Welcome to boot camp, ladies.
While NTC Week has officially come to a close, there is still plenty of time to get this year started on the right fitness foot.
And the best way to do that? Start with a plan. If you have a smartphone there’s an easy way to make it happen.
About the app:
Free to download, the N+TC app brings you a huge variety of different workouts that you can choose, based on your fitness goals: Get Lean (high interval cardio drills to get in shape), Get Toned (light weights and intervals to add definition to muscles), Get Strong (increased weights and reps to build strength) or Get Focused (15-minute workouts that target specific areas of the body).
Get Lean, Toned and Strong all have levels as well, from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced. You choose according to your starting fitness level.
Get Focused include celebrity athlete workouts, like those from gymnast Gabby Douglas and tennis star Maria Sharapova.
It’s a good idea to download each workout ahead of time so you can review the movements. The app provides both step by step instructions with photos, and a full video of each exercise, so you can get familiar before doing the workout.
The great thing about this app is not only is it free, but you also don’t need a gym membership to get to work. So, any woman can collect the benefits. You just have to say “I’m in!” to accept the challenge.
About the challenge:
6 days. 6 workouts. Nike recommended workouts from the Get Focused section of the app, but you were welcome to choose what you liked. The most important part was making a goal on Monday that you could see through to Saturday.
For interval workouts like the ones in the Get Focused section, you want to make sure you have the right apparel. This means a comfortable shoe without a lot of extra padding, which will allow for easy movement, like the Nike Free 5.0+. LOVE the orange.
About the week:
DAY 1: Spencer O’Brien’s Power Legs
15 minutes. 5 different moves. 1 minute each. Repeat 3 times. Minimal space needed. A workout step is recommended, but there are plenty of other (safe) objects you could substitute if you are working out at home, not at a gym (i.e. the first stair in your home).
At the end, my legs were just a hunk, a hunks of burning muscle. Spencer O’Brien is a Canadian Olympic Snowboarder, so you know she’s the go-to girl for turning your legs into power springs.
DAY 2: Ab Burner
Most of my strength is in my core, but even this was challenging at times. 5 different moves. Mostly 1 minute each (plank was 30 seconds). A 30-second recovery breather. Repeat 3 times. Minimal space needed.
It’s good to have a medicine ball for this one, although, again, if you’re at home, you can essentially use anything similar as a replacement: a basketball, a heavy textbook, a round crystal vase (last one is not recommended; I’m just saying—pretty much anything a similar size will work).
DAY 3: Leaner Legs
15 minutes. 5 different moves. 1 minute each. Repeat 3 times. Minimal space needed. I did this one at home, so I didn’t have the recommended small weights and medicine. I just used some bottles of water, so I had something in my hands.
My legs were pretty shakey by the end, but I just took breaks throughout, when I needed to. Good fitness instructors will always tell you: listen to your body. It’s the best way to avoid injury.
DAY 4: Better Butt with Eva Redpath
For this one, a group of media headed to The Academy of Lions Crossfit gym in Toronto to workout with Nike’s master trainer Eva Redpath. She led us through some cardio to warm-up and then let the NTC app guide the workout for the tush. Which was, big surprise, a tender tush by the end.
Again: 15 minutes. 5 different moves. 1 minute each. Repeat 3 times. Minimal space needed. You can use weights for this one, but we didn’t.
DAY 5: Ab Burner and Shawn Johnson’s Full Stretch Guide
Again, the group congregated at the Academy of Lions, but each person took to her own area, plugged in headphones and chose a workout. I opted for the Ab Burner again, because I familiar with the workout and my legs/butt were still jelly from the previous days.
And what helps with jelly muscles? Stretching. Sounds riveting, I know, but it feels so good after 5 days of fitness, you can’t help but follow along with Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson’s easy-to-do moves.
DAY 6: Sculpted Arms and model Jessica Michibata’s To The Core
The arm workout was a big challenge. They suggest using weights, but just find something around 5-8 pounds that you can easily lift. The hard part comes with the repetition.
Jessica Michibata’s core workout was similar to the Ab Burner, but a bit more intense.
For both: 15. 5. 1. 3. You get the pattern, right?
After Day 6, we needed a little reward! But they are vegan and gluten-free! (from Bunner’s in Toronto)
And so, we leave you with this:
After six days of working out with the N+TC app, to say that my muscles are sore would be the understatement of the year—the year is young, it’s only January, but still.
However, though my muscles were tired, my energy level was up at least 10 volts (don’t ask me how I measure that; it’s not scientific). Even though I had more in my schedule than a regular week, with workouts every day and a plethora of industry events and editorial deadlines—because that’s just how this cruel world works sometimes—I was able to check off more from my to-do list than normal.
Most days, I was only doing one 15-minute workout (hello low-level time commitment) and yet the movements are so targeted that you don’t need anything additional in order to really challenge yourself. So, by the end of the week, I was comfortable enough with those short workouts that I doubled up on the focused workouts (two in one day), as well as adding a 15-minute run, in order to introduce cardio.
Because, here’s the thing: though NTC week was a great way to kick-start a year of fitness, it’s only just the beginning. As in all areas of your life, it’s about growth. Taking a good thing and then powering it to the next level. And then the next. One ancient proverb says, “Be not afraid of growing slowly. Be only afraid of standing still.”
School. Work. Relationships. Personal development. Fitness. Standing still is metaphorical death. Always look for ways to grow.
Now, I am heading into my very first 4-week program with the N+TC app, which is the next step up from what was started this week (and fully customizable–add and sub workouts to create your own plan). But that extra energy it gave me to tackle the rest of my world and make sense of the chaos? I want more of that.
So, sweat now. Glow later. We’re TOTALLY in for that.