The 5-Minute Ab Workout That Makes a Difference

Tuck-ups (balanced)

Abs, abs, abs… all over social media I see umpteen million ways to get the abs of your dreams…  “Just do this routine of 5 easy exercises,” they say, “and by bikini season you’ll have that 6-pack you’ve been waiting for all your life!”

Except “they” forgot to tell you that no matter how great your 6-pack is, no one will see it if your body fat percentage is higher than about 18% for women, 14% for men.  Um, whoops…

So let’s get another motivation for working our abs, shall we?  Just sayin’, but the amount of effort that goes into achieving (and maintaining!!) those low body fat percent numbers… well, that’s another blog post altogether.  And it becomes harder with each succeeding birthday. …

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The 20-Minute Workout You Can Do Anywhere

Mountain climbers

Let’s face it, friends… sometimes you just don’t have 45 minutes to work out.  Not when there’s groceries to be bought, kids to be dropped off or picked up from school, and those last 18 episodes of Downton Abbey or Lost to watch… I get it and I’m not judging. Nope, I’m here to provide solutions.

And my gift to you is this 20-minute workout you can do anywhere.  It’s a high-intensity metabolic workout that will …

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5 Flexibility/Strength Tests You Need to Take Now

My Pa says old folks are prone to “prairie dog pose.” (He’s over 65 so he’s allowed to say this, and he should know, he fights it every day!) What he means is that once we reach a certain age, we tend to stand with our upper backs rounded, tummies relaxed, and the palms of our hands facing backwards, letting our shoulders roll forwards. The first time I saw a prairie dog after he said this, I had to laugh… the visual is true!

prairie dog

But on a serious note, posture like this is a result of a gradual loss of strength and flexibility in the upper and lower back, shoulders, and hamstrings.  Over time, it becomes harder and harder to look up, harder to reach up, and harder to get up. …

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Cardio Circuit (HIIT)

HIIT (Jump rope)

Hello friends!  Summer is fast approaching, and in my bootcamp we’re discussing how nervous we are about working out on our own this summer… as in: WHAT IF WE DON’T???

What if we get out of our routine amidst all the travel?  What if we make excuses not to work out??  What if we get out of the mindset, stop working out, and lose the fitness we’ve worked so hard for all year???

To be honest, it could easily happen. …

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Body Weight Workout for Summer

Plank leg extension

Well, it’s that time of year again for us ex-pats… the (wild) anticipation of summer home leave!  Oh, the joys of being back in our home countries for several weeks!!  We all start counting down the days right about now…

One of the things I’ll miss, though, is working out with “The Fit Chicks of Alabang”… my bootcamp girls that meet 3 times every week during the school year.  These ladies have become super fit, and have kept me in peak condition all year as well.  So now we’re faced with the prospect of working out on our own all summer……

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Body-blasting Bootcamp


Plie squat to bicep curlAnyone still alive in this Manila heat??  In our bootcamp classes, we’re tending to run & jump rope less, and just let the heat index do our cardio work for us.  It’s true, when the temperatures soar, especially in the face of  high humidity, your body has to fight hard to stay cool during exercise.  Obviously, that means it takes less overall work to generate the same heart rate than in cooler temps.  This might be discouraging, except for the good news that you’re burning the same number of calories even considering this reduction in work output.  Phew!…

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Fitness Friday- Body Part Bootcamp

Dumbbell Squat (starting position)

Hi folks! Wanna have fun with a little body-part bootcamp we did in class last week?

It focusses on one major muscle group at a time:

  1. The “PUSH” muscles: chest, shoulders, and triceps
  2. The “PULL” muscles: lats, rhomboids, and biceps
  3. LEGS (There are technically PUSH and PULL muscles in the legs as well, but for an outdoor bootcamp without machines, it’s better to not try to isolate the muscles of the legs… we’ll just do ’em all together.)

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Full-Body Bootcamp

Full-body bootcamp

Happy Friday, folks!  It’s been awhile since I posted a workout for you, and this one’s a keeper…

I don’t normally get sore from my bootcamp workouts anymore, but I did from this one.  Maybe it was the workout… or maybe the 2-week Christmas break???  But whatever!  I intentionally paired up 2 exercises that fatigue the same muscle group (for example, pushups followed by overhead press,) and it really worked.  There are only 5 pairings (10 exercises total,) 3 for the lower body and 2 for the upper, and I found it to be a very efficient full-body workout that you can complete in 40-45 minutes including warm-up and cool-down….

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The Fit Ladies of Alabang Bootcamp

The Fit Ladies of Alabang Bootcamp

Just a few of the fit & fab ladies of Alabang bootcamp

When I moved to Asia in 2004, I had no idea we would be staying THIS LONG.  I figured, like many ex-pats do, that we would do our 2 or 3 years and come “home” in time for our eldest daughter Theda to go to kindergarten in the U.S.  Wrong!  She’s now in Grade 8.  Yet I always do a double-take when I consider the following…

I’ve lived more than a quarter of my life overseas.

I’ve lived in Manila longer than in any other city, ever.

Two-thirds of Mark’s & my marriage has been in Asia.

These statistics are hardly uncommon for ex-pats; in fact, many “foreigners” have been away much longer than I have.  However, one thing that we all have to face is the question of how we will connect here, so far away from our families and loved ones.

The Fit Ladies of Alabang Bootcamp

For me, three groups have kept me connected here in Manila: my church, my Bible study group, and The Fit Ladies of Alabang Bootcamp.  What began as an exercise group has developed into so much more.  It’s a friendship group, a support group, a sisterhood of fabulous wives living this real ex-pat life that is sometimes “easy” but sometimes so not easy.  We talk.  We laugh.  We sweat.  We cry.  We curse over pull-ups and burpees and Turkish get-ups.  There’s just something about pushing ourselves physically that’s so bonding.

The Fit Ladies of Alabang Bootcamp

We meet after bus-stop drop-off, the first of which occurs at the ridiculous hour of 6:15am… I mean, what else are we gonna do at that time of day???  Shops don’t open around here until 11am and that is too many hours to sit and drink coffee.

So let’s exercise, girls!  And let’s exercise together!  There are just so many reasons to exercise in a group: accountability, compliance, safety, and let’s face it- it’s just plain FUN to work out together!!  I know because I hear everyone laughing and carrying on in the back row… don’t think I don’t!!!

The Fit Ladies of Alabang Bootcamp

So we had our Christmas party last night and it was SO nice to see us all dressed up and not in workout clothes.  To be able to hug each other without apologising for being all stinky.  To have no agenda like “today we’re doing 85 million burpees and 200 pushups”… but instead to just relax with good friends, yummy food and a glass (or 2!) of champagne.


I feel so privileged to work out with these beautiful and fit ladies.  Each one is gorgeous inside and out.  These girls keep me motivated in my own fitness, always challenging myself to take it to the next level.  But even more beautiful than that, these lovely ladies keep me connected in this crazy ex-pat life.  Here’s to The Fit Ladies of Alabang!