NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Tony Maloney

Recent Posts by Tony Maloney:

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

Sprint into the New Year: Do’s and Don’ts of Sprinting for Fitness

ThinkstockPhotos-610859290.jpgThe New Year is just around the corner and many will be out to improve themselves on many levels in 2017, with health and fitness usually being number one on the list. If losing weight, increasing lean muscle tissue, and sculpting a lower half that will certainly turn heads, while all at the same time improving your heart health is what you are looking for, I have one answer. The use of sprints in the world of fitness and sport performance is nothing exceptionally new, but can be new to you. Actually, sprinting (fast, short bouts of running) was used to stay alive long before we used it as a mode of training.

Author Mark Sisson has spent a great deal of time spreading the message of the importance of sprinting to overall health, and that it was a huge part of daily life for our early ancestors. He believes, and I like his theory, that primal humans (represented by a caveman known as Grok) owed their fitness to three important concepts:

  • They walked great distances during their hunting and gathering trips.
  • They lifted heavy things such as building materials and large animals.
  • They sprinted for their lives from time to time from wild animals, and chased down game for their paleo dinner.

So Mark says, walk a bunch, lift heavy things (and set them back down, of course), and sprint once in a while, and fitness will find you. I think he nailed it. There isn’t much difference between a sound fitness program and what I just described. So why is sprinting so important and beneficial?

The Benefits of Sprinting

There are easily a hundred benefits of sprinting. This acute stressor can have many positive effects on your body. Here are just a few benefits of adding sprint work into your training:

  • Sprinting can be used across all fitness levels.
  • Sprinting doesn’t take a lot of time to do.
  • Sprinting burns fat.
  • Sprinting improves endurance.
  • Sprinting improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Sprinting is a fun and easy way to get and stay lean.

When implementing sprinting into your training, there are some pretty important steps to follow. To help you get started, here are a few tips that will get you on your way to sprinting more in 2017.

Step 1: Prepare Your Feet and Mobilize Major Joints

Feet: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/7w84n4t9px

Mobilize: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/l6m3ft8v72

Step 2: Perform a Proper Warmup

Warmups: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/x6i393bxk3

Step 3: Ease into Sprinting

When starting your sprinter program, follow a progressive level of intensity and volume. You do not want to start out with all-out sprints for 100 meters for sets of 5 to 10. That is a surefire recipe for an injury at worst, and failure to perform the movement properly at best.

A great tip I picked up from Eric Cressey is to start by sprinting uphill first before moving to the track or any flat surface. This will help with proper mechanics and decrease the chances of injury because you are less likely to overextend. Your timed intervals should start at a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio and gradually ramp up to a 1:1, and even a 2:1 ratio. For example, do :20 of max work followed by :40 of rest, then repeat for the desired number of sets.

The recovery from the sprint is just as important, and I would recommend using your heart rate to tell you when it is time to go again. Waiting until your heart rate is 110bpm or lower before starting your next bout is a good general rule. I am also a huge fan of using your heart rate both as a measure of intensity and for determining your rest. You would rest until your heart rate recovered to 110–120bpm before starting your next set. The bottom line is that there will be no first-place ribbon waiting for you at the end of your sprint, so know your limits and use a progressive program when implementing sprinting.

Step 4: Mix It Up with Different Types of Sprinting

Treadmill: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/bsjs720s4a

One of the best things about sprinting is that there are several ways to sprint, and sprinting is relative to you. If you give everything you’ve got into a sprint, that is where the work is done, but it doesn’t mean you will be breaking any land speed records (unless your last name is Bolt). Your sprints don’t have to be rep after rep of 100m dashes; it just has to be a near max effort for a few reps or a short period of time. Those who claim they just got done completing 20 sprints were probably not maximally sprinting. If you intersperse a couple periods of higher effort levels with periods of lower effort levels, you will be in good shape (pun intended).

Here are some other sprinting options:

Sprinting can be a fun and very effective training tool in both fat burning and performance. I can’t stress enough the importance of a proper warmup and easing into higher-intensity sprints. Stay healthy so you can stay moving! (And if you have injuries, see this blog for tips on working through it.)

Ready for another challenge in 2017? Train with us in our Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program! Starts July 25th!

Minilogo_2017.jpg

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM AND GET REGISTERED TODAY!

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: fitness injuries sprinting paleo heart rate warmups new year joints

Game of Inches: Benefits of a Fit3D Body Composition Scan

One of the best ways to evaluate your progress as it relates to body-fat loss, weight loss, and muscle gain is by using girth measurements. From day one of my fitness career, my go-to question to people I worked with for fat/weight loss about whether their program was providing the results they wanted was, “How are your clothes fitting?” a few weeks after starting that new program.

Inches can be a quick and easy way to see whether your program is on the right track because they correlate really well to body-fat percentage. I’m sure many of you have stepped on the scale and not seen it budge, but your favorite jeans are much looser than before. That is a change in your body composition, presented by a change in your inches.

Screen_Shot_2016-02-08_at_11.40.50_AM.pngOther Things Your Inches Are Telling You

Here are a few other things your inches can be telling you.

  • Muscle gain: Also known as muscle hypertrophy, muscle gain is a result of progressive stimulus through a training program. Simply put, lift heavy things for a certain number of repetitions and your muscles will grow. Although a body composition measurement will indicate you have gained lean tissue (muscle mass), it won’t necessarily show you girth or cross-sectional increase of a particular muscle. 
  • Belly fat: Inches can tell us where on the body you may be storing fat, which can yield a great deal about your health. According to the Harvard Health Publications website, fat accumulated in the lower body is considered to be subcutaneous (near the skin), while fat accumulated in the belly is visceral (internal/surrounding organs). Visceral fat has been linked to many health complications and is considered to be a very dangerous warning sign. Circumference measurements can supply evidence of where this fat is being stored.
  • Hormonal environment: Where individuals store fat can also tell us a great deal about your internal hormonal environment. The experts at Precision Nutrition have reported several correlations between fat storage and hormones. Hormones play a huge role in almost everything health and fitness related and can be a hero or an enemy to your journey. This information can give a health professional a guide to help with decreasing body fat and the health risks that are associated with it. For example, high abdominal fat correlates to high cortisol levels and high stress levels. Knowing this, I could recommend lowering stress levels and adding frequent high-protein meals. High thigh and upper-arm fat correlates to high estrogen, calling for adding some cruciferous veggies like sprouts, and increasing exercise volume.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

NIFS is excited to offer you a very cool scan called Fit3D that will measure your body’s circumferences and give you an accurate three-dimensional picture of your body, and arm you and your fitness professional with the information you need to tackle those goals you have set for yourself.

Here are three reasons to get a Fit3D scan at NIFS: 

  • A 3D picture of your body measurements: You will have a three-dimensional picture of yourself detailing exactly how your body looks. You will have your very own avatar that comes complete with all the measurements taken from the scan. Although numbers can tell us a great deal, think back to the example above with the loose pants. Numbers didn’t tell you that your clothes are fitting better; something real and tactile did. The same concept works for the 3D picture you get with your scan; you will be able to see what is happening to your body.
  • 21st-Century Before-and-After Photos: I am sure you have seen those before-and-after photos on social media and TV. Many companies use these to display how a certain program or product has changed the bodies of those posing for the photo. These photos (if done ethically) can really show how far someone has come in pursuit of their goals. With this scan, you will have your own before-and-after photo, 3D style, when you complete another scan. You will actually be able to overlay one on top of the other to really see the changes that are being made. It is a very cool option that this new scan can provide, resulting in proper adjustments of your nutrition and exercise program and ramping up your motivation to continue the hard work.
  • Accuracy and Ease: Before the introduction of the Fit3D, your fitness professional would use a basic measuring tape to collect the circumference data from 5 to 11 sites on the body. And although that is still a good practice in the hands of a seasoned professional, the scanner reduces the human error of the old way of measuring circumferences. The scan takes approximately 40 seconds, and measures the exact place on your body every time you do a scan; the same way every time.

***

Game-of-inches-logo-final.jpg

Winter is coming! Are you ready? Sign up for our newest incentive challenge at NIFS,
Game of Inches!

Choose the 6 week challenge that’s right for you!

Loss of Inches Challenge:
(Challenge yourself to stay fit this holiday season. Our weekly workouts and tips will help!)
    •    Fit3D measurements—waist, hips and thigh
    •    Winner determined by cumulative inches lost

OR

Gain of Muscle Mass Challenge:
(Challenge yourself to increase muscle mass and strength.)
    •    Fit3D measurements—bicep, forearm, bust, thigh and calf
    •    Winner determined by cumulative inches gained

Included in the challenge are:
•  Weekly Video Workouts emailed to you
•  Exercise of the Day video
•  Nutrition “tips” and recipes
•  Friday Fitness Challenge

Sign up and scan in starting November 6-12, 2016 at the track desk!

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.

 

Crucial Conversations: PRs Falling in NIFS Powerlifting Competition

PLM_2015.jpgThe NIFS 3rd Annual Powerlifting Competition is less than a month away, and the expectations for this year are high. From its modest beginnings, the powerlifting event at NIFS has doubled in the number of athletes registered, and the audience tripled from the first event to the second event. With big attendance and even bigger lifts, the outlook for this year’s event is very promising.

For me personally, the very cool part of this growth is that although we are currently a non-sanctioned event, the competition rises year after year. It’s about a community coming together to celebrate strength, competition, and sportsmanship. There is no shortage of high-fives and attaboys and attagirls on this fall Saturday morning. It is a great thing to witness previous strangers become warriors fighting the same war together; it’s quite moving, and impossible not to join in and feed off the energy.

A Conversation with Lifter Aaron Sparks

I had the opportunity to speak with a two-time (soon to be three-time) participant in this great event about what it takes to compete and what struggles he had to overcome to be at his best on event day. Aaron Sparks is a longtime lifter and athlete, and also works for us here at NIFS, so he is constantly around the barbell and plates. Aaron was gracious enough to take time out of his schedule to answer some questions and to share his experiences with you. Join me as we learn what it takes to take down personal records and compete at this level.

Tony: Tell the readers a little about yourself.

Aaron: My name is Aaron Sparks. I am 25 years old and currently a student in the DPT program at Indiana University. I love fitness and everything involved with it, including bodybuilding, nutrition, and powerlifting.

Tony: How long have you been lifting for strength and big numbers?

Aaron: I started lifting recreationally about 10 years ago while playing high school football, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until about 4 years ago when I started actually watching what I eat. I have been powerlifting and really trying to get stronger for the last 3 years.

Tony: Have you competed in any other fitness competitions?

Aaron: The only other fitness competitions I have been in are the two previous NIFS powerlifting competitions.

Tony: What made you take the risk and compete in the NIFS Powerlifting Competition?

Aaron: I have always loved competition and really miss it since my high school football days are over. This was an opportunity for me to show off how hard I have been working in the weight room. For the most part, not many people see all the hours you put in, so it is nice to have the chance to show people how much it has paid off.

Tony: What did it mean to you to compete in the first two NIFS Powerlifting Competitions?

Aaron: Competing was an overall great experience and the atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was there rooting for the person next to them to hit a PR, but at the same time, everyone wanted to lift more than the next guy or gal. It is always great to get a group of people together a common goal and see what they are made of. It gives everyone an opportunity to show off what they have been working for.

Tony: What struggles have you endured to lift and train the way you do?

Aaron: I’ll admit the hardest part for me with working out has always been the nutrition aspect. I love food and pig out every chance I get. On a more powerlifting related note, the hardest part is approaching each week to beat the numbers you hit the week before. Sometimes you have good days, sometimes you have bad days, but you never want to regress from the week before. It’s mentally exhausting to have to push yourself over and over again on such heavy reps so that you can continue making progress toward your goal.

“It is always great to get a group of people together with a common goal and see what they are made of.”

Tony: As a three-time competitor in this event, what brings you back year after year?

Aaron: For me, the main motivation is trying to beat my numbers from the year before, but I also absolutely love the atmosphere of the competition. Everyone is rooting for each other, but at the same time they are trying to beat the person next to them. It’s great seeing people new to the sport make progress and hit PRs. It is also a low-stress competition since it isn’t sanctioned, but it also gives people the opportunity to get exposed to the sport.

How Far Can You Go?

Aaron has placed in the top 2 of his weight class each year he has competed in this event. I know what he is after this year: VICTORY. And with his dedication to improvement, through countless workouts and nagging injuries, he is determined to be better. Aaron took a risk a few years ago in signing up to represent himself among a strong group of competitors and has reaped the rewards. T.S. Elliot once said, "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." Are you ready to see how far you can go?

There are a few spots remaining, so don’t wait to get registered for the NIFS 3rd Annual Powerliting Competition. Sign up today to be a part of a very special event hosted only once a year!

get registered for Powerlifting

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 weightlifting powerlifting competition Crucial Conversations

5 Reasons to Compete in the NIFS 3rd Annual Powerlifting Competition

risk.jpgFor all you Rocky fans out there (and I am assuming that is all of you), the name Frankie Fear should instantly take you to Rocky’s basement in the fifth installment of the series, where the Italian Stallion is introducing Frankie to Tommy Gun. Frankie Fear is regarded as your best friend, because he keeps you sharp, hungry, and focused on survival and victory. Rocky goes on to explain that fear is like a fire deep inside, and if you learn to control it, it can make you “hot,” but if you don’t, it can “burn you up.”

Now I am not doing this powerful scene much justice, but the meaning of it has stuck with me for a very long time. Fear can be paralyzing, and can keep you from taking a risk that could change your whole life. Or, fear can push you further than you have ever gone before. So is Frankie your bestie? Do you control the “fire,” or does it control you?

Risk = Reward

A few years back, before my first 12-mile Tough Mudder, fear was definitely a fire lit up inside me for a month leading up to the event. I’ve been a competitor my entire life, so I have experienced the fear of competition many times and could easily control it. The fear that was overwhelming was the fear of taking a risk at a brand-new obstacle—12 miles of obstacles, to be exact. I saw some of the YouTube videos of this event: mud, tall obstacles, high falls, electricity! That fire was being stoked, and I was beginning to question the risk-reward relationship of this event. But with the help of a true friend, training, and controlling that fire, I completed the 12-mile crazy track.

The risk, of course, was both physical harm and mental defeat. But the reward was redefining who I was and what I was capable of. You find out a great deal about yourself during intense challenges, and what I learned that day has carried me through so many more challenges and battles. Not only during the event, but in the training leading up to it, I defined some new physical heights and a motto that nothing is impossible.

Top 5 Reasons to Compete

So why would you risk competing in this year’s Powerlifting Competition? There are plenty of reasons why, and you should have a few reasons of your own. But here are my top 5 risk = reward reasons to compete in the NIFS 3rd Annual Powerlifting Competition:

  1. Learn to control Fear. This will serve you well not only in this competition, but in life.
  2. Visit 3 bars (squat, bench, deadlift) for one low cover charge. Unlike the other bars, you will gain perspective and a medal!
  3. Dare to be GREAT. It’s been written that the “enemy of great is often the good.” Don’t settle for “okay,” or “good enough”; dare to be better than that.
  4. Surround yourself with like-minded people. The competition will be filled with others who have taken the risk to compete; share the experience and the gains
  5. Find out what you are truly capable of. Gain the mindset that nothing is impossible, and bring out that inner Warrior that will carry you through so many challenges in your life.

A Testimonial from a First-Time Lifter

Still not convinced you should compete? Here is what a first-time lifter at our first meet had to say:

"This was my first powerlifting meet, and I was a little nervous coming in not really knowing what to expect. However, EVERYONE was very nice including the staff running the event and the competitors. After doing several powerlifting meets after this one, this one ran the smoothest and fastest by far. It was an amazing atmosphere with lots of spectators and everyone cheering you on every single lift." —Bailey Schober

Don’t let fear burn up your opportunity to be great and to find out what you are ultimately capable of! The risk that you will take will be worth the reward.

get registered for Powerlifting

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 challenge weightlifting powerlifting competition risk fear

Crucial Conversations: I Have 99 Problems, But My (NIFS) Gym Isn’t One

karen8.29.16.jpgFor the next installment of Crucial Conversations, a series where I have a chat with some very inspirational individuals and share it with all of you, I speak with a woman who needs no elaborate introduction. That’s because not only is she pretty well known around these parts, but also because she wouldn’t have it.

She is about the business of being fit and staying fit, no frills or fancy Instagram posts, just the business, and business is good. I am referring to longtime NIFS member Karen. I had the opportunity to ask Karen a few questions about being an “ageless warrior,” what keeps her motivated, and why she continues to make NIFS her fitness home. Join me as we uncover some of the things that make this amazing individual tick!

Tony: Tell me a little about yourself.

Karen: I was born in Indianapolis in 1958 and attended Arlington High School. During my time at Arlington I ran track and field and played volleyball. I got married in 1983, and my son was born in 1984.

Tony: Besides being a high school athlete, have you always been generally healthy, fit, and active?

Karen: I used to do workout videos, when they were popular, with my young son. At the young age of 25 I was diagnosed with high blood pressure [hypertension] after the birth of my son. This was hard for me to process due to my healthy lifestyle and healthy nature. It was something that I would have to deal with for the rest of my life. I began to feel restless and my life was becoming too mundane. I hated only being able to go to work and go home every day. At this point in my life I began to become depressed. I felt that I was not accomplishing anything in my life.

Tony: How did you make the change to pull yourself out of the rut you were in?

Karen: My son was in school and doing after-school activities, and my husband was heavily involved in church, and as a firefighter he was gone from home at least two days a week. I wanted to have something of my own; I wanted a place to go to meet and talk to people, a place where I could better myself every time I was there. I felt that the only place it could be was the gym. During this time I had fallen even deeper into depression, but by April of 1994 that would all change. My husband began working out at NIFS, and I would ask him where he was going to work out and he stated NIFS. He eventually purchased a membership for me, and it was the greatest gift he ever gave me. I joined NIFS and I have been a member for 22 years.

Tony: So how did you get started?

Karen: I began to look into going to group fitness classes. Every time I became stronger and the classes became easier for me, so I would begin going to more advanced classes. I started with step, spinning, and boxing, but my true transformation began when I began taking HIT class and group training. I was in the first Slim It to Win It competition, and to compete with other members was very exciting. Each time I would look for the next challenge to accomplish. I felt my body getting stronger and my endurance was increasing; I was feeling better about myself and my life, and I was looking forward to each limit I could cross.

Tony: What has created the most change for you?

Karen: I would have to say that my change came with the challenges I faced to make myself better in the gym. I began noticing these changes when I was able to go farther and longer than I could before. I felt this process could never end; if I worked at it, I would be able to surpass all of my limits, and with each and every class I knew there would be a new challenge for me to defeat. I’ve been able to make new friends, and for me exercising is a way of life. I am the result of hard work, I am in great shape for someone who is 57 years old, and I feel that my medical issues are very minor due to the effort and time that I have put in at NIFS. It has also allowed me to deal with stress, and it gives me a generally positive outlook on life. I would like to thank all of the trainers who have helped me along the way with my transformation, especially Tony Maloney.

***

I had the pleasure of meeting this amazing lady the first day I arrived here at NIFS eight years ago, and have had the continued honor to work with her in so many different capacities. From BOSU class, HIT, Slim It to Win It, and group training, Karen has seen and done it all, and has not just done it but done it well! She took on a nickname I gave her a few years back: “Grumpy”; but those who know her know that she is far from it. But she is focused, and when there is work to be done, she is all business.

Yes! I want to try a HIT class!

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 exercise depression fitness center motivation member group training HIT Slim It to Win It Crucial Conversations student athletes hypertension making changes

Max Results with Minimal Equipment, Part 3: TRX

trx-1.jpgIn the two previous installments of “Max Results with Minimal Equipment,” we took a look at sliders and superbands, definitely two of my top “go-to” pieces of gear for when I need big results with small equipment. Now it’s time to cover the big daddy of them all in the minimal gear, max results department: the TRX!

A great deal has been written about the TRX. The work done with the TRX has been huge in recent years, and it’s no surprise that it’s one of the top fitness purchases out there. I have been recommending the purchase of this system to anyone and everyone who will listen. I recommend that you add it to not only your at-home and travel programming, but also your everyday workouts. But considering we are discussing how to get results when traveling or when you can’t make it to the gym, I will keep the awesome attributes specific to that.

Silly Rabbit, TRX Are Made for Everybody and Everywhere!

Here are the top reasons why I recommend this system as a must-own piece of equipment:

  • Portable is an understatement! Coiled up properly in its handy carry cinch-bag, the TRX becomes a small pouch that fits into any suitcase or bag.
  • The setup for use of the TRX is just as simple as it is portable. The TRX can be attached to a tree if you prefer to be outside. It can be attached to a power rack or cable cross machine. Or it can even be hung from your hotel door with a handy door-mount accessory.
  • When using the TRX to perform any movement, you are really using the entire body as well. Changing vectors and bases of support will challenge the entire system, no matter whether you are doing a bicep curl or a jump squat. The system will target your ability to stabilize the trunk in all movements that you perform.
  • The TRX can train mobility, stability, strength, and metabolic resistance. There are not many, if any, pieces of equipment that can do it all, but the TRX can. What separates the TRX from all other pieces is how quickly you can increase or decrease the intensity of the exercise. Just by changing your vector (a fancy word for angle), you can load up an exercise or make it a little easier for timed sets. A single TRX system allows you to target all facets of a solid training program.
  • Countless movement options. I can confidently say that you could rotate through the multitude of exercise choices you can do with the TRX and not see the same exercise for days. There is just so much you can do with just a single system! And if you didn’t learn all you need to know from a NIFS health/fitness instructor on how to get the most out of this equipment, the great people of TRX have complied a mass of workouts and exercises you can use to get the results you are hunting.

My Favorite Movements

Here are few of my favorite movements with the TRX: 

TRX Outside Final

Top Workouts

Enjoy one of these workouts with the TRX:

TRX EMOM: Complete the following Every Minute On the Minute for 10 minutes.

  • 5x TRX Rows
  • 10x TRX Atomic Pushups
  • 15x TRX Squat Jumps

TRX :45/:15: Complete the movements highlighted on the video in order for :45 of work followed by :15 rest.

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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: equipment workouts TRX traveling

Software Update: Why Mindset Is Crucial to Fitness Success

ThinkstockPhotos-524261293.jpgI recently attended the Perform Better 3-Day Functional Training Summit in Chicago, where the leaders of the fitness world converged to drop a whole bunch of knowledge and inspiration on fitness pros. I have been attending this, what Alex refers to as a “Fitness Concert,”every year since I started at NIFS. It is something I really look forward to yearly, and this year was even better because I had seven other NIFS pros with me. Just as in recent years, it was a great experience of learning, refocus, and reenergizing.

Attitude: A Missing Puzzle Piece

But this year I left with a different feeling than in the past. I felt that I had been missing a very important piece of the success puzzle for so long, and it had nothing to do with movement. It was probably the most powerful of everything I took away from the “concert.” Most years I cultivate new ways to challenge the body through movement and methods of training, as well as grab a few great ideas about how to help people see what their true self is truly capable of. But not this year. Now don’t get me wrong, those topics were presented, and I enjoyed hearing those concepts, but they did not create the biggest impact for me this time around. The biggest idea that created the most impact for me was that MINDSET matters the most in fitness (and really anything you want to accomplish).

Brian Grasso was the presenter who really changed the way I think about creating change, and really blew my mind (pun intended) by revealing that life’s problems are mainly due to a “software” (the mind) problem, not a “hardware” (you) problem. I am a huge believer that things happen for a reason, and me choosing to see Brian’s presentation that day in Chicago was on purpose. In a previous post I wrote about an experience attending Wanderlust and the impact the concept of mindfulness had on me, and no more than a month later I was sitting listening to Brian talk about why mindset matters the most in anything we wish to be successful in, or to create change.

“Life’s problems are mainly due to a “software” (the mind) problem, not a “hardware” (you) problem.”

My Top 5 Takeaways from the Perform Better Presentation

Brian presented so much in a short amount of time—far more than I could do justice to in a single post. But here are my top 5 takeaways from his life-changing presentation.

Mindset is not motivation. Mindset is understanding YOU and how you see and interpret the world, and how you fit into it. Motivation, or motivational speeches and activities, tends to be short-lived with a crash at the end. This cycle is similar to illicit drug use; it provides an intense high followed by an equal low. This will result in two things: the want for more of that feeling, and the feeling of failure. Brian gave the perfect example by presenting the question, “Why are Tony Robbins motivational speaking engagements always sold out?” He provides that emotional response, making people feel great, but eventually that high goes away and people are left to their original problems, and feel the need to go back and get more motivation without focusing on the main issue: a negative mindset. 

The unconscious mind drives your life: Our unconscious mind drives our lives and shapes our world. It serves as our software for our behaviors. Our software can be shaped by the sequence of the unconscious which is:

Influence            Perceptions      Belief System      Expectation
(we incur)           (we carry)           (we accept)            (we hold)

These are some pretty powerful drivers for our behavior; knowing what is driving the behavior allows us to really change a lifestyle that needs help. Our software (unconscious) can be classified as either fixed or dynamic. Fixed is thinking what you see is the absolute truth; this mindset is usually negative. A dynamic mindset is “rewriting” the unconscious and seeing yourself in other ways. Another great example Brian provided to drive home this point was this: when you purchased your new iPod, you didn’t find your favorite music on it when you pulled it from the box. You had to download the songs you wanted. Your unconscious, so to speak, works the same way; if you don’t like the song that is replaying in your head, CHANGE THE SONG!

Perceptions that we carry don’t have to be our story. Brian said something that really spoke to me: “We talk to ourselves like we would not let anyone in the world talk to us.” Simply, our negative self-talk is so, well, negative, and that it can be so hurtful that we couldn’t imagine anyone talking to someone like that. But we do it to ourselves every day. This negative self-talk stems from the perceptions we carry about ourselves, others, and life in general. These perceptions can hold us back from making real change. Brian described the story of circus elephants and how they are tethered to a post by a rope tied around one of their four legs. At a very young age, a much smaller rope is used to tie them, which is strong enough to keep them there. As the elephant ages, trainers would use the same size rope, even though the elephant could easily break through it. But they don’t…why? Because the elephant is conditioned to believe that the tiny little rope is strong enough to hold him back. Do you see how strong perceptions of ourselves can be, and how mindset is the key to unlocking potential? 

Conscious vs. unconscious. So the unconscious mind is considered the driver and where behavior is created through impulse. It is believed that the unconscious mind already knows the right answer, and the only job of the conscious mind is to make the unconscious story true. Conscious choices create behavior through action, and this is where most of today’s self-help strategies engage, at the conscious level. But if most decisions are already made, and the story of YOU happens in the unconscious mind, these strategies will be unsuccessful. “We concentrate on amending physical behaviors without recognition of the drivers behind them,” Brian said. I equate this idea with something I feel I know a great deal about, movement. If you have a bad movement pattern (negative mindset), and you load that movement pattern (self-help at the conscious level), you will simply reinforce that bad movement pattern (negative mindset). On this point, Brian shared a quote from Clinical Psychologist Dr. Sophie Henschaw; she states, “The reason positive affirmations don’t work is that they target the conscious level of your mind, but not the unconscious. If what you are trying to affirm is incongruent with a deeply held negative belief, then all that results is an inner struggle.” Pretty powerful statement considering we as a society have become so reliant on the development of goals and daily affirmations as strategies for success. But if we take time to consider that the deeper portion of our mind is what is really driving our behavior, it only makes sense that, for sustainable change, the focus is on the unconscious and strategies that deal directly with that level of the mind.

“Our negative self-talk is so, well, negative, and it can be so hurtful that we couldn’t imagine anyone talking to someone like that.”

It’s a story, plain and simple: Mindset, as stated above, is understanding YOU and your story. Your story is developed through that sequence of the unconscious (influences-perceptions-belief system-expectation), and awareness of that sequence is a powerful first step. Because here is the thing: you can change your story. It doesn’t have to be fixed! You don’t have to respond to influences with negative actions or thoughts. You do not have to carry those influences that do not lead you down a positive path. And if your belief system is based on principles and not personality and environment, it will be more apt to deal with the changing world around you.

Bottom line is, if you want to change your life, update your software and change your story. I leave you with another impactful quote that Brian shared with the group:

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
—Carl Jung

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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 fitness center motivation attitude functional movement mindfulness mindset

Max Results with Minimal Equipment, Part 2: Superbands for Resistance

Screen_Shot_2016-08-23_at_1.59.16_PM.pngNext up on the minimal gear with max results list is truly one of my favorites, the superband. In part 1, we took a look the slider and all its versatility and ability to challenge the body in many different ways. The superband provides even more options with very little gear (mainly because we can perform more pulling movements with the band). So now we add “load” to a movement pattern on top of gravity. The superband is definitely next on the packing list when I travel, and I always have one available at home.

Favorite Portable Exercise Equipment: The Superband

The superband has been gaining in popularity over the last decade or so. With its easy-to-use and on-the-go capability, the superband has become a staple in many programs, from the weekend warrior (guys and gals like you and me) to elite-level athletes. Dave Schmitz, also known as “the Bandman,” has been teaching and promoting the use of superbands (resistance bands) since the mid-1990s. I have learned a great deal from Dave, not only about programming using bands, but also the motivation to reach as many people as I possibly can.

The band can be used anywhere, all by itself or attached to a stationary object or partner. This versatile tool uses tension as its load, and maintains resistance pretty much throughout a range of motion, which skyrockets its potential for strength gain and metabolic cost of the movement. The movement possibilities are endless, which can provide so much variety to your program either at home or away.

Best Superband Exercises and Workouts

Here are some of our favorite superband exercises:

Workouts:

M & M Bands Final

Circuit—:40/:20—3–5 Rounds

  • Front squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bent-over rows
  • Jump press
Strength
  • A1 Chin-ups      4x5 (add load)
  • A2 Band push-ups      4x max reps
  • B1 2KB front squats      3x8-10
  • B2 Band hip press      3x8-10
  • C1 Band 1/2K lift      3x8
  • C2 Band bent-over rows      3x8
Give a few of these (or all of them) a try in your current program or on your next trip and you will find out what the band can do for you. Take along your sliders and you’ve just doubled the movement capabilities, and yet you are still only at two tools.

Stay tuned for the next installment, when we take a look at easily one of my favorite pieces, the TRX.

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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 center equipment workouts resistance

Max Results with Minimal Equipment, Part 1: Sliders

Screen_Shot_2016-08-10_at_11.21.07_AM.pngIn my eight years here at NIFS, one major thing I am so lucky to have is a world-class fitness facility right outside my office door. Some of the greatest fitness equipment surrounded by some of the greatest fitness minds are at my fingertips every day. I love to move, and I love to move here, but many times I need to move outside of these walls, and of course I will have to leave the awesome gear where it lies.

But have no fear; there are some options that can maximize results with minimal gear. My first choice is my NIFS’ fitness floor, but in this four-part series, I will highlight my favorite tools to use when you can use only one.

Favorite Portable Exercise Equipment: The Slider

Today we take a look at the innocent-looking but brutal tool the slider, also known as a Valslide. You may have seen them used to move heavy furniture. This simple and versatile tool can challenge most movement patterns as well as create balance and stability needs. With movements ranging from beginner to advanced, there is really something for everybody when using sliders. They can act as a focal point of a metabolically driven circuit, or in a core-targeting segment, as well as super-setting with a heavy strength movement.

And one of the most appealing attributes of the slider is that you can take it anywhere without taking up any space. You will find that the four implements I will be highlighting all have this in common. The other thing these have in common is that they take away your excuses for not training while you are away.

Best Slider Exercises and Workouts

Here are 10 of my favorite slider exercises and some workouts that you can try out.

VIDEO WORKOUTS:

Circuit—:40/:20—3–5 rounds

  • Reverse lunges
  • Burpees
  • Hamstring curls
  • Pushup reaches

Strength

  • A1 barbell deadlift5x2

  •  A2 slider slideouts—3x10

  •  B1 DB flat bench press—3x8-10

  •  B2 slider eccentric hamstring curls —3x8-10

  •  C1 lat pull-downs—3x8

  •  C2 slider lateral lunges—3x8

M & M Sliders Final

There are far more movements and ways to use the versatile slider. For more ideas, flag down a NIFS instructor and they will be happy to help. Until next time when I cover the superband, add a few of these movements into your workout and start reaping the benefits of this simple tool.

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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 center equipment workouts balance core