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Jump up, jump up and get down! If you’re like me and you attended 40 Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties in the late 90’s, you probably danced to this jam by House of Pain. Some songs just always seem to get you pumped, though I admit “Jump Around” no longer does the trick…

Some days, though, when I can only manage to find 20 minutes to work out, I have an exercise “routine” that always manages to get me to the gym (and to stay there). Instead of convincing myself that such a short workout isn’t worth getting sweaty in the first place, I commit to an intense,¬†impromptu, and improvised combination of strengthening, jump rope, and spastic dancing.

The trick? Creating the perfect 20 minute playlist. The first song must set the tone for the workout, so pick a song that you can’t sit still while listening to. My favorites include Beyonce’s now-overplayed-but-I-still-love-the-oh-oh-oh’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, Ne-Yo’s “Because of You”, Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone”, “Toxic” by Britney Spears, and please don’t laugh, Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” I alternate songs that make me jump around with songs that have a really strong downbeat. Then, I follow the music.

Start with something to get your heart rate up: jump rope, jumping jacks, high knees or running in place, or dancing around like a fool. I do this in the gym all the time, so don’t be embarrassed–the gym is a place where all movement is respected. When the song ends, switch to strengthening exercises: lunges, squats, push ups, bicep curls with 5 lb weights, ab crunches, or some pilates moves. I get bored easily, and since the whole point is to have an intense workout that hits every part of you, I do between 10 and 15 of everything and then move on. When the song changes again, start getting your heart rate up again. Try to mix everything up. We get stuck thinking that one or two routines are the only thing that work, but our body gets stronger when we throw new combinations at it! When the playlist ends, stretch it out and go shower, and enjoy the endorphins from your crazy “routine.”

Tips:

1. You don’t have to go to a gym to do this. Anywhere with a body-sized floor space suffices.

2. Don’t have an expectation. Do whatever feels good, and if it doesn’t feel good, stop. With only 20 minutes, your worst enemy is getting discouraged and walking out. You’re not going to be accomplishing major training goals with this workout, so think of it as a maintenance workout or a way to get your metabolism going.

3. For even more fun, try it with a friend. My friend Claire makes up aerobics routines a-la-Jane Fonda for us to do together, and the choreography kicks my butt every time.

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