Getting fit with a 9-minute workout

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    A deck of playing cards can keep you occupied when you’re travelling from point A to point B or even serve as entertainment for a quiet night in with friends, but it can also be your coach when working out.

    Whether you’re a traveller on a limited budget or a new parent with limited time, this workout, which utilizes a deck of playing cards to establish the amount of repetitions you perform, is tough enough to maintain your fitness level, yet simple because it requires minimal equipment and uses universally-known exercises.

    What you’ll need
    1. a deck of cards
    2. a sturdy chair or a set of stairs
    3. a full-sized towel
    4. a ledge from a coffee table, bathtub or chair
    5. a wall

    HOW TO USE THE DECK OF CARDS 
    Consider these your counting coach. give the deck a shuffle then deal four cards face down, flipping over the fifth card. To that card’s numerical value, add ten (for example, if you flip over a ‘six’, add ten to that number, to give you 16 – this is the number of repetitions you’ll perform for each exercise; these six exercises together equal ‘one set’).Repeat this workout until you reach nine minutes, which amounts to three to five sets, depending on how quickly you move through the workout.

    NOTE: Kings, queens, aces and jokers are worth ten or one, depending on how fit you are and how intense you want the workout to be; every other card is its own value.

    1. THE WARM UP 
    What you’ll need: a chair. But if a chair isn’t an option, because it’s not sturdy enough, then using stairs is a good option, too.

    What to do:  For one minute, do step ups, alternating legs. This will warm up the body. 

    What it works: Cardiovascular system.

    Immediately go do the next exercise, no rest.

    2. POWER SQUATS 
    What you’ll need: no equipment for this one!

    What to do: Stand with your feet just outside shoulder-width and keep your hands crossed over your chest. Inhale, slowly bringing your knees to a 90-degree angle, counting 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 on the way down; when coming back to the start position, exhale in one swift burst, then inhale again lowering, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, completing the total amount of reps. 

    What it works: Quadriceps (thighs)

    Immediately go do the next exercise, no rest.

    3. PUSH-UPS 

    What you’ll need: a wall.

    What to do: Place your hands just outside shoulder-width on the wall; stand with your toes approximately one foot back from the wall, so that your body is at a slight angle. Keep abdominals and back contracted, inhaling as you come towards the wall – your nose should be about one or two inches from the wall now and elbows out to the sides; then exhale as you come back to the start position. That’s one full push-up. 

    What it works: Pectorals (chest), core (abs and back) and upper back

    Immediately go do the next exercise, no rest.

    4. ‘PUMP’ Crunches 
    What you’ll need: towel to protect your back.

    What to do: Roll out your towel on the floor and lie down with your knees hip-width apart and feet firmly on the floor. Keep your hands across your chest. For advanced levels, lift your feet off the ground, keeping your knees at 90-degrees in the air. This will add more intensity to the lower abdominals. Inhale, lifting your head off the ground and contracting your abdominals; continue contracting your abs in a “pumping” motion as you breath out. 

    What it works: The “core” of the body, including abdominals and low back

    Immediately go do the next exercise, no rest. 

    5. TRICEPS DIPS 
    What you’ll need: The ledge of a bathtub, a chair or a coffee table.

    What to do: Start with your body facing away from the ledge, firmly placing your palms on it. Lower your body so that your knees sit at a 90-degree angle; inhale as you lower your body a few inches, then exhale as you come back to the start position at 90-degrees. Use the backs of your arms (triceps) in the action and keep your elbows close to your body for support.

    What it works: Back of the arm, known as the triceps; also works the core of the body.

    Immediately go do the next exercise, no rest.

    6. SIDE STEP-HOP 
    What you’ll need: Towel folded in half.

    What to do: For a final blast of cardio, place the folded towel on the floor, standing to the right of it. Using momentum from your arms, leap to the other side (over the towel) landing on your left foot; then bounce back to the right leg (one rep). 

    What it works: Cardiovascular system, legs.

    Repeat this entire workout again, shuffling the deck of cards to get a new number of reps. Good luck!