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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Tara Rochford

Recent Posts by Tara Rochford:

Profile: NIFS Triathlon Training Program Participant Zach Smith

tri-training

The annual co-ed NIFS Triathlon Training Program is complete and participants have successfully completed the first triathlons of the season. The participants never cease to amaze all of us here at NIFS. Working hard during the six weeks of training to perfect swimming technique, practice biking on the road, decrease running time, and create smooth transitions between events pays off every year for these athletes. We love hearing from our participants and giving them the limelight, which is why we are showcasing one of our Triathlon Training participants in this blog post.

We are featuring Zach Smith, an avid runner turned triathlete who has an amazing story that is sure to inspire anyone to get out and try his or her first TRI. Take it away, Zach!

NAME: Zach Smith

SHARE YOUR “STORY” OR A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES:

In 2011, I was in Boulder, Colorado, for work and decided to start running to get back in shape thanks in part to my co-worker at the time (who was an avid runner) and the beautiful mountain view. Once I was back in Indy, I just never stopped running. I participated in my first Mini Marathon in 2012. I got connected with NIFS in 2013 through the Mini Training Program and decided I would commit to the six-week Triathlon Training after the Mini was over. Currently, I am a full-time employee at IUPUI, working in the Math Department as Student Services Assistant, and am a part-time graduate student pursuing my Master of Public Affairs (MPA) in Policy Analysis through the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).

NIFS PROGRAMS YOU PARTICIPATED IN: Triathlon Training Program

WHY DID YOU JOIN THIS PROGRAM?

I think anyone who is an avid runner, swimmer, or bicyclist has thought at least once about participating in a triathlon. As a runner, I naturally was ready to take my competitive nature to the next level by conquering a triathlon. However, I had no idea where to begin or how to train for such an event. I saw the “Ready to TRI?” posters at NIFS during the 2013 Mini Training Program and knew that it was exactly what I needed to do to prepare for my first event.

SOMETHING YOU HAVE ENJOYED:

I really enjoyed working with Kris Simpson and Stephanie (Greer) Kaiser at NIFS during this program. Being in a smaller training group, we were able to receive more individual attention during the training and that was extremely helpful. Kris and Steph really knew lots of training and race-day tips, which helped make my first event go smoothly.

SOMETHING YOU HAVE LEARNED OR SOMETHING THAT SURPRISED YOU:

I think for everyone who never swam competitively, the swimming portion of the triathlon can be the most daunting of the three parts. I consider myself an average swimmer and did not swim competitively, but I really enjoyed the swimming training we did on Tuesday nights and my own personal swim training on Fridays. Swimming is such a great exercise and I think most people discount it.

FAVORITE ASPECT OF TRAINING (BIKING, SWIMMING, RUNNING, FAVORITE MEMORY)?

I really enjoyed the biking/running training that we did at Eagle Creek Park. It is such a different feeling biking for 30 to 40 minutes and then getting off and immediately starting to run for 1 to 2 miles. Another plus to training at Eagle Creek was the fact it was where I participated in my first Sprint Triathlon, so I definitely felt more comfortable knowing how the race would be set up beforehand.

WHAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS HAVE YOU ACHIEVED DURING YOUR TRIATHLON TRAINING?

I think one accomplishment to note that I achieved during the training would have been giving the training participants on road bikes a run for their money on my hybrid bike. I was keeping up with them and sometimes surpassing them on our training rides through the hilly road course of Eagle Creek Park. This definitely set my mind at ease that I would do just fine on race day with my hybrid.

WHAT STRUGGLES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED? TIPS YOU HAVE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY?

In spite of all the swim training I did, swimming in the open water was way different than swimming in the pool. Kris had warned us that there is no “etiquette” out in the water during the race, so I knew people would brush into me and I would brush into others, but it was hard to simulate that in the pool (even though we all would swim next to each other in one pool lane at the same time). My biggest tip is to try and do some open-water swimming prior to your event so you are used to not seeing the bottom and feel comfortable racing in it. I know I had to get my bearings at first during the event and managed just fine in the end, but I know more experience with open-water swimming would have helped me.

HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED?

I am like most people (very busy), so it is very easy to allow working out to fall lower on the priority list. However, I have found that having personal goals and something to prepare or strive toward really helps me stay on track. I just signed up for my first full marathon in November (the Indy Monumental), so that is driving me to keep my fitness in tip-top shape throughout the summer and into fall!

ANY OTHER THOUGHTS YOU WISH TO SHARE: 

I truly recommend NIFS Triathlon Training to anyone who wants to learn how to train the right way and be ready come race day. I know I am glad I did!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS running group training swimming triathlon cycling

NIFS Staff Completes Summer Showdown

You know (and love) your NIFS staff members. We greet you when you first walk into the facility, we guide you through your workouts, we correct your technique, and we push you to your limit. We are always there during your workout, but I bet that many of you wonder when we work out. You probably wonder if we ever push ourselves with the same crazy exercises that we put you through.
NIFS staff summer showdown workout

Well, there is no longer any need for you to wonder.

The NIFS staff completed the 2013 Summer Showdown: Partner 100s workout, and boy was it a sight to see!

A group of NIFS staff representing the Fitness Center, Membership, Group Fitness, and even the interns got together and partnered up for this summer workout challenge.

It was hard work, and although we were sweaty and tired once it was all over, we truly enjoyed the challenge.

Now you know that when we are telling you to push harder, squat deeper, or do just one more rep…we have been there. We know it’s hard work, but we also know that you can do it!NIFS workout

Have fun these next six weeks working to improve your Summer Showdown time. We will be right there with you every step of the way!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

 

Topics: NIFS fitness group training functional training NIFS programs challenge Summer Showdown

My First Workout with the Pilates Reformer

I considered myself to be a pretty fit person—and then I met the Pilates Reformer.

You can find me in the gym five or six times a week, and I try to get at least two outdoor running sessions into my weekly routine as well. Exercise is my go-to stress reliever, my “me” time, and my hobby. I’m even a fitness instructor and consider exercise my stress reliever and hobby. But still, the thought of attending a Pilates Reformer session was a little—okay, a lot—intimidating! I have attended several mat Pilates classes, and I even taught a basic Pilates class while working on a cruise, yet I had never set foot on the Reformer, which is a device developed by Joseph Pilates that creates resistance for the body through a system of pulleys and springs.

Pilates Reformer

Tara Takes on the Reformer

I am always open-minded and willing to try new types of exercise. When I found out that Pilates was NIFS’s June group fitness class of the month, I thought that I would take my lack of experience on the Reformer and use it to YOUR advantage. I know that NIFS has an amazing Pilates program, and I know that our instructors are delightfully personable and highly qualified. But I also know that our Pilates program is one of NIFS’s best-kept secrets.

When I entered the room full of Pilates apparatuses, such as the Chair and the Tower, in addition to the Reformer, I was excited, nervous, and tired from a long day’s work.

Pilates TowerI attended a private session with Morgan , one of our resident Pilates experts. Boy am I thankful that I had a private lesson! Naturally, I am very inquisitive and find myself always asking “why” and “am I doing it right?” The private session allowed me to ask lots of questions, have Morgan’s undivided attention, and learn about why we were doing what we were doing and how it would help my other workouts. Although I am thankful I started with a private session, the small class sizes (maximum of only four participants) allow the instructor to be very engaged with participants even in the group setting. I am mostly thankful I had the private session because I could get chatty!

We began as they do in every class with very basic exercises to get my body warm and my mind focused. I had forgotten how much focus a Pilates class takes, and when we were initially beginning the class my mind was all over the place, making it more difficult to maintain proper body alignment. After a few deep breaths and basic movements, my mind was clear.

Pilates allows our bodies to build muscle without overuse, strain, and misuse of the body—AND we are developing smaller stabilizer muscles at the same time!

Morgan was very hands on during our session, paying specific attention to my body’s alignment, allowing me to perfect my form and feel the exercises in the targeted muscle group. 

Pilates toys

A Challenging but Rewarding Workout

Overall, this workout was challenging for my muscles and for my mind, as I tried very hard to engage my core the entire time and focus in on specific muscle groups while maintaining my posture.

After class, I immediately felt refreshed, relaxed, and rejuvenated despite the hard work I had just completed. I had a heightened awareness of my body and the way my posture effected how I walked and carried myself. Although the workout was very different than my typical routine, which consists of running, BODYPUMP, interval training, and more high-impact exercises, it still challenged me and left my muscles fatigued the day after. I really enjoyed this workout and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to build strength and stay safe in other forms of exercise, who has difficulty completing high-impact exercise, and who wants to try something new! After one private session, I feel much more comfortable with the reformer and would feel at ease taking a group class.

Make sure to join Morgan and Glenna for a mat or Reformer Pilates class. Check the NIFS Pilates Schedule for times and locations!

Ready to try the Pilates Reformer? NIFS has an intro package just for beginners to Pilates Reformer. Click here to get started.

This blog was written by Tara Deal, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen.
Topics: NIFS exercise fitness group fitness strength core Pilates

Avoiding Sweet Office Temptations for Employee Health

office sweets

Eating healthy in the workplace is an obstacle that most of us face. There are constantly birthdays, going-away parties, welcome lunches, you name it! Often, these events include desserts and special treats, so it can seem as if cookies, cupcakes, and sweet treats are a staple of your office environment. This doesn’t even account for the candy bowl that is always left sitting out.

Even at NIFS you can find us gathering for an ice cream social to welcome a new employee, bringing our favorite treat to welcome or say goodbye to our interns, and indulging in foods that you wouldn’t expect to find in a fitness center.

Simply because sweet temptation is there doesn’t mean you have to overdo it. The occasional cookie or brownie is fine, but when it seems as if these “special treats” become a daily occurrence, or you find yourself frequenting that candy bowl several times a day, it can be hard to cut those sweet temptations from your routine.

Here are five tips for handling those indulgent treats in your office setting

1. Prepare ahead of time.

Get used to packing your lunch and bringing it with you to work. This will allow you to control what you eat during your midday meal, and it will save you money by eliminating the cost of going out to lunch on a daily basis. Packing your lunch the night before while cooking dinner will save you time and enable you to sharpen those multitasking skills. If you know that there is a potluck or special lunch at work the next day, bring in part of your lunch (maybe just the sides or a healthy salad) and supplement your packed lunch with some indulgent office treats.

2. Pack healthy snacks.

Having snacks on hand will prevent you from getting overly hungry with only unhealthy foods as an option. Packing things like low-fat cheese sticks, nuts, apples, bananas, homemade trail mix, and Greek yogurt will allow you to be prepared and stay satisfied throughout the day. This may increase your work productivity, too!

office sweets

3. Drink lots of water.

Not only is it important to stay properly hydrated throughout the day, but water helps you feel fuller longer. It can be hard to remember to drink water even if you have your favorite bottle with you, so set a reminder on your calendar telling you to drink! Emptying your water bottle will cause you to have to refill and use the restroom, which are both great excuses for getting up and out of your seat during the workday.

4. Bring a healthy dish to share.

If you know that your office is holding a gathering with food, offer to bring a healthy dish! That way, you know that there will be at least one nutritious option available. Veggies and whole-wheat pita with hummus, fruit trays, or homemade granola bars are always popular options.

5. Indulge responsibly.

Have a cookie, bowl of ice cream, or donut and enjoy every bite of it! If you never have any of the office treats, this may leave you feeling deprived and craving sweet treats all day, which could lead to overindulgence later. Just remember that it is a treat, and treats are a rare occasion!

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

Topics: nutrition healthy habits healthy eating snacks lunch employee health

Spotlight: NIFS Member Ana Traversa on Mini Marathon Training

As the annual NIFS Mini Marathon Training Program comes to a close, the staff at NIFS have come to a conclusion: The runners who participate in this 14-week program are pretty amazing! They work hard in their short runs on their own, and then they come to each group long run ready to run and support each other to the finish. We think they all deserve a little bit of attention, which is why we decided to showcase one of our participants turned group leader in this blog post.

We are showcasing Ana Traversa, who joined NIFS just a short four months ago when she moved to Indy from New Jersey. She immediately joined the NIFS Mini Marathon Training Program and soon after volunteered to be a running group leader. We hope you enjoy reading about her experiences with the NIFS Mini Marathon Training Program and get some inspiration from this running machine!

NAME: Ana Traversa

SHARE YOUR “STORY” OR A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES:Mini 500 Ana T

I’m basically a diehard runner. I ran my first race at 11. I was a 100m, 200m, and relay runner from 11 to 16 (ran a mean 13-second 100m), and then at 17 my gym teacher in school switched me to the mile. It took a whole year to train for what then seemed like an impossibly long distance to run.

Then life got in the way big time most of my life. I tried to keep up jogging through college and full-time jobs, but had trouble finding the time or the energy. I recovered my running in my late 30s and this time kept up a good, steady routine that included a lot of racing for a couple of years or so. Then life got in the way an even bigger time for a very destructive five-year period. It took nearly another five years to heal. And now it’s all back with a vengeance, and this time I’m NOT letting go.

NIFS PROGRAMS YOU PARTICIPATED IN (NIFS Mini Marathon Training Program):

This is my only NIFS program so far (I became a member only four months ago, when I moved to Indy from Jersey). I went from participant to co-lead a couple of weeks into the program.

WHY DID YOU JOIN THIS PROGRAM?

After a lot of 3, 4, 5, and 6-mile races and only a 10-mile race in the Bronx, I ran my first Half in Atlantic City last October. I was pretty satisfied with my performance at the time but needed to cut back on my training over the following two months in preparation for the move. In January I needed to retrace part of my training, and this time I decided to take a risk with group running—I didn’t think I could adjust to a steady, predictable pace.

SOMETHING YOU HAVE ENJOYED:

The promise of the shared run has paid off. It’s also been good to be responsible for the group’s run. If I had been only a participant rather than a co-lead, some Wednesdays I would have stayed home.

SOMETHING YOU HAVE LEARNED OR SOMETHING THAT SURPRISED YOU:

The slow pace (2+ minutes/mile slower than my race pace) was also the right pace for my long runs. On my own, I’m primed for speed and wouldn’t have had the patience to sustain the much slower pace, especially early in the season. Now I can adjust my pace rather easily.

FAVORITE RUNNING ROUTE FROM ONE OF THE RUNS?

Up and down the canal. I really like it downtown. And I’m not bored by any repetitive running or exercise routine (except the treadmill), so if I had to run a full marathon just by running up and down the canal, I would. Heck, if I had to run a full marathon around the NIFS track, I think I would too. In fact, in the middle of the summer heat I probably will…

mini trophies

WHAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS HAVE YOU ACHIEVED DURING YOUR TRAINING PROGRAM FOR THE MINI?

I PR’ed in Carmel, and then again at the Mini last Saturday. I went from 2:14 in Atlantic City last October to 2:09 in Carmel to 2:05 at the Mini. And that’s not all—I just PR’ed in the 5K, the 10K, and the 15K as well. And I’ve just turned 50. AND my application to run the New York marathon next November has just been accepted, so I’m literally walking (read running) on air.

I believe it’s the combined result of (1) consistency, (2) the slower long runs on Wednesdays that built my endurance over time, and (3) the personalized runner-specific strength training routine that Adam Heavrin set up for me a couple of months ago. Adam will say it’s my accomplishment and he just does his job like anyone else would, but I could write a whole page on how this component (his expert guidance AND his support) has made a huge difference in every possible way—physically and psychologically.

WHAT STRUGGLES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED? TIPS YOU HAVE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY?

I can’t overemphasize the value of learning as much as possible about physiology, about running, and about nutrition. I haven’t encountered struggles this year—I’ve been on this path for over two years now. But one of the greatest struggles is fighting peer pressure. The non-runner has lots of difficulty understanding the passion for the activity, especially if it comes from a woman, especially if she is middle-age, especially if it means you need to keep a diet and a discipline that interferes with typically socializing behavior, etc., etc. Again, I could write volumes about how one needs to build strong arguments to fight the many stereotypes that surround this kind of activity. Indy is not that unfriendly in that regard—hey, over 1,100 of the Mini runners were women between 50 and 54. But in Jersey I had more trouble.

HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED?

Ongoing fun and consistent progress at the physical activity that I’m most passionate about have provided all the motivation I need, and more.

I can say the same about my diet, which consists of only healthy foods with little to no cooking and next to no “dressing”—no empty calories there. My body doesn’t need any offending stuff anymore, and certainly no sugar for sugar’s sake. Even the healthy Wednesday Mini training snacks were sometimes a no-no. All the motivation I need to stay away from my old habits (three years ago I was 50 pounds heavier and couldn’t go up a flight of steps without panting) is the knowledge that my current diet is what allows me to continue running. And the mood, attitude, and confidence boost that I get from it all is golden.

ANY OTHER THOUGHTS YOU WISH TO SHARE: 

  • Kudos to Steph and Angi as organizers!
  • Now we need a full marathon training program!

Now is the time to sign up for next years Mini Marathon Training program at NIFS! Take advantage of our Early Bird special and save $ on this program by registering before June 30th! Learn More.

Topics: NIFS nutrition motivation marathon training group training mini marathon half marathon

NIFS May Class of the Month: Boot Camp

Bootcamp-1Boot Camp. Immediately thoughts of drill sergeants, whistles, and large combat boots come to mind. This, however, is a different kind of boot camp.

NIFS Boot Camp group fitness class is nothing short of challenging and exhausting. This total body workout will improve overall fitness and push participants to the next level.

Depending on the weather, Boot Camp meets outdoors on the NIFS back patio, or inside NIFS on the sprint lanes. Each session begins with a dynamic (or active) warm-up full of exercises that could be used as exercises on their own. When completing the class outdoors, expect to do tricep dips on park benches, do pullups on support bars, run up and down sets of stairs, and blast through plyometric jumps onto tall steps. If the class is indoors, a circuit-style workout using free weights and traditional callisthenic exercises makes up the routine.

bootcampBoot Camp is suitable for participants of a moderate to intermediate fitness level, and is great conditioning for adventure and obstacle-course–style races. Prepare to be challenged during this 60-minute workout.

Make sure to bring a water bottle, towel, and that “never-give-up” attitude when attending this class.

Join Steven on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6-7pm for Boot Camp. If the weather is nice, head out to the NIFS back patio to find the rest of the Boot Camp crew!

Try NIFS Bootcamp class for FREE! Click here to request a pass!

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

Topics: NIFS fitness group fitness workouts boot camp summer circuit workout