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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Three Group Fitness Classes to Try NOW!

NIFS offers a wide variety of group fitness classes every day of the week that are innovative, fun, and make sweating a bit more enjoyable. Whether you are a group fitness “junkie” or just trying out the whole group fitness thing for the first time, here are three group fitness classes you should put on your list to check out:

1. Cycle/RPMcycle

This heart-pumping cardio class will get you fit while sweating to the beat of powerful music. In the middle of summer, it’s often too hot or humid to safely ride your bike outdoors, while in the winter it can be too icy and cold. Indoor cycling is a great alternative. For a high-intensity workout, cycling is low-impact. Each class focuses on a combination of interval training, speed work, and hill climbs to keep you healthy, fit, and happy.

2. CXWORX

The CXWORX workout is just 30 minutes and focuses on the core (the abs, hips, butt, shoulders, and back). That means whether you are looking for a quick and effective workout or are trying to improve your performance in your other workouts, this is the group fitness class for you. While this can be an intense and challenging class, our instructors are excellent at providing exercise modifications that allow everyone in the class to be successful!

3. Yoga_DSC0280

We all know that stress doesn’t do anything good for our health, and one way to balance out the many stresses of life is to hit the mat and take a yoga class. The controlled stretching and breathing practiced in a yoga class allows the body to relax, which can lower your blood pressure, repair overworked muscles, and give the mind a needed break from the hustle and bustle of a regular day. Not flexible? Not a problem. Our instructors understand that everyone comes into class with his or her own “baggage” and will make necessary adjustments and provide options so that everyone can have a calming and rejuvenating yoga practice.

With 80+ monthly group fitness classes at NIFS there is something for everyone. Get started and try a free class on us!

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This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, LES MILLS® certified BODYPUMP® and CXWORX® instructor and contributing writer. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS yoga group fitness cycling core Les Mills

10 Better Ways to Do 10 Exercises

Salutations NIFS blog followers! With summer in full swing, I would like to take time to discuss a topic that tends to be extremely touchy for some and unexplored for others. I know your workout is yours. It’s sacred to you and there can be no other way, in your mind, to exercise. You may take offense when a trainer suggests that the exercise you are doing (and which was probably popular in the 1970s with bodybuilders) is not recommended, and that there are alternatives that are not only safer, but also many times more effective.

With this being said, I bring you improvements to 10 popular exercises that can truly change the way you look at your workout. Following are the first three.

1. Effective Pushups

Pushups can be like snowflakes: no two are alike. From an anatomical standpoint, many people rely on secondary muscles in the shoulders and connective tissue rather than the primary focus, the chest. This is often seen when there is weakness in the upper body. People tend to compensate for that weakness.Pushup-wrongPushup-right

To correct this and still allow the shoulders and triceps to remain relevant, move your elbows back to a 45-degree angle to your body, keeping your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart. Then press your body up throughout the entire range of motion. You should use a modified version of this if you are still unable to perform the movement. This works the same muscle groups and will allow you to build strength necessary to do a 45-degree pushup. (For more pushup variations see our previous blog: Slim It to Win It: The Pushup).

2. Treadmill

tradmillWalking on a treadmill can be great exercise, but something that some people do not realize is that it can be misleading. When you walk around the track, at the grocery store, or at the park, one constant force is always there: gravity. Gravity is something we have to deal with and respect. Our body takes on this extra resistance as a challenge. This is not exactly the same on a treadmill; this is not to say that it is zero gravity, but there is less difficulty walking at a zero incline on a treadmill than walking around the track. I suggest setting your treadmill incline to a minimum 1% incline, which will not only give you a better calorie burn, but also a better cardiovascular workout.

3. Seated Bicep Curls

Seated anything, for that matter. As a society, we tend to sit a lot. We sit at breakfast, on the bus, at work/school, at lunch, at home watching TV in the evening… really all the time. Seated bicep curls is a combination of a seated position and a small muscle group movement—probably the least effective exercise, bang for your buck, you could possibly do. Please do not stop doing bicep curls, but at least try this small variation: The wall sit bicep curl. First, position your body in a wall sit, back against the wall and head back. With two dumbbells, perform the bicep curl. Make sure to keep your head pressed against the wall. In effect, we see muscle contraction in the legs, biceps, and even the core with an unparalleled isolation within the bicep (no cheating here!).

Bicep-machine wall-sit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This concludes part 1 of this blog series. Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will continue this discussion and hopefully you’ll come away with a new perspective on fitness that will promote and encourage positive development.

Muscle heads rejoice and evolve!

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Schedule a free fitness assessment today and our certified trainers will help get you started on a fitness routine that works for you.

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Topics: exercise fitness center Thomas' Corner workouts

The Battle to Keep the Right Fitness Attitude

the-battleDo you ever think about who you once were and how it compares to who you are now? What is different? Do you like the differences between the two? While you contemplate, think about how you became who you are today: the process, the trials, the ups and the downs, the victories and the losses, and maybe most importantly the way you now process thoughts and behavioral triggers.

My road hasn’t always been easy. This might be hard for you to believe, but I wasn’t always the happy-go-lucky guy I am today (wink, wink). I know, I can be a little intense, but I used to be far worse. I had to make a change! I have had some help along the way—mainly my beautiful wife, Teri. It has still been a battle, but one I am now happy to fight.

One passage I came across, a Cherokee legend, really spoke to me about my journey. Maybe it will speak to you as well.

The Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that was going on inside himself.

He said, “My son, it is between two wolves. One is evil: anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good: joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson thought about this for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.”

I know the “evil wolf” remains as my former self, lying dormant until I feed it with old behaviors. I feel this is how I process challenges now, and I refuse to indulge the negative thoughts, actions, and attitude that will wake the wolf I have worked so hard to quiet.

Tony Maloney is the Fitness Center Manager and leads group training Sunday through Thursday. Follow Tony on Facebook at ELITE.

 

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Topics: fitness fitness center motivation attitude

Race Day Nutrition: Before, During, and After

You have trained for the marathon, half-marathon, triathlon or other race, and now it’s the big day! However, you need to make sure you are properly fueling your body with optimal nutrition to guarantee that you will cross the finish line feeling great! Here are some tips to ensure that will happen.

Before the Race154039075

It is essential to have carbohydrates before racing. They provide the best source of energy for your body and give the most efficient fuel for working muscles. Examples of these are whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-grain breads, cereals, bagels, oatmeal, and fruits and vegetables.

Protein helps with sustaining energy for longer periods of time. A small to moderate amount of protein-rich foods is essential before exercising. Examples include skim milk, 1% milk, or low-fat chocolate milk; low-fat cottage cheese or low-fat cheese; boiled eggs; peanut butter; yogurt; a small amount of nuts; lean meat, poultry, or fish; and soy products. Fat is stored in the body and is used as an important energy source. It is especially important for endurance athletes, such as runners.

Try to avoid high-fat foods because they may slow digestion. Examples of high-fat foods are crackers, chips, snack cakes, or muffins. Instead, opt for healthy sources of fat such as peanut butter, nuts, and olive oil.

Eating sugary foods before a race may cause side effects such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This can have a major effect on your race! You might think you get that burst of energy from the sugar, but the energy will peak quickly and will not last for a long time. Avoid pastries, donuts, and high-sugar cereals.

Drink 2 to 3 cups of fluids such as water, 100% juice, low-fat or skim milk, or a sports beverage two to three hours before the race, and then 1 more cup of fluid 10 to 20 minutes before the race. A small amount of coffee (6 to 8 oz.) may be an option, but be sure that it settles well in your stomach.

During the Race Gels

Drink at least 1 cup of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise (24 to 48 ounces per hour for most people). For every pound you lose during exercise, consume 2 to 3 cups of fluid. It is always good to calculate your sweat rate during training to know the proper amount of fluids you need to be taking in during the race. This can be done by weighing yourself before a workout and immediately afterward.

Water is always an excellent choice during the race, but for durations of longer than 60 to 90 minutes, it is important to take in some type of sports drink. Sports drinks provide a mix of water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. Electrolytes are lost in sweat during the race, which is why sports drinks help replenish electrolytes in the body.

It is important to intake the proper amount of carbohydrates during the race. Consuming carbohydrates should be a goal during the race to help increase endurance; 60 to 70 grams per hour is recommended. Good options for getting in carbohydrates during the race are sports drinks, energy bars, GUs, gummy blocks, and Sport Beans. If you prefer consuming an energy bar during the race, it is important to consume a bar that is high in carbohydrates, but low in protein and fat. Make sure to take in 4 to 8 ounces of water with the gels or the energy bars to prevent an upset stomach. Consider how your body digests these different items. Go with the item that digests well for you and will help you stay at your optimum performance level. Always practice with these products during training and never try something new on race day.

After the Race

Here are some tips for recovering after the race:

  • Aim to consume a 200- to 300-calorie snack within 30 minutes of finishing the race.
  • Rehydrate with 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during the race.
  • Eat a well-balanced meal that includes protein, fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes.455658863
  • Aim for 15 to 25 grams of protein to be consumed within 30 to 60 minutes after the race.
  • Take in at least half a gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight within the first hour after the race.
  • Have salty snacks and sports drinks to help with replacing electrolytes, if it will be 3 to 4 hours until your next well-balanced meal.

Remember that training with certain foods is just as important as the physical training for the event! If you need help, consider a personal nutrition coaching session from NIFS.

If you are interested in having your questions answered during a personal nutrition consultation, please contact me at [email protected] or 317-274-3432, ext 239. Learn more about Nutrition and Wellness services at NIFS.

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This blog was written by Angie Sheetz, NIFS Registered Dietitian. Read more about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: nutrition running marathon training triathlon cycling half marathon hydration endurance

Training to Improve Barefoot Running Strength and Function

453099757Over the past decade, there has been an increase in the popularity of barefoot training or training in a minimalist shoe such as a Vibram Five Fingers, especially with running barefoot. Along with this has come a lot of controversy about whether barefoot training is detrimental or beneficial. No matter which stance you agree with or practice currently, I think anyone would agree that it is important to have functional and strong feet and ankles.

Going barefoot compared to wearing shoes will force your feet and ankle muscles to work harder initially, therefore making them stronger. It will also improve the mobility of the foot and ankle. Wearing a shoe takes a lot of the work away from the foot, which leads to dysfunction, imbalance, and weakness over time. This is all-important because your feet are what connect your body to the ground and ultimately play a contributing factor in your stability, posture, and balance.

For those who have not adopted a barefoot or minimalist shoe lifestyle, it is important to incorporate barefoot exercises into your workout routine to improve foot and ankle function and mobility for these reasons. Here are a few exercises to perform barefoot that you can incorporate into your exercise routine and see quick improvements!

Beginner: Work on single-leg balancing. Press your big toe, small toe, and heel into the ground equally and try to hold your balance on one foot for 20 to 30 seconds.

Intermediate: Once you are comfortable balancing on one foot,try catching and passing a ball to a partner or against a wall in the same position. This will further challenge your balance by adding in the element of movement in the upper body.

Advanced: Incorporate barefoot plyometric exercises. Be sure to reinforce activating the muscles in the foot by landing on the three points of your foot discussed in balancing. One example of a plyometric exercise is to jump over a cone on one foot and land on the same foot on the opposite side.

If you are ready to make exercise a priority in your life NIFS is here to help. Membership at NIFS includes a personal assessment and training programs designed for you by a Health Fitness Specialist. Try NIFS free for 14-days and see how we can help you make exercise a priority.

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This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, NIFS Fitness Center Manager and Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running injury prevention muscles exercises plyometric

“Caddy Smack”: Fitness Tips to Improve Your Golf Game

golferWith summer in full swing, I thought some tips to improve your golf game might be a good way to start my blogging experience. No, I’m not going to fix your slice or tell you how to hit out of a bunker (I still can’t fix that myself). What I’m going to do is give you a few fitness tips that could potentially help add some yards off the tee or with long iron shots.

Getting More Distance on Your Shots

One of the best ways to bolster the distance of your shots is to increase the club head speed during your swing. Now, you are probably thinking, “Okay, I’ll just swing harder than I normally do.” Those of us who have done that before already know the outcome is not favorable for scoring par or birdie. The ball probably ended up two fairways over or at the bottom of a lake and left you saying, “I almost crushed that.”

What if there was a way to increase that club head speed without altering the mechanics of your swing? The concept of rotational power may be the key to unlocking that extra 10 to 15 yards for that tee shot. Rotational power is something I focus very heavily on with any of my teams that involve a swinging aspect (such as golf, tennis, and softball). It involves moving your upper body/torso and hips in a circular path to generate a large amount of power while keeping under control. Increasing the ability to generate this force (getting more powerful) will allow you to feel like you are taking your normal swing but have a little more “oomph” behind it. Simply put, you are able to swing harder by increasing the ability of those muscles that are important to the swing.

Training to Increase Rotational Power

Now, how should you go about training to increase your rotational power? Luckily, the NIFS Fitness Center has a ton of tools that can provide opportunities to do so. I am going to focus on one piece of equipment for this specific goal, which are the Dynamax balls located at the south end of the fitness center floor. The following three exercises are designed to help you become more powerful and hopefully improve your game at the same time. Remember, your driver and irons do not weigh a bunch, so use one of the lighter Dynamax balls (I recommend the 10-pounder to start with). The golf swing is a fast event, so focus on the speed aspect rather than the weight during these drills.

  1. Dynamax Pocket Throws (3 sets of 15 per side)
  2. Half-Kneeling Rotational Throw (3 sets of 8 per side)
  3. Overhead Rotational Throw (3 sets of 6 per side with maximum effort)


I know there are many more parts to the golf swing than rotational power, however, this is a key factor. Hopefully in a few weeks you will be hearing a louder “smack” of the club and see some extra distance when the ball comes to a stop.

Hit them straight; hit them far!

If you are looking for more ways to improve the strength of your golf swing or have any other sports specific goals, contact me for a free fitness assessment. 

Free Fitness Assessment

This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: exercise muscles training golf core strength rotation golf swing

10-Minute Desk Exercise Routines for the Office

86490362Even though I work at a gym, I can still relate to people who work in an office setting sitting at a desk for several hours out of the day. On a typical day, I try to get in my workout before or after the work day, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen and I need to squeeze some movement into the middle of my day.

Getting up and moving around at the office doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t take a long time to get in movement that will truly make a difference.


Here are two 10-minute workouts you can do at your desk (or anywhere!) when time, space, and equipment are limited. Also, notice the exercises are hyperlinked—click the link for a video demonstration of the specific exercise.

10-Minute Total Body Desk Exercise Routine

Complete each exercise for 1 minute, resting when needed. Repeat the circuit of exercises twice through. Make sure to do some light stretching at your desk when you are finished!

10-Minute Cardio Blast Desk Exercises

Complete each exercise for 1 minute, resting when needed. Repeat the circuit of exercises twice through. Make sure to do some light stretching at your desk when you are finished!

Bring NIFS to work with you! Contact us about our Corporate Wellness Programs and bring fitness to your workplace. Contact Don Galante for more information at 317-274-3432 ext 234 or by email.

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, LES MILLS® certified BODYPUMP® and CXWORX® instructor and contributing writer. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: staying active workouts exercise at work desk exercise workplace fitness videos workplace wellness