10 Exercises You Can Do with a Desk Chair

This post is sponsored by Wonderful Pistachios. All opinions—as always!—are my own. I appreciate your support of the brands that make this blog possible. 🙂

When it comes to staying healthy at work, I realize I have an advantage. In many ways, being healthy is my work. Teaching group fitness keeps me active, and when I’m not doing that I have the flexibility to work from home (or anywhere) and schedule my own workouts whenever is best that day.

The irony of being in the fitness industry, however, is that as you spend more and more time helping others get their workouts in, you have less and less time for your own. There was a time when I was teaching way too many classes a week and I found myself exhausted and completely run down. Now I know my teaching limit and stick to it, but back then I’d find myself without the energy to do my own workouts. And the more tired I became, the more I craved sugar and caffeine. I had overextended myself and was becoming less fit.

Another challenge for me that comes with working from home is the snacking. My desk is five steps from my kitchen and my go-to method of procrastination has always been eating (I go HAM on the snacks when I have a blogging deadline haha). My refrigerator and pantry are full of healthy foods so it’s not that what I’m snacking on is a big deal, it’s just the amount. If I have a family-size bag of trail mix in front of me, for example, I’ll absentmindedly eat the whole thing by the handful while answering emails. Oopsies.

For this reason, when I have a heavy work load, I’m all about keeping snacks around that aren’t as easy to eat mindlessly. It sounds silly, but if I have to work a little harder for it, it slows me down and forces me to really focus and enjoy the food. Oranges (pause and peel), cherries (spit out the pits), and pistachios (crack open each shell) are among my favorites.

Wonderful Pistachios, The Mindful Nut, are one of the highest-protein, highest-fiber nuts around. They’re also one of the lowest-fat and lowest-calorie nuts (which is why they also call it The Fit Nut),, making them a great alternative to snacks high in added sugars and saturated fat (almost 90% of the fat found in pistachios is unsaturated). I love the shelled packs so I don’t rush through my snack, but they also come in a no-shells variety which is great if you want to use them as a salad topper without having to remove shells.

Wonderful Pistachios has a giveaway and coupon for you guys (scroll down), but before I get to that, I thought it’d be fun to share some exercises you can do with a desk chair—in case snacking healthy at work isn’t enough for you. 😉

10 Exercises You Can Do with a Desk Chair

You don’t necessarily have to do these at your desk (if you have cube mates that might elicit a few stares), but these are a few of my favorite exercises using a chair.

Try picking five of the above exercises and performing them in a circuit: 45 seconds of work / 15 seconds of rest. Complete the circuit two – four times for a quick office (or at-home!) workout.

#WorkSmartSnackSmart Giveaway

Wonderful Pistachios wants to see how you Snack Smarter at work. All you have to do to enter is post a photo on Instagram of your healthy workspace and include the hashtags #WorkSmartSnackSmart and #WPGiveaway and tag @GetCrackin.

Ten randomly selected winners will get a case of No Shells Roasted & Salted Wonderful Pistachios Shelled, Roasted and Salted and a case of the Roasted & Salted Wonderful Pistachios Multipack, Roasted and Salted. One grand prize winner will get an office refresh complete with Wonderful Pistachios and other Wonderful products for a full year and a custom Wonderful Pistachios branded refrigerator. Full contest terms here.

If you don’t win, you can still save with the discount code 20SNCKSMRT9. That will get you 20% off either 32oz Roasted Salted Wonderful Pistachios or 6oz shelled Wonderful Pistachios through 7/28. Promo code valid while supplies last.

What’s your favorite workday snack?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wonderful Pistachios. The opinions and text are all mine.

3 Common Form Mistakes in Tabletop Exercises (+Workout Roundup)

Common Form Errors in Tabletop Exercises - tips for correcting them and workout roundup to put them to use!

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Joe had a nasty flu from Wednesday through the weekend so I’ve been on nurse duty the past few days. You have no idea how happy I am to see him go back to work feeling better. I was about to lose my mind loved taking care of him, but it’s good to see an end to the loud whimpering and overreacting pain.

I kid, I kid. But seriously this man cold vs. mom cold video sums up my weekend.

ANYWAY. As you guys know, I’ve been teaching megaformer classes for about three years now, and a bunch of the exercises done on the machine are based in a tabletop position. So at this point in my teaching career, I have seen just about every possible way to do tabletop exercises incorrectly–you’d be surprised how creative people can get! 😉

I thought it’d be helpful to go over the three most common form errors I see with tabletop exercises as it applies on and off the megaformer. You can watch in video form or keep reading for pictures and text.

Three Common Form Errors in Tabletop Exercises

Now if we’re talking yoga or dance, the following three “errors” might not be wrong at all. In fact, they feel pretty delicious when done as part of a yoga stretch. There may even be some exercises in which you should have uneven hips. Listen to your fitness instructor or trainer for guidance first and foremost; the following apply generally.

Arching the Back

Common Form Errors in Tabletop Exercises - tips for correcting them and workout roundup to put them to use!

Often we’re so focused on the glutes (or whatever the target muscle group is) that we forget about our core. Other times, we find that if we arch the back, we can get the leg up a little higher. But it’s important to note that a bigger range of motion isn’t always better. Make sure you’re engaging your abs throughout the tabletop exercise. Don’t counter an upward motion of the leg with a downward arch of the low back.

Leaning over to the Supporting Side

Common Form Errors in Tabletop Exercises - tips for correcting them and workout roundup to put them to use!

Ok not my most flattering angle, but this is really the best way to demonstrate the form error–and trust me, I tried every alternative praying they’d be better (LOL). Anyway, this issue pops up mostly with lateral exercises like fire hydrants and will be exaggerated the tighter you are through the hips. When lifting the leg laterally in a tabletop position, you want to keep the supporting hip stacked directly over the supporting knee; don’t lean over to the side. You’ll most likely find you can’t get your moving leg up as high if you do this–that’s OK!

Uneven Hips

Common Form Errors in Tabletop Exercises - tips for correcting them and workout roundup to put them to use!I see this one most frequently if there’s an ankle weight or other resistance (bungee cord, etc.) on the moving leg/foot. You want to keep both hip bones the same distance from the floor (again, in most tabletop exercises, not all). Try not to roll the target hip open or let it drop down to the floor. Keeping your core and the supporting side glutes engaged will help with this.

Common Form Errors in Tabletop Exercises - tips for correcting them and workout roundup to put them to use!

WEARING | Lululemon tank c/o thredUP (old) // New Balance leggings c/o NB (also love these alo yoga moto leggings in a similar blue) // adidas neo sneakers (sold out in white but the gray is cute!)

So now that you’re a pro when it comes to tabletop exercises, give one of the following workouts a try (only the first one has a video to go along with it). Looking at the older ones, I was actually guilty of a these form errors myself. Kinda cool to see how far I’ve come!

Tabletop Workouts

Let me know if you have any questions, and as always, I’d love for fellow instructors and trainers to chime in with additional form tips!

Also, over the next couple weeks, I’ll be including three holiday gift ideas at the bottom of posts so be sure to scroll down each day if you’re looking for some shopping inspiration. 🙂

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Three Holiday Gift Ideas

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Correcting My Own Form: 4 Common Exercise Mistakes

lunge-hop-correct-form

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.” 🙂