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Esther Marsh: Don’t abandon your fitness routine through the holidays

While you are reading this, I will be traveling to the Netherlands, and I am super-excited about this.

I will be doing some guest teaching at the gym my mom used to work out at and will be active walking and bicycling.

But during the holidays, many people will get out of their routine and have limited access to a gym.

When I was in the Netherlands last year for two months, I did these exercises regularly, and it kept me in shape while I was there and not able to go to the gym.

• Warm up by walking, jogging or running. If you don’t want to go out, you can do the following: march on the place for one minute; step touch side to side with your feet for one minute; side to side while doing a hamstring curl (bring your heel toward the buttocks and alternate) and pull with the arms; do knee lifts to the front and pull down with your arms, all in about one minute; move knees side to side, kick to the front, kick side to side.

That is about seven minutes; if you want to do more, do them again.

• Lunges: alternate doing two sets of 25 per leg. A lunge is a big step forward. Make sure your knee does not pass your toes (your knees will thank you) and push yourself back to the start position.

• Squats: two sets of 25 reps. When you do a squat, again you need to make sure your knees don’t pass your toes. Keep your back straight and look forward. Sit back, like you are going to sit on a chair but the chair is not there, then stand back up.

• Side leg lifts. Lie on your side and rest your head on your arm. Your top leg lifts up and down. Keep the tension on the leg and go back up (don’t rest between lifts). Do two sets of 25 reps for each leg.

• Stomach “flutter kicks”: Lie face down with your forehead resting on your hands. Relax your upper body. Lift legs and flutter kick. Try it two times in one minute.

• Push-ups. Options are full push-ups with hands and feet body straight. On hands and knees, keep your feet on the ground; when you lift them it puts lots of pressure on your knee caps; make sure your hip is straight. Hands and knees hip 45 degrees: Keep your weight on your hands. Standing with hands against the wall: The farther your feet are away from the wall, the harder; do two times 10 to 20 reps.

• Dips. You can use a bench, sturdy chair or couch. The hands are on the bench and feet are on the floor. Now your buttocks comes off the bench and you are keeping yourself up with your hands. Bend your arms and extend. The closer your feet are to the bench, the easier. Do two times 10 to 20 reps.

• Crunches: four times 25 reps. On your back on the floor, put your hands behind your head to support it (not to pull with), elbows wide. Bring your belly button to your spine (suck it in). Then gently lift the shoulder blades from the floor and go up as high as you can and come back down but not completely to the floor. Keep the tension on your abs and go back up. Go slow; you might not be able to do as many but you will actually feel your abs work.

• Obliques: two sets of 25 reps (each side). Use the same start position as crunches but now when “crunching” you turn toward the left, come back down and do the same to the right. Keep alternating and keep the tension on the abs and “suck it in.”

Make sure you are breathing through all the exercises.

• Stretch and you are done.

If you don’t have a place to go for your workout, you have at least a workout to keep you in shape through the holidays.

And if you have a YMCA membership, you have the ability to use any YMCA in the country with our reciprocity program.

It’s always fun to visit a different YMCA.

Happy holidays, and I will be back Dec. 12.

Ester Marsh is health and fitness director at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA

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