15-Minute Towel Core Workout

15-Minute Towel Core Workout - a mix of sliding plank work and kneeling core exercises

Today’s workout is a mix of sliding plank work and kneeling core exercises. It’s broken up into blocks so that the upper body gets relief here and there from holding a plank position. The structure admittedly looks confusing, but I promise it’s not. And that’s the beauty of this whole YouTube thing–just follow along with me as I do it!

If you’re a megaformer lover, this workout has your name written all over it.

As with all workouts, make sure to warm up beforehand. Always listen to your body and modify when needed.

Towel Core Workout


So I messed up right and left a little in the video (rookie mistake!). The whole straight-on mirror image vs. profile view screwed me up so just make sure to do as I say not as I do (only the case during Block 3).

15-Minute Towel Core Workout - a mix of sliding plank work and kneeling core exercises

Block 1

Do each of the three exercises for 30 seconds. Do that twice, resting for 15 seconds in between.

Bear | Start in a plank position with your feet on a towel. Keeping your hips level with your shoulders, back flat, slide your feet forward, bending your knees in towards your elbows. Slide feet back out, straightening your legs into plank position.

Plank to Pike | Start in a plank position with your feet on a towel. Keeping your legs straight, pike your hips up into the air, bringing your body into an upside down “v” shape. Try to keep your heels lifted as you do this, sliding on the balls of your feet. Once you hit your peak (if you have tight hamstrings, you may not be able to get your hips up very high—that’s ok!), slowly lower back down into plank position.

Combo Bear + Pike on Forearms | Combo the two moves down on your forearms.

Block 2 (right)

Do each of the three exercises for 30 seconds. 

Mermaid | Come to a kneeling position with your left knee down and your right leg extended straight out to the side. You want your left hip stacked over the left knee. Grab the towel by it’s ends and extend your arms straight up overhead. From here, lean over to the left, lowering your torso so that it forms a diagonal line with your right leg–if you can comfortably go lower, do so. Lift back up by contracting the right side obliques.

Mermaid Twist | Same position as the previous exercise, you’re just going to bend the elbows out wide, bringing the towel behind your head so it’s out of the way (you could also just ditch it–not important here). Lowering your torso so that it makes a diagonal line with your outstretched leg, twist towards the floor and then back to face forward. You stay low as you twist, wringing out your waist like a wet washcloth.

Mermaid Pulses | In the same position as the previous two moves, extend your top arm up towards the ceiling, hold your torso at that low diagonal and pulse up an inch and down an inch.

Block 3 (right)

Do each of the three exercises for 30 seconds. Do that twice, resting for 15 seconds in between.

Twisted Bear | In a plank position, feet on a towel, hands stacked under shoulders on an exercise mat, cross your right foot in front of the left with toes pointing towards the left. You’ll twist through the waist, slightly lowering your right hip to do so. This is your starting position. From here, start bending your knees in towards your left elbow, sliding your feet forward. When you’re in as far as you can go, slide the feet back out, straightening your knees back into your starting position. As you do these, try to keep your hips level with your shoulders (don’t sit your bum onto your heels as you slide the feet in; engage your right sidebody to keep them lifted).

Twisted Pike | In a plank position, feet on a towel, hands stacked under shoulders on an exercise mat, cross your right foot in front of the left and drop your heels so that you’re heel-to-toe with toes pointing towards the left. You’ll twist through the waist, slightly lowering your right hip to do so. This is your starting position. Maintaining this leg position and keeping your knees straight, pike your hips slowly up into the air. When you’ve reached your peak, slowly lower back down to that twisted plank starting position. 

Combo Twisted Bear + Pike on Forearms | Combo the two previous moves down in a forearm plank position (right foot still crossed in front of left).

Block 2 (left)

Block 3 (left)

Finisher

One move, 30 seconds. The purpose is to center the core work and stabilize (I hate ending on one side of the body!).

Over-Under Towel Crunch | Start sitting on your tailbone holding the towel by its ends outstretched in front of you. Legs are extended out straight and hovering a few inches off the floor, torso is leaning back at an angle. Crunch your knees and chest up and in towards each other and as you do, scoop the towel under your feet. Extend back out to starting position, now with the towel under your legs. Continue crunching, bringing the towel over and under your legs as you go.

15-Minute Towel Core Workout - a mix of sliding plank work and kneeling core exercises

WEARING | leggings c/o Sweaty Betty (old but shop current selection here) // Lucy tank (old but shop current selection here)

Since this workout is like a megaformer ab series without the megaformer (kinda?), I figured I’d share my teaching schedule next week for any local readers/Btoners–I’m subbing a ton!

TUES 5:45 AM / 6:40 AM / 7:35 AM / 12 PM North End

WED 6 AM / 6:55 AM / 7:50 AM Back Bay

THURS 6 AM / 6:55 AM Back Bay + 6:20 PM / 7:15 PM North End

FRI 6 AM / 6:55AM North End

SAT 8 AM / 9 AM Back Bay

Sign up for a class HERE! And no one text me after 8:30 pm next week … I’ll be sleeping. 😉

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Correcting My Own Form: 4 Common Exercise Mistakes

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I love learning about health and fitness and over the past six or seven years have braodened my knowledge of the topic considerably. I teach group fitness and feel confident guiding others, but it’s an ongoing constant improvement process. I still don’t consider myself an expert, but back when I first started the blog I was even farther from it. I was just a fitness enthusiast who was sharing the workouts she did for fun. I made no claims to be an authority and it’s a good thing because looking back on my old posts … girrrrrrl no.

Every one in a while an old workout post will surface and while most of them are fine, there are a few pictures that make me totally cringe. I thought it’d be fun (and useful) today to call myself out a little. Fitness Trainer Nicole is going to correct the improper form of Fitness Enthusiast Nicole. 

5 Common Exercise Mistakes (That I’ve Made)

1. Low Back Arch in Plank

lowbackplank

from 8-Minute Abs 2.0

I did a whole post on common planking form mistakes, and I definitely used to be guilty of letting my low back arch down towards the ground. And I have to make an embarrassing confession about it:

I used to do it in pictures on the blog because I thought it made my butt look good.

GAHHHNOOOOOFJDKSLFKEJLKEG OEDJFSKLD:S I’m the worst. Well, I was the worst when I was 23 years old.

There’s a natural curvature to the low spine and planking isn’t about eliminating that; it’s about tightening through the core to prevent it from being over-exaggerated. plank-correct-form

Not as bootylicious, but definitely harder on the abs and easier on the low back!

2. Knee ahead of Toes

knee-over-toes

from Chair Interval Workout

When you’re in a squat or lunge position with the heel on the floor, your knee shouldn’t jut out farther than the toes. You want the support of the ankle joint underneath it so that the knee isn’t in a strained position. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general think knees behind the big toe.

I’ve definitely seen worse than in the above picture, but this would be safer for the knee:

lunge-hop-correct-form

Notice the weight is in my front heel and the knee is stacked over the ankle.

3. Kettlebell Swings Higher Than The Chest

kbswingshigh

from No-Jump Quiet Workout

I know in CrossFit they swing overhead and if you have a CF coach instructing you how to do that then great, but with traditional kettlebell swings, you only bring the bell to chest height. I don’t do CrossFit so I stick with the standard and when I use kettlebells in group classes tell students to do the same. If the kettlebell is easily coming up to head height like it is in the above picture, you’re probably using a weight that’s too light for you!

My kettlebell is in storage for the summer so here’s the correct form from a previous blog post:

20-minute kettlebell workout -- broken up into four sections, each 4:30 long

The top of the swing is chest height.

4. Craning Neck during Push Ups

craning-neck

from AMRAP Quickies Workout

Your neck is part of your spine. When in push up position, we typically know to hold our core in a neutral position (as if we were planking) but don’t always apply that logic to our necks. You should be looking at the floor a few inches in front of your hands; not at the ceiling.

The problem with this, in addition to it being uncomfortable for your neck, is that it sets off a chain of misalignment through the rest of the body. Notice in the above picture how craning my neck is causing my back to then arch. Besides the fact that I’m cracking up (Joe walked in on me taking self-timer push up pictures haha), here’s a much better push up:

push-up-form

Notice how shifting my gaze downward a few inches helps me keep the core engaged, removing that sag from the low back. I’m also not rolling forward through my feet.

Fellow instructors/trainers–what are some of the common form errors you see with clients? Everyone–what are the form corrections you’ve made for yourself?

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P.S. I genuinely appreciate when people call out form errors in the comments of my posts so please never be afraid to correct me! It’s helpful for me and everyone reading the blog. Seeing myself in pictures throughout the years has helped me improve immensely and constructive criticism isn’t “trolling.” 🙂

Choosing a B Vitamin Supplement: Things to Consider & What I’m Currently Taking

b-vitamins-1

When I went on my blog trip to New Hampshire, I was excited to learn more about the MegaFood product line because I was admittedly a little overwhelmed when I first browsed the selection. There were so many options, some of which seemed very similar to each other, and having minimal knowledge of supplements I didn’t know how to choose the right one(s) for me. This was especially true of their line of B Vitamins. I eat very little meat so it’s important to supplement my diet with B12, but what’s best? A B Complex that has B12 and other B Vitamins or just a B12? And Methyl B12–what’s that? Balanced B or Adult B-Centered? Or should I just take a multivitamin that has B12 in it?

By the end of our trip to MegaFood, I had a much deeper understanding of their products and supplements in general, and want to share what I learned with you all. That being said, this post is not meant to be prescriptive. The most precise way to know what’s best for your body would be to get bloodwork done to see what, if any, deficiencies you have. And as you’ve probably gathered by now, I’m not your doctor. 😉

Choosing a B Vitamin Supplement

Methyl B12–What the What?

MegaFood has two B12 options: Vegan B12 and Methyl B12. “Vegan” I understand; “Methyl” not so much. If you’re like me and unfamiliar with this, here’s the simple explanation: Think of Methyl B12 as the active or usable form of B12. Now some people can take a regular, non-methylated B12 supplement and convert it into that useable form without an issue. Other people’s bodies, however, can’t. And if you can’t methylate the B12 than a regular B12 supplement would essentially be wasted (your body wouldn’t be able to use it). If you fall into this category than Methyl B12 is for you.

Good to know: MegaFood’s Multi for Women contains methylated folate and B12.

Balanced B Complex vs. Adult B-Centered

b-vitamins-2

My next question for MegaFood was the difference between the Balanced B Complex and Adult B-Centered–the ingredient list looked pretty similar so why make two? And which to choose? After learning about methylation, the first difference became clear to me: Adult B-Centered has methylated forms of folate and B12 as well as the active form of B6; Balanced B Complex does not.

The other major difference is that while Balanced B is a multivitamin supplement, Adult B-Centered is a multivitamin and herbal supplement. It contains Lemon Balm, which is traditionally used to help restlessness, and Bacopa, which supports healthy cognitive function.*

My B Vitamin Supplement Picks

I mentioned Blood Builder in a previous post, an Iron-B12-Folate-Vitamin C-Beet Root product that I’ve found to support better energy levels during my period.* It has the non-methylated form of B12 in it which leads me to believe my body can carry out that conversion (that’s my uneducated guess). That being said, I don’t know for sure so the methylated form can’t hurt. During the rest of the month I’ve been doing the Multi for Women with the addition of Adult B-Centered.

I wouldn’t necessarily feel the need to supplement my multi with more B12 since it already contains it but … you’re supposed to take two throughout the day and I literally have never remembered to take the second one. Ever. 😉

Did you know about the methylated difference between supplements?

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Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with MegaFood. I’m a paid ambassador but all opinions–as always!–are my own. I appreciate your support of the brands that make this blog possible! 🙂

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.