NIFS Healthy Living Blog

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!

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

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

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!

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

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

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.

***

Ramp-up-logo-finalNO-SPACE.jpg

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

NIFS January Group Fitness Class of the Month: BODYPUMP

bodypump2.jpgJanuary’s group fitness class of the month is Les Mills BODYPUMP®. This class may be one of the most popular, if not the most well-attended group exercise classes offered at most fitness centers. And the cool thing about it, no matter where or which BODYPUMP® class you decide to take, it will be the same across the nation. So let’s take a deeper look into BODYPUMP®, what it’s composed of, what to expect when you show up for a class, and what a study found about the class.

The Facts

If you are looking to tone up and strengthen your body from top to bottom (no pun intended) in a group training setting, BODYPUMP® may be just the thing you are looking for.

  • Light to moderate weights with very high reps—complete about 800 reps of exercises
  • 60 minutes works all major muscle groups
  • Total-body workout
  • Uses “The Rep Effect”
  • Adaptable to all fitness levels
  • Burns between 500–1,000 calories
  • Music, social interaction, and fun environment
  • Increase core strength and bone health
  • Incorporates the following exercises: squats, chest press, dead row, clean and press, press pullover combo, lunges, and reverse curl

#BODYPUMP100 Launch is coming! 14.JAN. 17! Reserve your spot today(not required but recommended)!

BODYPUMP100Launch

 

What the Study Says

This study was conducted by several researchers at Sao Paulo University in Brazil and was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; it was done to see the actual effectiveness of the BODYPUMP® program. Women participated for 12 weeks, taking classes twice a week, and tested both before and after. Here are some of the results:

  • 33% improvement in 1RM for squat strength
  • Increased isotonic strength (muscle tone)
  • Lower heart rate
  • Lower blood lactate
  • Improved neuromuscular efficiency
  • Effective at increasing muscular strength and endurance
  • Developed efficiency in movement

With all of these things coming out of a workout that’s just 60 minutes, I would say it’s worth your time! NIFS offers BODYPUMP® classes 12 different times during the week (see the group fitness schedule for times), so next time you are in, grab a bar and some weights, and jump in!

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

Topics: NIFS fitness center group fitness Les Mills Group Fitness Class of the Month BODYPUMP

10 Winter Fitness and Wellness Tips

ThinkstockPhotos-619079130-1.jpgAs much as no one wants to admit it, the winter months are in front of us. Even though I grew up in a northern snow belt along the Great Lakes, cold weather is not my thing. In fact, I really don’t like anything about it. And often along with the winter blues comes a decrease in health and fitness due to the lack of motivation. To counteract that feeling, let’s look at ten tips that can help you be healthier this winter.

  1. Work out. I know it’s easy to lose motivation to keep working out when it’s cold out, it’s dark by 5, and you have to put on your snow boots and warm up the car before going to the gym. But working out actually helps to build your immune system and keep you healthy. So make sure that you build those workouts into your schedule.
  2. Eat well. It’s important to make sure that you stick to clean eating, especially through the holidays. All the additional sweets, snacks, drinks, and other goodies that come with the holidays are sometimes hard to resist; do your best to stay focused on your goals.
  3. Drink lots of water. Being sure that you have proper hydration is always important regardless of the time of year. Carry around a water bottle everywhere you go and make sure you keep drinking.
  4. Cover your head in outdoor workouts. If you do decide to work out outdoors, be sure to wear a hat or something to cover your ears. Making sure you stay warm and don’t catch a cold will be vital to your winter wellness success. (Here are some more tips for dressing warmly for winter workouts.)
  5. Get some sun if possible. Studies show that getting your vitamin D is essential. If you can dress appropriately, try to get outside on a nice day or plan that beach vacation during the cold winter months.


    Training for the Mini Marathon & 5K starts January 25th at NIFS!
    Sign up today and cross the finish line with us in May!

    Mini-logo-2017-new.jpg

  6. Wash your hands. I know this is the standard thing you see in every public bathroom or on the back of the stall doors. But for real, wash your hands to help prevent you from getting the flu or other illnesses going around. Catching something could really set you back in getting in your workouts and healthy eating.
  7. Set a goal for the spring. Have a goal in place as the winter months start so that you can keep it on the forefront as something to work toward.
  8. Get a trainer or workout buddy. There is no better time to treat yourself to some additional accountability. Hire a trainer for the winter months or find that accountability partner to keep you in check!
  9. Watch your intake. You must be mindful, especially around the holidays, of what you are taking into your body. Also, keep in mind that drinks add a lot of unwanted calories, so watch what enters the black hole!
  10. Join something. The options are endless…group exercise, HIT classes, group training, a training program of some sort, co-ed sports…the list can go on. Find something you like and sign up to keep you engaged.

Whatever emotions the winter months may bring you, use these tips to be successful with your winter fitness and wellness!

  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 winter fitness nutrition fitness center goal setting equipment group training accountability NIFS programs hydration HIT outdoors personal training wellness vitamin D

NIFS December Group Fitness Class of the Month: PiYo

Piyo2.jpgContinuing with the Group Fitness Class of the Month series, December is upon us and we are highlighting a new class. Hopefully you had the opportunity in November to do a BODYATTACK class. This month we take a closer look at another group fitness class: PiYo. This Beachbody class has been on the schedule for a good chunk of time now, but in case you don’t know what it is or haven’t taken the opportunity to try it, let’s pick it apart a little bit.

A Low-Impact, Fat-Burning Fitness Class

Now, stepping into an even smaller group fitness studio can also be very intimidating, I know, but the faster-paced movements and music in PiYo will hopefully diminish some of those feelings. And for those of you (this was me at one point as well) who feel this is just another stretching class…think again! PiYo takes the muscle-sculpting, core-tightening movements from Pilates and the strength and flexibility benefits of yoga and ties them into one class. Talk about a great combination! And with the ramped-up speed of the different movements, this class includes fat-burning, low-impact movements to help you see results.

My Experience with This Workout

I personally have done a PiYo class to see what it was all about, and allow me to share my experience. I started out with the mindset of this is “just another stretching class,” like I talked about above. Within just a few minutes, I quickly learned I was mistaken. The class moved much faster than I had anticipated, and the movements were quite challenging. I would consider myself to be an active, decently fit individual, with a good amount of flexibility and strength. But some of the moves in PiYo really challenged the flexibility and mobility of my body. And I could see how over time, taking this class would allow a person to actually see measurable results in those two areas.

PiYo_LOGO_Gray_M.jpgPiYo at NIFS

NIFS offers two different kinds of PiYo on our group fitness schedule. PiYo Strength focuses on agility, dance conditioning, athletic training, core conditioning, balance, flexibility, and so much more. Many athletes benefit from this format because of its flexibility, and using the body as full-body resistance. This is a fusion format that moves quickly and powerfully, and creates strength from the transverse abs out. We also offer Pilates/Yoga Fusion, which is a unique class designed to build strength, balance, agility, and flexibility. The moves fit perfectly together to form a class filled with intense choreography that's fun and challenging and will make you sweat. It is a perfect blend of Pilates, yoga, sports stretch, dance stretch, athletics, and more. Don't worry, no previous experience is necessary!

Watch PIYO workout Video

This blog shows what another NIFS Health Fitness Specialist has to say about PiYo. Take some time to try a PiYo class and see what you think!

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 exercise fitness center yoga group fitness workouts balance strength Pilates core strength Group Fitness Class of the Month PiYo

Nutrition and Fitness Accountability to Get You Through the Holiday Season

ThinkstockPhotos-524163310.jpgIt’s the time of year that no one wants to talk about. But let’s face it: Christmas decorations have been out in stores for over a month, and the holidays are just around the corner. And for many across the nation, the holidays are one of the most dreaded times for unhealthy eating and putting on unwanted excess weight. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Don’t let this time of year scare you. Instead, view it as an opportunity to meet the weight management challenge for a better you!

Tips for Finding Balance at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Beyond

The holidays are hard, and I would never deny that. Travel bogs you down with fast food on the road and in the airport; visitors come to the house to stay for a week at a time and you have to do all the cooking of holiday meals; and those delicious goodies that seem to appear only once a year are ever-present on the counter yelling, “EAT ME!” So with all this, how do you stay on track? Allow me to share a few ideas that come to mind for having a successful holiday season with your eating and exercise.

  • Find a nutrition balance. While I am not encouraging you to go out and have five of your favorite cookies every day, I am going to say it’s okay to have one. The key to being successful and not overdoing it with what you put into your mouth is balance. There are times through the holidays that the red velvet cake is staring you in the face, and if you do decide you are going to eat it, then create a balance. What are you going to say no to instead? A few tips: don’t eat the entire piece; leave some on the plate. Eat slowly and allow yourself to feel full rather than killing it in two bites. Drink water with it or milk that has some nutritional value. The more water you drink, the more you will feel full, allowing you to scale back on the cake intake.
  • Find a workout balance. You also need to find balance in the gym. You know those people who head to the gym for a three-hour workout on Thanksgiving morning? You don’t have to be that person. If you have a good balance of both exercising on a regular basis through the holidays and eating appropriately, you won’t need that 3,000-calorie burn before the big feast.
  • Have a plan. Making sure that you have a plan is essential to your holiday success. I have found when there is no plan in place ahead of time, it becomes a free-for-all, which leads to overeating. Make a plan before the holidays start and create goals that are both realistic and attainable for yourself. If you know you have travel coming up or you know that you are hosting for a week, come up with a plan that makes sense for how often and how long you will be able to work out each day, as well as what you will be eating and potentially cooking for guests.
  • Stick to the plan. Having a plan can be the easy part, but sticking to that plan is the challenge. Make sure that you commit to your goal: if you said you were going to work out three to four times a week, do it! If something comes up and you can’t get to the gym, do something at home. The biggest thing is to not allow yourself to make an excuse. You may have to get up a little bit early before the guests arise for your homemade waffles, or make sure the hotel that you are staying at has a gym. Whatever you need to do to stay on track, make it happen.
  • Have some accountability. Figure out what type of accountability works for you. Maybe it’s coming up with that plan with a friend or family member. Or maybe it’s tracking it through a fitness tracker, signing up for a personal trainer, or joining a program the gym is putting on. Whatever it may be, find what works for you and commit to doing it.

NIFS Game of Inches Can Help!

If you are looking for some accountability through the holiday season, we have just the thing for you! Whether your goal right now is to put on muscle mass or to shed some inches, this program will suit your desires! NIFS is introducing a new program called Game of Inches.Game-of-inches-logo-final.jpg

The Game of Inches will help to keep you on track as you compete in one of two challenges:

  • Challenge #1—Gain Challenge: Work to at muscle building to put on mass through the holidays.
  • Challenge #2—Loss Challenge: Work to lose inches through the holidays.

For both challenges, measurements will be taken with the Fit3D scanner and an accumulation of specific measurements will determine a winner. To accompany the scans, each program participant will receive weekly newsletters containing videos to keep you focused and working hard! Each week videos will be sent containing workouts, nutrition tips, an exercise of the week, and a warrior challenge to finish it off.

NIFS members can sign up at the NIFS track desk located in the fitness center. All signups and scan-ins must be completed between November 6–12, and a subsequent scan out will take place between January 1–7. For this program we are asking that members “pay” by donating canned food items for Paw’s Pantry. Nonmembers can also join! For a fee of only $95, nonmembers will receive the scan-in/scan-out and all videos accompanying the program. In addition to this, the fee includes full access to NIFS and everything NIFS offers during the 7 weeks of the program between the start and end dates. Nonmembers interested in signing up can stop by the NIFS service desk to register.

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

Questions? Please contact Amanda Bireline (abireline@nifs.org or 317.274.3432, ext. 219).

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

Topics: NIFS fitness nutrition fitness center holidays accountability challenge weight management workout Thanksgiving muscle building christmas

Group Fitness Class of the Month: BODYATTACK

BODYATTACK.jpgGroup fitness classes can be a great combination of both cardio and strength exercises jam-packed into a session that ranges anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Whether you are a rookie or veteran to the gym, a group exercise class can be a great place to look to when thinking about what to do for your workout. And with the huge variety of classes that most fitness facilities offer daily, you can get just about anything you are looking for in a workout.

Over the next several months, we are going to highlight a group fitness class of the month. We will be taking a closer look at what each class is composed of and the benefits of it. I understand that sometimes pulling up a facility’s group fitness schedule can be overwhelming, with all the options and names of things you’ve never heard of, but hopefully this will help you to understand that these classes are something doable and well worth your time at the gym.

Often, along with the overwhelming amount of classes offered each week, the intimidation factor can play a large role. Let me help soothe those uneasy feelings by telling you it’s okay: just jump into the class and you will quickly blend right in! Now I know that not all group exercise classes are for everyone, and not everyone is going to agree that all classes offered are the best option, but with a well-rounded selection of classes, strength training, and cardiovascular exercise, you will be well on your way to fit!

LM ATTACK CMYK BUTTON�.jpgWhat Is BODYATTACK?

This month we are going to take a look at the NIFS Class of the Month, BODYATTACK! BODYATTACK is the sports-inspired cardio workout for building strength and stamina. This high-energy interval training class combines athletic aerobic movements with strength and stabilization exercises. Dynamic instructors and powerful music motivate everyone toward their fitness goals—from the weekend athlete to the hardcore competitor. This class can be catered to anyone, from the first-timer to the frequent attender. You will see a combination of athletic components like running and jumping intertwined with strength exercises like squats and pushups. You will also experience a variety of fitness styles including aerobics, plyometrics, agility exercises, upper- and lower-body conditioning, power movements, and core strengthening exercises[watch video].

BODYATTACK is a full-body workout lasting 60 minutes. And though the class may look intense from a distance, any group class like BODYATTACK can be tailored to each and every individual fitness level. No matter what level you are at and choose to do in the class, BODYATTACK is designed to burn calories, help you tone up, and get into better overall shape through the various movements.

Tips for Your First Class

With all this, I know it can still be scary stepping up to your first class at the facility. If it is your first time, allow me to give you a few pointers:

  • Get to class a few minutes early and introduce yourself to the instructor. This way you will feel more comfortable and the instructor can help you get set up if necessary.
  • Set up your stuff close to the front, or at least in good view of the class instructor so that you can watch what he or she is doing closely.
  • When the level options are given, take the lowest one first. Even if you consider yourself an elite athlete, sometimes classes may take you by surprise. Take the easiest level first and then ramp it up when you begin to feel more comfortable and confident.
  • Keep moving! You won’t master every single exercise or move during the class, and that is okay. If you mess up, just keep moving to the beat of the music and pick back up on the next move.
  • Don’t be intimidated! Contrary to popular belief, no one is watching you.
  • Be okay with giving it a second try—we all know how intimidating it can be when you walk up and you have all those “group ex-ers” who know the next move before it even begins. Be patient and try the class a second time. That will be you in no time!
  • Have fun! Laugh, make connections with others, and enjoy the next hour of time you have celebrating yourself and the journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Now that you are ready, give BODYATTACK a try! NIFS offers BODYATTACK four different times a week. Keep in mind all the great things that group exercise has to offer.

Not a member? Try a class for free!

Try a group fitness class for free

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

Topics: NIFS cardio fitness center group fitness strength BODYATTACK Group Fitness Class of the Month

How to Get the Most Out of Indoor Cycling (Spin)

cycling.jpgIt’s getting to be that time of year again…the time when you wake up and there is a nip in the air and it seems to be getting cool in the late evenings. Fall is when things really start to ramp up in the fitness center: classes are filling up, and you potentially take on a new workout routine. One of the greatest indoor group training classes that is offered is indoor cycling, or spin! While the benefits of spinning can be a whole additional blog, I’ll just say that it’s a great cardiovascular exercise as well as a tool to build strength in the legs and butt.

Adjusting the Bike

We’ve all been there one time or another: your toes go numb, your neck or lower back starts to hurt, or you begin to feel tingling in your fingertips. All these can be a result of not having the bike adjusted properly for your body. Don’t make the mistake of jumping onto a bike that someone else has just been riding on and think it’s the right fit.

Whether it’s a spin class, RPM, or another type of cycle class, making sure that you are set up on the bike properly is of utmost importance. Let’s take a closer, step-by-step look at how to get set up:

  1. Set the saddle (seat). Begin by standing next to the bike. Raise one of your knees to a 90-degree angle and locate where your hip bone is on that same leg. Once you have done so, you can put both feet back on the ground and raise or lower the seat to the spot on your hip that you have indicated. You can get onto the bike to feel for comfort. Another good indicator is that when your leg is fully extended on the pedal, there should be a 5- to 10-degree bend.
  2. Position your feet on the pedals. Get on the bike and place your feet so that the ball of your foot is on the axle or back part of the pedal. While pedaling, the pressure should go through the ball of your foot and not the arch. If you are wearing tennis shoes and have a cage, you will want to tighten the straps to help secure your foot.
  3. Position your knee. You need to be sure that your knee does not overshoot your toes. If you were to draw a straight line from the front of your kneecap down toward your foot, it should line up behind your toes. Do a few revolutions and make sure that you feel comfortable. If you are still not sure about your positioning, this is a good time for someone to easily help you. Have someone stand behind you while you are pedaling and watch your hips. There should be no movement or dropping of the hips as you extend through the pedal.
  4. Adjust the handlebar height. Much of this is personal preference, but there are a few tips for people who don’t bike all the time to get adjusted correctly: comfort, comfort, comfort! Start with the handlebars at the same height as the seat (look at the seat and see what your adjustment is; it may be indicated by a number or letter). As you begin to ride, you will want to be sure that you feel comfortable. Watch for neck or lower-back pain and shortness in the hamstrings. If you often ride a road bike, lower handlebars may be more comfortable. This is okay as long as you don’t begin to pull on the hamstrings.
  5. Adjust the distance of the handlebars. This is also heavily weighted on personal preference and comfort. You want your shoulders to be as much over your hands as possible and have a slight bend in the elbows. Remember, be comfortable! If you begin to feel tingly hands or numbness in the arms or neck, you need to adjust your handlebars.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you are ever uncertain, you can always ask the class instructor to assist you. I would always advise you to get to class a few minutes early to get adjusted and ready. Enjoy, and cycle on!

Want to try a cycling or group fitness class for free?

Request a FREE Class Pass

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

Topics: fitness center group training cycling spin indoor cycling RPM

Technical vs. Tactical Fitness Training

ThinkstockPhotos-500518472.jpgIf you have spent time around sports, two terms that I am sure you have heard are technical and tactical. No matter what sport you have been around, at some point your coach planned a technical training session and a tactical training session. And in these sports, the technical sessions focused on the technique needed to be successful, and the tactical sessions focused on the “plans” behind how to make those work. I’d like to take a look at how you can put into place technical vs. tactical training in fitness, and in what ways this can benefit your training potential.

Technical Training in Fitness

The goal of any kind of technical preparation is to take skills specific to the activity and to improve them. In any form of movement or exercise, the body has both locomotive and bio-mechanical rules that it should be following in order to maximize potential. And the first step in technical training is to understand the movements that are supposed to be occurring during the exercise.

So what does all this mean? Let’s put it into laymen’s terms. I like to call it body awareness. You don’t need to memorize every single muscle in the body and know its location, insertion points, etc., but if you have a body awareness of where you should feel something, what it should look like, and the benefits of the movement, your exercise potential will increase!

Let’s take the bent-over row as an example:

  • Works upper and middle back.
  • Beneficial for all sorts of industries (carpenters sawing wood, nurses lifting patient to seated position, stay-at-home parent picking up the laundry basket).
  • Muscles used: lats, biceps, shoulders, deltoids, pecs, and triceps.
  • Where you should feel the exercise: middle and upper back.
  • Proper way to do the exercise: make sure you are bent over (using a bench or flat surface is ideal), be sure the back is flat and not rounded, without rotating your entire body lift the weight from a bent-over hanging-arm position up toward the armpit, feeling the shoulder blade move inward toward the spine.

As you can see, technical training certainly has its place in fitness. It’s important to learn and feel body awareness to begin to grasp what you should be feeling. Take some time to learn and understand the different technical aspects of movements in your workout and maximize your potential. If you need help, our health fitness specialists here at NIFS can assist you with those things!

Tactical Training in Fitness

Tactical training is taking the exercises we know and building specific programs around improving regular-life movements and activities (aka functional training). You make the workout revolve around not only getting fit, but building strength and mobility to assist in your everyday movement patterns.

As fitness always evolves and changes, there has been a shift from “specific training” for folks like policemen, firefighters, and the military to taking some of those workout programs and making them fit the mold for the “general exerciser.” Thus, it makes tactical exercise not focus on the workout itself, but hone in on the actual work being done in the workout. Tactical training is about taking exercise and making movements and programs carry over to functional, daily life movements like carries, running, swimming, etc.

Here are a few examples of tactical exercise (incorporate these into a workout for everyday-life impacts):

  • Kettlebell Suitcase Carry: Carry a kettlebell at your side while maintaining correct posture.
  • Jacob’s Ladder: Good for those who climb ladders in their jobs (firefighters, carpenters, roofers, etc.).
  • Barbell deadlifts: Ensures proper form in order to help lift boxes, laundry baskets, children, etc.

Both technical training and tactical training have their places in the fitness world. If you are currently training technically, look at some tactical training and begin to incorporate it into your workouts. And if you are training tactically, take some time to look at technique and make sure you are doing things correctly in order to avoid injury and aid your progression.

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: fitness center workouts functional training kettlebell technical training tactical training