Urban Animal showed me how to get strong with a medicine ball

Laura Cisneros showed me how to strengthen my core with a medicine ball. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

I met fitness trainer Laura Cisneros down at The Rock along the Butler Trail this morning, to find out how she gets those rock hard abs.
She busted out a 6-pound Dynamax medicine ball and put me through a workout I’m pretty sure I’ll feel tomorrow. I crunched, I tossed, I engaged my abs and lats and tried to keep my knees from wobbling.

Cisneros, who runs a fitness program called Urban Animal, says medicine balls come in handy for athletes of all types looking for an all-over warm up or cool down. On their own, they can help increase power, strength and cardio fitness.

I’m a swimmer, but my core is my weak link. I need this.
“You’re trying to train a whole range of motion and get your joints to work sequentially,” she told me. “That’s where the power comes from.”
First, a warning. You have to pay attention to what you’re doing, or you might take a medicine ball to the gut. At least that’s what I heard.
“You can’t just go through the motions or you’ll eat vinyl. You’ve got ball coming at you and you’ve got to deal with that,” Cisneros says.

Cisneros heads a training program called Urban Animal. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

And honestly, I never played ball sports. Glancing up to see a big ball flying at my face makes me want to duck . With Cisneros’ help, though, it’ll turn me into an animal.
She ran me through a series of exercises, including one where I flopped on my belly (Superwoman style) and tossed a ball back and forth with her, and another that made me feel like I was flinging a bucket full of water at someone.
“Now I’m going to show you how to put it all together and it will kill you,” she said. “Who can resist that?
We combined five exercises she showed me in what she called a “hub and wheel” routine, where I did reps of each individual exercise, alternating with a basic ball toss.
Cisneros heads up a training program called Urban Animal. The 45-minute high intensity training sessions take place at Sanchez Elementary School; session times are 6:15 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 5:45 p.m. Monday and Friday. Cost is $100 a month for unlimited classes.

Author: Pam LeBlanc

Pam LeBlanc writes about fitness and travel for the Austin American-Statesman. She has worked for the Statesman since 1998 and written her weekly fitness column, Fit City, since 2004.

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