A Makeshift Megaformer Ab Workout You Can Do at Home

A Makeshift Megaformer Ab Workout You Can Do at Home -- all you need is a dish towel (or sliders). Under 15 minutes long and your abs will be on fire!My brain is not working today. Ever have those moments when you just can’t for the life of you form coherent sentences? I think I told my Btone classes to lift the “toes of their heels” like eight times this morning. Because heels have toes. I also gave this very helpful cue: “push up through your heel by pushing up through your heel.” Try again, Nicole. Let’s hope I can type better than I can talk today…

Speaking of megaformer workouts, I wanted to share a makeshift one I did while traveling. When I was in Australia, we were eating healthily and being constantly active during the day (walking around, snorkeling, swimming, hiking, etc.)—so active that I didn’t worry much about fitting in workouts. My boyfriend and I did, however, go on several scenic runs (one of my favorite ways to explore a new area) and I snuck in a few quick at-home workouts on mornings I woke up earlier than everyone else.

Our hotel in Port Douglas had hardwood floors, so I grabbed a towel to recreate the sliding motion of a megaformer for a quick ab workout. It’s no Btone class, but it did the trick!

A Makeshift Megaformer Ab Workout You Can Do at Home

Equipment I Used:

  • Dish towel (plus an extra one for knee padding) – if you have sliders at your gym or in your home gym, those are great. Also, sliders used for moving furniture = awesome. If you have carpets, try DVD cases or an overturned Frisbee. Get creative!

Do each exercise for 1 minute before moving right into the next. If you’re a beginner, you might want to start by doing each exercise for 30-45 second instead Try not to rest in between exercises—transitions should be quick. You can set an interval timer for 14 rounds of 60 sec work and 0 sec rest so that your timer beeps at you every minute, signaling the next exercise. You could also just watch the clock. Full descriptions below the pics!

If these exercise names sound like Jibberish, welcome to Lagree Fitness. :) I realize that this might be a confusing routine for those who haven’t taken a megaformer class, and admittedly had those familiar with the machine in mind when making it.

I’ve placed an asterisks (*) next to exercises that can be modified by doing them from your knees. Fourteen minutes is a long time to go without resting, so don’t hesitate to modify! Always better to modify than to stop moving altogether. I finished a couple of the moves with crossbody holds. Count to 10 in your head and then move on to the next exercise—it’s fine if the hold makes the next exercise a little less than a minute.

A Makeshift Megaformer Ab Workout You Can Do at Home -- all you need is a dish towel (or sliders). Under 15 minutes long and your abs will be on fire!

Feet on a towel, hands on the floor (or exercise mat) …

  • High Plank*
  • Plank to Pike | 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. If your wrists bother you, you can do this from your forearms (I find this to be more challenging than from my hands).
  • Bear—end with crossbody holds | 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. Two most common errors while doing this are lifting the booty up as your feet slide in and letting the low back arch down towards the floor. Pull your abs in tight the whole time, maintaining a flat back. For the holds at the end, slide your feet out to plank and from that position, bring your left knee across your body to your right elbow—really pull it forward, trying to make contact. Hold it there for about 10 seconds then switch sides: right knee to left elbow.
  • Forearm Plank*

I’m about to make things confusing with the next two moves (I’m sorry!). I did the workout as pictured: knees on mat, hands sliding out on towels. Then I realized that if I just padded my knees with an extra towel, it was way easier to keep my hands on the mat with knees sliding. I’m going to describe what’s pictured for simplicity’s sake, but you may want to try the other way (especially if your floors are a little sticky). It’s the same thing as what’s pictured/described; you just slide your body away, rather than sliding your hands away. 

  • Wheelbarrow | Start with your hands on the towel shoulder-width apart and knees on an exercise mat. Lower your hips so that from your knees to top of head is one straight diagonal line (as if you were about to do a push up from your knees). Keep your abs held in tight and arms straight (but not locked) as you hinge from the shoulders, sliding your hands out in front of you. When you reach your farthest extension, press into the hands, sliding them back in underneath your shoulders to the starting position. It’s almost like an ab roller. If you feel this straining your low back, stack your hips over the knees and your wheel from that tabletop position.
  • Cobra | Start with your hands on the towel shoulder-width apart and knees on an exercise mat. Lower your hips so that from your knees to top of head is one straight diagonal line (as if you were about to do a push up from your knees). From here, you’re going to slide your hands out in front of you. As you do, bend your elbows so that you slowly lower onto your forearms into a sort of kneeling plank. Next, reverse the motion, pressing up into your hands to slide the towel back in as you rise up to straight arms and your starting position. It’s tough! To make it easier, lower onto one forearm at a time and press up onto one hand at a time (just make sure to alternate you leading hand each time). As you do these, resist the urge to turn it into a cobra stretch (bending the spine and lifting your chest). Keep the abs in tight the whole time, maintaining that straight diagonal with your torso. If you feel any strain in your low back, stack your hips over your knees (rather than having them lowered) and do it from this tabletop position.
  • Twisted Pike (right foot in front of left) | 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. You are targeting your right oblique with these.
  • Snake (right foot in front of left)—end with crossbody hold | 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. 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). For the crossbody hold at the end, from that twisted plank position, you’ll pull your right knee across your body towards your left elbow (try to make contact!). Hold it there for about 10 seconds.
  • Side Forearm Plank (right forearm on the floor)*
  • Forearm Plank Hinges* | Maintaining a forearm plank position, just rock your shoulders back and then forward slowly. This isn’t a huge motion, you’ll slide back and forward about 3-6” each direction. Pay attention to your core as you do this: is your low back sagging down towards the ground? Is your butt piking up into the air? Don’t let either happen! Pull the abs in tight with a micro upper tilt to the pelvis to keep your body straight.
  • Side Forearm Plank (left forearm on the floor)*
  • Twisted Pike (left foot in front of right)
  • Snake (left foot in front of right)—end with crossbody hold
  • Push Ups* | Keep these slow—they’re not explosive (think Vinyasa yoga flow speed).

When you finish, relish a long Child’s Pose. Then take it to a gentle Up Dog (or cobra) to stretch out that core.

Child's Pose to Up Dog

This workout would be a fun one to turn into a real-time video, right?? I played around with making videos and GIFs on Monday and worked some of the newbie kinks out. Really excited to start putting a few together! Don’t worry—for those of you who like the pictorials, they won’t go anywhere.

Lagree Fitness lovers—try this ab workout next time you have to go without a megaformer for an extended period of time! (What an embarrassing #firstworldproblem, huh?). Count how many times you need to take a break during the 14 minutes (modifying doesn’t count as a break—stopping does). Next time you do the workout, try to reduce the number of breaks you take. I took three breaks, two during left side Twisted Pike and one during left side Snake (I was dying). I did about 20 seconds of the forearm plank hinges modified from my knees, and the last 30 seconds of push ups also modified on my knees. A Makeshift Megaformer Ab Workout You Can Do at Home -- all you need is a dish towel (or sliders). Under 15 minutes long and your abs will be on fire!

WEARING | Sevan Sports Bra and Salar Capri Foldover Capri from Fabletics // Tank from LF Stores (similar) // Nike Free +3 Sneakers (similar)



Winter Workout Playlist & Layering Up

Winter Workout Playlist (music to pump you up for that cold-weather workout)Mmm looks like whatever I’m listening to in the above picture smells delicious.

Blogging is a two-way street: I share workouts/information with you guys, and I also learn a ton from all that you share in the comments section. When I wrote this post last year with tips for running outside in the winter, lots of commenters suggested wearing a base layer made from merino wool to stay warm. I have low blood pressure and Raynaud’s Syndrome (essentially bad circulation to the extremities in response to cold temperatures), and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of merino wool before!

Layering for cold weather with merino wool Layering for cold weather with merino woolWhen Icebreaker reached out to me and offered to send over some of their merino wool products, I was pumped. Given my issues with the cold weather and the historically snowy winter we’ve been having in Boston, the timing was perfect. I was most excited about the Rush Sports Bra because (overshare alert!) Raynaud’s affects my chest as well as fingers and toes, and it’s hard to find a base layer for that area that isn’t spandex or cotton when it comes to activewear.

I think my favorite items from the gift bundle were the two hats (Skyline Hat in black & Boreal Hat in white). I’ve been wearing them every day! They’re cute, ridiculously soft and oh-so-warm. But, most importantly: cute. :) 

Layering for cold weather with merino woolEverything I’m wearing in these pictures is a base layer. For the sake of showing them off, I’m not wearing anything over them, but—of course—you would if you were going for a winter hike, skiing or other outdoor winter activity. I’m heading up to Maine in a couple weekends for some snowboarding and snowmobiling, and will definitely be packing everything pictured. Icebreaker actually put together a whole infographic on how to layer for the cold that’s really helpful. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Base Layer: Warmth & Moisture Control (natural fibers, soft, fitted, moisture-wicking)
  • Mid Layer: Insulation (you want to trap in your body heat)
  • Outer Layer: Weather Protection (keep out rain and snow, but you still want ventilation capabilities)

Layering for cold weather with merino woolWEARING | Everyday Longsleeve / Oasis Longsleeve Half Zip / Oasis Leggings / Women’s Multisport Cushion Micro Sock (not pictured) / Terra Gloves / Skyline Hat

My dad always used to tell me that the weather is never too cold if you dress appropriately for it (as high-school me is staring blankly back at him wearing a ruffled denim mini skirt with Uggs in February), and I finally have started following through on his advice.

Winter Workout Playlist (music to pump you up for that cold-weather workout)Even if you do layer up, winter workouts can still be brutal, so on that note, I’m leaving you with a pump-up playlist to power you through your next chilly run or snowshoeing adventure. This is my current workout playlist, and if you follow me on Spotify, I’m constantly updating it with new music. I also use Soundcloud (that’s the playlist embedded in the right sidebar of the blog), but haven’t updated it in a while. Enjoy!

What songs are you currently working out to? Any tips to share for dressing for the cold weather?


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Icebreaker. Although I did not receive compensation, I did receive complimentary product. All opinions—as always!—are my own.

My Transition from a 9-5 Office Job to the Health & Fitness Industry (Part 3)

my-transition-story-part-3I’m such a loser! Before I left for Australia, I thought I hit “schedule” for this post to go up, but apparently I hit “save to drafts”. My bad. Four weeks after Part 2, here’s the third and final installment of my little mini series. If you need to catch up, here’s Part 1 and Part 2. When we left off, I’d just gotten laid off from my corporate job…

Universe Guides Dumb, Unprepared Girl into Fitness Industry

Part 3 | Becoming a Full-Time Blogger and Fitness Professional

Chapter 5 | Baptism by Fire: Surprise! You’re Now a Full-Time Blogger

Help-Me-I’m-PoorMoney. That was now my biggest problem. I was technically a professional blogger by default of not having any other job title, but Pumps & Iron was making only about $500 a month at the time. Full-time blogger, middle school babysitter salary. While I did find that by having more time to put into the blog I was definitely able to monetize it better and grow my audience more effectively, the rate at which revenue was increasing wasn’t fast enough to financially support me before my small savings and even smaller severance package ran out.

I couldn’t just blog—I needed a second job. But the thought of getting another corporate position physically hurt. I had just gotten out, I couldn’t go back in. My former coworkers were so amazingly kind and supportive in offering help, recommendations and connections in getting me another job, but I turned it all down. It wasn’t the logistically smart thing to do, but it was the right thing to do.

I thought about moving back in with my parents temporarily to save money while I built up the business side of my blog but my parents live … on an island. And their second home is … in the middle of the woods with no internet. Neither would be a good career move (nor done my sanity any favors).

I called my parents (probably crying again) with my predicament. I couldn’t leave Boston, but I couldn’t afford to stay in Boston. I couldn’t get a real job, but I needed money. I couldn’t yet teach fitness or train because I had no certifications, but I couldn’t afford to sign up for certification courses in the first place. I couldn’t pay rent. I couldn’t buy groceries. MY PETS’ HEADS WERE FALLING OFF.

(For those of you living under rocks or born after 1995, that’s a reference to Dumb and Dumber. I don’t actually have pets with severed heads).

I felt really stuck and frustrated, and then once again was given the gift of guidance. This time it wasn’t from the Universe, it was from my mom and dad. I remember my dad asking me, “Bottom line: Can this blog become a livelihood? Are there other people out there doing this as a career?” Yes. Yes. I believed so fully that I could make this happen. And, as has been the case throughout my whole life, my beyond-words-amazing parents believed in me, too.

If not for their confidence in me, and support of the notion that if it makes you happy, it’s worth pursuing, I would have had a much different journey to where I am now. I still would have gotten here, but it would have taken a lot longer. I would have had to get another “real” job quick (probably unrelated to health) to pay the bills; it would have taken me months to slowly save up enough to afford the CPT and Btone certification courses; and with less time to put into my blog, it would have grown at a much slower rate. My parents told me not to worry about money—they’d pay my rent and help with other expenses as needed—they just wanted me to focus and work my ass off at this thing.

You don’t need to tell me how lucky I am to have parents willing and—equally important in this case—able to do that for me. I know. Lord do I know. And I’m thankful for them everyday. That’s why when I get reader emails asking for advice on transitioning into the fitness industry, I almost feel a little guilty even responding. I had it easy with this grace period of financial support. I know that’s not the norm.

Chapter 6 | Getting My Personal Training Certification & Teaching at Btone

10 Reasons I Love Teaching Group FitnessAs appreciative of my parents’ help as I was, I also hated that I had to accept it. I felt like a complete loser. Twenty-five years old and getting a check from Mommy and Daddy every month to pay my rent. At first I couldn’t even admit it to my friends I was so embarrassed. I felt like a failure every time I deposited that check, but used that feeling to drive my pursuit of career success. I wanted to close my account with the Bank of Dad as soon as possible.

Step 1: Get my personal trainer certification. Except, in hindsight, this should have been step 2. That’s my biggest piece of advice for anyone looking to get into teaching and training—start teaching group fitness FIRST. It’s cheaper to get certified, it takes less time (yoga and some other specialties notwithstanding), and you honestly don’t need a personal training background for most disciplines. Does it give you a leg up? Yes. But it’s by no means a deal breaker. You’ll start making some money right away and will get hands-on experience that will be far more valuable than anything you read in a CPT textbook.

I didn’t know that though, so I signed up for the NASM personal training certification (you can read my review of it here if you’re interested). Even though I didn’t necessarily want to be a personal trainer, I wanted the knowledge base—both for teaching group fitness and to legitimize myself as a fitness professional (vs. enthusiast). While studying for that, I randomly stumbled across Btone. A couple of my friends were going to a class one Sunday and asked if I wanted to tag along. Apparently the classes were amazing and done on some sort of torture device machine. I decided to go with them, and it was love at first burn. 20-Minute HIIT Torch Workout (offered at Btone Fitness)

I didn’t have a lot (any) money at the time, so in order to afford Btone classes I stopped putting gas in my car, cancelled my cable service and reverted to old college methods of eating and drinking as cheaply as possible (fill up on free samples at the grocery store for lunch, sneak your own Bud Lights into the bar, etc.). I’m serious. Even then, I couldn’t afford to go a ton, but I still cherished every single class I could attend. Ballin’ and Btonin’ on a budget, yo!

With perfect timing, the week after I passed my personal training test, I saw on the Btone Facebook page that they were looking for new instructors and going to hold a teacher training. I immediately put all other projects on hold and set to work putting together a letter and my resume to send over. Looking back, it’s hilarious how much time I spent thinking and over-thinking my application because Jody (Btone’s owner) is the most laidback boss ever and I was treating it as if I were applying to be President of the United States of America.

The training was spread out over several weekends, and then I had to complete some co-teaching classes where I’d teach with a current, experienced Btone instructor. There were definitely some nerves those first couple classes, but I was surprised at how quickly the pre-class jitters faded. And I loved teaching! It felt like it just clicked for me. I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do. “Happy” is a pathetic understatement.

It was now about five months since I’d been laid off and I felt like all the pieces were starting to fall into place. I was making money teaching one of my favorite workouts in the world, all the while watching my blog quickly grow in both following and revenue. I woke up happy and excited for the day, every day. And as someone who has struggled with depression in the past, I know that happiness is and will always be my biggest goal and marker of success.

It was with a lot of help and a little luck, but I was finally doing it.

Chapter 7 | Continuing to Grow My Business

20-Minute Tabata Workout with some of my go-to exercisesSince then (about a year ago), I’ve continued to work at figuring out this whole blogging as a business thing and furthering my fitness career. I’ve gotten a couple additional certifications (Spinning and Indo-Row), and am always hungry to learn more. I’ve heard great things about NASM’s Corrective Exercise Specialist course, want to do a kettlebell training, and one day would love to work towards my Master’s degree in Exercise Science or Nutrition. I also love alternative medicine and holistic healing so who knows where the future will lead me—a few years from now you might find me meditating with a shaman in the rainforest learning about herbs and spirits. Don’t worry, I’ll blog about it the whole time. :)

When I first started teaching, Btone was definitely paying the majority of my bills. Over the last year, I’ve seen the blog grow to equal it and now surpass it, which is really cool. Even when I don’t need the income, I would never stop teaching because I love it so much, but it makes me so proud to watch my little blogging baby become a viable livelihood on its own. I’m not there yet, and some months are better than others depending on sponsorships and project opportunities, but it’s getting there. My mind is always overflowing with ideas and aspirations for Pumps & Iron, so there’s no shortage of inspiration to drive it forward.

And with that, there’s really no other way I can end this series than by saying “thank you.” To all of you reading this; to anyone who has ever unknowingly shared a picture of mine on Pinterest; to the company that laid me off; to my parents; to the Btone family; to the Universe.

Oh wonderful, now I’m crying in fucking Starbucks.