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Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak. Sometimes you’re just strong enough to let go.

—  Taylor Swift
In the newsletter this week, we’ve got a relaxing sauna break, some intense cardio, and the ultimate ab-flattening finisher. Read on...

Now that we’re all getting back to the gym, some Fit Girls are resuming another gym tradition: the sauna. Originating in northern Europe in 2000 BC with man-made caves that were warmed by hot stones, the sauna ritual has today been updated to use modern electric heating.

Saunas reduce stress, speed exercise recovery, and may boost cardiovascular health. One study even found that sitting in the sauna for 30 minutes increases women’s levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which helps our bodies break down fats and build muscle.

Using a sauna right after your workout isn’t recommended by experts because, after a vigorous workout, saunas and hot tubs dilate your blood vessels, restricting circulation. It’s best to wait until your body has cooled down before stepping into the sauna’s heat.

Infrared saunas are a special type of sauna that use infrared light to heat the body from within. Promoters claim infrared saunas penetrate skin more deeply, thus releasing more “toxins”. 

Science check: sweat can release some toxins, but your kidney and liver do most of the work of removing toxins from your body. The function of sweat is mostly to simply cool you down. So, don’t overdo it—take a break for a sip of water if you’re in the sauna and start to feel overcooked!

Hoping you can sweat out the bad vibes this week,  Katherine & Linda
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Millionaire Hoy
Up for some advanced cardio moves? YouTube fitness guru Millionaire Hoy (yes, that is his real name) provides explosive interval workouts, in the style of a tough-yet-motivating athletic coach. 

Sometimes you want a workout with no frills, just total focus, and that’s what Hoy provides. A father of five, Hoy broadcasts from a room in his home. We love how he performs every step of the workout right along with us—the sweat is real.

Try this: This 35-minute No-Equipment Workout is the equivalent to doing a 5K run, but you can bang it out right in your living room. 

If you want the ultimate indoor fitness challenge try completing Hoy’s 60-minute Full Body Crusher cardio workout with no breaks and no modifications—when we tried it, we were sweating and exhausted by the end.
Perform the perfect plank
It’s the ultimate ab flattener and core strengthener: the plank. Since core muscles stabilize your body and protect your spine, adding a plank to your workouts is the best preventative medicine against back pain. 

Safety bonus: while the bending-forward motion of a sit-up can strain the neck and lower bank, a plank requires no movements that could cause stress and injury.

How to perform the perfect plank: lying on your stomach, lift your body off the floor while balancing on your toes and forearms. Squeeze your core and keep a neutral spine and neck, and keep your hips in line with your shoulders -- no sagging towards the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds to a minute.

How to make planks harder? Try alternating leg lifts for two seconds at a time while holding the pose. Another tough variation: during the last ten seconds of your plank, step move your toes backwards two inches, while keeping your elbows resting in the same position. 

If you add a plank to the end of your workout as a finisher, try tacking on 10 additional seconds every week to progress in core strength. Here are a few more plank variations and form tips from Prevention Magazine.

Plank fun fact: the female world record for planking is held by Dana Glowacka, who held the position for an incredible four hours and 20 minutes!
 Do you get stressed on weekends instead of relaxing? Do you think of “goofing off” as wasted time? Stop trying to be so productive (Elemental)

hearty eggplant casserole is an easy and filling vegetarian entree (Healthy Recipes Blog)

 Sit-ups are the ultimate core exercise, but most people suffer from sloppy form —
here’s how to do them right (Well+Good)

 A low-carb
"unstuffed” pepper & ground beef casserole that’s an easy one-dish meal for weeknights (Jennifer Banz)

Got knee pain when you work out?
Targeted lower-body exercises can help (ACE Fitness)
Need some new gym jams? We made a playlist of some of our T.Swift faves, so you can have your own Swift Lift (or run, or yoga, or...!) session. 

Like and listen on Spotify!
Thanks for reading, Fit Girls!
We’ll return to your inbox next week with more inspiration & knowledge.
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