Wellness Wednesday: How to Jump Start Your New Year

We all know that eating less and moving more are part of a healthy lifestyle. This time of year, many of us are looking for ways to “make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.” Here’s what’s helping me get back on track after the holidays.

Cookies, cookies, everywhere

Last year—well, just three weeks ago—I found myself downing spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk right out of the can as I binge-watched yet another holiday movie. Shocked? Not me.

This didn’t just happen. It followed a month of baking/eating Christmas cookies/etc., hobbling around on a broken toe (no running, barely walking), a long cold-weather snap that knocked out the community pool heater (no swimming or water exercise), and buying the super-sweet milk to make flan for Christmas Eve then opting for a lighter dessert. The holi-DAY had morphed into a holy-MESS of too much indulgence, too little exercise, and a whole lot of excuses.

Weight Watchers support

I am fortunate in having an ally with a perpetually extended hand of rescue—Weight Watchers. Two weeks ago, I went to my WW meeting. I weighed in—acknowledging the scale is the price of admission—sat my butt in a chair, listened, learned, laughed, and shared these cookies. Sharing cookies at Weight Watchers?!?! Yes. They are built on a base of black beans! Here’s the WW recipe for Chocolate Mint Bars.

Then, I got back to the program that helped me lose 30 pounds a decade ago—and keep it off ever since—through an active, supportive community, both online and in person. It’s an essential component of my health. Weekly meetings give me laughter and face-to-face accountability. The WW online community gives me 24/7 support, tips and tricks, and friendship.

You might want to check out Weight Watchers for yourself if you, too, need a healthy jump start into the New Year.

WECOACH support

My exercise ally this New Year is Laurie Denomme at WECOACH Workouts. Laurie was my mentor when I taught in South Florida active senior communities, and she has now developed an online exercise program (both water and land classes) that helps her students rediscover the joy of movement. I have shared WECOACH Workouts with my South Florida neighbors—aka The Mermaids—who gave their Top Ten Reasons we love this program.

Laurie has just launched her new 28-day program, Everyday Cardio 1.0 which helps us understand how our bodies work in this way:

Knowing what we should be feeling in our bodies helps us to get dialed in to the intensity we need to get the results we want.

Laurie Denomme, WECOACH Workouts

This week, I had the privilege of having the warm pool to myself, with my toe nearly healed and the day cool but sunny, and I pressed play on the new “Cardio Jump Intervals.” Before I knew it 50 minutes were gone, 300 calories were burned, and my entire body was humming with wellness. Check out the timeliness of Laurie’s coaching tips (knowing what we should be feeling in our bodies) in this brief excerpt from the class!

Jump started!

Back on my lifestyle track of eating well and moving often, with half the cookie weight behind me, I’m feeling confident that 2023 will be the best year yet. As Laurie says at the end of each class:

Well done!

Laurie Denomme, WECOACH Workouts

Wellness Wednesday: We Show Up Because It’s Fun!

I’ve been blogging as a subscriber to Laurie Denomme’s WECOACH Workouts for five months now.

WECOACH Workouts has helped me reach a new fitness level. Laurie’s shoulder, back, and hip exercises allow me to twist to look behind me more easily when I’m backing out the car. I keep my workouts interesting by incorporating Laurie’s 7 foot positions, and my knees and hips are much happier. My stamina has increased, along with my energy level. I’m a little more lean. I can run further, swim longer, walk faster. When I got back into the pool after my 2019 illness, I was simply grateful to be in the water. Laurie has brought me a long way.

I’ve been exploring Laurie’s WECOACH Workouts with a group of my South Florida neighbors in our HOA community pool. Three mornings a week, two to seven of us show up about 8 o’clock and hop in the water for a 50 minute online class with Laurie. Some of us work. Some of us have kids. Some of us could sleep until 10 very happily. But we get to the pool. We even call ourselves The Mermaids. Now and then, a Merman joins us.

The morning WECOACH Workouts class in my community pool
The morning WECOACH Workouts class in my community pool (that’s me in the hat)

What really keeps me showing up at the pool is this amazing group. They are kind, supportive, and funny. And as each one has grown in confidence and skill in the water, she shares what she’s learned with others.

Today’s blog is about WHY? What has made this experience something we make time for? I asked this morning’s class participants to consider the question, and here is what they said.

Taking care of ourselves

C and me in the pool
C and me in the pool. Or is it ET and friend?

It is great to have fun while we work out to take care of ourselves. It is easier to do it when you are with caring friends.

Connie

What Connie doesn’t take credit for is instigating the entire effort. She learned to swim last year, overcoming a lifetime of fear of the water. She asked me to help her practice, and so my early morning schedule began including the pool.

Learning new things

I am learning English and French! “Very good!”

Rosa
Holding a plank position in the water is a great core exercise!

Rosa, who has lived most of her life in Colombia, is not only improving her language skills but also has made the most progress in her water skills. Look at the satisfied smile as she demonstrates a plank with a pool noodle during one of Laurie’s plank variation workouts!

Challenging ourselves

While the exercises are challenging, we are in a good mood, joking and helping one another, stress free.

Carol

Carol joined us recently, and she has made great progress in understanding how to use the water’s resistance and buoyancy. In fact, she’s taking the plunge and has started swim classes! Confidence abounds in this group.

Having attended the class this morning is undoubtedly why I find myself in a happier mood than usual. I appreciate the positive effect.

Carol

Feeling energized

I’ve noticed that I have more energy now that I’m doing these classes.

April

April—who missed “class picture day” in the pool😊—is also a recent addition to our class. The pool noodles she contributed to the class give everyone a chance to play with different buoyancy and resistance.

Finding our limits

One of Laurie’s trademark phrases is “your feel- good range,” as she encourages each participant to explore the movement within what feels good to our bodies. Evelyn, who also subscribes to WECOACH Workouts, has taken to using the phrase independently during our pool time.

You’ll know from my face when I’m in my “feel good range.”

Evelyn

Having fun

In a word, fun!

Carol

We laugh and talk and have fun, I just enjoy the time with you all.

Rosa

I enjoy the laughter and fun as well as getting to know my neighbors.

April

My kids have their play dates, now I have my own fun time, I love playing with friends at the pool. And the best part is that I am still able to proudly say to my doctor “yes I do“ when the uncomfortable question comes up: Do you work out? 😊

Olga

So subscribe today and discover the fun that awaits in WECOACH Workouts!

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Wellness Wednesday: Top Ten Reasons to Do WECOACH [Water] Workouts

Founder Laurie Denomme’s WECOACH Workouts draws on 30 years of water exercise teaching experience to create member-exclusive programs that include: water workouts, land workouts, tips to help us feel our way to better results, and success trackers to help us recognize our progress. Here are my top ten reasons to subscribe to this unique, results-focused exercise program.

10. Using a pool is like going to the gym (only without the dreaded mirrors)!

Buoyancy and resistance combine to make the water a place we can move with total ease. Water workouts can also improve heart health, make muscles stronger, and even improve bone health. Pool stairs are great for stretches and pushups, pool walls help with resistance and balance work, and shallow to deep water depths target specific fitness results. All you need is a coach.

Laurie Denomme, founder of WECOACH Workouts

9. There’s loads to choose from!

Subscribers to WECOACH Workouts can choose to follow the schedule of classes organized within each monthly program—Move Better 2.0, Everyday Strong 1.0, and Everyday Mobility 1.0 are all available now, and Laurie is always at work on the next program. You can also pick and choose your classes a la carte to suit how your body is feeling—whether you want to work on your core, back, shoulders, hips, or knees, you are sure to find the experience you’re looking for.

8. When you jiggle, no one sees it!

Water gives you the freedom to move without being scrutinized. Our submerged bodies can wiggle and jiggle happily out of sight. Luckily, our WECOACH Workouts coach Laurie demonstrates the class with underwater and above water video that makes the classes easy to follow.

7. You get to know your classmates!

Water promotes relaxation, laughter, and friendship, sometimes in unexpected ways. As our newest recruit, R, was learning how to use a pool noddle, she suddenly found herself belly up and flailing. I quickly came to her rescue, leading to a moment of togetherness. You can’t hug a person for dear life without becoming MUCH better acquainted. Our Spanish-language friendship instantly jumped from usted to tu, and we are now amigas sirenas—mermaid friends—for life!

6. Your confidence gets a boost!

The smiles that bloom on the faces of people who have just learned a new skill are contagious! When R mastered bicycling on a pool noodle, there was no stopping her. And when E realized she was doing a side plank, wow, a complete Cheshire Cat, ear-to-ear grin!

5. You can talk back to the teacher.

During a WECOACH Workout, we feel as if Laurie is talking to each of us individually via the screen of my iPad, and we act as if she can hear us, too.

E retired from a robust career as an educator in the Palm Beach County Schools, where, she says, she was known for silencing rowdy students with a powerful look. Oh, how those students would enjoy hearing their teacher laughingly talking back to Laurie as she leads us through a class. Laurie: “You got this!” E: “I don’t think so! Is it nine o’clock yet?”

In fact, Laurie DOES encourage comments and questions from WECOACH Workouts subscribers, and she answers them personally.

4. It feels good!

Water supports the joints while pushing back against the muscles, providing a near-perfect workout environment.

I can feel every muscle moving! If I were in the gym, I’d be feeling pain all over. But here, I am taking care of myself while I exercise.

C, who has returned to water exercise after being away for several months

3. You can learn another language.

Oops, that’s just my neighborhood pool class! E doesn’t speak much Spanish, and R doesn’t speak much English, but as they work out with Laurie they are each picking up a word here and there.

Muy bien! Very good!

E and R encouraging each other during WECOACH Workouts

2. It’s fun!

When I tell the people at the senior center that I’m having fun in a pool, they just kind of look at me. They know what fun is and what a pool is, but they can’t see how they go together!

My neighbor E, a retired Palm Beach County Schools educator

E has taken the initiative of talking to the center about getting a water exercise class going in their underused pool. She may just show up in her suit and do a demonstration of the ease with which you can move in the pool, especially for seniors who are mobility-impaired.

And you’re never too old to play in a pool.

1. The time flies by!

A couple of days a week, I get some laps in while E and R take a WECOACH Workouts class. It reminds me of when I would put on a Barney tape to keep my toddler busy while I did some household chore. My daughter was in good hands back then, and so are E and R now. The time moves quickly by, and then we’re doing the last few minutes of the class together.

Great workout!

Laurie Denomme

Amen!

Retired Palm Beach County educator E

Wellness Wednesday: WECOACH Gives Us 20 New Ways to Jog…or Is It 60?!

Walking for the first time two months after my May, 2019 illness in Amsterdam.

I have written about how plantar fasciitis put an end to my running on dry land in upstate New York years ago, opening the door to working out in a new environment, the water. When I retired to South Florida, I became a water fitness instructor.

A ruptured aneurysm and six weeks in an Amsterdam ICU stay in 2019 sapped me of all my strength. It took me another six weeks of hospital rehabilitation to be able to stand on legs that felt like empty cardboard tubes. I walked onto a Florida-bound airplane a month later.

Literally a step at a time, I dedicated myself to engaging my body into living my life. Somewhere along the way early on, I corrected my gait from heel strike to midfoot strike, allowing my body to better absorb the impact, and keeping my stride under my torso. Now, I’m able to run 3 miles several times a week. My plantar fasciitis is dormant.

Returning to gentle jogging on the South Florida beach

WECOACH Workouts

Running, though, with its repetitive, pounding movement, is hard on a body. For a well-rounded workout, I continue to exercise in the water. Water’s buoyancy supports the joints while water’s resistance increases the intensity of the movement along the entire length of the muscle.

As we move through the water, all of our movements are resisted. That is a beautiful thing because it means that we are training through the entire range of motion.

Laurie Denomme, WECOACH Workouts

WECOACH Workouts founder Laurie Denomme is my water coach. Laurie’s 6-7 Formula trains the body to be flexible and strong by moving in 6 directions — front to back, side to side, and left and right rotation — and in 7 foot positions — neutral, wide, narrow, turned out, turned in, left foot forward, and right foot forward.

The 6-7 Formula improves range of motion, connectedness, and balance.

Laurie Denomme, WECOACH Workouts

20 new ways to jog in the pool

Recently, Laurie married running and water in a new workout: Twenty New Ways to Jog in the Pool. In addition to the 6-7 Formula, Laurie has you running forward, backwards, sideways (can’t do THAT on land!), and in circles. She encourages us to experiment with intensity, feeling our way from light, to moderate, to vigorous effort.

My pool pals O and E, both former runners, recently did this workout with me. Buoyancy made it easier to move; although they were breathing hard, they were able to keep going without stopping for 30 minutes, far longer than either one could have run on land. They felt the workout throughout their bodies. O can’t believe that she’s worked up a sweat, and E tells us that she sees her new fitness level in her dog’s tiredness after a walk.

Levels add core work

Notice how Laurie gets her heels down to the pool floor every time? This rebound impact is the most commonly used. You can change to grounded impact by submerging your shoulders, keeping your toes, but not your heels, tapping the floor. You’ll feel your core engage and your legs stretch. Suspended impact is most easily done in deep water, getting everything off the pool floor while the torso remains vertical. It’s all core.

20 X 3 levels = 60+ ways to jog

So, using the three levels and varying the effort, there are an almost unlimited number of ways to jog in a pool. You’ll be getting a whole body workout that will increase your resilience, your endurance, and your happy-chemical endorphins.

Perhaps the best part of all is that running in water feels like play. And when you laugh, you are breathing! It’s all good.

The WECOACH Workouts subscription

You can browse additional classes on Laurie Denomme’s WECOACH YouTube channel. When you’re ready for more, for less than a dollar a day, subscribe to WECOACH Workouts 14-day, 21-day, and new Everyday Strong 1.0 28-day fitness programs. There, you’ll find a class schedule, tailored workouts, coaching tips, even a progress sheet. All you need to add is you!

Each member-exclusive program includes water workouts and tips to help you feel your way to better results. Download your success tracker PDF in “resources” and watch the video tips provided in the selected program playlist. You’ve got this!

Laurie Denomme, WECOACH Workouts

Wellness Wednesday: How WECOACH Workouts Prevent Swimming Injuries

Water keeps saving my life. I turned to the pool when plantar fasciitis curtailed my running fifteen years ago, discovering that resistance and buoyancy build body-wide strength. I was a personal trainer and water exercise coach when a ruptured aneurysm landed me in a Dutch hospital halfway through a cruise in 2019, with the muscle mass to support my comatose body for six weeks in the ICU. Muscle memory and determination to drove my ability to move during the subsequent years-long recovery.

The day I was able to lift my arms out of the water was the beginning of returning to swimming.

Swimming under the palms
Swimming under the palms

Swimming taxes the body

As I renewed my commitment to swimming, I experienced the soreness that comes with re-connecting with unused muscles and ligaments. My neck hurt from turning my head and my shoulders were tender as they drove my arms through heavy water. My lower back ached as I ventured into dolphin kicks. My knees felt the strain of the breaststroke frog kick.

Swimming is non-impact, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy on the body. The repetitive nature of swimming strokes puts us at risk for injury. Swimmer’s shoulder is the most common, with rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis, and bursitis resulting from the shoulder moving in multiple positions as the arm pulls the swimmer forward. Swimmer’s knee is a close second, deriving from the position of the feet, knees, and hips in the breaststroke kick. Neck pain and lower back pain are also frequent in swimmers.

Many of us think we can power through pain, that it’s just a matter of getting stronger. So, we double down on our laps, seeking those endorphin highs, the magic moment when the air and the water vanish and we’re just moving through space with the sound of our breath as our only company.

We’re half right. It is about getting stronger, but not by doing the same thing that got us hurt in the first place.

WECOACH Workouts

Last month, I shared the first of my new series of First Wednesday fitness posts about WECOACH Workouts, a comprehensive new water workout subscription from my mentor Laurie Denomme.

This month, Laurie has helped me understand how better biomechanics can help us swimmers avoid being kicked out of the pool by our own bodies.

Meet your scapula

The scapula—the shoulder blade—is the core of the upper body. It’s the locus through which upper body force is distributed.

Laurie Denomme, Founder of WECOACH Workouts

No fewer than 17 muscles attach to the scapula, making these shoulder blades the core of upper body strength. And if those muscles are weak, the results are felt in the shoulder, including the rotator cuff.

Scapular stability = less shoulder/neck pain

When the scapula is both free to move and stabilized by strong upper body muscles, that’s the key to avoiding swimmer’s shoulder and neck pain. 

Laurie Denomme, Founder of WECOACH Workouts

Our shoulders tend to get stuck in a rounded, forward position due to weakness in our back muscles. The muscles in the front of our shoulders and our chest become tight and short.

The beauty of the water is that buoyancy and resistance provide an excellent environment in which to strengthen our back muscles and stabilize our scapula.

Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together each time you reach your hands away from your body.

Laurie Denomme, Founder of WECOACH Workouts

Try this WECOACH Workouts drill to work on keeping your scapula DOWN and IN as you swim: Move Better Drill #1. Strengthen Abs and Back with Swimming Strokes.

Core stability = less back pain

And whenever the shoulders are stacked over the hips, the core muscles are engaged, supporting lower back muscles.

See how to stabilize the scapula and strengthen the core in Laurie Denomme’s Upper Body Interval Workout #1 Preview:

Seven foot positions = less knee pain

The external rotation of the leg in the breaststroke kick can inflame the knee ligaments. Prevent overuse damage by incorporating external and internal leg rotations into your warmup and cool down.

By consciously using different foot positions, we train our feet, ankles, knees, and hips to move through a wider range, building flexibility and strength. It’s a simple and very effective way of beginning to expand your range of motion.

Here is Laurie Denomme demonstrating how WECOACH Workouts strategically uses seven foot positions: normal stance; right foot forward; left foot forward; feet wide; feet narrow; feet turned out; and feet turned in.

Cross-training = fewer injuries

As much as I love the endorphin high that swimming generates, I do laps only twice a week, usually Mondays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, I am back in the pool with friends for WECOACH Workouts like this:

Three days a week, I do a land-based workout that includes jogging or biking, lifting weights, and stretching. And Sundays I take one whole day off, sometimes in my pjs! And, of course, there are walks every day with our dear rescue Lab, Kumba.

How to prevent swim injuries

  • Scapular stability: watch your shoulders!
  • Multidirectional training: work your legs in all directions!
  • Vary your workouts: keep it fun!

Next month: How WECOACH Workouts Improve …. [stay tuned!]

Wellness Wednesday: Rediscover the Joy of Moving with WECOACH Workouts!

I’ve done water exercise for two decades. It gave me the muscle mass body used for fuel during my six-weeks in an Amsterdam ICU in 2019. Water exercise helped rehabilitate my body during a long year of rehabilitation. And water has expanded and deepened my friendships in my South Florida neighborhood as I celebrate full recovery with water workouts in our community pool.

After all these years of life-affirming experiences, I figured I’d pretty much done what there was to do in the water. Nope, it was about to get even better.

My new discovery

I am thrilled to have discovered a new approach to water exercise that is making my brain and body even more resilient. Laurie Denomme’s Wavemakers® and WECOACH Workouts are transforming teachers into coaches, class members into partners, and routine exercise into a full-body preparation for life.

We are a community on a mission to help people feel, move, and live better.

Laurie Denomme, WECOACH Workouts and Wavemakers®

What if YOU were in charge of how you move during an exercise class instead of struggling to keep up with an instructor? What if you could FEEL the difference in your body, energy level, and confidence almost immediately? What if LAUGHING were encouraged? (Hint: It’s a good way to know you’re breathing!)

Laurie Denomme WECOACH Workouts Overview Video

I’m having so much fun that I don’t realize I’m exercising. I just know that I feel better, but my daughter has already noticed that my posture has improved.

My neighbor E after a few weeks of WECOACH Workouts

Movement made easy

Laurie Denomme’s WECOACH Workouts is new subscription exercise program that packages Laurie’s 30 years of experience into on-demand workouts video and audio pool workouts, plus land workouts to keep you moving. WECOACH Workouts uses distinctive arm, leg, and whole body movements that engage all of your muscles, and Laurie’s coaching will engage your brain in feeling your way to better fitness. With WECOACH Workouts, you take care of yourself, tailoring movements to fit your body, making every exercise right for you.

It feels like dancing.

My neighbor O after a few weeks of WECOACH Workouts

Results you can feel

When you listen to your body, it will tell you how to feel your way to better results.

Laurie Denomme, WECOACH Workouts and Wavemakers®

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to pick up your grandchildren, carry your groceries, or even stow your own carryon in the overhead compartment? Wish you could enjoy a walk without needing to rest so often? Here is what Laurie’s clients say about how WECOACH Workouts has changed their life.

I’m steadier on my feet.

I can do stairs again.

I’m back to playing golf without hurting.

I used to be reluctant to go out to dinner with friends because it took me so long to stand up. No more!

Rediscover the joy of movement

Want to exercise without feeling like you’re exercising? Get a workout without noticing the sweat? Build your confidence while you strengthen your body? Tailor movement to suit just you?

Get the exercise your body needs with WECOACH Workouts. Here’s a sample:

Laurie Denomme WECOACH Workouts Demonstration Video

Excited? Want to know more?

Every month, Laurie and I will share how WECOACH Workouts—through video and audio workouts, mobility and walking tests, exercise tips, and live Q&A sessions—can help you rediscover the joy of moving.

Ready to try it out for yourself? Click here!

Wellness Wednesday: What Water Exercise Can Do For You

Water saved my life

On Christmas Eve 2019, I wrote that water keeps saving my life. My work as an instructor of aquatic exercise had me fit enough to survive a ruptured arterial aneurysm and six weeks in an Amsterdam ICU in May of 2019, and I recovered the ability to move in water long before I could replicate those moves on land as my recovery continued back home in Florida.

Boynton Inlet, Palm Beach County, Florida

Today, I’ve tapped into two friends who are water fitness instructors — Janet Weisenford, who teaches at the Boca Raton YMCA, and Marlo Scott of First Class Fitness and Wellness — to help explore why water is such a great environment to exercise in, and what specific moves are the most useful.

Water gave a runner new legs

I discovered the wonderful magic of water fitness after being a distance runner for many years. I suffered from arthritis and needed to find another way to keep physically and mentally fit. At my massage therapist’s suggestion, I decided to check out aquatic exercise.

Janet Weisenford, Aquatics Exercise Association certified instructor at the Boca Raton YMCA

The water fitness class she took opened a new chapter for Janet Weisenford, a long-time teaching buddy. She discovered that she could get a great total body workout — cardio, strength training, and flexibility. Janet was so captivated that she became a certified instructor through the Aquatics Exercise Association, where she learned more about the water and its properties. Here is what Janet says about why water is such a great exercise medium:

  • Water’s buoyancy cushions our joints, allowing former runners like myself to run in the water with minimal impact.
  • The water also offers resistance, not only building muscle but also building or maintaining bone density.
  • Water workouts can also improve flexibility. The reduced effects of gravity allow you to move through a greater range of motion.

Flexibility, Janet says, is important for doing everyday activities, especially as we age, and it is often a component of fitness that is overlooked.

I can attest to that. There is nowhere better to stretch than in a pool, supported by the water.

Water exercises for core

As I learned during my recovery, core muscles bear the burden of holding us upright, ready for life. So focussing on these torso workhorses is an excellent idea. I asked Marlo Scott, with whom I’ve published posts on posture and on weight loss, for her favorite core exercises.

Core is a no-brainer: The plank, the push-up, and the bicycle.

Marlo Scott of First Class Fitness and Wellness

Notice how the old-fashioned sit-ups aren’t on Marlo’s list? The bicycle works not only the mid-section abdominals but also the obliques, back muscles, gluteus and hips while improving coordination, stability, and flexibility. The plank and push-ups add work for the chest, back, and arm muscles.

In the water, I love cross country skiing and then anything that involves a twist — even better, a twist with a noodle. I also think pull ups at the pool’s edge are fantastic. And front and rear leg kicks (as in doing the backstroke and the crawl) are great, too.

Marlo Scott of First Class Fitness and Wellness
Jane Kelly Amerson Lopez pool demonstration: jogging, plank, bicycle.

Try it for yourself

If you haven’t tried a class or a water workout at home, please do! I am sure that you will become a fan!

Janet Weisenford, Aquatics Exercise Association certified instructor at the Boca Raton YMCA
Marlo Scott jumping for the joy in her new water exercise gear!