Every strike and exercise we do at CKO is important to the full-body workout experience we promise our members. Each move has its own set of muscles that it works and all of them combined helps to strengthen and tone every muscle in your body. Our upper-body resistance training is the perfect kind of training for people looking to get sculpted arms and a strong core, with each strike targeting a different set of muscles from the next.
The jab is a long, straight punch which extends from your chin to your target. It’s quick and simple technique makes proper execution attainable, but it fires a number of muscles in the upper body. It’s not just a bicep/tricep strike, but the jab actually works your entire arm and part of your back and core. Your deltoids and trapezius muscles are challenged and that power extends all the way to your obliques and hip flexors. That’s a lot of muscle engagement in a single punch.
The trunk of your body is the power source in this strike. Using the meaty part of your elbow, you’ll need to angle the elbow up to complete a well-executed strike. With this strike, you’ll be able to feel the power coming from your obliques. Pull your belly button in and make your core tight to get the most out of an elbow strike, and allow your hip to roll in while pivoting your foot (same side as the arm executing the strike). A few powerful, well executed moves on each side will leave you feeling it tomorrow.
This is the kind of strike that is all power and all body. Through the movement, you’re pivoting with your feet, turning with your trunk and powering through with the back of your fist. You feel your muscles working in your shoulders, core, back and all through your arms. The backfist in particular is great for your deltoids, latissimus dorsi (“lats”) and rotator cuff.
The uppercut gets you nice and close to your target. Use your body weight to your advantage to help shovel your fist in. When completing an uppercut, you can immediately feel your biceps and triceps working as you hit the bag. Other muscles you may not feel are those sneaky obliques again, as well as your lats and deltoids.
The hook is another strike where core is key. You’re using your arm to “hook” and fist to strike, but the power behind the motion is your core. Twist your core to bring your body into the bag and the core is what helps absorb the shock of the strike. In addition to the core, your entire arm and shoulder are worked to help provide accuracy and additional power.
Like the backfist, the hammer strike is a great shoulder workout. Unlike the backfist, the hammer is a softer strike, as you are using the side of your fist, which is much more delicate than the back side of your fist—there are a lot of small bones to consider on the impact. Do a few fast hammers back and forth between bags and you will know exactly which muscles you are using.
Each of these strikes are great on their own, but when combined, they give your body the conditioning it needs to strengthen and tone your entire arms, back, chest and core. The best way to see results and get definition is to work the whole body instead of focusing on one part. Together, these strikes will do that for your body.
Xristina is one of CKO’s beloved trainers. She is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)-certified personal trainer with a vast pool of knowledge. Her group exercise chronicles over 12 years teaching a variety of formats – boot camp, ride, core, strength and balance, yoga, pilates, cardio kickboxing and Zumba. She has specializations in senior fitness, functional movement training, and TRX.
When not motivating others to find a passion in activity which provides both mental acuity and physically health benefits, Xristina enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, be it traveling, good food or fine red wine. Learn more about Xristina and her journey to CKO:
How did you first hear about CKO?
I heard about CKO from my dear friend Shelby Reno. Shelby and I taught group exercise together for several years. Today she is one of my closet friends, and now I have the privilege of training at her first facility.
What was the one thing about CKO that stood out to you the most?
What stood out most about CKO is, regardless of one’s fitness level, anyone can participate in class, seeing and feeling results of resistance training using heavy bags. It’s just you and the bag!
How did you get involved in fitness?
Nothing sexy here. Simply said it was timing and being prepared when the opportunity presented itself. No one gets rich teaching group X. It’s a passion which includes having a love of fitness, inspiring and motivating people, empowering individuals, and then educating and guiding them to take charge so that they want to continue a healthy lifestyle.
What is your regular fitness routine?
I look at workouts cumulatively, which would be my total output within a week’s time. In that timeframe I seek to accomplish two to three hours of weight training, two hours of yoga, three to four hours of cardio, and two to three hours of active recovery (stretching, balance, resistance tubes, and body weight stuff). And, of course, kickboxing at CKO. For me, looking at things in a block of one week gives me permission to be flexible as well as cut myself some slack!
You have 12 years teaching group exercise. How is CKO different from other classes you’ve taught?
Teaching on heavy bags is definitely a new experience for me. I love that the workout is simply a good old fashioned butt kicking! In some ways it reminds me of boot camp, yet you can truly go at your own pace. When a participant works on a bag, the work is focused quite simply on their bag. It’s great to hear people say after class, “Wow, I needed that!” It’s a stress reducer on top of being an effective body sculptor and fat melter.
How do you motivate others to reach their fitness goals?
The best way I know how to motivate others is by meeting them at their current fitness level and building from there. I approach fitness in myself and others as an ongoing journey. It’s becomes a lifestyle. In life we have good days and bad, awesome trips and mediocre ones, ups and downs, and so on. Again, it’s looking at our actions and behaviors cumulatively.
What is one fitness goal of which you are proud?
I’ve accomplished many disciplines, including bike races, 25Ks, half marathons – with and without pushing a stroller – and two half triathlons. In one of those tris I was training a client in her first competition. I HATE swimming so I cheated and pretended to jump in but never did, LOL! She did great! I believe my biggest fitness goal and challenge still awaits me.
You have three kids. How do you pass down health and wellness to them?
I do have two wonderful sons and an amazing daughter. I feel pretty good about the fact that they enjoy participating and watching sports. All three of them are physically active and make pretty decent food choices. The old saying that “children learn what they live” holds a lot of truth. My husband and I are not perfect, but we focus on staying balanced in everything we do. He and I have always been physically active; it’s nice to see that trickle down into our kids’ lifestyles. Shaping and molding our young people begins within our own four walls.
What do you like to do for fun?
A lot! Not in any particular order: training, instructing and coaching – yep, all GREAT sources of fun. My job is truly fun, and I love what I do! My most important fun job is my family. I really enjoy being with them, especially when all three kids are home at the same time, doing nothing in particular, simply being together! Additionally it is awesome when my kids have their friends over and just chill. Dating my husband again as the nest empties has been incredibly fun, too. Other avenues include concerts, sipping wine with friends, chilling on the river while my husband fishes…and sipping wine 🙂 I’m a pretty simple person, all of the above brings me joy.
What’s one great piece of fitness advice you’ve received?
The best advice I’ve received was simply this: Every day cannot be race day. Do NOT go balls-to-the-wall every workout. This advice is actually something I had to tell myself several years ago after an injury. So it is this advice that I serve up to others and myself regularly. We must give our selves permission to actively recover and, yes, even rest!
Reaching Your Maximum Potential
It’s bound to happen. One day you’ll begin your workout session and just not feel it. You’ll slug through it and finish feeling no more accomplished than when you started. Sure, there is no such thing as a bad workout, but that doesn’t help when you fall short of your own expectations.
A less-than-stellar workout happens to all of us, but there are measures you can take to ensure you have more of the energized kind which will leave you amped for the next one. Here are six lifestyle-based action steps to help you maximize your fitness potential.
- Hydrate to regulate.
This is a no-brainer. You literally need water to perform at life, so of course you need it to fuel you regardless if the effort is high intensity interval-based or steady state-based. In addition to, you know, keeping you alive, water is a lubricant for your muscles, joints and vital organs. It primes your body for physical exertion and helps regulate your body temperature when you are heating things up in a hardcore HIIT workout. Be smart, though. Make sure you are steadily consuming water throughout the day instead of chugging right before a workout.
- Fuel your mind and body.
We’re talking food here. The right kind of food can set you up for a spectacular workout. The wrong kind will leave you feeling bloated or sluggish. Stay away from added sugars and salts; avoid heavy meals right before a workout. Like chugging water, scarfing food won’t mix well with physical activity. This is where natural snacks come in handy. Fruits, vegetables and nuts will provide you with an energy boost from quality nutrients, like fiber and protein. When it comes to meals, think of your food as something which will help fuel and repair the body. Focus on whole grains, lean meat, lots of fruits and vegetables, and protein-filled foods like legumes, nuts, leafy greens, seeds, and tofu.
- Wear gear that moves with you.
Choose clothes which will work with you, not against you. Think about the kind of activity you are doing and research the best options for that workout. Your clothes and shoes should allow you to move freely, provide stability where you need it, wick moisture, and not ride up. The right clothing will keep you in beast mode when you need it most.
- Envision goals for mental prep.
If you’re not in the mood for your workout, it’s probably going to suck. Do whatever you can to convince yourself it’s going to be awesome and moves you a degree closer to your fitness goal(s). Find a motivational quote or mantra and set it on mental repeat. Envision what you will look and feel like with your fitness goals achieved. Find that perfect pump-up jam and blast it to get you in the zone. Whatever you need to do to get you into beast mode, do it.
- Determine the best time to work out.
Some people perform their best in the morning hours, while others get top results in the evening. The very best time to work out is that time which is right for you. Sample various times and pick the one where you feel strongest and most energized. We have a winner!
- Be kind to yourself.
You’re not going to kill it every time. Each workout is a step toward a better you, so bear in mind your humanness. Do your best and enjoy the experience. Fitness is a journey where a hard-and-fast destination is always just out of reach.
Combine all these tips to maximize your fitness potential and get your best workout ever. Some – like modifying your diet – will take various levels of effort to sustain, but once you start incorporating these tips, they will become ingrained into your routine, and you won’t even have to think twice about them. In fact, they will shape you (both mentally and physically!) for years and years to come.
CKO member Kurt Messingschlager was looking for his next fitness challenge when CKO moved in literally across the river from his condo. Kurt spent a year doing low-impact exercise and physical therapy due to injuries obtained from a car accident several years ago. After the yoga and physical therapy helped him to better manage his pain, he began searching out another activity with resistance and high intensity interval training. Luckily, CKO came into town at the perfect moment. Learn more about Kurt and his fitness journey.
Our trainer Nicole has been able to lead a fit, healthy and fulfilled life by finding balance. She currently teaches at CKO, plus has her full-time job as a graphic designer, plus she is working on her new home, plus she ensures she fits in her own workouts. How does she do it all? She prioritizes what’s important to her. Get to know more about Nicole and how she maintains balance in her life.