DeAnna Dimmitt Mind Body Fitness

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How To Get Strong Sexy Legs

DeAnna Dimmitt Mind Body Fitness

Summer is just around the corner and that means it’s almost time for shorts and skirts.  After a long, cold winter aren’t you tired of wearing long pants and floor length skirts? Summer makes us want to run free and that means the hot and heavy clothes are out! But… is there something holding you back from feeling awesome in a sundress?

To strengthen and tone your legs plus gain the confidence to show them off, you’ll need to learn abut your leg muscles and which exercises are effective at targeting them.

Let’s take a look at the upper and lower legs:

Upper Legs

There are two major muscle groups in the upper leg, they are the Quadriceps and the Hamstrings.

The Quadriceps are the muscles located on the front of your thighs. Their main function is knee extension, the movement that straightens the legs.

The Hamstrings are the muscles located on the back of your thighs and their main function is knee flexion.  Knee flexion is the movement that brings the heel up towards the buttocks.

Lower Legs

The two major muscles in your lower legs are the calf muscles which include the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, and the dorsiflexors.

The gastrocnemius and soleus, otherwise known as the calf muscles are located on the back of your lower legs. They are involved in plantar flexion, which allows us to extend our ankles and point our toes.

The dorsiflexors are located on the front of your lower legs and are primarily used for dorsiflexion, the movement in which you bring your toes up toward your shins.  When someone says they have “shin splints”, it is the dorsiflexors that are affected.

Here are a couple moves to strengthen and tone both upper and lower legs

Pendulum Lunges: This is one of my all time favorite moves for strengthening the legs and also developing core strength and dynamic balance.

Stand with the feet hip width apart.  Take a big step back with your left leg, bending your right knee so your right thigh is parallel to the floor (keeping your right knee behind your toes) and your left thigh is perpendicular to the floor (backward lunge). Exhale, and pressing with your right foot swing the left leg back up and in front of you into a forward lunge so your left thigh is parallel to the floor and your right thigh is perpendicular.

That is the technical way saying that the stationary foot will not move and the “swing leg” will alternate between forward and backward lunges.  Do a full set of 8 to 12 reps on each leg.

Plie’ Hops: A heart pounding, fat burning, plyrometric move for chiseled legs.

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, with your feet turned out and knees slightly bent. Place your hands on your hips. Lower your hips so that your knees bend to about 45 degrees.

I like to do Plie’ Hops in a four count.  While counting in your head, do 3 deep plie squats and add in the hop as you come up from the 3rd squat. In one explosive movement, push from your feet to straighten your legs and hop into the air. Both feet should come off the ground. The 4th count will be the squat that results from the landing of the hop. Repeat.


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DeAnna Dimmitt Mind Body Fitness

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Bending Inertia

“The Last Page” photo by DeAnna Dimmitt, Dry Heat Photography

Let me just remind you that this river of your life, this undertow that keeps you in place and playing by the rules while the seasons change and your face grows old with worry is all a construct of your own making. There is no point to argue this because it has to be, but it’s so easy to forget. One could say that the sun is always shining regardless of how we interpret the weather and the sun is not concerned about this but is waiting patiently to see if we notice. It has to be so because otherwise nothing would happen at all.

There is no Intelligence that has any interest in keeping us confused or in keeping us any way whatsoever. We’ve been given a play book and there it sits, on the coffee table collecting dust, while we fret and wonder why things are the way they are and continue to try harder at playing by the wrong rules.

That’s ok, you can do anything you want and, actually, that’s the point. Similar to the differences between “western” and what most people refer to as “alternative” medicine, one can invest great amounts of energy in treating symptoms or in eliminating causes. Same energy invested but with vastly different results. Act or react, I think you know the difference.

Why doesn’t everyone do the same thing, have the same experience, or even seem to live on the same plane as one another? Because they don’t, in fact, live on the same plane but the only difference from one to the next is an understanding and practical application of the levels and rules of the game. Yeah, that’s right, game. Life’s not a mystery, it’s a very sophisticated game and it will run us like pawns until we remember that it is our game. Notice I use the word, “remember”, because life was never anything else, but again, so easy to forget, so easy to be too afraid to play, so easy to stay caught in the undertow of our own design.

I’m talking to myself as much as anyone. If you can’t figure out where all these obstacles keep coming from, take it up with the boss, look in the mirror. If moving forward frightens you, that fear will throw up every kind of roadblock your infinitely colorful mind can come up with to reinforce the validity of your misconception.

An architect, a real architect, has no need for fear because they understand the rules, or the “rule”, as it were.

Everyday, you create your life.


Real Time

The other day I was so powerfully motivated to write but had no time. Today I have the time but my mind is a blank slate.

I wanted to talk about resistance and influence and getting out of the way but what did I want to say about these things?

I had knocked over my bookshelves and the anxiety of the world fell in on me. When I regained my equilibrium I wanted to tell you to be mindful, to balance the influence you exert with the influence you absorb. I wanted to say that being a star sheep in anyone’s flock is still being a sheep. I wanted to challenge you to release your affiliations.

Ask me:

What are your religious affiliations?

My answer: God is in the details. Decipher with caution.

Ask me:

What are your political affiliations?

My answer: I think for myself. Once again, decipher with caution.

Ask me:

Who are your friends?

My answer: They know who they are.

I put no stickers on my car.

Like a hummingbird, always on the lookout for predators, I can’t focus when things move in my peripheral vision. Well, there’s nothing moving now so where’s the words?

If you had no emotional attachments, is this the life you would order from a catalog? No? Then why did you select it? Or more accurately, why did you fail to un-select it? You can do that, you know; un-select.

I’m reminded of the old WinRock mall. One could not go there without being harangued by the drone of saws on metal. They thought they were being smart; fixing, fixing, fixing…. Fixing the mall to death. The lesson here is not to keep fixing, the lesson is to jump the tracks.

We’ll not be given time for creation. We’ll be asked to create in real time.


Inversion avoidance no more. Katja Lauterstein helps me go upsidedown!

Everyday you have a choice.  Is today the day you confront an obstacle and give yourself more freedom or is today the day you accept the obstacle as a limitation?  Which day is it?

I’ve been avoiding inversions for a long time.  One can get pretty far without ever having to stand on their head. In fact, it seems that most people are perfectly happy to remain right side up so the likelihood of being called out is pretty low. Why do I care?  It’s not like I think that standing on my head is going to fix my broken relationships or end world hunger.  No, probably not.  It’s a personal reason.  I care because I’m afraid of falling on my back.  I’m afraid to fall, knock the wind out of my lungs and lay on the floor gasping for air like a sad fish.  Oh god, what if someone saw that happen? Or worse, what if I couldn’t get up and no one was there?  Best to leave it alone.  That was my brilliant solution.  Just leave it alone. 

Just leave it alone? 


You accept that?

No, not anymore.

I call bullshit,

on myself.

Ok then, so now what? I took inventory of my friends, in search of someone with a more advanced skill set than myself, and that lead me straight to Ms. Katja Lauterstein.   She’s a 500+ hour certified yoga instructor. If anyone can get me going on this, it’s her.  And guess what? In under an hour, with proper instruction, I performed my first ever unassisted headstand!

Next up, hand stand!

This one proved to be exponentially more challenging but at least now I believe that it can be done.

Belief is half the battle.

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Sight reading

It seems that, lately, I’ve been writing a lot of posts that I don’t finish because they’re just not good.  My attempts at being educational or philosophical come off sounding like a coin-op genie and I think only a pompous ass would post such an ill thought out monologue of nonsense.  It’s not that trying to relate fitness or PiYo related things to real-life, off-the-mat scenarios is wrong or anything, it’s just that I haven’t been very good at it and it makes me feel self conscious. Or maybe it’s because I’m avoiding what’s really on my mind and that’s this: I’m split between two worlds and the other one feels like it’s slipping away.

When a musician plays through a written piece of music for the first time, it’s called sight reading.  A player’s ability to read and respond to written ques is a valuable, time saving commodity.

Life is all about recognition and response, sight reading, if you will.

Things change from one moment to the next, our selective focus will see this, but not that, and we will call it reality. The ground shakes and we try to keep our balance but sometimes when this happens the object of our focus shifts.  A closing door often looks like the end and the knee jerk reaction is to keep trying to open it back up, to avoid failure, to avoid loss.  Precious time is wasted standing in front of a closed door, staring at a closed door, praying to a closed door, pounding on a closed door and never once looking around to see what else there is.  There’s open doors everywhere, so why sit in front of the closed one?

Any endeavor will present challenges to be overcome and, in accordance with the laws of nature, only the strongest and most determined will survive.  I’m not suggesting that you give up on something because it becomes difficult but I’m asking you to consider the possibility that sometimes doors open and close for a reason.  You may have worked very hard to build a house only to discover that you don’t like living in it or that it doesn’t fit you anymore and it is so easy to believe that you are the house, the project, the business, the object of your creation, when in fact you are none of these things.  Suck on that for awhile; you are not your job.

Buddhists say that the cause of all suffering is attachment and most of us think this means attachment to things or  people but ultimately it is the attachment to ideas.  We hold ideas about our things, our friends, love, and our relative position in society but it is all a house of mirrors, showing us facets of ourselves and nothing more. This is why we defend ideas so fiercely because we are actually defending ourselves.  But here it is again, you are not your job, you are not your possessions and you are not your relationships.  All of these things are transitory, all can be taken away or leave of their own accord.

Should you feel like you’ve woken up in a hotel room, full of things that you own, yet unfamiliar and distressing,  I suggest that you stop working harder and take a look around.  It’s ok to change directions if you’re going the wrong way.

Interpret how you will.

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How’s your proprioception?

New Mexico PiYo

How’s my what now?

Proprioception: The sense of knowing where the body is in relation to it’s various segments and the external environment.

Um, could you use that in a sentence?

Commonly known as the sixth sense, proprioception is the ability of the central nervous system to communicate and coordinate parts of the body with each other.

Riigghhttt, why do I care about this?

Now we’re talkin’. Proprioception is important because without it you would not be able to drive a car without looking at your hands to monitor their position on the steering wheel and that would be a problem, right? Proprioception is what allows you to talk on your cell phone, eat a bag of chips and walk down a flight of stairs all while looking around to make sure you’re going the right direction and don’t crash into anything. When you close your eyes and touch your finger to your nose, this too is proprioception. With relation to sports and fitness, sprains that are common to highly trained athletes often have nothing to do with strength, flexibility or endurance but rather have to do with proprioception, or lack there of, to be exact. For example, if a runner fails to make adjustments for uneven terrain, they come down too hard on one foot and sprain their ankle. If you’ve ever been walking and stepped off a sneaky invisible curb, you know what I mean.

For the fitness pros in the room, this type of kinesthetic awareness comes from structures called proprioceptors, which are receptors located in the skin, in and around the joints and muscles, and in the inner ear. Cutaneous receptors are located in the skin and send sensory information regarding pressure, touch and movement of the hairs on the skin. Joint receptors are located in the joint capsules and surrounding ligaments. They transmit sensory information relating to positions, velocities, and accelerations occurring at the joints. In addition, pressure receptors within the joints provide added information about pressure changes that is used for important postural adjustments and normal gait.

The topic of proprioception interests me because of the implications it has in day to day life.

For example, I see it in action in my PiYo classes. Most beginning students struggle to keep their balance during the flowing sequences when the center of gravity is constantly being adjusted. Some struggle even to stand on one foot in a stationary position. The interesting part is that, with practice, proprioception can be improved upon and maintained. I see dedicated students make rapid progress in this area all the time.

What could better balance and coordination mean for you? Well, it could mean not spilling your drink on the dance floor or it could mean not slipping in the shower and breaking a hip. It could be the difference between tripping on the stairs and recovering or tumbling to the bottom.  Coordination and balance are skills essential to any physical activity.

Here are a couple of simple ways to test your own proprioception.

Hands Up!

Raise both hands above your head and close your eyes. Keep the fingers of the left hand totally still (no moving!). With your right hand, quickly touch your index fingertip to your nose, then raise your hand back up and with the same finger, touch the tip of your left thumb.  Continue this exercise, rotating though all the fingers on the left hand, and then switch sides.


On a lined sheet of notebook paper write the word “proprioception”.  Any word will do, actually.  Then, place your hand on the next line down, close your eyes and write the same word again.  Do they look the same?

On the first exercise, you may find that unless you wiggle your fingers, it is quite difficult to automatically locate your fingertips.  I found that, even though I could not see my hands because they were over my head, it was much easier to find my fingertips with my eyes open.  I suspect this is because most of us are highly dependent on visual cues even if it doesn’t seem like there are any. You may find that, with repeated trials, this exercise gets easier.

Almost everyone does well on the handwriting test and this is because most people are used to the “feel” of writing provided by proprioceptors in our hands and fingers and do not rely heavily on visual cues for the reproduction of written words.