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Alison Yeung

The 12 Minute Workout that Leaves You Dripping in Sweat

Got 12 minutes? Good. You’ve got a workout.

I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy.

No wonder the word “work” shows up only 823701 times in the Top 40 songs.

rihanna gif

work gif

As hardworking people, we have priorities, and sometimes fitness falls down the list. Let’s face it– sleeping, eating, socializing, and making a little extra pocket cash (#college) are important.

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However, if you’re on this website, chances are that you are at least slightly interested in staying fit despite your uncomfortably full schedule. As much as you might want to be a gym rat and spend hours getting your sweat on, sometimes that’s just not feasible. 

12 minute athlete

Meet Krysta.

This is where Krysta Stryker from The 12 Minute Athlete can save your time-crunched ass (which looks great, by the way 😉 ).

The 12 Minute Athlete posts new workouts, recipes, and exercise tips every day. Although Krysta shares several workouts of various formats and durations, her classic 12 minute HIIT workout goes like this:

Six high-intensity exercises.
30 seconds of work. 10 seconds of rest.
3 rounds.

Many of her workouts require no equipment except a timer (pro tip: you can get a free Gymboss timer app), but some of them use parallel bars, pull-up bars, a kettlebell, a sandbag, a jump rope, a medicine ball, and sometimes even a punching bag.

This means that you can take these quick workouts anywhere. The gym, your dorm room, the park, and maybe even your closet if you’re #blessed with a lot of space.

mountain climbers

Via “420 Rep Full Body Sandbag Workout” on The 12 Minute Athlete blog

Don’t let the idea of “only 12 minutes” fool you. Krysta’s exercises are no joke. (Read more about HIIT training here and here). The lady will throw burpees, pull-ups, burpees, pistol squats, and more burpees at you. While ensuring proper form and modifications as needed, your job is to go HARD for every interval of work. If you do that, you will be on the floor by the end.

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Krysta records her reps for each exercise in the workout of the day, and I have yet to beat or even match her reps. She kills it…see for yourself below.


Screenshotted from The 12 Minute Athlete Blog

The 12 Minute Athlete on Youtube provides demonstrations of all the exercises you need to know for Krysta’s workouts. But you don’t even need to stick to her exercises if you don’t want to. I personally love to use the 12 minute workout as a template for the exercises I want to do that day. Like this…


A video posted by Alison (@alison_grooves) on

And if you have a little more than 12 minutes, but less than 20 minutes to work out, try doing 4 rounds for a 16 minute workout! Just remember to do a quick warm up and cool down to be kind to your body.

The best part about Krysta is that she promotes #noexcuses when it comes to working out, but she also promotes balance, rest, and listening to your body.


Via “Why You Might Be Overtraining” on The 12 Minute Athlete Blog

Her motto is “Unlock Your Potential,” which she encourages through skill practice, quick and effective workouts, and the mindset that anyone can be an athlete (holla at ya girls who don’t have hand-eye coordination *raises hand*).

So go out there and be badass in just 12 minutes today. Better yet, post your moves with #fituniversity @gofitu and make a shoutout to @12minuteathlete!

P.S.. Krysta has a monthly 100 burpee challenge.

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5 Times You Need to Swallow Your Pride at the Gym

Let’s be real. We all want to do badass things at the gym—squat a new PR, do 30-inch box jump burpees, or pull-up until the cows come home.

Of course, it is absolutely possible to achieve your awesome goals with determination, dedication, and practice. You need to have the confidence to try new things and challenge yourself in order to improve. However, you also need one more thing: humility.  

It’s easy to forget about the basics and safety when it comes to working out, especially among us fitness fanatics. We want to be badasses in the gym (or in our fitness classes, races, etc.), but sometimes we hastily jump into skills or workouts without really knowing what we’re doing. Maybe your back starts hurting doing deadlifts. Perhaps you’re doing push-ups with an arched spine because your core is too fatigued. Or maybe you’re becoming discouraged because you can’t do a bar muscle-up after trying so many times. Your first instinct may be to just push through with pure grit, because you want to finish what you started. But often, the best thing you can do is to take a step (or five steps) back.

I’m 100% guilty of not wanting to look weak at the gym, but as a future physical therapist, I feel obliged to change my ways and inform others about when and why it is smarter to take things slow sometimes. You may not “look” like the fittest guy or gal in these moments, but…

1. Fitness is not just about looks and image (plus, people at the gym don’t care about you that much).

2. We need to focus on good technique before we can safely and effectively achieve our fitness goals.

So without further ado, here are five times when you and I both need to learn to swallow our pride at the gym.

*Please keep in mind that I am still in school to become a physical therapist, but I am not yet a qualified physical therapist. These tips are based on things I’ve learned in training and from my own experience.

1) Warming Up

Most people agree that warming up is important, but I’m willing to bet that no one really loves doing their warm up. It can seem like a drag to spend 5-10 minutes doing easy exercises, because we just want to hit our workout already!

5 Times You Need to Swallow Your Pride at the Gym

It may feel like a waste of time, but a proper warm-up is essential for preventing injury and preparing our bodies for the movements we are about to perform in the workout. One of the best ways to warm-up is to do modified versions of the exercises you are about to perform. Dynamic movements that move your body in multiple planes is key.

5 Times You Need to Swallow Your Pride at the Gym

For example, if you are about to deadlift, you might want to do a few rounds of resistance band deadlifts (yes, that little resistance band in the corner of the gym—don’t be afraid to use it!) to warm up the glutes, air squats to warm up the quads, and planks to warm up the core. Air squat and resistance-band-deadlift like you mean it, even though it’s easy!

5 Times You Need to Swallow Your Pride at the Gym

Maybe an elliptical dance?

2) Learning a New Exercise

Trying new exercises is awesome. It’s the only way we can grow in our fitness journeys. That being said, we have to learn the right way— with progressions. Shortcuts do us a disservice for several reasons.

First of all (and most obviously), doing an exercise full-out without modifying as needed is not always safe. Secondly, it is easy to compromise form without going through proper progressions. You might learn how to do 50 pushups in a row, but are you doing them with proper form? Lastly, accomplishing the exercise without progressions can take a much longer time, which is discouraging. It’s more exciting to proceed from one progression to the next with so many little successes.

5 Times You Need to Swallow Your Pride at the Gym

So even if you’re doing push-ups on your knees or squatting instead of squat jumping, if you’re focusing on using the proper muscles and form, you’re doing a kick ass job.

3) Working on Balance and Stabilizing Muscles

The colorful resistance bands, stability balls, and BOSU balls are not just for those who fear the weight room. Also, don’t forget about “accessory” work for those smaller (yet indispensable!) muscles.

For instance, those people doing side lying leg raises on mats are doing something great for their balance and hip stability. They’re working their gluteus medius, which is an often neglected muscle. In addition, working with lighter weights on uneven surfaces, such as a BOSU ball, can challenge the core and little muscles that you never knew you had.

5 Times You Need to Swallow Your Pride at the Gym

Serena Williams is on board.

4) You Cannot Perform an Exercise with Proper Form (be honest with yourself!)

This is a given. If you’re cranking out reps upon reps with bad form, you’re not only risking injury, but you’re probably not working the proper muscles, which is not conducive to improvement. Even in the middle of a fast-paced workout, don’t be afraid to pick up a lighter weight or modify the exercise. Form over everything!

5 Times You Need to Swallow Your Pride at the Gym

5) Stretching

Paying attention to range of motion will help you squat lower, loosen those shoulders for a full pull-up, and maybe even get that pistol squat. Stretching may be boring, but the more you work out, the tighter your muscles, tendons, and ligaments become. Maintaining flexibility by stretching well for a few minutes after your workouts will allow you to reach your fitness goals in the long run. (P.S. hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds!)

5 Times You Need to Swallow Your Pride at the Gym

Stretching feels good!

Keep hustlin’, but stay humble, fit friends.

Check out these articles too: 

There Was a Time When the Healthy Living Community Was Bad for Me

The part of healthy living that can creep up on you.

You know that person who sings and dances while walking around in public with their headphones in? You’re happy for that person, sure, but you’re definitely also giving them the side eye.

Well, I’m that person.

And since I attend Boston University, I’m also this person:


My name is Alison, and I dance like nobody’s watching, even if people are watching.

Me: the Sparknotes version

I am Boston’s #1 peanut butter consumer (not proven, but likely)…


…I will do burpees over running any day…

alison yeung

…I love God a whole lot…


… and I’m a banana (yellow on the outside, white on the inside).

I’m the little Asian on the bottom, in case you didn’t catch my “banana” drift

I’m the little Asian on the bottom, in case you didn’t catch my “banana” drift

My love for dance and movement in general inspired the name of my blog, Daily Moves and Grooves. This blog (AKA my baby) has become such a significant part of my life — it’s my life diary (for the whole world to see), my food and workout journal, and my recovery story unfolding day by day.

alison yeung

Yep, recovery. When I was in high school, I struggled with disordered eating.

Let’s rewind a bit. Throughout my childhood, I was always active, whether it was with figure skating, dance, or just being a kid. I never had problems with food, and I was pretty healthy overall.

Little mermaid, little haircut, little belly

Little mermaid, little haircut, little belly

Come high school, I started to eat more and move less and, thus, I gained weight.  People started making comments about my eating habits, and that made me feel like I had no self-control. I was still at a healthy weight, but in my self-conscious, self-criticizing eyes, I was huge compared to my friends. That freaking comparison trap, eh? (<– Fun fact: I have dual citizenship in US and Canada.)

The summer before my junior year, I decided I needed to lose weight. I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so in order to address my lack of self-control around food, I swung to the far end of what I considered self-control. Health became a matter of vanity for me, whether I admitted it or not.

Everything I did that summer paired with my predisposition for obsession and control created the perfect storm for disordered eating. I started dancing in a summer ballet intensive (involving 6+ hours of dance every day), I secretly started counting calories, and I found…the health and fitness community.

I looked to healthy living blogs for fitness and healthy eating inspiration, but for all the wrong reasons and with an unhealthy mindset. I saw image after image of so many women working out X times per week and eating 1200 calories per day (PSA: 1200 calories per day is insufficient for almost any woman, working out or not). In my contorted mindset, I started working out intensely and cutting my calories.

I don’t look too unhealthy on the outside, but inside I was.

I don’t look too unhealthy on the outside, but inside I was.

Naturally, I started losing weight. Fast. Seeing the number on the scale go down was addicting. Hearing people commenting on my thinness (whether they were just observant or actually concerned) was addicting.

I was cold all the time. I started losing my hair. According to my parents and dance teachers, I was also losing energy and becoming more irritable.

Very little carbs, almost no meat, fat free everything. Heavy guilt whenever I strayed from my “plan”. I went to bed and woke up thinking about food, because I was obsessive.

I tried to prove to others that I didn’t have a problem by saying, “I LOVE food! I’m always thinking about it, and I can never wait to eat!” The truth was that I loved being particular about my food, and I was always looking forward to my self-imposed eating times because I was starving.

I worked out as much as I could, and I would be upset and guilty if I ever missed a workout. I would work out even when my body was absolutely sore and exhausted. In my mind, I needed to burn those calories.

Did I become more fit? Yeah. Did I look fit? Sure. Did I learn about healthy foods? You bet. Was I happy with myself? Not at all. No amount of weight I lost was enough in my eyes.


Yeah, you could see a six pack, but my body was crying for nourishment and rest.

Yeah, you could see a six pack, but my body was crying for nourishment and rest.

Thank God for my parents, who were able to pull me out of my torment before my disordered eating turned into a full-blown eating disorder. I remember the day my dad looked at me with tearful eyes, telling me that I needed to end this.

That was the day my long recovery journey started. That day was 3.5 years ago. I am grateful to say that I am fully recovered, and with the proper professional help, rest from exercise, and nourishment, I have been able to restore a healthy relationship with food and exercise.

alison yeung

I can order a salad if I want, but I can also order a big burger with fries and a milkshake, and I don’t need to “compensate” with an ungodly amount of exercise.

alison yeung

My workout can be a sweaty HIIT session or a walk around the ‘hood (and I’ll still eat just as much).

alison yeung

It’s funny that I’m currently a blogger and that I use social media to encourage health and fitness, because blogs and social media fueled my disordered eating. However, I now know how to take care of myself and read everything with caution. I have found blogs and communities that view health and fitness from a balanced, encouraging, and holistic perspective. As the founder of Fit U says herself, “Fitness looks different for everyone.”

Playing air saxophone and laughing is a fun way to move ;)

Playing air saxophone and laughing is a fun way to move 😉

It sucks that anyone has to go through an eating disorder, but in retrospect I am thankful that it happened. Not only have I learned so much about true health and fitness, but I have learned so much about myself, and I’ve met incredible people through the recovery process.

alison yeung

Check out these articles too:

I run a health and fitness company, and I’m a fraud
What an honest fitstagram looks like
One student gets real about her fitness journey
A day in the life of eating disorder recovery in college