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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

She Said She Could, SO SHE DID!: From Novice to Marathoner to Coach

“She said she could, SO SHE DID.”

These were the words in the back of my brain as I journeyed to my third marathon finish line, crossing it on November 3, 2018, with a newfound respect for the sport.

The Inspiration

In 2009 as a 16-year-old high school girl, I heard some words from my mom I never wanted to hear, not just from her but from anyone: “I have breast cancer.” These words changed my life. I immediately became fearful of losing my mom, and in my moments of needing time to breathe and destress I turned to running. Running became my time to forget everything going on around me, and enjoy the beauty of nature and fresh air. It became my time to fully take advantage of these things, realizing at any moment in our life they could potentially be taken away. My mom survived two cancers, and to this day still wakes up getting to enjoy those beautiful things as well as her family and friends who helped her fight through her tough times.

The Journey Begins

Marathon 1- DC

After discovering this new love for running and fitness, I wanted to dive deeper into it. As a kinesiology major at Indiana University in 2011, I took on a part-time job at the IU Student Recreational Center, where I began teaching running group fitness classes called “Trekking.” These classes were 30–45-minute runs that everyone could participate in at their own pace, and motivated people to get in their general health cardio recommendations through walking/running. I fell in love with the sport even more after this. During my college years, I also began hanging out with friends who enjoyed running as their go-to for general fitness too, and we turned our passion into weekend fun by participating in 5K races.

The Next Level

Marathon 2-ChiIn 2014, I moved to NYC where I was going to pursue my passion for fitness in the fitness capital of the world. I was surrounded by some of the top fitness professionals and eager to learn more and more every day. In addition to this new lifestyle also came new stress. I turned to running again, and in one of the best parks you can run in, NYC’s Central Park. Weekends were filled with seeing long-distance endurance athletes racing. Novembers were filled with spectating one of the biggest marathons in the U.S. right outside my Upper East Side apartment: the New York City Marathon. I was inspired! In addition to my running solo, I also began taking classes at Barry’s Bootcamp from top trainers, including Nike Trainer Ashley Wilking, and hanging out with Jessica Woods, a Nike Run Coach and Ultra Marathoner herself. In February 2016, I ran my first marathon in Washington, D.C., where I completed with a goal in mind of under 4 hours, and finished at 3:54.

This “runner’s high” was real. I immediately signed up for half-marathons and started training harder, and in October 2016 ran my second half-marathon for a breast cancer charity in Chicago, and set a personal record at a pace of 3:48. I was shocked by what the power of my body could do. But then I burned out after completing two marathons, two half-marathons, and endless hours of intense training through 2016.

A New Journey

After teaching thousands of fitness classes and achieving personal fitness goals, I was ready for my next journey to learn the business side of fitness. I took 2017 and half of 2018 to recover my body physically, and gain strengths in two new areas of my life: mindfulness (Strength Through Stillness) and business.

In that time, I experienced management in two different types of fitness setting, boutique fitness and the standard gym setting. I also began tuning into meditation daily, and focusing on the strength in my mind I had been experiencing while running. I was ready to sit in stillness and challenge myself in a new way.

My Mindful Marathon Experience

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 11.42.16 AMOn August 15, 2018, I took on the role of coach for the NIFS Monumental Half/Full Marathon Training Program. Day 1, one of the participants told me he had just started running, and wanted to complete a marathon. He was one of two participants to sign up for the Full Training Program, and one of the only runners who had never participated in a running event before, including 5Ks or shorter-distance races. But he was determined to go the full 26.2 miles, and I was ready to coach him every step of the way. My knowledge from past experiences and mindfulness was the approach I took into this training and journey to get him to the finish line. When times got tough, I reminded myself of my 12-week goal motto “She believed she could, so she did.”

Nestor crossed the finish line and is now a marathoner. My passion for running now holds a new place in my heart as I experienced coaching someone to achieve an amazing goal. I will never forget seeing him run through the finish line with the biggest smile as tears of happiness came running down my face, and getting the biggest hug of happiness every coach hopes for.

Mini_logo_2019_smallInterested in training for the Mini? NIFS Mini Marathon & 5K training program registration is now open!

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running goals marathon training half marathon mindfulness nifs staff

What Is "Good Posture" (and How Is It Related to Movement)?

GettyImages-955753008“Stand up straight!” and “Don’t slouch!” are just a couple of variations on the same advice we’ve all likely heard at least once. I apologize if I’m bringing up bad memories of being scolded for less-than-perfect posture, but this read might give you a few reasons why those remarks might have been useless after all. That’s right, folks. We’re diving into the widely covered topic of posture: What it is, whether there is such a thing as “good” posture, and what you can do to optimize your posture at any given point.

What Is Posture and How Is It Related to Movement?

If you look up the definition of posture, you’ll find different definitions depending on where you look. One, from Oxford, says “The position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.” Another variation, from Merriam Webster, says it is “The position or bearing of the body whether characteristic or assumed for a special purpose.” Which one is correct? Well, I’m not sure either is incorrect, but I do have a preference for the Merriam Webster version. Why? Because it assumes that your posture at any given time is serving a particular purpose, whether that’s standing, sitting, walking, picking up an object, or performing any other bodily movement.

Your posture is ever-changing depending on the task you need to perform, so we might be missing the point entirely by getting caught up in analyzing a snapshot of what your posture looks like while you are sitting or standing still. As it turns out, it's fairly difficult to agree on what the ideal static posture actually is. Given the variance in how different individuals’ bodies are built, it seems pointless to assign a perfect static posture across the board. Not to mention, there is little evidence that supports the claim that “bad” posture or asymmetries put you at greater risk for pain. Perhaps our thought process is backward. What happens when you have pain in your back? Your posture changes! Wouldn’t it be reasonable that consistent, chronic pain could be the cause of postural adaptations that become your new normal?

Maybe our efforts should initially be focused on moving very well in a variety of ways. Moving well means maintaining the position of your body throughout a given movement or task. If you can train to move with quality in a variety of situations, it might allow for new options for movement to complete a given task, instead of repeatedly compensating. Having a variety of movement options available to you can prevent a default to the same repetitive movement patterns over and over again.

Increasing Your Movement Options

So, how do we increase the amount of movement options that are available to us? Practice, practice, practice. Yes, the dreaded p-word. The only way to learn something is to repeatedly do it, and do it correctly. And then do it correctly again. And again.

How do you know if you’re moving correctly? Have somebody watch you, of course. Without the guidance of an experienced professional who is competent with how the human body should move—whether that’s a physical therapist, personal trainer, strength coach, or other professional—you will have no outside perspective on what your body is actually doing.

Take something as simple as foot position. Just recently, I corrected somebody’s foot position from being “pigeon-toed” to being more “neutral,” with the toes pointing straight ahead. “I feel like my feet are duck-footed now!” I heard her exclaim. This is a common occurrence. When correcting somebody’s position to be more appropriate for the goal of the task, all of a sudden they feel way out of line. When your body resorts to only one option to complete a variety of movements, exposing it to a brand-new option will feel completely foreign.

Even those of us who are trained in technically correct strategies for movement can’t view ourselves from the outside. So, either we need to analyze some video footage, or more appropriately, employ an outside source as an unbiased third-party reviewer to say whether we’re moving the way we should.

Get a Movement Assessment

FMS-NewIf you’re generally healthy and pain-free, you can consult with a competent trainer to do some sort of an assessment on your strategies for movement. Each individual uses preferred methods to assess movement, whether that is a Functional Movement Screen like we offer here at NIFS, a more general flexibility screen, or an even more in-depth orthopedic analysis. All have their limitations, but you can learn a lot if you know what to look for, regardless of the testing system.

One of my favorite big-bang movement assessments is watching somebody march in place. I have an opportunity to watch the strategy they use for shifting weight back and forth between sides, I can see somebody’s ability to extend one hip while flexing the other hip under the load of gravity, I can assess an individual’s thorax position during this activity, and I can even watch what’s going on with the upper extremities in response to a stepping pattern.

As long as the observer knows what to look for, the test or system of analysis becomes less important. What does take priority is the ability of your trusted expert to provide you with the strategies you need to maintain your position, or posture, throughout your daily life. Ultimately, however, it is up to you to employ those strategies and, yes, even practice them consistently so they can become your new normal, as if movement dysfunction never even existed!

To schedule an FMS with a NIFS certified instructor please click below to learn more.

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This blog was written by David Schoch, CSCS, FMS, and Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: posture movement functional movement screen NIFS healthy lifestyle

Thanksgiving Success Strategy: Eat Sensibly and Keep Moving

GettyImages-1036967134Not long from now, families all over America will be sitting down to a meal that looks back to that first Thanksgiving, in which the Pilgrims celebrated the harvest after a harsh winter. The year was 1621, and Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving, which the colonists celebrated as a traditional English harvest feast.

George Washington declared Thanksgiving a holiday in 1789, and in 1941 Congress passed a resolution which decreed that the holiday should fall on the fourth Thursday of November.

Feasting together is as old as the human race. It is a way of celebrating and enjoying time with family and friends. But if we are not careful, we can overdo the festivities and end up setting ourselves back over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Just How Big Is Your Meal?

It’s hard to believe, but the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat. And most of us don’t limit ourselves to one indulgent meal. It’s typical to snack and celebrate all day long.

The trouble comes when we have to deal with those extra calories that we have packed into our bodies. “A 160-lb. person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours, or walk 30 miles to burn off a 3,000-calorie Thanksgiving Day meal,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, ACE chief exercise physiologist, in this article. Many people start by snacking throughout the day, and that combined with the meal can lead to a total caloric intake of 4,500.”

Nutrition and Fitness Tips for Turkey Day

The good news is that you don’t have to forgo your favorite holiday foods. There is room for a little indulgence at a holiday feast! The secret is to have a plan as we head into the holiday season. By staying on top of both your calorie intake and your physical activity, you can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and emerge on the other side just as fit as you are now.

  • Plan your meals. If you know that you are going to be having some heavy, celebratory meals in the upcoming days, limit your intake at other meals to help keep your diet balanced out. Don’t skip meals, but make them lighter and be sure to include plenty of healthy, lower-calorie foods. For instance, if you are going to have a big lunch, eat a smaller breakfast and dinner.
  • Look at the big picture. Keep up with how you eat during the several days surrounding Thanksgiving. It’s not a good idea to indulge at every opportunity that presents itself. If you splurge heavily one day, take it easy the next.
  • Keep moving. The last thing you need this time of year is a slowed-down metabolism. Staying active is a great way to give your body a fighting chance to negotiate the extra calories you will be consuming. To get the biggest bang for your exercise buck, do regular strength training moves. Even after your strength training session has ended, your metabolism and calorie burn remains high.

Strength Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Here are some simple strengthening exercises you can do no matter where you are—whether in your office at work or at the in-laws’ house.

  1. Push-ups. If you aren’t used to doing push-ups, start with your hands on a raised surface such as a desk. As you gain strength, you can gradually move to doing them fully on the floor.
  2. Lunges. For extra credit, hold dumbbells or other heavy objects in your hands while lunging.
  3. Squats. To do a proper squat, start with your feet shoulder width apart. Begin to lower your body as if you were going to sit in a chair. Try to reach a level where your quads are parallel, and then stand back up.
  4. Step-ups. Find the nearest step, and with alternating legs step onto the step with one leg and then step back down. Again, holding heavy objects in each hand will increase the effect.

There is no need to pack on the pounds this Thanksgiving. Figure out your strategy now, and then when the festivities start, just work the plan!

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: Thanksgiving holidays calories strength workout exercises healthy eating

Relax and Lose Weight: How Relaxation Helps with Weight Loss

GettyImages-954596030Getting healthy and losing weight go hand in hand. If your goal is to get healthy and lose weight, I need you to RELAX! No, really! Relaxing is good for you, and managing stress effectively doesn’t only help with weight loss; it makes us healthier overall. So sit back, relax, and read on for more tips.

How Cortisol Plays a Role

Cortisol is a hormone that your body releases when it is stressed. If you only have small amounts of cortisol, there is no problem. But when stress is constant, as it can be in many of our lives, the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream rises and stays elevated. This all leads to weight gain. Relaxation can help prevent overproduction of cortisol.

When cortisol is released, those cravings for potato chips, candy bars, pastries, and so on are what provide a quick energy boost. As if those choices aren’t bad enough, cortisol goes on to store those extra calories as fat, mainly around your abdominal area. There is also the interference with hormones that control your appetite. You will start to find that you are hungry more often and have a hard time staying satiated.

And if that doesn’t make you want to stop stressing, cortisol can also cause decreased muscle mass because it lowers testosterone levels. The lower your muscle mass, the less fat you will burn when working out.

Ways to Relax

Here are five tips for relaxing.

  1. Meditate. This is an excellent method for cleansing your mind of all the negative and stressful thoughts. Refresh and think positively. Whenever you feel heavy or burdened, or even when you feel tired of doing work, take a deep breath and allow your body to relax. Really focus on your breathing by using a 5 count: Breath in for a count of 5. Hold your breath for a count of 5. Release that breath for a 5 count. Try this a few times a day.
  2. Avoid distractions. To fully relax your lifestyle and live a stress-free life, limit all distractions, such as television, cell phones, or laptops.
  3. Become more active. Exercise alone can be the best stress reliever. Try grabbing a friend for a walk/jog outside in the fresh air. Take a new group fitness class like the various types of yoga classes NIFS offers. Join a small group where you can laugh, work, and have fun with goal-oriented individuals, or have a Health Fitness Instructor design a program dedicated to your needs. The possibilities are endless.
  4. Eat healthy. Like regular exercise, eating a healthy, balanced diet can make a significant contribution to a less-stressful lifestyle. By making healthy eating choices, you can make yourself both physically and emotionally stronger. Eat vegetables, drink plenty of water, and control your portions. Not sure about where to start with your nutrition? Meet with one of our Registered Dietitians to get you going on the right path. If you want the whole package of eating healthy and exercising, check out our Ramp Up to Weight Loss program.
  5. Get enough sleep. The average adult requires between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Not only can lack of sleep lead to increased stress, but chronic sleep deprivation can impair your judgment, reasoning ability, appearance, and performance at work. Start by establishing a daily sleep schedule. Do something relaxing before bed and turn off electronic devices.

It would be wonderful if we could constantly live in a vacation state, but for most of us that’s not quite possible. By utilizing just a couple of these resources, you help not only your body get to a better state, but your mind as well, which in turn allows for weight loss to occur.

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: weight loss small group training group fitness NIFS programs relaxation stress sleep healthy eating

NIFS November Group Fitness Class of the Month: Circuit Training

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 11.30.38 AMTo achieve electricity, you need a complete circuit; the same thing goes for achieving a higher level of fitness, which is why circuit training is a great total-body workout. It can be classified as a type of endurance training, resistance training, strength training, or high-intensity interval training, which is why we can see great results from it.

Circuit training is great for activating all of the muscles in the body. Typical circuit training is performed in a style of circuits. You will complete one exercise for a duration of time, and then switch to a new exercise and repeat the total circuit multiple times. During each circuit, you’ll perform upper-body, lower-body, and core exercises for maximum body results. Baylor University did a study proving that circuit training is the most efficient way to enhance cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

Endurance Training

Endurance training is the ability to exert yourself over a period of time. It’s also the ability to complete any aerobic or anaerobic exercise relating to cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Cardio endurance allows you to pump oxygen to your body for an extended period of time. This type of training is great for your overall health. Some of the benefits include the following:

  • Higher levels of energy
  • Heart function improvement
  • Increased metabolism
  • Performing daily life tasks more easily

Resistance Training

Resistance training is muscle contraction from external resistance during exercises. The external resistance can come from many pieces of equipment, including weights, bands, balls, boxes, disks, sleds, and definitely using your body weight. Benefits of resistance training might include the following:

  • Help keeping muscles strong during aging
  • Decreased osteoporosis
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased metabolism

Circuit Training

Strength Training

Strength training is lifting heavier weight to increase muscular strength. Benefits of strength training include the following:

  • Lower abdominal fat
  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Controlled blood sugar
  • Reduced cancer risk
  • Lower risk of injury
  • Stronger mental health
  • Osteoporosis prevention
  • Increased confidence

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High Intensity Interval Training is a workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed less intense or rest periods. This type of workout is typically known as a “fat blaster” filled with many benefits that include the following:

  • Efficiency
  • Cardiovascular strength/endurance
  • Muscular strength
  • Weight loss, muscle gain
  • Increased metabolism
  • Can be done anywhere

So Why Circuit Train?

Circuit training is not just an exercise that can burn hundreds of calories. Based on the benefits of the types of training a circuit training class is made up of, it can lead to major results in total fitness and health. You can find circuit training on the NIFS Group Fitness Schedule with our highly educated staff Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:30pm with David or Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:15pm with Darius.

Group Fitness at NIFS

This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: circuit training Group Fitness Class of the Month strength training endurance NIFS core cardio resistance

Five Great Things About the 5th Annual NIFS Powerlifting Competition

IMG_0151Almost five years ago, the team and I hosted the first ever powerlifting event here at NIFS. Also known as the Iron Triathlon (shirt slogan spoiler alert), the first year was a modest one with 25 athletes competing. This year, the competition registration sold out in just under three days! From our humble beginnings to this year’s event, it’s been a ride. There has been so much hard work, resulting in so many smiles and victories for both the athletes and the crew. We have learned a lot from year one to now, and we have developed from our challenges and gotten better each year.

As we near this year’s NIFS Powerlifting Competition coming up on November 10, I found myself wondering what were some of the best things that have happened in the five years of this event. Here are the five best results to come from the past five years.

Growth

As mentioned before, our first event consisted of 25 athletes who put on a great show and set the tone for years to come. The next year we doubled our registration. Obviously the word got out that the athletes, event staff, and environment were second to none. We increased again the third year and sold out the 4th and 5th annual competitions. The team and I couldn’t be prouder to provide such a great event that athletes and spectators are flocking to Indianapolis to compete in and witness.

“The competition was amazing and it was extremely smooth from setup to setup. I will definitely recommend NIFS to anyone, and the crew you had there was stellar. I’ve volunteered for a few powerlifting meets myself and I understand how exhausting just setting everything up can be. The atmosphere was great.”
—Damon Bryant

Competition

As the number of registrations rose, so did the level of competition. Athletes were coming from other states to compete, and they all brought their talents to Indy to win. We have seen Squats and Deadlifts over 700 pounds and Bench numbers surpassing the 300 and even 400-pound mark. Our first event had five female athletes competing; this year there are 22! It’s awesome to see so many strong women competing.

"I would say that this is a great first meet for any beginner powerlifter or anyone interested in pushing their body to their weightlifting limits. It gives you the chance to compete against people around your body type and ultimately see what you're made of."   
—Tyler Mullen

Comradery

IMG_0363One thing we hear a lot is how inclusive and supportive the environment is on event day. Even though athletes arrive to be victorious over one another, they all support and cheer on each other to do their best. I think the sport of powerlifting is just this way, but I also think the NIFS event intensifies the comradery among these athletes. It sounds corny, but there is something in the air that day, something that reinforces that it’s “WE” and not just “I.”

"I loved how encouraging everyone was. Even though it was a competition, people were constantly saying ‘you can do it’ or ‘great job’. High-fives were everywhere and it was awesome. PLUS all the free goodies—what college kid doesn’t love free stuff?"  
Madison Stewart

Victories

One of the coolest aspects of our event is that, for many, it’s their first competition. As a non-sanctioned meet, it’s a great first step to see whether the sport of powerlifting is for you. So many first-time lifters, those who maybe once thought they couldn’t succeed in this kind of competition, have not only competed, but have taken home some hardware. There’s nothing like witnessing someone take on their fears and conquer them; it is so powerful!

"This was my first powerlifting meet, and I was a little nervous coming in not really knowing what to expect. However, EVERYONE was very nice, including the staff running the event and the competitors that were competing. After doing several powerlifting meets after this one, this one ran the smoothest and fastest by far. It was an amazing atmosphere with lots of spectators and everyone cheering you on every single lift.”
—Bailey Schober

Athletes

The amazing staff and crew are responsible for providing an energetic and smooth event, and so many thanks go out to each team over the past four years. But it’s the athletes who put on the show. I have had the great pleasure to meet and work with some pretty outstanding individuals during the past four years of this competition. These athletes work so hard for so long to put it all on the line that day, and they do such a phenomenal job. Of all the enjoyable aspects of this event, being around all these amazing athletes is by far my favorite. Having the opportunity to learn about them, maybe meet their families that day, and be able to give them that last word of encouragement before their last attempt at a PR—it lights me up! I know I speak for the entire crew that we cannot wait to get underway on November 10!

“NIFS is one of my favorite competitions each year because of the great people that make it all possible. Thank you for hosting such a great event that I look forward to returning to each year!”
—Ben Poore

So if you are interested in seeing why this event is so awesome, put it on your calendar for November 10, and witness the spectacle and a bunch of bars bending. Lifting begins at 9am, and it’s a measly $5 per person. Kids 12 and under get in free. We hope to see you all there!

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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 Powerlifting Competition competition weightlifting nifs staff NIFS programs Indianapolis

Late-Night Snacks: Satisfy Your Craving with Healthy Eating

GettyImages-945953942If your evening snack is turning into a fourth meal each night, that could hinder your wellness goals or sabotage your daily workout.

There is a lot of thinking that you shouldn’t eat after a certain time of night. However, your metabolism doesn’t shut off at a certain time, so the timing of the snack isn’t necessarily the problem, as long as you make sure to have it at least an hour before bedtime so that it can be more easily digested before you go to sleep.

More often than not, nighttime snacking is from boredom or habit rather than actual hunger. Therefore, assess how you are feeling and then decide whether you are truly hungry and need a snack to hold you over until breakfast.

Healthy Nighttime Snack Options

If you really are hungry, try some of these balanced snacks that are a better option than the salty chips or bowl of ice cream.

  • One apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter
  • Container of Greek yogurt with fresh fruit
  • Raw veggies and hummus
  • Small bowl of high-fiber cereal (at least 3 grams per serving) and milk
  • String cheese or a light cheese wedge and a few whole-wheat crackers
  • Air-popped popcorn and a handful of nuts
  • Blueberries and strawberries with light whipped topping
  • An ounce of dark chocolate and a glass of milk
  • Avocado spread on a Wasa cracker or a slice of whole-wheat bread
  • Low-fat cottage cheese and fruit

Are You Eating Enough During the Day?

If you are consistently starving before bed, it might mean that you aren’t eating enough calories throughout the day. Start monitoring your meals and see if you are spreading your calories evenly between breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a couple of snacks between meals. Making sure you have enough fuel throughout the day can decrease late-night desperation eating.

The other thing to consider is whether you had enough protein at dinner. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied, so have a serving around the size of the palm of your hand or around 25 grams to guarantee you are getting the benefit.

Remember to stop and assess your hunger level first before reaching for any late-night treats!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: snacks healthy eating fiber protein

Get a Handle on Fitness with TRX at NIFS

GettyImages-501890636Have you tried TRX class at NIFS? For starters, you may be asking yourself, “What is a trx?” TRX is a body-weight suspension training system designed to give you a total-body workout, while playing to your skill set and allowing for nearly limitless body-weight–oriented exercise. TRX can provide a fitness beginner with an opportunity to learn movement patterns properly as well as challenge the most seasoned veterans in the gym with more advanced progressions.

The TRX concept is fairly simple: it’s basically two handles and straps that attach at an anchor point. Some exercises require various strap heights, but really, you can do most basic movement patterns (squat, row, and press) with one of three lengths. Intensity of exercise is determined by angles of your body as opposed to the anchor point, stability and balances, and progressions. The TRX was designed in the mid ’90s by Randy Hetrick, a former Navy Seal, as a way to develop total-body strength through body-weight–resisted exercise.

Getting Started

The first thing you notice when you see a TRX on the fitness center floor is that there are not many instructions on how to use it, although there are actually quite a few. A great way to become acclimated to some of the exercises is to take a TRX class, which is complimentary with your membership. A typical class consists of a warm-up or acclimation to TRX. We spend time every session practicing strap adjustment and proper form. Then we get down to business. Every exercise has a progression and a regression to ensure you are getting a workout appropriate to your abilities.

It is not uncommon to see a college student working out side-by-side with a grandmother. Although the variation changes slightly, the overall goal is to work to get better each and every time we train. At the end of each session there is time to stretch. Stretches are many people’s favorite, not only because you know you are finished, but also because it really feels good and works.

Exercises You Can Do on Your Own

TRX-3As you await your next TRX class opportunity, here are some exercises that you can add to your own workout in the meantime.

  1. TRX Row: With two handles set to the short length (one tick mark), start with arms long and body in a plank position, being mindful that you do not let your hips sag. While under control, pull yourself up to your hands. Lower back down under control. PRO TIP: You can pull with your hands parallel to the floor to engage the lats more, whereas pulling with your hands horizontal to the floor works the rear deltoids and trapezius. (See video here.)
  2. TRX Superman: With two handles set to the longest length, start facing away from the TRX. Your arms will start out by being fully straightened. By simply leaning forward and moving your hands toward the ceiling, the core control will be emphasized. PRO TIP: Being under control is always key, but you also what to start from a position in which the exercise is doable. Try moving your feet farther away from the TRX to make this exercise harder, or closer to the anchor point to decrease the difficulty. (See video here.)
  3. TRX Assisted Pull-ups: Start with two handles set to the shortest position (if you need assistance with adjustments, please see staff at the track desk) and body positioned directly below the anchor point and sitting in a cross-legged position. Use the TRX handles to slowly pull your body upward, not unlike a real pull-up motion. The assistance comes from the lower body and the resistance and difficulty can be determined by tempo and number of repetitions. (See video here.)

Try This Workout

5 Minutes AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

  • 12 TRX Rows
  • 12 TRX Superman Extensions
  • 6 TRX Assisted Pull-ups
  • Repeat

TRX at NIFS

Although class space is limited to eight individuals, there are no sign-ups. Just show up and enjoy a great, challenging workout. If you are having reservations about joining the class, but still want to try TRX, one of our certified fitness professionals can prescribe exercises. Classes meet Monday at 6am, Thursday at 5:30pm, and Friday at 6 and 11am. Check out the NIFS Group Fitness page to see up-to-date times and days for your favorite classes. Get a handle on fitness with TRX today!

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the other NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: Thomas' Corner TRX total-body workouts body weight NIFS group fitness fitness center