<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=424649934352787&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Brittany Ignas

Recent Posts by Brittany Ignas:

Overcoming Life Challenges with Fitness: You Don’t Forget the Hills

IMG_2506Fitness is a great tool to use to train the mind. Yes, often people work out for physical health, but exercise is also getting a lot of hype from psychologists. Many studies are proving that exercise and movement increase brain function, memory, and thinking skills. Not just that; the motivation, positivity, and strength learned and gained from an exercise session can all be used in daily life situations. 

I began doing yoga and running in 2009 as a way to de-stress when my mother was ill with cancer. At the time, I never knew that the real-world challenges I was going through would turn into my passion and lead me to my full-time career. I can honestly say that the motivational lesson of learning through sweat sessions helped me overcome daily life challenges and inspired to me share that with others.

From Yoga to Real Life

Yoga taught me to breathe. Breathing is a necessary human function, but one of the hardest things to do in a challenging situation. Learning breathing and mindfulness on my yoga mat taught me how to take it into my daily life. If I’m facing a challenge, it probably means I need to slow down, breathe, and evaluate what needs to be done.

Running taught me that there are days you are tired, sore, and don’t want to do something, but showing up and doing it will always feel better. My mom’s motivation to wake up every day on her weakest, saddest, and scariest days helped inspire me along my fitness journey to be fearless and “Just Do It™.”

As I began doing yoga and running, I fell so in love and developed such a deep passion for these things that I wanted to continue to learn about them. I got my 200 Hour yoga certification in 2014. I never knew that it would turn into a full-time career in NYC where I was inspiring packed rooms and training celebrities. That sounds great and glamorous, and honestly it was, but again yoga really just taught me to breathe and open my mind. I realized that going to New York was running away from dealing with my past. I was ready to face it again. New York is a stressful environment. I was keeping up just fine, but was pushing out family because I was “too busy training Victoria’s Secret models,” although I knew the real reason was fear and not fully living out what I was learning.

Letting go of ego is another lesson I learned on my yoga mat, and I knew that I could find balance between family and doing what I loved if I took some deep breaths, tuned in, and followed my head and heart at the same time. After three years in the Big Apple, I decided to live out my fitness and move back home to build my family bond and let go of anything from my past that challenged me, just as I had been doing for years in the gym.

From Running Away to Running Home

Along with my personal training success came my “glory days” of running. I was a runner because I loved how it felt. I had no clue I would one weekend wake up and call a friend asking whether I could run a marathon in her city the following weekend, and then show up and actually complete it. Well I did. And I don’t remember much about that race except a few things—the times I was challenged the most. My first challenge came at mile 6, my first hill. I remember that thing looking like a mountain. The second thing I remember was turning to my family in my time of need. At mile 13.1, I called my dad, crying:

“What am I doing? Should I just run a half marathon today?”

He responded with, “Just take a deep breath.” Well, at that moment my heart might have felt like it was going to burst out of my chest, and my mind was in a negative state underestimating my strength, but that connection and reminder to take a deep breath and tune in to my ultimate goal helped me complete 26.2 miles that day, and with the biggest smile on my face. I now coach others in running, and in the challenging times I bring out some of the lessons I learned to teach and inspire them, letting them know that I get it and understand because I’ve been in that headspace too. But I also remind them that this is no challenge you can’t overcome if you just take a deep breath and tune in. I also like reminding people that if 30-second fitness challenges or hills are the hardest struggles in their day, week, or life, they are pretty lucky!

At-Home Exercise Your Mind

So, here’s your chance to exercise your mind:

  • What has challenged you in the gym?
  • What did you do about it?
  • What words of encouragement helped you overcome it?
  • What was the feeling of overcoming challenge?

Now take that into your daily life. What is challenging you, and can you breathe and stay positive through that situation?

“JUST DO IT ™” —Gary Gilmore

Just Do It is a trademark of shoe company Nike.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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: fitness stress yoga running attitude marathon emotional

Yoga: What Is It, and How Do I Choose the Right Class?

Yoga3Yoga is pretty popular, and not just in the fitness industry. It’s getting lots of press for its ability to aid in living a generally healthy lifestyle. When people hear about healthy living, they often associate that only with exercise, and sometimes neglect the importance of a balanced diet and de-stressing techniques. Studies are now showing that it’s important to balance out all areas of life; not just one part should have dominance.

What Is Yoga?

By definition, yoga is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation. Yoga was developed in India up to 5,000 years ago as a comprehensive system for well-being to balance the body physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Contrary to common thinking, yoga is not a belief system but a guidance technique to enrich living and aid in attaining goals.

Forms of Yoga

There are many types of yoga you might have heard of, including Vinyasa, Hatha, Iiyengar, Bikram, Ashtanga, and restorative, just to name a few. When it comes to picking the "right" yoga class, I say give them all a try because each of them is unique. Some involve lots of moving, some involve lots of deep stretching, some involve heat, and some even involve the use of nature and animals. The whole concept of yoga is to breathe and relax the mind. If you take a class that does not bring out those feelings in you, don't give up! Try that format a couple of times and see whether it is enjoyable. If it's not, research what you are looking to get out of your class and try one that offers that. 

Yoga to Me

Yoga means so many things to me. I began my yoga journey in 2009 to relax during a tough family situation. I was in love with the way it made me feel, and every week I looked forward to my Sunday night time on my mat. In 2011, my mom’s medical condition worsened and I began going to yoga 3 to 4 times a week. In 2014, I decided I was so impressed with the way it changed my mindset that I wanted to become certified, so I spent 3 months intensively training to get my 200 hour yoga certification. My yoga journey has a lot more depth, but that was the beginning. I never knew cancer would lead me to a career path of success and happiness, which is ultimately living a daily life of yoga.

Yoga at NIFS

Yoga is a growing class at NIFS. With a wide variety of instructors, you won’t find your standard “gym yoga.” All of the NIFS yoga instructors are 200 hour or more certified. You might take a class with a “flow” to it, be in a class with a more restorative approach, or even see that Yoga for Athletes is offered for those who want a strength-based yoga class. Check the Group Fitness Schedule for classes and times.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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: NIFS yoga group fitness strength relaxation healthy living meditation stress relief

Are You Ready for Fitness Change? Meet the NIFS Trainers Who Can Help

BarreChange is scary. Getting in a comfort zone, routine, or pattern is easy. But why is change for success so trendy nowadays? This applies to all areas of life. Change your diet habits and you start to “magically" lose weight. Change your workout routine and you start to “magically" see results. Change your spending habits and you start to “magically” save more. Change your mind and commit, and you realize change isn't scary; it’s successful.

Use Change to Make Changes

I have worked at many fitness studios and gyms, tried many fitness trends and challenges, and been given crap when I tell clients we are doing something different today. But then I explain why and it changes their minds. I'm a firm believer in giving it a chance. You can try something new, and if it doesn't work or you don't like it, we can always change it back to what it was. 

I started at NIFS not realizing how much they change the workouts to keep creating beneficial results. I was prepped to manage a typical gym where trainers just keep making you pick up the same weights, do the same motions, and make you do something you “hate” to make it seem like the workout was hard and make bank off that concept. The NIFS program changes weekly. You’re set on a four-week plan, but the staff varies your workout routine in that time by changing your sets, reps, and weights. Then by week 5, there is a new plan, new changes, new results, and new continued growth.

Here are some examples of the experiences and results you can get from working with various members of the NIFS staff:

  • Take a small group training class from Tony, and he guides you through this process with motivation to make it easy.
  • Take a Barre class with Caitlin and she uses the same concept with a gentle tone, breath cueing, and education as to why your muscles might start shaking in temporary discomfort the way they do: because they are changing; because they are growing stronger!
  • Try a program challenge with Crystal, and you’ll see that the success stories of members we put up on the Brag Board who are excited to share their accomplishments are truly amazing. It's because they weren't bored doing the same thing weekly. The variety created results, change, strength, and an awesome brag-worthy story.
  • Weight loss is another common goal for members, and we have a program specifically for that with Hannah. Did you know that more than 50 percent of Ashley's day is spent with members who are accomplishing weight-loss success with her guidance? Not just that; as a wife, mom, and caretaker for a child at home, she comes in on weekends to care for her clients. She plans fun meet-ups and gatherings so her clients don't lose track of their goals with the common "weekends don't count" excuse. 
  • Thomas might arguably have the hardest job out there. "My TV channel isn't working,” or "This machine is broken,” are just a few things I have heard members say to him. Within 24 hours, I bet it has been fixed. Because Thomas cares about the members’ happiness—whether that's watching their favorite show or working out on their favorite machine—he is the handyman of the team. Feedback is his cue to grab the toolbox and take action.

Teamwork Does Make the Dream Work

With a wide variety of options, there is always something for everyone. As a team, we don't let change hold us back. We teach our clients that change creates results. We all practice change daily and are never doing the same thing at our desks, but we’re creating programs, events, or requests that will change a member’s experience to be the most beneficial. So are you ready to change your mind, change up your routine, and achieve your goals? There are endless options. Find a place to start and follow through. We are here for you! 

Heading into my third month here, I am grateful to have witnessed the great work of the trainers from the perspective of fresh eyes. Most of the team has been here for five years or more, but that same daily intention to help clients with results and enter the door with passion is why NIFS has been successful for 30 years and will continue growing, because our knowledge behind change is more than a trend; it’s a success story that will continue to be written.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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: fitness center weight loss nifs staff making changes barre small group training teamwork

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Running Shouldn’t Be Painful

GettyImages-958722754Running a marathon can be a very positive, rewarding experience or a very painful, negative one. THE CHOICE IS YOURS!

How I Got Started with Marathons

I began running as a feel-good stress release in 2009, but never knew that stress release would turn into my stressor. After my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I turned to running at times to just get away from my daily life for a few moments and enjoy some fresh air and a good sweat. I loved this workout a few times a week.

In 2016, I was ready to set a goal. I signed up for my first half marathon, but forgot to sign up for a training plan to go with it. As my mind was set to long distances to achieve my goal, I began running more and more. Before I even completed my half marathon, I realized I was ready to do a full marathon, so I signed up spontaneously to run 26.2 miles and completed my first marathon in Washington, D.C., in February 2016. Two months later, I crossed the finish line of a half marathon, which was my original goal.

If you were to ask me how I felt about my experience, I'd honestly tell you: painful, awful, and sore. Thankfully I didn't get any injures, but like most runners, I ran a lot and neglected cross training, because I preferred the “runner's high.”

Why I Quit

I continued this training process through 2016, and by the end of that year I was done and burnt out. My body was depleted of important nutrients, my muscles were constantly sore from neglecting proper recovery, and I never knew how much mental tension I had been putting myself through by pushing my body to get what I thought was "faster and stronger."

In 2017, my running for hours had now turned into recovering for hours. I picked up a consistent yoga practice, started meditation classes, was visiting a doctor to replenish my depleted body, focused on strength with pilates and circuit training classes, and was only doing low-impact cardio. 

How I Got Back into Running—the Right Way

As I began stressing out my body less, my passion for running was still in the back of my mind. In 2018, I began running long distances again, but with newly gained knowledge of proper fuel, proper recovery, and proper cross training. It's so weird waking up not sore after a long run, or enjoying friends and family instead of wanting to sleep all the time due to fatigue, and I love it!

Practicing mindfulness is so important when setting a big goal. In society, we often want to get to the reward faster instead of enjoying the process in the present. Attempting to run a half or full marathon does not have to be a painful experience. Running a half or full marathon does not have to result in injury and burnout. The choice is yours!

Tips for Running

  • Follow your training plan. As endurance picks up, so does your ego as a runner. When you get a short run, just do it and enjoy it! There will be plenty of long runs you can save your energy for to reduce burnout and achieve success.
  • Warm up. Our bodies are not meant to go from 0 to 100 percent effort for extended periods of time, which is a common mistake by runners that leads to injury. Spend time prepping your muscles and your mind for success. If you remember that your goal is to get to the finish line, you'll remember to warm up so you can get there pain free.
  • Cool down. Just as we aren't supposed to go from 0 to 100, 100 to 0 is just as harmful. Allow yourself time to deep-breathe and restore your muscles. When running for distance, the blood starts to pool toward your legs. Doing yoga or total-body corrective exercises and stretching will help reduce injury by properly recirculating blood to aid in healing muscles.
  • Cross train. Running is a cardio-based exercise that requires strength. If you only run, you are often getting weaker because you are burning off the muscles that will support you. Adding two to three strength-only days is crucial for not just the muscles’ health, but also the health of your joints and bones.
  • Know your limit. Be okay with accepting that you accomplished something amazing! If it's a hot day and your plan is to run 5 miles, but you can go only 3, that’s okay! Over-stressing the body can lead to many health consequences. Loving your body’s health as first priority will keep you injury free and a well-oiled machine.

So, don’t be afraid if your goal is to run a half or full marathon. Train with the people who have experienced the not-fun, painful part of running and want it to be filled with fun based on knowledge and past experience. The choice is yours to set your goals. The choice is yours to listen and follow your coach to achieve those goals.

Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 2.45.21 PMNIFS Fall Marathon Training Program prepares you for the Monumental Marathon on November 3, 2018 by providing you with a 12-week training program and weekly long runs with a training coach. Training starts August 15th-November 3rd. Wednesdays 6am OR 6pm and Saturdays at 7am. Find out more and get registered today!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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: goal setting running marathon training half marathon injuries pain mindfulness

The Power of Positivity for Fitness Motivation

GettyImages-897892972“You've got this!” "Keep it up!” “So strong!”

Ever come to your fitness class and hear those positive, motivating words? How do you feel in that moment? 

Motivation and positivity have been proven to help lead healthier, happier lives. We often come into a gym and feel strong, motivated, and positive in that moment; but are you taking what you learn into your daily life? Here are some tips and examples of leading a happier life not just during your gym time, but out of the gym!

Be mindful about positive thoughts.

When you hear words that make you smile and feel happy, are you listening to them, or are you letting them come in one ear and go out the other? When we mindfully hold onto positive thoughts and let go of the negative, we lead a more positive life. Can you replace three hurtful or negative thoughts with three new, positive thoughts? Try it! It's like spring cleaning for your brain!

Surround yourself with positive people.

It has been studied and seen that you are who you hang out with. During your daily life, are you surrounded by negative or stressful people? Can you engage in more activities with people who make you feel amazing and happy? Maybe that's replacing an hour of sitting on the couch watching negative news stations or judgmental reality television shows with a yoga class that encourages you to breathe and relax. List people, places, or things that often make you feel down or negative, and make a list of people and activities to engage in that make you feel good and positive. Simply replace the negative activity with the positive one. Most importantly, be honest and fearless.

Are you being negative?

Just as you'd want to be around positive people, don't you think others want to as well? If you are always talking about being stressed or tired, evaluate what in your personal life is making you stressed and tired. What do you need to do to turn into a positive, full-of-energy person? Finding balance in life is a challenge, but it’s possible if you dedicate time to making little changes. Set your mind on your goals and follow through.

Just do it.

What's holding you back? Studies show that changing habits can be challenging, but is not impossible. It takes a little work. Try to adopt a new positive habit each week. Your options are endless. Maybe that's giving your coworkers a high-five, writing down an inspirational motivational quote every morning as a reminder of your goal, starting your day in a workout class that promotes positivity, volunteering and helping others, or so much more. DO YOU—just do it! Letting go of others’ judgments and figuring out what makes you feel best and happiest and doing those things will lead to a happier life.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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: fitness motivation attitude mindfulness mindset positivity

Boot Camp: The Workout for All Your Fitness Goals

BootcampI want powerful legs! I want to increase my endurance! I want stronger and well-toned abs! I want toned arms! I don’t want to spend endless hours in the gym! Sound familiar? Chances are you have wanted these things at some point in your fitness journey. The great news is that all these are very possible to achieve, and you get them all in one stop.

You need Boot Camp!

What Is Boot Camp?

Boot camp is an amazing style of training that has proven to help people achieve their strength and endurance goals all during one session. Based on the training that our brave men and women of the military complete before defending our country, this style of training is meant to push you toward your physical limits. The beauty of boot camp is that it is an hour-long session filled with challenging workout moves to increase heart rate, which improves cardiovascular health while also strengthening and toning multiple muscle groups at once to create maximum fitness results.

This format of working out is constantly varied, so you never get used to a certain physical stimulus, making this type of training session even more beneficial for constant growth and improvement. Often, when we stick to the same workout routine for an extended period of time, our bodies adapt to that form of exercise and will stay in a constant state with no change. To avoid plateaus and boredom, all fitness pros believe that changing the modes and methods of exercise is a must. Bootcamp drills are also a lot of fun, using a wide variety of equipment, including partner work drills, and mixing up the setting of where the training takes place. All these aspects allow for a fun and challenging workout that will lead to great results.

Come check it out on the NIFS Group Fitness Schedule: Mondays and Wednesdays at 6pm with Steven! If you need a quick fix while at home, try his mini bootcamp workout below.

At-Home Mini Boot Camp by Steven Kass

  • 25 Deep Squats
  • 25 Push-ups
  • 25 Mountain Climbers
  • 25 Bicycles
  • 100 Jump Ropes

“Start with 1 set and work your way up to 4” says Kass. “That’s all you need for a good whole-body workout.”

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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: NIFS group fitness boot camp endurance muscle building toning fitness goals

Tabata at NIFS: A High-Intensity Group Fitness Workout

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 12.43.56 PMTabata is currently one of the trendiest workouts, due to the amazing results people are attaining. It's a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) format that consists of 8 rounds of an exercise performed for 20 seconds with a 10-second rest period.

High-intensity workouts bring the heart rate up and down through intervals. During the 20 seconds of a Tabata set, an exercise is performed at all-out effort, bringing the heart rate up to a peak followed by a 10-second recovery. The total time to complete one round is 4 minutes, but those 4 minutes will push your body to the max if done properly, leading to an increase in metabolism and fat burn while maintaining lean muscle tissue.

What Exercises Are Performed During the 20-second Push?

Body weight or light resistance training exercises are performed during the 20 seconds of work. This could include high knees, jumping jacks, plank variations, or exercises that use free-weight equipment like medicine balls, resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, and more. The more variety and muscle groups engaged during a Tabata, the more benefits you will gain.

When Does NIFS Offer Tabata?

Tabata can be found on the group fitness schedule multiple times through the week both indoors and outdoors. Through the summer months (May–August), Tabata is outside on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12–12:30. These classes are open and free to the public, but are also offered as a way to raise funds for Paws & Think, so a donation is suggested. You can also get in your workout indoors on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30pm.

The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

When taking Tabata outdoors, you will not just benefit from the HIIT-format class, but also will experience the amazing benefits of working out outside. In a study done by ACE Fitness, those who exercised outdoors experienced more energy, decreased anxiety and depression, and a harder workout due to surface difference and wind resistance. Not only that, working out in groups outdoors is a great way to engage with your community and have accountability buddies to support you.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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: NIFS group fitness workouts accountability high intensity HIIT outdoor exercise tabata

Healthy Habits: Swap the Bar for the Barre!

GettyImages-680250948Creating healthy habits is a challenge for most people. Doesn't sitting at a bar with a glass of wine sound much easier than going to the gym and taking a barre class after work? In the moment, YES; but which is more beneficial for your health and longevity?

NIFS is passionate about educating gym-goers to create healthy habits, and our staff is here to help members achieve that. NIFS loves having Barre Fusion in our group fitness schedule (now online at home), and love motivating others to take this class to feel all the benefits. 

So What Is This Workout? 

Barre Fusion classes are getting a lot of hype these days for providing amazing results—not just physically, but also mentally. This workout is designed to strengthen and tone all areas of the body while also providing length in a balanced format through breath. The class aids in small movements to target the stabilizing muscles in the body, which are often untrained in a standard workout. Strengthening these muscles is proven to benefit with core strength and balance as well as prevent injury.

The pace of the class is quicker than a yoga class, creating a cardiovascular aspect through quick transitions but still focusing on the elements of flexibility and breathing that you'd find in a yoga class. By training the body in this format, you are also improving your mindfulness, which will lead to wanting to live a life filled with more healthy habits.

Lisa Williams, avid Group Fitness attendee, says, "This is one of my new favorite all-over workouts! I absolutely love it! With the small movements we do, you can feel a burn in your muscles that you know are getting stronger each class. It also helps tone, as I have already noticed a change in my outfits from it! I also like the variety of the class. Although the flow is the same, you don’t continually do the same exercises. I never leave the class feeling like I didn’t get an amazing workout! I suggest all to try it!"

What Is a Habit?

A habit is a routine or pattern you adapt to. Some habits have negative effects; and some have positive effects. It's often easy to read about what we should be doing, but actually getting out of our comfort zone to create a new habit is a challenge. 

So How Do You Change Habits? 

Create new ones, but ease into it. Stopping anything cold turkey can often just lead to reverting back to that habit. Finding a healthy habit you enjoy and slowly incorporating it into your life is key. For example, do you enjoy going to a bar after work for the atmosphere of the music and people? Maybe start by swapping "the bar" one day a week for "barre." Coming to a group Barre Fusion class will create an atmosphere of music and people, but in a healthy format. Not only that, the calories and sugar often found in drinking are proven to cause health problems, while working out is proven to lead to healthy results.

So the choice is yours! Join NIFS for a healthy option, and try a group fitness class for free! To check out the Group Fitness schedule and all NIFS has to offer, click here.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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

Topics: cardio healthy habits yoga group fitness workouts nifs staff music mindfulness barre