In this series of five posts, normal people with naturally active lifestyles will inject a fitness boost into their routines using the Fitbit, complete with exercises anyone can use to make every day a workout. To keep up, start here for the basics, then check back here in the coming weeks as more people and their custom, gym-free workouts are added. First up: floral designer Amy Eisenstadt.
While floral design may sound like a dainty pursuit, bespoke floral designer Amy Eisenstadt's life is anything but. In a typical week, she spends more time hauling cumbersome materials all over New York City than she does strewing rose petals or considering the subtle aesthetics of the orchid.
It's a dirty, high-energy job, with a lot of heavy labor and even more schlepping. So much, in fact, that when Amy tracked herself using a Fitbit Charge™, she found out that she was already walking almost 12,000 steps a day, burning around 2,800 calories, and covering 5.4 miles without even really trying.
How she gets there: on Wednesdays and Thursdays, Amy wakes up at the crack of dawn and heads from her home in Astoria to the flower market in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood to choose flowers and greens, and to search for unique glassware and vases — all of which must be done by 8 a.m. Once she's picked out everything she needs, she carries her haul — along with her tool bag of shears, scissors, wire, tape, and everything else she'll need during the day — onto the subway and heads a few stops to midtown, where she puts together her first arrangements for her corporate clients.
After that, it's on to the Upper East and West Sides, where she arranges bouquets in her clients' homes, often climbing up and down (and up and down) ladders to perfect her creations. Days with no appointments are still busy: after hitting the gym for a circuit training class, Amy usually heads out to search the city for in-season buds, interesting tabletop vessels, and other scores.
Even though the numbers on that Fitbit dashboard were nothing to sneeze at, Amy was still hoping to find ways to be more efficient about the exercise she was already getting — especially when it came to building endurance and upper body strength, and alleviating some of the tightness and pain all that heavy mid-week lifting had been causing in her upper-back and neck region.
To help, Chris Hale, a certified personal trainer who, with his wife, runs Awakened Nutrition and Training, used the data provided by Amy's Fitbit to put together a set of personalized exercises geared toward helping her stay healthy and get in shape on the fly without disrupting her day. Although these exercises were created with Amy in mind, they're also designed to be easily adaptable for anyone with similar fitness goals and lifestyles.
Problem: Repetitive Stress
Repetitive motions (like lifting heavy pots of water, raising bundles of flowers over a shoulder, and reaching up to arrange them) can overload certain muscles and joints in your upper body, leading to pain and occasionally injury.
Solution: Get Stretchy
Hale recommends using a small, flexible foam ball to loosen yourself up with the following exercises.
- Leaning with the upper portion of your back against a wall, place the ball on the upper trap near the base of the neck and just to the side of the spine. Ball should be placed at the inner- and upper-most region of your shoulder blade.
- Using your body weight against the wall, find a tender/sensitive spot and apply pressure for 30-90 seconds.
- Then, while sitting or standing, place one hand behind your low back/hip; drop your ear to the opposite shoulder and reach over with your other hand.
- With gentle pressure, pull your head toward your shoulder. (E.g., from right ear to right shoulder).
- Lie on your side and slide the arm that's restong on the floor up over your head. Place the ball at the upper portion of the lat near the underarm.
- Find a tender/sensitive spot and apply continuous pressure for 30-90 seconds.
- Then, get in yoga "child's pose" and, with your arms outstretched before you, creep your hand over to one side to increase the stretch down the lat. Repeat on the other side.
- Lie on your stomach on the floor or a mat and lift either the left or right arm out to the side, above shoulder height. (Make sure you're near enough to a wall that you'll be able to reach it— that comes in later.)
- Place the ball on your chest nearest to the shoulder and gently apply pressure. Adjust your position until you find a sensitive spot, then apply pressure for 30-90 seconds.
- Find the corner of a wall and place your arm against the wall with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and at or slightly above shoulder height. Then away from the wall till you feel a stretch in your chest.
Problem: Breathlessness and Heart Health
The good news: Amy's Fitbit Charge™ showed she had been taking nearly significantly more than the 10,000 recommended steps in the course of a normal day, so she was doing great right off the bat. That meant it was time to get serious and take it up a notch to get her heart into even better shape and leave behind the huffing and puffing for good.
Solution: Step It Up
For those, like Amy, who already find themselves easily meeting a daily goal of 10,000 steps but want to continue to build on the exercise they're already getting, Hale recommends a fast, simple cardiovascular workout performed twice a week. Using the Fitbit Charge™ — which measures not just the steps you've taken but also your heart rate and calories burned — you'll be able to easily add this focused routine to your normal daily activities, tracking your improvements and making adjustments as you see yourself getting stronger.
- Sprint intervals – 8 sets consisting of 30 second sprints followed by 90 seconds of lower intensity recovery
- Jump rope - 10 minutes
Problem: Weak Muscles
Even with all the stuff Amy was carrying around town, she felt like she wasn't doing it in a way that was making any difference in her strength or muscle tone — and was feeling the burn in a major when when she showed up for her circuit training classes or even when she had a heavier-than-usual set of materials to transport. She wanted to find ways to improve her upper body strength without having to start pumping iron.
Solution: Strength Training
Not to worry — there are solutions for strength training that don't involve going to the gym. As an alternative, Hale suggests squeezing in a circuit of standard moves that you can perform pretty much anywhere. Try three sets of 15-20 reps of the following:
Using the above fitness plan and armed with the Fitbit Charge™ to track and calculate her movements, sleep patterns and general health, Amy's on track to make 2015 the year she gets in shape. Want to do the same? Head over to Fitbit and start taking your first steps.
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.