NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Step: Welcome to a New LEVEL of Fitness!

Whether you are 18 or 80, man or woman, looking to lose weight or simply maintain, step aerobics just might be the perfect addition to your fitness program! Have you ever considered taking a step class? Perhaps you have found yourself thinking, “I’m not coordinated enough,” or “Step is too intense for me (or not intense enough”). Well, give me two minutes to change your mind.

Step Burns CaloriesStep-web.jpg

The bottom line is, stepping up and down off a raised platform burns calories. In fact, it burns A LOT of calories. According to Self Magazine (July 2012, page 101), stepping up and down off a raised platform burns more calories than doing jumping jacks, split lunges, power squats, or speed skating for the same length of time. Great way to lose weight? YES! Great way to maintain weight? YOU BET!

Anyone Can Do Step

Maybe you are thinking that you lack the coordination required to do step. But the reality of it is, if you can march in place, you can do step. The basic step is just that: basic. Up, up, down, down. Of course that move would get pretty boring pretty quickly, so we add music, rhythm, and variations on that basic move. While it helps to have a little rhythm (can you clap your hands to the beat of a song?), anyone can step. It may take a few classes to really get the hang of it, but it is quite do-able, and FUN! Don’t be intimidated!

There is a first time for everything. At some point, every single person in the class, including the instructor, attended their very first step class. I am not gonna lie, you probably won’t pick up every single thing the first class you take. But let’s face it: What would be the fun of mastering it in the first hour? Half the fun is seeing yourself improve on the step, seeing your cardiovascular fitness level improve, and becoming more efficient overall (doing more work with less effort). Step will get you there!

You Can Adjust the Intensity LevelStepIS

You may be thinking that step would be too hard or too intense for you. While step is designed to be a challenging cardio workout, the intensity level can be adjusted in a number of ways to meet the needs of each participant. The height of the platform is not uniform; with use of individual risers at each end, the platform can be set as low as just a few inches off the floor (or as high as 8 to 12 inches).

Another easy adjustment, which your instructor will show you, is to limit your range of movement with each step. As you become more comfortable with the format, you will be able to add intensity by increasing range of motion with the steps, and by adding arm movements to further increase your heart rate. Because of this, the challenge never ends. There is no plateau.

Step Can Be a Challenging Cardio Workout

On the flip side, maybe you are thinking step is not intense enough. Perhaps you are thinking that only girls take step, or that you are too fit to benefit from it. Regardless of your fitness level, step can be a very challenging cardiovascular workout. It is a well-known fact that the U.S. military utilizes step aerobics to improve our troops’ agility, coordination, and endurance. If it’s tough enough for our soldiers, then it’s tough enough for me! In addition to step, I also teach Insanity, total body conditioning, and kickboxing classes. Step meets or exceeds these other formats in intensity level and calories burned per hour.

Step Is Great for Group Fitness

Step is the perfect group fitness exercise because it accommodates all fitness levels. And if you haven’t tried group fitness, well that’s a whole other conversation. But in short, try it! The camaraderie and accountability among the participants, the music, and the FUN factor will have
you hooked!

So, are you ready to take your fitness regimen to the next STEP? Click her for a free class pass to NIFS!

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This blog was written by Rachel Pfeiffer, ACE and AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor Insanity Certified Instructor; Proud NIFS Step Instructor since 1999

Topics: NIFS cardio fitness center weight loss group fitness workouts step

NIFS February Group Fitness Class of the Month: Step

Step-new.jpgStep aerobics has been around for some time. We are all aware of its huge popularity in the 80’s, and while some may have thought it was dead and gone, many know it is alive and kicking! With the launch of Zumba® and other choreographed classes, most gyms around the US still have those famous Reebok® steps and have step classes going on at least once a week. Take a close look at NIFS on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings and you'll see step classes are far from dead. In fact, they happen to be one of our most popular group fitness classes!

Where It All Started

Let us take a moment to look back and see how step was created. It is so much more than music and choreographed stepping and learning how it was created make it all the more interesting! In 1989 Gin Miller, a competitive gymnast injured her knee in a competition. As she sought advice from her doctor on some rehab tactics, he told her she should work to develop muscles around her knees by stepping up on something like a milk crate. And that is when Gin started to use her porch step and music for some low impact stepping, and step aerobics was born!

Benefits of Step

Like many classes out there, the benefits are more than what you see on the surface. And step absolutely has some benefits that will allow you to improve your overall fitness. Step is good because it is considered “low impact”, helping the stress on the joints and body to be minimal during the movements that are performed. It also burns calories and fat due to its mostly cardio-based format. Step helps to build cardiovascular and muscular endurance through upper and lower body movements and along with those movements comes improvement in coordination and agility! With the constant movement and stepping up on one leg, over time one can see improvements in their balance, not to mention how fun step aerobics can be if you are into the choreographed music style workouts!

As stone wash jeans, side ponytails, and high top sneakers seem to be coming around again, step has always been here and remains a staple of group exercise classes! In fact, I challenge you to step into NIFS on a Saturday morning this month and see that step is still reigning. You will find Rachel and her faithful followers doing what looks like the impossible, but don’t be intimidated! Just step (pun intended) in and go with the flow, it will only be a matter of time before you master the moves and get into the fun!

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

Topics: cardio group fitness step workout music aerobic Group Fitness Class of the Month

“Fight for Air Climb” Raises Money to Beat Lung Disease

Imagine the last time you ran up a few flights of stairs because you were running late to a Fight for Air Climbmeeting or were struck with a sudden burst of energy. Your legs probably began to tighten up and burn a little. Your heart rate suddenly climbs and you begin to consume more and more oxygen with every step. You have to, your body is craving oxygen to supply a rich blood flow to the working muscles so you can get to that meeting on time.

Now try to imagine that same climb up the stairs, but this time you have lung disease and you are unable to deliver that much-needed oxygen to your working body. I think it would be safe to say that you may be late to that meeting.

The Fight for Air Climb

The Fight for Air Climb is an event that can give you a taste of feeling unable to breathe while trying to get somewhere. This annual event, presented by the American Lung Association, helps raise money for lung disease research and educates people on the seriousness of this group of debilitating conditions.

The unique format is unlike any other race or fitness challenge out there. The site for this year’s event is the Chase Tower, and the challenge is to climb all 47 floors. If that’s not enough of a challenge for you to climb the tallest building in Indianapolis, do it twice or even three times for a total of 141 floors. There is a challenge for everyone.

A True Fitness ChallengeFight for Air Climb

I climbed my first event last year at the Regions Tower, made up of 35 floors, with a motivated and determined group from NIFS. Now I have run my fair share of half marathons, and even conquered a Tough Mudder, so I was pretty confident that this would be a challenge I could soar through. It wasn’t until I reached the 17th floor on my first run that I realized I was very much mistaken.

I took the Ultimate Challenge course and climbed the tower three times. It was about that time, halfway up on my first run, that I knew I was facing a mountain of a challenge (insert lame-joke rim shot here). It really is like no other feeling, midway up, and not being able to breathe very well at all and having 18 floors to go, plus 70 more. It really was like no other challenge I have ever faced.

Although the physical effort was immense, it did not compare to the empathy I felt for those who can barely walk around their homes without feeling this way. It’s for those individuals that we climb, because they can’t. It is so uplifting to see so many climb in hope of making the lives of those suffering from a lung disorder better by supporting the research needed to battle these conditions.

Fight for Air Climb Boot Camp

Last year, I also had the pleasure of helping train many of the individuals participating in the climb here at NIFS through our Fight for Air Climb Boot Camp. It was great to work with so many inspiring climbers all with a unique story of why they have decided to put their body through a grueling challenge. Many of them have loved ones battling a lung disease or have lost someone to the same battle. No matter the details of the story, there was always a consistent message: “Let’s climb for those who can’t.” 

The American Lung Association and NIFS have joined together to bring participants a FREE training program for the climb. You do NOT need to be a member of NIFS to participate, you just need to be registered for the The Fight for Air Climb event.

Tony Maloney is NIFS Fitness Center Manager and leads group training Sunday through Thursday. Follow Tony on Facebook at NIFS Elite. Meet all of our NIFS Bloggers.

 

Topics: NIFS cardio running step group training challenge boot camp endurance training disease prevention