Plank Your Way To A Strong Core

One of my favorite exercises to condition the core is a plank.
Here’s why:

  • You can plank anywhere. Plank at the gym, at home, at work, on vacation, in your hotel room, outside…you can do it anywhere!
  • Anyone can do it. If you’re just getting started, you can plank from your knees and make the exercise easier to perform. If you’re more advanced, there are multiple progressions. The options to make a plank more challenging are endless so as you get more fit, you can continue to progress and incorporate new variations.
  • No equipment required. All you need is your body!
  • No chance of getting bored. There are so many variations that you can do a different plank format every time and incorporate a lot of variety into your core conditioning program.
  • Planking trains stabilization. While planking, you’re strengthening your body’s ability to stabilize and brace the spine. As your core becomes stronger, that strength will radiate out to your extremities and you will be better able to stabilize and align your body, absorb and brace for any impact and move your body more efficiently and with better mechanics.
  • Planking strengthens your whole body. While planking your will strengthen your abdominals, back, shoulders and hips. It’s a full body exercise.

Here’s how to plank correctly and some fun variations.


Lie on your stomach. Position your elbows under your shoulders. Contract your abdominal muscles and then slowly lift your body onto your toes and your elbows. Keep your back straight and elongated. Strive for a straight line from the top of your head to toes. Remember to breathe.

plankneesNote: Feel free to start on knees and as you get stronger, slowly progress to your toes. Here’s a progressive program that you can do to get you to planking for one minute within one month.

  • Week One – Plank for 5 seconds x 12 – Do this 3x/week on alternating days
  • Week Two – Plank for 15 seconds x 4 – Do this 3x/week on alternating days
  • Week Three – Plank for 30 seconds x 2 – Do this 3x/week on alternating days
  • Week Four – Plank for 60 seconds – Do this 3x/week on alternating days

Here’s Some Plank Variations:


You can also plank from hands and toes instead of elbows and toes.

Hip Drop Planks

While holding the plank position, slowly allow your hips to drop and rotate side to side for goal time.

Knee to Elbow Planks

While holding the plank position, slowly draw one knee towards opposite elbow. Alternate and continue for goal time.

Leg Lift Planks

While holding the plank position, slowly lift one foot off the ground. Alternate and continue for goal time. You can advance, by lifting the foot, pressing it laterally and then dropping it back to the starting position.

Circle Planks

While holding the plank position from hands and toes, slowly lift one hand reach forward, overhead and all the way around to the starting position. Alternate and continue for goal time.

Stability Ball Planks

Place your feet on top of a stability ball while planking for a tough challenge.

Side-Lying Plank

Lie on your side while propping yourself up on one elbow with elbow positioned right under your shoulder. Keep your body straight and aligned.  Slowly lift your hips off the floor so that your body weight is now supported on your elbow and your knees (less advanced) or your toes (more advanced).

Yours in health, fitness& business,
Sherri McMillan

Couve Run 2017

Join us for the COUVE CLOVER RUN – 3, 7 & 10 MILES on March 24th, 2019 in downtown Vancouver, WA. Celebrate St. Patrick’s day with us at the 5th Annual Couve Clover Run. Wear your festive green while running or walking 3, 7 or 10 miles along an extremely fast and scenic course to support local charities! We will make you earn your post-event party, but it will be off the charts hosted by Main Event and other downtown Vancouver Pubs & Breweries.





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Sugar Cleanse

Many health professionals and nutritionists believe that added sugar is the single most harmful ingredient in our diet. Sugar addiction is no joke and affects the brain in a similar fashion as drug addictions. The more you consume it, the more you want it. The average American consumes 57 pounds of added sugar per year wrecking havoc on our health. Eating too much sugar is linked to weight gain, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, certain cancers, tooth decay and more. Some physiologists have suggested excessive sugar consumption can be as harmful as smoking cigarettes!

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Dance Your Way To Fit

I’ve started taking a Zumba class weekly and it reminded me of the benefits of dancing that I wanted to share with all of you.

Dancing Is Fun!

Most people don’t exercise because it’s such a chore but with dancing, you’re often having so much fun that you forget that you’re actually exercising!

Dancing Is Great For Weight Loss And Toning Muscles

It’s true that the best workout program is the one you enjoy enough to do regularly enough to experience great results! If you hate running, you’ll never do it and that won’t get you anywhere. But if you love to dance and you do it consistently, you will definitely lose weight and tone up! Dancing can easily burn up to 600 calories in an hour and works your entire body.

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Low Impact Does Not Mean Low Intensity

With the popularity of HITT (High Intensity Interval Training) which includes many high impact activities like Burpees, Jump Squats. Skipping, Running and various other explosive movements, it may seem like High Impact movements are the only path to results. That’s just not the case and good news for those with arthritic pain and various other injuries, aches and pains. The reality is that some people’s bodies just don’t do well with a lot of impact and they will respond better by choosing their fitness activities wisely.

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Top Fitness Trends For 2019

The American College of Medicine recently released a report of the Top New Fitness Trends for 2019. Check out the highlights below and maybe you will be inspired to jump on the band wagon and add some new excitement to your workouts. After all, variety in your fitness programming can minimize the risk of boredom and dropout and keep your program better balanced.

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One Free Day Is Better Than Striving To Be Perfect!

Many people have great intentions and set New Year’s resolutions to get healthy and start eating better. Many will go on a diet to lose weight but we all know that most diets fail. People typically can’t stay on the diet for the long-term so as soon as they go off the diet, they gain the weight back. Statistics show that most people can stick to a diet for about a week before they fail. So instead of fighting the process, try a different approach that will enable you to stay on your nutrition plan for the long-term and experience life-changing results.

Instead of striving for a perfect diet, follow a very strict, healthy, nutrient-dense, low calorie plan 5-6 days per week and then allow for 1-2 ‘Free Days” each week.

The Free days are built into the program so you don’t have to feel guilty about it; in fact they are necessary to assure you don’t feel deprived, can indulge every once in a while and can continue on the plan forever. It’s a lot easier to say no to something today when you know you can say yes to it in a few days. Remember that stats show we can stick to a diet for about a week so don’t fight this. Understand it and set up your program to be successful for the long-term. This type of plan is feasible for most people. You are not telling yourself you are never going to eat pizza or drink wine again, but instead, just limiting how much and when you will indulge. Just make sure you do not start to make deals with yourself regarding your free days. If Saturday is your free day, make sure you stick to Saturday. Avoid indulging on say, Thursday and then promising that on Saturday, you will skip your free day. These types of compromises can lead to more regular slips.

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Finding Your Own Personal Coach

Shape up with Sherri

If you examine most professional, elite athletes, you’ll notice they have an entourage of coaches, nutritionists and trainers who help them achieve their performance and athletic goals. These are the most talented and motivated people on the planet so if they can benefit from the services of a coach or trainer, can you imagine how much more the rest of us could benefit. One report showed that just having a personal trainer in the room while you’re exercising causes you to burn more calories. We’ve probably all experienced that affect whenever the instructor or trainer gets a little closer, we try a little harder, our form gets a little better but as soon as their back is turned, we slack off. IDEA, the International Health and Fitness Organization, once reported that only 25% of exercisers are achieving results – but of the success stories, 90% of them are working with a personal trainer.

It’s clear that the education, safety, guidance, and accountability that a personal trainer can provide will help someone stick to a program long enough to experience noticeable change.

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A coach can also modify and adapt the program to assure you are continuously progressing. So, if everyone can benefit from the services of a coach, how do you choose the right trainer for you?  Unfortunately, the Personal Training industry is unregulated resulting in numerous individuals with no experience or credentials causing injury to well-intentioned individuals who just wanted to get fit. If you are really serious about sticking to and achieving your health and fitness goals this year, you may want to consider hiring a coach to oversee your entire program.

Here’s a list of guidelines to follow and questions to ask before putting your health in someone else’s hands:

Understand what you want

What are your specific goals and how do you foresee a trainer helping you accomplish these goals? Do you need a trainer who specializes in a certain area? Do you need a trainer who understands how to work around a certain injury or health condition?Do you need a coach who can help you with a certain athletic or performance goal? Would you prefer working with a female or male? Would you prefer a trainer who is more aggressive, entertaining, educational, or nurturing?  Do you want to workout at home, at a gym or outdoors? Do you need help with all aspects of your fitness and nutrition program or just select areas like weight training? Ask yourself how often you want to see a trainer. Know what your budget and time constraints will allow.

Confirm they are a legitimate health and fitness trainer

As a minimum, a trainer should hold a nationally recognized certification, but the confusing part is that there are over 250 various personal training certifications available in the United States – some that you just have to answer a few easy questions and pay a small fee to obtain. Look for one of the more credible certifications – NASM, ACSM, ACE, AFAA, or NSCA. You should also confirm your trainer is certified in CPR and Fitness First Aid. A degree in a health-related field is a very nice bonus and can assure a greater depth of knowledge. You should also ask them when they attended their last health and fitness conference or workshop to assure they are staying up on their continuing education credits and current trends.

What’s their experience level? 

When it comes to your health, you probably want to work with a trainer or company that has been helping people successfully adopt a healthy and fit lifestyle for a long time. However, keep in mind that trainers who have the most experience are also usually the busiest and have the least amount of time to really focus on you. Many people are very happy with the service they get from trainers who don’t yet have years of experience. Just make sure you have a strong connection and your trainer is committed to education and constant growth. If you have a specific health concern, it would be wise for you to go with a trainer who has practical experience in dealing with your particular issue. If they don’t, ask if they will consult with your physician or expert health professionals who can guide them in developing your fitness program.

What do other people say? 

Be sure to get references or testimonials from other clients. If they are good, they should have an abundance of success stories from raving fans.

Shop around

Interview a few prospects before you make your decision. Ask what credentials they hold. Ask which approach and guidelines the trainer will use when developing your exercise program? Which fitness components will they include? How will they change or progress your program? How will they monitor your progress? Tell them what you want and have them explain how they will help you succeed. It’s also important to assess their personality. Do you feel that they will have the capacity to motivate you? Do they really listen to you?  Do you respect and find it easy to like them? Are they positive and energetic? Go with your intuition.

Talk about the money

Make sure you understand the cost per session and what that includes. Many trainers will offer discounted rates when you make a commitment and purchase a package. Decide how often you will commit to training understanding that some clients train 5x/week, some just a couple times per week, some once per week and some clients experience great success only seeing a coach once every few weeks or once a month to check in and make sure they’re on track. If money is an issue, you should also ask about 30-minute vs 60-minute sessions and inquire about group training or partner training options which can be much more affordable because the costs are split between multiple people. You also want to be clear on their cancellation policies and billing procedures.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan


Couve Run 2017Join us for the COUVE CLOVER RUN – 3, 7 & 10 MILES on March 24th, 2019 in downtown Vancouver, WA. Celebrate St. Patrick’s day with us at the 5th Annual Couve Clover Run. Wear your festive green while running or walking 3, 7 or 10 miles along an extremely fast and scenic course to support local charities! We will make you earn your post-event party, but it will be off the charts hosted by Main Event and other downtown Vancouver Pubs & Breweries.






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Create A Transformational 2019

I have been a Fitness Trainer for over 30 years and I’ve noticed that there are certain things that those who are successful at achieving their goals do on a regular basis


First, I’ve learned that people must figure out their ‘why?’ Once there is a will, there is way but without a compelling force, success is so much more difficult. The motivation and inspiration to stick to your program or your goals is within you. 

You just need to find the right reason – the reason that will make you so emotionally charged that you will take action, make the changes and stick to them regularly – no matter what!

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Step One

You must take the time to write out your goals and why they are so important to you. You can either coast through life and see where it takes you. You’ll wind up somewhere but it may not be where you want! Or you can create a map of who you want to be, what you want to do and what you want for your life. I’ve found that the biggest difference between those who succeed and those who don’t has nothing to do with intelligence or beauty or money…but those who succeed know exactly what they want and are willing to do what it takes to get it!

Be very clear with your goals for all aspects of your life…physically, professionally, mentally, socially, travel, relationships…Paint a very vivid picture of what your dream life would look like. Write it down! The brain processes things differently when it’s written down and you read it.

Grab a sheet of paper and create a list of all the fitness goals and any goals you have for yourself. It is your personal wish list or Bucket List. Remember when you were a kid making up your Christmas wish list.  You wrote down everything under the sun. You did not care whether you thought you would actually get it or not. You wrote it anyways. That is what I want you to do. I want you to write down anything you have ever thought of achieving in your life. Which goals, if you achieved it, would make 2019 unbelievable?

In terms of your fitness and health goals, have you ever wanted to hike the Grand Canyon, complete a marathon or triathlon, cycle through Italy, learn to Rock climb, or would you just be happy with working out 4x/week consistently? What are your health and fitness goals?

Remember to set SMART goals

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reward-based and have a Time frame. It’s not enough to say “I want to get in shape.” How will you know when you’ve achieved that goal? Here are some examples of SMART goal setting:

  • Hike the Grand Canyon this May
  • Run on the treadmill for 30 minutes 3x/week so complete 24 workouts by January 31st
  • Enroll in the local Foot Traffic running clinic that starts in January
  • Resistance train every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until January 31st
  • Train for and complete the Couve Clover Run 10K on March 24th
  • Exercise on the cardio machines for one hour without stopping by February 1st
  • Work out with a personal trainer 2x/week
  • Sign up for the Scuba Diving course that starts March 1st
  • Drink 8 glasses of water every day by January 15th

Each goal is clear, easy to measure your success and has a deadline. Now go back to your wish-list and make sure each goal is specific, measurable, attainable and time-framed. Revise all your goals to make them as SMART as possible. You will also notice that none of the goals that I have listed include anything about body weight or size. Deciding to lose 10 pounds is an “Outcome-oriented” goal. I prefer to use “Behavior or Action-oriented” goals. This approach is a lot more positive. For example, in the process of training for a triathlon, you will definitely lose body fat but your focus is on something so much more positive. So avoid setting any weight or fat loss goals.  Instead focus on the actions you can take which will promote fat loss and put those action steps and tasks into your calendar to remind you to do them!

But don’t stop there. Successful goal-setting requires two more things. Be prepared to reassess and reevaluate your goals on a regular basis and reward yourself once you have achieved a goal. For example, treat yourself to a massage, a new outfit or a trip. Then set your sights on the next goals. Go back to your goals and attach a reward to each one. Be sure that the reward is motivating enough to encourage you to stick to your plan.

Take action today

Your list may seem overwhelming. Circle the top 1-3 items that you believe will make the greatest impact on creating your best life and focus on those things. The longer you wait to do something, the greater the chance that you will never do it. So take action right away! It doesn’t matter what it is…anything that points you in the right direction towards your goals. Just do it.That will give you the momentum to do the next thing and the next and soon you’ll be at your goals and enjoying the life you want for yourself.

Start this process now and you will be well on your way to an incredible 2019.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Couve Run 2017Join us for the COUVE CLOVER RUN – 3, 7 & 10 MILES on March 24th, 2019 in downtown Vancouver, WA. Celebrate St. Patrick’s day with us at the 5th Annual Couve Clover Run. Wear your festive green while running or walking 3, 7 or 10 miles along an extremely fast and scenic course to support local charities! We will make you earn your post-event party, but it will be off the charts hosted by Main Event and other downtown Vancouver Pubs & Breweries.




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FITmas Gift For Your Fit Friends

You don’t need to stress or worry about what to buy for your friends who are fitness freaks. They are super easy to buy for. Here’s a list of the Top ideas that any hard-core exerciser would love and appreciate!


If you want to make your fit friends really happy, schedule them for a massage. There is nothing better after a tough workout than getting a full body rub down.  You can pick up a gift certificate at most local spas and most offer special holiday packages. One local massage therapist, Ryan Cotton from Elite Recovery is offering Buy 3 Massages, Get 1 Free so you can give to three of your loved ones and treat yourself to the free one! Each massage is only $50 so that’s 4 massages for $150 now that’s a sweet deal and a win:win for all!

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12 Days of FITMAS

It can be so challenging to keep your health and fitness a priority during the holidays. So to help keep you on track, I’m going to ask for you just 12 minutes per day over the 12 days prior to Christmas (The 12 Days of Fitmas!). Here is a simple, at-home workout that you can do anywhere, anytime and all it requires is 12 minutes. We can all commit to 12 minutes to keep our fitness in check, the typical holiday weight gain at bay and your spirits high during a typically stressful time of year.

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