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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

NIFS March Class of the Month: CXWORX™

Are you in a time crunch when heading to the gym and trying to squeeze in the most effective workout in a short amount of time? Les Mills CXWORX™is geared toward those who are looking for a quick, to-the-point workout that will help to build strength and lean muscle.

Les Mills CXWORX resized 600

CXWORX™ is the group fitness class of the month for March at NIFS. When attending this class, you can expect to work your core, back, and glutes. The class focuses on strengthening these muscles through movements such as crunches, leg extensions, and balance exercises such as the hover. But don’t worry; you won’t be lying on the floor doing crunches the entire class!

CXWORX™ is great for participants of all levels, and classes are put together using scientifically proven exercises set to awesome music to maximize your 30-minute workout. Before you know it, your workout will be complete!


If you are looking to increase the amount of time you can hold a hover, run faster, play harder, or build overall strength, this is the class that will push you to achieve your goals.

Equipment needed for this class often includes a mat, a resistance band, and a weight plate. No need to bring your own, though. NIFS has plenty of equipment to go around. All that you need to bring is a towel, a water bottle, and your mental determination to power through this 30-minute fitness class.

Just like other Les Mills classes, every three months, a new release of music and the latest exercises are launched to keep your body in peak condition.

Make sure to join Ryan, Tasha, Mary, Michael, and Kristen for CXWORX™. Check the Group Fitness Schedule for times and locations!

Want to see more? Click here to see a portion of a CXWORX™ class by Les Mills.

Request a free class pass to attend this group fitness class or any other class you want to try at NIFS.

This blog was written by Tara Deal, NIFS Group Fitness Instructor and author of Treble in the Kitchen.

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness group fitness balance strength core

VO2 and You (Part 2 of 3)

In Part 1 of this series I explained that VO2max denotes the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use in one minute. So if you can use more oxygen in one minute, just think what you can do over many minutes of a workout!

So where should your VO2 max be? Refer to the tables here that display normative values for age-group VO2 max tests.

Within your age group, the higher numbers represent a higher VO2 max. If you have a great VO2 max, what does that get you outside the gym? Well, if your body can use oxygen more efficiently, you don’t have to work as hard for those little things: walking to your car from the grocery store, walking up and down stairs in your house, and doing chores around the house to name a few. And if it’s easier to get that oxygen to your muscles, there is a big, important muscle that doesn’t have to work as hard at doing its job: your heart.

heart health exercising

Your heart is constantly exercising. It’s always working to get blood with nutrients and oxygen to the parts of your body that need it most. When your VO2 max numbers are good, your heart does not have to work as hard to keep pumping blood to muscles when you are exercising. So of course when you are doing your daily activities it has to work even less hard. A higher VO2 max will actually decrease your resting heart rate and therefore decrease stress on the heart when doing activities at varying intensity levels (such as walking the dog or running a marathon).

In the last part of this series I will outline the different ways to strengthen that heart muscle and pump up your VO2 max number.

To find out more or schedule a VO2 max test or Bod Pod® test click here. Read Part 3 of this series.

Written by Adam Heavrin, certified Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS.

Topics: assessments

VO2 and You (Part 1 of 3)

VO2 max. You have possibly heard this term used to describe your fitness level. Unfortunately, most people haven’t got a clue what it means or how the information is supposed to help them. But never fear! In this three-part series I will unravel the mystery behind VO2max and explain why it should be a go-to piece of information to help you reach fitness and healthy lifestyle goals.

VO2 Max

To start, let’s take out the “max” and just go with VO2. The V in VO2 stands for volume, and the O2 stands for our great friend, oxygen. Together, the term VO2 denotes “volume of oxygen consumption.” When you add in the “max” and apply the term to exercise, VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can consume and use in one minute per kilogram of body weight (one kilogram is equivalent to approximately 2.2 pounds).

Oxygen is our friend. Oxygen is like the gas in your car. We can work without it, but not for very long. Therefore, the higher your VO2 max is, the more oxygen your body can deliver to working muscles in a shorter amount of time. VO2 max is not just for marathon runners, either. Whether you want to climb stairs easier, get up and down the basketball court longer, or just make that last couple of hours at work a little more productive, a higher VO2 max will allow you to get the most out of your oxygen fuel tank.  

So now you know what VO2 max is. Check out part 2 of the series to find out the various health benefits associated with a high VO2 max. Here’s hoping I have MAXimized your curiosity!

To find out more or schedule a VO2 max test or Bod Pod® test click here.

Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

Written by Adam Heavrin, certified Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS.

Topics: assessments

Escape the “Resolution Bubble” to Achieve Fitness Results

You know that magical time when you are riding on the initial motivation wave that comes just after making a fitness resolution. You tell yourself, “This is my year to lose a few pounds and get back into shape,” and you really mean it. Then a few weeks later, the newness wears off, the glitz of new equipment is gone, and along with it your attitude of fun. Your workouts become more of the same. You’ve gotten bored.

There are numerous ways to overcome this bubble so that you actually make your resolution a reality. Here are seven of the best ones which, when used together, can help you keep your fitness resolutions.

group workout

Find fun ways to work out that don’t feel like exercise.

You can dance, swim, ride a bike…whatever is fun and doesn’t seem like hard work. Here are some more ideas.

Find a workout partner to share your experiences.

You can find partners at the gym, in the personal training programs, in various groups, and even online. When you have a partner, it not only makes working out fun, but it also adds accountability for everyone involved and a higher commitment level.

Create small competitions between yourself and friends or co-workers.

Create a body-fat or weight-loss challenge or a “who visited the gym the most during the month?” contest. NIFS has a program starting in February to help you get competitive, called Slim It to Win It.

Schedule your workout during times that last-minute excuses are least likely to pop up.

Minimize the chance of finding an excuse not to work out. Convince yourself that the workout is important and anything else can wait.

Celebrate your small accomplishments more often.

Do not celebrate with food! Make a reward chart for yourself with a list of things you want to accomplish and then add a suitable reward. For example, lose five pounds and buy a new CD, or go to the gym at least five times a week for a month and get new shoes. Make the rewards tangible items you want. Make yourself work for the things and you will recognize your achievements and feel motivated to continue.

Create a three-step process to follow:
  1. Tell as many people as possible about your goals. The more people you tell, the more people there will be to hold you accountable. You could make an announcement at family reunions, work functions, and parties so people around you will be supportive of your decision and maybe not bring triple chocolate cake to the next function, but rather something healthy to show their support.

  2. Write down all of your goals and put them in a place where you can see them frequently.

  3. Identify and write down any and all compelling reasons you have for wanting to reach your goals. Examples of compelling reasons include something that moves you personally, such as extending your life so you will be around to see your grandchildren grow up, something as simple as bending over and tying your shoes, being able to climb stairs with groceries easily, and maybe losing enough weight to fit into your clothes again.

7. Reconnect with your compelling reason on a daily and frequent basis so that your mind is focused on always attempting to accomplish your goal.

The more you think about it, the more apt you will be to continue working on the goal. Remember, my fellow NIFS trainers and I are here to help you get there, too. Just give us a call at 317-274-3432.

Written by Thomas Livengood. Click here to meet Thomas and are other NIFS certified Personal Trainers.

Topics: NIFS fitness center motivation goal setting resolutions weight loss accountability

How Sleep Affects Exercise and Weight Loss

Each year, The National Sleep Foundation ­provides helpful information on the correlation between sleep and exercise. Along with that information, it also points out how proper sleep is important to the equation of exercise and weight loss. Here is the latest information from them in 2024.

The key points of the article are as follows:

  • Exercisers say they sleep better
  • Vigorous exercisers report the best sleep
  • Non-exercisers are the sleepiest and have the highest risk for sleep apnea
  • Less time sitting is associated with better sleep and health
  • Exercise at any time of day appears to be good for sleep

NIFS wrote about this same connection that stemmed from a research study on the topic. Below is an excerpt from that article written by NIFS Fitness Center Director, Melanie Roberts. We hope it will give you some added z's from it's insights!

The Sleep and Exercise Connection

The sleep, weight loss and exercise connectionThe Sleep and Exercise Connection Researcher Karla Ann Kubitz published findings of a large meta-analysis covering more than 10 years of sleep and exercise studies. The review shows that exercise significantly increases total sleep time and aerobic exercise decreases REM sleep. Kubitz also noted that those who exercise regularly, as well as those taking up a single bout of exercise, both experienced an increase in NREM and total sleep time. The result: those exercising went to sleep more quickly, slept longer, and had a more restful sleep than those not exercising.

The Sleep and Weight Loss Connection

While some researchers feel the link between sleep loss and weight gain is weak, others continue to investigate what happens in the body when it doesn’t receive the 7 to ­9 hours of recommended rejuvenation time. “Sleep loss is associated with striking alterations in hormone levels that regulate the appetite and may be a contributing factor to obesity,” says Michael Thorpy, MD, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Joyce Walsleben, PhD, past director of the Sleep Disorder Center at the New York University School of Medicine, agrees. “When you disrupt sleep, you disrupt your hormones. You become glucose intolerant, you want to eat more, and you don’t metabolize what you eat as well.” Not only can this hormonal disruption lead to weight gain, Walsleben warns, but also to an increased risk of developing diabetes. Even mild sleep deprivation can lead to a disruption of these hormone levels that regulate appetite which operate on a 24-hour rhythm.

Need another reason to choose sleep over late night web surfing or TV watching? Based on findings from Pennsylvania State University, lack of sleep causes chronic low-grade inflammation and predisposes you to cardiovascular events and a shorter life span.

Sleep On This

So whether you've been exercising regularly or have just started with a single session, you can expect a more restful sleep than someone who does not exercise. And since sleep plays an instrumental role in the body’s metabolic equation, consider starting a fitness program today.

Topics: NIFS exercise healthy habits weight loss sleep

NIFS Fitness: How to Dress for Running in Cold Weather

The weather in Indianapolis has been typical Indiana winter weather: COLD. Despite the near-freezing temperatures, the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program is logging miles outside in preparation for May’s big race. Running or being active outside in temperatures that are fairly icy may seem dangerous, but with the proper gear and clothing, getting out of the gym can be a great way to switch up your typical training routine.

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Tom BonDurant, co-owner of the Runners Forum, spoke at the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program orientation, providing runners with tips and tricks for staying warm and safe when running in freezing temperatures.

Layering Is Key

Tom shared his favorite key pieces of running attire to
mix and match that meet varying weather conditions throughout the year.

Layer 1: The base layer. The base layer can be long sleeve or short sleeve and should be composed of a wicking fabric. The wicking fabric will keep the body drier, which will allow the runner to stay warmer.

Layer 2: The mid/thermal layer. This layer typically consists of a fleece-lined jacket that either zips all the way or is a half zip. The zip allows the jacket to cover the chin and mouth, but can also be zipped down for some extra ventilation if the runner begins to get warm.

Layer 3: Outer shell jacket. This jacket is going to keep the elements out. It should also have reflective material on it for easy visibility when running in the dark.

In addition to these three layers, it is important to have warm and comfortable running gear on the bottom such as fleece-lined running tights, socks, wind briefs (for the guys), a hat, and gloves. With these basic layers covered, you will be prepared for the elements and running outdoors at any time of the year.

Written by Tara Deal, NIFS Group Fitness Instructor and author of Treble in the Kitchen.


Topics: NIFS exercise fitness winter fitness running marathon training mini marathon half marathon health outdoors safety