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Getting fit for swimsuit season

April 16, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

Maurée Smith has been running about three miles a day, doing about 100 crunches every other day and doing exercises aimed at toning her arms and legs once a week.

While Smith, 23, of Williamsport, works out year-round, she kicked her workouts into high gear in November to get ready for the bikini she wanted to wear for a January trip to Jamaica.

She's continuing that workout as swimsuit season approaches.

"I don't want to see a flabby stomach. That's the biggest thing," Smith said.

Personal trainers at Hagerstown fitness centers said they started seeing a lot of people focusing on getting their bodies ready for swimsuits as early as February when a warm spell hit the area.

Because swimsuits are by nature revealing, getting your body in shape for swimsuit season involves a lot of muscle areas.

Cardiovascular workouts such as running and aerobics are a good way to involve many of those muscles, said personal trainers such as Jennifer Tyler, co-owner of Fitness Priority on East Baltimore Street in Hagerstown.

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Whenever people do cardio exercises such as jumping jacks, they should be mindful of squeezing or tightening their abdominal muscles at the same time, said Kat Smith, a personal trainer and group fitness manager at Gold's Gym on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown. The trick is to keep the abdominal muscles tight, but don't suck in and hold your breath.

"Your abs are your foundation. If your house is built on sticks, it's going to fall," Kat Smith said.

Maurée Smith does some of her workouts at The Sports Connection at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center Antietam Creek on Dual Highway and other exercises at home to get in shape.

There are many exercises people can do at home to work off those love handles, tighten the tummy and tone flabby arms and thighs, trainers said.

The best way to do get rid of flabby arms is to work on tricep muscles, Tyler said.

Hold a dumbbell by one end with both hands behind your head and bring the dumbbell up over your head. Do three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions three times a week.

Push-ups are a great exercise for the upper body, Kat Smith said.

To get rid of love handles, people need to work on a set of muscles on their sides, just above the hips. Teresa Wiles, personal trainer at The Sports Connection, suggested toning these muscles, called the oblique muscles, with exercises such as side sit-ups, side bends and side twists.

To do a side sit-up, lie on your right side, leaning back on your butt a little. Bend your right arm to support your head, and lay your left arm along your side. To do the side sit-up, bend upward at the waist and try to touch your knee with your left hand. Your hand will only move a few inches with each attempt, but you'll feel it in your obliques, Wiles said. Then do the other side.

Start out doing three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions three times a week, and do more as the exercise becomes easier, Wiles said.

Another way to help with love handles is to swing your arms when walking fast, Tyler said.

For toning thighs, Tyler recommends lunges or catwalks, a slow lunging forward step.

Circuit workout

Sometimes it's easier to work out with a spouse or buddy.

Kat Smith created a circuit workout for people that they can do with a partner.

For each step, each partner does one of the exercises listed for each step before partners switch to do the other exercise listed for that step. Do the circuit three to four times, resting a minute in between each circuit. Do this three days a week.

To see how to do step touches, dips, forearm planks and dumbbell rows, go to www.herald-mail.com to watch a video of Kat Smith and her husband Chad demonstrating the exercises.

1. 30 seconds of jumping jacks and step touches using items such as soup cans to reach and touch.

2. 1 minute of squats, constantly moving up and down rather than holding the position/lunges.

3. 30 seconds of push ups/dips.

4. 30 seconds of step touches/jumping jacks

5. 30 seconds of forearm planks/dumbbell rows.

A great way to do squats is to stand with your back against a wall, your heels about a shoe length from the wall and your arms either crossed across your chest or held straight forward, Kat Smith said. Slide up and down the wall. Your butt should never get lower than your knees. At your lowest level, your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Keep your knees over your ankles and your toes forward.

Some people might have trouble doing squats, especially if they have a back problem, Tyler said. To help, place a stability ball against the small of your back and squat up and down against a wall.

For some exercises, your partner can provide resistance to make the exercise more difficult, Smith said.

While doing dips using the bottom step, a chair or the sofa, she said your partner could push down gently on your shoulders - just hard enough to provide some resistance and require more work for your muscles.

People who haven't been working out or getting little or no exercise should check with their doctor before starting an exercise program, Smith said. People might need to ease their way into the workouts, starting with fewer repetitions and sets so they don't overdo it.

If you ever feel dizzy or nauseous while working out, stop, she said.

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