Sculpting lower body circuit

Carve your buns, quads, and hamstrings (plus a little bit of core) with this killer lower-body circuit courtesy of trainer Joni Ortiz.


Power through the exercises quickly using your own bodyweight, or take it at a slower, harder pace by adding a set of dumbbells into the mix.

Model/Trainer: Joni Ortiz //  Photography: James Patrick

This lower-body circuit is great for strengthening and toning your lower body and, considering some of the largest muscles of the body can be found in your legs, you get the added bonus of serious calorie burn.

Complete 15 repetitions of each exercise with good form before moving on to the next exercise. Complete each exercise back-to-back with no rest in-between to ensure your heart rate is kept high. At the end of the circuit, rest for 30 seconds (advanced) to 1 minute (beginner), before starting the circuit again. Four rounds.

Forward lunges


Stand holding your dumbbells by your side (if you have them) and step forward, lowering your back knee down to the ground and keeping your front knee in alignment with your ankle. Push through your heel back into standing position. Repeat for 15 reps, alternating legs.

Good morning – squat Rotation


Start in a standing position. Move into a good-morning with a slight bend in your knees, hinging at the hip and with your back straight. From here, sit back into a squat (hold this for a couple of seconds) and then move back into a good morning.  Return to a standing position. This is one rep. Repeat for 15 reps, moving at a moderate to quick pace.

Single-leg deadlifts


Start in a standing position, holding dumbbells at your sides. Shift weight onto one leg, lower dumbbells down, keeping a slight bend in the stationary leg, while kicking alternate leg back. Upon rising, push through the heel and squeeze your glute muscle for two seconds before lowering back down. Repeat.

Bench step-ups with kickback


Stand facing a bench. Step up with your right foot and kick your left leg back at the highest point of the movement, squeezing your glute. Step back down to the ground and repeat with your opposite leg. Alternate legs until you have completed 15 reps.

Spiderman plank


Begin in plank position, holding dumbbells. Bring your right knee towards your right elbow with a slight squeeze in your oblique, before returning back to plank position. Repeat on your left side and alternate sides until you have completed 15 reps.

Bench jumps


Stand facing the bench. Squat down and jump up onto the bench into a squatted position. Think ‘light knees’ – you should not be banging into the bench with force, as this puts undue pressure on your joints. Step back down to the ground and repeat until you have completed 15 reps.   

Alien squats


Get into a squat position with knees wide. Kick feet out without raising your upper body, before moving back down into the squat position. Repeat for 15 reps. This exercise should be completed quickly for best results.

Single-leg variation (lunge – kickback) 


In standing position, shift weight to one leg, move into single leg lunge and, upon rising, kick alternate leg back. Move back into standing position before completing the same movement on the opposite leg. Alternate legs until 15 reps are complete. Remember to move quickly through the movement.




Meet your 2017 WH&F Brazilian Butterfly cover model winner Grace Shelmerdine


Your winner of the 2017 Women’s Health and Fitness and Brazilian Butterfly Cover Model Competition is this beautiful, ambitious and bubbly young mum, personal trainer and business owner from downtown Adelaide. 






Check out a preview of her cover model interview below and be sure to grab the September 2017 edition of WH&F for her full cover story and exclusive workout.


I don’t believe in excluding food groups. I like a diet that doesn’t feel like a diet! You should be able to socialise and enjoy the food you love while seeing progress. To lose my baby weight I tracked my calories and macros; now, I’m a little more relaxed and eat intuitively most of the time.


My baby-free time is rare, but I set my alarm for 4:45am Monday to Friday and get up to train while everyone is still asleep! I love my early morning sessions. I aim for four to five gym sessions per week: 50 per cent of my training is full-body PowerFit AMRAP style and the other 50 per cent is strength based. My favourite exercises are burpees and chin-ups – anything that will push me to my limit.


My life revolves around baby Chase’s routine. I wake up early, go to the gym, work while he sleeps and I like to incorporate an outdoor walk with him in the afternoon.


Relaxing is something I need to do more of! We live by the beach and there is something magic about watching the ocean while keeping active and getting fresh air. If I’m due for some TLC, I will treat myself to an Epsom salt bath and a face mask.

Model: Grace Shelmerdine //
// @grace_powerfit

Photographer: Jessica Apap //
// @jessicaapap_photographer

HMU: Cynthia Smyth //




Grace’s journey to landing the cover of WH&F mag:

My favourite training move is anything that’s challenging. I love to race the clock with a high-intensity full body circuit and, this might sound strange, but I also love burpees! I enjoy the feeling of conquering a physical challenge, plus this style of training provides fantastic fat-burning and conditioning benefits.

I balance work, family and fitness by working from home with my little man. I’m so passionate about my job that it doesn’t even feel like work – I do my best work when my son is napping. As a new mum, it’s harder to fit workouts in, but I usually get it done at 5am before the rest of the household wakes up! I also fit in a 60-minute walk during the day – nothing beats being active in the fresh outdoor air!

My advice to any fitness newbie is to start slow and not give up. Choose compound movements such as squats, lunges, push-ups and lat pull-downs to get the maximum benefits for your time spent at the gym


Get your copy of the special edition Cover Model issue today! 



Tiramisu smoothie recipe

Get maximum taste and maximum tone with this delicious protein smoothie by Lisha Lorincz.


Chocolate Coffee Layer:

  • ½ frozen banana
  • ½ scoop chocolate protein powder
  • ½ cup chilled coffee
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup ice

Vanilla Cream Layer:

  • ½ frozen banana
  • ½ scoop vanilla protein powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp cottage cheese
  • ½ cup ice


Blend Need for chocolate coffee layer until smooth. Pour into desired glass, and set in freezer. Next, blend Need for vanilla cream layer until smooth and pour on top of chocolate coffee layer. Garnish with toppings and enjoy!




10 ways to lower your cortisol levels without the price tag.

So how can you bring down that all important cortisol level without emptying your back pocket? Here are some easy and affordable ways you can relax.



1. Swimming: Any physical exercise will release the happy hormones, endorphins, leading you to momentarily lower cortisol levels. However, swimming takes things one step further, with the water providing a meditative effect to help calm and clear your anxious mind.

2. Yoga: “If you struggle to engage in mindfulness or slow breathing exercises, yoga might be for you,” says clinical psychologist Dr Rosalind Case. “It combines slow and deep breathing techniques with strong postures and movement, which many people find easier to focus on if they are distractible.” Before you start looking at the cost of classes, remember you can incorporate yoga into your daily routine by checking out a book at the library, finding a YouTube video, or downloading a phone app such as Daily Yoga or Asana Rebel.

3. Mindfulness: “Try some daily mindfulness with the Smiling Mind’s app. Remember, it’s normal for your mind to wander during mindfulness – resist the urge to do it perfectly! Just do it every day for a couple of minutes and you should start to notice results,” says Dr Case. Another option is to take time while stuck in traffic or lined up in a queue to observe mindfully, rather than getting impatient. Participants in a study at Maharishi University who meditated daily for four months decreased cortisol levels by an average of 20 per cent.

4. Music: In the journal Plos One, a study was published that looked at the effects of music on stress levels. It found that music was most effective when you used it prior to a stressful situation or environment rather than during or after. When doctors at Japan’s Osaka Medical Center played tunes for a group of patients undergoing colonoscopies, the patients’ cortisol levels rose less than those who underwent the same procedure in a quiet room.

5. Massage and pressure points: You could splash out on a professional full body massage, or you could gain most of the benefits for free at home! Grab some moisturiser, and mindfully rub from the tips of your toes, all the way up your legs, your back, your stomach, arms and chest. Breathe deeply, appreciate the light scent of the cream and think about each body part as you self-massage. For a quick stress relief while out and about, you can even use light acupressure. Pull down gently on your earlobes and rub the inner surface for two to three minutes to relieve some pressure.

6. Chew: Chewing gum may be the answer to a little stress relief. Findings from Northumbria University show that under moderate stress, gum chewers had salivary cortisol levels that were 12 per cent lower than non-chewers, and also reported greater alertness.

7. Have a cup of tea: While herbal usually receives the positive wrap, black tea is the way to go when you want to reduce that stressful feeling. Naturally occurring chemicals such as polyphenols and flavonoids are thought to be responsible for black tea’s calming effects. However, the process of brewing and sitting down to sip is equally calming whatever colour of tea you choose.

8. Sleep: Sometimes that nasty stress hormone can be the reason you’re not getting enough kip, whether you have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep. The average adult is recommended to get between seven to nine hours sleep every night; anything less, and you are rewarded with 50 per cent more cortisol circulating in your bloodstream compared to your well-rested friends. Keep technology out of your bedroom, keep caffeine to a minimum and try not to have any after 12 pm. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, write down what’s bothering you, or go to another room to read until you feel sleepy so your bedroom is reserved exclusively for zzz’s.

9. Get out: Socialising might be the last thing on your mind when those cortisol levels have ramped up, but it could be just what you need. A distraction from what’s setting you on edge and connecting with the real world might have you feeling a bit more normal. Studies published in the journal Science used mice to illustrate the connection between isolation and the level of cortisol that trigger a cascade of potential mental health issues.

10. Breathe: “Slow your heart rate down with slow breathing – check out the Breathing Zone app, which helps you slow your breaths down to an ideal seven breaths per minute,” says Dr Case. There are also various meditative breathing techniques to try including belly breathing or pranayama (forceful inhalation and forceful exhalation)




Being Dani Stevens: health and wellness talk


We caught up with Dani Stevens to find out the inspiration behind her health secrets.


Who’s that girl? One of the world’s most popular lifestyle social media influencers (with a cool six-figure social media base of devoted followers), 365 Lifestyle Motivator and mother of four. Stevens ranked  No. 11 in’s ‘Top 50  Fitness  Blogs To  Follow’ and has a growing reputation  as a  healthy lifestyle author, and fitness and food motivator.

Her vibrant and vivacious personality and infectious sense of humour is part of her success in motivating others to take control of their lives through health and fitness.

It’s no surprise Dani is often described as the quintessential ‘people magnet’.

Exercise Goal: Keeping my core stable and strong to avoid more lower-back injuries.

Tip: Always buy fresh produce, wash and pack into ‘on the go’ snacks when you are running out the door. Meal prep is a huge deal in our house: with after school activities and working full-time, this saves the headache of ‘what’s for dinner?’ When you see the meal planner and the kids help you plan it, they eat it! 

Steal her science: Gut Health

Freedom Foods Nutritional Advisor, Dr Jo McMillan, says if you’re looking to adopt Stevens’ gut health food plan, you’ll be delivering a number of nutrients to your body – including protein from the nuts, tofu and soy milk, and vitamin C and phytochemicals from fruit and vegies. McMillan recommends watching your iron levels and intake of long chain omega-3s (found primarily in oily fish and other seafood) and vitamin B12 (found in animal foods) as these are poorly absorbed from – or not found in – plant foods. For optimum bowel health, McMillan says you need to feed your gut microbiota – not just yourself. “The roughly 1.5kg of microorganisms that live inside your gut are essential for good physical and mental health, yet we largely ignore them,” says McMillan. “They require plentiful fibre as their ‘food’ and not just one type of fibre. There are many types of fibre in plant foods and they all have different roles in the body – from fuelling the good bacteria, to keeping us regular and controlling both blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Broadly speaking, we can group them as insoluble fibre, soluble fibre and resistant starch. It is the latter two that are often deficient in Australian diets, but on average all types are below the recommendations for good health.” 

Sample Day on a plate:

My main focus is gut and bowel health. I believe a plant-based diet is hugely beneficial for the bowels as it is naturally high in fibre. Eating a high plant-based diet, and ensuring it is higher in whole plant foods rather than mock foods, is even shown to be preventative for diseases like bowel cancer.

Breakfast:  Green smoothie with protein powder and loads of fruit.

Snack: Latte with Bonsoy, banana pancakes with raspberry sauce and nut crumble.

Lunch: Sourdough toast with smashed avocado, sliced tomatoes, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Dinner: Crunchy tofu vegetable stir fry with mung bean noodles. 



Protein carrot cake cupcake recipe

With hints of vanilla, cinnamon and salted caramel, and containing less than 13 grams of carbs, we doubt you will stop at one of these protein carrot cake cupcakes.

Settle down with a cuppa and a clean protein cupcake this winter, courtesy of WH&F cover model Heidi Cannon.


Ingredients (makes 8)


  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop of salted caramel protein powder of your choice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening


  • 1/3 cup low fat cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp. organic icing sugar
  • 1 scoop salted caramel protein powder of your choice




1. Shred carrots in food processor.

2. Fold in all wet ingredients.

3. Slowly add in dry ingredients to mixture and blend together (mixture will be fairly dense). Scoop out the mixture and place into individual cupcake tins. I recommend using a tin foil lined cupcake wrapper to make removal easier.

Icing :

1. With an electric mixer, blend cream cheese and salted caramel protein powder.

2. Slowly add in organic icing sugar and blend together.

3. Place in fridge for 10 to 15mins or until you are ready to ice the cupcakes.


NUTRITION  (per cupcake, depending on protein powder used)

Protein= 7g // Fat= 18.25g // Carbs=12.25g // Calories= 236

NEXT: Looking for more healthy treats? Try these mini chocolate pronuts today.





Your very own DIY spa


Your DIY guide to getting the spa feels at home, courtesy of our interior styling expert, managing director of Dammer Interiors, Louise Dammer.


“The important thing is to keep it simple and think about how all five of your senses can be stimulated,” says Dammer. Think about the type of bath you like the look of, a chair you feel comfortable in and the oils you enjoy the smell of.

1. Keep the space clean and free of clutter to reflect your mind. Achieve this by restricting the amount of furniture to essentials only.  Clear bench tops, and keep things out of sight in storage or organised on shelves.

Hint: Multi-function furniture such as a stool with in-built storage will allow you to keep products and supplies hidden away.

2. Opt for dim lighting to encourage rest.

If you don’t have lights that can be dimmed, try candles or tea lights.

“Lighting is a major element in opening up a space. Recessed spot lighting is perfect for a small space and a feature light hanging over the bath is lush! Making switches dimmable is handy but there are other alternatives,” says Dammer.

3. Have natural oils burning for the joy of smell and relaxation. Peppermint evokes clarity and lavender is calming. Research has also found that lavender improves quality of sleep, promotes relaxation, elevates the mood and reduces anxiety. According to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, aromatherapy has a beneficial effect on heart rate and blood pressure in both men and women, and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, it was found that over-exposure to essential oils of more than one-hour might be harmful to cardiovascular health. So perhaps don’t go OTT.

4. Play soothing music as background.Think classical or sounds of nature.

5. Have room temperature filtered water on hand.

In a jug, or a teapot of jasmine tea for cleansing is ideal.

6. Go for natural elements such as wood (cedar smells fab FYI), stone, green and water. Stick with neutral colours for a fresh look and steer clear of bright colours. Paintings and prints also look busy and avert calming effects. Keep the walls a light colour, as dark walls will make a bathroom look small. Light also creates a sense of calm and peace.

Hint: Mirrors will create an illusion of space.




Top tips to bring your holiday glow home with you


Ditch the holiday blues and bring the holiday glow back to your home zone with these tips and tricks from our experts:


Maintain the holiday frame. “To keep the benefits of your skin after returning from a holiday continue to get enough sleep, try to avoid stress, get some sun exposure avoiding too much sun, and continue to regularly moisturise,” says Dr Saras Sundrum from cosmetic medicine clinic Dr Saras and Co in Sydney.

Detox. You can maintain your detox and recreate a sense of the ocean at home by bathing in epsom salts, a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. The magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. Alternatively, treat yourself to a flotation tank session. You’ll get all the benefits of an epsom salt bath, with additional sensory deprivation to have you emerge a truly relaxed individual.

Rearrange the furniture. You don’t need to be a master at Feng Shui to know that the way you place items in a room can brighten or dull a mood. For a spark of creativity and a sense of purpose all you need to do is spend an afternoon ensuring you’re using your space the best way you can – and throw in a couple of blue pillows for an extra sense of calm.

Meditate. “Lots of people try to meditate and find it’s not for them. In that case I say don’t give up, keep trying and try a range of different approaches – yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, slow breathing exercises – the list goes on and on. There are now a range of apps that can be downloaded which help structure and guide these types of practices, so it’s just like you’ve got an instructor with you.” says clinical psychologist Dr Rosalind Case.

Vary your diet. “The different seasons deliver the perfect foods for each climate. Eating seasonally has many benefits including both nutritionally and environmentally,” says qualified nutritionist Tracie Connor.

Take some time for yourself. Even if you’ve only got time for a cup of tea it will help to dampen stress levels. “Stress causes a flood of the hormone cortisol in our body which attacks our immune system and makes us more susceptible to allergens  and bacteria,” says Dr Sundrum. “We also know that stress decreases our lipid barrier and causes it to dehydrate and lose moisture. All this causes us to look dull, dryer, older and blotchy.”

Focus on what’s important. “If you draw a pie chart and divide up the time spent between work, recreation, family, friends, exercise, spirituality and whatever else is important to you, how much of the pie chart would be taken up by work? We need to consider our values, goals and options,” says Dr Case. Your mood will be all the better for it.

A stay-cation is just as good as getting away. Boost your morale by simply giving your body time to rest. Dr Case agrees: “Think about what elements of a holiday you really benefit from. Is it the increased sleep? The time to relax and reflect? Reading books in the sun? Drinking wine with friends? Whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed and restored when you’re on holiday, think about how you can build more of that into your ‘real’ life.”’




Beauty talk with health and fitness blogger Amy Lee

We caught up with health and fitness blogger Amy Lee to get an insight into how she maintains her glowing skin on-the-go. 



I drink one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with warm water every morning (no matter where I am in the world) to detoxify my system and aid digestion.


An eyebrow pencil: it makes all the difference to the structure of your face. I use Bare Minerals brow pencil. A hydrating face mist with lavender can also be a quick and soothing fix for dehydrated skin when travelling.


I sleep with a silk eye mask (Jurlique is my pick). It doesn’t stretch or irritate the skin, which is especially good for those of us who lie on our sides to sleep.


A tinted mineral moisturiser with SPF 30+ protection. It keeps my skin hydrated, while still allowing my skin to breathe – it’s especially good in the dry atmosphere of a plane.


I prefer a fish braid – sometimes I get a headache from having a tight ponytail!

I use Moroccan oil on the ends of my hair but because I get oily roots, I love the Klorane dry shampoo as a quick fix.


I wear sunscreen with at least a SPF 30+ every day, even in winter. Whatever the season, we must always protect our skin from damaging UV rays!

Even when travelling, I cleanse morning and night using an organic moisturiser.


I think natural looking and effortless hair will be making a comeback – good news for those who oversleep on weekends like me!

Check out her stunning Instagram @amyleeactive for more.