begin jumping using your standard jump; after you’ve jumped over the rope once, rotate your hips and legs to the right while keeping your knees together, as though you were a skier going over the moguls – your legs should be rotated when you land; after the second jump, rotate your hips and legs as far as you can to the left while keeping your knees together; continue rotating your lower body back and forth for each jump.

  • 6:01 – 7:00 Lateral hops

Begin jumping using your standard jump; after you’ve jumped over the rope once, jump both legs as far to the right as you can before landing the next jump; after the second jump, hop both legs as far as you can to the left; continue hopping back and forth over an imaginary line for the duration of the exercise.

  • 7:01 – 8:00 Reverse jumps

Repeat a minute of reverse jumps to help balance out all the forward rotation you’ve been doing.

  • 8:01 – 9:00 Standard jumps

Slow the pace down and do a nice, slow minute of standard jumps.

  • 9:01 – 10:00 Standard skips

Keeping the pace relatively slow, skip out the remainder of your workout.

Find more fitness tips at Girls Gone Sporty.

How to Make Homemade (DIY) Sandbag Weights

BAG IT UP!

 

Using a sandbag for strength training is an excellent and inexpensive way to build strength at home. The concept is simple: sand is a heavy and unstable substance that constantly shifts around. This shifting movement requires your body to make constant micro-adjustments to manage the weight.Since sandbag fitness has gained popularity recently, you can purchase a pre-made sandbag trainer for $60 or more, or you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. We made one in less than 15 minutes with products we already had on hand, costing us nothing up front. While this method may not be as pretty as what you find in the store, it does the trick and saves you cash.

Supplies:

  • Medium-sized duffle bag (I got this one for free at an event, but it would probably cost about $10)
  • 60-lb bag of sand (Usually about $4-$5, but I had this one on hand)
  • 5 to 12 1-gallon freezer bags (I only had 5 on hand, but it’s a good idea to have double the number you plan to use so you can double bag them)
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Scale
  • Scoop

Step 1: Scoop sand into bags and weigh

Using a scoop (I used a Pyrex cup measure), fill up 5 or 6 of the gallon bags with sand, using the scale to measure each bag. Aim to put 10-pounds of sand into each one. You’ll end up with 50 to 60 pounds of bagged sand.

Step 2: Double-bag and seal

If you have extra freezer bags, double bag your sand bags, zipping each bag tight. Then, seal the zippered ends with duct tape to prevent leakage.

Step 3: Transfer bags into the duffle

Place all of your sand bags into the duffle bag. Use the bag that the sand came in to cover the freezer bags. The original sand bag was built to prevent the sand from leaking out, so it will add protection to your duffle in case one of the freezer bags breaks.

Step 4: Zip up and use

Once all your freezer bags are packed inside, your homemade sandbag is ready for use! Simply zip it up and get to work. The nice thing about this system is that you know each of the freezer bags weighs 10 pounds, so you can remove or add bags as needed for each exercise you perform.

Note: I also used duct tape to tape up the handles in a way that was more user friendly for performing exercises.

Find more fitness tips at GirlsGoneSporty.com