Category Archives: Fit Fam

Core strength

Happy Wednesday!  I think as busy and active moms, we sometimes forget to talk about core strength, but having a strong core can be a game changer when it comes to your run game and overall fitness physique.  That is why am honored to have my girl, Allison guest blogging today all about core strength.  Be sure to scroll all the way through to score a copy of her newest EBook, dedicated specifically to core strength.

Hi there!  I’m Allison Hardy, of Sweat Flex Shine.  I’m a personal trainer, an artist and former college art professor, a boy mom, and a pastor’s wife!  Thank you so much to Lauren for allowing me to guest blog for her this week.  You can follow me on all of my fitness and business adventures by finding me on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope.

So, let’s get down to business.  Core strength.  Everyone wants it, most people don’t know how to get it.  Your core consists of your abs, your back, your shoulders, and, I would argue, your glutes and chest.  A lot of people think core and abs are the exact same thing, when they are not!  Your core consists of much, much more.  Core strength can be imperative to overall health.  After all, it’s the part of you that holds you upright.  You use your core to do just about every single move you do in a day.

A lot of times many clients of mine will complain about lower back pain.  In fact, I suffered from intense lower back pain after my son was born, which is what lead me to be so interested in core health.  In short, my back was strong from carrying my son for 10 months, and my stomach was super weak from not really using my abdominal muscles for almost 10 months.  This caused a pretty severe imbalance in my core.  My back muscles were being pulled around to my front in order to compensate for my really weak stomach.  This made those muscles super tight and stretched them very, very thin.  The result was some severe back pain.  Many times when my clients complain of lower back pain, they are experiencing a similar situation, weak abdominal muscles, strong back muscles.  

Core strength
Core strength

The approach I took was to strengthen my core, overall.  I did a lot of planks, plank variations, chest work, posterior chain strengthening, and even threw in some crunches when I was getting stronger.  If you are newly postpartum, crunches aren’t the best idea because of diastasis recti issues.  Always consult with your doctor before pursuing any intense core work if you have recently had a child.  After about 30 days of consistent core work at the gym, I started to feel better.  My lower back pain had diminished, I could fit into some of my pre-pregnancy jeans, I could stand up stronger, and I could lift my son up without pain.  It was a wonderful feeling and helped me to feel more like how I did before I had my son.  I continued to work on my core strength and now pride myself in being a core strength expert.  Because of this experience, I’m pretty passionate (some might say a little crazy) about core strength.

All of that being said I thought I’d share with you today a 10-minute ab circuit that is guaranteed to strengthen your core!  Add this into your workout today, or if you are just starting a fitness routine, this is a great way to start.

Exercise #1.  Down dog to plank.

Do this exercise for a minute.  Thirty seconds in, switch legs to make sure you are working both sides evenly.  When in down dog press in through that planted leg.  Bring your tailbone to the sky and make sure your head is pressed in-between your elbows.  When you are moving down into plank you should be controlled.  Flex your stomach and focus on feeling the movement.

Exercise #2.  Russian twists.

Do this exercise for a minute.  For this exercise you want to keep your body as still as possible.  Tighten your stomach to help with this.  Follow your hands with your eyes.  The advanced version has the feet off the ground the entire time, the intermediate version has one foot on the ground at a time, and the beginner version has both feet on the ground the entire time.  Do what works for you and your ability.

Exercise #3.  Toe reaches.

Again, do this exercise for a minute.  The idea here is control over momentum.  Try not to use momentum to move your torso, focus on moving your torso with your abs.  Your legs should be sealed together and straight.

Exercise #4.  Up-downs.

You will be doing this exercise for one minute.  With these guys it can be really easy to let your hips raise, be conscious of this and don’t let that happen!  You should have a straight line from your shoulders all the way down to your heels.  Remember to alternate arms that lead, so you are working both sides of your body evenly.

Rest for a minute after the series, and then repeat!

If you are interested in learning more about core strength, Allison recently published an eBook, called the Two-Week Core Strengthening Program.  This program features 12 ten-minute workouts that focus on building core strength through mostly planks and plank variations.  Many of the exercises have modifications, so it is truly designed for any fitness level.  You can learn more about it and purchase it by clicking here.  

Being a parent with young kids is really hard most days. Frequently, the days fill up so quickly with changing diapers, feeding schedules, chasing around toddlers, and potty training that I often find exercise time getting replaced.   I truly love to wake up early and fit my workouts in, but that has been getting tough with teething babies up at all hours of the night.  Some days I really ponder – how can I fit a good work out in and still keep the kids happy and entertained? This question led me to design a new routine every Monday morning on my Instagram handle that would serve this dual purpose – the kids can play on the playground and I sneak in a quick, total body workout. These workout routines can be adapted to any workout level- beginner to advanced. In fact, playground circuit workouts have become one of my personal favorite weekend morning routines… with or without the kids! I usually pass a few parks during my run route; sometimes I stop for a quick strength circuit at each one. It’s become a fun way to add in some strength intervals during my cardio running fix. With or without the kiddies, these circuits are a great FREE way to get your workout on!  


Holistic Fit Fam’s Mommy Playground Workout…
I have a fun circuit here comprised of four exercises each. This circuit should take about 5 minutes to complete (perform 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 rounds based on your time and/or your kids’ activity level!). Because these exercises are body-weight resistance most of them can be made harder or easier by following one of the two following concepts:
Number 1The more parallel your body is to the ground, the more difficult the exercise becomes. 
Number 2: You can vary resistance by increasing or decreasing the percentage of body weight you are moving. 
Note:  Set a timer on your watch or smart phone and perform each exercise for a minute each, before moving onto the next exercise.

?Upright body rows (use any type of playground equipment and work to stay mid-line on the rows)
?Decline push-ups with rotating arm lifts
?Decline sit-ups (do regular if desired)

Now it’s your turn!  I want to see your playground selfies after your playground circuit!  Tag me on Instagram for a chance to be featured in my next playground circuit workout video!



You may have seen me blowing up social media lately with this hashtag above.  And yes, it’s true….our fitness team is MAKING WAVES in the fitness industry.  Let me tell you a bit about our community of rockstars!

Team INSPIRE is a community of fitness  and wellness professionals all working toward one goal — to help as many people as possible become the very best version of themselves. The team is made up of several personal trainers, moms, bloggers, business owners, a sports psychologist, chef, stylist, nurses, a vet, teachers, accountants…oh and the powerhouse CEO of Fitfluential, Kelly Olexa is our teammate too!  All of us have ONE common thread— the desire to inspire others to be fit and healthy both internally and externally.

Team INSPIRE started at the end of July 2014 when my business mentor, Amanda Tress @ FitPregnancy and Parenting decided to link arms with BeachBody (creators of Piyo and Insanity).  I signed onto her team shortly after and gained the most amazing business mentor and friend along the way.

Several of the ladies on Team INSPIRE are already trainers with several years of experience. However, many do not have a fitness background and are choosing to become certified via Amanda’s online business mentorship program, which am a part of right now!  Beachbody also offers deep discounts for coaches looking to get certified in specific workouts, such as Piyo and Insanity.  I recently completed the Piyo instructor training, and it was such a fun experience!  I also was able to connect with fellow running coaches on Team Inspire, which enabled me to start my own running company!

fit team inspire

We are implementing tried and true long-term digital marketing strategies to reach and influence more people online with non spammy sales tactics or friend and family solicitation. I actually have coaches under me that I simply met through social media channels, which is very cool!  I mentor all the women on my specific team, Team Fit Bombshell, to get their individual businesses up and running. I am truly grateful to have such an amazing “job” to train other women to be BOLD and CONFIDENT!!!

If you are a fitness professional with an established brand, or a fitness enthusiast who is hoping to take a leap into the fitness industry, but you’re not sure how — join us! It only costs $39 to sign up to be on Team INSPIRE, and you will receive thousands of dollars worth of training in branding, marketing, relationship-building, professional development, and more. I would love to partner with you and help you take your fitness business to the next level. I am here to help you grow your business and take it to the level that you choose — with the time commitment that you can realistically work into your weekly routine. Let’s make this world a healthier place one person at a time!

upLIFTing and inspiring

For more information on Team Inspire, email me and I will be happy to set up an initial consultation to see if you are the right fit for our team.  From personal training and nutrition certifications to online brand ambassadorship deals to score, the opportunities are nearly endless with our team!  Enjoy your week #fitfam!




There’s no denying it… I LOVE LOVE LOVE the 21 Day Fix Extreme program.  I’ve done almost every single Beachbody program, from Hip Hop Abs to Insanity, and this one just really does it for me.  The combination of nutrition education and fitness workouts, with the added bonus of an accountability group, helps my clients (included ME) achieve desired nutrition and fitness goals.  I’ve had HUNDREDS of members complete either the 21 Day Fix or 21 Day Fix Extreme with awesome results.  The cool thing is that clients continually go back to using this program, maybe to lose a few inches, or maybe to look more toned in that summer bikini.  This is truly a LIFESTYLE changing program.  It’s not a gimmick, its not a quick FIX (or maybe it is in a good way), or a magic pill.  This is good ole’ back to basics nutrition with fast and functional workouts that ANYONE can do!

But here is the one catch that I struggle with some days: the single hardest aspect of completing this program is often in PLANNING!  You all know the saying, failing to plan is planning to fail.  It’s so true with this program.  It requires time and energy dedicated to meal prep but once you get the hang of it, the prep work definitely gets easier!

So I have some fun news that will make all of your lives EASIER when it comes to meal prep.  Autumn Calabrese released a brand new cookbook called FIXATE!  101 FIX approved recipes that you can use to build your meal plans, prep for your week, and NAIL this program even more.  I’m telling you, that coupled with my 21 Day Fix Recipes is a RECIPE for SUCCESS!



  • There are 101 recipes and each recipe lists color-coded container equivalents and nutrition facts.
  • You’ll find breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes including snacks, Shakeology recipes and even Fix-approved cocktails. Hey!  Everything in moderation.
  • There are vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and gluten-free recipes included too!

There is truly something for everyone!

The cookbook will provide you with everything you need in the kitchen to nourish your body well, so you have the energy to rock your workouts.



EVERYONE!  But if you want me to get more specific… anyone that:

  • wants to eat clean
  • is new to eating healthy
  • needs a little help with portion control
  • wants easy-to-follow recipes
  • loves great tasting food
  • is a vegetarian or vegan
  • eats gluten-free
  • needs help with meal planning
  • is tired of eating the same meals over and over
  • wants to feed their families well
  • follows a paleo diet
  • does not want to spend hours in the kitchen

Like I said… EVERYONE!!


There are a couple options you have with purchasing this cookbook.  You can purchase it by itself for $19.95 (USD) or $17.96 for Club Members. (If you’re not a Club Member yet,  you can JOIN HEREto not only get the discount on FIXATE but also access to Beachbody On Demand and the ability to stream tons of workouts on your computer, smart TV, phone and tablet.)

Then, you also have the option of purchasing the cookbook plus a set of portion control containers for $34.95 (USD) or $31.46 for Club Members.


Just comment below with your email address and I will send you some free samples of my go-to protein “21 day fix approved” powder. Enjoy your Tuesday friends!



Reserve your spot HERE 

Happy Thursday #fitfam!  I hope you are enjoying this gorgeous late summer morning!  I love that the nights are getting cooler because the weather is perfect for early morning runs!  As part of my race training, I love incorporating circuit training into my running schedule.  These types of workouts help jumpstart my metabolism into high gear, which help with my pace and endurance for marathon training.HIIT is a training idea in which low to moderate intensity intervals are alternated with high intensity intervals.

HIIT can be applied to running or to other exercises such as lunges and squats.  HIIT is considered by many exercise experts to be much more effective than straight cardio because the intensity is higher and you are able to increase both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance while burning more fat than ever before.

I have a fun little HIIT workout for you to try out today….
Your circuit today is 5 exercises.  Try to do each exercise for 45 secs with a 15 sec rest in between and repeat the circuit 3-5 times though:
  • Alternating lunges with a burpee
  • Up and back Frog Jumps with a burpee
  • Static lunges (do right and left leg separately)
  • Wide leg suicides
  • Iron Legs (lunge right, lunge left, squat, then criss-cross your feet).
This circuit can be done virtually anywhere, and if you are new to HIIT workouts and looking to shake things up for the fall, then you will love our Fall Fusion Bootcamp. My fellow #fitmom friend and bootcamp extraordinaire, Kelli @run_for_one and I will be cohosting this 6 week online bootcamp, filled with customized HIIT workouts, running days, strength intervals, and active rest and recovery days.  You also gain unlimited access to our group, customized training schedules, paleo recipe ideas, and tons of motivation.  We will also be streaming live workouts via a private facebook and periscope group.  The fun starts Sept 7, so it’s the perfect transition if you are training for an upcoming fall race!
I would love to offer you a free 3 day trial to see what our group is all about.  Most of my original clients continue to love the online bootcamp style month after month because they have made genuine friendships from being a part of such a motivating group and have incorporated see major transformations both physically and mentally.  
Exercise can be so much fun when your healthy habits become a lifestyle and my bootcampers continue to inspire me daily! I would LOVE to have you as part of our Fall Fusion Bootcamp!  Come check out what all the hype is about!  Just leave your contact information below and I will send you some details!   
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So I am currently icing my knee as I write this post–TRUE STORY!  I took the girlies out for what I thought was going to be a quick 5-6 mile jog this morning, and it turned into 12….yikes!  I was scoping out local running routes for our running club and totally lost track of time and mileage.  My body and my knees are totally paying for it. And as I sit here icing my knee and telling myself that was a silly move, I am looking at it as a great life lesson and an opportunity to share some advice with my fellow #fitfam crew!   Over my years in the fitness journey, I have heard the advice of those that practice super low impact and completely avoid muscle overuse, to the other end of the spectrum with the no pain, no gain crew who don’t believe you can ever ever over-train. Like with most things there’s truth to both sides and the smart approach is sometimes straight down the middle:



Let’s talk briefly about the various stages of over-training, so we can avoid a future injury….


Over-training can be quite misunderstood, and is often a term only thrown around for elite athletes. The equation for training is really quite simple and applies to all areas of training (running, cardio, strength training, cross fit, etc):

Training = Work + Rest

You don’t improve during a long run or a grueling weight lifting session; only once you have recovered from the workout and your body has replenished itself. This should be built into most workout programs, yet all too often, many only worry about the work side of things and never take the time or energy  to stretch or recover.



With the high stress, constantly on-call lifestyle many lead these days it’s quite common for people to turn to exercise as an escape.  I am absolutely in love with my running club sessions at the moment because they give me a few hours to myself where I can unplug from my phone, email, and social media.  But is the exercise really helping me remove stress from my body or is it adding to it?

Every single training session you engage in adds stress to the body. While you may find it relaxing and enjoyable, you have added stress to an already stressed out system. The only way to overcome this is a better rest strategy, and not running more mileage or pumping out that extra set.


Over-training, in its early forms is often not readily picked up upon because the symptoms are so slight. The only signs may be fatigue, slight decreases in performance, injuries that never seem to heal, or a cold that simply won’t go away. It’s the accumulation of all the stress of work and training that contribute to these factors.

The body goes through three stages of stress adaptation.  I am going to cover the first stage in this post:

Adapting to the Stress, Stage 1


Diagnosing the early stages of over-training can be difficult. Things may appear as slight back pain in a cyclist, a touch of ankle or foot problems in a runner, or as shoulder pain in a lifter. Usually during this time, the physical signs will be hard to really pick up, and vital signs and blood tests will still be in normal ranges.  This can be super frustrating, as you may just be feeling “off”, but do not have any physical signs to back up these feelings.

As a coach or trainer you need to keep your eyes wide open when clients start reporting feeling a little run down. Slight changes in gait and mechanics can lead to bigger problems and injuries. Knowing your clients well and what their form should look like is important. A smart coach will cut training short at the first signs of form breakdown and instantly switch to recovery week mode.  It’s also crucial to be asking questions to your clients:

  • How do you feel today?
  • Is anything bothering you?
  • How did you sleep last night?
  • How was your day at work?

Sometimes these casual conversation starters can open up the dialogue to diagnose your clients’ stressors and coping mechanisms.

Interestingly, in this first stage of over-training big gains in performance can be made afterwards if used correctly. Commonly called overreaching it is not uncommon for athletes to deliberately be pushed into the red zone so that after an appropriate recovery period they have adapted better and return faster and stronger. The problem here lies in the excitement of heightened performance. The athlete and coach usually end up continuing down this road, pushing more and more until a nasty injury occurs.

One of the things I am starting to see more and more, as a cardio junkie and running coach is that the aerobic system powers our recovery system. In fact, our cardiovascular system only works aerobically. Having an under-powered aerobic system makes recovery from difficult sessions even more difficult as it is the aerobic system that clears the waste products in the muscles and shuttles the nutrients in to repair them.

Symptoms of this first stage include:


  • Increased vulnerability to back, knee, ankle, and foot injuries.
  • Slight increase (about 10 bpm above normal) in resting heart rate
  • Reduced sexual desire.
  • Anxiety

The important thing to do here is to recognize the early stages of over-training and appropriately manage other factors such as diet, sleep, and lifestyle so that the work part of the equation is balanced. This may mean reducing your training volume and intensity in the short term.


I’ve actually gone through this myself while testing running plans and have found that by reducing volume in my strength sessions I am actually gaining strength. All while putting in large miles at the same time – something that many will tell you is impossible. It’s not an easy feat to juggle all the balls of life so that training is optimal, but with the right diet choices, sleeping adequately, and sensible training intensities it is proving possible.  And listening to your own body is key:  back off when your body needs a rest and try to set realistic yet attainable fitness goals.

Do you have any tips of advice that work well for you when in training mode?  I would love to hear them in the comments below!



So by now it’s no secret that I like to pound the pavement.  Running is such a great physical and mental workout for me.  It definitely boosts my metabolism, and I can release the stress of my day.  I have been slowly building up my mileage after having a baby almost a year ago (wow, time flies!), and I am finally averaging about 10-14 miles for long runs.  As I get older, I find myself really paying more attention to my body–  that tiny pain in my foot, or spasm down my hip flexor while running could lead to a major injury if I don’t train smart.  In my twenties I would just push through the pain, in order to log an extra mile, and although I am still stubborn, I am more in tune with my body NOW, than I was in my running career 10 years ago.

Brynny and mommy

I absolutely love to cross-train from running with bikram yoga.  My body absolutely craves the heat, humidity.  I especially love how bikram trains your mind to pay attention to your breath, which forces your mind to cut out the distraction and stay in the present moment.  The one challenging aspect is that the class duration is 90 minutes. And with 2 littles at home, along with full time nursing and fitness careers, I have found myself struggling to find the time to practice bikram yoga.  I hope to someday make a class (or 2!), but for now, home workouts have been a life saver for me to get a quick 30 minute workout in once the kiddos are sleeping.

my tribemarathon-michelle-and-lauren

I discovered Piyo after become a Beachbody coach, and decided to test out the workouts, so I could tell my clients what all the hype was about. I was instantly hooked the second I pressed play.  I love the flow of piyo–  it starts with moving your body in such a way to generate heat, then it flows with moves to really stretch and strengthen your body.  It is a low impact, high intensity workout, that uses your own body to sculpt and shred.  The compound muscle movements of piyo engage multiple muscle groups at the same time, while keeping your body in constant motion. You gain strength, cardio, and flexibility training all in one program. The other great aspect of Piyo is that my toddler loves rolling out her mat with mommy and following along, so it becomes a fun activity to do with my girls.  I even was able to modify the piyo workouts throughout most of my pregnancy with my second baby girl.  I even did a quick Piyo Sweat session the same day I delivered!

preggo piyo

With the summer months upon us, it is so easy to over-train.  I know I would run every single day in the summer if my body let me!   I preach Piyo to my running clients as a safe and effective way to cross-train from running.  I love Piyo so much that I am hosting round 3 of my Piyo bootcamp starting this week.  If you are looking for a low impact method to cross-train from your current workout regiment and you want to give piyo a try, then feel free to leave a comment with your email below and I will add you to our Piyo Party!