If I had a dollar for every time I’ve gone into a new year and mentally started a workout bet with myself, I’d have enough to pay for a personal trainer. For. The. Rest. Of. My. Life. On the flip side, once I start working out regularly, my body tells my brain how happy the activity is making me…so why is committing to a workout/sticking with a health-focused New Year’s resolution so hard? Working out is one of those things that we all have the best intentions for, but have the hardest time following through with (#newyearsresolutions, right?). If you have been following along on the blog, you know that a few years back, the entire EHD crew participated in a workout bet, because apparently none of us can commit to working out unless it involves the thought of winning money in the end. Bribery at its finest! All kidding aside, group activities and mutual peer-to-peer support is something that we all thrive under. As someone who loves being around people while doing just about everything—working out with people who are also working out and pushing me is the ultimate motivation. So I thought for the new year it would be fun to kick off one of our first posts with some new years resolutions dedicated to health and working out – one thing that I did a lot more of this last year, and loved.
It’s a well-known fact that the EHD crew loves to participate in things together—case in point, that time I hosted everyone in my backyard for an EHD spa day, or when we went up to Malibu for an EHD day out of the office. During that field trip, we were reminded during our sound bath that our bodies are about 60% water (that water contributes to so much of our body’s function: joint lubrication, aids in digestion, helps to deliver oxygen, and so much more). That sound bath jiggled all my water in such a nice way and apparently my brain as well, as it got me thinking if our bodies are 60% water, then it should be VERY important where that water comes from and the quality of it. Right? You wouldn’t put regular unleaded gas into a Bentley—it would not be good for the engine, so you better believe my Rolls Royce body (and engine) demands only the highest quality water.
I’ve discussed my love for my fresh-tasting Culligan Water that comes directly from our faucets before, and have partnered with Culligan this past year to create this content, but it wasn’t until that euphoric sound bath that it hit me how important it is to know where our water comes from, how that water is filtered, and how much of it we consume every day. The whole home Culligan Water System is what we have, and is installed at the source of all the water our family gets at home. It was installed in our garage and it’s not huge—about half the size of old hot water tanks. The system softens all the water which is then distributed to our house.
Without getting too deep into the water softening and filtration lingo, water softener systems are designed to remove high concentrations of minerals in hard water that can leave deposits on dishes and plumbing fixtures, while water filtration systems are designed to reduce certain contaminants and foul odors that might be in your drinking water. So although filtered water is great and delicious and something your family should enjoy the benefits of, soft water goes beyond just what you drink every day and is easier on your plumbing, appliances, fixtures and just about anything else that water touches in your house (even sensitive skin). I talked about why I love it for my faucets and home in this post, but today it’s all about the delicious water I get to drink pre- and post-workout without contributing to an ever-growing landfill with one-time-use “disposable” water bottles. If you’ve given yourself the intention to drink more water/workout more/have a better relationship in general with health-focused goals, keep reading.
Recently, I’ve been storying about how happy a little bit of endorphin-boosting running has made me in the mornings, so we decided that it was time to pull together an EHD workout post. We’re not a fitness blog by any means, so this blog post is not one where we all go to a fancy club and work out together but one where we really dissect what all of us are wanting to work on and then employ a professional to guide us through easy to do exercises that we can do to achieve our goals in a totally manageable way. Group fitness, professional trainer, a little effort and hopefully a big return? Count me in (as well as the EHD crew). I know that for me, it’s all about setting manageable goals so I can actually follow through with them. Committing to a run every day for at least 20 minutes. Totally doable. Adding on a quick 5-minute pre- and post-run workout? Even more doable. So we decided to do that with every person here at EHD.
Everyone here has totally different goals when it comes to working out, as I’m sure is the case with all you readers, so we figured with nine totally different bodies, goals and personalities, we might be able to throw a bunch of darts at that workout pinboard and find something that could stick for a lot of you guys, especially if they are easy to replicate in your own homes. We had each person write down a specific goal that they wanted to achieve—mine was something that I could do at home in the morning that would boost my endorphins (hello happy feelings), relieve my stress in the morning (ugh) and also maintain my weight (souping is also helping with this and a lot more on that this month), and then we would have a trainer look through all of those goals and pull together actionable items that each person could do to see results. We also thought it would be fun for every member to recommend their go-to workout items (including their favorite water bottle, workout gear, and clothing as well as a go-to playlist they enjoy while getting their sweat on).
For the workout portion, we worked with Madeleine Starkey (that lovely lady up there running with Brady). She’s a SoulCycle instructor, Pilates guru and also a yoga professional…basically, a fully certified one-woman show that could approach our goals with a lot of insight and expertise. She is local to LA, offers personal training and teaches a handful of classes (read: 20+) each week. If you are in the LA area and looking to get yourself into shape, then you can get in touch with her through her Instagram. For those of you that are elsewhere, she developed these workouts to be done just about anywhere and with very, very minimal effort, equipment or experience. Best of all, they are totally free. So let’s get into each person, starting with yours truly.
I like a fast and efficient workout OR yoga. I’m not an endurance runner, more of a sprint and crasher (shocking). As discussed before, my goals included workouts that could involve stress release, boost endorphins (running) and help me not gain weight even on less healthy weeks. Oh, and once I was face to face with the trainer, I also told her I wanted a go-to exercise that could tighten and lift my behind. We all want that don’t we? So she worked to create these four moves that can be done quickly and just about anywhere I happen to find myself.
1. Jump squats: Squat down, hands come together in front of heart. Sink an inch or two lower in the squat then explode upward as you jump up and off the ground as you swing your arms down toward the earth, by your hips. Land back in a squat, repeat. 15 reps
2. Superman planks: Shoulders over wrists, heels over toes. Extend one arm, pick up opposite leg. Hold for 2 breaths, release, switch. 10x per side
3. Downward facing dog to high lunge: From downward facing dog, lift one leg. Exhale to step the foot between hands, then inhale to rise up with arms overhead. One breath, then step back to dog and repeat on other side. 5x per side
4. Boat pose crunches: Lie on your back. Lift legs, then bend knees so you create a sort of shelf with your shins. Lift chest and shoulders off the mat so that the torso and upper legs create a V shape, extend arms by your hips. Back comes back down toward mat, repeat. 12 reps
Brady is the resident dude in the office. He wasn’t looking to lift his butt or relieve his stress, but instead, to build his chest and abs through exercises he could do in his own home before bed or first thing in the morning. Madeleine took to action and rather than tell him to do 50 pushups every morning, she worked with him through a combination of Pilates and yoga-inspired moves to chisel core muscles, like his abs and oblique, in addition to exercises that free the shoulder-girdle from movement patterns that inhibit the development of toned muscle. If you know what a shoulder girdle is then you are one step above both me and Brady. But freeing up body parts that inhibit growth from other body parts sounds like something that we should all be doing. Thank you, Madeleine. Here is what his workout consisted of:
1. Russian twist: Similar setup to Emily H’s boat pose crunches, but here you hold free weights or a kettlebell at heart height and twist from the middle of the spine from side to side. Keep the chin over the middle of the chest so the twist comes from the abdominal work, and not a mere shake of the head! 10 reps each side
2. Dumbbell chest press: On a bench or angled on a couch or bed so that feet rest on the ground, one dumbbell in each hand. Extend arms up toward ceiling with palms facing forward, then bend elbows out wide until they come to 90-degree angles and arms look like a goal post. Push weights back up overhead to touch. 15-20 reps
3. Plank shoulder touches with weights: Come into a plank with weights in hand, shoulders on top of wrists and heels on top of toes. Try to minimize side to side rocking as you lift one weighted hand to its opposite shoulder, then return the weigh to the mat so the wrist is under the shoulder again. Switch sides. 12 reps each side
4. Tricep dips: Using a chair, bench or couch to prop hands on, come into a reverse plank shape with legs extended and heels on floor. Belly faces up, hands rest on furniture so fingers point forward toward feet. Elbows hug in toward side body, and the strength of the upper arms, chest, and shoulders help stabilize as you bend elbows to lower down as far as you can, then engage outside of upper arms to push back up to where you came from. To make it even harder, you could rest a weight on your lap as you dip down. 12 reps
Sara’s words: “My arms are my least favorite part of my body, and I have zero upper body strength.” So she wanted to try a series of exercises that she could do every morning (or evening) to tone her upper arms and build her upper body strength. She also challenged Madeleine to create exercises that would simultaneously tone and flatten her belly. Here is what she did:
1. Kettlebell swings: Feet hips’ width, generous bend in knees, hinge at hips. Holding kettlebell in both hands, hinge at hips to rise upright as you swing kettlebell as high as shoulders. Immediately swing back down to where you came from. Repeat. 20 reps
2. Reverse bent arm butterfly row: Feet hips’ width, generous bend in knees, hinge at hips, elbows bent to 90 degrees with dumbbells in hand. Raise one elbow to the height of its shoulder, then return it to be underneath its shoulder. Switch. 12-15 reps
3. Forearm side plank: From a high plank, lower down onto right forearm, then roll into outside of right foot, staking left foot on top. Raise left arm to the ceiling. Switch sides. 12 reps each side
4. Jackknife crunches: Lie on your back with arms by your side. Extend legs up to the sky, then lift chest and shoulder blades off the floor and reach hands toward feet. Lower back down, then immediately repeat. 15 reps
Jess wanted a “super doable” 20-30 minute workout that she could do when she gets home after work that helps to build lean muscles and core strength. She loves yoga and already does a fair amount of hot yoga (typically in the mornings), so a complementary quick routine to help promote weight loss was what she was after. On top of that, she has sensitive wrists so Madeleine created workouts that could work for her as well as her goals. Here is her workout:
1. King of the mountain: This shape is meant to lift the upper body off the lower body, reorganizing the bones so that again, they can support optimal core stability, and also so that the bones in the arms, wrists and hands can remember how to situate so that Jess’ wrist discomfort becomes a thing of the past. Simply interlace fingers, flip palms away from your face and reach arms up overhead until arms land next to ears. Breathe! Pick your frontal hip points up so you don’t dump into your lower back. Wrap your armpits in toward your ears. Keep arms straight. Push the thumb side part of the hands up up up!
2. Downward facing dog on yoga blocks: Propped up on blocks, downward facing dog becomes less strenuous on the wrists and is a great way to align the spine so that it can well support the core in its strength exercises.
3. Forearm plank play: On hands and knees, grab opposite elbows with forearms coming onto the ground. This gives you the distance of your shoulders, between your elbows. Clasp hands together so the forearms are on the ground. Extend legs back behind you, toes tucked and underneath heels. Keep one foot’s length between your two feet, and using the stability of your deep abdominals and obliques, roll onto the outside of the right foot and inside of the left. Come back through center, then switch directions. 10 reps per side
4. Flipped wrist planks (modify with knees on the ground): In an effort to continue to help Jess regain the support of her wrist joints, we played with flipping a hand around 180 degrees. This helps to reorganize the muscle, bone, and fascia in the wrists and forearms for more optimal function. In a plank with shoulders over wrists and heels over toes (or, knees on the ground), inhale and wing one elbow up toward the ceiling, then as you exhale bring the hand back to the mat, but flipped! You can then either keep the wrist flipped then flip the other one in the same fashion, or do one at a time. All the while, you’re in a plank of some kind that demands core stability.
Velinda wanted to supplement her twice-weekly group classes (way to go Velinda) with a routine that would keep her in shape on the days when she wants to get in a workout but maybe doesn’t make it to the gym. Here is her workout:
1. Burpees: From standing position, plant hands on ground and jump back to a plank. Optionally, do a push up, or skip it if your form is going to get sloppy. From plank, jump feet toward hands then jump straight up bringing arms up overhead. Immediately plant hands and repeat. 15 reps
2. High plank to forearm plank: From a high plank, shift down to a forearm plank, one arm at a time. Then raise yourself back up to a high plank. 10 reps for each version
3. Weighted bridges: Lay on your back as you would for a crunch with your legs bent and in line with your body. Rest two weights on your hips and slowly press down evenly through both heels to lift pelvis off the mat. Knees bend to 90 degrees staying over the middle of the ankle, chest lifts, too. Slowly lower down. 12-15 reps thrust up until your spine and legs are in line, then return to the ground.
4. Weighted lunges: One dumbbell per hand, step one foot far enough forward to lunge and bend both knees to 90 degrees. Push through front heel to step front foot back next to back foot. Switch sides. 12 reps per side
Ryann’s target areas that she wanted to work on are were her stomach and her arms. She mentioned that she was not an “avid worker-outer (I might go on a run MAYBE once a week)” and that those two areas are where her weight fluctuates the most. So Madeleine came up with an effective 15-20 minute morning workout that could help lean her out while building her upper body strength. Ryann was interested in a morning workout to slim down a touch and develop some more core strength. Here is her workout:
1. Jump rope: Good old-fashioned cardio to get the heart rate up first thing in the morning. Intervals: 30 seconds on as fast as you can, 15 seconds off. Repeat. 4 sets
2. Tricep kickback: Using an elevated flat surface on which to rest left knee and hand, grab one dumbbell in the right hand and plant the right foot on the ground. Bend the right elbow and hold it near the right hip, and keep it pinning in toward the side body with a long spine as you extend the right arm back behind you. Rebend the elbow, then repeat. 12 reps
3. Bicycle crunches: Lie on your back, legs extended, hands behind head. Lift chest and shoulder blades off mat, and draw right elbow to left knee. Then switch sides. Exhale when drawing elbow to knee. 20 reps
4. Plank with knee to elbow: In a plank with shoulders over wrists and heels over toes, use core stability to draw right knee to right elbow, then place foot back where it came from. Switch sides. 10 reps per side
Arlyn mentioned from the get go that she has “a horrendous lower back, so I’d love to hear about exercises that could help strengthen my lower back, or at the very least, are easy on my lower back.” Overall, her goal was to develop more strength, stability and comfort in her lower back, so Madeleine played both with body weight exercises in addition to a kettlebell movement. Her exercises are to be executed in the order listed, three to four sets of each. Here is her workout:
1. Bridges: Press down evenly through both heels to lift pelvis off the mat. Knees bend to 90 degrees staying over the middle of the ankle, chest lifts, too. Slowly lower down. 12-15 reps
2. Kettlebell upright row: Holding kettlebell with both hands, slight knee bend, feet hips’ width, hover kettlebell in front of feet, long spine (should feel like a half lift from a forward fold). Hinge at hips to rise up and bend elbows to shoulder height as you raise kettlebell in front of chest. Hinge at hips to lower down. 10 reps
3. Tabletop opposite arm/leg extending: On all fours, wrists under shoulders and knees under hips, lift and extend one arm, then lift and extend the opposite leg. Pull these opposing limbs even farther away from each other on an inhale, then on the exhale, draw elbow to knee for a crunch. Inhale, re-extend, exhale, hand and knee back on the mat. Switch sides. 10-12 reps each side
Grace’s goal was fabulously specific, you know how I feel about people that know what they want. She wanted to increase her upper body and core strength so that she could do pull-ups! The workout that Madeleine came up for her will not only help her build that strength she wants in her arms to do a pullup but will also help tone everything, as well.
1. Boat pose crunches with yoga block: Lie on your back, bend knees to stack them on top of hips, creating a little shelf with your shins. With a yoga block between the palms on its longer width, lift the chest and shoulder blades away from the mat as the yoga block reaches up and past the knees. Don’t tuck the chin! 10 reps
2. Modified Situps: Lie on your back with the yoga block in between your hands. With legs lifted 6 inches from the floor, crunch your stomach in and twist to switch from side to side, returning to center in between each. 10 reps
3. Dumbbell Romanian deadlifts: Feet hips’ width apart, very slight bend at knees, stick your sitz bones way back in space, and keep your spine long. Hinge at the hips to rise up, keeping the weights super close to the body on the way up, and on the way back down. 12 reps
4. Modified push-ups: A classic! With knees bent and on the ground, arms are straight and wrists are under shoulders. Elbows stay pinning in toward the midline and bend directly behind you as you lower yourself toward the mat, using stability in the core to guide you. Next, push the palms firmly into the mat to use the strength of the arms to push you back up. 12 reps
Emily B. rides a home stationary bike a lot (she recently got a Peloton), and had lots of tension in her shoulders and upper back. To combat that, Madeleine designed some moves for her to unwind the effects of repeated bike riding (hunched over posture on the bike gives you that stress in your back and shoulders), so that she can move more freely in the body.
1. Shoulder flossing: Stand with feet hips’ width apart, gentle bend in the knees. Holding a yoga strap between your hands with palms facing down, extend arms wider than shoulders and keep them straight, pulling the rope taught. Inhale to draw the strap up, overhead, then behind the back with straight arms (just try it! You’ll surprise yourself!). After that, simply draw the strap back to where it came from. Repeat. 15 reps
2. Eagle pose: To help Emily loosen her upper back and develop more core strength, we incorporated this classic yoga pose. From standing, put all the weight into the right foot as you sink into a bent knee as though you were going to sit in a chair, then pick the left leg up and wrap it on top of the right. Maybe the left foot then wraps behind the right ankle. Next, wrap the left arm underneath the right, either giving yourself a hug with this arm orientation or further wrapping the arms so the palms make contact. Try to bring elbows forward and up, as you also try to get the elbows and knees to align with the midline. Switch sides. 3 reps per side
3. Shoulder opening hip hinges: Stand with feet hips’ width apart, gentle bend in the knees. Interlace fingers behind the back and hinge at the hips to fold forward until your torso is parallel to the ground. Flick your sitz bones up, pull crown and tail farther away from one another, pull upper arms bones back in space using connection between hands. Option (not pictured) to lift hands toward sky, depending on shoulder mobility. Inhale to hinge back upright.
4. Lunges with knee taps: From standing, come into a runner’s lunge with the front knee at a 90-degree angle and hands framing the front foot. Slice front hip back in space to even out the pelvis, then tap the back knee down toward the mat to lengthen the back leg’s psoas. Bend then straighten the knee. 15 reps per side
Turns out, working out not only makes you feel good, but makes your body feel good, as well. And while all of the staff headed back to the office after this shoot to finish up work, I took the liberty (I am the boss after all) to head back home to finish my day, but not before a quick shower. We discussed the benefits of Culligan’s softened water earlier in the post but in addition to those, Culligan Water recently did a survey where participants noticed an improvement in hair quality from using softened water. Ever switch from shampoo to shampoo wondering why your hair still feels dry and frizzy? Well, it may not be the shampoo. Instead, it might be the water that you are washing it with. In our very first post from earlier this year with Culligan Water, there were a handful of comments that all attested to the fact that people noticed quite a difference when using softened water vs. hard water when washing their hair. The proof is in the pudding (or water) in this case. And this lady is very into having soft water for your body, your hair, your kids, and your home which is why I wanted to work together with Culligan Water this last year.
Also, do you want to know one of many great things about millennials? They carry water bottles and abhor using plastic bottles. See how happy they all are with their reusable water bottles up there? That was one of the inspirations for this post. It’s generational and my generation (only slightly behind them) was strangely okay with buying “disposable” water bottles. Every time I walk into the office, I see all of their bottles sitting on their desks waiting for the next refill – not a one-time plastic bottle in site. Well done, guys. We are going to look back and be disgusted that they are still being sold instead of water stations (like paper bags). Anyway, that’s my “hey, way to go millennials (including everyone on my team) by making the world a less wasteful place.” And you know what you can put in your water bottles like us?
The most delicious water in the world via CULLIGAN WATER.
Let us know below if you have any questions on any of the workouts or our Culligan Water system. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019 all around.
**Photography by Sara Tramp for EHD
*This post is in partnership with Culligan Water, all words, designs and selections are our own. Thanks for supporting the brands we love that support the blog.