Quick Upper Body & Core Workout (Perfect to Pair with Running)

Upper Body & Core Workout (perfect for pairing with a long run!)This post was sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno. While I was compensated, all opinions—as always!—are my own.

1/26/15 UPDATE:  Hey guys! At the time I wrote this post, I had been testing out the sneaker for about a month and, as I mentioned, hadn’t had any trouble with my achilles tendonitis flaring up. Well DAMNIT it started to bother me again after several months of running with this shoe. People RAVE about Mizuno Wave Riders, so I still stand behind my positive review of this sneaker–I think the problem is more in my running form. As you can see in some of the pictures, I’m a heel-striker. A minimalist shoe helps force me onto my toes and I think that’s what relieves the tendonitis. This shoe is more cushioned, so for me personally, it enables my bad heel strike. I no longer run in this shoe, and have returned to a minimalist sneaker when I run (right now it’s the Nike Free +3). I gave these Mizunos to my non-heel-striker friend and she LOVES them. So again, the shoe isn’t bad–it’s just not the right fit for me. Wanted to update so that this review isn’t misleading!

I jumped at the opportunity to try out the Mizuno Wave Rider 18. Starting in college, I started having Achilles tendonitis flair-ups every time I went running—didn’t matter if it was 1 mile or 10 (LOL as if College Nicole would ever have run 10 miles…). For the most part, I just battled through it, but about two years ago, I switched over to a barefoot-feel running shoe and it was a total game changer. Haven’t had a single issue with tendonitis since. However, with that amazing improvement came another problem: my feet and knees started to hurt if I ran more than five or six miles. It was not quiiiiite enough support.

I’ve been wanting to try out a lightweight running shoe that offers some additional cushioning, and when I saw that the description of the Wave Rider 18 kept emphasizing this idea of “just enough” support, it struck home. After running consistently in them for a few weeks now, I’ve found that they really do have a great balance between lightweight flexibility and that cushioning shock-absorbent sole that I felt I was lacking. They’re so comfortable! But the big concern for me was that going back to a more supportive shoe would alter my foot strike and bring back tendonitis issues. Drum roll please…

So far, so good! Granted, I haven’t gone more than 5 miles at a time in the Wave Rider 18 yet, but no tendonitis flair-ups—yay! The Mizuno Wave Rider 18 retails at $119.99 and you can check it out HERE. I’m wearing it in Black/Silver/Florida Keys.

Mizuno Wave Runner 18

Since we’re on the topic of running, I wanted to share this quick workout that’s perfect for pairing with a long run. It’s all upper body and core work so those legs can save their energy for pounding the pavement (or trail or treadmill).

Upper Body & Core Workout

Equipment I Used:

You’ll do each exercise for 30 seconds before moving immediately on to the next (no breaks in between exercises). Once you’ve gone through the whole circuit, rest for 30-60 seconds. Repeat twice more for a total of 3 times through the exercises. I set my interval timer for 32 rounds of 30 seconds of work and 0 seconds of rest so that it would beep every 30 seconds, signaling me to move onto the next exercise (32 instead of 30 to account for two 30-second breaks).

Upper Body & Core Workout (perfect for pairing with a long run!)

  • Plank Triceps Kickbacks (RIGHT): Start in a plank position, left hand stacked directly under left shoulder, right hand holding onto a hand weight, elbow bent. Keeping your hips level as you do this (fight your body’s natural tendency to shift all the weight into your left side), extend your right hand straight back behind you, really squeezing the back of the arm (triceps) as you do. Hinging at the elbow, bring the weight slowly back to starting position.
  • Plank Triceps Kickbacks (LEFT)
  • Push Ups: You know the drill! If you need to modify, do these from your knees.
  • Russian Twists: Start seated, holding the weights in both hands at your chest, feet lifted off the ground with your knees bent. Lean back slightly, core engaged, balancing on your tailbone. Twist to one side, bringing the weights to the outer side of that hip; then repeat in the other direction. Really twist at the waist—you want your chest to be totally facing whatever side you’re bringing the weights.
  • Side Plank Row Extensions (RIGHT): Start in a side plank position, left hand stacked under left shoulder, dumbbell in right hand (start with a straight right arm, weight held a few inches off the ground. From here, row the right elbow straight up towards the ceiling and then straighten the elbow, lifting the weight up into the air. Make it two distinct movements: row, extend. Reverse the movement, bending the elbow and then straightening it downward to your starting position.
  • Side Plank Row Extensions (LEFT)
  • Seated Shoulder Press Ups: Imagine your forearms and elbows have magnets on them. Holding a weight in each hand, palms facing your face, hold your forearms in front of you, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Fight to hold the elbows as close to each other as you can throughout the whole movement. From here, you’re going to press your hands straight up, lifting the elbows, keeping forearms close together. Be careful not to shrug your shoulders up towards your ears as you do this. After pressing up as high as you can, slowly return back to starting. To engage the core, we’re going to do these in a seated position, legs out straight in front of you, posture straight and upright.
  • Serve the Platter in Plank (RIGHT): These are deceptively hard! Start in a plank position, left hand stacked directly under left shoulder, right hand holding onto a hand weight, palm facing up, elbow softly bent. From here, keeping your hips level (resist your body’s tendency to lean into that left side), reach that right hand forward, getting as close to a straight arm as you can. Slowly return to starting position.
  • Serve the Platter in Plank (LEFT)
  • Boat Pose with Serve the Platter: Start by getting into a boat pose position holding a weight in each hand. You’ll be balancing on your tailbone, leaning back slightly with a straight spine (squeeze those abs in tight!) with legs lifted off the ground. If you can, straighten the legs so that your body forms a V shape. To modify, keep your knees bent. From here, palms facing up, reach those weights up and out in front of you, extending the elbows. Slowly bring hands back to starting position, keeping legs lifted the whole time.

Upper Body & Core Workout (perfect for pairing with a long run!)WEARING | sneakers: c/o Mizuno // leggings: Nike // top: Lululemon

Next time you’re going on a long run (or short run) give this workout a try—it’s only 15 minutes long and is a great compliment to that lower-body cardio!


Panasonic #OpenYourEars Headphones Review (Plus a Playlist)

Panasonic Open Ear Headphones Review (plus a playlist)

This post was sponsored by Panasonic. I was compensated and given the product free of charge, but all opinions—as always!—are my own.

Lately I’ve gotten the chance to try out a lot of fitness-related technology and gadgets, and I’ve been loving it. In fact, I’m actually heading to NYC a little later today to attend a health and fitness demo event (more on that to come!). Most recently, I was given the opportunity to check out Panasonic’s Open Ear Headphones as part of their #OpenYourEars challenge. These headphones actually transmit sound through the cheek bones, leaving your ears open to hear surrounding noise (car horns, people calling your name, etc.).

Panasonic Open Ear Headphones Review (plus a playlist)

As shown in the above picture, the speaker part goes in front of your ear opening, and the headset then goes over your ears and connects behind your head. They’re comfortable, and I found they stayed put well during activity (I went for a run to test ‘em out). They’re sweat and water resistant, and have reflective strips for outdoor nighttime visibility/safety.

When Panasonic first reached out to me, I thought these were essentially mini speakers (i.e. everyone around you would also be able to hear your music). How else would you be able to hear the music if your ears aren’t covered, right? Wrong. Just like regular headphones or earbuds, only you can hear the music (unless of course you’re that annoying person on public transportation blasting your music at max volume). The sound vibrations go directly to the cochlea through the cheekbones, so you can hear the music without clogging your ear opening, and on songs with heavy bass, you can sorta feel the vibrations through your face—it’s pretty cool!

From a workout standpoint, I think these would be ideal for someone running/biking/etc. outdoors during quiet hours who is concerned about being able to hear surrounding noise for safety. I tested these out on a run around the city and along the Charles River and found that the noise from cars actually drowned out the music a bit, and even at max volume, the headphones couldn’t get my playlist quite as loud as I would have liked it (I do admittedly like loud music during workouts though).

I also think these are perfect for the work day—especially if you work in an office. I remember I always liked to listen to music through headphones in my cube, but then I could never hear when a coworker was trying to get my attention or ask me a question. These would have solved that! Listening to music without bothering anyone and still able to overhear workplace gossip: Win! ;)

Panasonic Open Ear Headphones Review (plus a playlist)

Since we’re talking about jammin’ out, I wanted to leave you with a playlist of mine. These aren’t necessarily workout songs (although, depending on what you like to listen to when you work out, you might find some in here), but these are the songs that are currently on repeat for me when I’m working at my computer, walking around running errands, getting ready in the morning, driving in the car, etc. Enjoy! 


What do you think–would try these headphones out? The Panasonic Open Ear Headphones retail at $79.99 and are available in multiple colors HERE. You can follow Panasonic at @PanaAdventure.


3 Hours of Workout Songs (You’re Welcome)

3 Hours of Workout MusicThe following post is sponsored by Jabra Sport Pulse™ Wireless. Opinions (and killer taste in music) are my own. ;)

I guess putting “You’re Welcome” in the title is a little presumptuous, but fingers crossed you like at least SOME of these songs.

I’ve always been into music, but especially now that I teach group fitness, I am constantly hunting for new songs and cool remixes of old favorites. I don’t like playing popular songs on the radio in my classes because they get old so quick—you can listen to them in your car, no need to hear them for the 400th time during your workout (sorry, Taylor Swift fans…). So for me, remixes are King. And when you’re trying to appeal to a varied demographic of people in a class, finding a new remix to an older song everyone knows = crowd-pleaser. For this reason, I’ve shifted away from using Spotify and have been relying more on SoundCloud and Hype Machine for my workout music.

As part of their Beat Your Impossible campaign, Jabra asked me to share a moment when I conquered a goal that seemed impossible. I’ve been lucky enough to not have had to overcome any major injuries or physical setbacks, so I instead wanted to emphasize the importance of all the little fitness triumphs—because it’s focusing on those day-to-day, smaller accomplishments that help you stay on track towards meeting bigger goals. A huge motivator for me to break through those mini-walls (getting through one additional rep or holding a pose for those few extra seconds) is music. You know those songs that come on during a run and without realizing it, you’re suddenly moving twice as fast as you were? Or when you feel the beat build during a spin class and suddenly the drop comes and without your instructor even telling you to, your body just wants to sprint? Music is my everything during workouts.

I always love seeing what other people are listening to (if it weren’t rude, I’d bring my iPhone into group fitness classes all the time just to Shazam the instructor’s music), so I wanted to share with you all some tunes that are currently powering my workouts. There’s almost three hours worth of music on this playlist, so hopefully you’ll discover at least one new song you love! In addition to scrolling through the below player, you can check them all out (and download most of them) over on SoundCloud.


The #BeatYourImpossible campaign is in conjunction with the release of Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless, which are an in-ear wireless music and heart-rate monitoring earbuds. There’s limited availability because they’re so new, and I haven’t tried them out, but I’m totally intrigued. As you might recall from a previous post, I recently got a traditional heart rate monitor (watch and chest strap/monitor) and love the feedback it can provide about your workouts. How crazy is technology that there are now earbuds that can do that?? Instead of a monitor around your torso sending info to a watch/computer, the earbuds send info to the Jabra Sport Life app, so you can see all your workout data on your smartphone. They retail for $199 and you can check ‘em out HERE.

Jabra Official Launch Post

Your turn—what are you currently jamming out to? What songs keep you motivated to #BeatYourImpossible? Leave a comment or get social with it! You can connect with Jabra on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to share your story or favorite jams.