Core Exercises for New AND Veteran Exercisers


Core strengthening exercises are for athletes and average Joes alike. Young and old. New and veteran exercisers.

Power comes from the core. Balance comes from the core. A weak core can cause low back pain, throw off the body’s kinetic chain, and possibly cause other injuries else where.

Beginner Core Exercises:

The below exercise progressions are based off of a highly-effective core stability exercise called the Birddog. The Birddog targets the deep core muscles called the lumbar extensors  (longissimus, iliocostalis, and multifidi), which play a key role in proper posture and preventing low back pain.

The exercises described below are followed by a short video that shows how to do them.

Birddog – From a hands and knees position, extend one leg and the opposite arm so that they are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a few  seconds, and then repeat with the opposite arm and leg.


Birddog with arm movements – When arm and leg are extended, horizontally rotate the extended arm out to the side and back out front.

Birddog with arm and leg movements – When arm and leg are extended, horizontally rotate the extended arm and leg out to the side and back.

Birddog with knee and elbow tucks – When arm and leg are extended, tuck extended knee up to the stomach as elbow tucks under the torso to meet the knee.


Advanced Core Exercises

High Plank – Hold a push up position with shoulders over wrists and a strong core for as long as you can!


Plank with arm movements – From a high plank position, extended one arm out front and then return to plank, switch arms.

Plank with leg movements –  From a high plank position, extended one leg up in the air and then return to plank, switch legs.

Plank with knee tucks – From a high plank position, alternate tucking knees in to the stomach.

Plank with crossover knee tucks – From a high plank position, tuck right knee in to stomach and over to left elbow, switch sides.

Plank with arm and leg movements – From a high plank position,  extend right arm out front and left leg up in the air, switch sides.

Spiderman pushups – From a high plank position, drop into a push up while bringing the right knee up to the right elbow, push back up into a high plank, switch sides.


What are some of your favorite core exercises?

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How writing a fitness blog has helped me in my fitness career

How writing a fitness blog has helped me in my fitness career

I started this blog a little over 2 years ago. In January of this year, I took a job as the Fitness Director and Personal Trainer at a country club. When I started blogging, I was teaching fitness classes but not working full time in the field. I wanted a way to be a part of the fitness world and stay up-to-date with what was going on in the industry.

Over the past couple years, I would be lying if I said I never thought about canning the whole blogging thang

It is time-consuming! But I knew it was helping me prepare to eventually go into the field I love and be my own boss. And I do enjoy sharing my passion through my fitness blog and I think I would miss the “blogosphre” if I stopped now…

It is like that shirt you’ve had forever but never wear, and you know as soon as you get rid of it you are going to have the perfect occasion to wear it to…I feel if I stopped blogging, I would all of a sudden have all this really important stuff that I just had to share!

Anyway, back to how blogging has helped me in my career…

Blogging is like working for yourself… you have to set schedules, meet deadlines, make sure your “storefront” (aka blog) is inviting and aesthetically pleasing, come up with a plan and purpose, you have to network and market, give up your free time, and basically do all the work and not make a paycheck!

Nonetheless, as someone who always wanted to have her own business, blogging is a great way to try it out without really losing any money!

When I was a kid, I wanted my own business so much that my dad built me one. I still have it and use it as a little table now, but I kept all the original “documents” in the bottom drawer.

my business 2my business

I used to sit at my little business and write fake checks and talk on a pretended phone and take important messages on my message pad. Good times…

Ok, SERIOUSLY, now back to how blogging has helped me in my career….

bloggin1. Reading other blogs

No one wants to spend hours of their free time writing blog posts that go unread. At least I don’t!

So, as a blogger, I spend hours more of my free time promoting my blog on social media and commenting on other blogs. I have learned quite a bit from other bloggers and always get inspired when I read bloggers’ posts who are passionate, creative, and innovative.

I am teaching 8 group exercise classes a week right now, and you better believe there are plenty of days that I need a little extra inspiration! When I need ideas for different exercises or creative cues to give because I don’t want to sound like a broken record, I go right to fitness blogs and YouTube!

2. Engaging in social media

As mentioned above, blogging and social media-ing (that should be a word!) go together like cereal and milk.

I really do not think I would have a Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, or Pinterest account if I did not have a blog! Not saying I am an expert in any of them, because seriously that would be a full time job in itself, but social media has helped shaped the way I view and use marketing opportunities (buzz words, catchy tag lines, creative images, timing of posts, etc.)

3. Writing the actual blog

A lot goes in to a blog post…research, creativity, taking pictures, gathering images, editing those pictures/images (adding words, filters, re-sizing, etc.), proofreading the post, and then marketing it! And then making edits again when you re-read it and see typos!

While putting together just one post can be quite a bit of work, I think every singe one of those things listed above has helped me in my job now as a Fitness Director and Personal Trainer.

Let me break it down for ya…

Research – I am constantly doing research to stay up-to-date in the fitness industry as a trainer/instructor. I want to keep my workouts fresh and relevant. I also want to be able to answer as many fitness-related questions that may be thrown my way!

Creativity – As a fitness director and a personal trainer, I believe creativity is extremely important! Motivating people to work out can be a tricky business and fitness professionals need to be able to come up with new programs, classes, workshops, and ideas to attract new clients and keep current clients excited and inspired to keep working out.

Gathering and editing images – Blogging has definitely helped me to create promotional images and flyers for work. Below is our “Fitness News” bulletin board at work:


Marketing – Email marketing and keeping a website current, professional, and interesting may just be the most important component of a business.

I like to send informative and creative emails to clients/members to keep them engaged and make them feel like they are a part of something, even if they have not made it to the gym in a while. Tastefully scheduled emails keeps you in front of your clients and when someone is ready to commit to a fitness routine, you will be in the front of that person’s mind.

Has reading or writing a blog helped you in your career?

If you are a blogger, how much time to do you spend per post?

Do you work in the fitness industry?

Chilly Cheeks 7 Mile Trail Run {Reading, Pa}

chilly_cheeks proof 2

I can’t quite believe I am actually going to write this, but…

I ran a 7 mile trail run in the snow last Sunday and I kind of liked it!

chilly_cheeks pre_run_beer

photo credit: kev-cat

And no, not just because there was beer at the START and FINISH, although a pre-run beer was definitely called for!

The Chilly Cheeks 7 mile Trail Run is put on every year by Pretzel City Sports, a Bucks County/Philly area company that hosts some pretty neat runs and sends some pretty interesting emails, to say the least… Get on their email chain, you will see!

Against my better judgement, I signed up for this 7 mile trail run with some friends. It snowed a few inches the night before, but not enough to stop the crazy runners who sign up for races in January in Pennsylvania.

We registered in a cute little lodge, picked up our bibs and sweet tech shirts, and rummaged through past race shirts that were for sale for like $2 – $5 each!

chilly_cheeks gear

The run was not what I expected, but it was better than I imagined.

I was picturing we would run on a snowy walking trail or back roads. Oh no.

We basically hiked up and slid down a mountain, multiple times, on a snowy and slippery path… if you could even call footprints that went before you a path.

chilly_cheeks startGetting ready to take off…

chilly_cheeks hillSome people really enjoyed the first of many hills

chilly_cheeks hill 2Last shot I took before I put my phone in my pocket just to realize it fell out at the top off this hill and I had to go back and dig it out of the snow!

There was definitely potential for rolled ankles or twisted knees on this course. The fact that I had to pay attention and try not to injure myself or fall off the side of the mountain made the 7 miles go quicker than I thought (even though it did take us about an hour and forty minutes.)

The run was just for fun though and no one was trying to break any records, at least not the people I was with! I feel the challenging trail made the 7 miles a little more tolerable than just trucking along at the same pace for multiple miles on the road.

top of the mountain at chilly_cheeks
View from the top of a mountain

sarah Shh Fit Happens
Final mile… But first, let me take a selfie!

Once I crossed the finish line, I really had to pee from the beer I drank before hand. Actually I had to pee at mile 1, but there wasn’t much I could do about that!

chilly_cheeks finish

photo credit: dave-dog

There were cookies (I ate about 15 vanilla oreos) and bagels in the finish line tent and a nice fire right outside. Inside the lodge was a scrambled egg and pancake breakfast, as well as a full bar.

The bar was packed and the egg and pancake breakfast was not very good. I actually went back outside for more bagels instead, but by that time all the cream cheese and peanut butter were gone. Oh well, I was pretty full from all the oreos anyway.

It was definitely a tough run, but it was a good time and… I would do it again!

Ever do a trail race?

What was the craziest/coolest/weirdest run you have ever signed up for?

Do you run outside in the winter?

Keep in touch!

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ACE Personal Training Certification Review

ACE personal training certification review - Shh_Fit_Happens

There are many different agencies that are in the business of certifying personal trainers and group exercise instructors… ACE, NASM, ISSA, AFAA, ACSM, NESTA, NFPT… the list goes on. But how do you know which one is the best and right for you?  Continue reading

Wrapping up 2014, Rippin’ into 2015


Happy New Year!

I enjoy this time of the year when you turn on the TV and all the infomercials and news broadcasts and QVC are talking about the latest and greatest fitness trends, weight loss success stories, and celebrity healthy habits. It is the one time of the year that the general public seems to share a common goal of getting healthy…Even if does only last a week!  Continue reading

Staying Fit and Merry during Christmas

Fit and Merry Christmas

This will probably be my last post until the New Year. I want to enjoy the time spent with my family and friends, celebrate Christ’s birth, and finish studying for the CPT exam this next week and half! Not to mention I have some more shopping and baking to do before Christmas. Talk about cramming a lot into the end of the year!  Continue reading