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Easy and Effective Exercises

For Any On-the-go Woman
Sunday, September 16, 2012


You’ve gone from being the 20-something-year-old whose life was packed with parties, exercise and nothing but living for yourself, to the hectic mother, wife and worker. To put things simply, you have lost yourself and that means you have no time to take care of your body. Your weight is no longer what it used to be, the scale reading is way higher than you would have imagined, your tummy seems to have a mind of its own and your arms? Well, let’s just say your triceps wave goodbye when you do. However, according to Fitness Instructor, Ravi Maraj, “There is still hope.”  In an interview with WomanWise, the energetic fitness instructor gave some helpful hints and exercises perfectly suited for the on-the-go woman. These exercises can be done at home with very little equipment and is aimed at those coming from a de-conditioned state (basically, they are for those of you who have not exercised in years). Maraj, who works at ‘The Shape Shop’ located in Marabella, has been a fitness instructor for over 14 years. Additionally, he has been a tri-athlete for approximately 20 years and a competitive swimmer since the age of seven. Competitions and trophies won by this fitness fan are innumerable. With his wealth of experience and knowledge, the 40-year-old’s quick, easy and inexpensive exercises will prove effective to any woman who is persistent. 
However Maraj warns, “Before starting any programme of resistance and toning, one must a build a proper cardio base which takes approximately 12 weeks to build. Getting the heart and lungs in shape requires some type of aerobic activity (such as walking, jogging or running). Your exertion level must be 80 percent of what you perceive as being your maximum level.”  (To check your exertion level, Maraj said that if you’re not using a heart rate monitor, use speech perception - if you can rattle off the alphabet or a continuous sentence fluently, then your exertion level is not enough.) After your 12-week cardio base and as long as hip, knees, legs, back, heart and lungs are in good shape, then you’re ready to start a programme or routine of resistance training. If possible, and your finances allow it, get yourself a bench, resistance bands, a light pair of dumbbells (10lbs max) or surgical bands (available at the pharmacy) and a ball. “Your child’s beach ball could work as well,” Maraj advises. One should start working on major muscle groups first because they are closer to the heart and can withstand greater loads. “If we target the smaller muscle groups early in the programme, due to fatigue, it may not be effective and can cause injury. Start with muscles in the chest, back, rhomboids (the very thin muscles located in your upper back between the shoulder blades), hips and legs.” Do the exercises three times a week for an hour (minimum) or a condensed 45 minute session; however, the latter would necessitate an increase in the intensity of the workout. Maraj explains, “Increasing the intensity does not mean harder work or increasing the load. It means lessening your rest period or increasing reps. From a de-conditioned state, one would require a longer rest period, but the average is 30 minutes for a workout of one hour.” 
Here are some exercises which Maraj recommends, demonstrated by Sandy Henry as she works with the instructions of trainer Zephyrine ‘Zulu’ Smith at ‘The Shape Shop’ in Marabella.
Standing Hyper-extension 
(This exercise will target the spine, specifically the lower back” the tri-athlete disclosed.)
Instructions: Leaning on the bed place the feet under the bed and clutch a directory or heavy book toward the chest. Lean forward slightly and slowly from the hips then bring the body back up to the standing position. Feet should remain planted firmly on the floor. The movements are to be slow and controlled.
Time: Do three sets of 10 reps for 30 to 45 seconds.
Simple Static Wall Squat 
Instructions: Leaning on a wall or post, place feet a short distance away from post, slide the body halfway down and maintain position for as long as you can hold it.
Time: Do three sets of 10 reps for 30 to 45 seconds.
Leg Extensions
(These can be done with or without elastic bands.)
Instructions: Sit on the edge of a chair or bench. Using slow controlled movement, raise the lower end of the legs and bring it in toward the stomach. Hold the head steady. Return legs to resting position and repeat.
Time: Do three sets of 10 reps for 30 to 45 seconds.
Normal Free Standing Squats 
(When doing these squats, ensure that thighs are parallel to the floor and always keep the tip of your sneaker in sight to minimise the risk of knee injury.)
Instructions: Stand firmly on the ground with feet a short distance apart. Stoop as if you’re about to sit on a chair pushing the buttocks out. Hold and count to 10, then bring body back up to standing position. Repeat.
Time: Do three sets of 10 reps for 30 to 45 seconds.
Ball Squat  
Instructions: Using a beach ball and following the technique for Simple Static Wall Squat, place the ball just above the buttocks and slide the body down until the ball gets to the shoulder blade. Hold the position and then press back up returning to the original standing position.
Time: Do three sets of 10 reps for 30 to 45 seconds.
Sit Ups  
(There is a specific breathing pattern involved in order to get the stomach flat. On the way up when we have spinal flexion, the abdomen should be pulled in and one should exhale. On the way down, the abdomen should be relaxed and one should inhale.)
Instructions: Lay flat on the ground. Bend knees and place balls of your feet and heels flat on the ground. Place hands out in front of you. Tighten abdominal muscles and exhale while slowly and gently lifting the body (keeping head steady) towards the knee until you are at a 90 degree angle. By this time hands should be above your head. Hold the position for a second. Return to resting position or stay slightly above the floor and repeat. 
Time: Do three sets of 15 reps. Rest period should be 30 seconds.
(Ensure that your spine is healthy 
     when doing these exercises.) 
Dumbbell Mason Twist - This exercise slims the sides and it is easy and effective.
Instructions: Sit on a chair or bench holding dumbbell. Twist the body and touch the left side of the chair then twist the body again (briefly returning to original position on the way back) and touch the right side of the chair. The hips are to remain stationary. 
Time: Do three sets of 15 reps. Rest: 30 to 45 seconds.
Basic Jack Knife:
Instructions: Sit on the side of the bench with feet extended. Bring knees up to a 90 degree flexion point at knees and hips or higher. As you bring the knee up you exhale, keeping the stomach held in tightly.
Time: Do three sets of 15 to 20 reps. Rest: 30 to 45 seconds. 
Maraj then insisted: “It is essential that these rep ranges are kept manageable in the beginning and are increased as fitness improves. Higher rep ranges allow for proper muscle conditioning and muscle programming and that allows for proper daily functioning”.


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