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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Thomas Livengood

Recent Posts by Thomas Livengood:

Summertime Safety: Protect Your Skin During Outdoor Workouts

GettyImages-828979918The glorious return to summer is upon us, and if you are like me, you will be spending as much time as possible soaking up sunshine as you take your leisure outdoors, take up hobbies in the yard and garden, and engage in group fitness bootcamp classes in the park. The sunshine feels good and has many benefits, including mood enhancement, vitamin D production, and even treatment for a number of skin conditions such as psoriasis and acne. There are, however, some dangers associated with extended sun exposure that can be limited with the use of sunscreen, most notably skin cancer.

Finding the Balance Between Healthy Sun Exposure and Overdoing It

After a long winter or even a rainy spring, predictably, we will want to get out and about on the very first day possible. The first exposures to the summer sun usually leave us with a surprisingly red glow, the first sunburn of the year. For some people, this sunburn is a rite of passage for the season. As I noted before, there are some dangers with overexposure to the sun that have more serious consequences than a simple sunburn. According to the Cleveland Clinic, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and the number of cases is on the rise. This cancer forms when prolonged exposure to the sun is accumulated over time.

The old saying “too much of a good thing” really resounds as we try to find the balance between healthy sun exposure and overdoing it. For many people, using sunscreen is a way to find a happy medium so that they can enjoy the outdoors. Scientists at Harvard have some healthy tips for those who may have reservations using sunscreen (such as developing acne and exposure to chemicals) and warn that the alternative to sunscreen usage is much, much worse. The biggest takeaway, though, is that sunscreen, by itself, will not be enough if limited prolonged overexposure to the sun is not your priority.

Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun

Here are some pointers that will take your sun safety to the next level.

  1. Be aware of the dangers of overexposure. There are many sources to help educate yourself about these dangers and the ways you can limit and prevent serious damage to your body.
  2. Sunscreen is good, but it’s not the only tool in the toolbox. You will also need sun-protective gear and clothing to stay safe.
  3. Use sunscreen correctly. When using sunscreen, make sure you know the specific rating and reapply regularly.
  4. Watch for skin changes. See your doctor if you develop any abnormal skin (always be safe, not sorry).

Prepare for Sun Exposure

Take time to treat your skin, your body, and your mind. We need sunlight to live, but we need to respect it. As we move into summer, more and more fitness classes are held outdoors. Make sure you are preparing for the sun. Ask your facility whether they provide sunscreen; NIFS provides stations at the entrances for your convenience.

If you have questions regarding health and wellness, NIFS staff members are available for consultation and can provide information regarding workout planning, fitness testing, and nutrition consultation with a registered dietitian. As always, muscleheads rejoice and evolve!

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

Topics: Thomas' Corner summer cancer sunscreen vitamin D outdoor exercise

How Technology Can Promote Exercise for Today’s Youth

GettyImages-867856148We all know that physical fitness and wellness are prerequisites for a productive and healthy life. Exercise is good not only for the body, but for the mind as well. We want to ensure a future full of great experiences. For one population, our children, participating in physical activity may be becoming more and more challenging, whether it be from lack of interest, lack of support, or lack of funding for programs in their community. One area in which this population excels, however, is technology. Without a doubt, smartphone technology is a part of our current culture and most likely will be for a long time. For some older people, this might be a newer concept. At the moment, though, ensuring the future of physical fitness for the next generation will need to coexist with technology.

Can Exercise and Technology Coexist?

Being somewhat skeptical of the coexistence of exercise and technology, I, like some people, associate the latter with inactivity and laziness. In the past, this might have been the case; however, a new generation of technology is now capable of training children to be more active while using technology. This was evident with the evolution of video game technology such as Wii Sports and Microsoft Kinect games.

The next evolution, naturally, moved to smartphones. Nearly every person has a smartphone and spends hours and hours per week staring at their screens. Then apps were developed, and have built a new outlet for fitness that not only utilizes the strengths (technology) but the interests (fun and leisure) that really entice children to exercise without even thinking about it.

Smartphone Technology That Gets People Moving

Here are some examples where smartphone technology is positively impacting people’s lives with exercise (source: Wezift.com).

  • Pokémon GO: Users use an interactive app to walk to Pokémon sites. At that point, a virtual battle ensues. Afterward, the user tries to find the next real-world location for the next battle. Sometimes these sites are common areas where likeminded individuals can meet up and battle with friends. It encourages walking, a proven method of burning calories and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
  • NFL Play 60: The National Football League’s app, geared toward fighting childhood obesity through activity, specifically 60 minutes per day. NFL players get involved and help inspire the youth to be physically fit.
  • Kids Fitness—Daily Yoga: This app is geared toward the benefits of yoga, teaching children 10 basic poses and movements. This free app helps kids understand the foundational concepts of yoga.

Find the Exercise That Keeps You Engaged

Getting involved with exercise can come in many forms. There are thousands of ways to exercise with thousands of plans. The best one, however, depends on you. What will you do to exercise and keep exercising for a lifetime? That, my friends, is the best exercise in the world. Keep your eyes open for new ideas and concepts as the fitness world is ever-changing. At NIFS, we are dedicated to making sure you are connected with our staff through all forms of social media. Connect with a NIFS Health Fitness Professional to get started on your fitness journey today! Until next time, muscleheads rejoice and evolve!

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

Topics: staying active Thomas' Corner kids technology apps fitness for kids

Putting Yourself First: Healthy Habits for the Pandemic (Part 2 of 2)

GettyImages-1151359854Personal trainers are people, too (well, at least when no one is looking!). In reality, there are a lot of new bridges we, as a society, are crossing every single day. As a trainer, my goal is to put all my effort into making sure that my clients are being healthy with fitness and wellness as a priority. With the lockdown upon us, finding new ways to get this job done is a challenge, but so is making sure that you are finding time for yourself.

As I stated in part 1, we are looking to “fill our cup” every day so that we can be the best version of ourselves that we can be. This in turn helps ensure that we can fulfill our daily agendas. We already touched on two aspects of self-care, home setup and sleep. Here I conclude our discussion with positive self-gratitude practices and meditation (and breathing).

Practice Self-Gratitude

It may take some time to get used to a self-gratitude–oriented mindset. The focus is on you! In our “normal” lives, we have careers that put us in positions where we must not only focus on work tasks, but also on putting your personal priorities on the back burner to serve others. The same can be said about people who take care of loved ones and raise children. Taking time for yourself is easier said than done, but at the end of the day, are you finding ways to refill your cup?

Lorea Martinez, PhD, a Social Emotional Learning practitioner, states, “Gratitude helps us cope better with stress, recover more quickly from illness, and enjoy more robust physical health, including lower blood pressure and better immune function. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, the readiness to show appreciation and return kindness to others.” She gives these helpful tips on ways you can find the benefits of self-gratitude.

  1. Identify three things that you value about yourself.
  2. Acknowledge three things that went well each day.
  3. Take a moment to appreciate these things.
  4. Repeat!

Try Meditation

Another great way to cope is through meditation. For a beginner, meditation can be as simple as practicing calm, deep-breathing techniques. Your meditation can be many things, but it should definitely not be troublesome or a burden. Finding quiet and peace for even a few minutes per day is a great way to not only fill your cup, but also introduce a healthful practice into your day. NIFS blogger Amanda Licatatiso wrote about the benefits of mediation and some great practice tips. Check out her blog to see how adding a few minutes of meditation a day can impact your self-care plan.

Soon we will all start working toward going back to more normal routines, but until then, please make sure you are taking time for yourself. Remember, we need to take care of ourselves, so that we can take care of others (and our jobs). We are eager to see you again and help you reach your fitness goals. Until next time, muscleheads rejoice and evolve.

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

Topics: healthy habits Thomas' Corner mindfulness meditation self-care quarantine work at home gratitude pandemic

Putting Yourself First: Healthy Habits for the Pandemic (Part 1 of 2)

GettyImages-1024725422There are no definitive right answers on how we are supposed to individually succeed during a pandemic. We all cope, struggle, and win the day in our own ways. We can all feel a little lost and confused at times, and that’s completely normal as we cross bridges into territory we have never experienced in our lives.

This idea makes you wonder, “am I doing this right” and “what should I be doing?” It’s not easy to answer because we are challenged in new ways daily. Sometimes it’s as simple as being motivated to wake up in the morning at your normal time, and other times it’s making sure that all your work is getting completed. Each person has their own daily cup, and filling this cup with what makes the most sense with both work and personal life fulfillment is what should be expected of all of us. This is a form of “putting yourself first.”

In this two-part blog, I cover several topics and ideas that will help you in making better, more healthful decisions.

Keep to a Routine and Manage Your Setup

During this extended home lockdown, we tend to find ourselves with a lot of time on our hands. Work-from-home is being done from makeshift offices, and sometimes we are cutting corners here and there. One area where we can focus our energy for the good is our daily routines. Your daily routine of getting up for the day, eating meals, and exercise should mimic your normal daily routines; however, having your living space and workspace together can be a challenge. Find ways to allow your house to multitask with you. Have a place where you do your work, but also places where you can escape to rest, recover, and breathe.

Lawrence Biscontini, a world-renowned award-winning fitness professional, uses the following acronym to describe how you can promote self-care at your residence.

  • H—Your Hearth: This is where you find rest and recovery and refill your energy. Your bedroom sanctuary, free from all distraction and full of purposeful R and R.
  • O—Your Outside: How you connect with others and communicate.
  • M—Your Mission Control: Your home office and workstation, a place dedicated to getting your work completed. Your workspace is professional.
  • E—Eat: Refueling the body with nutritious food, free of social and outside distraction.

Get Better Sleep

The next topic, which is well documented and researched, is sleep habits and how to get better, healthier rest. In past NIFS blog posts by Cara Hartman, Hannah Peters, and several others, we see that sleep is extremely important and seemingly simple to master. However, with all the distractions that can come from lockdown (not to mention our insatiable love for technology), we find it tougher and tougher to get exactly what we need every day. Check out Cara’s blog on sleep habits, explaining what gets you to that bedtime in no time.

Keep Your Cup Full

Focusing on yourself is important. Your daily cup needs to be full enough so that you can do your job, help others, and enjoy life. In part 2 of this blog, I continue and conclude this discussion. Remember, take it one day at a time, taking care of yourself as a priority. Finally, when it comes time to meet again, NIFS and NIFS staff will be ready (we hope you are too!). Take care, and muscleheads rejoice and evolve.

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

Topics: healthy habits Thomas' Corner sleep self-care quarantine lockdown work at home pandemic

Accidental Workouts: Burning Calories by Doing Things Around the House

GettyImages-1205255316When you hear about fitness and wellness, one of the first things that comes to mind is getting a workout, usually at a gym, fitness center, or club. Some people can get exercise in other ways, such as outdoor activities and sports, while many others receive plenty of fitness at the workplace (think lumberjacks, steel workers, and factory workers). If none of these sounds like you or if you and you feel as though the fitness route is a tough road to travel, there is hope. There are things you do in your everyday life that give you an opportunity to burn calories.

Believe it or not, we all are burning calories all day, everyday. This is your metabolism, and without it you would not be alive. You burn calories when you are watching TV, riding in the car, and even sleeping (albeit a small amount). Many daily activities that you might not think about help you burn more calories throughout the day. Do you consider walking the dog, raking the yard, or cooking a meal as calorie-burning opportunities? Well, again, it’s not equivalent to taking a HITT class or aerobics class, but you are going to burn more calories with increased activity.

How Many Calories Do These Activities Burn?

How many calories can you expect to burn with these day-to-day chores and tasks, you may wonder? In the sedentary state, people usually burn a couple calories per minute. If you were asleep, you could guess that you are burning fewer calories, and if you were sprinting up a hill, the calorie burn would increase. CalorieLab provides some of the following data that might come as a surprise as it pertains to tasks that you might deem as mundane.

Chores

  • Sweeping the floor: 39 calories/15 minutes
  • Doing the dishes: 22 calories/15 minutes
  • Cooking, with food prep: 26 calories/15 minutes
  • Scrubbing the floor: 48 calories/15 minutes

Playing with children or pets

  • Light play: 31 calories/15 minutes
  • Moderate play: 51 calories/15 minutes
  • Vigorous play: 68 calories/15 minutes

Get Motivated to Do More and Move More

Using this as a motivation, the work you do around your home is meaningful in many ways. Making sure that you have a nice, clean living environment ensures that you are taking proper steps to a healthy lifestyle, while pride and self-confidence get a boost as well. On top of all of this, your activity burns calories! Finding ways to burn the amount of calories you want might be a difficult task, whether you can’t find time or don’t like to do it, although keeping moving and staying motivated to do better at home is a great start. Good luck, and as always, muscleheads rejoice and evolve!

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

Topics: staying active exercise at home Thomas' Corner motivation calories metabolism

Perfect Posture: Why It’s Important and How to Get It

GettyImages-501787264Whether you are sitting, standing, walking, running, or exercising, having good posture plays an immense role in not only how you physically present yourself, but how your body develops over time. Just like most habits, posture has both good and bad sides, each with distinct effects on your body. Focusing on ways to get the most out of your posture can ultimately give you not only a better workout, but also improved health for many years to come.

Benefits of Good Posture

When we talk about the benefits of improved posture, you might first think about how you look in a mirror or in front of a camera (which is also important). But there are many other physical attributes that can be affected which might not come to mind at first. This includes immediate impact areas such as low back pain relief and less tension in the shoulders and upper back. Further, long exposure issues such as joint wear and tear and poor blood circulation can be linked to bad posture. Other than physical effects, there are quite a few emotional health issues that come to light and are associated with bad posture, including self image and depression as well as relaxation and rest.

An Easy Posture Test

Getting back to the fitness aspect of good posture, I can present a simple demonstration. First I would like for you to sit in a chair, slouching as if no one was watching. Now, sit up tall with good posture. Obviously it takes more effort to sit with good posture, including core muscles. If you apply this concept to your exercises, you might find that not only will your form improve (along with your overall safety), but you will be recruiting more muscle (and albeit small and more calorie burning).

Develop Your Posture

There are things you can do in your day-to-day life that will help you develop better posture habits. Personal habits such as sitting taller, standing taller, and exercising with good form make having good posture much easier. Other things to consider include talking to an ergonomic specialist who can help you set up your workstation to better suit your body’s needs, and talking to a fitness specialist to help with exercise form and technique.

Even though it’s a lot easier to be lazy and not care about your posture, like other aspects of your physical wellness, caring for yourself and developing good posture habits will have long-lasting benefits for your body at a very low cost, so just do it! You will be making your grandma happy in the process.

If you feel as though your posture is getting in the way of your goals and possibly worse, your health, please take time to address the issue today. Talk to a fitness professional about safer, more effective exercises at the gym focusing on form and posture. At work, you can contact your HR rep to see whether an ergonomic specialist is available to help set up your workstation. You are not alone. Let NIFS help you.

Until next time, muscleheads rejoice and evolve!

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

Topics: exercises workplace wellness core strength posture ergonomic health and fitness

The Balance of Lifetime Wellness: Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor

GettyImages-641793510-1As fitness professionals, we promote good habits to our clients and encourage people to make positive changes in their lives. Sometimes we help others find the spark to exercise or offer the accountability to make those hard-earned results stick. Overall, “helping individuals achieve success in goals and happiness in life” sums up what it means to be a trainer.

The next challenge I pose to you, once you have achieved your goals and are happy, is to find someone else who needs encouragement and help them make better choices. This could be a friend, coworker, or loved one. How can you help ensure that the people you care about are here for the long haul? There are many answers to this question, and sometimes it might take some time for things to work out, but there can be no change without that initial spark.

Find a Fitness Mentor

This scenario that I created places you in the middle of two important individuals every person should consider having in their life. The first person would be someone you look up to for advice, also known as your mentor or teacher. When you seek knowledge about anything, specifically fitness in this case, you need a person you can not only trust, but also someone who cares about your well-being. Whether you are an elite athlete, brand new to fitness, an experienced trainer, or a right out-of-college intern, you need someone to look up to. Even the greatest minds in the world have mentors (for example, Socrates taught Plato, who taught Aristotle, who taught Alexander the Great!). I look up to many trainers who give me inspiration and knowledge (some of whom are part of our NIFS family: Tony Maloney and Rick Huse).

Now Be a Mentor

Now that you have established a mentor and are getting your fitness and nutrition under control, you can now follow through with the second important person, who I alluded to earlier. This second person is the person you used to be, before you started seeing results. They are just beginning the long journey toward fitness prosperity. Now, you can’t be expected to do all the work yourself, but you do have the ability to be encouraging and informative. You can be there for someone. Tell them where they can find the resources, become a workout partner, collaborate on a home cooked dinner, anything you can do that allows for that person to know that you care and that there is hope. They will have to make decisions toward health and wellness, and hopefully they will make the best choice for their overall well-being.

Look to NIFS

Being a part of this chain is pretty awesome! Being able to help someone change their life can also change yours. You could be a difference maker, too! In the meantime, NIFS trainers are here to help you with your workouts and fitness testing. Scheduling an appointment to meet with a trainer is as easy as making a phone call (317-274-3432), sending an email (tlivengood@nifs.org), or stopping by the NIFS track desk and meeting in person. We would love to help you become the best version of you possible. In doing so, we pass our knowledge to you, which we have learned from our mentors and teachers. Hopefully, with time, you will be able to do the same.

Muscle heads rejoice and evolve!

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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 motivation accountability nifs staff mentoring lifetime wellness

Go from Sore to SOAR! Preventing Soreness and Injury in Your Workouts

GettyImages-1072667146A common nuisance to almost all fitness enthusiasts is the overall lethargic feeling you get from being extremely sore due to a challenging workout. Sometimes this is a deterrent to those looking to develop a consistent workout pattern, and can be especially bothersome if you haven't experienced this phenomenon before.

Does being sore mean that you should take more time off from fitness to recover, or would your time be better used if you could minimize soreness through workout planning and management? Beneath all of the reasons to either work out or stay home is your desire to see results. So this blog looks at ways in which you can shorten your down time due to soreness and eventually soar to new heights with your workout programming.

Pre-Workout Rituals to Minimize Soreness

We all have been sore from working out at some point. Being able to get back to the gym and work out again is key to not only keeping on track for goals, but also to set important habits. Excuses for not being at the gym can vary and many may be valid, but being sore from a previous workout is becoming less and less common because of our pre-workout rituals, which now include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • FMS corrective exercises (prescribed by a NIFS Health Fitness Specialist)
  • Foam rolling
  • Dynamic warmups (think about track stretches)
  • Even the whirlpool and sauna

With proper usage, these tools are designed to make you not only better at all aspects of fitness, but also safer as you grow into your workout. At NIFS, one of our focuses is on being an all-around fitness center, which includes these aspects. Getting screened with the Functional Movement Screen and talking to a NIFS staff member about your goals is one step toward a better overall experience at the gym.

Planning Your Workout Program for Injury Prevention

Another area to consider is your workout program. Would your weekly times and days allow for a six-day workout split (for example, Monday is chest day, Tuesday is legs, etc.), or would another path that includes total-body workouts make more sense? The answer depends on several things, including your personal goals, your workout experience, previous injuries, and workout frequency allotted. What you want to steer away from is overtraining a specific muscle to the point where it potentially can become injured. This would be more likely if you were to max out on squats six days per week for the next month.

How to plan this program isn't a road you have to travel alone because NIFS offers workout plans (included with membership) to those looking to take their fitness to the next level. Set up a time to meet with a staff member to get started right away.

Take Advantage of Information and Resources from NIFS

In today's world of technology, information is now readily available at your fingertips. You might do an internet search for a TRX exercise and find tens of thousands of websites and videos. NIFS has you covered here, too, as a resource to help you become more engaged in fitness. Posting weekly, the NIFS social media team has not only videos, but also great blogs regarding how to effectively work out, but also how to recover from a tough exercise. If meeting a trainer is a little intimidating, social media such as Instagram and Facebook can be a great way to not only learn, but also get to know NIFS staff who are here to help you.

Now that you have some ideas to help you on your fitness path, there's only one thing left to do: get back to the gym. Meet with a NIFS staff member to set up your complimentary assessments (BOD POD, Fit3D, and FMS). Set up a workout plan that is based on YOUR goals, that makes sense for the amount of time you have to work out, and is centered on your starting point. Expect accountability, encouragement, and growth. Come to NIFS and SOAR!

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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 workouts injury prevention personal training BODPOD warmups assessments fit3d functional movement screen soreness social media

Thomas’s Top Ten: Healthy Holiday Inspirations

IMG_8604Holidays are times when you can relax and reflect, spend time with friends and family, and indulge in copious amounts of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, and pie. Well, maybe don’t eat so much pie. But we do have plenty of reasons to not only be grateful, and to be inspired for the future.

Top Ten Things That Inspire Me

You probably have a hundred things you are excited about for the next decade. I have compiled my personal Thomas’s Top Ten list of things I am inspired by and that make me smile.

  1. Good health: There’s a lot to say about good health, such as being able to do things you like to do, go places you want to visit, and experience everything life has to offer. Being in the fitness industry predisposes a person to being health-minded, but it’s not an easy road and definitely something not to be taken for granted.
  2. Good friends: Spending time with friends is important. Like good health, this isn’t always easy and sometimes there are roadblocks along the way. I believe my favorite place on earth is wherever my best friend is at that time.
  3. Pets: If you have pets, you instantly have a built-in best friend. When treated well, these little animals can give you love and affection after a long day at work, or give you the inspiration to go out and exercise when you are tired.
  4. Sunshine: Sunshine is such an important aspect of life that it comes in at number four on my list. Without the sunshine, there is no life. Go out on a sunny day and see for yourself. There is something to be said for rainy days too… without rain, there would be no trees, flowers, or rivers.
  5. Fresh air: I am grateful for fresh air, even if it’s cold and crisp. Being able to breathe well is something to be thankful for because it isn’t easy for everyone. Fresh air can improve your sleep as well as overall well-being.
  6. Clean water: Having a clean water source and plenty to go around is a beautiful thing. All too often, we take having clean water for granted. Our bodies need water to function well—and being able to stay outwardly clean doesn’t hurt, either.
  7. Good sleep: Sleeping is where we recharge our batteries. After a long day of work and play, our bodies need sleep to rebuild muscle and alleviate mental fatigue. Also, sleeping in on the weekend is okay!
  8. Books: I am very grateful for not only the ability to read, but also all the books that inspire me in life and work. Even further, books allow not only for education, but also relaxation. There is something to be said about someone who enjoys being an active participant in their entertainment. Also, you can multiply your happiness when you share your books with your friends.
  9. Music: Sometimes people can associate music and songs with nearly every aspect of their lives. You can almost define certain life events with music (what was your high school spirit song, or are there any songs that you remember from elementary school?). Also, music helps inspire and motivate people to exercise. Over the years, music may change, but the effect is still the same.
  10. Mountains: This can be taken both literally and metaphorically. Mountains are amazing. Thousands of years old, stoic, and everlasting, mountains can be a destination for relaxation (vacation), exercise (hiking), and relaxation. Thinking outside the box, a “mountain” can represent your own personal goal for the coming year. I am thankful for mountains because they are the ultimate reason for pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

What Inspires You?

What ideas are on your Top Ten list? I’m sure there are many I have failed to list that are as important or possibly more important than the ones I have listed. Take a few moments and jot them on a piece of paper. That’s how I started this blog!

Looking forward to a New Year and new decade is an exciting prospect. NIFS will be looking help you reach your goals, motivate you, and educate you with the most knowledgeable and expert advice available. Happy holidays and have a GREAT 2020.

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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 holidays inspiration new year healthy living

Using Battling Ropes for Training

_68R5895When you begin your fitness quest and are getting started on a new program, finding exercises that are appropriate for you is key to your success. Your fitness staff at NIFS has your back! Training methods and training tools developed from years of research and practice have shown that sometimes a simple exercise done well can be quite effective.

In this case, we will be looking at training with battling ropes (also known as battle ropes). I was lucky to have been in attendance at one of the top fitness summits recently and was humbled by the overall amount of work that can be accomplished with the ropes. (Taking some learning cues from renowned fitness professionals has given me the opportunity to deliver some great, purposeful workouts to NIFS members and clients.)

You may have seen the battle ropes in your gym, but did not know exactly what exercises could be done with them. For the most part, the movement patterns are simple, yet effective. Slamming the ropes utilizes multiple muscle groups and also gets your heart rate to rise. Taking the training one step further, your rope slams can be broken down into many movement patterns including small movement patterns, large movement patterns, and several other fun, specialized movement patterns (which we will look at in this blog).

What Are Battle Ropes?

Before we get started on the exercises, it would be helpful to have a better anatomical understanding of these ropes. For starters, ropes come in many lengths and thicknesses. The longer the rope or the thicker the rope, the more challenging the exercises become. Also, using a poly rope with shrinkwrapped endcaps has advantages over the less-expensive manila gym ropes traditionally used for climbing. The poly rope material tends to be softer on the hands and more durable than the manila rope. The manila rope, however, can work fine and be more cost-effective.

Small-Movement Pattern

The first movement pattern we will discuss is called the small-movement pattern. This pattern is the easiest to learn and progress from. Once you have selected your rope and have attached it to its anchor point, simply get your body into an athletic position (not unlike getting ready to hit a volleyball or pick up a groundball in softball). You will slam the rope quickly, yet rhythmically in cadence so that the small slams create a ripple that flows all the way down to the anchor point. This pattern can also have several small variations including single-arm slams. Typically, this exercise can be done for time (i.e., 20 seconds per set) or with your interval training (i.e., :20 on, :20 off for 3 minutes).

Large-Movement Pattern

The second movement pattern is the large-movement pattern. With this movement pattern, the goal is to create big slams with the rope. This movement is similar to the one seen with medicine ball slams, where you take your body from a small movement position to a fully extended position with the ropes overhead and on your toes, and then end by slamming the rope with maximum force into the ground. This movement can be rhythmic, but sometimes seems a little more aggressive in nature than the small-movement pattern. The benefits here, though, are definitely more athletic in nature, as many sports require movement patterning based on this exact exercise. Because this exercise makes it easier to count reps, being able to do sets such as 4 x 10–12 reps, makes sense (but do not limit yourself; intervals here are also appropriate).

Other Ways to Use Rope Training

Outside of these two movements, you can explore rope training in many ways. Thinking back to grade-school times, we used the rope often during physical education class as the true tests of strength with tug-of-war and the rope climb, but we can make ropes fun and challenging when we put them back into our workout plans and add a little competition. With tug-of-war, you need several people to compete, but other exercises can replicate this movement solo. The Marpo Rope Trainer machine can convert to a standing tug-of-war rope pull, just you versus the machine! The rope climb, which is a daunting challenge for most, can be replicated on the rope machine as well. But if you don’t have the rope machine, starting with rope descends is an excellent way to get more comfortable and definitely stronger.

BONUS: Here is a great Friday Finisher series using the Ropes!

 

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These rope challenges are great additions to most workouts because they are simple and they can be done with individual maximum efforts or in groups where a cardiovascular challenge is needed. If you are interested in adding ropes to your workouts and want more information, NIFS staffers are more than happy to help you begin your new rope training workout. As always, muscleheads evolve and rejoice!

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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: NIFS exercise fitness center Thomas' Corner equipment workouts strength sports movement