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Fit in 5: Best 5 Stability Ball Exercises

Pamela Hernandez owns Thrive Personal Fitness in Springfield, MO where she focuses on weight training for weight loss. She writes a blog for her web site, www.thrivepersonalfitness.com, sharing vegetarian recipes from her kitchen, exercise strategies, lifestyle tips and stories from her own journey. You can also follow Pamela on Twitter @ThriveFit or pick up more tips on Facebook, www.facebook.com/thrivepersonalfitness.

Want to know my favorite piece of exercise equipment? I’ll give you a few hints.

It’s bouncy.
It’s round.
It’s filled with air.

You guessed it-the stability ball!

Sometimes called a fitness ball or a Swiss ball, a stability ball is an extremely versatile and inexpensive piece of exercise equipment. It can allow you to do a variety of exercises by subbing for a weight bench, by keeping you off the ground and your back if that causes you discomfort or by adding a new challenge to an old exercise by engaging more core and stabilizer muscles.

Most people are actually intimidated by the stability ball. That comes from not knowing what to do with it or seeing people doing really dumb things with it on YouTube. But most stability ball exercises are easy to learn. If you workout at home and your budget is limited, the stability ball should be the first piece of equipment you purchase. You will be able to get a great workout with just your own body and the ball. Add a pair of dumbbells and the possibilities are endless.


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What Not to Eat Before a Workout

Exercise isn’t always pretty. While it can make you look and feel like a million bucks, healthy eating and intense exercise can bring about side effects that are less than comfortable and less than glamorous. If you are an avid runner, you may be familiar with digestional cramping brought on by exercise. Gas, bloating and cramping can be made worse by what you eat before you set out for your workout. What you eat can also effect your energy, the effectiveness of your workout and the, ahem, air quality for fellow gym go-ers.

Here are 6 foods that, while mostly healthy, should not be eaten before exercise for a more comfortable workout.

Hummus- Beans and bean based foods like hummus can create a lot of gas and bloating in your system. While beans, beans, they’re good for the heart, avoid clearing out the cardio room 10 minutes into your treadmill session by saving them for later.

Green bananas and raw veggies- As long as you are ditching the healthy hummus dip, avoid the raw veggies you eat with it as the 1-2 gas punch to your gut will leave you doubled over in pain. Raw veggies and under ripe fruit, like green bananas, up the gas factor in your stomach. While cooked veggies can still make you a little gassy and should be saved for after exercise, ripe bananas make a great pre-workout snack. Green bananas are tough to digest, but ripe, soft bananas are perfect.


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Get a Better Booty Without Surgery

Blame it on Kim Kardashian, although I would like to think people are actually realizing that a high, tight butt is the ultimate sign of a fit, healthy person, but butt enhancement surgeries have claimed the top spot as 2011′s top cosmetic procedure.

Big butts have long been praised by men as a sexy asset, while women have strived for tiny, tight rear ends for years. Now, it seems women are starting to get the message that big butts are in, and are willing to go under the knife to get one. There are two types of big rears, however: the dimply, flat and wide butt that comes with a sedentary lifestyle and high BMI and the round, pert rear that looks awesome in your favorite pair of yoga pants. While surgery may get you the latter by injecting fat into strategic areas, the only way to get a butt you can be proud of is to put in the work.

The glutes are terribly, horribly, outrageously overlooked in most people’s fitness routines. Many think that your butt is the shape it is meant to be, and you just have to deal with it. Not so. Your glutes are completely under your control, and if you want a firm, tight butt, with no crease below your buns and upper thigh, you gotta work for it, and cardio isn’t going to do jack to get any results.

By putting in just a little effort and focusing on the muscles that give you a more shapely backside, you will be shocked how quickly you see your butt lift and round out. While traditional squats and lunges will hit them a bit, really focus on the glutes with these easy to do exercises you can perform anywhere.


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Give Pole Dancing Fitness Classes a Whirl

Lisa Johnson is a fitness blogger at LisaJohnsonFitness.com. She has been teaching Pilates since 1998 and owns Modern Pilates in Brookline, MA. She can frequently be found on Twitter @LisaJohnson.

I’m standing between an adorable blonde wearing red, sparkly boy shorts and a lanky brunette with a gorgeous, flowing ponytail and a tank top that says “Survivor.” I’m feeling the very awkward duckling.

I grab the tall, shiny pole with my hand and yank my t-shirt sleeve up over my shoulder so I can show more skin. This isn’t to be sexy; skin is stickier than cotton and it will help me to stay up longer. I take two big steps, my other hand grabs the pole, feet go in the air, and I whiz around once, twice, and then land my two feet almost gracefully. Success! I give out a little squeal because I finally did it on the tenth try.

“Good,” smiles Star, my instructor/torturer, as she nods approvingly. “Next time, step bigger.”

I’m bruised, I’m sweaty, my hands hurt from gripping the pole so hard, and I know my shoulders and legs are going to feel it tomorrow. And I’m only halfway through my first Pole Fitness class not sure I’m going to make it.


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Hula Hoop to Trim Inches From Your Waist and Arms

Lisa Johnson is a fitness blogger at LisaJohnsonFitness.com. She has been teaching Pilates since 1998 and owns Modern Pilates in Brookline, MA. She can frequently be found on Twitter @LisaJohnson.

I love hooping! Yes, the hula hoop, that simple, round, plastic circle, has come a long way from whizzing around your waistline. It’s now a fitness tool to be reckoned with, sculpting abs, of course, but also toning arms and legs.

A good hooping session will burn over seven calories a minute, the same as a boot camp class and, in my opinion, a whole lot more fun!

Don’t think of the hula hoop as a toy for kids. Now hoops come in different sizes and weights and can be used for different training regimens. Heavier hoops are good for a quick workout to tone the abs. The lighter hoops are more fun and are meant to be used for a series of movements both on the body (whizzing around your legs or torso) and off the body (in your hands or on your arms).

Hooping is so much fun you don’t even notice the minutes flying by or the sweat soaking into your t-shirt. It’s great cardio that you can do indoors or out, although outside is more fun because you’ll have more space to move.


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