Celeste Polanco for xoNecole

6 At-Home Workouts To Give You The Ultimate Peach

Let's get physical.


Can you believe we are almost a year in quarantine? Me either! Although most of us have found ways to adjust to quarantine as best as we can, 365 days of quarantine can still do a number on anybody: including our health. According to the CDC, studies have shown an increase in stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, fatigue, etc. amid the pandemic. Me personally? I have recently been experiencing a strong case of tired and tested, more commonly known as burnout.

The lack of separation between home life, work life, and social life has truly done a number on my my mental and my physical. I no longer have the same energy, focus, or as much patience as I used to. But, with the summer just around the corner and high hopes of getting a little more freedom, I'd still like to get this ass and my health on point. In order to kickstart my health and wellness journey, I tapped Grae Wellness, a Black-owned one-stop shop for all things wellness.

The New York City-based business is equipped with a massage, acupuncture, and fitness studio all in one. The owner, Timothy Grae - is a master massage therapist and healthcare provider with one mission to help his clients recover, rejuvenate, and restore. I had the pleasure of being trained by Timothy as he showed me 6 at-home workouts we all can do for a better butt.

Walking Lunge

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According to Tim, "the most important thing you can do if you want a nice ass, is a walking lunge." In order to properly do a walking lunge, he instructed:

"Bring the right foot forward into a forward step. Front bend in the knee and put the foot back at a 45-degree angle. Now arms straight-up over your head. You will feel a bit of a pull on your back hip, this position is called Warrior I in yoga. Now, that's also a walking lunge. Push through your heel and stand straight up and you'll feel it in your butt."

Although I have done lunges in the past, I would typically have to do a few sets before I felt any type of impact on my glute. After Tim showed me the correct form to do a proper lunge, I felt the impact on my glutes almost instantly. He also taught me the power of stabilization through weights.

"If a person is trying to get the glute, they need to do walking lunges. We also have something called a fireman carrier with a walking lunge; it's when you have two weights. You can have your dumbbells, kettlebell, or any type of weight you have to stabilize."

Three-Legged Dog

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​For the three-legged dog exercise, Tim instructed: "In yoga, the Warrior III [Pose], it will look like this: All the front leg is stabled and the back leg will go straight back. Remember to keep your eyes directly on something and hold. Now to go extended, bring your hands to the floor and keep that leg up. Hold for three-second and bring the foot down. Make sure the foot touches the floor and bring it right back up."

I loved how Tim took yoga-inspired workouts and turned them into impactful glute exercises. My glutes were on fire during this particular workout. I have to be honest, it took your girl a minute to find her balance. Once I found something solid to focus on, the workout became much easier.

Celeste Polanco for xoNecole

However, during the workout, I realized this exercise might not be practical for those with stability issues. I'm happy to report: Tim had no problem coming up with a solution. Here is an modified version of the three-legged exercise, if you suffer from stability issues.

"If that person has stability issues, you can sit in an all-fours position. Place your wrist under your shoulders, extend the leg back, and pulse. Now to make it hard, you can bend the knee and pulse. You can also bring it out now you're working all aspects of the hip."


Celeste Polanco for xoNecole

I know what you're thinking, Duh, squats give you a nice ass, sis! And sure, you might be right. A huge part of it is how you are doing your squats. Tim had strong opinions on the influence of squats and why most of us are doing it wrong.

"Most people that do squats don't squat for depth which gives you a fuller range to pull up; that is the extender muscle. If you squat down; you have to extend to get up. That's the engagement of the glute. What we have to start asking ourselves is: 'What athlete, person, or thing is doing?' Follow what they're doing. Not what's popular because your influencer is doing their job to influence you."

I am a squat girl. I love regular squats, jumping squats, and even squats with weights. My squats have lifted my butt to some degree but never given me the results I've always desired. After taking Tim's advice on looking at athletes vs. influencer workouts; I noticed the difference between squats and results. I'm not saying all influencers squat the same way, but I do notice a pattern. We are not nearly squatting as low as we need to.

"A squat in particular is the only exercise that you physically do what the exercise says. To add that depth you want to try to have the feet going out a little more, like a 40-degree angle. Then you want the knees to go out. When the knees go out, it drops the center of the body down: rather than your butt going back and having instability because you don't have good ankle mobility."

Tim goes into detail on what people can do to promote ankle mobility:

"If you don't have good ankle mobility, you can't squat the way you see on social media. Mobility classes are more important than just starting to workout. You need to know about your body before you start wrecking it."


Celeste Polanco for xoNecole

I have never been a huge fan of deadlifts. I always found deadlifts boring and a strain on my back. Working with Tim allowed me to find my correct form and have an impactful rep. Once I corrected my form, I noticed there wasn't a strain on my lower back. I learned the key is to squeeze at the top, avoid hyperextending, and take it slow.

"One of the most important things for a nice ass is a dead-lift. It works the posterior chain. A deadlift is lifting dead weight, but it's a hip hinge motion. The only thing that is moving is the top part of your body. When we are hip-hinging, you're keeping the leg straight and only a slight bend in the knees. Your feet must be directly under your shoulders, that way your body is properly positioned. Slowly reach for the floor, come up, and squeeze [the butt]."

2-in-1 Squat and Deadlift with Kettelbell

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The last two workouts Tim showed me can be done with a kettlebell, dumbbells, or any small weight you have at home. This workout is perfect for anyone on-the-go.

"We are using the same concept as a deadlift, just with a kettlebell. What you are going to do is; reach for the kettlebell toward the floor while pushing your butt toward the wall. You'll be able to feel your hamstrings get tighter as you lean. Make sure to hold the kettlebell with both hands, have your arms extended, and shoulders back."

The kettlebell helped me with resistance, which in return encouraged me to go slower. Although the weight was small, I still felt a great amount of impact. The best part was the added weight didn't affect my back at all. Looking back, I know it is because Tim helped me correct my form.

Celeste Polanco for xoNecole

"Now for the squats version. You squat to drop the kettlebell and come back up. Now, you squat again and pick up the kettlebell. Remember to squeeze and go low."

Featured image by Celeste Polanco for xoNecole

Mental health awareness is at an all-time high with many of us seeking self-improvement and healing with the support of therapists. Tucked away in cozy offices, or in the comfort of our own homes, millions of women receive the tools needed to navigate our emotions, relate to those around us, or simply exist in a judgment-free space.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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