NIFS Healthy Living Blog

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.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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