Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
If you participated in my 2019 Kettlebell & Flow program, you’ll notice a few things that cross over into my Oxygen Challenge 7 program. For instance, we still have flows. Why? Flow is a key component of what I believe in and what I teach because you’re pairing different movements together. It’s all about the transitions of those movements that make you a better mover.
If you think of the best athletes in the world, they aren’t successful just because they can perform a specific movement or generate power one way — what makes them stand out is the fact that they can move in multiple planes of motion with power, control, strength, mobility and stability. Whenever I do flow, that’s when I’m able to really reconnect with my body, as well as get the strength and mobility benefits of a workout.
Breathwork is another staple in my workouts. It helps us connect to our nervous system on a deeper level and get more in touch with our bodies. I feel like that’s what most people need right now, especially as we continue to muddle through this pandemic — so many people feel like they’ve lost touch with themselves because they’ve gotten out of their routine. Also, breath is what gives us so much energy. We can go days without water, days without food, even days without sleep — but we can go only a few minutes without air.
Another thing I love about flow is it takes what we do in the gym and makes it even more functional in life. Think about the normal day-to-day chores you perform: rolling out of bed, picking out your clothes in your closet, picking things up off the floor, taking a shower and making your coffee. There’s a lot of movement going on there. And it’s so easy to get hurt doing something you’ve done a million times before — like tweaking your back when you reach for your seat belt or dislocating a knee while pivoting. This is because we’ve lost the connection to all the parts of our body.
So the movements that I like to teach are going to make you more functional in life. They are going to allow you to trust your body again, to rebuild confidence, and to reconnect your mind and body.
12 Weeklong Cycles at a Glance
On Day 1 of this program, you’ll start with breathwork — every workout begins with breathwork — and a beginner flow that you’ll use throughout the rest of the program. (Don’t worry, you’ll learn it by drilling individual moves, doing combos of those moves and then finally flowing the moves together.)
On Day 2, you’ll focus on the flow again, but this will be a little more challenging because you’ll pick up the pace and add some light weights. From here on out, you’ll have two flow days a week followed by a recovery day.
On Day 3, an active recovery day, I want you to do 15 minutes of intense breathwork — the better you become at breathwork, the better you’ll become at using oxygen as energy and creating strength in your body. It’ll also help you better handle stress and increase focus. Then you’ll get into mobility of your wrists and shoulders because a lot of people are not used to being on their hands and crawling on the floor for flow. Plus, you’ll also take a 30- to 60-minute walk because I don’t think people walk enough in our society — we also don’t view walking as a form of exercise, but it is. Honestly, these recovery days are the most important ones in the program, so don’t ever skip them. This work does wonders for your body.
By Day 4, you’ll be doing isometric strength and HIIT conditioning. Warning: This is the hardest day of the week. In general, you do reps in which you hold the max effort. So if you’re doing a squat, you go down to a squat and you’d hold that squat for five seconds or 10 seconds — sometimes even up to 15 seconds. And then you do five reps of that, during which you’re trying to generate as much total-body tension as you can for that exercise, then immediately without rest, you go to max reps. You want to really tire the muscle, so you do that with three different exercises (push, pull and legs). Then you go into high-intensity interval training conditioning, during which you’ve got 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off, doing three rounds of three exercises with a minimum of one minute of rest in between those rounds. Finally, you end the workout with breathwork.
Day 5 is another strength day. (It’s not a recovery day because you’re probably going to feel more sore from Day 4’s workout on Day 6), when you’ll do a traditional strength circuit. You’ll do a warm-up with that beginner flow again and a circuit of six exercises that will have you pushing, pulling, hinging and squatting. You’ll cool down with the beginner flow again to help increase mobility and reduce soreness. While doing another flow may not sound fun, I promise this is what prevents me from being sore all the time because that flow helps improve circulation and relieve tension. Finally, you’ll end on some breathwork.
Day 6 is a recovery day, and you’ll be journaling about your experience with the week’s workouts. Write down which exercises felt the hardest, how your breath was, reflect on your body in a positive way, what you’re most proud of, three things you’re grateful for and any other thoughts you’d like to capture. Then you’ll take another 30- to 60-minute walk.
Finally, Day 7 is a “choose your own adventure” workout. If you feel stressed, choose a feel-good workout. If you feel energized, choose a harder workout. If you feel overworked and exhausted, choose a pure rest day — the best part of any workout journey is knowing when you need to rest.
Each week will have a similar format, with workouts and exercises progressing and becoming more intense. But please know that I provide modifications, so beginners can participate, too. Also, each week has a theme — a few examples are power and adaptability, athleticism and grace, and beast week. Are you excited? Awesome! I look forward to seeing you in class!
Now in its seventh year, The Oxygen Challenge has helped more than 30,000 women around the world transform their bodies and their lives. This summer, we are bringing you two fitness experts focused on building stronger, healthier and more capable bodies: former Division 1 track athlete, certified trainer, yoga instructor and gym owner Tara Laferrara and movement and mobility specialist Venus Lau.
So what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to invite these elite coaches right into your own home! Start transforming your life and body with their 90-day training and nutrition programs designed exclusively for Oxygen — they’re guaranteed to awaken your inner athlete, buoy your spirit and empower your life. Join the Challenge today.