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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Why I Have a Passion for PiYo Fitness

piyo.jpgOkay, so you may have been hearing the word “PiYo®” circulating these last few months within the world of group fitness. For those of you who feel like you do not completely know what it means or what the class entails, fear not. I guarantee you are not the only one with questions, and as a certified PiYo instructor, I would love to share a few reasons why I teach it, and the benefits that can come from practicing it.

PiYo® is a Beachbody program created by celebrity fitness trainer Chalene Johnson (who is also the creator of TurboFire, Turbo Kick, etc.). She originally created the PiYo® class because she wanted a workout that would provide results without straining your body. She loved the benefits of Pilates and yoga but got bored with the static moves in yoga and the microscopic movements in Pilates. So essentially, the class is set to music, combining moves from both techniques and making them dynamic to give participants an enjoyable yet challenging class that works on not only body strength, but also balance and flexibility. Let’s look a little more deeply into those features.

Bodyweight Strength

PiYo_LOGO_Gray_M.jpgSurprisingly, for many of us (myself included), just using our own bodyweight for certain exercises can be challenging enough. From moves like triceps pushups, to lunges, to side planks, 140+ pounds begins to feel really heavy really quick! PiYo® takes many of these simple-to-learn yet challenging moves and combines them with aspects such as “time under tension” and dynamic pulses to keep the body moving the whole time.

Each song also has its own focus; the workout begins with a heat-building track to wake up the body and get blood flowing to the muscles, then moves into a lower-body and power track. Following those, we seamlessly transition the second half of the class into a yoga flow, and finish with a core and stretching/strength track to leave you feeling worked and refreshed.

Balance

I want to take this opportunity to emphasize that balance does matter! It’s amazing how quickly we lose balance over time if we do not continue to develop it. Think about how many times you shift your weight from one side to the other; from simply walking, to going up and down flights of stairs, to catching yourself when you trip, to leaning backward or forward to grab something off the floor. For the younger generation it might seem quite simple, but I promise you, in 30 years, if you never trained in a split stance or single-leg pattern, just standing on one leg for 30 seconds can turn into one of the most difficult and frustrating things you have done.

Flexibility

As a former dancer, this aspect is one of my personal favorites. If you want to deepen your flexibility in your hips and hamstrings, and focus on finding space within those areas to stretch, PiYo® is wonderful for this, especially the flow section, which focuses on this. Even if you have never been very flexible, and simply just want to work on being comfortable when you reach to tie your shoes, or being able to twist and open the t-spine to improve your posture, PiYo® has something to offer for that as well. Mobility work is so important in performance, as we age, and is essential to maintaining and improving quality of life.

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If you are wondering whether you could keep up in a PiYo® class or if you could do it, you can! The best part of PiYo® is that it’s your workout! I run the class and have the moves and choreography, but it’s your workout and you are more than welcome to take it at your own pace. That includes modifications; I make sure to offer plenty of modifications to assist and advance you as you go along, allowing you to have a suitable class that will not only challenge you, but also be safe for you to participate in. Take a look at NIFS group fitness schedule and:

Try a group fitness class for free

This blog was written by Rebecca Newbrough, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness yoga balance Pilates stretching core strength bodyweight Beachbody

Video Game Fitness: Is the Trend Here to Stay?

iStock_000015738239_SmallSeveral years ago the Nintendo Company introduced its newest entry into the video game market with the Wii and hit game Wii Fit. The idea seemed bold at the time; graphics were all the rage, but the Wii brought a more simplistic design to the table. While focusing on easy-to-use controls and replay ability, the crossover to the fitness world was quite easy, yet revolutionary. Let’s face it, video games had become synonymous with, to put it nicely, deconditioned individuals. This new technology, however, allowed the gamers to interact with the games in new ways.

Video Fitness for All Ages

What I felt to be most interesting was that this video game phenomenon wasn’t just for 12-year-olds. We started noticing our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles up and out of their recliners and actively working on balance, strength, and conditioning, and even hand-eye coordination as part of senior fitness. What made it work, though, was the fact that it was both simple to operate and at the same time addictively fun.

10 Years of Wii

Fast-forward almost ten years and we can still see this influence among all the major video game consoles on the market. With the constant upgrading of technology, we must ask questions such as, “How far are they going to take this?” and “How can we make the most of these technological tools to help motivate people to stay fit?” 

Although the future is uncertain, we can definitely see that systems such as the Wii are being used for good, purposeful exercise. The in-home system may be your end-of-the-day stress relief, but more and more laboratory studies are using Wii technology to train athletes and assess abilities. Physical therapists are now using the Wii to help individuals with issues ranging from developing balance and stability for the elderly clients to helping an adolescent with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy to develop movement patterns. 

Are Video Games Real Exercise?

Will video game fitness ever gain enough momentum to be accepted as genuine exercise and a good workout? It would seem as though it would be swept out by most skeptical fitness gurus, but we must be cautious when doing so. If the mission is to bring fitness to the masses, in a realistic scenario, skipping this vast population of typically sedentary individuals would be a huge disservice. The best solution, I feel, is to embrace the tools that we have and translate fitness in a convenient way. The development of smarter technology will only enhance experiences, in turn changing lives. This blog makes it easy to see some of the options that are out there. 

In closing, video game fitness is currently alive and well. Making fitness fun isn’t always easy, but it definitely does not have to be dreaded. Don’t get me wrong, your local health and fitness professionals are still going to give you the best, safest experiences with bountiful knowledge, but now we can develop beyond the two or three hours per week we work out at the gym, in the comforts or our own home and among family and friends. NIFS offers video game fitness opportunities in the nursery area for youth. Contact the service desk for more information regarding hours of operation.

Evolve and Rejoice.

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: exercise fitness exercise at home Thomas' Corner motivation balance senior fitness technology

Benefits of Biking for Exercise and Fitness

ThinkstockPhotos-103584987-1Biking can have significant benefits to your overall health and fitness! If you are looking for something to try this summer that maybe you haven’t done before, consider hopping onto your bike…remember that’s that thing stashed in the back corner of the garage with flat tires and cobwebs hanging off the back of it!

I often find myself wondering what different things I can do for a workout, and since I began to incorporate biking into my routine, I have found some benefits it adds to my other workouts. Let’s take a look at what some of those are.

  • Good for your cardiovascular health. Most people consider cardio exercise as running, using the elliptical, or power walking, but throwing in some biking is proven to increase your cardiovascular fitness.
  • Helps to build muscle. Biking helps to both tone and build muscle fibers, specifically in the lower extremities targeting the calves, thighs, and buttocks. It’s also a great low-impact exercise and takes the pressure off the hip, knee, and ankle joints. If you are recovering from injuries, biking can help keep you fit and active.
  • Burns calories. As with many cardio exercises, you can burn a good amount of calories while cycling, and it will increase your metabolism once the workout is finished. To be most efficient, you want to ride faster than a leisurely pace and work through some hills or intervals when possible.
  • Helps with coordination. When you cycle you use every part of your body, which forces you to work on coordination skills. As you go, you move both feet simultaneously as well as use your body weight to shift the bike through turns, using both arms at the same time to turn, brake, and change gears. It takes some mental focus to think about all those steps, even while you’re just cruising.
  • Aids your psyche. Biking, like all exercise, is good for your overall mental health. Exercise helps to release endorphins, which keep you relaxed and reduce your levels of stress.
  • Helps with longevity. According to an article put out by the Environmental Health Perspective, the benefits of biking outweigh the risks for increasing your lifespan. Cycling, as discussed before, increases your cardiovascular health, which directly correlates to lifespan.
  • Strengthens your immune system. All exercise, including biking, helps to strengthen your immune system to fight off sickness and infection.

You can see that more than being an enjoyable leisure activity, biking can significantly add to your overall health. I encourage you to give it a try outdoors at some of these local places: 

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio calories attitude balance immunity biking muscle building

Thomas's Corner: Off the Beaten Path—Outdoor Fitness Options

Sunny days and warm summer weather are now upon us. It’s hard to complain about a pretty day, except when you are confined to an indoor lifestyle or job. Outdoor fitness is exactly what you need to get rid of the summertime blues, but I’m not talking about running or boot camp. Indianapolis is packed with fitness activities just waiting to be discovered. Parks throughout the city are highlighted by fitness trails, open fields, and accessibility. The opportunities are only increasing as we, hopefully, move toward a more health-conscious society.

In this blog we are going to think outside the box and explore some outdoor fitness options that are not only good exercise, but also fun and stimulating.

ThinkstockPhotos-178092126Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding, a mode of recreational transportation, has been around much longer than you might think. When it was first invented is undetermined, but evidence of its existence dates back to early exploration of the Pacific Ocean in the late 1700s by Captain James Cook. 

Fast-forward a few hundred years and you will see paddleboarding nearly everywhere, including rivers, lakes, and oceans. Because it enables you to take in scenery and nature, paddleboarding can be both calming and serene. On the other hand, in some windy conditions, paddleboarding is completely challenging, giving the rider a great workout. Riding the tide for extended periods of time provides plenty of balance, core stability, and endurance opportunities for the aquatic enthusiast.

For paddleboarding in Indianapolis, visit local shops such as Rusted Moon Outfitters to see demonstrations and buy gear to satisfy your paddleboarding needs. If you are a beginner and would like lessons, another local company, Salty Dog Paddlesports offers not only training sessions, but also more advanced yoga classes on paddleboards!

Geocaching

Geocaching is a relatively new outdoor recreational activity that combines old-school orienteering and treasure hunting with modern GPS technology. The concept of geocaching is not new; following clues and landmarks to find hidden treasure has been around for a long time. 

In this modern-day search for “x” on a treasure map, individuals use clues via internet videos or posts to find hidden packages or containers yielding log books to sign your name, often a small prize, or even another clue to find your way to another hidden site. The treasures aren’t necessarily huge in size; the excitement comes from successfully navigating your way to the treasure. After the site is discovered, it is neatly hidden away so that another geocacher may discover it. 

Because it usually takes place outdoors in rugged terrain and involving hiking and walking, a geocacher’s main needs include comfortable clothes, shoes or boots, and a functioning GPS system. Most cell phones have GPS built in already, so becoming a geocacher is even more convenient than you think. Geocaching is happening in Indiana, and the Indiana Geocaching website is dedicated to it. There is plenty of information regarding upcoming events and links to other national geocaching clubs. Channel your inner Indiana Jones while you are actually in Indiana!

Disc Golf

One of the fastest-growing recreational sports and activities, disc golf is quickly becoming more than just a niche hobby. The concept of disc golf, obviously, is derived from traditional golf, including the terminology. Disc golfers typically throw one of their many discs (each one has specific characteristics, not unlike drivers, irons, and putters) from a tee box toward a basket on a pole. Score is kept with eagles, birdies, par, and bogeys. 

Sprinkled throughout Indianapolis are several disc golf courses that offer a variety of challenges and an opportunity to experience some of the many scenic neighborhood parks that otherwise may go unnoticed. There is even a disc golf organization (Indianapolis Disc Golf Club) that holds several notable tournaments, bringing in top competition in the area and the Midwest. 

Like all skill-based activities, disc golf requires practice time. This is easily countered by disc golf’s relatively easy concept, cost effectiveness (discs are around 10 to 15 dollars, while courses are free), and inviting atmosphere.

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If you are bored with your current situation or just want a fun activity for you and your pals, there are definitely some excellent options to keep you active and your brain stimulated. Whether you want to take on some waves with your paddleboard, track down a series of clues while geocaching, or take a stroll through the park while disc golfing, the landscape for outdoor activity is ever changing. Be adventurous this summer and try a new outdoor sport or activity today!

Rejoice and Evolve,

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: summer balance endurance core outdoors golf sports hiking

Bringing BOSU to Life

BOSU-1BOSU. Does that stand for “both sides utilized,” or “both sides up”? To some of us, it’s a half-blue ball thing that makes our crunches doable; to others, if done right, it can make some exercises downright brutal. Whatever the case may be, the BOSU ball is an intriguing piece of exercise equipment that won’t soon be tossed in the Shake Weight pile. The ball, being flat on one side and domed on the other, allows its user not only a vast range of exercises, but also progressions and regressions that are easy to follow.

How to Use the BOSU

Exercise on the BOSU can be a little tricky when you are first starting out. We like to classify BOSU fitness in two categories: BOSU Exercises and Exercises on the BOSU. Exercises on the BOSU are any exercises you can do without a BOSU ball; just do that exercise on the ball (for example, squat and press, lunges, and pushups). BOSU exercises are any exercises that require a BOSU ball to complete (for example, Get down Get Up and Plank Jacks). Depending on fitness levels, you can make your exercise program easier or harder depending on where you start. The more BOSU exercises you have in a workout, the more challenging that workout will become.

bosu-exerciseWhen we take a look at progressions and regressions for BOSU exercises, there are several aspects we can touch on:

  • Balance: For balance, we look at stability points of contact with the ball or ground as our progression/regression tool. Take away a point of contact with the ground or ball and immediately whatever exercise you are doing becomes much more challenging (dead lift vs. single-leg dead lifts). If you add a point of contact with the ground, the exercise will become easier (such as using a dowel rod to help balance while standing on the BOSU with two feet).
  • Senses: The other factor we like to touch on includes your movement senses (sight, touch, and hearing). For an easy demonstration, stand on one foot. Then stand on one foot with your eyes shut. On a BOSU, this would be exponentially harder. Movement also challenges the senses. Try standing on a BOSU and looking around left and right or up and down. Again, this makes your normal exercises harder. Combinations of balance and sensory progressions make for some of the toughest BOSU exercises.

Your BOSU experience may come in the form of a fitness class (check out our BOSU class video), or you may do it solo in the privacy of your own home. Fitness professionals can help you determine what progressions and regressions are right for you. The BOSU may be out of your comfort zone, but there are tools to make it easier and to build your confidence. The BOSU ball is a good tool for your fitness toolbox; take a moment and see how it can make a difference for you.

Ready to try BOSU or another group fitness class at NIFS? Not a member? Take a class for free!

Request a FREE Class Pass

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: fitness center group fitness workouts muscles challenge balance strength fitness trends

Why You Need Pilates in Your Fitness Regimen

Okay, I know what you are thinking. I have conversations about Pilates almost daily with skeptical fitness enthusiasts, and so often people feel that Pilates is not worth their time. I sympathize; before I tried Pilates I thought that I had things covered with weightlifting, core work, yoga, and cardiovascular training. Why would I need to add anything to my already busy schedule?Pilates

When I took my first Pilates class, I realized that I was wrong. I could barely finish any of the exercises and for several days after I was so sore that I thought I had broken a rib. I almost did not go back because I was embarrassed by how poorly I had done. I could not believe how weak, inflexible, and uncoordinated I was. Later I learned that the muscles targeted in Pilates exercises should be used in other forms of training, but that people are not always taught how to use them when they exercise. Since including Pilates in my regimen, my strength and skill has improved in all of my workouts!

The Workout Benefits of Pilates

So, why should you consider Pilates? Pilates enhances everything you do. The Pilates Method Alliance states that Pilates improves posture, coordination and balance, flexibility, and strength in every muscle group. It helps to align the body and adjust imbalances from sports. The system even increases lung capacity, circulation, joint health, and bone density. From marathon runners to baseball players, athletes in every sport benefit from Pilates.

I love that, once you are confident enough to do so, you can take Pilates with you anywhere and do it any time. It is easy to incorporate the movements and principles into your workout regimen, and you don’t have to do many repetitions for the work to be effective. Even a few exercises a day will benefit you greatly!

Pilates at NIFS

Interested in trying Pilates? Check out our NIFS Pilates Training page for more information about our group mat, group reformer, and private training sessions. Request a free class pass to try our group Pilates mat class, or any class on the schedule at NIFS!

This blog was written by Morgan Sanders-Jackson a group fitness instructor at NIFS. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS group fitness group training balance flexibility strength core Pilates

Thomas’ Corner: Why I BOSU

BOSU Conditioning has been around for over five years at NIFS. During this time, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead nearly 1,400 classes. With class sizes ranging from 3 to 18, from 18 years to 80 years—including athletes and former athletes, and non-athletes and former non-athletes—BOSU has the ability to make every exercise harder or easier so that it complements all fitness levels and everyone can enjoy it.bosu

I have also embraced many of the BOSU philosophies that make BOSU a total body and cerebral mind challenge in my own workouts as well as with my training clients to enhance their overall fitness experience. These philosophies include balance, symmetry, and flow.

In the book The Art of War, Sun Tzu states that without struggle there is no progress. This statement can be used today with our training methods. Being within your comfort zone constantly allows the body to plateau. While it may seem challenging, being outside of your comfort zone will allow your body and mind to learn and eventually master new movement patterns. With your body constantly learning new movements, plateaus become less relevant and we see overall fitness growth.BOSU logo

BOSU is a tool that we use to create a fitness atmosphere where the body and mind are constantly challenged. You have the ability to reach new potential; give BOSU a try and  experience a new challenge today! Find a class on the group fitness schedule and attend this week for a new fitness challenge!bosu moves

This blog was written by Health and Fitness Specialist and BOSU Conditioning instructor Thomas Livengood. Meet the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS fitness center Thomas' Corner group training attitude balance

Join the Zumba® Party at NIFS!

Zumba® is a cardio-based class based on Latin dance styles such as Merengue, Salsa, Reggaeton, and Cumbia. While the majority of the class uses Latin songs, Zumba supports cultural unity and can also use songs of hip-hop, bellydance, soca, or even tribal origins.Zumba

It is a high-energy class with a unique teaching style. The instructor rarely uses verbal cues, and instead cues the next fitness dance movement with facial expressions, hand gestures, or body movements, again promoting cultural unity because anyone can take part in the class regardless of language.

What to Expect from Zumba

Zumba can be adapted for all fitness levels and dance backgrounds, and challenges both the body and the mind. As a first-time student, it is normal to feel unaccustomed to some movements during the class. However, movements become more fluid at a very quick rate with every class thereafter. Students begin to learn patterns in the songs and their bodies begin to move gracefully. In class, you should expect to feel confident yet challenged, surprised at how quickly the 60 minutes passed, and rejuvenated after class!

Why I Zumba

I have been instructing Zumba classes for more than three years. I always say that I am so lucky to be an instructor because I look forward to coming to class each time. Even on long, tiring days, I always leave class feeling better than before. On a personal level, I simply love to dance and move as much as possible. I have also grown to love the Latin music that I use in class, and more often than not, am listening to it in the car or at home.zumba teaching

As an instructor, Zumba is a rewarding class for me to teach. I have watched many students come in the first day unsure of themselves, and have had the pleasure of watching them grow into confident dancers who stand at the front and practically lead the class themselves! Students become engrossed in Zumba, creating their own song playlists at home, purchasing Zumba athletic wear, dancing at Latin night clubs, and requesting songs for class.

Together, my students and I form supportive relationships. Their dedication and enthusiasm in class drives me to create new and challenging choreography routines, learn new styles of dance that might be specific to their nationality, and incorporate aspects of wellness that they need most, such as stretching or core strength. Seeing their smiles and faces light up when a favorite song comes on keeps me energized throughout class, even though instructing is still a hard workout even for me! We laugh at our mistakes in class and move on to the next song, and students gain the confidence to put their own flair into movements.

Zumba is offered in 151 countries with over 14 million people participating in classes worldwide. With numbers like those, there’s no reason not to Ditch the Workout, and Join the Party!™

If you like to move to fast, upbeat music or would like to improve your cardio endurance, balance, strength, and agility, come to NIFS and try a Zumba class for Free!

This blog was written by Marcy Kerr, a Zumba®-certified group fitness instructor at NIFS. Meet our NIFS Bloggers.

Topics: exercise cardio fitness center group fitness balance endurance Zumba

NIFS March Class of the Month: CXWORX™

Are you in a time crunch when heading to the gym and trying to squeeze in the most effective workout in a short amount of time? Les Mills CXWORX™is geared toward those who are looking for a quick, to-the-point workout that will help to build strength and lean muscle.

Les Mills CXWORX resized 600

CXWORX™ is the group fitness class of the month for March at NIFS. When attending this class, you can expect to work your core, back, and glutes. The class focuses on strengthening these muscles through movements such as crunches, leg extensions, and balance exercises such as the hover. But don’t worry; you won’t be lying on the floor doing crunches the entire class!

CXWORX™ is great for participants of all levels, and classes are put together using scientifically proven exercises set to awesome music to maximize your 30-minute workout. Before you know it, your workout will be complete!

Les Mills CXWORKS

If you are looking to increase the amount of time you can hold a hover, run faster, play harder, or build overall strength, this is the class that will push you to achieve your goals.

Equipment needed for this class often includes a mat, a resistance band, and a weight plate. No need to bring your own, though. NIFS has plenty of equipment to go around. All that you need to bring is a towel, a water bottle, and your mental determination to power through this 30-minute fitness class.

Just like other Les Mills classes, every three months, a new release of music and the latest exercises are launched to keep your body in peak condition.

Make sure to join Ryan, Tasha, Mary, Michael, and Kristen for CXWORX™. Check the Group Fitness Schedule for times and locations!

Want to see more? Click here to see a portion of a CXWORX™ class by Les Mills.

Request a free class pass to attend this group fitness class or any other class you want to try at NIFS.

This blog was written by Tara Deal, NIFS Group Fitness Instructor and author of Treble in the Kitchen.

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness group fitness balance strength core