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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

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

High Intensity Training (HIT): No Pain, No Gain

HIT-6.jpgIf you have ever participated in High Intensity Training (HIT), you will quickly discover what separates this style of workout from other popular styles you may know, like super sets or pyramid training. The main intention behind high intensity training workouts is that the workout will challenge your body to such a level of discomfort that its threshold or maximum capacity has no choice but to rise. Now don’t let the word “such a level of discomfort” scare you away; it’s the discomfort level that we all feel during exercise at some point, and of course you can push past it.

The Importance of Pushing Past the Pain

During resistance training, you will at some point begin to experience a level of discomfort. This happens because lactic acid begins to be produced by muscles during intense exercise bouts, which causes muscle fatigue. Although lactic acid may slow down muscle productivity and intensity, it does not mean you have reached muscle failure and are unable to continue. Quite honestly, this means your set is just now starting (if you want to bring down barriers and advance to the next level). Most individuals get to this point of discomfort and stop their set. However, if you stop here, you are more than likely not pushing your body past its threshold point, which is important in order to increase muscle strength, endurance, and even hypertrophy (muscle building).

Specifically, in high intensity style training, most often you will reach that lactate threshold and then be pushed beyond that. Just when you think that your body can go on no longer, you dig deep within yourself and the encouragement of your teammates and find that new level. And this is why we see so many success stories in people who attend HIT workouts. They push beyond what their bodies thought they could do, past the threshold, resulting in an increase in muscle strength and endurance.

hit-high-res-logo-web-new.jpgHow NIFS Can Help

If you need help discovering what those new levels are, and some accountability to keep pushing, then I invite you to try NIFS’s High Intensity Training. Our classes are designed to motivate you to push past the limits you think are there by utilizing short bouts of high intensity work, which will increase your body’s thresholds, causing an increase of metabolism. We use our training expertise to provide the necessary motivation to close the gap between you and your body’s threshold. Once you reach this threshold, we will teach you how to tap into that next level to take your workouts to the next step on the ladder of success!

We invite you to come experience a good workout, a good team feeling, and a good environment where each participant has the same goal: to get better! Get your first session for FREE by contacting Amanda Bireline at abireline@nifs.org.

Yes! I want to try a HIT class!

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

Topics: NIFS group training accountability muscles resistance strength HIT pain high intensity muscle building

The First Rule of NIFS Barbell Club: Talk About Barbell Club

Today marks the beginning of our Barbell Club here at NIFS. This is a free Olympic and Powerlifting program for anyone who is looking to:

  • barbell.jpgImprove performance of one or multiple lifts
  • Improve technique
  • Learn the basics about the lifts
  • Do all of the above
You may have years of experience with these different types of lifts, or you may never have attempted or thought about attempting them in your life. Regardless, everyone can benefit from what the program has to offer. As NIFS coaches, we have great experience coaching these movements in safe and effective ways that take you through the progressions. The importance of this is paramount due to the fact that the ballistic nature of many of the movements requires injury prevention. When you think about weightlifting in terms of a food chain, Olympic and Powerlifting are the king of the jungle.

What Movements Will You Learn?

Here are the movements that may be coached during your session:

  • IMG_7315.jpgClean (Hang or Power)
  • Clean and Jerk
  • Snatch
  • Deadlift
  • Squat
  • Bench Press
How Can Barbell Club Help You?

As one of the coaches of the NIFS Barbell Club, my plan is to help out with any individual questions that members may have. If you’ve been around these lifts in the past, you know that there are many details that go into making the movement safe and successful. One of my favorite tools to use is slow-motion video. Many people have done these lifts for years and have never seen themselves do it on video. This can give you an idea of your bar path as well as visual cues with posture (head/foot position, and spine angle).

Another tool that can help you achieve your goals will be advice in programming. You may have been working on a lift for months and have made steady progress but have recently plateaued. Where do you go from there? After ensuring that your technique looks sound, my next goal would be to give you a few ideas on other lifts that you can perform to improve the main lift. For instance, you want to improve your snatch and have failed for the past 2 weeks at 93kg. Instead of continuously failing at 93, how about adding a few sets of “snatch pulls” at that trouble weight or even higher? This will help your body start to adapt to handling that amount of weight.

Can New Powerlifters Join?

But what if you have never attempted to do any Olympic or Powerlifting movement? Are you still allowed to attend? Absolutely! Beginners are my favorite individuals to instruct in these techniques because they have no preconceived notion of what the lift is supposed to be. We will help you learn the basics of the movement and let the session lead to wherever it may. As a beginner, the goal is not to be doing a full snatch or clean and jerk on day 1. More than likely, you will not be able to absorb enough knowledge within that one-hour session to do that. Instead, our goal is to build the foundational movement pattern that will allow you to excel in future training sessions.

No matter your experience level, come give Barbell Club a shot. Did I mention that IT’S FREE? You have nothing to lose and a wealth of knowledge to gain!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, CSCS; NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: NIFS group training NIFS programs injury prevention weightlifting safety personal training powerlifting

Five Powerlifting Pieces to the Power Clean Puzzle

The NIFS Barbell Club is slated to start in the coming week. This will be a chance for members to learn about individual Olympic and powerlifting movements that they have experience with or may be trying for the first time. Olympic (Oly, ah-LEE) and powerlifting have become increasingly popular over recent years and will continue to grow, considering their application to functional training and athletic movement.

deadlift-2new.jpgYou may already be preparing to attend barbell club or could already be an active participant in LIFT, our small group training setting for Olympic and powerlifting. But if the group setting is not for you, I’m going to give you a solid progression that will allow you to develop a strong power clean with proper technique. The following movements can be a starting point for beginners or experienced lifters looking to get a fresh perspective on their current programs.

When I venture into any Olympic or powerlifting movements with a client or athlete, the most important factor is that their body be able to perform the movement that I am asking them to do. I get a good idea of this by using the Functional Movement Screening (FMS) and a few lower-intensity exercises (kettlebell swing, goblet squat, ground-based plyometrics, etc.) that utilize similar movement patterns to those that the Oly or powerlifts entail. If an individual is not able to perform these movements correctly or their FMS score contraindicates their participation in them, I would focus on other areas in order to better prepare that individual for these lifts. Once I believe someone is fully capable of performing the lifts (in this case with regard to the power clean progression), I could start them on the progression.

1. The Deadlift 

The first (and arguably most important, in my opinion) step in this progression would be to teach proper hip-hinge technique for a deadlift. This is the foundation of the majority of the Oly movements and needs to be perfected in order to reach the fullest potential in subsequent lifts. Learning this movement could take as little as a couple weeks, but will likely take more like 4 to 6 weeks depending on your current abilities. Take your time; it will be worth it!

Points of Emphasis:

  1. Keep your back flat.
  2. Keep the bar close to your body.
  3. Use a Hook or Pronated grip (which has a better translation to Olympic movements).
  4. Start by pulling slowly from the ground; velocity will be added later.
Recommended training time frame: 4 to 6 weeks (depending on ability level)

2. The Power Shrug

Once you have perfected the deadlift, you can implement the next movement. From the deadlift position, I usually transition to a power shrug. The power shrug is just what it sounds like, a shrug with more speed than normal. The power shrug allows for the client or athlete to feel what it is like to achieve triple extension after the deadlift. It begins with a deadlift to an RDL position (with the bar at or just below the knees). Once the RDL position is achieved, the hips are driven through to generate the upward momentum to the bar. The client simultaneously shrugs his or her shoulders toward their ears to finish the movement.

Steps to Achieve:

  1. Start with a deadlift to the RDL position.
  2. Once the RDL position is met, drive the hips through.
  3. Finish with shoulders shrugged toward the ears and on the tiptoes.
Recommended training time frame: 3 to 4 weeks

3.The Hang Pull

The next step in my progression would be to go into a hang pull. This movement is more of a “top-down” movement versus a “bottoms-up” movement when compared to the deadlift and the power shrug. The deadlift and power shrug start from the ground and move upward from there. In contrast, the hang pull starts from a standing straight up position. The ultimate goal for all of the movements will be to get to the powerful RDL position. The hang pull involves lowering the bar to the knees and then driving the hips through to generate an explosive upright rowing motion. You may integrate the shrug that you have learned in progression #2 in order to produce more of that upward drive. The movement finishes with the client coming down from their toes after the pulling motion.

Steps to Achieve:

  1. Stand up straight.
  2. Lower the bar down the legs in a hip-hinge motion.
  3. Once RDL is achieved, drive the hips through, shrug, and row.
  4. Finish on tiptoes.
Recommended training time frame: 2 to 3 weeks

4. The Hang Clean

Now the fun begins. Through the first three steps you’ve learned to properly hip hinge and how to achieve triple extension through the hips, knees, and ankles. You’ve learned to shrug and pull from steps 2 and 3. If done properly, step 4 (the Hang Clean) should be a piece of cake. The hang clean builds off of the hang pull by adding the firing of the elbows under and through the bar to achieve a front rack position with the barbell positioned across the shoulders. If you have been diligent through steps 1 to 3, this should not be an issue. The biggest problem I see with individuals in this stage would be a lack of mobility through the wrists, triceps, and shoulders. Timing is everything with these lifts, so once you know you are doing them correctly, practice, practice, practice. The less your mind has to think about any part of this movement, the more success you will see.

Steps to Achieve:

  1. Perform steps 1 to 4 for the Hang Pull.
  2. Slightly sink the hips.
  3. Pull and fire the elbows under the bar.
  4. Finish with the bar racked across the shoulders.
Recommended training time frame: 4 to 6 weeks

5. The Power Clean

You have made it this far; it’s time to seal the deal! The final progression for the power clean would be, well, the power clean. During this progression, your job will be to assemble all of the pieces of the power clean puzzle from steps 1 to 5. This movement will start with the deadlift to the RDL position, continue with a big shrug and pull, fire the elbows, and sink beneath the bar. It is essentially step #4, but we are pulling from the floor.

Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. This will introduce a whole separate challenge with regard to timing, but as always, your timing will get better with practice. Once you feel comfortable pulling from the ground and catching the bar in the upright/hips loaded position, catching into a front squat will be next (but you should perfect this first).

Steps to Achieve:

  1. Deadlift to RDL position.
  2. Drive hips through.
  3. Shrug shoulders and pull upward: get triple extension!
  4. Sink and fire elbows beneath the bar.
  5. Catch and rack the bar across the shoulders.
Recommended training time frame: 4 to 6 weeks

***

Olympic and powerlifting movements are definitely the king of the fitness world jungle. They should be done with extreme attention to detail due to the high velocities of the bars (Oly lifting) and extreme weights being used (powerlifting). That doesn’t mean you need to be a fitness expert to perform them; just learn how to do them correctly. Although these pieces to the power clean puzzle lead you in the right direction, it is always beneficial to have another set of eyes on you to make sure that everything is in working order. Realize that it takes a while for your body to adapt and grasp these movement concepts, especially if you are new to this type of lifting. Remember, be patient and a stickler on details; it will pay off in the long run!

***

NIFS New Barbell Club is a FREE lifting club open to all members! Learn safe and effective weightlifting techniques and have fun lifting in a club atmosphere! For times and dates click here.

This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

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Topics: NIFS group training weight lifting powerlifting functional movement

NIFS Crucial Conversations: I Took My Life Back (Part 2)

What does it take for someone to make the critical changes in their life to regain control and live the life they have always wanted to live? This is one question Katie and I tackle in part 2 of Katie’s journey to health, wellness, and happiness.

Katie_After_3.jpgWhen I last left you in part 1, we learned a great deal about where Katie has been, her struggles, her mindset, and her life just a few short years ago. Katie painted a pretty good picture of what she was dealing with every day. Now let’s see what Katie did about it! Let’s learn about what it takes to take a life back.

Conversation with Katie, Part 2

“Among the hundred small changes you have to make, it adds up to Big Change.”

Tony: When was the moment you knew something was different and there was a transformation happening?

Katie: Probably about six months into working with my GT group was when the change became real to me—the “a-ha” moment. I had quit my job and found one that was a much better fit with my personal and professional goals. Once I had the structure and support of group training, I was making better choices for myself in all aspects of my life—nutrition, habits, activities, exercise. I was getting positive reinforcement weekly from my coach and group. I could see it and feel it. Somewhere in there, among the hundred small changes you have to make, it adds up to Big Change, and I realized that’s where it happens.

Tony: What were some of the things that made the biggest impact in your change process?

Katie: Looking back now, I see several things in the GT program that made a major impact for me:

  • Katie_After_2.jpgThe work we do helped me understand that change is incremental. For me, the biggest change was realizing I had to make changes in my habits, and change is something you have to chip away at every. Single. Day. Knowing that there will be setbacks, and things won’t happen overnight. And that’s why I don’t set New Year’s resolutions. Sure, I set short- and long-term goals with my coach and myself, but I don’t set one giant resolution on January 1. Every day is a resolution.
  • Accountability and support in the group is HUGE for me. HUGE. One of my GT pals calls us her “gym family.” It might sound dorky, but it’s true. We listen. We support. We encourage. We build each other up. We help each other when things are tough. We are there to support each other when we need a hand. We are a team. And while no one in group is food-policing me, I am in-my-head accountable to my team and coach.
  • The overall Group Training program at NIFS and all it offers is unique. I am not aware of any program like this at any other gym. GT provides you with a structure, a framework, ongoing personal attention to structure a program that helps achieve your specific goals, guidance, and a group of like-minded people to support you.
  • Coach Tony gave me the help I needed with behavior change. The GT program allows me the personalized time with Tony to dig into my behaviors, and figure out what I need to do to change to more positive behaviors. I needed to learn how to deal with hard things and be successful at doing that so I could apply those in life. Coach Tony is an expert on movement, but he fundamentally understands the behavior element that is so important for fitness professionals working with clients—this is about not just showing up to work out a few times a week. It’s about, as he always says, “getting right in the head”—healthy body and healthy mind. And he told me this on day one after a depressing BOD POD®—that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Exercise is not a punishment. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, and with the personal attention I get from my NIFS coaches, I was able to figure out what I did need. They know to push me when I need it.
  • I needed accountability without being nagged. I’ve always loved being part of a team. So I needed a group of people that I knew could support me when I was having to make tough decisions about letting other things go in my life. I needed people who would cheer for me whether or not I could do something, to rebuild my confidence. I needed a group of people to make working out fun and make me laugh! Who looks forward to going to the gym? I do. Why? My GT friends.
  • This is what I call a “whole-person” approach to fitness. GT does not bring people in and put us through crazy hour-long workouts five days a week. Yes they are hard, but functional movement, foam rolling, and correctives are as important as progressing on a bench press or doing 50 burpees. We have access to the kind of expertise with the NIFS trainers, Functional Movement Screens, and other tools to keep us healthy.

“Every day is a resolution.”

Tony: What are some of your biggest accomplishments since deciding to make a change? Brag for me a little!

Katie: It’s difficult for me to think about the scared person I was who entered my first GT session nearly three years ago. I was intimidated—but not for long. I only had to spend a few minutes with the trainers and group to feel welcome and know I would be encouraged, even though I couldn’t run a mile then, or hold a plank from my feet. Since starting GT I have:

Katie_After_1.jpgKatie_Before_4.jpg

  • I lost more than 60 pounds (more than 100 since I started my journey)*.
  • Resolved my back-pain issues—where traditional medicine and even PT to a degree failed after my herniated discs, GT did what I needed from a movement, strength, and weight-loss standpoint to really bring this debilitating problem to a resolution*.
  • Climbed a mountain.
  • Continue to make forward progress on my FM screening.
  • Finished two Tough Mudders (both with fellow GTers) and ridden the Hilly Hundred twice.
  • Conquered fears—I had and still have a little bit of a jumping fear, but my vertical and broad jumps continue to get better. There were so many movements I was unable to do three years ago. When I do them now, my GT teammates and Coach Tony recognize this and cheer me on.
  • I’m stronger! I continue to be able to lift heavier weight on bench press and leg press.
  • Conquered my fear of running by doing the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program.
  • Built and installed a flagstone patio on my own last summer. I hauled more than 3 tons of rocks. I had some help moving them, but did most of it on my own. It’s not about the patio—it’s about having the confidence and ability to do it! 

Tony: How is your life different now?

Katie: I am 41 but I feel better than I ever have mentally and physically. Physically, I have energy! My metabolic issues are no longer issues. My asthma is better. A recent doctor’s visit revealed excellent blood pressure, my LDL cholesterol is 47 and HDL is 87, and my resting heart rate is around 45 to 48*. I sleep well. I have the energy to live a full life—I’ve always had a full life, but before I was in survival mode. Now I have the energy to live my full life! To not just get through each day, but live each day—and do things I had always wanted to do but lacked the confidence or physical ability to do them. I get up everyday and practice self care, because that makes me a better friend, sister, dog mom, employee, and general citizen of the world. I feel like a fog has lifted and I live every day with intent. I had some significant losses in 2014, including the passing of my mother, and I had the tools and mental toughness to cope with them while maintaining my healthy habits. Finally, I have confidence. I am so grateful for all the support I get from Tony, Mike, and my fellow GTers.

***

I am so very proud of Katie for the success she has worked so hard for, and applaud her willingness to share her story in hopes of creating change in others who may be as lost as she once was. Inspiration is Katie’s middle name, and she takes her role as a “fitness ambassador” very seriously and is a leader of the Small Group Training groups she speaks so highly about. No matter the circumstances, change is possible, and you never have to do it alone.

*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

***

GT-logo-revised.jpgInterested in trying Small Group Training? Contact Tony today to attend a free session!

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: goal setting resolutions group training functional training BODPOD obesity

Crucial Conversations: Working with a Coach or Personal Trainer

buffy5years.jpgI recently received a lesson on the origin and true meaning of the word coach. A coach can be defined as something that takes you somewhere, such as a stage coach or coach seat on an airliner. But a COACH is someone who takes you where you want to go. One of the many powers of a coach is the ability to make memories and lessons that stick with you forever, that take you places every day. I have been coached for the majority of my life before ultimately becoming one because knowing the effect these special people had on me, I wanted to be that for someone else.

But that’s me, that’s the way I am wired. But I wanted to find out from people like you why a COACH is so important. I had a great conversation with longtime NIFS member Buffy Linville and I posed the question: Why did you want to work with a coach? She had plenty so say, and I am honored and excited to share her thoughts with you.

Why did you want to work with a coach, Buffy? 

My own experience with a personal trainer came after many years of unsuccessfully trying to lose weight. I finally accepted the fact that I didn’t know how to do it on my own. With great apprehension, I approached a coach at my gym and inquired about personal training. I had to fight off the desire to “get in better shape” first (kind of the same mindset that tells you to clean your house before the housekeeper comes)! For some reason, we’re embarrassed to admit that we need help. That’s sad. In the beginning, it was scary. I didn’t know what to expect and I was afraid of looking foolish. I had never been an athlete or done sports of any kind, so I didn’t know what it felt like to challenge my body—to feel fatigue in my muscles or get my heart rate up. But I also didn’t know what it felt like to feel strong or to be able to run, jump, or climb. I didn’t know what good movement was, or how good it felt to conquer mental and physical challenges*.

“I had to fight off the desire to ‘get in better shape’ first (kind of the same mindset that tells you to clean your house before the housekeeper comes)! For some reason, we’re embarrassed to admit that we need help.

Fast-forward 6+ years… After several years of personal training and group training to various degrees and with various coaches, and after a sprint triathlon, two bodybuilding shows, and three powerlifting meets, I myself am now a personal trainer—a personal trainer who still seeks out personal training and coaching. This is partly because I want to keep learning from people who know more than I do, but also because in spite of all the knowledge I have about how to train and eat well and recover, I still need help. And I still fight the embarrassment of not being where I think I need to be fitness-wise. But this is why a coach is so important—you quickly find out that you’re not the only one. Everyone ebbs and flows in their journey to become better (be it with fitness, career, finances…coaching is valuable in any walk of life that’s important to you).

“Having someone help you establish realistic goals, create a plan, and then push, encourage, and support you along the way makes all the difference whether you’re brand new or a seasoned veteran.”

What are your major reasons to work with a coach?

  • Time and energy: Let someone else make the game plan. All you have to do is show up.
  • Expertise: No matter how much you know, someone else will know, if not more, at least something different than you know.
  • Education: It’s a professional’s job to stay current and always be learning. If you hire a reputable coach, you will likely always be learning something new—new exercises or a new/better way of doing something.
  • Accountability: You may already know what to do, but it’s easy to let things slide when there’s no consequence, no accountability. If someone is paying attention to and following up with you on your progress, you’re more likely to stay on track.
  • Assessments: A professional can take regular quality assessments to determine your progress and help you establish new goals.
  • Motivation: In addition to accountability, a coach will be your number-1 cheerleader. They know how hard you’re working and will celebrate your successes with you and encourage you through rough patches.
  • Efficiency: More than likely, you will work harder with a coach than you will on your own, which will help you achieve your goals faster.
    *Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

***

I would not be where I am today if not for the coaches in my life, or people like Buffy who have coached me just as much as I have coached her. Working with someone who can get the most out of you, even when you think there is nothing left, is a powerful relationship. Find a COACH, and watch them take you somewhere.

GT-logo-revised.jpgInterested in trying Small Group Training? Contact Tony today to attend a free session!

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 motivation group training accountability personal training Crucial Conversations coaching

Interview: NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program Leader Andrea Kelley

mini-blog.jpgAs we approach NIFS 26th Annual Mini-Marathon & 5K Training Program, I wanted to take some time to interview Andrea Kelley. Andrea is a past Mini program participant and has since been involved in some of our other programs here at NIFS, as well as becoming a group leader for us. Sit back and enjoy reading about what this program can do for you.

What made you decide to join the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program?

When I first signed up for the program, I was new to running and wanted to push myself. I figured the Indianapolis Mini would be a good start, but I didn’t have a clue how to train. I found out about the NIFS training program and it made my goal feel so attainable, even for a newbie like me. This year I will complete my fourth Mini-Marathon and my eighth half marathon.

What benefits did you get through training with your group at NIFS?

I think the number-one benefit for me with training in a group is accountability. When my group is expecting me to show up, I am much less likely to listen to that little voice in my head that wants to skip the run. Also, I think group running provides the motivation to keep going, as well as an opportunity to learn from others who have been there before you. You’ll never meet a runner unwilling to give advice.

What was your favorite part about being in the training program here?

The social factor! I’ve made so many friends through the NIFS training program and running in general. The post-run snacks are pretty good, too.

What did you learn about yourself through running?

Running has provided me so many virtues, but one of the biggest I’ve learned is that I can’t reach the finish line unless I start. The idea of training for a half marathon for the first time was intimidating, but I would have never known what I was capable of if I didn’t give it a shot.

What has motivated you to continue running and sign up for more races?

The feeling of accomplishment I get from crossing those finish lines is unlike anything else I’ve ever felt. It’s so addicting. Also, I’m a competitive person, so if I beat my time from the last race, even better.

What made you decide that you wanted to become a group leader for the NIFS Mini Training Program?

I remember learning so much and being so motivated by my group leader (Angie Fiege) when I first participated in the program, and I wanted to hopefully do the same for someone else. I love being able to cheer on the program participants as well as motivate them when they’ve had a hard run. I’m looking forward to my second year as a group leader and can’t wait to meet my pace group!

***

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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: motivation running group training mini marathon half marathon accountability NIFS programs

Tasha: Kettlebell Novice to Champion in Less Than a Year

I first met Tasha three years ago when I started working at NIFS. At that time, she was working full time and was in charge of group fitness. Besides the administrative duties of scheduling classes and riding herd over all of the independent instructors, which included getting them paid, she also taught several classes throughout the week. She was in early and always seemed busy.

When I started the Kettlebell Classes Monday to Wednesday at noon, several of our trainers and staff would drop by and take a group training class whenever their schedules would allow. As time went by, Tasha was one who showed up more often. She seemed to really like the Kettlebell and the demanding workouts. 

Getting Competitive

About a year ago, the subject of competing with Kettlebells came up after a class, and I suggested that Tasha go to the Ice Chamber Kettlebell Girls website and check out the videos of the girls lifting and read about their journey into Kettlebell Competition.

I studied for several years with 10-time Kettlebell World Champion and Honored Master of Sport Valery Fedorenko. I was certified by Valery as a Kettlebell Competition Coach and was also named Master Trainer in 2012. The Ice Chamber Girls also studied under Valery, so I knew their technical skills were solid and would be a great example for Tasha to watch. 

A few days later, Tasha came up to me and said, “I want to do that!”

Tasha’s Rapid Rise

Her journey into serious Kettlebell Competition Lifting began at that moment, and neither one of us knew how it was going to unfold, but here is what we know thus far.

Tasha began training for Kettlebell Competition less than a year ago along with Catherine Kostyn (a longtime NIFS member) and a gentleman by the name of Neal Baker (who would be shocked that I placed “gentleman” and his name in the same sentence). Tasha’s progress was amazing. She was truly a natural for the sport, but how far and how fast she would go was yet to be revealed.

All three competed in their first competition in Louisville at a club that my longtime friend Dave Randolph owned. He and I were among the first Kettlebell instructors in the country. We were in the same RKC class in 2002, so we go a long way back. We put together this meet for some of his members and my three athletes so they could get some experience on the Kettlebell lifting platform. Tasha won her class and was the most outstanding lifter in the meet. There were no awards, just a community of Kettlebell enthusiasts getting together and having a good time.

Tasha competed several weeks after that in a IKFF Midwest Regional meet. Once again, she won her weight class, and I consider her performance to be the most outstanding of the competition.

The AKA National Championships took place in early August outside Chicago. Tasha won her bodyweight class (58Kg) competing with a 16Kg Kettlebell in the Biathlon (1 arm Clean & Jerk - 10:00 / 5:00 per arm and 1 arm Snatch - 10:00 / 5:00 per arm). Tasha did 175 Jerks and 167 Snatches. That performance set a new AKA National record for her bodyweight and 16Kg Kettlebell. A week after that meet, Tasha was invited to represent the U.S. on the AKA World Kettlebell Championship Team to compete early November in Dublin, Ireland, in the 16Kg One Arm Snatch event. Of course she accepted that invitation!

Allow me to summarize: In less than a year of serious training, Tasha has won three competitions, including the National Championships. She set a National Record and has been invited to compete for the USA at the Worlds in November. By any standards, it’s been a pretty good year. But it is not over. 

I told Tasha, if she gets invited to the Worlds, we’re training to win, not to just be happy to be there. The training program has started and there is less than 10 weeks to go. I have no doubt that Tasha is capable of winning a World Championship. She has the natural talent, the ability to work hard, is extremely coachable and has the deep desire to win. A coach can’t ask for anything more, and the United States could not ask for a better representative.

A Growing Sport

Now that I have had your attention this far, let’s get down to business. Kettlebell Competition Lifting is a small but fast-growing sport. The AKA lacks the resources to send its athletes to the World Championships. The athletes must find their own way there and cover their own expenses. Tasha is no exception. Most of the AKA team members have set up their own GoFundMe accounts, and here is Tasha’s link: GO TASHA

Both Tasha and I are on Facebook, and you can follow her video blogs about her training there.

Also, Tasha and I will be conducting a Kettlebell Clinic on Saturday October 10th at 10am. We will demonstrate proper Kettlebell techniques and celebrate Tasha’s accomplishments at the same time!  You will learn: the swing, clean, rack position, press, push press, goblet squat, and the beginning steps of the Get-Up. You will also experience a version of the Coyote workout to get an understanding of "work capacity" training.

This is a really great story with more news to come, and you have an opportunity to help someone reach for their dreams. We are grateful for the support and your energy and good wishes for Tasha’s success, and for your interest in a little-known but rapidly growing intense sport, and if you are motivated to contribute financially, every little bit helps. 

Peace and Power in Your Life!
Thank you!
Rick

Interested in starting Kettlebell Training? Click here for more information on
NIFS Kettlebell sessions!

Get Started!
 

This blog was written by Rick Huse, CSCS, WKC Competition Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: NIFS group training nifs staff NIFS programs Les Mills kettlebell

What’s in Your Luggage?: The Best Traveling Fitness Tools

It’s summertime which is usually synonymous with vacations and miles of traveling. Summertime travels have been some of the best times of my life! The weather is great, there are so many things to do, the sun is out, and it’s time to relax and have some well-deserved FUN.

But it can be somewhat difficult to continue your regimen while on the road. Hotel gyms are not always the best (although most will get the job done in a crunch), you are staying in a rented home or cottage that does not include a fitness facility, and day passes to the local gym can play havoc with your vacation budget. If you are anything like me, you want do something quick but effective so you can get back to what the trip was intended for: RELAXING. So what are you to do?

Planning to stay active during your travels doesn’t have to be a huge challenge. To help you plan to stay on track in your fitness, no matter the environment, I put together a list of great tools that travel really well. So when you are packing all the clothes you probably will never wear (I am the worst about that) and your sunscreen, leave a little extra room for a few of these great tools that stow easily and will keep you moving toward your desired outcomes.fitness-travel

TRX

There is a reason the company that manufactures the very popular TRX is named Fitness Anywhere. The TRX can go and be used anywhere. From hanging the suspension trainer off your hotel door, to getting outside and securing it to a tree, the TRX is ready to go in a matter of seconds. The TRX is really your travel gym because most resisted movements you can think of that you perform in the gym can be done using the TRX. Not sold yet? The TRX rolls up into a super-small bag that won’t take up much room in your luggage or even your carry-on.

Resistance Band

Just like the TRX, the resistance band will add load to any movement and will take up no space in your bag. The band also provides many unique movements as well as tension throughout the entire range of motion. This equals big resistance in a small package.

Tennis/Lacrosse Ball

You have heard me speak about recovery many times before as being a huge part of your training program. A great time to spend some time recovering is when you are on vacation. Pack a tennis or lacrosse ball, or even a small foam roller to take care of your soft tissue rehab needs. Remember, the results from your program happen during recovery, so use this time to reap the benefits.

Val Slides

Also known as furniture movers, Val Slides are a great tool to add a little more oomph to your body weight exercise. With hundreds of ways to utilize these sliders to create a major metabolic and strength effect, they are a great choice to throw in your luggage. By the way, they weigh only a few ounces and are super flat, ensuring that they won’t send your suitcase over the weight limit.

Kettlebell

The kettlebell travels best if you are driving to your destination, not flying. But if you are choosing the automobile route for your vacation, the bell will fit very nicely in the trunk. I can’t even start to cover the multitude of movements that can be accomplished with the kettlebell. For those of you participating in Small Group Training or our HIT program, you’ve witnessed what a single kettlebell workout can look and feel like. The kettlebell is a very effective, very quick, and very easy tool to travel with. Grab one and throw it in the car—you will thank me for it!

These lists of workout tools is by no means exhaustive, but are the ones that I think provide the most impact while taking up the least amount of space. There is a tool I didn’t mention above, but can be the best tool of all and that is a pair of walking shoes. No matter the place, time, and who you are with, you can always go for a stroll. Enjoy your summer. You’ve worked all winter for it.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness running walking group training resistance kettlebell workout TRX recovery traveling

MetCon Manipulation: Change Up Your High-Intensity Training (HIIT)

HIITHigh-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has “swiffered” the nation in the past decade or so and remains one of the top hot topics of the fitness world. We also use terms such as Metabolic Condition (MetCon), Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT), and Energy System Training to categorize this high-octane method of training. You may know MetCon best by the crazy stuff you do that makes you feel absolutely exhausted, but invincible.

WARNING: It should never be the goal of any MetCon training session to end up in a sweaty pile of your former self. You should be upright and feeling invigorated and not annihilated.

The health and fitness benefits of this style of training are numerous! Benefits are mainly fat loss, an increase in energy demand (calorie burn) during and even after the training session, and even an increase in your aerobic capacity, just to name a few. But just like any other style of training (strength, power, endurance), it can be easy to fall into a rut in the methods and exercise selection of your MetCon training session. Here are a few simple and fun ways to change up and spice up your metabolic conditioning training session.

REMEMBER: Training can be simply defined as providing a stimulus that forces the body to adapt resulting in change (for example, increased calorie and oxygen use). So to alter a training session, think of manipulating the stimulus.

Change the Equipment

It’s comforting to stick to pieces of equipment we know best and have used many times for our training purposes. But you are doing yourself a disservice by not adding in new pieces that usually come with new adaptions. Battling ropes, rowing ergs, kettle bells, medicine balls, and my personal favorite the Airdyne bike are all great tools that can be used to manipulate the stimulus. These are also the things that make this style of training so much fun. The body will be forced to adapt, triggering the affects you are looking for.

Change the Intensity

The intensity of your training session of course plays a huge role in achieving the desired outcomes. Many metabolic conditioning sessions are based on time as a measurement of intensity and duration. For example, I am sure you are familiar with the Tabatta protocol of 20 seconds of max work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. Many time combinations are used (depending on your fitness level and program progressions), such as :30/:30, :40/:20, and :45/:15. 

Using time is great, but it could get monotonous, leading to decreased effort and lack of enjoyment. A great alternative is using calorie goals to set your interval as with a rowing erg, or the Airdyne bike (there it is again!). Racing to a predetermined distance is a great way to spice things up as well. Lastly, using repetitions and repetition ladders (10, 9, 8, 7,…1) allows you to simply count your way to completion and can be used with minimal equipment such as one kettlebell or a resistance band. 

Change the Environment

One of the easiest ways to get more out of your metabolic conditioning session is to simply change up your environment. Going outside is a great start when manipulating this training variable. Grab your equipment, get after it, and get some vitamin D all at the same time. On your way outside, invite some of your friends and training buddies to join you. Make the workout more of a competitive challenge to help redefine what you once thought of as limits. Research has proven that you work harder and enjoy training while in a group setting. Use the power of a strong group to get more out your training session.

Two Example MetCon Workouts

TRY THESE: Here are 2 sample MetCon training sessions using some of the preceding tips.

#1: Airdyne Calorie Sprints: 10 minutes

Race to 10 calories resting for 5 calories and try to complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.

#2: Kettle Bells in the Park

Get outside, get a group, and complete the following as quickly as you can.

Working from 10 Kettle Bell Swings, 10 Goblet Squats, 10 Push-ups down to 1, but the swings will always be 10.

Example: 

  • R1: 10/10/10
  • R2: 10/9/9
  • R3 10/8/8 … 
  • Down to 10 Swings, 1 Goblet Squat, 1 Push-up
    Yes! I want to try a HIT class!

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio workouts group training calories metabolism HIT kettlebell high intensity