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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

HIT (High Intensity Training) at NIFS

HIT, or High Intensity Training, is a fitness buzzword, they may leave a lot of us wondering exactly what HIT is and how it differs from other training methods.


By definition, High Intensity Training is a workout characterized by the increased level of effort put into relatively short bursts of energy rather than “typical” training methods that focus on lower intensity levels and longer workout periods. The hype around these workouts comes with the side effects of increased fat loss and increased muscle definition in a shorter period of time. The Journal of Applied Physiology showed that women completing these high-intensity workouts will burn more fat than those completing moderate to low-intensity steady-state workouts.

To summarize, HIT classes are high intensity, high energy, fast, and fun! The name may sound intimidating, but the great thing about HIT workouts is that the intensity is all relative to the person completing the workout.

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What Is a HIT Workout Like?

Workouts focus on strengthening the entire body, making participants stronger and better prepared for everyday life experiences. People of all shapes, sizes, and ages at a moderate to intermediate fitness level attend these classes to be pushed to the next level. During these intense workout sessions, the class forms a sense of camaraderie, which allows participants to push each other to the finish.


Upon arriving at class, you will see the scheduled WOD or Workout of the Day posted on the whiteboard, including many pieces of functional training equipment that you may not typically use when working out on your own.

There is no need to feel intimidated if this is your first class. The instructors understand that people of all experience levels are joining in on the hard work. The instructors will thoroughly explain each exercise and how to use any accompanying equipment and will be available for assistance throughout the entire 60-minute session.

HIT workouts are always changing and the instructors will provide you with everything that you need. All you need to bring is yourself, a water bottle, a towel, and some determination.

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Watch the video to see a HIT class in action!

NIFS Offers HIT Classes

If you are curious, and want to experience HIT, NIFS offers one free introductory class. OR, If you like water resistance exercise, we also offer a HIT class in the pool every second Thursday of the month. See Class times and instructors listed on the HIT schedule.


Written by Tara Deal, Registered Dietitian. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness cardio group fitness functional training HIT

Exercising After a Heart Attack Helps Avoid Depression

My grandpa was an active man for his entire life, so he had a hard time sitting still after his heart attack. He loved going to cardiac rehab so much that he kept attending even after he was told he had graduated and that he did not need to return upon completing the program. He knew that staying active was a key to his recovery and preventing further damage to his heart, and that sitting around would more than likely cause him to become depressed. His doctors encouraged physical activity but restricted him from participating in some activities, which included cutting firewood and shoveling snow.

exercise after heart attack

A Heart Attack Can Begin a Vicious Cycle of Depression and a Sedentary Lifestyle

A heart attack is a life-changing event that oftentimes occurs unexpectedly and can turn someone’s life upside-down. According to the American Heart Association, individuals are three times more likely to develop depression after a heart attack. Depression, being over cautious, or fear of another complication often leads these individuals to become sedentary. A sedentary lifestyle is dangerous because it can contribute to other health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and obesity, to name a few. Have you or someone you know become a victim of this reoccurring trend?

Talk to Your Doctor

Ask your doctor questions about physical activity following a heart attack. Your doctor can tell you how to safely add exercise back into your daily routine. They typically recommend starting slowly with low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, or biking, and exercising for only a few minutes at a time in the beginning before building up to longer durations.

So what are you waiting for? Go talk to your doctor about rebooting your activity level! If you have been cleared to begin an exercise routine check out the NIFS Lifestyle Rx Program, which serves individuals who have been dealing with chronic health conditions. This program provides individuals with monitoring and the appropriate tools needed to be successful with their fitness goals based on their fitness level and medical conditions.

This blog was written by Stephanie Greer, HFS at NIFS and Lifestyle Rx Program Coordinator. Contact Stephanie by email.

Topics: exercise depression staying active healthy habits heart attack

Springtime Recipe: Carrot Spice Muffins

It is officially springtime, which means all things carrot will be popping up everywhere. Carrot cake, carrot bread, glazed carrots, and just plain carrots! Not only do carrots taste delicious, but they are chock-full of Vitamin A and offer a slew of other health benefits.

Although carrots are delicious and nutritious, we can often prepare them in ways that smother their nutritional benefits (carrot cake, anyone?). These Carrot Spice Muffins not only taste amazing, but they are relatively healthy due to three star ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • ¾ cup coconut oil instead of butter
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

Chickpeas provide an extra fiber boost and add in a touch of extra protein (and I swear you cannot taste them!). The coconut oil is very heart-healthy, and the carrots are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants such as Vitamin A and beta-carotene.

I promise, these muffins are soft and delicious, and you will not even know that the chickpeas are there! These muffins are just bursting with the flavors of carrot, cinnamon, and ginger.

Carrot Spice Muffins

Yields: about 20 medium sized muffins

Cook time: 25–30 minutes, or until a toothpick entered in the center of the muffin comes out clean


  • 1 16-oz. can of rinsed and drained chickpeas
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup coconut oil, softened but not melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line muffin tins with muffin liners and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Place the chickpeas and agave in the food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Combine the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl and set aside.
  5. Combine the coconut oil and sugars until creamy, then add the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla extract.
  6. Add in the chickpea mixture and the applesauce.
  7. Slowly add in the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
  8. Mix the carrots and walnuts into the batter.
  9. Fill the muffin tins about three-fourths of the way full. Place in the oven and bake for 25–30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  10. Cool and enjoy!!

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This blog was written by Tara Rochford, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist. Visit her website.

Topics: nutrition healthy habits recipes

The Power of Group Training

Are you having trouble sticking to your fitness goals or reaching the destination that you set for your New Year’s resolution? Or maybe you just want to change things up because you’ve hit a fitness plateau. If either of these is the case, I’ve found that joining a group really gets results. I highly recommend joining a group with likeminded and motivated people who are trying to reach the same or similar goals.

Group Training

Why Group Training?

Group training coaches can take your specific goals and incorporate them into your group training time, so even though you are in a group, your training is modified to your individual needs. A skilled coach can change intensities, reps, weights, and numbers of sets for each individual in the group depending on their goals and fitness levels. Although to an outsider it may look as if everyone is doing the same thing, the training is geared toward what each individual needs and wants to accomplish.

Find the Group Training Option That Fits You

Some group training options to consider are BOSU training, fitness groups or classes, team and intramural sports, or club leagues. There are groups and classes for all age groups, skill and fitness levels, and sports, including group training at NIFS. Make it FUN! Find what you enjoy to ensure that you stay active and motivated. If you were involved in team sports during high school or college, consider getting involved again. Once you are back in the swing of things, it will feel like you never stopped.

The Benefits of Group Training

The benefits of group training are many. Here are a few of the most important ones:

  • Motivation: Teaming up with likeminded people who share your goal of losing weight, gaining strength, increasing performance, or competing in a physical event will push you to be your best. In group training, your skilled coach can push you to your highest level, plus your teammates will cheer you on to do your best. You will find when training with others that you are two times more capable than you thought you were!
  • Accountability: Letting one person down is difficult, but it’s even harder to blow off several people who are looking to see you. That’s the power of group. A group holds you accountable in a way a trainer or coach can’t. How would you like a group to call you and check on you? Many find their fitness group their community that encourages and looks out for them. When I work with a group, I stress the fact that everyone has your back and you have to have their back as well. With that notion it continues to go round and round in a cycle and everyone always has ample support.
  • Camaraderie: If you are not laughing—or at least smiling—while you are training, you are definitely doing something wrong. Training time is about laughter, competition, having fun, and joking around. Training is not always serious. I’m sure you all have heard the saying, “If you enjoy what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” Same thing goes for training!
  • Human contact: Are you one of the many people who sit behind a computer all day and see only one or two people on your way to and from work? You weren’t built for that! A group can be a great way to get reconnected. There is something about being physically present with other people that cell phones and computers can’t replace. We all need a slap on the back for a job well done and some encouraging words. I’ve even seen new friendships formed over fitness.
  • Performance: Research has proven that performance skyrockets when you train in a group. Groups will make you work harder and push yourself further. Performance is closely associated with motivation and accountability.
  • Science: A vast amount of research indicates that group training and exercise will lead you to more benefits than you expect. It’s not just about enjoying time with others; there is a physiological response to working in a group. Endorphins are like a runners’ high and provide a good feeling. Studies show that endorphin levels increase substantially when exercising in a group. No matter what type of exercise, the endorphin hormones increase.

Over a decade ago, Professor Kevin Spink and the University of Saskatchewan conducted studies that showed a correlation between an individual’s sense of group-ness and cohesion within an exercise class and that person’s punctuality, workout level, and attendance. The group setting adds accountability and motivation.

You might be dead tired from getting your butt kicked at work all day, but as soon as you put your workout gear on and show up for group, all of the tiredness disappears. Your motivation and energy levels go through the roof. It’s science, people! It’s not just your coach getting in your face that gets you ready to go. It is the group that pushes you forward.

Put the Power of a Group to Work for You!

I strongly encourage you to find a group that fits your needs and begin reaping the numerous benefits! For more information on Small Group Training or our HIT classes at NIFS contact me today!

Try a Class for Free!

Written by Tony Maloney, NIFS Fitness Center Manager and Personal Trainer. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness motivation group training accountability personal training team training strength training

VO2 and You (Part 3 of 3)

Welcome to part 3 of this series highlighting that elusive term: VO2 max. I have discussed what the term VO2 max means and how having a good VO2 max can help you perform better when exercising and also get through your daily activities easier. And now you must be thinking “Do I have to train like a Navy Seal for years to increase my VO2 max?” The answer would be no.

VO2 exercising

VO2 max is a product of how strong your cardiovascular system (CVS) is. Your CVS adapts much like your muscles do. So the best way to pump up your CVS and VO2 max is to increase your heart rate for a longer period of time. This can be accomplished through many different types of structured and progressive workouts.

Workouts? Heart rate? How do you figure that stuff out? The answer to those questions is the simplest of them all: ask NIFS! The trainers at NIFS are educated in constructing workouts for your individual needs, which means they can tell you the “how long” and “how hard” of your workouts in order to reach that magic VO2 max number. NIFS also offers VO2 max testing! Ask a NIFS trainer in your fitness center for more information on testing as well.

With your newfound knowledge on VO2 max, you can boost your exercise performance and get a lean, mean, and more powerful cardiovascular system! Just remember that oxygen is your friend. The higher your VO2 max, the easier it is to spend time with your friend!

Schedule a VO2 max testing today!

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

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

Topics: assessments