NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Choosing a Fitness Professional: Finding the Right One for You

Kris-52.jpgIn an industry that is constantly evolving, the world of fitness is never boring. As a fitness professional, I get a lot of questions about what I do and why I do it. Each question, although relatively complex, has a simple answer.

I chose my profession because I love to motivate, converse, educate, and be enthusiastic around other people. My passion made college classes and clinical research thrilling. I also wholeheartedly believe that a healthy lifestyle extends positively to all aspects of an individual’s life, as well as their family, friends, and coworkers. The human body is miraculous and deserves to be treated so.

The incidence and severity of disease can be decreased through regular physical activity (insert flashing neon arrows). Even so, large populations of individuals still do not have the knowledge to maintain an active lifestyle for themselves or their families as preventative action. It is my career goal to educate those individuals who might not know where to begin or how to progress, or have diminished hope, through behavioral-change goals. However, in an industry that also has many non-credible sources and educators, it is important to be able to separate the two.

Below are some of the regularly asked questions within our field and their answers to help you in choosing a fitness professional who best fits into your plan.

What Is a Fitness Professional?

The best definition of a fitness professional comes from the American College of Sports Medicine:

“A Health Fitness Professional has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. The individual performs pre-participation health screenings, conducts physical fitness assessments, interprets results, develops exercise prescriptions, and applies behavioral and motivational strategies to apparently healthy individuals and individuals with medically controlled diseases and health conditions to support clients in adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors. Academic preparation also can include fitness management, administration, and supervision.” (2015)

How Do You Become a Fitness Professional?

To become a fitness professional an individual must obtain a four-year degree or a graduate degree in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Health Studies or in a health and fitness–related field. After graduating, an exam is taken through a certifying body, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the National Academy for Sports Medicine (NASM). Some of the most common exams include the Certified Exercise Physiologist (formerly Health Fitness Specialist) and the Certified Personal Trainer. If an individual is in a cardiac rehab environment and obtains 400/500 hours of clinical exercise programming, the professional can then apply to take a clinical-level exam.

How Do Fitness Professionals Stay Up-to-Date?

ACSM is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, and they continue to set the standards in the fitness industry. ACSM requires a minimum number of CECs (continuing education credits) and CEUs (continuing education units) in a three-year period to maintain certification.

NASM, a leader in providing technology-based education and certification solutions, also offers CEUs alongside specialization exams.

Alongside CECs, CEUs, and specialization exams, individuals can subscribe to additional research publications and continue to take certifying exams. Attending conferences, taking graduate classes in the field, and meeting other individuals in the industry is also a great way to network and learn from peers.

How Do I Choose a Fitness Professional That Is Right for Me?

Today, many individuals market themselves as trainers or nutritionists. When choosing an individual to work with, ask about their education and background, how many clients they have worked with, and their specializations. Working directly with an individual is similar to hiring for a job; don’t be afraid to ask for their resume or references! An individual who is qualified should happily comply.

It is also important to remember that a fitness professional is not a Registered Dietitian (RD). According to ethical guidelines, a fitness professional can discuss and provide insight into healthy alternatives but can’t develop meal plans or suggest drastic diet changes. For in-depth nutrition advice, a fitness professional should always refer to an RD. Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand, but knowing scope of practice is important.

At NIFS, we pride ourselves on providing the most well-rounded professionals for every health and wellness need. For more information on what qualifications a fitness professional should have, check out the following resources.

“Exercise is really important to me—it’s therapeutic.” —Michelle Obama

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This blog was written by Ellyn Grant, Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition personal trainer exercise science certification choosing a fitness professional

NIFS September Group Fitness Class of the Month: CXWORX

More than just eye candy to some, the muscles of the core have one of the greatest responsibilities to the human body. Yes, everyone wants those washboard abs and to get rid of the undesired abdominal fat that is so often stored in the midsection. But what if you understood the importance of the core and shifted your thinking about why you should be training this area daily?

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Why Core Strength Is Important

The first step to shifting your mindset is to understand why the core is essential to the body and to human movement. The core musculature is key in maintaining posture and establishing movement. Without a strong midsection, the framework of your body would crumble to the ground. The core helps in all the forms of posture, including sitting, standing, moving, lying down, getting up, twisting, and turning. Secondly, having a strong core helps to prevent injuries. Having that solid foundation and stability at the center of your body reduces your risk of injury. No matter what you do in your everyday life—taking out the trash, picking up the kids, walking the dog, or sitting at a desk all day—the core muscles are working. Thus, you must make sure that you are building core training into your programming.

Strengthen Your Core

This should give you enough good reasons to want to have a better core. So how do you do that? The traditional way of doing 500 crunches or sit-ups in order to get that six-pack has left and the wide world of planks and utilizing equipment like medicine balls or resistance bands is in. There are even classes built around simple core training. And this is where NIFS’ group fitness class of the month, CXWORX, comes into play. This class is offered nearly every day of the week, many times during more than just one time slot, and is designed around building core strength.

Let’s look at the benefits of taking a Les Mills CXWORX class:

  • In and out in 30 minutes: There is no reason you cannot make this class fit into your schedule. With a short and sweet 30-minute format, you can squeeze this in before work, on your lunch break, or before you head home for the evening.
  • Built to strengthen the core: While this class sees some additional benefits that we will discuss in the next few points, CXWORX is built around the foundation of working to build a strong core. With minimal equipment like a mat, weight plate, and resistance band, this class with help to build that rock-solid foundation you are looking for.
  • Build core endurance: Not only are you building overall strength, but you’re increasing core endurance as well. It’s important to be able to maintain strength and stability of the core for longer to help posture both in movement and while stationary.
  • Additional benefits: As mentioned above, not only does CXWORX benefit the core musculature, but the legs, hips, and butt also get a workout. All these parts of the body are attached to the core muscles and are just as important to work.

If you are ready to get in some core work, try CXWORX today! As you strengthen your core, watch how many other things improve, like movement and running speed. Click here for the latest group fitness schedule. And if you can’t make one of these classes work, try another group fitness class; a majority of them have additional core work built into the program!

Try a group fitness class for free

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

Topics: NIFS core Les Mills core strength Group Fitness Class of the Month CXWORX

Is Metabolism the Reason You’re Having Trouble with Weight Loss?

ThinkstockPhotos-505722820.jpgWe often hear people talk about their slow metabolism being the reason they cannot lose weight. While this may be true for some individuals, it does not apply to the majority of the population. If you have never actually had blood work done saying you have a slow metabolism, this more than likely is not the issue. Instead of blaming the metabolism, you have to look at the basic “recipe” for weight loss.

Two Ways to Lose Weight

As you might know by now, weight loss is caused by putting the body in a caloric deficit. Being in a caloric deficit means that the number of calories burned by the body has surpassed the amount of calories consumed by the body. This simple definition of a caloric deficit helps further explain the two popular methods in which you can obtain caloric deficiency.

  • Option 1: Consume fewer calories than required by the body for optimum energy output.
  • Option 2: Burn off more calories than consumed by the body.

Factors Affecting How Many Calories You Burn

Now let’s take a look at the things that affect your energy expenditure.

The first thing that affects total energy expenditure (TEE) is your resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR is defined as the energy your body requires for normal daily functioning without movement. This is your body’s set energy output on a daily basis.

TEE also takes into consideration something called the thermic effect of food (TEF). This is described as the energy required to break down the food you consume. Thermic effect of food usually makes up 10–15% of your energy expenditure.

The rest of your TEE is made up of your movement with intentional and non-intentional exercise or non-exercise physical activity (NEPA). NEPA can make up anywhere between 15–50% of your energy expenditure. If you are sedentary for a majority of the day, you may be burning only 15% of your energy expenditure; when you remain active for a majority of the day, you may be burning up to (but not limited to) 50% of your energy expenditure as compared to your RMR.

Looking at BOD POD Results

To put this into perspective, here is my BMR and TEE that I received from doing my NIFS BOD BOD.

TEE = RMR + TEF + exercise
RMR = 1,642 kcals 
TEF = 246 kcals (15%)
Intentional Exercise/ Non-intentional exercise = 246 kcals (15%) (1,642 x .15)
821 kcals (50%) (1,642 x .5)

Using the numbers above, on a sedentary day I would burn around 2,102–2,134 kcals (15%). On an active day, I would burn around 2,709–2,857 kcals (50%). On a very active day I could burn up to 3,415 kcals for the day. Now let’s say I eat around 2,200 kcals on a consistent basis. Eating 2,200 kcals on a sedentary day would put me in a caloric surplus, whereas eating 2,200 kcals on an active day would put me in a caloric deficit.

Sedentary day = 66 kcal surplus
Active day (including intentional exercise and NEPA) = 657 kcal deficit

So just by being more active throughout the day I would be able to take myself from being in a surplus to being in a caloric deficit, which is the basis for weight loss.

ThinkstockPhotos-154306165.jpgDo You Just Need to Move More?

Now ask yourself this: Are you having trouble losing weight because you have a slow metabolism, or are you just not moving and burning calories throughout the day? More than likely your caloric deficit difficulties are because of a lack of calorie burning due to a lack of movement throughout the day.

Being sedentary vs. engaging in intentional exercise and NEPA can make a world of difference as to whether you are achieving a caloric deficit. So if you don’t take anything else from this blog, remember this: weight loss usually requires a LIFESTYLE change instead of just engaging in intentional exercise. You must maximize your energy expenditure throughout the entire day to widen the gap between calorie consumption and total energy expenditure.

Schedule your BOD POD assessment today to find out your true numbers by calling 317-274-3432, ext. 262.

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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: NIFS weight loss calories metabolism BODPOD

Balancing Academics and Fitness in College

ThinkstockPhotos-650623468.jpgWelcome back to school! Or, if you are new to the college experience, welcome to your first adventure in time management and balancing your life. This not only includes your academics and social life, but other areas that go under the radar as less important. I’m talking about fitness and wellness. College and university fitness centers are usually well populated with individuals with a wide variety of goals ranging from stress reduction to spring break abs, to meeting people.

Many of the students that I have met at NIFS are likeminded, health conscious, and body-image-positive, which makes coming to a campus-centered fitness center more enjoyable. In retrospect, when I was in school I found myself using the campus fitness and recreational center as a way to not only hone my training skills, but also to get away from the stress caused by deadlines and grades.

Beyond the obvious benefits, studies have been conducted that actually link exercise to getting better grades. Here is what I have found, along with some constructive ideas to help you benefit from fitness.

Set Goals

Breaking through your fitness barriers is the first step to getting what you want out of your fitness experience. In previous blogs, I have talked about setting realistic goals and expectations; because of all the time allotted to school and social life, you may find yourself in a crunch to dedicate any extra time to your goals. Choose goals that can be measured, such as coming to the gym four days per week for the entire semester or wanting to complete a 5K in less than 25 minutes. This will allow you to focus while you are at the gym and not tune out what you are trying to accomplish.

Find Motivation

Also, finding something you love to do for exercise helps. If you love swimming or plan to have swimming as part of your training goal, you should practice swimming often. Finding a support network can also help bridge the gap between your student life and fitness life. These people do not have to have the same goals as you, but it helps when training for an event. NIFS offers group fitness classes daily that are included in the membership; this is a great way to meet people and commiserate about how much fun burpees are!

See How Exercise Helps You Get Better Grades

The benefits go beyond looking good for spring break. Studies conducted at Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, have shown that if a student works out as little as once per week, they have a better chance of having a higher grade-point average than their classmate who doesn’t work out. The findings supported not only improved grades, but also better time-management skills and mental wellness. As these studies become more and more prevalent, there is a noticeable trend for better, more suitable campus fitness centers to fulfill the needs of the students.

A worrisome trend in schools today is the deemphasis on physical education classes. From a young age, I remember having physical education class and never thought twice about how much exercise I was getting because I was having fun playing games and interacting with others. Based on the researchers’ data from Purdue, the trend of discontinuing physical education, which is leading American children down the road toward obesity and lack of knowledge regarding wellness, could affect their ability to get better grades. With anything in life, balance is the key. The right amount of study, exercise, nutrition, and recovery can benefit anyone.

Just Get to the Gym

In closing, all signs point to fitness as being undeniably great for people. We find that having a goal in mind is good, but really just getting to the gym can be beneficial. NIFS, located at the south end of IUPUI’s campus, is staffed with individuals looking to help you on your fitness journey. Along with the staff are thousands of everyday people just like you who are trying to do the same thing you are. You can do a different class every day of the week or have a trainer design a specific plan tailored to meet your needs. Welcome back and have a great school year!

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor and personal trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness fitness center Thomas' Corner motivation goals college time management

NIFS Personal Trainer Takes on a Triathlon Challenge (Part 2)

IMG_5313.jpgTriathlon training is past the halfway point (see part 1 of my blog) and has been quite the journey! With long days of juggling my work schedule, the training plan, a dog, a home life, and trying to find time in there to rest, training for this triathlon has been quite challenging! In addition to the training plan that I am following, I have analyzed areas where I need to improve, especially in the swim portion of the race. I have noticed that not only the physical aspect of the triathlon training needs work, but my attitude does as well.

Back to the Basics

How do I tackle this without being overwhelmed with the other 50 things running through my mind that need to be done, and then keeping a positive mindset about my energy to top it off? I have decided to break it down and take each segment one step at a time, in order to not become so stressed out. I have taken the mindset of going back to the basics of training and mastering those first.

Mastering Swimming Basics

On our first swim training, one immediate thing I noticed was how my heart rate skyrockets when I’m in the water. My quads are on fire from kicking incorrectly, my breathing and head are uncontrolled, and I tend to hold onto the edge of the pool in order to not drown. Even worse, this all seems to happen within a 50-meter stretch in the pool! While I wanted to quickly bail, I was reminded to take it one step at a time.

Something that really helped to reassure me was that our coach mentioned to our group, “The hardest part is getting in the water; once you’re in, you’ve accomplished half of the battle. The key is not swimming faster, but it is to concentrate on your form and technique.” Needless to say, I’ve been focusing on those basic tips and am beginning to feel more comfortable in the water and see my swimming improve!

Biking: Getting to Know the Bike

I ride my bike for recreational commuting purposes but have never raced competitively. One of our first rides as a group was focused around getting to know your bike. We had to check our seat height and the air in our tires (and know how to fill them up), learn the gearshifts, and learn a few other tricks about knowing our own bikes. This was a huge help for me.

Another training day we were working on mounting and dismounting our bikes in order to learn to be efficient with our transitions between the swim-to-bike and bike-to-run. A few seconds in your time makes a difference. I ended up having a nice bruise on my leg as my pedal caught my knee on my first try. On the plus side, the convenience of working at NIFS and being downtown has enabled me to run errands and train with my bike, accumulating cycling miles over the course of the week. This has helped me to be more comfortable on my bike and learn how to get on and off quickly.

Improving My Running

Running is probably my strongest event in the triathlon. Last year I ran competitively in the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, although I have not kept up with a consistent cardio program until now. My goal is to increase my pace in hopes of making up for where I am challenged in swimming and biking, but without running out of energy before I cross the finish line. Getting back into a running program is hard! I’ve battled plantar fasciitis in my left foot and a mild case of low back pain. I’ve mixed my workouts with weight training prior to running, sprints, and longer-distance runs in hopes of mimicking the fatigue that I will feel from swimming and biking on race day.

My Top Triathlon Tips

I have learned through this triathlon training program so much about myself and the importance of not stressing over the big picture, but instead focusing on each segment of the training and race. As a trainer and a first-time triathlete in training, here are a few tips I’d like to share:  

  • Use a coach to help you. It’s hard to see your technique when you are swimming, biking, and running, and a few simple tips will make a big difference. You can always improve.
  • Warming up is essential. Techniques such as foam rolling, tension release, dynamic stretching, and letting your body adjust to the environment have made such a big difference in my workouts.
  • Bring on the food. Don’t get me wrong; eating healthy, meal prepping, and portion control are all essential to my daily way of living. However, what I’ve noticed is that I’m hungrier and my body has been leaning out and getting toned from the additional training. I’ve had to increase my food/calorie intake so that I can stay energized throughout the whole day.

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This blog was written by Crystal Anne Belen, personal trainer and health fitness instructor at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS running swimming triathlon cycling nifs staff triathlon training program personal trainer

NIFS August Group Fitness Class of the Month: Yoga

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Yoga is good for all types of people who have all types of fitness goals. No matter what your age, size, shape, or training regimen, you can reap the benefits of doing it on a regular basis. In fact, there are different types of yoga, and some of them are quite challenging regarding strength and balance.

Yoga is NIFS Group Fitness Class of the Month. Let’s take a look at some specific groups of people and why yoga can be beneficial to them.

Athletes

For many athletes, the idea of getting a good, solid workout means needing a wheelchair to get out of the gym. However, a good 60-minute yoga session could really help far more than the mind tells you it can. In fact, one of these sessions may be, at times, even more beneficial than that 60-minute lift you were just about to do. Yoga helps to improve strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, mental control, and mobility; increases power; and works as a perfect active-recovery exercise.

Seniors

For senior fitness, yoga is great to help gain better stability and balance. As people age, their balance, stability, and proprioception diminish. But with the help of yoga, you can slow down the process. On top of improved stability and balance, yoga helps to improve flexibility and overall joint health, reduces high blood pressure, improves breathing, and helps to reduce anxiety or depression.

The General Population

For the everyday exerciser who is simply trying to fit exercise into their regular, busy life schedule, yoga is great, too! Yoga is actually a form of physical fitness and has several benefits for those looking for a relaxing yet challenging workout. Yoga helps boost emotional health, reduce back pain, reduce heart disease, put asthma at ease, boost memory, improve flexibility… and the list goes on.

Youth

Yes, yoga is good for kids as well. Yoga is good for the youth population because it gives them time to step away from technology, inwardly connect with themselves, and listen to their own feelings and ideas. For this age range of people, it has been found that yoga can help improve self-esteem, attention span, empowerment, and self-regulation.

August_Yoga.jpgPowerlifters

Believe it or not, powerlifting and yoga are a match made in heaven! Yoga for those who like to lift heavy helps improve grip strength and endurance, improve breathing, relieve knee and lower-back pain, aid in flexibility (specifically in the back for power lifters), and increase strength. While you might not be the first one in class to touch your toes, make that your next goal, then lift the car above your head!

***

Check out NIFS’ group fitness schedule and join us for a class in Indianapolis. Namaste, friends and fellow soon-to-be yogis!

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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: NIFS yoga group fitness balance senior fitness kids powerlifting athletes Group Fitness Class of the Month

NIFS Personal Trainer Takes on a Triathlon Challenge

Crystal-1.jpgOne of my greatest passions is health and fitness. It has always been a part of my life, from studying it in school to choosing it as my career path. This year I have decided to try something that I have not done before: a triathlon! I’m excited to share with you my career as a personal trainer and health fitness instructor and my journey in training for the Indianapolis Go Girl Triathlon that will take place August 26.

Taking Time to Achieve My Own Goal

As a fitness professional, one of the ways that I measure success is when I’ve helped an individual or group reach their goals. Knowing that others obtained their dream is more rewarding than reaching my own personal goals. Getting to know a client’s strengths and weaknesses, and guiding them to overcome hurdles that they never thought they could achieve, is so gratifying. As a client seeks my advice and help, I believe it’s just as important that I practice what I’m teaching while working to connect it to current research and trends in the fitness and health realm. With all these different things on my plate, sometimes my own training and goal achievement gets pushed aside.

When considering what my own personal goals were for this year, I decided it was time I took on a new challenge for myself, completing my first ever triathlon. At first, the idea intimidated me because several thoughts came to mind:

  • “That’s a lot of cardio.”
  • “What if I drown in the open water?”
  • I’m not a swimmer.”
  • “I can’t even float.”

I instantly felt afraid, and the thought of a new challenge that I’d never considered doing crept up on me. On the other hand, that’s what also has enticed me to take on this race. Doing something that I’ve never done before actually excites me, and it’s what pushed me to make the decision to give it a try. I have decided to fully accept that challenge and have a coach help lead and guide me to reach my goal.

The Impact of Attitude

In addition to my adventurous and ambitious personality, the experience of surviving leukemia as a child has allowed me to take a look at life from a different perspective—a second opportunity in this world. I believe that your mind is one of the most powerful influences on your daily decisions; what you feed your mind, your thoughts, self-talk, “fight-or-flight” reactions, and which outside influences you believe all play a part in who you choose to be on a daily basis. The bottom line is this: When you tell yourself you can or can’t do something, you make that decision right then and there, because it all comes down to your will to take the next step outside your comfort zone and take action.

I look forward to sharing with you my experience of taking on this challenge and training for a triathlon, and I encourage you to follow my series on this blog.

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This blog was written by Crystal Anne Belen, personal trainer and health fitness instructor at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS triathlon nifs staff challenge Indianapolis goals personal trainer

You’ll Never Do a Marathon? Five Reasons to Join Group Training

Some people really love to run; some don’t. For those who do, running is so much more than just getting in a few miles to check “workout” off the list. It can be a social hour and a stress reliever; it can be therapeutic, present a challenge to take on, and help people step away from the mundane routine of waking up, going to work, coming home, and repeat!

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Now for those who do not enjoy it, when you see all the promotions to sign-up to race you think, “Why on earth would I want to pay to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles? I don’t even want to bike or drive that far; why would I run that far?” Let me share with you five motivations to consider giving it a shot.

  1. Raise money for a charity: This has grown in popularity over the last five years or so and is a great reason to sign up for a half or full marathon. If for no other reason at all, find your favorite charity, get some people to sponsor each mile you run, and when you finish you can joyfully donate that money to the charity of choice. I can’t think of any better reason to put in time than to do it for a cause or in memory of someone.
  2. Inspire others: Others are always watching each of us, whether or not we realize it. Maybe it’s your kids, your spouse, or your best friend, but someone out there admires you. By turning your focus from yourself outward, you may inspire someone to do something that they thought was virtually impossible.
  3. Stretch your limits: When is that last time you really pushed to see just how much you could do? If you have not experienced a full or half marathon, trust me when I say it can really stretch your limits. Maybe running this distance is something you have never imagined yourself doing. I assure you, you will run all the way to the point that you thought you could go, and then you’ll run right past it! Training for a distance race will absolutely push your limits, but it will also leave you feeling a huge sense of accomplishment afterward.
  4. Meet new people: It’s really fun to be part of the running community. Training for an event like this takes a great deal of time and effort, and I can assure you that you will make some lifelong friends in a running group. Seriously, try it; next thing you know you will be traveling to other states to run together!
  5. Learn your body’s capabilities: Sometimes we think we have hit the peak of what we can do, and we really understand what our bodies can physically handle. I challenge you to try running a half or full marathon. You will define new boundaries of what you are capable of. It’s truly amazing to think about what the body can sustain through training when done properly.

I hope that something on this list has hit home for you. Take a step past what you always thought was impossible or maybe just not very smart, and get yourself signed up for a race this fall. We would love to have you come and train with us, too!

Check out the NIFS Fall Half and Full Marathon Training Program. This 16-week group training program will get you ready for a half or a full and help you find that running community to get you across the finish line. Training begins July 19, so register now!

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

Topics: NIFS motivation running marathon training group training half marathon marathon fall

Powerful Student Athlete Summer Strength and Conditioning Alternatives

Student athletes are home for their summer vacations. Some may spend a few weeks there and head right back to campus, while others might not return until the beginning of the school year in August. With them, they bring all of their necessities (furniture, clothes, etc.) from their dorms or apartments back to their homes, with the most important necessity to these athletes being their summer workout manual. This will be their strength training and conditioning guide for potentially the next 3–4 months. Simply put, these documents are critical for preparing their bodies for the upcoming season.

For me, getting the strength and conditioning manual from our coaches for the summer was always pretty exciting. Training was always something that I looked forward to doing (minus the 110-yard sprints for our conditioning test). I knew that as soon as we got back to campus, football season was only a few weeks away, so this was going to be really important.

What Happens if You Don’t Have the Right Equipment Back Home?

The biggest challenge that I faced during the summer months wasn’t necessarily due to the workouts themselves, but finding alternatives to exercises that were in our packets that fit with the type of equipment that I had access to. There were not a ton of training facilities in my hometown, and none of them had areas to do any type of Olympic lifting. They were more of the commercial-style gyms which would have only the basics (dumbbells, fixed bench-press racks, Smith machine, etc.). So training for any type of power or speed-strength with resistance was going to be a challenge. Luckily, I was a young Exercise Science major who saw this as a challenge and a way to learn and adapt to a less-than-ideal training environment.

A similar situation came about a few weeks back when I distributed the summer workout packets to all of my teams. One of my athletes contacted me and explained to me essentially the same situation that I was in from 2007 to 2011. She has access to a gym, but the facility does not have an area to do Olympic lifts, which are a staple in her team’s programming. Luckily, I understand much more now than I did back in my undergraduate years, which makes developing these alternatives easier.

Four Lifts and Their Alternative Exercises

Below you will find four common explosive lifts followed by an alternative weight-lifting exercise and a few tips on how to do them.

Snatch: Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatch

  • Dumbbell starts in front of your body with wrist facing outward.
  • Hinge forward at the hips to lower the dumbbell toward the floor.
  • Drive through the floor with your feet and jump straight up while simultaneously pulling the weight upward with a high elbow then punching it toward the ceiling.
  • Sink underneath the weight and control the catch.
MVI_8960

 

Clean: Dumbbell Clean

    • Start with two dumbbells outside hip-width with wrists facing outward.
    • Hinge forward at the hips to lower the dumbbells toward the floor.
    • Drive through the floor with your feet and jump while pulling the weight upward.
    • Snap the elbows underneath the weight.
    • The dumbbells should rest on your shoulders with elbows high upon completion.
MVI_8964

 

Jerk: Landmine Jerk

    • Start with a bar placed in a landmine attachment or supported by a corner wall with weight plates.
    • Start with feet parallel and bar close to the shoulder that you are pressing with.
    • Dip your hips slightly and jump up.
    • Split your feet so that the front foot is opposite the arm that you are pressing with and punch the weight upward.
    • Stick the landing.
landmine jerk

 

Box Jump: Landmine Squat Jump

  • Start with the bar placed in a landmine attachment or supported by a corner wall with weight plates.
  • Start with feet at hip width with the end of the bar slightly out in front of your body.
  • Squat and drive through the floor.
  • Jump as high as possible.
Landmine Squat Jump

 

These four variations on four common power exercises will give you some flexibility if the space you have to train in is tight or if equipment is limited. They could also serve as an alternative for some of you who are looking to switch up your program for a few weeks without completely straying from these exercises. As with many of the Olympic lifts, repetitions should be kept relatively low so that you can focus on being as explosive as possible. Have fun and get after it!

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

Topics: NIFS fitness center equipment summer weight lifting student athletes strength and conditioning

Caddy Smack 3: Strength and Power Exercises for a Better Golf Swing

caddy-smack-3.jpgAbout two years ago, I wrote the first Caddy Smack blog to inform NIFS members of the importance of rotational power as it relates to the golf swing, and exercises that can help improve it. Last year, I wrote Caddy Smack Deuce as the new and improved variation that took a look at different areas (including rotational power) that can help take you take your game to the next level. I also tried to hit a golf ball over the White River Bridge, which was an epic failure (must have been the winter rust on my swing).

Since that first blog was published, I have met probably close to 100 NIFS members, guests, and employees who share a similar interest and passion for a sport that I love. I’ve been out to play with a few members over the last year and try to play with my coworkers as much as possible. When I picked up the game about five years ago after college, I thought it would simply be something that I would do as a hobby to take the place of the hours spent on the football field and in the gym. Little did I know that the “game” would become a moderate obsession and a constant battle with myself to improve on the previous week’s score. And as I meet more and more individuals here at NIFS and at different courses, I realize that the obsession that I have now does not seem like it will be going away anytime soon.

No Two Golfers Are the Same

The most obvious observation that I have made from these years of being a strength and conditioning coach and watching individuals’ golf swing characteristics is this: no one is the same. There may be a few similar swings that you see on the PGA Tour or among groups of golfing friends, but everyone is going to get the club from the ground, to the back swing, to the down swing, to the ball in a slightly different manner. Most of the time, the person has molded their swing to what their body allows them to do.

My second observation is what the third installment of Caddy Smack is going to be based off of. And that is the idea that on any given golf course on any given day, there are no guarantees on what type of players will be present. Golfers can be young or older in age, tall or short, skinny or bigger, mobile or immobile (in the hips, shoulders, etc.)—characteristic combinations are endless!

Critical Strength and Power Areas

My goal for this blog is to bridge off of Caddy Smack Deuce but keep strength and power at the forefront. Below you will find four areas of strength and power that I believe are critical to the golf swing. Each area has three exercises (1 = beginner, 2 = moderate, 3 = advanced) to fit your current golf and/or fitness situation.

Vertical Power

Rotational Power

Hinge Strength

Pulling Strength

If you are not doing any of these movements (or similar ones), incorporate one from each category into one of your workout days during the week. Pick and choose between the degrees of difficulty as you become more familiar with the movements. Of course, all the exercises can be modified in different ways as well, so get creative. Remember that not every golf swing is the same, which applies to the gym as well. Find the right combination for where you are now and build over the next few months as you prepare to have the best golfing season of your life!

Check out my next video blog, which will cover a warmup that you will be able to do at the course right before hitting the practice range or teeing off. I will be filming at the world-renowned NIFS National Golf Course located just outside our back patio!

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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 strength exercises golf power golf swing