Keeping Arms, Knees, & Belly Taught – At Any Age

I was recently asked to research and write an article on problem areas for women in their forties and fifties. Though I am far from these glorious perimenopausal years, it was interesting hearing the feedback from many Charlotte studios. Did you know Barre is the best workout for your skin? I learned a lot – and wanted to share with you, too! Here’s the best exercise to keep arms, knees, and belly taught – at any age.


t’s been said that “life begins at forty.” Unfortunately, so do stubborn weight gain, unwanted sagging, and perimenopause – that dreaded transition into some of the hottest years of our lives. While everyone else is fearing the inevitable – Scoop wants to help you take charge of the change.

Both men and women begin to lose muscle tissue as they age. Sadly, women are looking at an average of about a half a pound per year beginning at age forty. Less muscle + lower metabolism = more weight gain. Ugh. On top of that, women are having to deal with a loss of approximately 1% of bone every year as well. Luckily adding simple strength training and weight bearing exercise combined with targeted cardio to our over 40 routines can help to slow these changes and keep us healthy once “life begins.”

Strength training is one of the best things we can do for our bodies as we grow older to retain and build muscle and prevent its loss. Because muscle cells burn calories so much faster than fat cells, strength training is going to retain muscle and maintain that metabolism. Combining strength training with consistent cardio will keep us looking and feeling our best. Dedicating time to our bodies now has been proven to give us even more time later. In fact, a recent Harvard study showed that every minute of exercise increases our lives by up to seven minutes.

Notorious problem areas for women in the 40s & 50s are saggy knees, flabby arms and an ever expanding waistline. Looking for some guidance to target aging arms, legs and bellies? Look no further than Charlotte’s fitness experts.

 

TONED ARMS

Hillard Studio Method

Good news – even “knee pushups” count! Hilliard Studio Method deems the good ‘ol push up the “magic bullet” for toning arms over 40. The key is proper form – walk your hands wider than your shoulders with fingers angled slightly in and bend elbows to lower chest in line with elbows. Inhale on your way down, exhale on your way back up. HSM recommends starting with ten at a time and adding more reps as you feel those arms get stronger and stronger.

IM=X Charlotte

Worried about wings? IM=X Pilates and Fitness says highlight those triceps. Use the edge of a chair to to perform tricep dips. Line wrists under shoulders and bend elbows making sure they point directly backward as you inhale and push up using the back of your arms (not your legs) as you exhale.

Core Revolution

Core Revolution targets their arms with an overhead tricep press. Simply hold a dumbbell weight horizontal and overhead with arms extended. Bend elbows 90 degrees, keeping biceps in line with cheeks, squeezing elbows toward each other. Release, extending arms to the top and repeat.

Flywheel

Target three muscles in your arms for maximum strength training: shoulders/deltoids, triceps, and biceps. Flywheel recommends combining these exercises for best results: rows, rear flys, lateral and front raises, overhead shoulder press, bicep curls, and long arm cable chops. Looking specifically to target that jiggly part of your arm that doesn’t seem to ever go away? Try lat pullovers.

Bar Method Charlotte

To target those “bat wings,” Bar Method Charlotte reccomends reverse push ups. Since the largest muscle in your arm is your tricep, toning it makes the biggest physical difference in both defining your arms and tightening the skin. Start by sitting on the floor, placing feet flat and walking hands to under your shoulders. Turn fingers outward slightly to protect your wrists. Lift your hips off the floor and guide your ribcage between positioned arms. Bend elbows directly behind you one inch down and one inch up. What a difference one inch can make! Try thirty a day for one week and notice a difference quickly. Lost? Let Bar Method Charlotte show you how.

Orange Theory

Pushups are your best bet for targeting chest, shoulders, and and triceps all at once. Be sure you are using proper form – without it, we could be doing more damage than good. Orange Theory is always happy to help demonstrate.

 

FIT LEGS

Core Revolution

Target weak knees and thighs with Reverse Chair demonstrated by Core Revolution. Place back up against barre or counter right about where your scapula (fancy word for angel wings) is. With arms by your side, sit in a chair position with feet flat on the floor. From this position, lift and lower hips to until you feel the burn.

IM=X Charlotte

One of the best things we can do for our legs as we age is to retain quad strength. Strengthen these muscles with squats. Unfortunately knees can get grumpy as we age. IM=X has a quick fix for this problem – leg presses and jumps on the Xercizer strengthen quads without adding unnecessary stress or strain to the knees. If that isn’t reason enough, this exercise benefits core, quads, glutes, hips, inner thighs, calves, and feet all with a cardio boost.

Hilliard Studio Method & Bar Method Charlotte

Did you know that cardio only routines can actually burn muscle instead of fat causing skin to look saggy and metabolism to slow? No thank you. Hilliard Studio Method and  Bar Method Charlotte recommend adding the Narrow V (watch a demo here) to your leg routine can add muscle to our legs and stability to ankles, knees and hips. Standing upright, place one hand on a chair, table, or counter. Place heels apart and toes about fist width apart. Lift heels off the floor a couple of inches and bend knees, keeping shoulders above hips until legs create a diamond shape. Move an inch up and down slowly ten times. Next speed the movement up to twenty reps. Finish with a drop as low as possible for a twenty second count. Repeat two to three times.

Orange Theory

Orange Theory says cardio is a go-to for burning fat and targeting muscles just above the knees. Choose exercises that engage the lower body including running, the elliptical or stair climbing. Strength training that focuses on the quads like deep squats and forward lunges will also help with that problem area just above the knee.

Flywheel

As skin loses its elasticity, it appears droopy and sags. Keeping underlying muscles strong can help lift the problem areas of our legs. Use lunges, squats, wall sits, glute lifts, and single leg pickups/getups for strong muscle definition. The best way to target those legs? A Flywheel spin class.

 

FLAT BELLY

Bar Method Charlotte

Bar Method Charlotte recommends working both the six pack abdominals and obliques at once to make the biggest difference to your waistline. One way to target this is with the clam. Lay flat on the floor and cross one leg over the other as if you are sitting in an office chair. Draw knees towards your chest and dangle feet downwards to the floor. Cross arms over your chest and aim elbows towards the ceiling. Use your abs to draw your core upward aiming elbows this time towards your knees. Slowly lower backwards to the floor. Repeat move both with full curls and small pulses while raised. Change legs and repeat. Need a visual tool? Bar Method Charlotte helps us with a demo here.

Flywheel

The best way to strengthen your core is to use it more. Instead of ten minutes of crunches, incorporate core moves into your total strength workout at Flybarre. Easy moves to target both abs and back include standing cable chops, planks with weight rows, lunges with bi-lateral band resistance, and TRX Superman to triceps.

Orange Theory

As we age, we are prone to more belly fat due to loss of lean tissue. Plank variations are a great start to retaining this tissue. Try a slow mountain climbers or side plank hip dips to target obliques at an Orange Theory class.

Hilliard Studio Method

As with most HSM moves, this one targets several areas including the core. This move can be used both with a foam roller or simply on the floor. Place heavy weights on either side of roller and come to seated position with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Lower your spine over roller with head on opposite end. Pick up weights and bring them to your chest then raise them straight upward. Slowly lower weights sideways to a fly position, palms to ceiling. You should feel a stretch in your chest. Slowly exhale raising weights back to starting position completing ten reps at a time.

IM=X Charlotte

While planks give abs a good ‘ol burn, that pooch needs a little extra lovin’ to flatten out. Try the pelvic floor contraction (or as some like to call it, the kegel). These can be done anywhere at any time so we have no excuse, ladies. Strengthening these muscles works on the lower abs and reduces urinary incontinence which unfortunately and inevitably will happen with age. Every Xercizer class at IM=Xincorporates 55 minutes of attention to these important abdominal muscles.

Core Revolution

To perform TRX’s plank, start with knees, palms, and forearms on the ground with feet directly under anchor point. Drive up to plank with solid core contraction making sure you are engaging the core within this movement. Earns, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should all be in line. After you master the plank, progress to the TRX crunch. Set up the same way but tuck both knees towards your chest and extend back to start. That’s one rep – repeat!

You look fabulous – now you can feel fabulous too!


 

New Experiences: The NC Train

I am currently sitting on the NC train making my way back home for the day. Despite the most recent announcement that “everyone needs to put their shoes back on” I am obsessed. When was the last time you had 3 hours to just sit and do whatever you want?

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. It definitely isn’t luxury, but it’s simplicity at its finest. Two seater rows in an old car riding through parts of NC foreign to those so used to the monotony of our state roads.

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Its also an experience that forces me out of my comfort zone surrounded by new people, and unlike many others, I like situations like this. I’m not naive and I would be lying to say I wasn’t a little nervous to leave my car at the station or didn’t hold my bag a little closer waiting to board. You’re probably rolling your eyes at me but the stigma goes both ways.

Everyone else was looking at this white girl dressed in work attire and a statement necklace like “what the heck are you doing here?” I love this. Mostly because I like the challenge of breaking the stigma. Running off little sleep and a large latte: challenge accepted.

I made conversation with those in line questioning my decision to ride this machine. They were extremely responsive and receptive to showing me the ropes of just how the train worked. “Cary go right, you should sit in this car.” They also told me I was smart to take the train over the bus to which I’m embarrassed to admit didn’t even know was a thing.

Anyways I am rambling (large latte) but moral of the story is take the train. It’s a peaceful three hour hum you get to yourself. One I couldn’t help but share.

Relationships

You can’t have friendship without a relationship.

I was excited a couple of weeks ago to finally have a free Sunday to get back to Church. It was the week after Easter Sunday and our sermon was focused around relationships – more specifically, the admirable relationships Jesus had with his disciples and vice versa. No one really thinks about the vice versa. These men were trustworthy friends that bloomed out of a foundational relationship. Without this bond, the disciples would have never done what Jesus had asked them to do.

The whole point of the message was that foundation. Without trust, loyalty, and a genuine care for others – there will never be a relationship. Without a relationship, you’ll find yourself looking for that stability of friendship we could not live without.

Let’s be better friends. Let’s trust with all our hearts, stay loyal to those we love and pray for the best of the most important people in our lives. Everyone needs that kind of relationship.

Friendship

Spend VS Save

I’ve been finding some killer deals recently. Oftentimes, if I find an item I like, I go on the prowl for something similar and more affordable. Yes, there are some things I don’t mind spending a pretty penny on – jeans, sunglasses, etc. But most of the time, you’ll find me saving every penny I can. Looking to save a couple yourself? Keep scrolling!

When I saw Liz Adams from Sequins and Stripes flaunting these gorgeous pair of Vince sneakers during her Charleston trip I became obsessed. They finally went on sale but my size went so fast I didn’t even have a chance to swipe them up. Luckily, while shopping at Belk, I found this Marc Fisher pair that turned out to be just $22 after Charity Day and associate discounts.

There’s nothing like a simple, cotton maxi dress when temps start to rise. Throw it on with a statement necklace for work or some sandals for Saturday errands. I love this Knotted Tee Dress by THE GREAT but ended up finding this similar style at Target. Speaking of which – have you seen Target’s Who What Wear section? It’s incredible!

I saw this O’Neill Batiki Bikini in Charleston and couldn’t help but think of one of L*Space’s new arrivals. I personally love the pattern of the O’Neill top even more than the designer brand and at half the price – this makes for an easy decision.

I recently fell in love with the fit of Free People’s new tee (it comes in a stripe version too!). However, if you’re looking for something similar, Z Supply has theirs for more than $20 less. I stand by both brands – there’s nothing quite like a perfect t-shirt to throw on with a pair of jeans. I like that these have at least a little bit of pattern interest.

Looking for a beach bag? Mar Y Sol is all over it with their amazing woven bags with pops of colored tassels. Luckily, discount brands are hopping on this trendy bandwagon and places like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s have you covered with cute alternatives.

Have you found any good deals recently?

Charleston: What I’m Packing

This weekend I head to one of my favorite places, Charleston, South Carolina. A quick 3 hour drive down 77 and you find yourself in a place unlike any other in the United States. Similar to their historic buildings and unique food scene, Charleston is also known for their southern sense of fashion. I always feel the pressure to look my best when I head to the city. Luckily, the destination has a way of making me feel my best, too.

A pair of travel shorts like these from Cloth & Stone.

An easy dress for Saturday exploring.

My favorite pair of sunglasses. (I found mine for 1/4 of the price on Postmark!)

An evening outfit for rooftop drinks.

The most comfortable sandals that go with everything.

An comfy tee for Sunday brunch.

My new sunhat to pair with a basic black romper.

A pair of sneakers for a morning coffee run. (I loved these Vince sneakers, but found these similar ones on sale for nothing with my Belk discount!)

What do you think of when you think Charleston fashion?

A Weekend of CLT Finds

It’s hard to believe that when people ask me how long I have lived in Charlotte I can confidently reply “two years.” Time flies when you’re having fun! …or when you’re a recent grad just trying to figure out what the real world is. Can I still call myself a recent grad? Ah!

The coolest thing about Charlotte is that although I have been here for a while, I am never at a loss to find hidden gems. This weekend was filled with two of these.

I have always thought of Reid’s for Sunday night dinner. Pick up a pre-made casserole or some delicious meat from their butcher shop for a fresh meal for the week. However, what I had failed to try was their brunch. They advertise it humbly on a chalkboard sign posted right outside the Myers Park location. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting much.

Reid's

We walked in and seated ourselves at the intimate counter. With just a handful of tables and a bar that looks onto the chef, there wasn’t much of a decision on where to sit. First thing you should know about Reid’s…sit here. I was in awe watching the chef piece together each entree like it was the only masterpiece she was working on that day.

Second thing you should know about Reid’s brunch…order the Huevos Rancheros. It was the a reasonable portion, a carfeully thought out combination of tastes, and the perfect way to start a lazy Sunday. At only $9 (a steal for anything at Reid’s), my belly and bank thanked me.

Continuing on with a lazy Sunday, I headed to Cachet after two of my good friends in Charlotte gifted me with a manicure at the hidden gem for my birthday. I had never heard of the nail salon before but was excited to try it considering that during my two years in Charlotte, I have noticed a lack of clean, coveted nail salons.

Cachet

Cachet was unlike any salon I had ever been to. Their ghastly white pedicure chairs were approximately 10 feet tall and matched the crisp, clean interior perfectly. Once seated, I was greeted by one of their pleasant nail technicians, promptly offered something to drink, and given a basket of colors to choose from. Their unique interior, friendly staff, and impeccable service was unlike anything else I have discovered in this town.

Do you have any hidden gems in Charlotte?

A Rainy Day Workout

I was pleasantly surprised on Sunday at my typical afternoon HIIT class when the instructor gave us a handout so that we could take the workout home with us. What a neat – it’s the simple things isn’t it? On days like today when the rain is just begging you to stay inside, show it who’s boss with this 45 minute cardio & strength workout.

What You’ll Need

Mat

Set of Weights

Jumprope

Timer (I’ve heard good things about this app!)

The Workout: 1 minute on, 15 second rest

Squat Press

Jump Rope

Lunge into Bicep Curl

Burpees

Dumbbell Rows

Mountain Climbers

Tricep Overhead Extensions

Arnold Presses

Jump Squats

Push Up into Row

Ladder Climbs

Plank Up Downs

Bicep Curls

Lunge Jumps

Reverse Flies

Skaters

Upright Rows

Push Ups

Sprints

Tricep Kickbacks

Sumo Squats

Chest Flies

Leg Lifts

Mountain Climbers

Toe Touches

Jumping Jacks

Squat Hold with Bicep Curl

Butt Kicks

Squat with Alt Leg Raise

High Knees

Mondays

 

Allie’s List: April

After reading Leslie’s List, a series blog post on Cupcakes & Cashmere, I was inspired to start my own. Here’s what is on Allie’s List this April.

-DO-

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The much anticipated Queen Park Social is now open in Charlotte’s Lower South End. The indoor adult playground boasts everything from bowling to pinball to horseshoes all accompanied by a full service bar and restaurant. I look forward to checking out the unique concept this month and reporting back.

-EAT-

R Kitchen

Hayden and I are headed to Charleston this month and finally remembered to make reservations far enough in advance for R Kitchen. Since the kitchen (not restaurant!) seats just sixteen, bookings are required months in advance. The coolest part? The menu is catered to the guests and changes not only each night but with each seating. I can’t wait to try the quaint eatery tucked away right off Charleston’s main streets.

-READ-

Small Great Things

After reading the back cover of Small Great Things, I was set on reading it. With little time on my plate, I chose to gift the book that addresses racial tension, moral decisions, and family ties to my mom for Christmas instead. Now that life is finally starting to slow back to status quo and she is finished with the novel, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

-WATCH-

Southern Charm

I am probably, scratch that, I am definitely going to lose a couple of followers and maybe even friends for saying this but here goes nothing: Southern Charm is back. I wish I hated this show but the petty drama of Charleston’s self righteous socialites has me hooked and I will be spending many lazy Sundays catching up on the ridiculous show.

-LISTEN-

S Town

The first time I ever listened to Serial was the only time I have ever spent more than thirty straight minutes on the elliptical. I didn’t even notice I was hooked until the episode ended and I was sucked back into reality. Recently, Serial’s closest relative has launched and S Town is recommended to me almost daily. Seven chapters of a man who hates his town and decided to do something about it.

-MAKE-

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Ever get a craving that just won’t go away? I think I have been yearning a Chicken Pot Pie for a good six weeks now so when Lauren Conrad posted her recipe, I took it as a sign. This is on the menu for dinner this month. Though I have to admit – I laughed when I saw she made her own crust. Pillsbury for the win.

What’s on your list for April?

He is Risen

This year, I attended my first Maundy Thursday service. It was a dark, heart-breaking service that really opens a Christian’s eyes to the pain and suffering that our Lord & Savior endured for us.

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As we walked into the auditorium of Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, we were handed a blank red piece of paper and encouraged to write our re-occruing sins or fears on the paper throughout the service. Towards the end of the hour, our cards were collected. Four men then pierced our sins with the same nail that was hammered into the cross so many years ago and nailed the stacks to the four corners of the life-size wooden cross that was originally lying on the stage illuminated in red. As the cross was risen, our hearts wrenched at the sound of the nails hammering into the magnificent, symbolic structure.

Easter Cross

Fast forward to the glorious Easter Sunday service at Macedonia Baptist Church. A much smaller, more intimate service allowed it’s members to adorn the Easter cross with flowers. As the alter filled with colorful blooms, the irony of the two crosses really hit me. Though our sins were nailed to the cross in the most gruesome and painful suffering, the beauty of the event endured when Jesus rose from the dead three days later. It is the ultimate sacrifice that reminds us that through pain and suffering, beauty always preservers in the name of the Lord.

Happy Easter! He is Risen!