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No excuses! Fit exercise into the holiday madness

Amy Bueme tends to hear lots of explanations during the holidays about why people have decided to shelve their fitness routines.

There are too many family meals to prepare.

There is not enough time, what with parties to attend, gifts to buy and kids to manage when they have days off from school.

The stress of the holidays makes it too tiring to work out.

These are the kinds of explanations – excuses – that ring hollow to Bueme, a mother of four who co-owns the Catalyst Fitness chain, cooks dinner almost nightly for her family, and will prepare dinner for up to 50 loved ones on Christmas Day.

"Exercise gives you more mental clarity and so much more energy to do the things you need to get done," she said.

Bueme tends to work out at least six days a week. She doesn't expect her fitness members to do the same, especially in the weeks before New Year's Day.

"I'll tell them, 'Listen, you don't have to get an hour in every day. Just try to do something in the morning or mid-day or after work. Do a workout for 30 minutes where your heart rate is up, you do a little bit of strength training and you're out. Not only do you get the physical benefit of more energy – if you're eating more sugar and carbs, you're feeling more lethargic – but just a little bit of exercise puts pep in your step. You feel better."

Genetino Coplin, director of training and development with Catalyst Fitness, counts Bueme among the dozens of people he trains each week.

"A one-hour workout is only 4 percent of your day," Coplin said. "There's no reason why you can't fit that in at least three times out of a seven-day week. That's enough."

He recommended scheduling a trio of workouts on your weekly calendar, just like your holiday gatherings and other appointments.

Eat, drink and be healthy this WNY holiday season

Bueme underlined that maintaining a consistent exercise regimen, along with balanced eating, will give you a healthy confidence heading into the new year.

"It's not about a diet," she said. "I can't stand the word 'diet.' It's about a lifestyle, about moderation: 'I'm going to enjoy my parties and cocktails with my friends but on the other days, I'm going to do what I have to do to balance that out.' It's about balance. It's not about taking away."

Bueme recommended looking to take a few positives steps most days and rewarding yourself on special days.

"I'm going to have grilled chicken instead of fried," she said. "I'm going to have one glass of wine instead of three. I'm going to park a little bit farther or take the stairs instead of the escalator. Those are little things that add up."

Bueme knows it isn't easy, especially this time of year – and that this is a route less taken. It's why Black Friday through Cyber Monday is the only weekend each year where Catalyst waives its enrollment fee, allows people to join without a contract, and throws in a couple of other extras, as well.

"It's about setting yourself up for success," she said.


Genetino Coplin, director of trainer development with Catalyst Fitness, shares a functional fitness routine in the Lancaster branch that can help you get in your holiday workouts. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Coplin recommended the following exercise routine for the gym or at home as a way to maintain a fitness regimen during the busy holiday season.

You'll need a couple of dumbbells. Good form is more important than heavy weight. Modify the reps, sets and time as conditions warrant. That said, the workout below – along with a balanced nutrition plan – is meant to help you maintain weight if you can complete it as directed three times a week.

As always, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen, particularly if you have a chronic health condition.


Jumping Jacks

Repeat for 60 seconds

Bear Crawl with Shoulder Tap

Amy Bueme, owner of Catalyst Fitness, works out with Genetino Coplin, director of trainer development at the WNY chain. Bueme is performing a Shoulder Tap, which she is doing in conjunction with a Bear Crawl. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

From a standing position, do a squat. Then place your hands out in front of your feet and crawl forward without putting your knees on the ground (if you can). Stop in a pushup position. Tap your right shoulder with your left hand and return to the pushup position. Tap your left shoulder with your right hand and return to the pushup position. Move your hands back and stand up when they're near your feet. Repeat for 60 seconds. Fires your arms, legs and core.


(Do four sets of each exercise)

Biceps Curls

Amy Bueme does a biceps curl. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

With two dumbbells at a challenging weight, lift both arms upward together from a standing position, turning your wrists outward so your forearms face away from your body, and lift the weight to your chest. Lower it to the starting position. Do 20 reps. Strengthens arms.

Leg Lifts and Toe Taps

Stretch your arm out as far as you can and kick your leg as high as you can during leg lifts. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Keep your core tight. Lift your right leg out as if you were kicking a field goal and try to hit it with your outstretched left hand. Set down your right leg and reach each hand down toward your toes. Repeat the leg lift with your left leg and right hand, reach each hand down to your toes. Stand. Repeat for 60 seconds. Stretches and strengthens legs.

Burpee and Side Shuffle

During a Burpee, as you push up, move your knees and outstretched legs in like a frog to bring your feet back into their original squatting position, then jump straight up and return to a standing position. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Put two cones (or anything that can serve to mark distance) 10 feet apart.

Start in squat position, tilting slightly on your heels. Kick your feet back and behind you into a squat thrust as you move your hands down to the floor below your shoulders. Keep your core and your butt no more than 6 to 12 inches from the floor as you lower your chest to the floor. As you push up, move your knees and outstretched legs in like a frog to bring your feet back into the original squatting position, then jump straight up and return to a standing position. Then do a side shuffle, first moving your legs side to side to the right cone, then to the left cone, then back to center. This is one rep. Do 10. This is for full-body conditioning, an example of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).


(Do four sets of each exercise)

Squat Press

Make sure your weight is on your heels, not your toes, during a Squat Press. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Hold dumbbells in both hands, starting at the shoulders, chest up high, elbows out slightly. Move your butt down toward the ground, bending at the knees. Make sure your weight is on your heels, not your toes. Bend down with your back as straight as possible, until your knees are at least at a 90-degree angle. As you come back up to a standing position, press both dumbbells simultaneously over your head, slightly forward from your shoulders. This is one rep. Do 20. Works legs and shoulders.

V-ups with Dumbbell

Make V-ups more challenging by keeping your heels off the floor throughout the movement. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Sit on the ground with a single dumbbell and hold it from the sides, near your lap, to start. Bring in your knees. While moving your legs out, away from your core, lift the dumbbell up and slightly out front of your head. Bring your knees back in as you bring the weight down. This is one rep. To make it harder, keep your heels off the floor throughout your reps, if you can do so in good form. Do 20 reps. Works the core, arms and shoulders.

Dumbbell Row and Fly

A Dumbbell Row and Fly works the chest, arms and shoulders. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Bend your knees a bit and lean slightly forward. Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your sides, elbows back, and bend forward at the waist about 45 degrees. As you bend, pull the weights upward and outward toward shoulder height as if you're about to take off like a bird. Lift them only slightly higher than shoulder height. Return to the starting position for one rep. Do 20.

Works chest, arms and shoulders.

Sneak in a 'workout' in a variety of ways


“Finding Life’s Secret Sauce: How to fit good food, fitness, and fun into your crazy, busy schedule,” Melinda Hinson Neely

“Fit in 5,” Gregory P. Whyte

“Joyous Health: Eat and live well without dieting,” Joy McCarthy

“Lean in 15: 15-minute meals and workouts to keep you lean and healthy,” Joe Wicks

“The One-Minute Workout: Science shows a way to get fit that’s smarter, faster, shorter,” Martin Gibala

“The 30-Second Body: Eat clean, train dirty, live hard,” Adam Rosante

“Thrive Fitness: The program for peak mental and physical strength – fueled by clean, plant-based, whole food recipes,” Brendan Brazier

“Waking Energy: 7 timeless practices designed to reboot your body and unleash your potential,” Jennifer Kries

Readers can visit, and click on Subject Guide and Exercise and Fitness to find links to selected websites and automatic catalog searches for topics including Pilates, tai chi, yoga, stretching and more.


Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon 

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