NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Music as Motivation: Give Your Workout a “Tune-up”

ThinkstockPhotos-499628790-1.jpgIn a world where trying to gain a competitive edge is at an all-time high, everybody is searching for the next big thing to help bring their workouts to the next level. Many individuals end up using some type of ergogenic aid. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, an ergogenic aid is any substance, mechanical aid, or training method that improves sport performance. Dietary supplements and special equipment are two common avenues that athletes use (sometimes legally and, unfortunately, sometimes illegally).

Consider Music as a Motivational Aid

Do you use any ergogenic aids? You may think that you do not, but chances are you probably do. One of the most popular ergogenics that gym-goers currently utilize is music. “Music?”, you’re probably asking yourself. Yes. I know it does not really fall into the category of substances, mechanical aids, or training methods, but the music can have very similar performance-enhancing effects.

Do you listen to music while you work out? If so, what kind of music do you listen to? For me personally, music allows for a sense of focus to happen. I pick my favorite workout song (Guns N’ Roses: “Welcome to the Jungle”) and I find every bit of energy I have to push through a personal record attempt or final set of a hard training session. That is what training is all about.

In many cases, regardless of the type of exercise you perform, you must break the barrier that stands between you and that next step. Music also allows for a positivity to flow throughout your workout. It makes everything more enjoyable! Let’s face it: if every training session were boring and stagnant, how long would you continue on that program? My guess would be not too long. You have to enjoy yourself to some extent while you are busting your backside, and music might be a way to do that.

My Workout Music Preferences Survey

As I was contemplating music and this blog, I thought to myself, “Alex, does everyone listen to music when they work out? What kind of music do they listen to?” I decided to create a little survey that I sent out to the employees of NIFS to get the cold, hard facts about music. In total, 36 NIFS employees completed the survey. Check out the results below!

What best characterizes the type of exercise you perform most often?

  • Cardiovascular (i.e., running, biking, etc.): 16/36, 44.44%
  • Resistance training: 12/36, 33.33%
  • Cross-training: 4/36, 11.11%
  • Other (please specify): 4/36, 11.11%

Answers included: “Real work—kettlebells” (I wonder who that was), mental exercises, and combinations of resistance and cardiovascular training.

 What type of music do you generally listen to on a day-to-day basis? (not when working out)?

  • Alternative: 3/36, 8.33%
  • Blues: 0/36, 0%
  • Classical: 2/36, 5.56%
  • Country: 4/36, 11.11%
  • Jazz: 0/36, 0%
  • Metal: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Rap: 2/36, 5.56%
  • Pop: 11/36, 30.56%
  • Rock: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Classic rock: 2/36, 5.56%
  • Techno: 1/36, 2.78%
  • I do not listen to music: 0/36, 0%
  • Other (please specify): 9/36, 25%

Answers included: Folk, Christian, Dance/New Age, and combinations of the above genres.

 Do you listen to music while you work out?

  • Yes: 27/36, 75%
  • No: 9/36, 25%

 What genre of music do you listen to while you work out?

  • Alternative: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Blues: 0/36, 0%
  • Classical: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Country: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Jazz: 0/36, 0%
  • Metal: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Rap: 5/36, 13.89%
  • Pop: 11/36, 30.56%
  • Rock: 3/36, 8.33%
  • Classic rock: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Techno: 2/36, 5.56%
  • I do not listen to music: 7/36, 19.44%
  • Other (please specify): 3/36, 8.33%

Answers included: Skrillex, Dance, or “music in my soul OR Jerry’s loud music.”

 If you had to choose only one song to get ready for an intense training session, what would it be? (artist and song name)

Regardless of what type of music you listen to, try to make it part of your exercise routine. If you already do, keep at it. I think it will make your workouts more focused and potentially more fun. As the legend Lil’ John said, “Turn Down for What?” So turn up the volume and rock out with your weights out!

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 Note all songs are trademarks This blog was written by Alex Soller. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: NIFS motivation nifs staff workout music

Fitness Tips for Introverts: Find a Workout for Your Personality Type

ThinkstockPhotos-128931537.jpgKnowing whether you are an introvert or an extrovert can help determine what type of fitness plan/program will work best for you. Contrary to popular belief, being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a shy person. Although introversion does have elements of apprehension, nervousness, and shyness, it essentially means that a person gets their energy from being alone or in a small group. They also tend to have their energy drained by too much external stimulation, such as being around a large group of people for too long. Therefore, if a person is not aware of their personality type, he or she may come to believe something is wrong with them when an exercise program does little to help them accomplish their goals.

The first step to discovering whether you are an introvert is to look at common behavioral habits of introverts all over the world.

You Might Be an Introvert If…

Here are 5 of 23 signs that you may be an introvert via the Huffington Post (click here to see the full list):

  • You find small talk incredibly troublesome. 
  • You often feel alone in a crowd.
  • You’re easily distracted.
  • Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.
  • You shut down after you’ve been active for too long.

Best Workout Tips for People Who Prefer Solitude

If you identify yourself as an introvert, consider a few things before planning a fitness program.

  • Find smaller groups or solo exercise. The first thing you may want to consider is that introverts typically don’t need to interact as much with other people in order to gain energy. Therefore, things such as group exercise may not be necessary (unless you genuinely enjoy them). Solo or small-group exercise—such as yoga, swimming, and small group training—or working out with a partner are typically the best options for many introverts. Working out alone provides enough energy and focus for the individual to have a successful workout. This does not mean occasional group exercise is a bad idea, however, since introverts alternate between periods of solitude and social interaction.
  • Keep workouts short. You may also want to consider that since introverts become energy deficient when exposed to external stimulation for too long, it’s a good idea to keep your workouts short and effective. This will allow for an efficient use of your energy systems without feeling drained. Exercise methods such as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) provide extremely effective workouts without you having to spend a lot of time doing them.
  • Use your brain power. Lastly, did you know that an introvert’s brain is wired differently than an extrovert’s? It has been proven that introverts have more gray matter in their prefrontal cortex, which is the area associated with decision-making. This means introverts devote more brain power to analysis, which you can use to your advantage. If you want to get in shape, start by using the power of your brain to do research and analyze the data that you find. Read, write, think, and reflect on topics that pertain to your specific goals. The more you learn and understand exactly what needs to be done, the more likely you are to stick with your program and become successful with it.

One of the most important aspects of an exercise program’s effectiveness tends to be how well it is catered to the individual. There is no one-size-fits-all program. Different people have different requirements when it comes to exercise programming. See a NIFS Health and Fitness Specialist today if you are in need of a program that fits YOU! 

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

Topics: NIFS exercise group training workout personality type introvert

Water Fitness: How to Get Better at Swimming

ThinkstockPhotos-103584574.jpgIn my previous blog on swimming, I talked about the vast benefits that can come from adding lap swimming into your off-season workout regimen. But maybe you are already comfortable in the pool and swim on a regular basis; wouldn’t you like to get better and become more efficient in your stroke? By taking small steps to improve the different components that make up the specific strokes, you can become a better swimmer in a decently short amount of time.

Focus on Form

As other sports, form tends to be one of the key players in overall success. Each stroke has a certain form that will allow the swimmer to be more efficient. Take some time to research the different strokes that you like to do and learn the correct form. Whatever swim stroke you happen to choose, the different pieces will consist of breathing, kicking, arm movement, location of chest and hips in the water, and what you do with your hands, feet, and ankles. I know it seems like a lot to think about, but you may really benefit by simply understanding what the stroke should look like.

Breathe More Efficiently

Breathing tends to be one of the hardest elements of a swimmer’s performance. Getting the breathing technique down right takes time, practice, and patience. Master breathing by using a kickboard or holding onto the side of the pool before combining it with the actual stroke and movement in the water. You also will need to learn your breathing cycle—for example, if I am swimming freestyle, do I need to take a breath every three or four strokes? You may need to learn to breathe on both sides and be able to turn your head to the left and right to get air.

Learn the Body Roll

This movement is used specifically in freestyle. Have you ever seen someone swimming freestyle (on their stomach) and when it’s time to take a breath, they pick their entire head up out of the water? The body roll will allow you to efficiently roll your upper body (and partially through the hips) to get air so that only part of your head is not in the water. This movement can be learned easily using different pool equipment like a pull buoy.

Slow Down

We all have the tendency, when getting into the pool to do some laps, to go a million miles an hour. Whether or not you mean to do it, you will quickly be made aware that you need to slow down because your breathing will remind you! Take your time, be patient, and learn the proper technique in every stroke by putting your foot on the break. You will be amazed, when you slow down the pace a little bit, at how long you can actually swim!

Develop an Efficient Kick

Another great way to improve your overall swimming skills is to learn the different kicks that go along with the various strokes. Each kick has specifics in how far to pull your heel back, how big of a splash you should be making, how far below the surface you want your hips and legs to be, etc. Utilize a kickboard or the wall, as you do in learning to breathe right, to master the different kicks.

Utilize Equipment

There are so many great tools out there to help you learn to swim better. Utilize things like kickboards to improve your breathing and kicking, pull buoys to work on your stroke, and fins to work through power kicks and master the body roll. At most pools you will usually see hand paddles to work on power in the pulling motion to propel you through the water faster, and maybe even gloves that have webbed fingers. All of these things will allow you to work on certain pieces of form one at a time.

Learn the Turns

When I was younger, I spent hours in the pool trying to learn how to do the flip turn. And while many think it’s simply “cool,” the flip turn happens to make your swim efficiency shoot through the roof. This move will also take some time to learn, but if you are patient and work on the timing of the flip turn, your lap swimming will soon be quicker.

Watch and Evaluate

Do not be afraid to have someone watch you and evaluate the different strokes you are working on. Often someone outside the water can easily tell if you are kicking too hard, slapping the water during your stroke, or not efficiently breathing. Take some time to have someone watch and give you tips to work on.

***

While this can seem like an overwhelmingly large list of things to work on, just choose one thing at a time. Each small tweak will make a huge impact on your overall swimming performance.

Remember Natatorium lap swimming is now free with your NIFS Membership! Learn More.

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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: fitness equipment swimming workout sports

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

NIFS Slim It to Win It Weight-Loss Competition 2017: Back and Better!

Slimit16pic2.jpegNew year? Yes. Weight-loss goal? Yep. Team competition? Sign me up! It’s time to get ready for our 7th annual team weight-loss competition, Slim It to Win It! If you are looking for an opportunity to participate in team training that provides accountability, nutritional guidance, and an uplifting environment that is designed to help you succeed, this may be your thing!

Slim It to Win It Details

Slim It is an 8-week group training program geared toward seeing you be successful in fat loss. Throughout the eight weeks of training, you will experience what we hope to be a transformational period. Check out the program details:

  • 8 total weeks of group training.
  • Training dates: February 5 to April 1.
  • 16 scheduled 60-minute workout sessions per week with a NIFS coach.
  • Must attend 14 out of 16 group training sessions to be eligible for prizes, track your food in MyFitnessPal, and complete both the pre- and post-competition BodPods.
  • Nutritional guidance through tips, recipes, food tracking, and meal-planning suggestions.
  • Teams of 10 people (up to 4 of whom can be guests to NIFS).
  • Group camaraderie and motivation.
  • Pre- and post-competition BodPod assessments included.
  • Accountability through encouraging, fun, and safe team training!
  • Two participants will be randomly selected to use, at no cost, the My Nutrition Coach app.

Sign Me Up!

Slim-It-logo.jpgHere are the details of how to get registered:

  • Come to the NIFS service desk between January 14 and 28 to register, or call 317-274-3432, ext. 216.
  • Fee is $40 for NIFS members (fee will be waived if you get a nonmember to register also!) and $185 for guests—this includes full membership access for the duration of the program.
  • Upon payment you will receive a label to place your name on the signup board with your preferred coach and training times. SPACE IS LIMITED SO REGISTER EARLY.
  • Schedule your pre- BodPod with a NIFS trainer between January 29 and February 4.
  • Training begins the week of February 5 and runs through April 1.
  • Post BodPod assessment will take place April 2–8.
  • Grand finale: April 10.

Prizes! Who Doesn’t Love Prizes?

The team that loses the highest average percentage of body fat will win the Slim It to Win It competition! Winners will receive three months of free membership upon eligibility above. Also, the top male and female losers will win three months of free membership to NIFS. And lastly, runner-up male and female top losers will receive two months of free Personal Nutrition Coaching with NIFS Registered Dietician Angie Mitchell.

We look forward to walking with you on this journey for 2017!

For more information, visit nifs.org or contact Amanda Bireline or call the service desk at 317-274-3432, ext. 216.

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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 nutrition motivation weight loss group training accountability workout Slim It to Win It BODPOD

Steps to Create Your 2017 New Year’s Resolution Training Plan

ThinkstockPhotos-523286853.jpgIt seems nearly impossible that the holidays have crept upon us already! And not just that, but those dreaded New Year’s resolutions that loom over our heads are just around the corner. But with the right plan in place, we can look at those resolutions as something exciting: a reset to get focused and to really accomplish something this year.

The key to not letting those goals slip by you and hit you on the backside is to have a plan in place that sets you up for success and not failure. A good, solid strategy that has been thought through early enough will get you where you want to be.

5 Simple Steps to Your New Training Plan

Here are 5 simple steps to help you set your New Year’s resolution.

  • Figure out your goal. What is it that you really want to accomplish in your health and fitness this year? Take some time to really hash out what you truly want to do. Maybe it’s finally committing to that first half marathon, setting a new PR in your deadlift, or simply being consistent and getting to the gym three times a week. Whatever it is, make sure your goal setting is attainable and realistic.
  • Make a plan. Once you have figured out what is realistic, it’s time to make a plan. Figure out what tools you need in order to be successful and how you are going to do it. For example, do you need new running shoes, a fitness tracker like a Fitbit, or to hire a trainer? Once you have your plan in place, share it with someone. This will help you to stay accountable; whoever you share it with can check in on you to see how your progress is going.
  • Schedule it NOW! Like most things, if we don’t get them on the schedule we might as well just forget about it. Make sure that you set aside time in your weekly schedule so that you are not digging for time each day. If it’s in the schedule you are more apt to do it, so get it in there and don’t make compromises!
  • Get an accountability partner. One of the easiest ways to stay on track is if someone else is checking in on you. Find a person who can be this for you. Maybe it’s your spouse, best friend, or a coworker; or if you are lucky, you can find someone to meet you at the gym each day and don’t let them down! Be sure to fill them in on your goals, your plan, and your schedule.
  • Reward yourself. And I am not talking about with brownies! Once you get into the habit and are staying on track, find something that you reward yourself with. Maybe it’s that Fitbit that you wanted in the beginning but didn’t get, those new running shoes you’ve been wanting, or signing up for a race in another state and making it a mini-vacation. Figure out how to reward yourself for doing what you planned!

Don’t be afraid, and together let’s make 2017’s New Year’s resolutions ones that we will actually achieve!

NIFS Can Help with Marathon Training

If one of those goals that you set is to complete your first 5K or half marathon, we would love for you to come and train with us in our Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program! Let us be that accountability partner for you.

Minilogo_2017.jpg

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM AND GET REGISTERED TODAY!

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

Topics: NIFS goal setting resolutions accountability training workout 5k new year's Mini-Marathon Training Program

Nutrition and Fitness Accountability to Get You Through the Holiday Season

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

Tips for Finding Balance at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Beyond

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

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

NIFS Game of Inches Can Help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Reasons to Make Time for a Cool-down after a Workout

cool_down-1.jpgWe know it is encouraged by fitness professionals, and included at the end of group exercise classes, but I want to ask you, personally: how many times after a workout do you actually take the time to cool down?

Many of us tend to finish a hard workout and walk right to the showers or straight to our cars to hurry and get home to the next item on our to-do list. Some of us may not notice much of a difference whether or not we incorporate a cool-down, such as athletes or active adults. However, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, “for the general population, many apparently healthy adults may have heart disease or other diagnosed conditions,” making a cool-down a game-changer for not only everyday movement abilities, but safety.

Here are just a few reasons why you shouldn’t skip out on a few minutes of recovery.

1. Prevent Dizziness

If you have ever felt lightheaded immediately after a hard workout, it could very well be caused from blood pooling. Strenuous exercise causes the blood vessels in your legs to expand, bringing more blood into the legs and feet. After physical activity, your heart is beating faster than normal, and your core body temperature is higher. When you abruptly stop exercising without taking time to cool down, your heart rate slows immediately, which can cause blood to pool into the lower body, causing blood to return at a slower rate to your heart, and your brain. This in turn can cause you to experience dizziness or fainting.

Many accidents in fitness centers actually tend to occur in the locker room from members making a beeline straight to the locker room, steam room, or sauna after a tough workout, without taking adequate time for their body to calm down.

2. Flexibility Is at Its Best

When you finish a tough workout, as stated before, your core body temperature is higher. This means that your muscles are warm and ready for more static stretching. Dynamic stretching is recommended at the beginning of a workout, so static stretching (in other words, taking a deep breath and holding a stretch in a particular position for 15 to 30 seconds at a time) is the next step you can take in maintaining and increasing elasticity in the muscles. This lengthening of the muscles leads to better range of motion and, in turn, improved quality of life for daily activities.

3. Injury Prevention

Tagging onto flexibility, you can prevent yourself from acquiring common injuries with some of this mobility work. One of the most common injuries is in the lower back, which can sometimes be triggered by tight hip flexors and hamstrings. By simply adding some mobility work after you finish, you can not only increase your range of motion, but also increase your ability to catch yourself when you fall or have to react quickly to an unstable surface.

4. Restoration for Your Body

Whether it be simply slowing down to a light jog or walk after some light sprints, or by moving into a savasana pose at the end of a yoga class, a cool-down can have physiological benefits on the body in terms of finality. When we slow down, we feel a “sense of normality” come back into our extremities, and the body begins to restore itself back to a steady state. In other words, it just feels nice!

So whatever you decide to do at the end of your workout, I encourage you to take a moment to think twice for next time. Whether it be adding five minutes of walking to bring the heart rate down, or an extra five minutes to stretch while your muscles are warm, it’s important to note that there are no negative effects to the process. It can only help you in the long run!

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This blog was written by Rebecca Newbrough, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: yoga injury prevention flexibility stretching workout recovery heart rate cool-down

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

8 Essential Winter Clothing Pieces for Runners and Walkers

177522302Winter can be brutal when it comes to getting out the door for a run or walk, however having the right apparel can leave you barely noticing how cold it is outside. With the improvements in the quality of winter gear that popular running apparel companies such as Craft and Pearl Izumi have made, you will hardly notice the cold once you get going!

I visited Runners Forum to take a look at some of the new apparel that they have in stock this year and was very impressed with all they have to offer for this winter. After speaking with the store manager, we came up with 8 essential items you must have before you hit the streets on those cold days:

1)     Running Shoes- No matter what the season it is critical that you are running in a shoe that is right for you. Not having a proper shoe specific to your body mechanics can lead to injuries or discomfort during the run or walk.

2)     Wicking Base Layer- A long sleeve shirt that is efficient in wicking the moisture away from your body is important for both function and comfort. This piece is responsible for moving your sweat away from your body and out to the additional layers to keep you dry and warm.

3)     Insulating Layer- This layer is generally fleece lined and continues moving moisture away from your body. It has the added responsibility of trapping body heat you are producing to keep you even warmer.image001-2

4)     Wind and Water Resistant Jacket- For the most dreary days that involve sleet, rain and snow, a high-tech jacket can make a huge difference in your comfort level. Not only does it protect you from these elements, but it too will continue to wick away moisture from your body and trap your body heat.

5)     Gloves and Socks- Also preferably in moisture wicking, these are crucial for keeping your fingers and toes warm and dry playing a huge factor in trapping your body heat. Additionally your fingers and toes are at a high risk of becoming frostbit on the coldest days so this is a piece that you can not afford to go without.

6)     Running Tights- Since your legs are doing a majority of the work, you are producing a lot of heat in this area. Tights will be most efficient in holding in heat, but if tights are not your style, than a light insulated running pant will be your best bet.image002

7)     Winter Hat or Headband- Similar to your toes and fingers, your ears are at a high risk for frostbite. Cover your ears and head to avoid this as well as add warmth to the area for comfort.

8)     Reflective Gear- In the winter, the days are shorter which means many of your runs may start or finish in the dark. To be safe, wear as much reflective clothing as you can so that you can be visible to cars and others. Many winter clothing pieces are indeed reflective but a reflective vest is a good substitute.

Mini-logo-option-2Cross the finish line with us this Spring! The 25th Annual Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program starts January 21–May 6, 2015. Training is at 6pm at NIFS downtown.

Visit our website or contact Stephanie Kaiser for more information.

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

Topics: winter fitness running walking marathon training mini marathon workout reflective gear weather layers 5k