NIFS Healthy Living Blog

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!

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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

The Hidden Wellness and Fitness Benefits of Yoga

Yoga3.jpgMany of us know that yoga serves as a form of physical activity that increases flexibility for participants. Yoga focuses on putting the individuals in body poses that elongate muscles from head to toe. While this is very true, and I encourage anyone looking to improve their flexibility to incorporate yoga into their weekly workout routine, yoga has so much more to offer than just improvements in flexibility. In fact, the original context of yoga had very little to do with improving flexibility at all.

Originally the purpose of yoga was spiritual development practices to improve mind-body awareness. Over the years, however, many have begun to focus more on the physical benefits of yoga than the mental and spiritual benefits, which has led the practice of yoga to take on newly defined purposes. However, it is important to understand the mind-body awareness benefits of yoga, as they can be just as if not more beneficial than the physical attributes. Let’s take a look at what some of those hidden benefits are.

Nervous System and Digestive System

One major focus of yoga is to become more aware of and to control your breathing patterns. By learning to control breathing, you can move from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system almost instantaneously. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response, or the part of your nervous system designed to respond to stress. When the sympathetic nervous system is in control, heart rate and blood pressure rise as a response to fight a possible threat. You want to limit the activity of this side of the autonomic nervous system. This is important because when the parasympathetic nervous system (or rest and digest) is in majority of control, your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels lower while your digestion rate increases. Once your body reaches this relaxed state, anxiety becomes something of the past. A faster digestive system helps your body make the most of nutrients found in the food you consume while regulating regular bodily function.

Focus and Creativity

If you ask an experienced yogi what the hardest part of yoga is, you might be surprised by their answer. Typically, one might assume that holding the different yoga poses would be the most challenging aspect; however, there is an even bigger challenge, which includes focusing—on nothing. Meditation is another crucial component of a successful yoga session. Experienced yogis are able to focus their attention on nothing but their inner self; all outside distractions are eliminated, at least temporarily. This may sound very simple, but if you have ever tried to completely clear your mind of all inner thoughts besides what you are feeling at that exact moment, you may be able to grasp how difficult a task this is to successfully complete.

However, once one is able to control their center of attention, they will find their ability to stay focused on one particular task (especially those that require attention to detail) becomes better and better. In a 2012 study published by the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers were able to determine those who practiced meditation for at least 10 minutes a day for up to 16 weeks performed better with divergent-thinking tasks than those who did not participate in meditation at all.

Strength and Muscle Definition

Just in case you are not fascinated by the mind-body awareness benefits of yoga, there is a less discussed muscle defining and strengthening benefit as well, for those who are solemnly interested in the physical benefits. Who knew that yoga is actually great for improving muscle definition, and in rare cases even muscle hypertrophy? Because yoga focuses on moving and upholding your own body weight in various positions, it serves as a great strength workout in addition to flexibility and mind-body training.

Unlike traditional resistance training, which focuses primarily on the concentric contraction (the muscle contracts as it shortens) of a muscle, yoga focuses primarily on the eccentric contraction (the muscle contracts as it stretches) of a muscle. The eccentric contraction component gives muscles a more elongated look, while concentric contractions give muscles a shorter, more bulgy, look. If you have ever seen an experienced yogi’s physique, it may resemble that of a gymnast, basketball player, or even a track athlete versus those who participate in more traditional forms of resistance training, who might resemble a football player or bodybuilder with more muscle hypertrophy.

Yoga tends to train small and large muscles all over the body due to its high demand for muscles to work in conjunction with each other to perform the different body movements in various planes of movement. This is good for the reason that you often tend to work smaller muscle groups that may get little to no attention when practicing machine-oriented resistance training. With a machine that focuses on a one-dimensional plane of movement, it’s often impossible to train multiple muscle groups at the same time. Therefore, yoga tends to be a better option for improving overall body strength along with achieving a more proportional muscular physique.

Other Wellness Benefits

Some additional notable benefits of yoga also include (but are not limited to) immune system boost, pain management, increase in gray brain matter and increase in balance, and function ability. As noted above, the mental and nervous system benefits of yoga must begin to take back priority. Although improving flexibility can be a great thing, many have found that these additional benefits are what separate this form of physical activity from any other form.

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This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: yoga muscles focus flexibility digestion wellness nervous system mind-body

Fitness Training Types: Find Your Method

bands-1.jpgIf you take a few minutes to google the various types of fitness training out there, you will come up with a list of about 10 different ones, and then 10 more different variations of each of those. And each year more and more “fitness trends” come out, making it quite confusing for the consumer as to what to choose and where to start. It can be confusing and even frustrating choosing what is right for you and your body.

And to take it a step further, maybe the results you want that you aren’t getting are because you need to try something different. Maybe that different thing does not have to be some crazy, drastic change in gyms, your diet, or everything in your life. In fact, maybe it’s just a workout style that suits you better. Each product you see today—like CrossFit, Orangetheory, and Dailey Method to name a few—all follow a specific training method. And what works for one person doesn’t always work for the next.

I have narrowed it down to five categories of training methods, so let’s take a look at what each one is, and I’ll help you narrow down your focus.

Circuit Training

High intensity–style workouts that incorporate both aerobic exercise and strength training. These circuit workouts can be done with or without equipment.

    • Target: Building strength and muscular endurance. These workouts tend to keep you on the higher end of your heart rate zones and are usually designed in stations for time, with little to no rest in-between.
    • Goals: The circuit training method of exercise is good for those people who are looking for weight loss, are in a time crunch, or are looking for overall general fitness, a total-body workout, and toning. Many say this is where you get the most bang for your buck because you can get the results you are looking for in less time.

Aerobic Training

This type of training is generally summarized as meaning “with oxygen” or cardio training.

    • Target: These workouts tend to target the cardiovascular system, mainly the heart and lungs. In most cases it’s associated with running, biking, swimming, jumprope, step class, and other cardio-based exercises. This style of training helps to increase your cardiovascular endurance and open the gap in your heart rate zones.
    • Goals: The aerobic training style is good for those looking to lose weight, for specific training programs like marathons, for athletes looking to increase performance and endurance as well as recover appropriately, and for those trying to reduce the risk of chronic illness like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Heart Rate Training

ThinkstockPhotos-520046406.jpegThis type of training is specific to each individual and their personal zones. You can read more here about HR training, but this training method is focused in on zones like fat burn, cardiovascular endurance, peak performance, and recovery. In many cases, HR training is viewed as the all-around best training method there is.

    • Target: Heart rate training helps to increase endurance and sustainability in workouts by allowing you to peak and recover in a way that is specific to your body. Training zones are identified by doing a VO2 test.
    • Goals: For anyone and everyone! Typically people training for endurance races like Spartans or marathons, or athletes honing in on max results and recovery, for the person who is totally burnt out after each workout, and all the way to people who are on medications that affect their heart rate.

Flexibility Training

Contrary to what I know everyone is thinking, it’s not just yoga! Forget the general stereotype of moms walking into the gym with lattes, flip-flops, and their yoga mat; this training style is probably the most important, yet the most neglected. It incorporates corrective exercises, stretching (both static and dynamic), and movements from head to toe.

    • Target: To improve flexibility, mobility, range of motion, balance, and better posture.
    • Goals: Another method of training that is for everyone! If you are not a yoga person, it’s time to start! Yoga folks, dancers, runners, meatheads: this is for you, too! Flexibility training is for every single person who wants to enhance their training in any way.

Strength Training

deadlift-3.jpgStrength training typically is done with heavy weight but can be done with lighter ones as well. This style of training is directly associated with Newton’s law: mass x acceleration = force.

    • Target: To increase muscle strength.
    • Goals: Perfect for those looking to put on mass; can be good for those who don’t have a bunch of time to train; also good if you desire to move heavy things.

What should you do from here? If you are stuck in a rut or want to find the method that is going to be most effective for you, take some time to define your goals, figure out what is realistic for you, and take into consideration your past exercise experience. All these things play into what will work as well as what you like to do while in the gym.

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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 fitness yoga circuit workout training flexibility strength core strength goals heart rate strength training methods aerobic

NIFS December Group Fitness Class of the Month: PiYo

Piyo2.jpgContinuing with the Group Fitness Class of the Month series, December is upon us and we are highlighting a new class. Hopefully you had the opportunity in November to do a BODYATTACK class. This month we take a closer look at another group fitness class: PiYo. This Beachbody class has been on the schedule for a good chunk of time now, but in case you don’t know what it is or haven’t taken the opportunity to try it, let’s pick it apart a little bit.

A Low-Impact, Fat-Burning Fitness Class

Now, stepping into an even smaller group fitness studio can also be very intimidating, I know, but the faster-paced movements and music in PiYo will hopefully diminish some of those feelings. And for those of you (this was me at one point as well) who feel this is just another stretching class…think again! PiYo takes the muscle-sculpting, core-tightening movements from Pilates and the strength and flexibility benefits of yoga and ties them into one class. Talk about a great combination! And with the ramped-up speed of the different movements, this class includes fat-burning, low-impact movements to help you see results.

My Experience with This Workout

I personally have done a PiYo class to see what it was all about, and allow me to share my experience. I started out with the mindset of this is “just another stretching class,” like I talked about above. Within just a few minutes, I quickly learned I was mistaken. The class moved much faster than I had anticipated, and the movements were quite challenging. I would consider myself to be an active, decently fit individual, with a good amount of flexibility and strength. But some of the moves in PiYo really challenged the flexibility and mobility of my body. And I could see how over time, taking this class would allow a person to actually see measurable results in those two areas.

PiYo_LOGO_Gray_M.jpgPiYo at NIFS

NIFS offers two different kinds of PiYo on our group fitness schedule. PiYo Strength focuses on agility, dance conditioning, athletic training, core conditioning, balance, flexibility, and so much more. Many athletes benefit from this format because of its flexibility, and using the body as full-body resistance. This is a fusion format that moves quickly and powerfully, and creates strength from the transverse abs out. We also offer Pilates/Yoga Fusion, which is a unique class designed to build strength, balance, agility, and flexibility. The moves fit perfectly together to form a class filled with intense choreography that's fun and challenging and will make you sweat. It is a perfect blend of Pilates, yoga, sports stretch, dance stretch, athletics, and more. Don't worry, no previous experience is necessary!

Watch PIYO workout Video

This blog shows what another NIFS Health Fitness Specialist has to say about PiYo. Take some time to try a PiYo class and see what you think!

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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 exercise fitness center yoga group fitness workouts balance strength Pilates core strength Group Fitness Class of the Month PiYo

Thomas’s Corner: Turn Back the Fitness and Nutrition Clock: 2006

ThinkstockPhotos-491229984.jpgGreetings, NIFS friends. We have passed the midway point in the calendar year 2016, and I hope that you have been successful in meeting some of your yearly goals as well as making new ones. During this time of year, we find outdoor and recreational exercise more readily available and appealing, understandably, and because of this, there is time for the occasional spare moment for yours truly to ponder (by ponder, I mean BLOG!).

This series will elicit memories of fitness past, turning back the clocks to years past as fitness was evolving quickly to what it is today. We will look at the sometimes-crazy equipment trends, clothing necessities, what worked, and what did not work. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a stroll down memory lane.

2006: The Rise of Functional Training, Tai Chi, Pilates, and More

Our first stop is 2006, which seems not too long ago, but it has been 10 years already. What we do have is plenty of information on the topic thanks to the evolution of technologies of the times (the World Wide Web, for instance). The year 2006 saw many positives as well as negatives. Functional training as we know it today was still in the early adoption stages for many old-school fitness enthusiasts. But as we saw more and more benefits of this training ethos, many people jumped aboard.

Thankfully, those pioneers were able to show us that no matter how fit we think we are, there is still room for improvement. Along with tai chi, yoga, and Pilates and a byproduct of functional training ideas, BOSU became an instant fitness trend providing a new type of workout that incorporated sound body, mind, and balance. Today, we find BOSUs are still in high rotation at NIFS as well as among some of the top fitness professionals in the world.

Fad Diets of the Recent Past

Although we saw some great fitness-related breakthroughs, there were still some concerns when it came to nutrition and dieting. Fad diets, which had been all over the board for decades, brought us a couple of interesting trends that proved to work but were not without consequence and danger. The “low-carb” diet, which relies heavily on protein consumption with very little carbohydrates, showed promise when people began losing weight, but the cost ran high as individuals began experiencing an increased risk of coronary disease.

Another trend, the “grapefruit diet,” wanted us to eat a somewhat unfortunately sour piece of fruit to see our weight drop. This seemed good in principle, but time has shown that balanced nutrition is still king. Conversely, gyms adopted catchy marketing phrases to promote themselves such as, “diets don’t work.” It’s a misrepresentation of the truth, which is that we are all on diets (some are not as good as others, though).

All in all, there was little to be learned or gained from this time period in nutrition. Many people wanted the quick fix or magic pill to make all the bad stuff go away and accelerate the good stuff beyond what is considered good or normal. This seems to still be the case today, but there are always going to be those people who do not want to work for their fitness gains.

The More Things Change…

As you can see, there are many similarities between today and 2006. There is also an equal amount of topics we would like to move away from, which isn’t all bad considering we learn from our mistakes. The emergence of healthy mind and body really sticks with me as well as a movement toward functional training. Only time will tell how the new fitness trends of today will stack up and be viewed 10 years from now. 

If this blog has been a trip down memory lane for you, please share your yesteryear experience below and request a specific time/year for us to visit in a future blog so that we can continue together on this trip down memory lane. 

As always, muscleheads rejoice and evolve.

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

Topics: nutrition Thomas' Corner yoga functional training Pilates fitness trends diets

5 Lessons I Learned at the Wanderlust Yoga Retreat

YogaSlackers-_-Day-1-_-Tony-sitting-on-slackline-Photo-2.jpgI recently attended an event that was pretty far outside my usual activity base. I consider myself a lifetime mover and a lifetime learner, but I have to admit this event had me a bit concerned about my success rate, comfort level, and quite honestly my enjoyment. After all, I was supposed to be on vacation. The event I am referring to is a rather large one called Wanderlust, a three-day celebration of the practice of yoga and its branches.

Now you can see a guy like me was pretty concerned about my abilities stepping into this weekend of yoga, meditation, slacklining, and the like. I have little to no experience in many of the mindfulness practices on what I refer to as “that side of fitness,” nor was I confident in my abilities to slow down long enough to find some kind of connections while performing in the sessions. I’ve been known to be a bit on the intense side, especially when it comes to training, so I was worried about my presence at this kind of event. A bull in a china shop came to mind.

After the first few sessions of meditation, yoga, and some slackline training, I was quickly finding out the great benefits that come from mindful movement. I was able to slow down and connect with myself and my surroundings. I began to feel every part of the movement and how it affected the entire body. Even the very difficult poses of yoga were providing positive feedback that I am sure so many seek during their personal practice. Don’t get me wrong, there were some frustrations and many failures, but it became very enjoyable to experience those hurdles and challenges. Here are few more lessons I grabbed from my time at Wanderlust.   

1. Yoga Is Hard, and You Are Going to Fall

Tony-in-Crow-Photo-1.jpgPrior to this trip to Snowshoe Mountain, I participated in two group fitness yoga classes here at NIFS, and I struggled. After a few more sessions at Wanderlust, I was still pretty bad, but I was better. I learned from my previous failures and falls (usually on my head from a handstand or crow) and got a little better each time. Small improvements made consistently will always lead to success in anything that you do.

2. Wandering Does Not Mean You’re Lost

Attempting new things and stepping out of the norm does not mean you are lost or unhappy with your current training methods and ideas; it is a positive thing to try new activities that provide a different kind of stimulus. Challenging your current limits once in a while is a good thing; you tend to find out some things about yourself you never knew, opening up new interests and opportunities for growth. It’s exciting to find strength in activities you never knew you had and jump out of that self-made comfort zone. Try new things and witness the benefits both positive and negative that will always lead to growth.

3. Balance Is Key

I think finding balance in your fitness world is as important as having one in the first place. Remove the blinders once in a while and work on aspects of your fitness that create balance in your body, like mobility, strength, endurance, and power. Repeating the same thing over and over again, constantly performing high-intensity workouts or only performing heavy strength workouts, is a good way to paint yourself into a corner. Find balance during your week of workouts to continue to get the best of all disciplines that will ultimately create the best version of you.

4. Just Let Go

Probably one of the major lessons for me during this retreat was finding ways to just let go and be where you are at that moment and absorb what that experience has to offer. Being in that moment and not stressing about what has happened and what is yet to come allowed me to get the most out of not only the activity I was participating in, but everything that surrounded it—like the beautiful day and scenery, for example. And by the way, here are a few things you should learn to let go:

  • Toxic people in your life
  • Being a victim
  • Trying to please and/or impress everybody
  • Worries about the future or past mistakes 

5. There Is Always a Way

Tree-on-top-of-Rock-Photo3.jpgI am a huge believer that if there is a will, there is a way, and to always find ways to get things done. Just like the tree in the picture growing on top of a rock, it found a way to get tall and strong even though it is out of its usual environment of growing from the ground. IT FOUND A WAY. You can always find a way to eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, decrease stress; you just have to reach and work for it. There is a way; find it. This tree did, and so can you.

Bonus Takeaways:

  • Find your “True North,” that reason you are here and what makes you happiest.
  • Have faith in yourself and be brave; don’t be afraid to make a mistake.
  • Find getaways that are out of the norm for you and redefine your boundaries.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people who want the same things you want.

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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 fitness center yoga group fitness balance mindfulness

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

Why I Have a Passion for PiYo Fitness

piyo.jpgOkay, so you may have been hearing the word “PiYo®” circulating these last few months within the world of group fitness. For those of you who feel like you do not completely know what it means or what the class entails, fear not. I guarantee you are not the only one with questions, and as a certified PiYo instructor, I would love to share a few reasons why I teach it, and the benefits that can come from practicing it.

PiYo® is a Beachbody program created by celebrity fitness trainer Chalene Johnson (who is also the creator of TurboFire, Turbo Kick, etc.). She originally created the PiYo® class because she wanted a workout that would provide results without straining your body. She loved the benefits of Pilates and yoga but got bored with the static moves in yoga and the microscopic movements in Pilates. So essentially, the class is set to music, combining moves from both techniques and making them dynamic to give participants an enjoyable yet challenging class that works on not only body strength, but also balance and flexibility. Let’s look a little more deeply into those features.

Bodyweight Strength

PiYo_LOGO_Gray_M.jpgSurprisingly, for many of us (myself included), just using our own bodyweight for certain exercises can be challenging enough. From moves like triceps pushups, to lunges, to side planks, 140+ pounds begins to feel really heavy really quick! PiYo® takes many of these simple-to-learn yet challenging moves and combines them with aspects such as “time under tension” and dynamic pulses to keep the body moving the whole time.

Each song also has its own focus; the workout begins with a heat-building track to wake up the body and get blood flowing to the muscles, then moves into a lower-body and power track. Following those, we seamlessly transition the second half of the class into a yoga flow, and finish with a core and stretching/strength track to leave you feeling worked and refreshed.

Balance

I want to take this opportunity to emphasize that balance does matter! It’s amazing how quickly we lose balance over time if we do not continue to develop it. Think about how many times you shift your weight from one side to the other; from simply walking, to going up and down flights of stairs, to catching yourself when you trip, to leaning backward or forward to grab something off the floor. For the younger generation it might seem quite simple, but I promise you, in 30 years, if you never trained in a split stance or single-leg pattern, just standing on one leg for 30 seconds can turn into one of the most difficult and frustrating things you have done.

Flexibility

As a former dancer, this aspect is one of my personal favorites. If you want to deepen your flexibility in your hips and hamstrings, and focus on finding space within those areas to stretch, PiYo® is wonderful for this, especially the flow section, which focuses on this. Even if you have never been very flexible, and simply just want to work on being comfortable when you reach to tie your shoes, or being able to twist and open the t-spine to improve your posture, PiYo® has something to offer for that as well. Mobility work is so important in performance, as we age, and is essential to maintaining and improving quality of life.

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If you are wondering whether you could keep up in a PiYo® class or if you could do it, you can! The best part of PiYo® is that it’s your workout! I run the class and have the moves and choreography, but it’s your workout and you are more than welcome to take it at your own pace. That includes modifications; I make sure to offer plenty of modifications to assist and advance you as you go along, allowing you to have a suitable class that will not only challenge you, but also be safe for you to participate in. Take a look at NIFS group fitness schedule and:

Try a group fitness class for free

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: fitness yoga balance Pilates stretching core strength bodyweight Beachbody

Muscle Soreness Recovery Tips

sorenessWhen we are new to exercise or trying an exercise that is new to our body, it’s pretty common to feel SOME sort of muscular pain.

I think most of us can agree that a little muscle soreness after a fantastic workout is a fun way to remember that things are changing and that we are getting stronger. I think we can also agree (and most have experienced it) that there is a certain degree of soreness that kind of feels like “everything hurts so badly you can’t stand up or lift your arms,” which isn’t quite as motivating. Along with this you may feel irritable, fatigued, and really hungry. Sounds fun, right?

Not to worry! For each type of muscular soreness there is an amazing  recovery solution.

Why Do My Muscles Get Sore in the First Place?

The muscle soreness that you feel 24 to 48 hours after the workout is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and it is actually caused by tiny micro-tears in the muscle and surrounding tissue. Say WHAT? Tears in the muscle? Sounds pretty terrible, right? But actually those little tears in the muscle are necessary to make things stronger.

So What Should I Do About Muscle Soreness?

To alleviate mild muscle soreness, a little movement is actually best! Try walking or some yoga. While it’s good to move after a workout to take away some of that pain, this is a pretty fine line and it’s most important to truly listen to and trust your body and give it rest when needed.

Here are five ways to take care of your muscles and reduce muscle soreness:

  1. Take it slow. Gradually progress the intensity, frequency, and duration of your workouts.
  2. Foam roll. Not sure what this is? It’s a way of stretching and basically giving your muscles and fascia a great massage. Check out our handy guide on how to foam roll!
  3. Get a massage. You’re going to love this one! Foam rolling is great, but if you have the time and funding for a therapeutic massage, it’s well worth the investment. It helps your body heal itself.
  4. Practice yoga or do some light stretching. Avoid a fast-paced or intense practice and choose something slower such as Yin or Hatha yoga.
  5. Ice the muscles. Placing an icepack on a specific area may help reduce muscle soreness in a very localized area. Make sure not to leave the icepack on for very long, though, as it may cause tissue death.

It all comes down to listening to your body and not being afraid to take a day or two to let your body heal. Soreness, injury, and illness are a time to nurture yourself and give your body the rest it needs. Take the rest, and pay attention to how much stronger you feel in your next workout!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, contributing writer, group fitness instructor, and author of healthy living blog Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

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Topics: yoga injury prevention muscles stretching pain recovery

Three Group Fitness Classes to Try NOW!

NIFS offers a wide variety of group fitness classes every day of the week that are innovative, fun, and make sweating a bit more enjoyable. Whether you are a group fitness “junkie” or just trying out the whole group fitness thing for the first time, here are three group fitness classes you should put on your list to check out:

1. Cycle/RPMcycle

This heart-pumping cardio class will get you fit while sweating to the beat of powerful music. In the middle of summer, it’s often too hot or humid to safely ride your bike outdoors, while in the winter it can be too icy and cold. Indoor cycling is a great alternative. For a high-intensity workout, cycling is low-impact. Each class focuses on a combination of interval training, speed work, and hill climbs to keep you healthy, fit, and happy.

2. CXWORX

The CXWORX workout is just 30 minutes and focuses on the core (the abs, hips, butt, shoulders, and back). That means whether you are looking for a quick and effective workout or are trying to improve your performance in your other workouts, this is the group fitness class for you. While this can be an intense and challenging class, our instructors are excellent at providing exercise modifications that allow everyone in the class to be successful!

3. Yoga_DSC0280

We all know that stress doesn’t do anything good for our health, and one way to balance out the many stresses of life is to hit the mat and take a yoga class. The controlled stretching and breathing practiced in a yoga class allows the body to relax, which can lower your blood pressure, repair overworked muscles, and give the mind a needed break from the hustle and bustle of a regular day. Not flexible? Not a problem. Our instructors understand that everyone comes into class with his or her own “baggage” and will make necessary adjustments and provide options so that everyone can have a calming and rejuvenating yoga practice.

With 80+ monthly group fitness classes at NIFS there is something for everyone. Get started and try a free class on us!

Request a FREE Class Pass

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, LES MILLS® certified BODYPUMP® and CXWORX® instructor and contributing writer. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS yoga group fitness cycling core Les Mills