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Good Words

Friends, my playlist is about to get a major Mama makeover. Elliott and I have never been the kind of parents to keep our preferred music away from our son. Sure, some of the content got watered down once little man’s ears started to pick up on words, but we never fully converted our music of choice over to a Kidz Bop-approved variety. Over the last year or so, Brooks – our son who is now five years old – has taken a special interest in singing along with me to the songs that are on my playlist. We sing in the car, he sings along with the music while I work out or while we run down back country roads. It’s kind of become our thing. When we get to the songs that are filled with uplifting messages – messages that reinforce our faith or encourage self-confidence – I always say, “Listen, buddy! These are good words.” After a few months of me reminding him to pay close attention to the lyrics in certain songs, Brooks has now started to ask me, “Mommy, are these good words?” wh

The exercise that will transform your lower body

If you follow the Austin Fitness Project on Instagram (the joint fitness account I share with my husband Elliott - @austinfitnessproject), you have definitely seen this movement before. Elliott started training me back in December, and he creates all of our AFP workouts. He incorporates this exercise into my workouts more often than not, and the difference I've seen in my lower body - core to calves - is undeniable.


Heard of them? We hadn't, until just a few months ago. A fellow firefighter at Elliott's station showed him the movement during a workout one day. It's a simple movement but, as with pretty much any exercise, needs to done correctly to ensure maximum benefit and to prevent injury. I'm breaking down the movement below, but first let's get into the benefits of the exercise.

Cardio - Just like with jumping jacks or burpees, any explosive movement that incorporates jumps is going to tax your cardiovascular system. Incorporating squat jacks into your workouts is a great way to get your heart rate up as an alternative to short bursts of running or biking.

Tones muscles - Squat jacks tax your muscles in both endurance and explosiveness, resulting in a more toned core (front and back), as well as legs and butt. (Tip: keep your abs pulled in nice and tight to get maximum benefit for your core.)

Strengthening- This movement has the potential to make your lower body stronger than ever and can even strengthen the muscles in your feet if done barefoot (my personal favorite).

Ok, let's break down the movement and look at form:

Begin with your feet slightly wider than hip width and toes very slightly out. Starting with correct form will not only ensure max effectiveness but will also help protect your knees.

(And my sweet photobomber is our pup Tucker - always a trusted companion for at-home workouts.)

Bring your butt straight down into a full squat and bring your elbows to your knees. (Keep your knees forward and not to the side, to protect the joint.)

From the squat, explode upward, lengthening your back, straightening your arms and bringing them slightly behind you on either side.

Explode off the ground with arms behind you - like you're flying! 😊

Land from your jump and go directly into your original squat movement - even get a little deeper when you come back down. Focus on keeping your back vertical as much as possible. (I am probably more hunched over here than I should be.)

Elliott includes these in my workouts once or twice each week, at a minimum. If you've never done squat jacks before, we recommend starting with 4 sets of 15. (Your thighs are going to yell at you the next day. That's a good thing! Soreness is progress.) The next week, try going up to a total of 70 reps per workout. But always remember to listen to your body. If your form is getting sloppy due to fatigue, take a break. Poor form doesn't achieve max benefit, and it could lead to injury.

As with any of my posts, I would love to hear from you! Email me or comment here with questions or feedback, and definitely keep me posted if you decide to start incorporating squat jacks into your exercise routine. Happy jumping! 


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