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May Center

Scavenger (Fitness!) Hunt!

Why just search for things when you can work in a workout? May Center Athletics Director Katera Noviello shares a fun idea that starts with clues and ends with the need for a cool-down.

Write down 10 exercises and number of repetitions on strips of paper, and hide them around the house—under pillows, in the refrigerator, etc. Then write down 10 clues that will lead the hunters to those exercise notes (EXERCISE 1 CAN BE FOUND WHERE WE KEEP THE MILK!). Tuck each of the clues into a small snack bag, plastic egg, or such. Hide them in other places throughout your home, then gather your family at a “meeting point” to start the game. The meeting point should be in an area open enough to do the exercises together. Everyone disperses and hunts for the “clues.” When someone finds one, they run to find the exercise instruction, then shout it out (PUSH UPS!), and everyone runs back to the meeting point to complete the challenge together. Start a timer before you begin—30 minutes is perfect for this—so there is pace and some urgency in doing the exercises back-to-back, as you would during an actual workout.

Exercise suggestions:

(note: reduce the number of repetitions for younger children)

  • 25 walking lunges
  • 25 squats
  • 50 calf raises
  • 50 bicycle crunches
  • 20 push-ups
  • 30 second plank hold
  • 1-minute wall sit
  • 3-minutes pretend jump rope
  • 50 jumping jacks
  • 20 squat down/jump ups

Movement Add-On Drills!

We’ve got a focus on fitness for the whole family that adds interest and variety to basic workout drills, while keeping things fun. Here’s how to do it:

  • Choose to determine who in your family goes first, second, third, etc.
  • Person 1 chooses a skill to do 5 times (sit-ups?). Everyone does 5 repetitions.
  • Person 2 becomes the leader (person 1 goes to the back of the line), and adds a second skill (skier jumping jacks?). Everyone does 5 sit-ups and 5 skier jumping jacks.
  • Person 3 becomes the leader (person 2 goes to the back of the line), and adds a third skill, and so on, with new rounds adding in frog jumps, tuck jumps, regular jumping jacks, etc., while keeping each of the earlier activities going.

A Workout Drill that Really Cleans Up!

Why merely vacuum when you can work in some squats? Athletics Director Katera Noviello offers a terrific idea that adds a fitness boost (and fun!) to everyday chores, for everyone in the family. The idea is that a family member is getting an active workout at all times. Katera says that we shouldn’t think just about one big workout during the day, emphasizing the importance and benefits of small bouts of activity. (It’s also a great way to get kids to straighten up their room!).

Here’s how to do it:
  • Plan 30 minutes for the whole family to do chores.
  • Grab a water bottle to use as a baton.
  • Roll a die to determine an order for everyone’s fitness turn
  • Set a timer for intervals of 5 minutes.
  • Everyone works on their chore for the first 5 minutes.
  • Person 1 claims the water bottle (to hold or keep nearby) and starts doing 5 minutes of a chosen activity from the list below.
  • Everyone else keeps doing their chores.
  • When the timer rings, Person 1 passes the bottle to Person 2 for their activity break and resumes their own chore.
  • Continue doing chores and claiming fitness breaks until the 30 minutes is up (or extend for as long as you like!).
Activity ideas:
  • Boxer Shuffle
  • Jumping Rope (without a rope)—one heel kicks forwards at a time, alternating
  • Walking Lunges
  • Squats
  • Push-Ups against the wall (or full on the floor)
  • Walking Knee Raises (pull your knee up high and alternate, or high knee runs in place)
  • Hop-Scotch in place
  • Toe Touches (stretching is important too!)
  • Sit-ups
  • Side Shuffles
  • Jump Shot (pretend you’re shooting a basketball)
  • Hops (side to side, front to back)
  • Running forwards and backwards

Freeze Dance for Fitness

Our Director of Athletics, Katera Noviello, is such a fitness advocate, she’s even found a way to add workout benefits to the “freeze” part of your kids’ freeze dance! Here are her tips for maximizing your family dance party:

Turn on your favorite song, and dance! Stop the music at unexpected times, and have everyone hold their pose for 30 seconds or so until you start up the music again. Katera says that even just freezing emphasizes isometric muscle contraction, but she shares these ideas to amp things up when the music stops:

  • LUNGE HOLD (stand in a right lunge for 30 seconds, next time lunge to the left)
  • CALF RAISE (stand in place, but keep your stomach tight and your heels off the ground)
  • TUCK HOLD (get on your back on the floor, hold your heels and shoulders up off the ground in a tuck position for 30 seconds)
  • SUMO SQUAT HOLD (point your toes and knees outwards and lower into a deep squat—try it for 45 seconds!)

Have fun!


Roll the Dice for Fitness Fun

Indoor family exercise routine growing a little ho-hum? Our Director of Athletics, Katera Noviello, shares a terrific idea that adds the fun of game time to the family workout!

Break out the dice from a board game, and take turns rolling them to determine how many repetitions you'll do for each of these exercises:

  • Jumping jacks or skiing jumping jacks (arms and legs move forwards and backwards instead of side to side)
  • Sit-ups (or variations like oblique crunches)
  • Bunny hops (feet together, arms up tall)
  • Frog jumps (squat down, touch your hands to the floor, and jump up high)
  • Push-ups on your knees, wall push-ups, or full push-ups
  • Leg lifts (lay on your back and lift your legs straight up and down)
  • Running in place (if you roll a 5, make your time 50 seconds, and so on)

Everyone should get a few turns rolling the dice. Roll a double? You choose the next exercise!


Start a New Week by Going (Leafy) Green

Being thrown off our regular routines can quickly affect our diets - often for the worse. Our May Center for Health & Fitness Director of Gymnastic Teams Shay Grogan (she's also a certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition) wants to help you get you off on the right foot. Here are her tips:

  • Try to incorporate leafy greens into most of your meals in some way every day. Kale, spinach, chard, collard greens—the darker the better. They are terrific sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, folate, calcium, potassium and more.
  • Fresh is best, but since we’re not going out to markets as often, stock up on frozen greens. Frozen kale and spinach can be incorporated into pasta dishes, omelets, even smoothies.
  • Can'’t get that lunch salad you love? Make your own! Use any leafy greens—kale, spinach, arugula, mesclun—as a base, and add whatever healthful foods you like (a protein like salmon or chicken or boiled eggs or beans, plus veggies, nuts and seeds). Dress lightly.
  • Lastly, when making leafy greens part of your meal (if they're a separate dish), try to eat them first—you’ll feel full faster!

Workout Wednesdays: Functional Fusion, Cardio & Core Workout

Beginner, intermediate and advanced levels
Led by Cathy G.

The FFCC Workout is a unique combination of functional exercises, using the upper body, lower body and core simultaneously in each one. These exercises have many perks—and you want them all! Flat abs, toned arms, and a tight tush, plus a burst of endorphin-fueled energy and a calmer, less-stressed mind.

By coupling these exercises and moving from one functional exercise to the other rather quickly, "virtually no down time", we keep the heart rate up and the calorie burn high. We speed up the metabolism by using weights, building muscles and core strength and improving balance. The last 10 minutes of the workout is filled with Pilates and yoga strengthening and lengthening movements. We end with a relaxing 5 minute yoga stretch.

No equipment is necessary—the whole workout can be done without weights, but here are some recommendations if you do have equipment available:

  • Medium and/or heavier dumbbells or 2 smaller water bottles and 2 larger water bottles (canned goods work, too)
  • Elasta bands
  • Workout mat or towel to lean on toward the end of the workout
  • Sneakers are suggested, but you can also complete this workout barefoot

You may want to watch this introductory video, as an example of this type of class.


Sports Skill-Building Activities to Do at Home!

Our 92Y May Center for Health and Fitness Athletics Director Katera Noviello shares kid-friendly exercises to keep the whole family moving.

The foundation of being a strong athlete is found in the conditioning and skill-building that can be practiced anywhere. Try out some of these at-home sports skill-building tips with your family and circle back to them regularly to see progress and to maintain a healthy heart and mind.

BALANCING ACT

Practicing balancing and isometric skills is a safe way to increase strength and stability at home. Start off with the following basics and be sure to practice at least three sets to see real improvement!

  • Balance on each foot (make it fun by doing arm circles while you balance). Try to balance on each foot for 30 second, 3 times each.
  • Push-up position: Hold for 30 second, 3 times
  • Bicep curl hold with light weights (or cans of soup!): Hold the position at 90 degrees for 3 sets of 20 seconds (or more!)
  • Wall sit (with back flat against the wall, feet flat, knees at 90 degrees): Hold for 30 seconds, 3 times
BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES
  • Skiier jumping jacks: Try sets of 20, 30, 40 or 50, depending on your fitness level
  • Crab walk: Make sure you have a safe zone with no stairs or objects nearby. Do 3 sets of crab walks to one side of the room and back to your starting point.
  • Frog jump: Squat position with hands touching the floor, then practice standing or bouncing up and reach the arms up high! Do 3 sets of 10 jumps.
  • Straight leg lifts: Do 3 sets of 10 lifts on each leg.

When your child is back in their sports class or team, they won't have missed a beat!


A Stress-Reducing Breathing Technique to Do at Home

May Center yoga and group exercise instructor Evelyn Pate shares a simple but amazing breathing technique to lower stress and bring a sense of calm.

BELLY BREATHS

For the moment, hit the “Do Not Disturb” button on your phone, or silence it and turn it over so not to be distracted by incoming messages.

1. Sit up straight, wherever you are.
Notice your feet on the ground. Where the back body is making contact with the piece of furniture you’re sitting on.
2. Take a deep breath in—and a long and complete exhale out.
3. Do that inhale and exhale 3 times.
4. Next, place one hand over your belly (near your bellybutton). See that both elbows and shoulders are comfortable here.
5. Now, noticing where your hand is near your belly, take a longer breath down to meet your hand—and a long, complete exhale out.
6. Do this 3 times.

If the inhale or exhale feels forced in any way, shorten the duration of the breath, perhaps aiming for 3 seconds in and 3 seconds out: 3:3 evenly.
* If you’re feeling agitated and excitable, aim for a longer exhale, for example, 3:4.
* If you’re feeling lethargic and in need of a little boost, aim to increase the length of the inhale, for example, 4:3.
To start, try the "even" breath in, 3 in, 3 out.

7. Try this breath-work practice for 3 rounds, once getting past the instructions.

If you’d like to extend it longer:
8. After a while, let go of the practice and simply observe your breath.
9. Set your attention to the end points of the breath—the end of the inhale as it comes in, the end of the exhale as it goes out.
10. There’s a turning point between the breath, let your attention linger in the space in between (where neither one breath is the other).
This space is always present. Allow yourself to linger here. Set a timer—it could be for 1 minute, 5 or 10— whatever your comfort level and the time you have available to stay in this breathing state. Even just a few moments is beneficial.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this.
Look at a breathing practice as a way to re-calibrate yourself to the moment, just as you would your phone’s GPS when you need to know which direction you’re heading.

Your breath acts like your Inner GPS.
Tether yourself to it in uncertain moments and come back to your center—the space in between your breaths, and those long inhales and exhales.

May we all stay connected and full of peace,
Evelyn

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Please note that all 92Y regularly scheduled in-person programs are suspended.