Comments Off on Build a Better Butt #6

Build a Better Butt #6

Category : Exercise


Basic Lunge


Lunge With Med Ball Twist

Step forward with the right foot, keeping the head up and shoulders aligned over hips; do not allow your torso to angle forward because this will make your quadriceps do more of the work instead of the glutes. Drop your left knee toward the floor by bending both knees, making sure to keep the front heel down and the knee directly over the center of the foot. Push down through your heel to return to the starting position.

You may use a wall or a chair to help you with your balance when you are first learning to do these.

Nick Nilsson,  B.A.Sc., C.P.T., author of Muscle Explosion advises, “When you do a lunge, squeeze the glute hard while you’re pushing up. This will help to activate the glute muscle. It’s all about getting your mind into the muscle and forcing it to contract rather than just going through the motions of an exercise.”

Comments Off on Build a Better Butt #5

Build a Better Butt #5

Category : Exercise

Chair Squat 

chair squat

Almost sit down, but not quite!

This exercise is a great alternative to the traditional squat because you have a chair behind you to give you confidence. Stand with your feet hip distance apart and toes pointed straight ahead. Slowly lower yourself toward the chair, but do not actually sit down. When you are as low as you can go without transferring your weight to the chair stand up and repeat.

Reaching your arms out in front of you as shown will help you counter-balance your butt going back. I always cue my clients to look up “where the wall and ceiling meet” to keep their head up…no diving!

If you don’t feel the glutes working, you are probably leaning too far forward. The forward lean is often caused by a lack of flexibility in the calves. To fix this, stretch the calf muscles, before performing squats. This should also enable you to sit back more and maintain a more upright torso.

Comments Off on Friday Foodie: Simple Basil Pesto

Friday Foodie: Simple Basil Pesto

Category : Healthy Eating

Keep it simple, right?

This pesto is kept simple with fancy additions later. 

All you need is two large bunches of basil, 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, ½ – ¾ cup olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. You can add parmesan and pine nuts later if you like.

Basil from Farmers Market

Fresh basil is best purchased at the farmer’s market for a fraction of store bought. Karin purchased a plastic shopping nearly full of basil for just $4 (four large bunches).

You only need two bunches for this recipe.

Remove the flowering heads, leaves from the stems and wash the leaves to remove any sand and dirt.

Pat them dry with a towel and coarsely chop them.



Garlic and oil in blender


Pour ½ cup Olive Oil and 2-3 cloves of garlic into a blender and blend well with the cover on (unless you like oil on your ceiling). Add the coarsely chopped basil in bunches, alternately stopping the blender to push the basil down. Patiently continue to do this, adding more olive oil as needed to allow blending.

 Once you have a thick, but coarse paste add ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt to taste. That’s it!!! We like to freeze it in small 4 oz. Glad containers. You can add minced pine nuts (walnuts or raw skinless peanuts also work well) and parmesan cheese to taste when you serve it.

What can you do with pesto?

PestoThere are many uses for pesto, and all of them are delicious. Pesto can be frozen into small plastic containers or even ice-cube trays for handy single serving size cubes.

Make a speedy-quick version of a Caprese Salad: Mix several tablespoons of pesto, halved grape or cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. Yum!

Also, it’s great mixed with pasta and fresh tomatoes, on toasted french bread and pizza!

Comments Off on Build a Better Butt #4

Build a Better Butt #4

Category : Exercise

Supine Bridge

Glute Exercise: Supine Bridge

Begin lying on your back with knees bent, heels on the floor, toes slightly lifted off the floor. Brace your abdominals (tighten them as if to guard against someone punching you in the gut); squeeze glutes; then lift hips from the floor to create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees; hold positions for 5-10 seconds and repeat. Many people get cramps in their hamstrings. If this happens to you, STOP. Return to the floor; relax; then focus even more on tightening your glutes BEFORE you lift your hips from the floor.


Comments Off on Friday Foodie: Blueberry Health Muffins

Friday Foodie: Blueberry Health Muffins

Category : Healthy Eating

This time of year you can buy blueberries by the quart instead of by the pint. Sometimes we get overzealous at the Farmers Market and have so many we have to start making everything with blueberries! This week we’ve made blueberry pancakes, blueberry smoothies and blueberry muffins.

I tore this recipe out of a Whole Living magazine a few years back. It has become a favorite at our house and I’ve even brought a batch into the studio on occasion to share with clients.

blueberry muffins

Muffin Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (we usually don’t have white flour in the house, so I make it with all whole-wheat flour and it turns out fine)
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • (I also like to add 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries

Muffin topping ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. wheat germ
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Mix dry ingredients. Add milk, oil, eggs and vanilla; stir until just mixed. Gently fold in blueberries. 
  • Divide evenly among 12 lined muffin cups. We like to use a regular size ice cream scoop for this.
  • Sprinkle tops of muffins with muffin topping.
  • Bake approximately 20 minutes…until a toothpick comes out clean.
blueberry muffin

Full of juicy berries!

Nutrition Information (per muffin)

196 calories; 1 g saturated fat; 5 g unsaturated fat; 36 mg cholesterol;

30 g carb; 5 g protein; 2 g fiber


If you want to read all about the benefits of blueberries

in your diet check out The World’s Healthiest Foods

Comments Off on Build a Better Butt #3

Build a Better Butt #3

Category : Exercise

Mini-Band Moves

The mini-band is a great piece of fitness equipment (it’s really just an extra large rubber band). It is inexpensive and takes up almost no space, so you can take it with you anywhere. Here are three easy exercises for you to try!

Mini-band sideways shuffle

Mini-band sideways shuffle


Sideways Shuffle

Stand with band around ankles, knees slightly bent, toes pointed straight ahead and take small side steps keeping constant tension on the band. Start with 10 steps to the right and ten steps to the right.




Mini-band zig-zag walk

Mini-band zig-zag walk

Zig-Zag Steps

Again, start with band around ankles, knees slightly bent and toes straight ahead. Instead of traveling sideways as you did in the last exercise described you should step out and forward with your right foot, and then with your left so that you are moving forward and your feet are making a zig-zag pattern on the floor. Travel forward 10 steps if space allows and then move backward 10 steps.


Mini-band glute squeeze

Mini-band glute squeeze

Glute Squeeze

Stand with hand on the back of a chair for support and the band around your ankles. You should be bend slightly forward at the waist with all of you weight on one foot. Lift your other leg straight back pressing against the band ten times; then switch to the other leg. Take care not to arch your back…if you feel any stress in your low back try leaning forward a little more.



 Do you need a mini-band? XO Fitness has them in-stock for just $5

Contact me

Yours in Health & Fitness, Karin

Comments Off on Spot Reduction Doesn’t Work

Spot Reduction Doesn’t Work

Category : Active Living, Exercise

Last week we kicked off our “Moves You Can Use” blog with exercises for specific body parts. That led to the inevitable question, “Can you do a series on ‘How to make my belly flatter’?” That question made us realize that we ought to address the “spot reduction” myth head on!

How do I get rid of this?

People ask us all the time, “What’s the best exercise to get rid of this?” (as they point to an area of their body they feel is a bit too flabby) Infomercials are always promising to “burn fat” off of your belly, your butt, or your thighs. This drives us (and most likely all fitness professionals) crazy because doing specific body part exercises will definitely help to strengthen that muscle but you cannot “spot reduce” fat. 

Burn, baby, burn

Yes, you definitely feel your abdominal muscles when you do crunches or your glutes when you do an exercise to target them. The “burn” you feel is because those muscles are exerting a lot of energy NOT because you are burning fat. So doing abdominal crunches does not mean you are burning abdominal fat.  If your abdominal fat is resistant to mobilization then it will probably be the last fat to be mobilized and utilized. (I know, you didn’t want to hear that)  You will likely notice changes to your arms and other areas and start to wonder why the fat around your stomach (or hips) isn’t cooperating.  Be patient, eventually it will happen! 

So why do spot specific exercises?

As a trainer instruct clients to do specific exercises for core, glutes, arms, etc. The reason is to strengthen those muscles. There are many muscles that become weak when humans spend too much time sedentary and to avoid injury a strong core and glutes are important.

What else can you do?

A combination of aerobic exercise, interval training and muscle-conditioning will get you mobilizing that unwanted body fat. Realize that adopting an active lifestyle with a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day and a healthy diet is also crucial to reducing your body fat. The trainers at XO can help you make the changes needed to reach your health & fitness goals. It’s important to pick just one thing that you can do differently this week and make it a habit!


Comments Off on Build a Better Butt #2

Build a Better Butt #2

Category : Exercise

Step Up for a Better Butt

Step Up for a Better Butt

Step-ups: Stand with a sturdy step or box in front of you and place your left foot squarely on the step.  Your entire body should lean slightly forward so that you can transfer your weight to your left foot. Force your left leg (primarily the glutes) to do the work by pushing with the heel and really concentrate on using ONLY your left leg…keep the right leg passive, especially as you initiate the step-up. 

The height of the step can be increased as you become more proficient at performing this exercise, however it should not cause your knee to be bend tighter than a 90 degree angle.

How many?                                                                                                                                    10 slow & controlled reps on each leg. You may increase to 3 sets of 10 reps.

By the way, it’s important for you too know that you can not “burn the fat” off your butt or any other problem area on your body…please read Spot Reduction Doesn’t Work for more information!

Comments Off on Build a Better Butt #1

Build a Better Butt #1

Category : Exercise

Great Butt Exercise

Quadruped Hip Extension

Quadruped Hip Extension: On your hands and knees, slightly contract your abdominals to stabilize your torso and spine. Keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees; lift leg up until the thigh is lined up with the body (parallel to the floor). Do not lift any higher because this will cause the spine to arch.

According to John Porcari, an exercise scientist at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, “When you look at the EMG levels, quadruped hip extension elicited the highest muscle activation, and we did it without any weight. I think if you used ankle weights, that exercise would be even more effective in terms of targeting the buttocks.”

How many should you do? Try 10 -15 SLOW & controlled lifts.

Why train your glutes? One look in a three-way mirror is enough to motivate most of us. However, besides looking good, training your gluteals is important because if they are weak you are at risk for low back and/or knee problems. 



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Beat the Heat

Category : Active Living, Exercise, Healthy Eating

Is summer vacation and hot weather challenging your weight loss efforts? Too Hot to Cook
  • It’s tempting to eat out when it’s too hot to cook If you do eat out, remember to eat reasonable portions and eat all your vegetables. Try to avoid fast food all together.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables This is the BEST season for fresh produce…plus you don’t have cook it. Whether you visit a farmer’s market or stop by the salad bar enjoy delicious fruits and raw vegetables EVERY day. Remember, the USDA recommends 3 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetables daily.
  • Grill healthy foods Grilling out will keep your kitchen cool. Prepare veggies (zucchini, colorful peppers, onions, and mushrooms tossed in olive oil) in a grill basket. As for meat, stay away from the brats and burgers and opt for lean cuts of meat or fish.
  • Avoid traditional picnic food Chips, mayo-based “salads” (such as potato salad and coleslaw) and meat on a bun are not good choices. If you are invited to a “cookout” offer to bring a salad or fresh fruit.
Too Hot to Exercise
  • Drink Water Always a good idea…zero calories. Avoid drinking calories from soda, ice coffees, and sports drinks except as a special treat.
  • Workout indoors The great outdoors is usually a great option here in Wisconsin, however, if we’re experiencing a heat wave exercise indoors.
  • Stay cool in the pool Swim, chase your kids, walk in chest-high water or try deep water running for awesome low impact exercise.
  • Exercise early The sun is up early in the summer, but the couple of hours after sunrise are cool and quiet. A perfect way to beat the heat!
  • Get Acclimated If you know you will be participating in an event that will require you to exert yourself when it is hot outdoors it is best to exercise in the heat for short periods so that your body can adjust to it. For more information:
Heat Emergencies (from the American Red Cross) Generally, illnesses caused by overexposure to extreme temperatures are preventable. The easiest way to prevent illness caused by temperature extremes is to avoid being outside during the part of the day when temperatures are most extreme. The signals of heatstroke include:
  • Hot, red skin which can be dry, or moist from exercise
  • Changes in consciousness
  • Pulse is rapid,/weak
  • Breathing is rapid,/shallow
  • Vomiting
  • Body temperature is very high—sometimes as high as 106°F
What to do for heat stroke: Heatstroke is a life-threatening situation. If you suspect someone is suffering from heatstroke, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately:
  • Move the person to a cool place
  • Loosen tight clothing
  • Remove perspiration-soaked clothing
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to the skin
  • Fan the person
  • If conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink*
  • Place the person on his or her side
  • Continue to cool the person by using ice or cold packs on the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and in the armpits
  • Continue to check breathing and circulation
 The signals of heat exhaustion include:
  • Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Body temperature normal or below normal
What to do for heat exhaustion
  • Move the person to a cooler place
  • Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets soaked in water
  • If the person is conscious, give him or her cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes*
  • Let the person rest in a comfortable position
  • Watch carefully for changes in his or her condition
 *Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine because they can cause further dehydration, making conditions worse. Ensure 9-1-1 or the local emergency number is called if the person refuses water, vomits or starts to lose consciousness. Stay cool, stay fit and have great summer! Yours in health & fitness, Karin