Festive and Fit

How to maintain healthiness and happiness this holiday season

By Jeff Howard
Photos by
Erin Trimble
Dillard’s and 
Arthur K. Draught Park

For many of us, the beginning of December means figuring out how to maintain your fitness program through the holiday season. Clients constantly ask, “How will I find time for my work-out?” Let’s face it: you have worked hard all year and need to make a plan to get through this amazing time of the year. By keeping one foot in the gym, let’s combat some of the damage done as you eat, drink and make holiday memories. Maintain the level of fitness you’re at and feel less afraid about getting back to it come January.

1. Commit to working out early, and put it on your schedule. Any form of exercise – whether it’s walking, running, lifting weights, yoga or Pilates – can help relieve stress during this demanding time of year, so just get it done.

2. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym. Make it a quick workout. Even if it’s only 30 minutes, at least you did something.

3. Try to make a schedule you can stick to. If you can’t hit the gym five days a week, then make it three.

4. Make this a time to maintain, not advance, your training.

5. Set (realistic) fitness goals for the new year. This is a great time to train with a friend or family member so you’re held accountable.

The 15-Minute Holiday De-Stress Workout

Here is a quick and easy routine to help you calm down and center, all while toning and strengthening your entire body.

Do each exercise series for five to six minutes. Repeat once. For the final three to five minutes, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with eyes closed and breathe deeply.

1. Reverse Plank to Lower-Back Stretch

Sit with your hands on the floor next to your hips with fingers forward, palms flat, legs extended and chest arched toward the ceiling.

Press into the feet, lifting your hips as high as you can. Hold for five breaths.

Lie back and hug the knees into your chest. Rock gently through the hips for five full breaths.

2. Elbow Plank to Prone Press-Up

Begin in plank position with palms and forearms on the floor, elbows under shoulders, arms parallel and legs extended behind you – forming a straight line from head to heel.

Hold for five full breaths, keeping abs tight.

Lower your body to the floor, then lift abs and chest, arching upper back. Hold for five full breaths or 30 seconds.

3: Plié

Stand in plié position with feet shoulder-width apart and turned out.

Lift arms overhead in a wide V position.

Bend the knees 90 degrees, keeping knees aligned with toes. Pulse up and down two inches for 30 seconds.

Sit with legs extended and hip-width apart. Hinge forward from hips and reach for your feet. Hold for 30 seconds.

4. Front Lunge to Forward Fold

Stand with feet hip-width apart and lunge forward with the left leg. Keep the left knee aligned over the ankle.

Raise hands overhead with palms facing each other. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Return to start with feet hip-width apart with knees slightly bent.

Hinge forward from hips. Grasp opposite elbows and hang for 20 to 30 seconds.

The 10-minute workout

For those days when you’re really pressed for time, find two minutes to complete:

*5 burpees

*10 push-ups

*15 plank jacks

*20 jump squats

Repeat five times.

In The Voice of Louisville’s Inaugural Bestie Awards, Jeff Howard won first runner up for Best Fitness Instructor. Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center won the Best Exercise Studio and Best Yoga Studio.

Jeff Howard is a world-renowned fitness presenter who resides in Louisville. He also serves as promotional director of fitness for Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center.

Watch Jeff on WHAS11’s “Great Day Live!” at 10 a.m. Mondays!