No jingle bellies: How to stay in shape during & after the holidays
F45 Gym at Zuellig Building in Makati City.

No jingle bellies: How to stay in shape during & after the holidays

Jose Paolo S. dela Cruz (The Philippine Star) - December 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — If you’re one of those and we’re sure there are plenty who have officially accepted that a few pounds up the scale are part and parcel of having a merry Christmas, then it’s time to hold that thought.

F45 Gym studio manager Sheena Vera Cruz.

Allure recently sat down with fitness coach Sheena Vera Cruz, studio manager of the increasingly popular F45 Gym, who shared workout tips that will certainly come in handy for anyone who wants to stay in shape. “Many women, especially in the Philippines, are concerned with lowering body fat, especially in their thighs and tummy area,” says Sheena, whose gym specializes in 45-minute functional routines. “Exercise plays a role in that, but of course, a change in lifestyle is required to really get in shape.

The best part: they’re simple, fast and easy and don’t have to wait till January 2020. Here are some simple workouts Sheena shared to curb those “jingle bellies” even during the holidays.

Hip thrust

1. What: Hip thrust (three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions or reps)

Why: Curves are good. Firm curves, even better. And on this matter, hips and glutes don’t lie. The hip thrust is a glute exercise designed for strength, speed and power through hip extensions.

How:  Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Then, brace your core and slowly thrust your hips upward with each rep.

Pro tip: Make sure that your shoulders are flat on your sides and that your core is contracted to get optimal results. To up the ante, you may also keel your heel. The more challenging it feels, the better.

Reverse lunge

2. What: Reverse lunge (10 reps, four sets on both sides)

Why: You can be supple without being jiggly all over. This single-leg bodyweight exercise works your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings and core, as well as those hard-to-reach muscles of your inner thigh.

How: Stand with feet hip-width apart and engage your core. Then, take a big step backward. Switch from one leg to another in between sets.

Pro tip: Activate your glutes and make sure that your knee taps on the floor each time you lunge. Make sure that your feet and knees are bent at 90 degrees, otherwise, just save this move for your Christmas party dance number.

Calf raises

3. What: Calf raises (three sets of 15 reps)

Why: I want fat ankles and legs  said no one ever. Thus, calf raises were invented and they’re fairly easy to do (although fairly tricky to get wrong, as well).

How: With your feet slightly apart, just tip your toes until you reach maximum height. Do this slowly and on repeat until you feel those pins burn.

Pro tip: As a fairly simple exercise, calf raises should be done slowly to achieve maximum effect. Make sure to move as slowly as possible. If you don’t feel the burn, then you’re probably doing it wrong.

Sumo squats.

4. What: Sumo squats (three sets of 15 reps)

Why: According to Sheena, legs and glutes are the hardest muscles to target, but you can actually hit them both with this one workout.

How: Stand with your feet apart and extend your hips outward (yes, like a Sumo wrestler). Push your hips back and squat down. Unlike the Sumo wrestler, though, keep your back straight and your upper body lifted. Make sure you’re pushing through your heels and engaging your inner thighs when you do this.

Pro tip: This is a lower body and NOT a lower back exercise. Therefore, the force should come from the legs without any help from your back. As for your hands, you may clasp them at your chest, or if you want to go extra, carry some dumb bells.

Leg raise.

5. What: Leg raise (four sets of 15 reps)

Why: A-ha! It has come to this… the jingle bellies! This challenging exercise is perfect for targeting your lower tummy and eventually, helping you get rid of those muffin tops.

How: Lie on the floor with your arms at your sides and legs stretched. Raise both legs and keep them as straight as possible until they are pointing at the ceiling (or as near as you can get). Repeat.

Pro tip: Make sure your toes are pointed. Not only does it look better, it will make a difference on where the pressure goes, which should be on your lower tummy.

Flutter kick.

6. What: Flutter kick (four sets of 15 reps)

Why: Who knew that leg movements are the key to a flatter tummy? This particular exercise targets your lower abdominal wall, which even the fittest of fitness buffs refer to as the “last two inches” before turning into a Jennifer Lopez (or Chris Evans. Or Hemsworth.).

How: Lie on your back and extend your legs up to a 45-degree angle. Keep your arms straight and in line with the floor, palms facing down. Crane your head, neck and shoulders slightly off the ground. With your legs stick straight and glued together, and your toes pointed, start lowering one leg as you raise the other. Repeat it with your core engaged. And that, my dear, is how you flutter.

Pro tip: Do not bend your knees. You’re not on a some weird, reversed, imaginary bicycle.

Tricep dip

7. What: Tricep dip (four sets of 15 reps)

Why: Slim arms are good. Toned arms? Oh wow. We can’t even begin to describe the benefits, especially in the barrage of holiday photos to come.

How: Find a chair (or a bench) and slide your butt off the edge. Make sure that your hands and wrists firmly placed at the edge. Straighten your arms and lower your body, until your upper arms and forearm are at a 90-degree angle.

Pro tip: Move your arms and not your tummy. Otherwise, it’s just a hip thrust gone wrong.


Located in various parts of the metro, F45 is an Australian group-training workout concept that combines functional training with a team environment. Here, the focus is on lowering the body fat composition, more than lowering weight. In fact, members of the gym even sometimes go on fitness challenges together such as their recent eight-week challenge, to motivate each other in the spirit of friendly competition. 

“It’s a good way to workout because you’re with people who share the same goals. Plus it maximizes your effort since you have to complete the workout within 45 minutes, which is an ideal time,” says Sheena.

Gi-Anne Agoncillo.

Gi-Anne Agoncillo, our model for this feature, attests to this. A banker by profession, Gi-Anne and her friends would sometimes spend their lunch break in a nearby F45 Gym, get pumped up with their 45-minute workout, take a quick shower and get back to crunching numbers in less than an hour. “It’s fun and convenient and really keeps you motivated to stay shape,” she says. *

(For best results, consult a medical professional before embarking on an exercise program.)

 (For more information, visit f45training.ph or call 0917-1434262.)

Photography by Geremy Pintolo

Hair and makeup by Eddie Mar Cabiltes

Model: Gi-AnnE Agoncillo

Special thanks to Sheena Vera Cruz • Shot on location at F45 Bel-Air, 3F, Zuellig Building, Makati Ave. corner Paseo de Roxas, Makati City

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