The Energy Blahs!

Too pooped to drag yourself to your favorite boot camp or group fitness class?

A little sweat session may be just what you need to recharge your batteries. Just 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise — done at 60 to 75 percent of maximum heart rate — has been shown to significantly improve both mood and energy levels, says Tom LaFontaine, PhD, a clinical exercise physiologist in Columbia, Missouri. Research has shown that exercise elevates serotonin levels to provide an instant lift. The best cardio Rx for an energy boost: Aerobic exercises like running and fast walking, done in the morning, will rev you up for several hours.

Got a case of the energy blahs? Beat them — pronto — by attending one of our Boot Camps and trying some  invigorating exercises. Most forms of fitness will make you feel more alert, but doing strength moves on a stability ball will really send your body a wake-up call, says Elizabeth Gillies, a Pilates instructor and the author of 101 Ways to Work Out on the Ball (Fair Winds Press, 2004). The ball makes you balance, which improves core strength and posture. It’ll help you take in breaths better and more efficiently, which gives you an instant boost. Bonus: You’ll also sculpt sexy legs, shoulders, arms, butt, and abs as you reenergize.


Idea #1:

Frog Jump

Strengthens Hamstrings, Quads, Calves, Glutes, Core

  • Stand behind a stability ball on floor, legs slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out.
  • Squat all the way down, bending knees deeper than 90 degrees, and place hands on either side of ball.
  • Press elbows into insides of thighs to deepen the stretch.
  • Pushing off with your legs and glutes, jump as high as you can, pointing toes and straightening your legs while lifting ball overhead, arms extended.
  • Repeat 5 to 8 times.


Idea #2:

Triangle Stretch

Strengthens Inner Thighs, Glutes, Shoulders, Obliques; Stretches Hamstrings

  • Stand with ball between thighs, left foot turned out 90 degrees and right foot pointing forward so feet are perpendicular to each other, with the heel of left foot bisecting the arch of the right.
  • Squeeze ball with thighs while shifting weight onto left leg, lowering left hand down toward thigh or shin while stretching right arm up toward ceiling, rotating from waist.
  • Hold for 8 seconds.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Repeat twice, then switch sides and repeat.


Idea #3:

Standing Lateral Side Bend

Strengthens Obliques, Glutes, Outer Thighs, Core, Shoulders

  • Holding ball, stand with feet just wider than hip-width apart and slightly turned out, knees soft.
  • Bring ball overhead with arms extended, keeping shoulders relaxed.
  • Bend upper body to left side while lifting left leg to the side, leading with little toe.
  • Return to center; repeat on right.
  • Do 4 to 6 slow, controlled reps per side, alternating sides.


Idea #4:

Standing Inner-Thigh Energizer

Strengthens Inner Thighs, Obliques, Core

  • Straddle ball with feet turned out, arms out to sides at shoulder height with palms facing floor.
  • To stand up, shift weight to left leg, squeezing inner thighs into ball as you lift right leg (hold on to chair or wall for balance, if needed).
  • Come back to center and squat down again; switch sides and repeat.
  • Do 4 reps per side.


Idea #5:

Side Wall Crunch

Strengthens Abs and Obliques

  • Place stability ball about 2 feet in front of wall. Lie faceup on ball with hips on its center, feet on floor about 3 feet apart, toes pointing to the left and soles pressing against bottom of wall.
  • Put hands behind head, elbows out to sides, and rotate torso so that upper body faces left.


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