Some people walk to work. Dan Veksler walks for work. As founder of Other World Tours, Veksler leads street tours through some of New York City's most storied areas, including the Green-Wood Cemetery, Bronx's Inwood neighborhood, the Financial District, Bowling Green and parts of Long Island. Which means he's covered more of the city and its surrounding areas on foot than lots of people ever even see.
In this series of five posts, normal people with naturally active lifestyles will inject a fitness boost into their routine using the Fitbit, complete with exercises anyone can do to make every day a workout. To keep up, start here for the basics, then check back here in the coming weeks as more posts with custom, gym-free workouts are added. This week: NYC Tour Guide Dan Veksler.
All that walking means that Veksler doesn't struggle to achieve the 10,000 daily steps recommended by experts. Plus, he often bikes to each tour's origination point and then back home afterward, and practices yoga three to four times a week on top of everything else. Curious to see how what all that activity adds up to, Veksler strapped on a Fitbit Charge™ and used it throughout the course of an average day to get some actual fitness figures.
As you can see from the screenshot on the left, they're pretty impressive. In addition to exceeding the recommended 10,000 steps by nearly 50%, Veksler burned 2,754 calories over the course of more than seven miles in one day. That means he never needs to think about fitness again, right?
Well, no. With the basics in hand, Veksler said that he wanted to start working on things like strength and overall fitness. That's where Chris Hale, a certified personal trainer and owner of Awakened Nutrition and Training, comes in.
To help Veksler reach these goals, Hale took a look at his Fitbit metrics, talked to him about his daily routines and fitness challenges, and then put together a set of strength-training moves targeting the core and upper body. Used in conjunction with a host of new Fitbit activity trackers and a healthy diet, Veksler can perform these exercises three to four times a week to build on the movement he's already getting in his normal day. These exercises are also designed to be able to be adapted by just about anyone with similar fitness goals. (That means you.)
In order to prime the body for strength-training exercises, Hale suggests starting each workout with a series of moves to loosen the muscles before stretching.
- Standing calf stretch
- Butt kicks –While jogging either in place or moving forward, try to bring your heels to your butt.
- Walking leg swing
- Walking knee pulls
When you're doing as much walking as Veksler is, a firm core helps maintain good posture and make sure your muscles are getting the right kind of workout. To help him work on his core, Hale devised the following set of moves designed specifically for this part of the body.
- Heel Walks
- Marching glute bridge — Lift into a glute bridge, then lift one foot up while maintaining pelvic stability. One minute or 20 reps.
- Reverse plank — Lie on your back with your feet extended, with your head up off the floor and lower back flat against the ground. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
- Ab Roller — 20-30 reps depending on strength.
- Single leg balance with reach — Standing on one leg, try to reach the opposite leg to the front, side, and back at a diagonal while maintaining balance. 10 reps per leg.
- Single leg stair jump with balance — Jump up on a stair, or a higher surface if able, and hold for three seconds. 8-10 reps per leg.
With all of Veksler's walking and biking, he's already ahead of the curve when it comes to his cardiovascular health. But he wanted to try to improve in some other areas, like upper-body strength.
To improve his overall fitness, Hale suggested the following exercises, which will directly and indirectly engage his arms, back and shoulders, and go even further toward improving core strength.
- Windshield wiper — Lie on your back with arms outstretched at sides; lift legs and bring them over to one side and then back across to the other side. 20-30 reps.
- T-Stabilization — From a pushup position, rotate to one side and reach arm up to a side plank position. 20-30 reps.
- Crunch – with both legs 90-degrees from the floor, cross ankles and bring elbows up toward knees. 20-30 reps.
- Leg lift with reverse crunch
- Side V-ups — Lie on your side with legs extended in a slight V. Place the arm closest to the ground out in front of your body, then squeeze obliques and crunch up by pushing through the arm and raising legs up at the same time.
- Tuck and Roll — Lie on your back, extend your legs, then tuck them in and roll back into a ball.
Whether you're already a 15,000-step champion like Dan or someone who's still looking for ways to motivate yourself off the couch, the Fitbit can help you hack your everyday health. Head over to the Fitbit Store to find the band that's right for you.
Lucy Maher is a digital media executive with 15 years reporting, writing and content strategy experience. Her work has appeared on SELF.com, MensJournal.com, Details.com, CNBC.com, and in The New York Post and the New York Daily News.
Photographed by Justin Steele.