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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Defining Fitness Goals Is Like Wrestling with Jell-O (Part 1 of 2)

jelloThe concept of defining fitness seems simple at first glance, but like Jell-O®, the definition of fitness appears solid on the surface until you grab at it and realize that impression was wrong. Both will get messy while they ooze in all directions.

Fitness is truly in the eye of the beholder—or more correctly, in the vision of the motivating ego. Something about one’s current status is unacceptable and the ego wants it changed. This fitness change generally becomes a quest to be bigger, faster, stronger, or prettier. Basic movement problems and health issues are other major driving forces to seek improved fitness.

What Is Your Goal?

Many times, when I ask clients about what they expect to get from their investment of time, money, and sweat in exercise, I usually get, “I want to be more fit, of course,” which to them is the universal hall pass for answering all fitness questions. They’re thinking, “After all, everyone knows what it means to be fit. Don’t they?” Well, they don’t and that’s the problem. Are we talking about serious weight loss, bodybuilding and shaping for esthetics, training for athletic and job performance, correcting serious medical issues or movement deficiencies, etc.?

Strategies for each goal are very different. A “good” technical workout may very well be the “wrong” workout for a particular goal because of individual needs. Therefore, before any program can be developed, everyone must agree on what exactly it means to be more fit and what goals they are try to reach. Without a target, it is easy to wander around aimlessly in the forest of fitness options with a bloody forehead from banging into the many workout trees.

All-You-Can-Eat Fitness Can Lead to Gluttony

A trainer is also responsible for providing a more expansive view of exercise and fitness, which is generally beyond the fitness education and experience of most of their clients. This task is much like a waiter explaining a menu to a new restaurant patron. Although this step is necessary to arrive at the best program design, this additional client education can create another problem called the all-you-can-eat fitness syndrome.

As in the famous scene of the enormous man in the restaurant in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, when presented with the menu, he reads it very carefully, hands it back to the waiter, and says, “Yes.” When people become more aware of what fitness can provide, they want it all. But the body cannot do it all, at least not equally as well and certainly not all at once. If you remember the scene, the patron did eat the entire menu worth of food, but when offered a small after-dinner wafer, he exploded. Fitness gluttony has a price, as well, which usually comes in the form of poor results and, of course, the higher risk of dreaded injuries.

What Do You Really Want?

Whether you are a trainer responsible for the health, fitness, and safety of your client or an individual fitness enthusiast who has taken on the arduous task of training yourself, the meaning of fitness for that individual and for that moment in time must be clearly defined before an appropriate fitness program can be developed. The fastest shortcut to this meaningful foundation is by going directly to what is truly motivating the desire for change, the ego.

It is a rather simple process. Keep asking the following question until you arrive at the real answer: “What do you really want to get out of your investment of time, money, and sweat in exercise?

However, there are two rules: The answer cannot be, “I want to be more fit,” and each answer is followed by the question “why?” until a satisfactory answer is reached. This “why” will reveal what is actually motivating the fitness quest and will also serve as the motor to keep driving the quest when progress slows or when there are setbacks. The combination of “what” and “why” forms a strong foundation for developing an effective exercise program.

In my next post, I'll talk about the categories that the answers fall into, and how to start thinking about the right training program for each goal.

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

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Topics: motivation goal setting functional training personal training fitness trends goals

“Alice & Chains” Part 2: Making Your Training Functional

When we last left Alice (aka you), we provided her with two kinetic chains to rescue her from the mythical land of functional training. Now that I have established a solid base to build from, I can hone in on what actually makes moving functional, and that is movement. (I know, shocking isn’t it?)

The Patterns of Human MovementDSC04021n

Basic human movement is pretty much divided into seven different patterns. As stated in Part 1,
these patterns can affect one another and be built onto one another. The seven movement patterns are the following:

  • Squat
  • Hinge
  • Lunge
  • Push
  • Pull
  • Single-leg balance
  • Rotary/core stability

Taking the definition of functional training discussed earlier (to train or restore function in movement), these are the movements I was referring to. Functional training should revolve around making these basic movement patterns better. That’s it, end of story? There are many aspects that can go into a functional movement program such as heavy strength training, metabolic acceleration work, core stability, and much more. But the program’s components should always point back to restoring and training the function of these patterns.

Pairing Functional Movements

When programming a strength-training workout, to train or restore function in movement, I like to pair movements together. This will add to the training effect and save you time as well. There are a number of ways to pair these basic movements together. Keep in mind two things when pairing up movement: the kinetic chains being trained, and the residual fatigue of staying on one side (or chain) of the body. Simply put, don’t pair movements that occur on the same side of the body.

Here are some of my favorites:kettlebell

  • Kettlebell Swing (Posterior Chain/Hinge) and Push-up (Anterior Chain/Push)
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat (Anterior Chain/Squat) and TRX Row (Posterior Chain/Pull)
  • Box Step-up (Anterior Chain/Single Leg Balance) and Mountain Climbers (Rotary/Core Stability)
  • Chin-up (Posterior Chain/Pull) and Reverse Lunge (Anterior Chain/Lunge)

If you were to complete these movements I listed for 10 reps each and for 3 sets with moderate to heavy weight (while keeping proper movement mechanics), you would have yourself a well- founded functional training workout. If you forget everything I have told you, just remember this:

Do something for the legs, do one push, one pull, and a core exercise!

So there you have it, the dirty on functional training. Please keep in mind that I have only scratched the surface of this topic. I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing how you are currently moving so you can have the best plan of attack in your training.

Schedule a Functional Movement Screen with us today and know the metrics that matter.

Tony Maloney is NIFS’ Fitness Center Manager and leads Group Training Sunday through Thursday. Follow Tony on Facebook.

Topics: NIFS fitness center workouts functional training injury prevention muscles kettlebell TRX

“Alice & Chains” Part 1: What Is Functional Training?

My mission today is to save Alice from the Wonderland of what some refer to as functional training. I will attempt to rescue dear Alice (aka you all) with the use of chains—kinetic chains, that is. First, I would like to define a few buzzwords to clear the fog that settles in this functional wonderland.kinetic chains

Functional What?

I am sure that most of you have heard the term “functional training.” If you have not, you may still have a poster of Lee Haney hanging in your locker and you are counting the seconds until your next “chest day.” I will be the first to admit that I was that guy. At the time, that is what we knew, but we now know a better way of doing things—a safer, more “functional” way.

But we do not want to throw the baby out with the bath water here. We still see a lot of theory and practice from that time in the evolution of fitness. Unfortunately, if you asked five different people (fitness pros and gym goers alike) you would get five different answers of what functional training really is. If we were to dissect the term, and I think we should, the simplest and most accurate definition of functional training is to train or restore function in movement. There are many ways to go about training or restoring function. We are going to
focus on the concept of using kinetic chains to do so.

Kinetic Chains

Kinetic chain is another term that needs defining. Let’s dissect this term, shall we?

(Kinetic = Movement) + (Chain = Linkage) = Linking movements to perform a pattern.

Human movement can be broken down into some basic patterns (a concept that will require a lot of time devoted to in a future piece), and these patterns are linked together in some way. This is a good thing because if you restore function to one pattern, you could be improving an aspect of another pattern.

We look at the body as having two main kinetic chains: anterior (front side of the body) and posterior (back side of the body). These chains will cross, giving birth to another buzz term: the “X Factor.” So when we focus on training these chains of movement, we will arrive at a more functional operating system. Simply put, train the chains and the body moves better and longer.

What Functional Training Is Not

If we keep the main idea of what functional training is at the forefront, to restore function, here are a few things I would not consider to be a part of a functional training program, just to name a few:

  • Single joint, isolated movements such as a bicep curl
  • Targeting a single plane of motion; standing, lying, moving in one direction
  • Focusing on one area of the body a time per training session, as referenced earlier (“Chest Day”)
  • Balancing on three different objects and performing a kettlebell swing
  • Doing barbell squat presses until you hit the ground; some believe this is “functional”

Scratching the Surface

Using the concept of kinetic chains, I have been able to give Alice (you) a sense of direction to navigate through the Functional Wonderland. But I have only scratched the surface. Keep your eyes open for Chapter 2 of our story in a future post, where we will tackle movement patterns and how to train them.

Don’t know how you are moving? Schedule a Functional Movement Screen with us today and start getting the most out of your training.

Free Fitness Assessment

Tony Maloney is NIFS’ Fitness Center Manager and leads Group Training Sunday through Thursday. Follow Tony on Facebook. Read more about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS fitness center workouts functional training injury prevention muscles

NIFS SLIM IT TO WIN IT: Team Tank the Plankers!

Another year of Slim-It to Win It and team “Tank the Plankers” are holding strong! Five of the biggest highlights for the team are the following:steph-team-pic

  • Over half of the team has 100 percent attendance.
  • Everyone can hold a plank for at least 45 seconds.
  • Everyone has completed their food logs and made adjustments according to Angie’s feedback.
  • Everyone has completed their Functional Movement Screen and started completing their correctives.
  • Everyone has a great attitude every day.

Along with all of these great things, the team has completed  a wide variety of workouts successfully. One workout that was recently completed was the Partner 100 workout using the  TRX. The workout runs as follows. One partner completes one lap around the indoor track while  the other counts up to 100 reps of the exercise before proceeding to the next one. The exercises completed are listed here:

  • 100 TRX Chest PressSlim-It-logo2
  • 100 TRX 2-count Mountain Climbers
  • 100 TRX Rows
  • 100 TRX Squats

Although it was a very challenging workout both mentally and physically, everyone conquered it and even had a little energy left at the end to finish up with a sled push relay on the sprint lanes!

I will be sad once the program concludes because I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work with this fun and hardworking group twice a week, but I also cannot wait to see how much progress they have made with all of their health and fitness goals going into this program.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, PLANKERS!

Training with a group is a proven strategy for sticking with a workout routine and is more economical than one-on-one training. If you are interested in trying a small group or large group training session contact Tony Maloney today to get started!

This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, NIFS Heath Fitness Instructor. Learn more about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: nutrition group fitness group training nifs staff functional training NIFS programs Slim It to Win It TRX

The Injury Hurdle: Progressing Through Injuries

If you are a physically active individual, and I hope you are, at some point you will probably have to deal with an injury. Sprains, strains, pulls and “itis” of any kind at some point is a cost of doing business in fitness and performance. But does it mean that you have to put all progress on hold during the healing process? I believe that injury is not synonymous with inability. Let me explain.

Consult a Doctor for Exercise Injuries with Painexercise injury

First and foremost, I am not advocating disregarding any recommendations from your physician. If you feel pain in any movement, which can be discovered in a quick and easy Functional Movement Screen; or maybe you have suffered some kind of acute trauma; you should absolutely consult a doctor about that pain and follow the directions of that health professional. After you have taken those important steps, it’s time to evaluate what you are still capable of performing and put a plan in action that can keep you on track to health and physical fitness. In my personal experience and working with individuals for over a decade, there are ways to continue to progress while you are injured.

Depending on the type of injury (the body part, classification, and severity), you can focus on other aspects of your fitness that will not affect the rehabilitation of the injury.

Injury Scenarios and How to Keep Working Out

Here is a list of common injury scenarios and some tips to continue to get work done. Again, these are all dependent on the type and severity of the injury, and physician recommendations should be followed at all times.

 Type/Body Part

 Alternative Focus

 Exercise Examples

 Upper body (arms, shoulders, 
 chest)

 Lower body, core stability and 
 strength, asymmetrical work,
 cardio

 Body weight squat variations, 
 active leg raises, cycling

 Lower body (legs, hips, ankles)

 Upper body, core stability and
 strength, asymmetrical work,
 low-impact cardio

 Seated/lying dumbbell pressing
 or pulling exercises, arm cycle
 ergometer, rope machine, lying
 core activation

 Back (lumbar, T-spine,
 cervical)

 Hip mobility, shoulder mobility,
 core stability

 Foam rolling, hip stretches,
 planks, loaded carries

 Skeletal (bones)

 Low-impact movements,
 mobility and stability work

 Cycling, rope machine, cycle
 ergometer, Lying core stability

 Soft tissue (muscle, fascia,
 ligaments, tendons)

 Mobility and stability work

 Foam rolling, lacrosse ball
 T-spine mobility, band 
 hamstring stretch

The bottom line is simply that progress does not need to stop due to an injury and that you can focus your attention on parts of the body that are not affected by the injury. Keep it simple: if your arm is injured, focus on the lower body, and perform mainly primal exercises such as squats, lunges, and hinges. I remind you to follow the recommendations of your physician, and at the same time, seek out the advice of your fitness professional here at NIFS to help guide you through an injury.

Tony Maloney is the Fitness Center Manager and leads Group Training Sunday through Thursday. Follow Tony on Facebook. Learn more about the NIFS bloggers.

 

Topics: fitness center workouts functional training injuries pain

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) at NIFS

Over the last several weeks a lot of you may have gottenFMS logo
a small taste of our new movement screen. The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) will be our new way to assess movement-pattern quality. Movement training is somewhat new and looks at fundamental movements and motor control rather than isolated joint movements. Its purpose is to find dysfunctions so that they can be rectified and your chance for injury decreases.

The FMS Movement Tests

The FMS is made up of seven movement tests that can be divided into three sections. There are two tests that measure mobility, two tests that measure stability, and three tests that measure function. All of these tests coincide with each other so that we don’t miss anything. If you can FMS screeningmove pretty well at one test, it will eventually find a restriction or asymmetry/imbalance at some point if you have any. Our job is to identify any weaknesses, limitations, imbalances, or asymmetries so that we can immediately prescribe you a corrective strategy to reduce your chance for injury and increase fitness results.

Increasing Fitness Results and Reducing Injuries

As a staff, we are always looking for ways to improve our members’ safety and training, and our effectiveness to get results. Having a reliable way to assess movement allows us to program specifically for your needs and really zero in on what you need to achieve the best results. One of the reasons people hit plateaus is because their movement restricts how much they are able to do. So the FMS helps build a functional platform so that you can first move well and then move often. Essentially, if you try and move often first before you move well, your chance for injury goes up and your chances of seeing major results go down.

Scoring the Functional Movement Screen

Each test is graded from 0 to 3. A 0 indicates that there is pain during that specific movement. A score of 1 indicates that there is a dysfunction and the chance of injury greatly increases. A score of 2 is acceptable, and a 3 is considered optimal movement. A scoring system helps know whether the program we are prescribing is working and shows you specific results. The bottom line is if you are moving better, the chances of you getting injured are going down and your ability to get results is going up.

Modifying Training Based on FMS Scores

Lastly, if there is a dysfunction present, it is our job to put you in the best possible position to succeed and to stay injury free. This means that we will modify your training to correct your dysfunction as quickly as possible so that you can get back to the things that you are used to doing, but doing them more efficiently. If you are tired of not seeing results, the path that you continually take isn’t working.

Let us help you by taking you through the FMS, taking a step back from your misguided approach, and working on the small things that will help you achieve big results. Learn more about the FMS at NIFS, and sign up today!

This blog was written by Josh Jones, MS, CSCS, USAW, FMS. Meet our NIFS bloggers.

Topics: fitness center functional training shoulders NIFS programs injury prevention muscles range of motion

NIFS Staff Completes Summer Showdown

You know (and love) your NIFS staff members. We greet you when you first walk into the facility, we guide you through your workouts, we correct your technique, and we push you to your limit. We are always there during your workout, but I bet that many of you wonder when we work out. You probably wonder if we ever push ourselves with the same crazy exercises that we put you through.
NIFS staff summer showdown workout

Well, there is no longer any need for you to wonder.

The NIFS staff completed the 2013 Summer Showdown: Partner 100s workout, and boy was it a sight to see!

A group of NIFS staff representing the Fitness Center, Membership, Group Fitness, and even the interns got together and partnered up for this summer workout challenge.

It was hard work, and although we were sweaty and tired once it was all over, we truly enjoyed the challenge.

Now you know that when we are telling you to push harder, squat deeper, or do just one more rep…we have been there. We know it’s hard work, but we also know that you can do it!NIFS workout

Have fun these next six weeks working to improve your Summer Showdown time. We will be right there with you every step of the way!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

 

Topics: NIFS fitness group training functional training NIFS programs challenge Summer Showdown

HIT (High Intensity Training) at NIFS

HIT, or High Intensity Training, is a fitness buzzword right now, and it leaves a lot of us wondering exactly what HIT is and what all the hype is about.

HIT WOD

By definition, High Intensity Training is a workout characterized by the increased level of effort put into relatively short bursts of energy rather than “typical” training methods that focus on lower intensity levels and longer workout periods. The hype around these workouts comes with the side effects of increased fat loss and increased muscle definition in a shorter period of time. The Journal of Applied Physiology showed that women completing these high-intensity workouts will burn more fat than those completing moderate to low-intensity steady-state workouts.

To summarize, HIT classes are high intensity, high energy, fast, and fun! The name may sound intimidating, but the great thing about HIT workouts is that the intensity is all relative to the person completing the workout.

describe the image

What Is a HIT Workout Like?

Workouts focus on strengthening the entire body, making participants stronger and better prepared for everyday life experiences. People of all shapes, sizes, and ages at a moderate to intermediate fitness level attend these classes to be pushed to the next level. During these intense workout sessions, the class forms a sense of camaraderie, which allows participants to push each other to the finish.

 

Upon arriving at class, you will see the scheduled WOD or Workout of the Day posted on the whiteboard, including many pieces of functional training equipment that you may not typically use when working out on your own.

There is no need to feel intimidated if this is your first class. The instructors understand that people of all experience levels are joining in on the hard work. The instructors will thoroughly explain each exercise and how to use any accompanying equipment and will be available for assistance throughout the entire 60-minute session.

HIT workouts are always changing and the instructors will provide you with everything that you need. All you need to bring is yourself, a water bottle, a towel, and some determination.

describe the image

Watch the video to see a HIT class in action!

NIFS Offers HIT Classes

NIFS offers free intro HIT classes on the first Tuesday of each month and the last Wednesday of each month from 6 to 7pm. Make sure to join Adam, Crystal, Stephanie, Josh, and Kris for HIT. Class times are listed on the HIT schedule.

For a great deal on HIT classes see our Groupon offer while it lasts!

Written by Tara Deal, NIFS Membership Manager, Group Fitness Instructor, and author of Treble in the Kitchen.

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness cardio group fitness functional training HIT