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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Ready to Try Cycle? Here's What You Need to Know

Cycle is NIFS class of the month! This high-energy cardiovascular workout uses various performance levels and speeds to get you cycle fit. Music is a big motivator and will help you get through the hills, flats and intervals!

If you have never tried a cycle class there are things you might want to know that will make the class experience more enjoyable. In this video I will show you how to setup your bike properly including:

  • Adjusting your seat position and height
  • Adjusting your handlebars
  • How to adjust tension
  • What to do the first time you come to class

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 12.01.38 PM.png

I hope these tips help you get more comfortable before you jump into your first cycle class! Let's get started! Check out NIFS group fitness schedule for the next cycle or RPM™ class.

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This blog was written by Rebecca Heck, Group Fitness Coordinator and NIFS Trainer. To find out more about our bloggers, click here.
Topics: cardio group fitness group training cycling cardiovascular indoor cycling Group Fitness Class of the Month

Fitness Tips for Introverts: Find a Workout for Your Personality Type

ThinkstockPhotos-128931537.jpgKnowing whether you are an introvert or an extrovert can help determine what type of fitness plan/program will work best for you. Contrary to popular belief, being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a shy person. Although introversion does have elements of apprehension, nervousness, and shyness, it essentially means that a person gets their energy from being alone or in a small group. They also tend to have their energy drained by too much external stimulation, such as being around a large group of people for too long. Therefore, if a person is not aware of their personality type, he or she may come to believe something is wrong with them when an exercise program does little to help them accomplish their goals.

The first step to discovering whether you are an introvert is to look at common behavioral habits of introverts all over the world.

You Might Be an Introvert If…

Here are 5 of 23 signs that you may be an introvert via the Huffington Post (click here to see the full list):

  • You find small talk incredibly troublesome. 
  • You often feel alone in a crowd.
  • You’re easily distracted.
  • Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.
  • You shut down after you’ve been active for too long.

Best Workout Tips for People Who Prefer Solitude

If you identify yourself as an introvert, consider a few things before planning a fitness program.

  • Find smaller groups or solo exercise. The first thing you may want to consider is that introverts typically don’t need to interact as much with other people in order to gain energy. Therefore, things such as group exercise may not be necessary (unless you genuinely enjoy them). Solo or small-group exercise—such as yoga, swimming, and small group training—or working out with a partner are typically the best options for many introverts. Working out alone provides enough energy and focus for the individual to have a successful workout. This does not mean occasional group exercise is a bad idea, however, since introverts alternate between periods of solitude and social interaction.
  • Keep workouts short. You may also want to consider that since introverts become energy deficient when exposed to external stimulation for too long, it’s a good idea to keep your workouts short and effective. This will allow for an efficient use of your energy systems without feeling drained. Exercise methods such as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) provide extremely effective workouts without you having to spend a lot of time doing them.
  • Use your brain power. Lastly, did you know that an introvert’s brain is wired differently than an extrovert’s? It has been proven that introverts have more gray matter in their prefrontal cortex, which is the area associated with decision-making. This means introverts devote more brain power to analysis, which you can use to your advantage. If you want to get in shape, start by using the power of your brain to do research and analyze the data that you find. Read, write, think, and reflect on topics that pertain to your specific goals. The more you learn and understand exactly what needs to be done, the more likely you are to stick with your program and become successful with it.

One of the most important aspects of an exercise program’s effectiveness tends to be how well it is catered to the individual. There is no one-size-fits-all program. Different people have different requirements when it comes to exercise programming. See a NIFS Health and Fitness Specialist today if you are in need of a program that fits YOU! 

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This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Instructor. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS exercise group training workout personality type introvert

Water Fitness: How to Get Better at Swimming

ThinkstockPhotos-103584574.jpgIn my previous blog on swimming, I talked about the vast benefits that can come from adding lap swimming into your off-season workout regimen. But maybe you are already comfortable in the pool and swim on a regular basis; wouldn’t you like to get better and become more efficient in your stroke? By taking small steps to improve the different components that make up the specific strokes, you can become a better swimmer in a decently short amount of time.

Focus on Form

As other sports, form tends to be one of the key players in overall success. Each stroke has a certain form that will allow the swimmer to be more efficient. Take some time to research the different strokes that you like to do and learn the correct form. Whatever swim stroke you happen to choose, the different pieces will consist of breathing, kicking, arm movement, location of chest and hips in the water, and what you do with your hands, feet, and ankles. I know it seems like a lot to think about, but you may really benefit by simply understanding what the stroke should look like.

Breathe More Efficiently

Breathing tends to be one of the hardest elements of a swimmer’s performance. Getting the breathing technique down right takes time, practice, and patience. Master breathing by using a kickboard or holding onto the side of the pool before combining it with the actual stroke and movement in the water. You also will need to learn your breathing cycle—for example, if I am swimming freestyle, do I need to take a breath every three or four strokes? You may need to learn to breathe on both sides and be able to turn your head to the left and right to get air.

Learn the Body Roll

This movement is used specifically in freestyle. Have you ever seen someone swimming freestyle (on their stomach) and when it’s time to take a breath, they pick their entire head up out of the water? The body roll will allow you to efficiently roll your upper body (and partially through the hips) to get air so that only part of your head is not in the water. This movement can be learned easily using different pool equipment like a pull buoy.

Slow Down

We all have the tendency, when getting into the pool to do some laps, to go a million miles an hour. Whether or not you mean to do it, you will quickly be made aware that you need to slow down because your breathing will remind you! Take your time, be patient, and learn the proper technique in every stroke by putting your foot on the break. You will be amazed, when you slow down the pace a little bit, at how long you can actually swim!

Develop an Efficient Kick

Another great way to improve your overall swimming skills is to learn the different kicks that go along with the various strokes. Each kick has specifics in how far to pull your heel back, how big of a splash you should be making, how far below the surface you want your hips and legs to be, etc. Utilize a kickboard or the wall, as you do in learning to breathe right, to master the different kicks.

Utilize Equipment

There are so many great tools out there to help you learn to swim better. Utilize things like kickboards to improve your breathing and kicking, pull buoys to work on your stroke, and fins to work through power kicks and master the body roll. At most pools you will usually see hand paddles to work on power in the pulling motion to propel you through the water faster, and maybe even gloves that have webbed fingers. All of these things will allow you to work on certain pieces of form one at a time.

Learn the Turns

When I was younger, I spent hours in the pool trying to learn how to do the flip turn. And while many think it’s simply “cool,” the flip turn happens to make your swim efficiency shoot through the roof. This move will also take some time to learn, but if you are patient and work on the timing of the flip turn, your lap swimming will soon be quicker.

Watch and Evaluate

Do not be afraid to have someone watch you and evaluate the different strokes you are working on. Often someone outside the water can easily tell if you are kicking too hard, slapping the water during your stroke, or not efficiently breathing. Take some time to have someone watch and give you tips to work on.

***

While this can seem like an overwhelmingly large list of things to work on, just choose one thing at a time. Each small tweak will make a huge impact on your overall swimming performance.

Remember Natatorium lap swimming is now free with your NIFS Membership! Learn More.

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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: fitness equipment swimming workout sports

NIFS Member Kelly Dodds, 50 and Fierce, Hits a Marathon Goal

Kelly-Doddsnew.jpgHave you ever thought of doing something big for those special birthday milestones? I can easily recall all the excitement that came with my 16th birthday, for behind-the-wheel freedom, being able to call myself an adult at 18, and we all know the free feeling of legality when turning 21. Then there are those later-year birthdays, such as 30, 40, and 50, that tend to be looked upon as a negative thing with the “it’s all downhill from here,” mentality.

In the last few years, however more men and women have taken it upon themselves to look at these latter milestones as a time to accomplish a longtime goal or to cross off an item from their bucket list. Personally, I am enjoying this new outlook and challenge! I would like to share with you an experience from one of our own NIFS members, Kelly, who decided to take up the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World as she turns 50 this month.

The Dopey Challenge is a four-day event in Orlando, Florida, that consists of four races within four days: a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday, and a full marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday. Sounds pretty crazy, right? Well let me be the first to tell you, Kelly not only completed it but also did far better than she expected. She crushed her goals and was able to complete all four races injury free. And throughout the different races, she felt stronger than she had ever anticipated. But don’t just hear it from me; read on below for her personal account of this crazy experience.

Could you give us a little background about yourself?

“This past year has been a year of milestones for me. My husband, Kevin, and I celebrated 25 years of marriage last July. We also celebrated 10 years as Kristen’s parents (same day). In addition to being a wife and mother, I have worked at the NCAA for 16 years. I am also active in my church, teaching Sunday school and helping with our youth group. Exercise is something I definitely need for balance. I started running about 20 years ago. I had just turned 30, and although I was not overweight, could still visibly see a need for exercise. To start out, I was mainly doing cardio on a stair-stepper we had in our garage, but one Saturday I decided to go for a run to mix it up a little. I was hooked. Before I knew it, I completed the Mini-Marathon (the first of many half marathons) and eventually completed my first marathon at age 40.”

What made you decide to sign up for the Dopey Challenge?

“I had heard about the Dopey Challenge soon after it began in 2013. I had done two marathons, so with my 50th birthday on the horizon, I thought it would be the perfect challenge. There was only one person that I mentioned it to who did not think it was a crazy idea: my husband. (I guess you start to think alike when you have been married for so long.) That made the idea of doing it even more enticing—something that we would do together. I could hardly wait.”

What did you do in order to prepare for the series of races?

“I signed up for the Dopey in April and knew that I wanted to lose some weight and gain some strength. At the time, I did do strength training twice a week on my own in my home, but felt I wasn’t getting much benefit out of it. I decided to see what NIFS had to offer and came across the Ramp Up to Weight Loss program. That is where I met Masie. She came up with a great program that helped me reach my goal. Rebecca and Angie were also instrumental in my journey. I learned so much and they were always my biggest cheerleaders. After that, I continued with a maintenance program at NIFS and followed a running schedule developed by Hal Higdon specifically for the Dopey Challenge. Masie tailored my workouts so that I would be a stronger runner. It worked, as I was running faster and finishing stronger. I could not believe the difference since April.”

Were there any setbacks during training or doubts about achieving your goals? If so, how did you deal with them?

“The training was harder than I anticipated. Getting the back-to-back runs completed is the biggest part of the training, so there really is not much flexibility. By mid-November I was so tired of running all the time. The weather was turning colder and the holiday season didn’t help. Physically I was fine, but mentally I was exhausted. For my last long run it was cold, rainy, and windy. I was soaked and my legs burned. I just reminded myself that it is not supposed to be easy and it would be over soon. It really is such a mental thing.”

How was the trip? What happened during your weekend there?

“The trip began perfectly. I hit my personal goal times for the 5K and 10K and was feeling great. We enjoyed the parks after both races, basking in the sunny, 70-degree weather. However, the weather was looking threatening for Saturday with storms. Sure enough, on Friday night we got an e-mail stating the half marathon would be canceled as it would be too dangerous. They would give us our medals for the half after the marathon. I could have cried. I worked so hard and was so excited about doing all four races. But there was nothing I could do about it. I knew I had to get those miles in.

The storms were supposed to move through by 9 a.m., so my husband and I decided that we would run the 13.1 miles on the running trail at our resort. The distance is marked and I also had a GPS on my watch, so I knew I could feel confident about the miles. We got up the next day and headed out in the rain to do our half. I wore exactly what I had planned to wear, including my Dopey Challenge bib.

As I approached the running trail I could hear shouting. I then saw the most incredible sight. There were dozens of people out there running. Most had their Dopey Challenge bibs on, some even had costumes. One lady was carrying her American flag. Runners that were finished stood on the side to cheer on those of us still running. As we ran and passed each other (over and over again—we had to do 11 laps) we were high fiving and congratulating one another. There was more buzz and excitement than I have ever experienced at a half marathon—ever. (We later learned that this phenomenon was happening at all the Disney resorts, and actually started on Friday night after the announcement.) As I ran that morning, the miles flew by. I had a ball. Most importantly, I could now look forward to the marathon—including the celebration—knowing I got all 48.6 miles done. The marathon went as expected, although it was pretty chilly—40 degrees the entire time. But I finished strong and missed my personal goal time by only 3½ minutes. It was an extraordinary feeling to cross that finish line.”

What are your exercise plans for the future?

“I am continuing my program here at NIFS. Now that the races are over, my strength training will change so that I can focus more on getting my body-fat percentage down. I am back to running regularly and am looking forward to the Mini-Marathon this spring. I would like to do another marathon soon. My husband and I are already talking about another one we could do together. Although I don’t see any more Dopeys in my future, I have not ruled out doing a 50K someday. Maybe for my 60th? We shall see…”

***

We are so proud of Kelly and all of her accomplishments! We had the pleasure of working with her during most of her training before her big race weekend and developed so much admiration for her continuous dedication to her running program. Kelly displays that go-getter attitude that is contagious! I hope this experience can be that motivational nudge you need to make one of your goals a reality this year. Don’t wait any longer; this year can be that year, and NIFS has so many programs that can help get you there! Click here to find out what we offer.

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This blog was written by Rebecca Heck, Group Fitness Coordinator and NIFS Trainer. To find out more about our bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS running weight loss mini marathon half marathon 5k marathon

Let NIFS Help You Achieve Your Fitness New Year's Resolutions

ThinkstockPhotos-579401104.jpgA New Year is a great time to reset goals, start over, or accomplish something new. Maybe this is the first time you are getting serious about your health and you are ready to begin your fitness journey. I love the thrill of new goals being set, seeing unfamiliar faces in the gym, and fitness becoming a priority for the first time in people’s lives.

Being well into March already, the question arises: are you still on track to accomplish your goals and resolutions for 2017? Allow me to suggest some tips to help keep you on track so that when December 31st comes around again this year, you won’t be making the same fitness goal for 2018 that you made for this year.

Tips for Accomplishing Your Fitness Goals

Many people set unrealistic goals or expect instant results. Once life gets back to the “normal” routine after the holiday season, the fitness goals once again fall on the back burner. Not this year! Here are some tips to help keep you on track all year long:

  • Set weekly or monthly goals—with your end goal in sight. Write them down, hang them up where you can see them every day, and cross each off after you have accomplished it. Leave the list up with the items crossed off so that you can continue to track your progress and see your success.
  • Allow for life to happen on your journey to meet your fitness goals. Some weeks are crazier than others; kids get sick or work is insanely busy. Plan that into your week and do not let it knock you completely out of your fitness routine. Find ways to get yourself to the gym during the crazy cycle of life.
  • Set realistic expectations. Don’t expect to go to the gym 7 days a week. Take baby steps and make your goal to get there 2–4 days a week to start. Getting there a few times is better than not at all.
  • Lack of time should not be an excuse. Everyone has 24 hours in the day, so don’t let time become a factor in not being able to make it to the gym. A 20–30-minute workout is sometimes sufficient for working toward your goal. Be efficient with the time that you do have and make the most of even 20 minutes.
  • Don’t let one bad day ruin your week. Healthy fitness and nutrition choices are sometimes hard during the busy days. Tomorrow is always a new start for eating well and getting your workout in. Pick up where you know you should be and keep moving forward.
  • Don't make excuses. Excuses usually start to build up toward the end of January and beginning of February for how you are unable to make it to the gym. Don’t get caught up in falling for them! Keep that New Year’s excitement going into February and March with new weekly or monthly goals to accomplish.

Get Goal-Setting Help from NIFS

If you feel like you are in a goal-setting slump, ask a NIFS health fitness instructor for ideas or tips to help you get out. Remember to keep your end goal in sight. You do not need to wait for the New Year to start a new fitness journey. Don’t be the person telling yourself, “There’s always next year”; be the person who says “I am so proud that I stuck with my routine and accomplished my goal this year!”

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This blog was written by NIFS Personal Trainer Kaci Lierman. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness goal setting resolutions new year's

The Danger of Yo-Yo Dieting and Weight Loss

ThinkstockPhotos-76755839.jpgYou lose 15 pounds. Then gain back 10. Then it’s time to try the newest diet out there and you lose 20 pounds. Then gain 20 back. Does this cycle sound familiar? This is called yo-yo dieting, or the cycle of gaining and losing the same pounds over and over again. This cycle is dangerous because of its long-term health effects. Hopefully reading through these dangers will prevent you from trying the next fad diet craze and instead adopt the theory of “slow and steady!”

Increased Risk of Heart Disease

The main concern with yo-yo dieting—or weight cycling, as it is also called—is heart disease. In November 2016, the American Heart Association released a study that found an increased risk of coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death in postmenopausal women who had yo-yo dieted. They found that the more times a person had lost and gained 10 pounds, the more hazardous it was to their hearts. Another theory for the danger is the sudden shifts in fluid and electrolytes, such as potassium, that can cause deadly heart arrhythmias.

The recommendations are to not lose more than 1 pound per week to help with these sudden changes in the body. The best way to do this is to use nutrition to decrease overall caloric intake by 250 calories per day while expending 250 calories through activity. We know that overall weight loss is still healthier for the heart than not losing at all. However, how you lose the weight is just as important.

After reading this, some people might think “Well, I guess I shouldn’t try to lose weight again for fear of regaining and doing more damage.” That is not the case. Even if it is your tenth time attempting to lose weight, it is beneficial to all parts of the body to lose the weight. This time, though, make it a realistic goal and then take off the weight slowly so that it stays off.

Top Weight-Loss Tips

The people who are most successful in losing weight and keeping it off all do a few things that have helped them keep achieving their goal:

  1. Follow a consistent exercise routine.
  2. Weigh themselves, but not more than once per week.
  3. Eat a diet based around produce, lean protein, and whole grains.
  4. Don’t skip meals.
  5. Control portion sizes.

Instead of signing up for popular fad diets, follow these five rules to lose weight and keep it off!

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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 weight loss heart disease diets weight cycling

The Incredible Bulk: What You Need to Know About Building Muscle

IMG_7072new.jpgFor years fitness enthusiasts have used the colder months of the year as an opportunity to put on muscle mass (or muscular hypertrophy) without having to expose the additional fat mass they have added in their attempt to grow bigger muscles. It’s traditional to believe one must participate in a “dirty bulk” followed by a “cutting phase,” which is a method used by many bodybuilders. Many of them will add an excessive amount of fat and muscle size, and then transition to their cutting phase, which consists of a decrease in body fat while attempting to maintain as much muscle as possible.

This method has been shown to be effective at developing “Quick Gaines”; however, the period of carrying excess fat is often not pleasing to the eye of the weightlifter.

Getting rid of the excess fat after you have obtained it may also be more challenging than you expect. If you are a guy or girl interested n muscle building this bulking season but would prefer not to pack on the extra fat mass as well, I’m here to break down how this can be done through various methods.

Two Methods for Building Muscles

There are two different types of muscle hypertrophy: sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar.

  • Method 1: Sarcoplasmic is defined as an increase in muscle cell size due to an increase in the volume of sarcoplasmic fluid within a muscle cell, with little strength increase. This means a person is able to obtain bigger muscles through expanded muscle cell size without necessarily increasing the amount of strength and power the muscle can produce. This type of hypertrophy is often seen in bodybuilders as they are primarily concerned with increasing size for show purposes rather than worried about strength gains.
  • Method 2: Myofibrillar hypertrophy is defined as an increase in muscle size due to an increased number of actin and myosin contractile proteins. This type of hypertrophy does allow for an increase in strength. Myofibrillar training involves heavy weight with low rep ranges (specifically 3–7 reps). Because heavier weight is lifted, muscle size can increase as well as overall strength capabilities of the muscles being utilized. The formula is simple: bigger muscles allow for higher strength thresholds.

To get a better grasp on these two concepts, consider this image. One circle (muscle cell) increases due to increased volume (sarcoplasmic fluid), while the other increases in size due to increased concentration of myofibrils (actin and myosin).

Choosing Your Hypertrophy Method

IMG_7174.jpgSo which type of hypertrophy should you go for? That depends on what your personal goal is. Ask yourself these three quick questions before you approach method 1 or method 2:

  1. Do you wish to gain muscle size only for physique purposes, or do you wish to improve your strength as well? (Physique purposes = Sarcoplasmic; physique and strength purposes = Myofibrillar)
  2. Will I be more consistent/enjoy lifting heavy weight and fewer reps, or moderate to moderately heavy weight with a higher rep scheme? (Being able to remain consistent will play a huge role in the results you see.)
  3. What is the average time I will have to complete my workout? (If you have less than 1 hour you may want to go with higher-volume training. High-volume training calls for shorter rest periods due to faster muscle recovery vs. heavy load training, which requires longer rest periods due to slower muscle recovery. Higher volume/shorter rest period training also adds an element of cardiovascular conditioning as well due to an extended period of elevated heart rate.)

In my opinion, a strategic combination of both methods would be ideal for maximum functional hypertrophy. The Sarcoplasmic method ensures you are not just gaining muscle size, but also increasing cardiovascular conditioning. The myofibrillar method also allows for increased muscle size; however, your overall strength capacity will improve as well. Combining both methods together in a comprehensive exercise program will allow all aspects of muscle hypertrophy, strength, and cardiovascular conditioning to prevail.

Make an appointment today with a NIFS Health Fitness Specialist to figure out how to attack this bulking season!

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

Topics: winter muscle building hypertrophy building muscle bulking

Bored of Your Workout Program? Try a “Wild-Card” Week

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 2.12.51 PM.pngWe’ve all done it. New lifters, old lifters—everyone has experienced that week where your normal training program just doesn’t have the same motivation for you that it did in the past. Monday is chest-tri day, Tuesday is squat, Wednesday is back-bi, so on and so forth. No one is immune to this feeling, especially if you are as religious about following your program as many of the NIFS members are.


Would You Eat the Same Food for Every Meal?

Think about it in terms of food. Do you eat the exact same thing for each meal every day of the week? Some might, but I can guarantee it’s not the most enjoyable thing in the world. However, most people approach planning meals for the week with a slight variation on the meals they prepared the week before: similar main ingredients, but maybe with a different spice or two, which will make a world of a difference. (Mmmmmm, food. I’m getting hungry, so let’s get back to training.)

But what causes this? Why do you all of a sudden just not feel like doing your program for that day or week? The most obvious answer is the fact that you may have been on this program for multiple weeks. Mentally, you are drained from the regimen, and your body is telling you that it might be time to change it up.

I think this is one of the most common training mistakes. Your body is ready for a new challenge or stimulus, but you tell yourself to suck it up and do the same program for another two months. You have seen progress that you’ve made (and recently stalled) with that program and have a hard time thinking you will find anything better. I think many individuals stick to the same program for way too long. This leads to other weeks where you just don’t feel like completing what is assigned for that day.

How to Overcome Workout Boredom

So what do you do, decide to take a week off of training? Not recommended. What I do recommend is to have what I call a wild-card week. In a wild-card week, you choose exercises that work similar movements/muscles to what your normal program targets, but with different (or more fun) exercises.

Here are four typical exercise choices with a “wild” variation to each.


 

 

Remember, your training program should be enjoyable. That is what keeps bringing you back each week. Listen to your body when it is time to switch it up and don’t be afraid to add in a wild-card week to your workouts every once in a while!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, Health Fitness Instructor and Athletic Performance Coach. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS fitness center motivation workouts attitude training focus programs