Now that we’re clear of the final summer hurdle – the three day Labor Day Weekend – many of you feel it’s time to buckle down and really work hard on leaning up your body composition, especially before the high-caloric holidays hit us between November and December. So today I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite ways to torture my clients (probably how I got the name “Priestess of Pain”) – the Playing Card Workout.
This workout is so versatile and customizable it can be used with kids or adults, at a gym, or at home with as little as resistance bands and/or just body weight exercises. You can also decide whether you’re going to “play” this workout for as little as 10-minutes, up to 30 or 60-minutes, it’s your choice.
The concept is simple: you assign a type and quantity of exercise to each of the cards Ace Through King (1-13) in a deck of playing cards. Then you shuffle them up, and take one card at a time, perform the exercise designated for that number (or face card), and then go back and pick another. I change up my exercises regularly but here’s one I’ve used on beginning fitness clients who have just some basic gear. Remember it doesn’t matter the suit, just the number of the card:
- Ace (1) 10 Burpees
- Two 25 Jumping Jacks
- Three 15 Push-ups
- Four 10 Single Leg Touch Downs (each)
- Five 25 Biceps Curls (dumbbells or resistance bands)
- Six 30 Crunches
- Seven 10 Incline Push Ups (against a bench or chair)
- Eight 50 Air squats
- Nine 3 30-second planks
- Ten 15 Triceps dips (using bench, chair or counter)
- Jack (11) 30 Mountain Climbers
- Queen (12) 20 Crab Walks
- King (13) 15 Shoulder presses (dumbbells or resistance bands)
It doesn’t matter if you turn over the same numbered card numerous times (i.e., you turn over two 6’s in a row – you’ll be doing 60 crunches). Keep the pace fast if you’re only working out for a short period (10-20 mins). For longer (30-60 mins), every 10-minutes take a 2 minute break for water and to slow your heart rate down.
There’s an even simpler option, assign only 4 exercises, one for each suit, and then perform that exercise for the amount of times of the numbered card you pick (i.e., Clubs = Push ups, a 5 of clubs is 5 push ups). But either way, you’ll achieve great results and it’s hard to plateau with this workout.
This workout routine will keep boredom at bay as it stimulates your brain and challenges your body, and it has effective cardio with simultaneous muscle fatigue all built in to one fun routine. I challenge you to try it with your whole family, and encourage the kids to assign the exercises. For those of you who are excited that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back at Starbucks for the season, you’ll need to work of those calories for sure, and this is a quick easy way to do it. Cheers and good luck!
Once in a while I’ve seen or heard of surprise random acts of kindness like someone in the car-line at Starbucks paying for the next customer’s coffee. Usually their intentions are to create a spirit of infectious pay-it-forwardness. Unfortunately these generous and genuine “gifts” happen with regular seldomness as we continue to be an inherently self-focused society.
As this has been weighing on my mind, the other day at the gym I decided to act spontaneously and complimented a woman who was working clearly very hard at her goal of losing body fat and through all the pain and sweat still looked radiant. I told her “I just wanted to tell you that you look radiant and keep up the good work.” Her first response was one of suspicious caution, so I quickly added “I don’t think any of us give or receive enough compliments lately.” At that, she graced me with a huge smile and said “you’re right. Thank you, I’ll have to pay that sentiment forward.”
There’s no denying that it felt good and I resolved to not only offer more unsolicited complements but to issue a challenge to my friends, clients and blog followers.
Buying a stranger coffee, or helping them out when they’re short at the checkout counter is great, but more than money, we need to lift each other’s spirits more. There’s a lot of negativity out there, and a lot of hectic life being rushed through without stopping to smell the roses or, more aptly in this case, appreciating each other.
Rather than wait for a situational catastrophe (whether personal or global), let’s show our compassionate, giving sides when there’s no reason to do so other than to brighten someone else’s day, and in turn brighten our own.
So here’s the challenge: A weekly random act of kind words.
Once a week offer a tactful, graceful, and sincere compliment to a stranger. While you could certainly perform this act daily, I felt that it carries more impact upon your week if you do not over-use the gift, so it remains special. (Of course if it is to a person of the opposite sex, that’s why I caution to be tactful and sincere – this is not an invitation to hit on someone and come off creepy.)
Let’s do this together for eight weeks (two months) and see what kind of results return our way. Like a pebble dropping into a lake, I suspect the ripples will be profound and wide reaching.
I welcome your comments either here in the response area of my blog, or on my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/danelifefitness).
I am very frustrated of late with the perspective most of our society has about children’s nutrition. It’s as if we are clueless as to what we put in their bodies, yet so many Mom’s micro-manage their own calories and food quality.
Restaurants routinely offer soda or lemonade as a drink included with the cost of the child’s meal. I see kids being served a large glass of Sprite at dinnertime as the parents are under the misunderstanding that clear soda is better for their kids than Cola (dark soda). Sugar is sugar and both contain as much as 17 spoonfuls — and in the case of Mountain Dew, there’s still caffeine even in a clear soda.
The other day at my daughter’s school awards ceremony (in the morning mind you) they offered chocolate chip cookies and lemonade as treats. My response of “sugar and sugar?” was met with offensive glares. I said I would have gladly paid for the purchase of water, but that fell on deaf ears. These are probably the parents who bought the concept Nutella tried to sell us that the chocolate spread was healthy for breakfast because it had nuts and milk in it.
My best friend recently informed me that Los Angeles Unified School District (the most screwed up school district ever) has made it mandatory that children have breakfast in their cafeterias during first period, noting that many households haven’t the money for food. As great as that sounds, they’re only offering the likes of processed and shrink wrapped pastries (sugar, fats and unhealthy carbs) or pizza rolls (sugar, fats and unhealthy carbs). Network television routinely touts statistics of our increasing percentage of childhood obesity then they cut to a McDonalds’ or Coke commercial. It’s all so frustrating!
Then there are the thousands of parents who claim there’s no time or money to make food at home and eat healthy. Well to those nay-sayers, I say: being short on time is no excuse for feeding your child (or yourself) a crappy processed-foods breakfast, or no breakfast at all! It’s, as always, a matter of priorities. 15 minutes the night before or in the morning to make and eat a healthy breakfast is doable for everyone! With proper planning and routines set into place time and money does not have to increase (see last week’s blog “Healthy Nutrition Made Easy).
Calculate what you spend on gasoline driving to and sitting in the car-line at McDonalds’ or Starbucks, along with the cost of the food. Then take that money, and buy a dozen eggs, a package of whole wheat tortillas, some deli turkey and a bag of pre-washed organic spinach. The cost will actually be less, the food can be cooked ahead of time, and in the morning heat up a healthy egg burrito for all of you. Soda and fruit juices should be saved for “treats.” Water is essential to everyone’s health and it’s cheaper (if not free).
A school mate said to my daughter one day “hey how come your Mom doesn’t give you Lunchables (as he ate his Oscar Mayer Lunchables)?” She looked at what he was eating and said “I have the same thing only better.” She had low-sodium organic turkey meat, all-natural sliced white cheddar (no orange dye), sea-salt rice crackers, grapes, carrots, cucumbers, a dollop of humus, and one Hershey’s kiss. Compare that to salami, dyed cheese (known to cause headaches and allergies), Ritz crackers (made with HFCS & sugar), no veggies, no fruit, and two Oreos — a usual Lunchables. Compare the cost too! I can feed her my homemade lunchables all week the cost of 1-2 pre-packaged Lunchables filled with stuff I wouldn’t eat, and I suspect neither would you.
Clearly I’m on a soap box today, but this really gets under my skin. No matter the age or school level, all kids need to eat six (6) small meals all day long, and get off their bums at regular intervals to move, stretch and expel energy. Only if parents commit to making this a lifestyle for their entire family, will we end the rampant obesity besieging our Nation.