Keep fit with Charlene Hutsebaut

Charlene Hutsebaut
Photo©John Cassidy |

Charlene Hutsebaut is a Canadian who has lived locally for 15 years. She is the chair of her residents’ association and vice chair of the local ward safer neighbourhood police panel.

Charlene is also a personal trainer and the only UK woman to make top ten global finalists in the Life fitness personal trainers to watch competition. She also blogs and makes fitness videos and runs wellness workshops. Check her out.

Charlene shares below some hints and tips with Brixtonblog readers on how to keep fit and active

Being active can be much more accessible than some may think. Time, money and location need not be barriers to exercising. I have created this quick bench workout for you to smash these obstacles.

Find a sturdy reinforced bench in your local park or near your home.

See suggested sets and repetitions with each exercise.

I would love to know how you are doing with this workout. Send me any comments or questions on Twitter to @positivelyslim with hashtag #benchworkout.

woman doing press ups on a bench


Setup: Hands on bench wider than shoulders but in line with them, belly button pulled to spine, eyes looking down at bench, elbows long but not locked. Movement: Move chest towards bench by bending elbows, breathe in as you move down, breathe out as you press back up to the start position. 1-3 sets x 8-12 repetitions Tips: For an easier version, go behind the bench and use the high back and setup up exactly the same. For a tougher version, find a wall lower than the seat of the bench or go on the ground.

Exercise Squats on a bench

Set up: Standing, feet shoulder width apart. Tighten abs.

Movement: Sit down into an imaginary chair behind you, keeping abs engaged, knees stay behind toes (breathe in). Stand up (breathe out). 1-3 sets x 8-15 repetitions

Tips: For a tougher version, stay at the bottom of the range (knees bent) and hold for 20-60 secs.

Bench exercise for tricepsTricep dips

Setup: Sit on bench, place heels of hands on edge then slide bottom off bench. Knees bent. Look straight ahead. Core unit wrapped.

Movement:  Bend elbows (breathing in) lowering bottom just past bench, keeping abs tight.
Straighten elbows (breathe out) returning to start position. 1-3 sets x 8-12 repetitions

Tips:  For tougher position straighten knees out. Be aware of shoulders staying down away from ears.

Side plank exercise on a benchSide plank

Setup: Place a hand (or forearm if your wrists don’t like position) on the bench, under your shoulder. Stack your top shoulder over bottom one – Stack the hips in same way.
Look straight ahead.

Wrap or belt your core unit (abs, lower back) by pulling the belly button gently towards spine and squeezing pelvic floor. Breathe fluidly while holding position for 20 seconds to 2 minutes. If you lose the body position take a break and repeat. 1-3 x 10-60 seconds each side.

sit-upBV sit 
Setup: Sit on bench, finding your balance by leaning back so you are sitting just behind your “sit bones” with knees bent & arms up.
Wrap your core unit gently.

Movement:  Keeping your torso and arms still, extend one leg out (breathe out) then back in (breathe in), switch legs and keep alternating.       1-3 x 8-12 repetitions per leg.

Tips: Continually bring your awareness back to your core unit as this exercise is to focus on the abs and back, even though your legs are doing the main movement.

Bench exercisesPlank with limb moves

Setup:  Same as pressup

Movement:  Extend right arm up off bench while lifting left foot off ground. This should feel like a reach of the limbs away from the torso. Place limbs down to start and repeat with left arm and right leg. Keep breathing naturally as you alternate. 1-3 x 8-12 repetitions.

Tips:  Keep body in straight board like position, shoulder blades floating flat on the back, eyes looking down at bench.