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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Step: Welcome to a New LEVEL of Fitness!

Whether you are 18 or 80, man or woman, looking to lose weight or simply maintain, step aerobics just might be the perfect addition to your fitness program! Have you ever considered taking a step class? Perhaps you have found yourself thinking, “I’m not coordinated enough,” or “Step is too intense for me (or not intense enough”). Well, give me two minutes to change your mind.

Step Burns CaloriesStep-web.jpg

The bottom line is, stepping up and down off a raised platform burns calories. In fact, it burns A LOT of calories. According to Self Magazine (July 2012, page 101), stepping up and down off a raised platform burns more calories than doing jumping jacks, split lunges, power squats, or speed skating for the same length of time. Great way to lose weight? YES! Great way to maintain weight? YOU BET!

Anyone Can Do Step

Maybe you are thinking that you lack the coordination required to do step. But the reality of it is, if you can march in place, you can do step. The basic step is just that: basic. Up, up, down, down. Of course that move would get pretty boring pretty quickly, so we add music, rhythm, and variations on that basic move. While it helps to have a little rhythm (can you clap your hands to the beat of a song?), anyone can step. It may take a few classes to really get the hang of it, but it is quite do-able, and FUN! Don’t be intimidated!

There is a first time for everything. At some point, every single person in the class, including the instructor, attended their very first step class. I am not gonna lie, you probably won’t pick up every single thing the first class you take. But let’s face it: What would be the fun of mastering it in the first hour? Half the fun is seeing yourself improve on the step, seeing your cardiovascular fitness level improve, and becoming more efficient overall (doing more work with less effort). Step will get you there!

You Can Adjust the Intensity LevelStepIS

You may be thinking that step would be too hard or too intense for you. While step is designed to be a challenging cardio workout, the intensity level can be adjusted in a number of ways to meet the needs of each participant. The height of the platform is not uniform; with use of individual risers at each end, the platform can be set as low as just a few inches off the floor (or as high as 8 to 12 inches).

Another easy adjustment, which your instructor will show you, is to limit your range of movement with each step. As you become more comfortable with the format, you will be able to add intensity by increasing range of motion with the steps, and by adding arm movements to further increase your heart rate. Because of this, the challenge never ends. There is no plateau.

Step Can Be a Challenging Cardio Workout

On the flip side, maybe you are thinking step is not intense enough. Perhaps you are thinking that only girls take step, or that you are too fit to benefit from it. Regardless of your fitness level, step can be a very challenging cardiovascular workout. It is a well-known fact that the U.S. military utilizes step aerobics to improve our troops’ agility, coordination, and endurance. If it’s tough enough for our soldiers, then it’s tough enough for me! In addition to step, I also teach Insanity, total body conditioning, and kickboxing classes. Step meets or exceeds these other formats in intensity level and calories burned per hour.

Step Is Great for Group Fitness

Step is the perfect group fitness exercise because it accommodates all fitness levels. And if you haven’t tried group fitness, well that’s a whole other conversation. But in short, try it! The camaraderie and accountability among the participants, the music, and the FUN factor will have
you hooked!

So, are you ready to take your fitness regimen to the next STEP? Click her for a free class pass to NIFS!

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This blog was written by Rachel Pfeiffer, ACE and AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor Insanity Certified Instructor; Proud NIFS Step Instructor since 1999

Topics: NIFS cardio fitness center weight loss group fitness workouts step

How to Make Weight Loss Successful

weight-loss-2.jpgLosing weight can be one of the most frustrating things to work at. We all know someone who has gone through it or may have experienced ourselves the constant ups and downs and carrying the heavy burden that goes along with it.

7 Steps to Reaching Your Goal Weight

It’s easy to feel defeated, let down, and not motivated to keep going when you don’t see the results that you want. And though sometimes the mountain seems impossible to climb, I am telling you that you can do it! By taking some simple steps, you can make weight loss your success story.

  • Log your workouts. While logging things can become tedious and something to easily obsess over, logging your workouts is a great way to keep you accountable and stay on track. With the million different apps and fitness wearables out there, logging your exercise is simple. The other additional perk that comes with logging your workout is that you can tangibly see the improvements you are making along the way.
  • Log your food. Logging your food is another great way to stay on track and focused to meet your goals. With nutrition apps out there like MyFitnessPal and Lose It!, food tracking is easy. Many of the apps even allow you to scan the barcode, and off you go. If apps aren’t your thing, log your food on paper. It’s important to find whatever works for you and realistically know how much you can eat per day to get you to where you want to be.
  • Get a support team. You need to find people around you to be your backbone. Friends, family, coworkers, or workout buddies will help you during the highs and lows of weight loss. It’s not all going to be easy, so when those times come that you need someone there to keep cheering you on, having a support team in place is key.
  • Discover how to fill idle time. We all are guilty: bored eating! You have nothing else to do so you find something to eat. And often the choices that you make during idle time are not the healthiest options. Find other ways to fill that down time so that you are not adding in a bunch of unnecessary calories.
  • Stop weighing yourself everyday. This is one of the most dangerous things when trying to lose weight. While I encourage getting on the scale routinely for accountability and progress checks, daily is not the answer. When people weigh themselves every single day and tend to not see the numbers drop on a 24-hour basis, depression and frustration set in. Do yourself a huge favor and weigh only every other week.
  • Take it easy. While your overall goal may be to lose 30 pounds, make sure that you have smaller markers to get to in the process. Too often we see people go to the extremes when trying to lose weight and not giving themselves enough time to get there. Don’t set yourself up for failure; your overall goal is of course to lose weight, but if you want to keep that weight off and have a much healthier lifestyle, take it slow and do it right!
  • Get to the root of the problem. Although this is listed last, it is probably the most important yet most challenging one. And though it’s an uncomfortable topic to bring up, we must talk about it. For every person who struggles with their weight, there is also a deeper struggle that has nothing to do with pounds. And often that reason is a deep-rooted issue that needs to be dealt with. Maybe you find comfort in food, or it’s your outlet for something challenging you are going through. Whatever the case may be, you are the only one who knows that. Work as hard as you can to deal with the root of the issue and find freedom in your weight loss.

Do It for Your Health

There are tons of ways to get to your goal. The most important thing is that you do it for yourself, for your family, and for your health. Here’s to a successful weight-loss journey!

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If you need help getting started NIFS has developed a serious weight loss program for people serious about weight loss. Ramp Up to Weight Loss is a 14-week membership that includes personalized plans and one-on-one workouts. Click below to learn more about Ramp Up.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition weight loss accountability apps

Thomas' Corner: More Moving, Less Sitting for Better Fitness

Hello NIFS friends! Have you noticed that your metabolism is slowing, weight is harder to keep off, or that your strength is fleeting? Well, you are not alone; many people like you struggle with these issues. Although there are quite a few reasons for people to fall behind on their goals and feel dissatisfied with their health and wellness, this blog is dedicated to simply standing up (literally) and taking on the day with the mindset that all movements matter, no matter how small.

ThinkstockPhotos-525728274.jpgThe More You Move, the Healthier You Can Be

As kids, play and exercise were more active for many of us in the olden days. Some of us couldn’t sit still for five minutes and were constantly moving. It was part of the job! With that being said, there were some kids who ate food as if they had a hollow leg and never gained as much as an ounce of fat. It’s not challenging to correlate the links between activity, metabolism, and wellness; the more daily exercise you have in your life, the more control you can have of your overall health (and excessive sitting has many risks).

Furthermore and along the same lines, the decline of activity in our lives can almost always parallel the decline of not only health, but also muscular development, body composition and resting metabolic rate numbers, and increased chances for injury. Without a doubt, nutrition is key to improving overall body composition, but without exercise, often we see many consequences that can leave us dissatisfied with our well-being.

How to Sit Less

My challenge to you: SIT LESS. During your daily routine, try to move more and be idle less. At the gym, if you have an exercise that includes sitting, find a way to work the same muscle group standing up. An example of this would be a standing chest press on one of the dual cable cross machines. Not only are you working chest, shoulders, and triceps, but you are also developing core and balance, which might not be achieved using conventional chest press machines. This is just one example out of hundreds of exercises that can change and challenge your fitness game plan.

If you are interested in learning more about these types of exercises that can get you up and moving, contact a Health Fitness Specialist or personal trainer at NIFS. While an HFS can make your personalized workout exciting and safe, personal training can take your fitness experience to the next level with motivation and accountability. Whatever the case may be, TAKE A STAND, for your health.

Muscleheads, rejoice and evolve!

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

Topics: NIFS fitness Thomas' Corner accountability balance personal training sitting

Acting Out: Make Changes for Health and Fitness (Not Excuses)

ThinkstockPhotos-589558764.jpegOf the many lessons that the recent events have provided, one that stands out to me is that anybody can be anything if they take action and pursue it. Establishing goals and setting your mind to accomplishing certain outcomes is important, don’t get me wrong, but action is what ultimately will create change in any aspect of your life.

A rather large pet peeve of mine (I know I have a few) is the behavior of being the first and loudest to complain about something and being the last to do something about it. That is not inspirational, and is a weak character trait, in my opinion. More importantly, individuals who exhibit this approach to life are usually the unhappiest. In my experiences on this planet, the happiest and most successful people are those who take action and make changes, and not excuses.

Questions for Health and Happiness

So here are some questions I feel you should ask yourself if you are currently not as happy and healthy as you hope to be, followed by actions that you can take to help right the ship and have the life you have always dreamed of having.

Question: Are you tired most days?

ACTION: Get more sleep! Turn off the TV and tablets and aim for 7 to 8 hours of good sleep every night (including the weekends).

Question: Are you hungry?

ACTION: Eat real food! Enjoy food that is close to its source and is nutrient dense, not calorie dense.

Question: Are you stressed out?

ACTION: Plan better, implement strong time-management strategies, and devote 80% of your energy toward the top 20% of what is most important to you.

Question: Are you unhappy with your current body composition?

ACTION: See the second ACTION and exercise! Eat the majority of your calories from lean protein foods and vegetables, eat slowly, and remove processed items from your menu. Move every day for at least 30 minutes at moderate intensity, lift heavy things, and sprint once in a while. Keep it simple, and keep it consistent!

Question: Do you say to yourself “I don’t have enough time to be happy and healthy”?

ACTION: Get up early! Stop hitting the snooze button and hit the floor running! There are 24 hours in a day; subtract 8 hours of sleep and 8 hours of work and you have 8 hours remaining. That is a lot of time to prep food, work out, read, spend time with your family, improve your home, and improve yourself. You can get a lot done in 8 hours if you take ACTION and not find ways to waste it.

Question: Are you unhappy in your relationships?

ACTION: First of all, change your circle and remove those who are toxic to you and your life. Second, make more deposits in the emotional bank accounts of those strong and positive relationships and stop withdrawing from them. Examples of withdrawals from these accounts are being untruthful, being late, insults, being undependable, and being hateful. Deposits are going out of your way to show someone you care, sharing, inspiring, and spending time with them. Building powerful relationships in your life is very important, so keep a surplus in those emotional bank accounts.

Question: Do you have a negative attitude about most things?

ACTION: Develop a positive and dynamic mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. In a recent blog, I stressed the importance of mindset as it relates to change. If your unconscious story is a negative one, filled with self-pity and excuses for things being the way that they are, your conscious mind will simply carry out that negative story. Dive deep and analyze your story through journaling, counseling, and other strategies to write a more positive story of yourself and rid yourself of self-imposed perceptions that are holding you back.

Question: Are you ready for a change?

ACTION: Stop talking about it, and take ACTION!

Time to Do Something for Your Health and Fitness

So here’s the bottom line: To create change, you have to get up and take ACTION to get it done! No more talking about it; it’s time to do something about it. If health and fitness is an item on your action list, contact one of our outstanding instructors here at NIFS to help guide your way with an assessment and a personal fitness program and take ACTION toward a healthier, more fulfilling life.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness goal setting health assessments mindset lifestyle happiness making changes

Is Chocolate REALLY Good for You? The Nutrition Behind the Treat

ThinkstockPhotos-71264413.jpegYou’ve seen it on the news and read articles in magazines, but is it really true? Can chocolate actually be good for you? Isn’t it too delicious and forbidden to be a food that can help with heart disease? Of course nutrition is confusing and things change all the time about what is good and isn’t so good for you, so what is the deal with chocolate?

The good news is that yes, chocolate is good for you; there have been plenty of studies proving that there are health benefits to chocolate. It does matter, however, how much and what type of chocolate you are consuming. So before you grab that king-size Hershey bar, read below to learn what to do and understand the benefits when it comes to eating chocolate in the appropriate amounts.

The Nutrition Science of Chocolate

The cacao bean, which is the base of chocolate candy, is loaded with nutrients called flavonoids. Flavonoids help protect from environmental toxins and repair damage to the body. They provide antioxidants that help the body resist cell damage from free radicals. The main flavonoids are flavanols, which can reduce blood pressure, improve blood flow, and make blood platelets clot more easily.

ThinkstockPhotos-510580190.jpegCocoa naturally has a very strong taste, so it has to go through many steps to form your favorite type of chocolate. And through this processing many of the flavanols are lost. Most commercial chocolates are highly processed, and therefore have the lowest amount of antioxidants. However, dark chocolate that has undergone minimal processing will have the highest amount of flavonoids. As far as cocoa goes, the best choice is one that hasn’t undergone Dutch processing, which is when they treat it with an alkali to neutralize the natural acidity. (For more about how chocolate is created and how to enjoy it, check out this book.)

Be careful about the type of dark chocolate you choose, though. Typically one that contains over 70% cocoa will give you more of the heart-healthy benefits. And watch out for the extras such as caramel, nougat, and pretzels that are added to the chocolate. Those can add a ton of extra fat and calories to the treat, and are not high in nutritional value.

How Much Chocolate Should You Eat?

There is currently no established serving size for the amount that is healthy for your heart. So the general recommendation is to stick to 1 oz. of dark chocolate per day. This is the equivalent of one square of baking chocolate, 54 chocolate chips, or 6 Hershey’s kisses.

Other Foods Rich in Flavonoids

Dark chocolate isn’t the only way to get in flavonoids, though. They can be found in many foods such as cranberries, apples, onions, peanuts, tea, and red wine. So make sure to enjoy chocolate a few times a week, but also incorporate other foods that have many of the same disease prevention benefits.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: nutrition disease prevention antioxidants chocolate

NIFS February Group Fitness Class of the Month: Step

Step-new.jpgStep aerobics has been around for some time. We are all aware of its huge popularity in the 80’s, and while some may have thought it was dead and gone, many know it is alive and kicking! With the launch of Zumba® and other choreographed classes, most gyms around the US still have those famous Reebok® steps and have step classes going on at least once a week. Take a close look at NIFS on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings and you'll see step classes are far from dead. In fact, they happen to be one of our most popular group fitness classes!

Where It All Started

Let us take a moment to look back and see how step was created. It is so much more than music and choreographed stepping and learning how it was created make it all the more interesting! In 1989 Gin Miller, a competitive gymnast injured her knee in a competition. As she sought advice from her doctor on some rehab tactics, he told her she should work to develop muscles around her knees by stepping up on something like a milk crate. And that is when Gin started to use her porch step and music for some low impact stepping, and step aerobics was born!

Benefits of Step

Like many classes out there, the benefits are more than what you see on the surface. And step absolutely has some benefits that will allow you to improve your overall fitness. Step is good because it is considered “low impact”, helping the stress on the joints and body to be minimal during the movements that are performed. It also burns calories and fat due to its mostly cardio-based format. Step helps to build cardiovascular and muscular endurance through upper and lower body movements and along with those movements comes improvement in coordination and agility! With the constant movement and stepping up on one leg, over time one can see improvements in their balance, not to mention how fun step aerobics can be if you are into the choreographed music style workouts!

As stone wash jeans, side ponytails, and high top sneakers seem to be coming around again, step has always been here and remains a staple of group exercise classes! In fact, I challenge you to step into NIFS on a Saturday morning this month and see that step is still reigning. You will find Rachel and her faithful followers doing what looks like the impossible, but don’t be intimidated! Just step (pun intended) in and go with the flow, it will only be a matter of time before you master the moves and get into the fun!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio group fitness step workout music aerobic Group Fitness Class of the Month

Fitness Training Types: Find Your Method

bands-1.jpgIf you take a few minutes to google the various types of fitness training out there, you will come up with a list of about 10 different ones, and then 10 more different variations of each of those. And each year more and more “fitness trends” come out, making it quite confusing for the consumer as to what to choose and where to start. It can be confusing and even frustrating choosing what is right for you and your body.

And to take it a step further, maybe the results you want that you aren’t getting are because you need to try something different. Maybe that different thing does not have to be some crazy, drastic change in gyms, your diet, or everything in your life. In fact, maybe it’s just a workout style that suits you better. Each product you see today—like CrossFit, Orangetheory, and Dailey Method to name a few—all follow a specific training method. And what works for one person doesn’t always work for the next.

I have narrowed it down to five categories of training methods, so let’s take a look at what each one is, and I’ll help you narrow down your focus.

Circuit Training

High intensity–style workouts that incorporate both aerobic exercise and strength training. These circuit workouts can be done with or without equipment.

    • Target: Building strength and muscular endurance. These workouts tend to keep you on the higher end of your heart rate zones and are usually designed in stations for time, with little to no rest in-between.
    • Goals: The circuit training method of exercise is good for those people who are looking for weight loss, are in a time crunch, or are looking for overall general fitness, a total-body workout, and toning. Many say this is where you get the most bang for your buck because you can get the results you are looking for in less time.

Aerobic Training

This type of training is generally summarized as meaning “with oxygen” or cardio training.

    • Target: These workouts tend to target the cardiovascular system, mainly the heart and lungs. In most cases it’s associated with running, biking, swimming, jumprope, step class, and other cardio-based exercises. This style of training helps to increase your cardiovascular endurance and open the gap in your heart rate zones.
    • Goals: The aerobic training style is good for those looking to lose weight, for specific training programs like marathons, for athletes looking to increase performance and endurance as well as recover appropriately, and for those trying to reduce the risk of chronic illness like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Heart Rate Training

ThinkstockPhotos-520046406.jpegThis type of training is specific to each individual and their personal zones. You can read more here about HR training, but this training method is focused in on zones like fat burn, cardiovascular endurance, peak performance, and recovery. In many cases, HR training is viewed as the all-around best training method there is.

    • Target: Heart rate training helps to increase endurance and sustainability in workouts by allowing you to peak and recover in a way that is specific to your body. Training zones are identified by doing a VO2 test.
    • Goals: For anyone and everyone! Typically people training for endurance races like Spartans or marathons, or athletes honing in on max results and recovery, for the person who is totally burnt out after each workout, and all the way to people who are on medications that affect their heart rate.

Flexibility Training

Contrary to what I know everyone is thinking, it’s not just yoga! Forget the general stereotype of moms walking into the gym with lattes, flip-flops, and their yoga mat; this training style is probably the most important, yet the most neglected. It incorporates corrective exercises, stretching (both static and dynamic), and movements from head to toe.

    • Target: To improve flexibility, mobility, range of motion, balance, and better posture.
    • Goals: Another method of training that is for everyone! If you are not a yoga person, it’s time to start! Yoga folks, dancers, runners, meatheads: this is for you, too! Flexibility training is for every single person who wants to enhance their training in any way.

Strength Training

deadlift-3.jpgStrength training typically is done with heavy weight but can be done with lighter ones as well. This style of training is directly associated with Newton’s law: mass x acceleration = force.

    • Target: To increase muscle strength.
    • Goals: Perfect for those looking to put on mass; can be good for those who don’t have a bunch of time to train; also good if you desire to move heavy things.

What should you do from here? If you are stuck in a rut or want to find the method that is going to be most effective for you, take some time to define your goals, figure out what is realistic for you, and take into consideration your past exercise experience. All these things play into what will work as well as what you like to do while in the gym.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness yoga circuit workout training flexibility strength core strength goals heart rate strength training methods aerobic

NIFS Member Profile: Cody Hunter Crushes His Fitness Goals

Cody_ today.jpgCody Hunter_Before.jpgAs the new year is here, we start forming new goals for the next. I would like to share a story of a member who has worked incredibly hard through 2015 and 2016, has crushed all of the weight loss and fitness goals that he set and then some, and who has transformed himself completely in front of everyone who has seen him.

Cody Hunter joined NIFS two years ago in 2014, with overall goals of losing some weight, being healthier, looking more fit, and feeling better about himself. When Cody started working out at NIFS, he weighed close to 290 pounds. His current weight is in the 190s, and his most recent BOD POD has shown him down to 7% body fat*! Cody has proven to all of us how goal-setting and turning fitness into a lifestyle, rather than a chore, can be not only attainable, but also rewarding! Read below for Cody’s thoughts on his own journey, as well as tips if you are just starting out or need some motivation for your own.
 *individual results vary, and are not guaranteed.

How did you get started on your fitness journey?

When I was in high school and during my youth I was always on the bigger side. I played offensive and defensive line in football and that meant that I was a bigger player as well. Throughout the first part of my college career I ballooned to my biggest point. I just got to a point where enough was enough and decided to start my journey. I knew that I could be a better person if I was happier with myself in my own body.

What was your exercise regimen when you first started out?

When I started I was working out 5–7 days a week, working on my cardio and lifting. I would play a lot of basketball and then lift afterwards.

Did you make any nutritional changes? If so, what was your game plan?

When I first started working out I was stricter with my diet than in the past, but not as much as I should have been. I decided that I would drop all sweets, soda, and junk food. After making these changes and really focusing on fueling my body with the correct food and nutrients, my weight started to fall off.

How did you maintain these habits? Did you have any struggles along the way?

After going as long as I did without sweets, it was fairly easy for me to keep on a fairly regimented diet. I saw the results and knew that if I kept doing what I had been doing, I would only get better. I definitely had struggles. Everyone has the cravings for sweets, but I just knew that if I stayed strong and made the right choices, good things would happen.

Did you have any help with accountability (family, friends, etc.)?

My family, friends, and coworkers were all very helpful with keeping me in line with my regimen. At family get-togethers my mom would always make sure that the sweet was something that I didn’t really care for, so there was no temptation for me to have any. My friends and coworkers would do their best not to eat anything bad around me, to not make me feel left out or tempted to break my diet.

Have you conquered any specific goals since you started your fitness journey?

My first goal was to run a 5K. I accomplished that, and then I was talked into signing up for the Mini-Marathon. I trained a lot for that and was able to complete that as well. Over time I have done three half marathons in total and I have dropped about a half an hour on my time since my first one.

What are your current goals to help stay motivated?

I have been doing CrossFit training for about 4 months now and it has been really great. I wanted to have something that would present me with constant new goals and challenges; something that would really get me into the best shape of my life.

What advice do you have for anyone out there who might feel like they are ready to make that change?

My advice would be to just do it! I had many days where I felt that I just couldn’t keep going or that I wasn’t really seeing any real results. I just kept going and kept moving forward, trusting that hard work and sacrifice would pay off. My life has never been better and I have never felt healthier than I do now.

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If you are looking to just do it and begin making that change in your life, make an appointment with a NIFS trainer for a free fitness assessment to help guide you in making your goals. Or, check out NIFS Ramp Up to Weight Loss Program to help you get started!

This blog was written by Rebecca Heck, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness nutrition fitness center weight loss member mini marathon accountability CrossFit goals 5k BODPOD new year