3 Things to Look Forward to This Fall on P&I

3 things coming this fallThis weekend marks the first weekend in over a month I’ll actually be home, so even though we’ve still got Labor Day and all that madness, to me it feels like the summer whirlwind is starting to settle into fall. It’s always one of my favorite times of year, and it’s bringing with it a few fun things to the blog. Get excited!

A Beginner Workout Series

I get a lot of requests for beginner workouts, so I’ve put together a bunch you can do at home (or the gym) with minimal equipment. Every Tuesday for the next six weeks, I’ll be posting one (in addition to more advanced workouts each week). Fall always feels like a fresh start, so it’s the perfect time to begin your fitness journey—let’s do it together!

I’m Going to Be a Licensed Aromatherapist!

essential-oils-diffuserKids aren’t the only ones going back to school! Ok, maybe this is just something for me to look forward to this fall (ha!), but I’ve been obsessed with essential oils for years now, and am finally making this love affair official. In addition to fitness, I am extremely passionate about holistic healing methods, so an aromatherapy course feels like the perfect next step in expanding my health education. I wanted to find a program endorsed by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, as well as one I can do from home, so after a lot of research, I decided on The Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy.

I still need to pay off the cost of the course, but as soon as that’s complete (isn’t delayed gratification the worst?!) I can get started, which I’m beyond eager to do. Realistically, I hope to start in November. I’ll have a year to complete it, but with my flexible schedule I should be able to finish in less time. I’ll (obviously) blog about it in more detail throughout the course and can’t wait to share all my newfound knowledge of natural remedies, herbs & oils with you once I’m a certified hippie aromatherapist!

New Workout Equipment

TRX workouts, BOSU workouts—any other requests? My back-to-school shopping is going to consist of new workout equipment for my home but, more importantly, for the blog! Variety is always a good thing.

What are you looking forward to this fall?

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4 Self-Massage Tools I Love

4 Self-Massage Tools I LoveHurts so good. Just as important as strengthening your muscles is massaging, stretching, releasing and relaxing them. Let’s talk about my favorite ways to do this at home (I may or may not be using two of these self-massage tools simultaneously as I write this post…)

Pranamat ECO Acupressure Mat

acupressure mat - Pranamat ECOLet’s kick this list off with my current obsession: this acupressure mat from Pranamat. Acupressure is like acupuncture meets massage. We’ve all heard of laying on a bed of nails, and it’s like that—only the “nails” are pretty pointed lotus flowers. I’m not an expert on acupressure, so I want to focus this on how it makes me feel, but here’s a little background on it first, as provided by Pranamat:

The effects of the Pranamat are incredibly similar to those of acupuncture. Circulation is improved, toxins throughout the body are eliminated and muscles, joints and tissues are relaxed. The nervous system is also stimulated in order to encourage the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Not only will persistent pain by reduced, but you’ll experience a heightened state of mental and physical wellbeing. Whilst you’ll notice these effects with each daily use of the Pranamat ECO, you’ll also find that over time the mat can actually help to cure chronic aches and pains.

4 Self-Massage Tools I Love - acupressure matThe feeling I get from using my acupressure mat is similar to that which I get from yoga: a big mix of relaxed, refreshed, invigorated and clear-headed. It’s amazing. Is it a little painful when you first lay onto it? Yes. But as you lay there and your muscles start to relax, it almost feels like those metal pronged head massagers—a tingly feeling that sends a little shiver through your body and seems to electrify your senses. It’s awesome. You might not believe a hard mat of spikes poking into your skin can be relaxing, but I seriously fall asleep almost every time I lay on it. Seriously.

4 Self-Massage Tools I Love - acupressure mat4 Self-Massage Tools I Love - acupressure matYou can use acupressure mats on almost every area of the body, but my back is definitely my favorite. I like to target the low back by putting a towel or small pillow under it. If I want more pressure in my upper back, I’ll put a pillow under my head and bend my knees with my feet flat on the floor. When I’m laying on my back, I’ll do it for 20 minutes (unless I fall asleep haha), when I’m stressed out, in need of refocusing, or just need a little breather in the middle of the day. As you can probably guess, I also enjoy doing it before bed.

We gotta keep things PG around here (obviously!), but I actually prefer laying on the mat topless so that there’s direct contact with my skin. You can make the pressure less intense by wearing clothing. My hands are really sensitive on the mat so I’ll either apply them in a table top position or lay a thin sheet over the mat before pressing down more firmly. My feet are tougher (read: more disgusting and calloused) so I’ll stand directly on the mat, sometimes choosing to sit if I’m doing work while using it. 4 Self-Massage Tools I Love - acupressure mat for feet Acupressure mat for hands

And bonus points to Pranamat ECO for being made of green materials!

Foam Roller

4 Self-Massage Tools I Love - foam rollerMy facial expression in the above picture says it all. I love-hate foam rolling with a passion. My lower body is usually my focus when using this torture device. It depends on the workouts I’ve done that week and where I’m feeling tight, but calves are always a must-roll, as are the TFL and glutes.

foam-rolling-legs I’m going to do some more posts on the subject and elaborate on when it’s most effective to use foam rolling (self-myofascial release) and how to do it to hit certain areas so stay tuned! The one I use is from Gaiam.

Air-Filled Soft(er) Spike Double Ball

4 Self-Massage Tools I Love - air-filled spike double ball for rolling out the instep of my footThis funky little thing is made by Rejuvenation and I found it at City Sports several months ago when experiencing some pain in the arches of my feet (you can find it online here). It’s a squishier than a foam roller or tennis ball, which makes it great on the more sensitive areas that need a more forgiving roll-out. This, plus its shape, makes it PERFECT for massaging the insteps and outside edges of my feet. Years of tap dancing and my current activity level leave my feet in need of some major TLC. I seriously roll my feet through this thing all day while sitting and standing at my desk. 4 Self-Massage Tool I Love - air-filled spike double ball for rolling out the instep of my foot

Tennis Ball

4 Self-Massage Tools I Love - tennis ball for massaging feetLast but certainly not least is a good ol’ fashioned tennis ball. You can roll out practically your entire body with a tennis ball, but my favorite uses for it are targeting the feet, when I need harder pressure than offered by the spiky ball, and the chest, right by my armpits. I’ll find a tender spot then just lay flat on my stomach with the ball nestled right by my shoulder socket/armpit on the outside of my chest. Sometimes it feels good just to lay in stillness; other times I’ll roll around a little. Self-massage with tennis ball

A tennis ball is also awesome for targeted, small knots, when the broad surface area of a foam roller just isn’t cutting it.

4 Self-Massage Tools I Love

WEARING | leggings & sports bra c/o Crane & Lion // top: Fabletics

What are some of your favorite self-massage tools? Have you ever used an acupressure mat? What’d you think?

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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Pranamat. While I was compensated for my time, all opinions—as always!—are my own. I love this acupressure mat FO’ REAL, guys! :)

A Small-Space AMRAP Workout (Perfect for Dorm Rooms)

Small-Space AMRAP Workout (perfect for dorm rooms and small apartments!)This workout requires no equipment, very little space, and is quiet for those with downstairs neighbors or sleeping roommates/family members. It’s great for small apartments or dorms, even though I know most colleges have a student rec center/gym. I remember the two weeks before Halloween and Spring Break were always a NIGHTMARE at UNC’s student rec center (revealing costumes and bikinis on the brain…) so I would avoid the gym and do workouts in my bedroom.

Small-Space AMRAP Workout

This workout is broken up into three 3-minute AMRAPS. AMRAP stands for as many round/reps as possible, so you’ll be pushing your hardest through the 3 minutes to get through the exercise sequence as many times as you can. Keep track of how many rounds + reps you get through. Once you’ve done all three AMRAPS, repeat the entire thing and try to beat your scores from the previous attempt.

There are multiple exercises in each AMRAP, but they flow together like one continuous sequence, each focusing on a different muscle group. Set a timer for 3 minutes and hustle! Small-Space AMRAP Workout (perfect for dorm rooms and small apartments!)

AMRAP 1 | CORE + UPPER BODY

Do the following exercise flow as many times as you can in 3 minutes.

Inchworm to high plank >> 2 reptile push ups (1 to each side) >> Lower to forearm plank>> 6 hip dips (3 to each side) >> Walking plank back up to high plank >> Inchworm back to standing

Inchworm to high plank | Start standing with arms overhead. Fold forward keeping legs straight, bringing your hands to the ground. Walk your out until they’re stacked underneath your shoulders with your body in a plank position.

2 reptile push ups | You’ll do two push ups. During the first one, hover your right leg and crunch your right knee in towards your right shoulder as you lower towards the ground. Press back up and repeat on the left.

Lower to forearm plank and do 6 hip dips | Lower onto your forearms, one arm at a time, and then alternate dipping your right hip towards the ground and then the left hip towards the ground for a total of 6 dips. Think of tracing an arc with your hips; the top of the arch is plank (don’t pike your hips up any higher than that).

Press back up to high plank and inchworm back to standing | Reverse the movement by pressing back up to high plank one hand at a time and then walking your hands back towards your feet (keeping legs as straight as possible) and standing up, hands overhead.

AMRAP 2 | RIGHT LEG + GLUTE

Do the following exercise flow as many times as you can in 3 minutes.

Lunge forward + pulse 5 times >> Lunge backwards + pulse 5 times >> Do 5 front kicks, stepping back into that lunge each time >> Squat down and pulse 5 times

Lunge forward and pulse 5 times | You’re doing a pivoting lunge on the right leg, so even though it seems counterintuitive, you want to lunge your left foot forward. At the bottom of your lunge, pulse up an inch and down an inch 5 times. Push off that front foot and …

Lunge backwards and pulse 5 times | Land with your left foot now behind you (right foot has stayed stationary). At the bottom of that lunge pulse 5 times.

5 back lunges to front kicks | From that lunge position, shift yoru weight into that front right heel and straighten the right leg as you kick your back left leg straight up in front of you. As it comes back down, swing it back behind you, landing right back in that low lunge. Repeat a total of 5 times.

5 squat pulses | After your fifth kick, instead of landing back in a lunge, bring that left foot next to the right foot (hip’s width apart or a little wider) and sink down into a low squat, weight in your heels. Pulse up an inch and down and inch five times.

You’ll then step your left foot forward and start right from the top.

AMRAP 3 | LEFT LEG + GLUTE

Same thing you just did on the right!

Remember, you’re doing those three AMRAPs twice. Keep track of how many rounds/reps you get through the first time through and then try to match or beat those numbers the second time through. Rest 30-60 seconds between AMRAPs.

Small-Space AMRAP Workout (perfect for dorm rooms and small apartments!)

WEARING | Colosseum Tank / Soybu Leggings / Nike Sports BraNike Sneakers all c/o Kohl’s

How do you plan to #MakeYourMove as you head back to school?

Tag your social shares with #MakeYourMove and follow Kohl’s on Twitter for more inspiration!

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This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Kohl’s.