The Mommy Shorts summer fitness series is written by Jennifer Nyp of @ZenGirlFitness in SOHO, a personal trainer and pilates instructor who I can personally attest knows what she is talking about. She helped me lose 3″ around my waist in 8 weeks, just by adding an hour of exercise three times a week. That sounds like an infomercial. But it’s not. It’s true!

I have loved fitness my whole life, but more so after I had children. As I get older, I realize how imperative exercise is for a happy life. However, you shouldn’t “just do it.” You must, “do it right.” There is so much information out there, which is incredible, but it is also overwhelming. I’m here to teach you exercises that work. Many people buy gym equipment for their home but then it gathers dust because they aren’t motivated to use it. If you know how to best use these pieces of equipment and start seeing results, you are much more likely to keep it up.

Last week, I created a list of my recommended at-home gym equipment. Every week, I am going to pick one piece of equipment and give a whole list of ways to use it— both for stretching and strength training. For a complete workout, I recommend running for at least ten minutes (outside or on a tread mill) before we begin. Once you familiarize yourself with all the exercises, you can mix and match however you choose for the remaining minutes within the hour.

Let’s start with the foam roller, which is truly a must-have for any home gym. Many people use foam rolling for “self-myofascial” release, or self massage. It applies pressure to certain tight spots on your body, which will aid in the recovery of muscles and make them healthy and elastic again. But the foam roller is not only there to act as your personal masseuse, you can also use it to make any exercise more core driven. How you ask? Because it is an unstable surface, which means your core will have to work just to keep you from falling off.

Well, you might fall off, but that’s okay. It’s not a far fall. Just keep going and it will get easier. There are endless ways to use this amazing piece of equipment, so hopefully my videos will inspire you to come up with some challenging moves of your own.

9 Ways to Use a Foam Roller

Move #1: Rolling Yourself Out

Remember when rolling yourself out, it WILL hurt. That is good. Go for the pain. You don’t have to do it for long, but be thorough about it.

Move #2: Single and Double Leg Stretch

Below are two ab exercises we do on the mat in pilates. If you take them to the roller, it’s a whole different level. I often do this if I feel like I might cheat on the mat. You can’t cheat on the roller!

Move #3: Scissors

Keep your shoulders firmly on the roller and really exhale your navel to spine. Do each leg 10-16x.

Move #4: Lower Lift

Make sure your lower back and shoulder blades are on the roller. Exhale to pull your abdominals in as you lift your legs.

Move #5: Cross Cross

This is the last move in the ab series.

Move #6: Push-ups

These never fail to challenge you and feel better on the wrists. Do three sets of as many as you can.

Move #7: Bridge

Always work toward the “burn” and if you do one leg at a time be sure to end with both feet down and pulses.

Move #8: Chest Press

This will challenge your core and lengthen your spine as well.

Move #9: Knee Stretches

Be sure to tuck your tail and pull your abdominals to your spine. Exhale as your knees come toward you.

Move #10: Squat

Using the foam roller for a squat is a great way to challenge your core, work your butt and massage your spine.

Let me know how your workout goes and please ask any questions in the comments below!

Tune in next Wednesday when Jennifer will be showing us what the hell to do with a versa-loop. You can follow Jennifer Nyp on Instagram at @zengirlfitness for more daily exercise ideas or if you live in Manhattan and want to work out with her private SOHO studio, you find her contact info here.