Relax and Recharge, Basic Total Gym Exercises for Holiday Stress Management:
The holidays are here and as we all know this can mean additional stress outside of our regular routines. The list of added tasks can have such things as hang holiday decorations, book airline travel, plan family gatherings, and attending holiday parties where you socialize, eat and drink. I’m starting to feel anxiety just writing this list. But have no fear, your Total Gym is here!
Let’s take a few minutes to set aside holiday worries and perform some simple exercises on the Total Gym. As you perform these total body exercises I would like all of you to think about one thing you are truly thankful for this holiday season. Please keep this thought in your mind as you follow this routine, breathing slowly and deeply during the exercises. Silence your cell phone, step away from the computer, and take these next few minutes to de-stress and let the endorphins flow.
- Basic Roll Ups and the Sit and Reach
We need a nice relaxing warm-up to temporarily forget about all the items on the holiday to-do list. Begin by sitting on your glideboard, feet placed on the bottom cross rails or squat stand and slowly lie back down with your neck relaxed on the glideboard. Place your arms overhead, palms faced in, and in a steady continuous movement reach up towards the ceiling and slowly hinge forward at your waist towards your feet trying not to hunch your back. Once you touch your feet, ankles, or shins, slowly begin to roll back down on the glideboard one vertebrae at a time. You should feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings and your lower back as you roll up and back down the glideboard.
Next, you will step off the glideboard for the sit and reach. During this exercise squat with both legs at the same time as you reach up to the top left side of the room with your right hand continuing to squat as you alternate and reach up with your right hand to the left corner of the room. After you have completed two sets of ten reps for each exercise you will be ready for the next stress buster move.
- Squats with Fun Plyometric Jumps
I always like to begin my Total Gym routines by working the largest muscle groups. This means starting with legs and performing standard squats with some fun plyometric jumps. Making sure your back is relaxed on the glideboard and your hands can wrap around the bottom of it, place your feet towards the top of the squat stand shoulder width apart and begin with standard squats. We need to get those endorphins flowing. Next, we will release our left foot off the squat stand while keeping our right foot still on in it. I call this the side to side because you will release one foot to each side of the squat stand as you alternate your feet side to side each time. After a few reps, aim for a little more of a challenge by continuing to breathe deeply and release both feet from the squat stand at the same time as you reach towards the tower and raise your arms up just like you are blocking a volley ball at the net. Perform two sets of ten for each of one these plyometric moves.
- Surfer Lat Pull with Tricep Kickback
The surfer lat pull is a great exercise for holiday stress relief as you can visualize yourself on a surfboard, paddling in the ocean while you’re at your favorite vacation spot. Start by grasping the handles to pull the glide board up the rails. Facing the tower, straddle the rails, and stabilize with your knuckles near the top of the glideboard as you proceed to kneel down on it behind the anchored handles. Placing tension in the cables, sit back on your heels and reach the arms forward as you look down at the glide board just like you are on a surfboard pushing the water back with your hands by your sides. Next sit back down on the glideboard for the tricep kickback by grasping both handles and pulling the elbows into the sides of the torso. Keeping your elbows stationary, press down on the handles until the arms are fully extended next to the thighs as you continue to breathe deeply. Perform one set of ten surfer lat pulls followed by a set of ten tricep kickbacks and you will definitely feel those muscles working.
- Chest Press with Movement Variations:
Last we will channel our inner Chuck Norris and finish with the chest press. Grasp the handles facing away from the tower, straddle the rails, and sit towards the top edge of the glideboard. Position the handles next to the rib cage with the cloth part of the handle under your wrists. Sitting tall with tension in the cables, position your legs on the glide board in either a slightly bent position in front of you or in a criss cross if that is more comfortable. Looking straight ahead press both the handles forward at chest height. Maintain a stable trunk as the hands continue to alternate back to the starting position. To increase the challenge try the static equilibrium movement by continuing to press the handles forward in quicker bursts of motion as you alternate sides continuously. Remember, don’t forget to breathe!
Ways to cope with stress beyond exercise during of the holidays
During the holiday season, I’m often asked what are some other ways to handle stress outside of exercise. My first recommendation is to take five minutes (away from your cell phone and computer) and write down five things you are truly appreciative for in your life. Keep this list with you at all times and if you start to feel holiday anxiety stop and look at this list to remember what is truly most important to you. I recommend keeping this list handy (handwritten, not on a cell phone) not only during the holiday season, but year round.
Don’t forget to take a few quiet moments for yourself this holiday season. Whether it means performing this quick routine on your Total Gym, stepping outside for a nice walk/jog, or just sitting still thinking about the people you are most grateful to have in your life. Do you have a favorite stress buster that works for you during the holidays? Send us a photo or email us a description, we would love to hear from you.
Wishing you a Happy New Year,