10-Minute Gentle Workout for Holiday Travel + Other Tips for Staying (Mostly) Healthy

Sorry for the silence around here this week! I got hit with a nasty stomach bug and have spent the last couple days in the fetal position on my bathroom floor. Feeling much better today, but still don’t have much of an appetite and will probably need a nap soon. There’s a video to go along with this workout, but it’s taking forever to upload to YouTube so I’ll just add it in later. Subscribe to my channel to be notified when it’s live.

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The holiday season can cause a bit of a disruption to your normal fitness routine, so it’s always nice to have quick, at-home workouts on hand that you can do if you’re unable to make it to your gym or go-to studio. Today I’m sharing a 10-minute workout that’s perfect if:

  • You need to be quiet. Sleeping relatives? Downstairs neighbors? There’s no loud thudding and jumping around with this one.
  • You need to go easy on your joints. No jumping! This workout is low-impact.
  • You’re short on space and/or time. Trying to squeeze in a workout in your grandparents’ spare bedroom on Christmas Eve? I gotchu.
  • You’re a beginner. As the title implies, If you’re looking for a heart-pumping, ass-kicking workout, this one might not be for you. Compared to the majority of workouts I post, this one is on the gentler side and definitely beginner-friendly.

10-Minute Gentle Workout (Beginner-Friendly!)


You’ll do each exercise for 30 seconds, performing them back-to-back without resting in between exercises. That’ll make for 3 minutes of continuous work. Once you’ve completed all six exercises, rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the circuit a total of three times (or more if you want a longer workout).

Air Squat with Pulse | Feet about hips-width apart, squat down, sending your hips and butt back and down (not the knees forward!). Keep your chest open, shoulders back—it’s natural to lean forward slightly as you lower down, but we don’t want to hunch forward. Bring your hands in front of you as you sink down to your lowest point, bodyweight staying in your heels. Hold at the bottom and do one pulse (up an inch and down an inch). From there, powerfully stand back up, straightening your legs and thrusting your hips forward (squeeze your bum at the top!) and driving your arms behind you. 

Single-Arm Plank to Lunge (RIGHT) | Start in a lunge position with your right foot forward. Place your right hand behind your back. Your left arm should reach up overhead. This is your starting position. From here, dive your torso forward in a bowing motion and plant the left hand on the ground next to your right foot. Keeping your other hand behind your back, step the right foot back into a single-arm plank. Reverse the movement by stepping your right foot forward back into a deep lunge and then sweeping your left arm and torso upright (stay low in the lunge).

Inchworm Push Ups | Start in a plank position. Do a push up. Next, walk your hands back towards your feet so that you’re in a forward-fold position. Walk the hands right back out to a plank and do your next push up.

Single-Arm Plank to Lunge (LEFT)

Stationary Side Lunge Slides | Start standing with feet wide apart, toes pointing forward. Your feet will stay where they are the whole time. From here, bend into your right knee, sliding your hips back and sinking low into a side lunge (left leg stays straight). Holding low, you’re going to slide across over to your left side, gradually straightening the right knee as you bend into the left. now you’re in a low left side lunge. Straighten the left knee to rise up to your starting position. Repeat, in the opposite direction (lunge to the left, slide to the right, stand up).

Bicycle Crunch Sit Ups | Start laying on your back with your hands lightly behind your head, elbows bent out to the sides and chest open. Engage your abs, pulling your bellybutton down to the floor as you lift your legs off the ground about six inches to a hover. This is your starting position. From here, bend your right knee in towards your chest as you crunch your left elbow across to meet it, lifting your shoulders off the floor like a twisting sit-up. Your left leg should remain outstretched in a hover as you do this. Slowly return back to the starting position and repeat to the opposite side. The goal is to keep the legs off the ground the whole time, but if you need to modify, your heel can quickly rest on the floor in between reps.

Gentle 10-Minute Bodyweight Workout (Beginner-Friendly)

WEARING | Pugs N’ Roses tank c/o Puppies Make Me Happy // Lululemon leggings (old – you can shop Lulu’s current selection of leggings or check out these ONZIE capris with a similar mesh cut-out look or these mesh stirrup leggings from alo yoga) // Free to Be Bra c/o Lululemon // grippy barre socks

If you want more of an advanced workout to take with you during holiday travel, I have a massive collection of bodyweight workouts in the archives. Browse them all HERE.

Tips for Staying (Mostly) Healthy during the Holidays

Treat Yourself the Same Way You’d Treat Your Loved Ones

This might sound corny, but any time I catch myself spiraling down with the negative self-talk, I just picture saying all those things to someone I love. That usually stops me dead in my tracks.

Why did I eat that second piece of pie?! I’m disgusting. Ugh I’m so fat. I look terrible in this dress now. I shouldn’t have eaten so much at that holiday party. I didn’t workout today so I don’t deserve to eat a Christmas cookie.

Replace the “I” with “you” and just imagine saying that to your best friend, your daughter, your nephew, your mother or anyone else you love. It’s sickening, isn’t it?! My eyes literally well with tears when I think of my little niece hearing those words from anyone. Never never NEVER.

Go easy on yourself during the holiday season. A few massive meals, a few too many cocktails, a few less workouts–IT’S OK. Yes, like a muscle, will power can be strengthened; but, also like a muscle, it becomes fatigued under constant, unrelenting stress. You’re not weak if you give in to the cookie tray at your fourth holiday office party of the week–you’re human. And you’re allowed to enjoy some damn cookies!

It may seem counterintuitive but I know for me personally, the less pressure I put on myself to maintain some perfect health and fitness routine, the easier it is for me to do just that. If I allow for the missteps, they become nothing more than a detour. If I stress about them and beat myself up, those missteps snowball into a complete derailing that has me stuck in my tracks or even moving backwards.

Ditch the All-or-Nothing Mentality

Throughout my college years, I struggled with moderation–everything was an extreme. If one little thing didn’t go as planned in my mission to eat rigidly “clean” and workout, I’d just completely throw in the towel on doing anything remotely healthy that day. It was perfection or complete gluttony and lethargy–there was no in between. Sometimes the holidays can bring out this mentality. I have my family’s holiday dinner tonight so today’s a wash. It’s absolutely fine to have days like that. ABSOLUTELY. But not so much if that’s your mentality for the entire month of December.

Instead of deeming each day an “all” or a “nothing,” I like to maintain some normalcy. Even if I know I’m going to drink several glasses of wine and help myself to seconds of dessert at a holiday party that night, I still treat the rest of the day like any other. I eat my typical breakfast, I go for a workout, I eat lunch as I normally would.

Supplement Your Holiday Diet to Fill in the Gaps

Going hand-in-hand with maintaining some normalcy in your daily schedule is maintaining some normalcy in your daily nutrition intake. Yes, I fill my holiday plate with roasted veggies and healthy side dishes, but let’s be real. I’m going HAM in the dairy, carbs and sugar departments as well. Larger-than-normal portion sizes, different foods than I normally eat, travel–it all can throw off my body a bit (bloating, irregularity and other such sexiness).

I take the following MegaFood supplements regularly, and find them especially important during the holidays.

  • Multi-Vitamin | MegaFood’s Multi for Women is my personal go-to, but they have a wide selection of formulations to choose from in the multi category (based on gender, age, preference for taking one or two tablets, etc.). Both MegaFood and I share the philosophy that food should always come first as your nutrient source. A multi-vitamin is there to the do the important job of then filling in the gaps. During the holidays, that gap might be a little larger than normal (Christmas salad? Never heard of it). 😉
  • Probiotics | I did a whole post on the benefits of probiotics but can summarize it with: gut health. In a normal week, I take MegaFlora two or three times, maybe every other day at most. However, during periods of abnormal eating (Thanksgiving feasts, back-to-back holiday parties, your grandma’s famous Christmas cookies as breakfast, etc.), I find that taking one daily helps ease any digestion issues and keeps me regular.* MegaFlora contains 20 billion active bacteria and has strains naturally found in the digestive system. I love it! If you’re traveling for the holidays, keep in mind that it needs to be refrigerated.
  • Turmeric Strength for Whole Body | I highlighted the Daily Turmeric Nutrient Booster Powder in a blog post this summer–it’s perfect for adding to smoothies or other beverages. During holiday travel though, I’m not likely to make myself a smoothie for breakfast and it’s much more convenient to pack my daily dose of turmeric in tablet form. Hello, Turmeric Strength for Whole Body! This tablet features a blend of FoodState (=made with whole foods) Kauai Organic Turmeric Root with a pure Turmeric Extract to deliver a full spectrum of curcuminoids, which support healthy inflammation regulation in the body.* It also includes berries and cherries to deliver antioxidants that support healthy aging.*

How do you stay healthy (ish) during the holidays? Any tips to add?

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* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by MegaFood. While I am a paid ambassador, all opinions–as always!–are my own. I truly believe in this company and stand behind their products 100%. I know you all will love them as much as I do!

Some links to outfit details are affiliate.

Standing Core Workout

Standing Core Workout - this 20-minute workout will challenge your core stability with standing ab exercises

I’m using a medicine ball for today’s workout, but you could use a dumbbell or other weighted object if you don’t have one. I’m calling this a core workout, but your arms and legs will be feeling it as well–especially if you use a heavier weight. There are two bodyweight exercises thrown into the circuit purposely to give your arms a little breather in the event upper body fatigue is hindering the core work.

While I wouldn’t say this workout is “easy” (the first two sets especially are tough!), I’d consider it easier than some of the other core workouts I’ve shared. It’s a good one if you’re a beginner (just chose a light med ball or even just bodyweight) or have mobility impairments preventing you from comfortably getting down to the floor for crunches and other supine ab exercises.

20-Minute Standing Core Workout


Equipment I Used:

  • Medicine ball (I shot the workout with a 6-lb med ball because it’s all I have at home but would have liked to challenge myself with a 10-lb–next time!)

The structure of this workout is a time pyramid. Each time you go through the circuit you’ll stay on the exercises for less time. Here’s the breakdown:

60 seconds each exercise
60 seconds rest
45 seconds each exercise
45 seconds rest
30 seconds each exercise
30 seconds rest
15 seconds each exercise

Try not to rest in between exercises. Only rest as specified above (after a full set). In total, this workout will take you 20 minutes to complete. The goal is to complete as many reps of the exercise as possible in the specified time interval. That being said, never sacrifice proper form for the sake of speed!

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

Standing Core Workout - this 20-minute workout will challenge your core stability with standing ab exercises (follow-along video included!)

Marching Front Chop | Start standing with arms straight, med ball held overhead. Keeping your arms straight, you’re going to chop the ball down in front of you as you lift one knee up towards it (as if you were going to spike the ball off your knee). Raise the ball back overhead as you lower the foot back to the floor and repeat on the other side.

Crossbody Woodchop RIGHT | You want a wide stance for this one with both feet pointing forward. With the lower body, I want you to think side lunge; with the upper body think of tracing a diagonal line with the medicine ball.. Start with the legs straight, med ball held in straight arms up and overhead to the left (you want your torso twisted so that you’re facing the left side of the room). Keeping the arms straight, chop the med ball down towards your right foot as you bend into the right knee (remember, think side lunge) and twist to face the right side of the floor. Reverse the movement back to the starting position.

Crossbody Woodchop LEFT

Standing Bicycle Crunch | Start standing with feet a little wider than hip’s width apart, chest open, fingertips behind the ears and elbows out wide. From this starting position, you’re going to crunch the right elbow down and across your body to touch the opposite knee, which you’ll bend and lift up towards it, squeezing your low abs. Don’t worry if you can’t make physical contact between the knee and elbow; focus on pulling your core in tight and just get them as close as possible. Return to starting position and repeat to the other side.

Torso Twist to Front Chop in Lunge RIGHT | Start in a lunge position with your right foot forward; ball of the left foot planted behind you. Feet should be hip’s width apart (you’re not walking on a tight rope–you want a stable base!). If joint mobility allows, you want to find a 90-degree bend with the front knee. Hold the med ball at chest height, arms straight in front of you. Keeping the arms straight, twist towards the right side of the room so that the ball twists over the front leg. Twist back to center and then chop the ball down towards your back knee, crunching through the core to lower it. Rise back to starting position and repeat.

Torso Twist to Front Chop in Lunge LEFT

Sumo Squat Obliques Crunches | You’ll be in a wide sumo squat position the entire time with the lower body. You want a wide squat stance with your toes pointing outward; knees track in line with the toes. Chest open, have your fingertips lightly behind your head or hovering by the ears, elbows bent out wide to the side. From here, dip your right elbow towards your right knee, contracting the right side obliques. Lift upright and over to the left. As you crunch down side to side, think of staying in a single plane of motion; don’t lean forward as you dip to the side. So picture your torso is sandwiched between two walls, one against your back and one against your chest. Stay between the walls.

Side note: Every time I do this exercise I can’t help singing “I’m a little teapot short and stout…” in my head. Please tell me someone else’s mind goes to that when doing side bend motions?? 🙂

Standing Core Workout - this 20-minute workout will challenge your core stability with standing ab exercises

WEARING | leggings c/o PRISM Sport (30% off with code ACTPERRY) // shoes c/o Puma // bra c/o Forever 21 (old but shop current selection here)

It is such a game changer living in a space that’s well lit enough to shoot videos!! I’m sad I’m only here for the summer but plan on taking full advantage of that conveniently placed concrete wall next to the windows. Let’s see how many workouts I can shoot before August 31st… 😉

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Beginner Series: Incline Plank Challenge Workout

Beginner Plank WorkoutToday’s plank workout is great because it grows with you. So don’t be thrown off by the “beginner”—if you’re advanced, you can also fit it into your next workout, maybe doing it after a long run. As you’ll see, you pick the interval length and incline level that fits your current physical condition, and as you improve, challenge yourself to stay in each move longer, working your way from an incline plank to a traditional plank on the ground.

If you need a refresher on proper plank form, check out this post I did a while back going over all the common errors I see with this exercise. 

Incline Plank Challenge Workout

Equipment I Used:

There are four plank variations in this workout. You will do them back-to-back, moving from one right to the next without resting. Once you’ve completed all four then you rest for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times total.

For how long do you do each variation? That’s where the challenge comes in. True beginners, start with 15 seconds. That means in total, you’ll do a minute of plank work before resting. That might sound like a long time to be in a plank, but the incline and the fact that you’re changing movements slightly will make it doable, I promise.

As you improve …

  • Increase the time interval. Try 20 seconds per move. Then 25. Can you make it up to 30 seconds (2 minutes of continuous work)?
  • Decrease the incline. Instead of having your forearms on a table, maybe you hold your plank from a low bench. Can you gradually build up to a traditional plank on the ground holding your body level to the floor?

beginner-plank-challenge-workout

Incline Plank Hold

Plant your forearms on a flat, elevated surface like a table or bench. Elbows should be under shoulders. Step your feet back so that your body forms a straight diagonal line. Tuck the tailbone slightly as you pull the bellybutton up towards the spine. Picture your ribcage as a girdle: close it in around you. Squeeze your quads right above the kneecaps to straighten your legs and then imagine you’re trying to pull your elbows and feet together. Everything is contracted and holding the position.

MAKE IT EASIER

  • Plant your forearms on a higher surface. Increasing the angle of your body in relation to the floor will make it easier.

MAKE IT HARDER

  • Plant your forearms on a lower surface or the floor. Decreasing the angle of your body in relation to the floor with make it harder.

Incline Plank Reptile Crunches

Start in your incline plank position. From here, hover your right leg and crunch the right knee towards the right arm, contracting your right sidebody. Extend that leg back out, planting your foot and repeating on the left side. Continue alternating back and forth. Be aware of your hips—you don’t want to pike them up in the air as you do these.

MAKE IT EASIER

  • Plant your forearms on a higher surface. Increasing the angle of your body in relation to the floor will make it easier.
  • Step instead of crunch. Instead of crunching one knee forward at a time in a hover, step one foot at a time lightly out to the side. It’s the same move, just making contact with the floor for support.

Beginner Plank Workout

MAKE IT HARDER

  • Plant your forearms on a lower surface or the floor. Decreasing the angle of your body in relation to the floor with make it harder.

Incline Plank In ‘n Out Steps

Start in your incline plank position. From here, step one foot at a time out wide to the side, and then back in to center to your starting position. As you do this (out, out, in, in), try not to let your bum bounce up in the air. Think of keeping your hips aligned in that plank position.

MAKE IT EASIER

  • Plant your forearms on a higher surface. Increasing the angle of your body in relation to the floor will make it easier.

MAKE IT HARDER

  • Jump instead of step. Instead of stepping your feet wide and narrow, jump both feet out wide to the side and then jump them back together. Just be careful not to pike your bum into the air as you do this—it’s a low hop; not a high bounce.
  • Plant your forearms on a lower surface or the floor. Decreasing the angle of your body in relation to the floor with make it harder.

Incline Mountain Climbers

These are like doing high knees in a plank position. Start in your incline plank and squeeze your core in like you’re wearing a girdle (don’t let your low back sag or your butt stick up in the air). From this position, drive one knee at a time up towards your chest, like running horizontally. The pace on these should be quick, but the most important part is how far forward you’re crunching the knees (really pull the abs in to drive them up toward your chest!). Don’t sacrifice this for speed.

MAKE IT EASIER

  • Plant your forearms on a higher surface. Increasing the angle of your body in relation to the floor will make it easier.
  • Step instead of crunch. Instead of crunching one knee forward at a time in a hover, step one foot at a time lightly underneath your torso. It’s the same move, just making contact with the floor for support.

Beginner Plank Workout

MAKE IT HARDER

  • Plant your forearms on a lower surface or the floor. Decreasing the angle of your body in relation to the floor with make it harder. Note that if you’re on the ground, you’ll want to do this in a high plank (hands, not forearms) so that you have space to crunch the knee forward.

The “Why” Behind This Workout

Planks are a foundational exercise. There is no escaping the plank, so you might as well start working on it. Planks pop up everywhere—in burpees, in push ups, in yoga. They’re the basis for so many exercises!

A strong core makes for a strong body. As your core strength improves, you’ll notice that you’re better able to perform low body and upper body exercises with proper form. So much of our ability to balance and move with coordination comes from having a strong core—after all, it’s where all our limbs are attached! That being said …

Planks don’t just strengthen your abs. I Holy shoulder burn! I still find it to be true that sometimes during plank workouts, my shoulders fatigue faster than my abs. If you’re holding a plank correctly, your abs aren’t the only thing contracted: You’re engaging the shoulders, chest, legs, glutes, etc. to maintain the body alignment. 

Incline forearm planks won’t bother your wrists. I’ve suggested doing these in a forearm plank rather than a high plank (on your hands) because wrist pain is one of the most common things I encounter with beginner clients. I used to have the same issues, so know that there is hope—your wrists will strengthen and adapt to not bother you as much as you continue to regularly workout (this may not apply if you’re working with an injury). I don’t want anything to take away from the work your core is doing during this workout, so let’s just eliminate those pesky wrists from the equation. 🙂

Flexible interval structure allows you to track progress. When a workout allows room for growth, you can see your progress—a huge motivator! Challenge yourself to revisit this plank workout and gradually lengthen the interval time and reduce the angle of your incline.

Beginner Plank Workout

WEARING | leggings: Zara Terez c/o Bombas (<– the comfy socks I’m wearing!) // tank: H&M (old but similar HERE) // sports bra: (old but similar HERE) // sneakers: Nike

SHOT in a Breather room (Gloucester St. #2) — I always get lots of questions about where the decor is from and unfortunately have no clue (although I wish this was my apartment haha). You can get your first hour of Breather free with code PUMPIRON (they’re in NYC, Boston, San Fran, Montreal & Ottawa).

MORE RESOUCES FOR BEGINNERS: 

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