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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Thanksgiving Success Strategy: Eat Sensibly and Keep Moving

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

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

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

Just How Big Is Your Meal?

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

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

Nutrition and Fitness Tips for Turkey Day

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

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

Strength Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

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

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

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

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

Topics: Thanksgiving holidays calories strength workout exercises healthy eating

Get a Grip: Exercises to Increase Your Grip Strength

GettyImages-505776960How long have you been stuck on your max for bench press or unable to become efficient at
pull-ups or even able to do a good pull-up? More often than not, people have many areas of concern; upper-body strength, stamina, and technique come to mind. Outside these main aspects of lifting weights, what else is there that you can focus on to help improve your personal bests without making it too complicated? One area you can focus on that gets relatively little attention is grip strength. You already use it a lot, right? The answer might surprise you when you take a look at how it can improve your overall fitness experience.

For the most part, most upper-body lifts require some grip strength. The exercises that require the most tend to be the ones for which you have to hold dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or chin-up bars. Whereas other exercises on machines can provide safety and ease of use, they sometimes lack the grip strength aspect that is required with the free-weight exercises. In the fitness world, there’s a saying that goes, “If you want to get good at push-ups, do push-ups.” You can focus some of your exercise time on developing these muscles.

Exercises That Increase the Strength of Your Grip

Here are some easy ideas to implement into your own workouts next time you are at the gym.

  • Farmer’s carry: This exercise can be a little deceptive to the beginner, but as you will find out, there's more than just legs at work. Other than legs, core, shoulders, and back, you will notice that it is imperative that you have some grip strength to be able to complete the exercise, or else you won’t get too far. Remember the saying above.
  • Weightlifting: When you are lifting weights, be sure to grip the bar tightly. Always practice squeezing against the bar when you lift. Conversely, try to incorporate a grip aspect into other exercises as well. Tools to help you work on grip include Fat Grips, the Axle Bar (aka the Fat Bar), and Grippers. Grippers have been around for a long time, with the “Captains of Crush” being known as the toughest around.
  • Stress ball: The stress ball, which is extremely cheap and easily available, can act as an on-the-go tool. There actually may be more stress balls available in the US than there are people, so if you do not have one, I’m sure someone you know does. Simply put one in your car and while you’re stuck in traffic or at a red light, grab that ball and squeeze out 50 reps on each hand. Not only will your grip strength improve, but you may experience actual stress relief.

Let a NIFS Health Fitness Specialist Help Increase Your Strength

As you can see, there are many ways to help your grip strength. The most important thing to remember is that if you want to improve, you will have to use it and use it often. When you think about all the muscles you use for exercise and how they work together, you must understand that you are only as strong as your weakest link. If your grip is the weakest link, every exercise that requires you to hold weights, or yourself, will be subpar. With increased strength, those plateaus will fall.

NIFS has several options in the fitness center to help aid your quest for improved grip strength, including hand grip dynamometer testing (yes, we can test your grip strength). See a health fitness specialist to schedule an appointment to talk about your goals and fitness assessment options. Take control of your workouts, and get a GRIP on your life.

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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: grip strength grip exercises fitness assessment NIFS weightlifting carries

Back to Exercise Basics: The Strong Squat

We here at NIFS are what you can call “pattern people”; meaning our team of instructors focuses on fundamental movement patterns and how we can enhance them to allow for better function and goal achievement. Of course we start this process by having our members complete a Functional Movement Screen (FMS). The first assessment takes a look at the Squat pattern. Second in our series focusing on exercise basics, the squat will be the topic here, including how you can build a better one.

The Keys to a Great Squat

As we continue our focus on movement competency prior to attempting the most challenging exercise known to man (I still see this happening every day, in the gym and all over Facebook), we begin by taking a look at the major keys to a great squat. Much like the push-up described in a previous post, the squat is a super-versatile movement with so many real-life and performance applications in which it plays a role. From sitting into a chair (and standing up from that chair) to setting a PR in the back squat in your next powerlifting competition, the squat is a very powerful and functional movement we should all be training. Quite a few things are going on in a great squat; it employs core joint mobility in the ankles and hips, core stability, and motor control. These far-reaching aspects of movement are challenged and improved when incorporating a properly performed squat into your routine.

Cara_squat

Squat Pattern Checklist

Refer to the following checklist to ensure that you get the most out of your squat pattern by performing it correctly. Just as you learned to squat, check it off from the ground up:

  1. Feet 1: Just beyond shoulder-width apart
  2. Feet 2: Slightly angle outward
  3. Feet 3: Weight over the heels and spread the floor
  4. Knees: Tracking over toes
  5. Hips 1: Hips push back to begin movement
  6. Hips 2: At or below parallel
  7. Hips 3: Hips and knees flexing at same time
  8. Spine 1: Angle of spine and tibia are the same
  9. Chest: Keep up, proud chest
  10. Arms: (top of press) Push-up to straight-arm position
  11. Head: Keep gaze straight ahead

Squat Variations

Here are just a few variations you can try after mastering the pattern. Remember, do the basic stuff really well before moving on to the really hard stuff.

Overhead w. Dowel IMG_1201

2KB Front Squat

IMG_1211

BB Back Squat

IMG_1217

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: squat pattern squat exercises functional movement functional movement screen assessment joints powerlifting

Five Reasons to Try the Turkish Get-up Movement

You might have seen people in the gym lying on the ground and standing up with a weight. Don’t let them fool you; this is not as easy as it looks. This is a movement that has been around since the strongman days, and there is a reason it hasn’t left. The Turkish get-up (TGU) is a total-body workout that everyone should try. Here are five reasons I think you should try it.

 

  • Stability. The TGU promotes shoulder stability along with core stability. If you cannot maintain either, you will not be successful when increasing weight. Before you even add weight to the TGU, you should be able to do the exercise while balancing your shoe (or something similar) on your fist when completing the get-up without it falling off. Once you can be stable enough to balance the shoe throughout, keeping your arm straight, you are stable enough to add weight.
  • Hits every movement plane. During your workouts, your goal should always be to train in every plane. When doing the TGU, you can hit every plane. You are in frontal, sagittal, and transverse—there aren’t many moves that enable you to hit all three at once.
  • Works your core. The TGU effectively trains the core in more than one area. Your entire trunk has to fire in order to maintain stability throughout the movement.
  • Cardio. Once you start to lift a heavier kettlebell, the TGU can become taxing on your cardiovascular system. Even though you are making small, controlled movements, your heart rate increases.
  • Everything is working! The TGU is a total-body movement. You work your shoulders, legs, and core—strength and mobility/flexibility. If you are short on time and can get in only a few strength exercises, this is one you should do.

Don’t knock the TGU until you try it. This is a challenging and effective exercise that everyone should add to their routines. If you need any help on form, stop by the track desk and have a NIFS HFS help you out!

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This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, NSCA-CPT, CFSC, NASM-CES,CAFS, personal trainer. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: core cardio exercises stability movement total-body workouts

5 Core Exercises That You Should Be Doing

When most people think about core exercises, they just think of sit-ups or crunches; however, there are many options people don’t know about or forget. If you are only doing crunches, you’re not working your entire core. Think of your core as a cylinder; you have to work every part. Crunches target only one section, but they give you the “feeling the burn” sensation that makes you feel you got in solid core work.

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 10.45.11 AM.pngHere are the top 5 core strength exercises that I think you should try.

1. Deadbugs

Deadbugs are an underrated core exercise. They look easy, but don’t let that fool you! They will work your core. Here’s how to do it:

  1. To start, lay flat on your back, arm straight up toward the ceiling, leg up with a 90-degree bend with knees pointed toward the ceiling.
  2. Once in your starting position with your low back in contact with the floor, start by slowly lowering your right arm/left leg down to a hover above the ground.
  3. Then repeat on the other side.

The most important thing to remember with these is keeping your lower back pushed into the floor. Once you’ve lost contact, you’re no longer working your core as much as you could be. Make sure your movements are slow and controlled. If you go too fast, you won’t feel these as much.

2. Anti-rotation Hold or Press

When you think of working your oblique muscles, rotation exercises always come to mind. What many don’t know is that resisting rotation can be even more challenging than rotating. This can be done using a cable or a band. Follow these steps:

  1. The band/cable should be at chest height.
  2. Once you have the right position, grab the handle with the hand that is farthest away; then place the other hand on top. This prevents your shoulder from doing more work than it needs to.
  3. Once you have a hold of the handle, bring it in front of your chest.

If you would like more of a challenge, hold your arms out straight.

3. Chops/Lifts

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 10.51.56 AM.pngChops and lifts can be done with a medicine ball or with the cable machine. To start, you should do these in the half-kneeling position (watch video) so that you can’t get any help from your legs.

  • When you are doing chops, the knee closest to the cable machine (or your partner, if using a medicine ball) should be up. Think of this as a rowing-a-boat motion; you are chopping high to low.
  • When doing the lift, the knee farthest away from the cable machine is up. The start position is low, then you are lifting up and across your body.

4. Crawling Patterns

Bear crawl, dog crawl, alligator crawl, inch worm, scorpion crawl, lateral crawl—there are many different ways to crawl! These are great work for your core. Working on moving your opposite arm/leg works on the cross patterns. When crawling, to get in the most core work, you want to try to get little to no hip shifts. Trying to keep your hips square to the ground will allow your core to do more work.

5. Turkish Get-ups

Everyone’s favorite way to get off the ground! Turkish get-ups work much more than just your core, but are great to have in your core exercise bank.

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Try these core exercises during your next workout. Stop by the NIFS track desk if you need to see a demonstration.

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This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, Health Fitness Instructor. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: core exercise muscles exercises core strength

Going for Gold: NIFS Winter Olympics Special Exercises

GettyImages-533291891.jpgEvery four years, the Winter Olympics shows up, and we are in awe of some of the most gifted athletes on the planet. Ice skaters gliding upon an edge like a razor blade, yet choreographed to music. Bobsledders who risk near death contently as they barrel through corners (mortals, like myself, need not apply). And the cross-country skiers boast some of the highest aerobic capacities of any athlete in the world. For the majority of us, riding down a hill on an inner tube does the trick, but that doesn’t mean we can’t infuse your workout with the tools to not only get a great workout, but dream for gold!

Looking around the fitness center, finding options to get into Olympic shape isn’t too difficult. With a little imagination, you can add these three exercises to your workout today with little or no skating, skiing, or bobsledding experience. Now get ready for the NIFS Winter Olympic Special: Going for Gold!

Helix Lateral Elliptical

If you want powerful legs, endurance, and balance, you might want to take a look at speed skating. Not unlike its summer Olympic running counterpart, speed skating requires a lot of practice. To accelerate, the skater pushes side to side, arms working to not only balance but also propel the body forward.

To simulate this motion, the Helix Lateral Elliptical allows you to safely perform the lower-body movement used in speed skating. Being able to do this exercise year round in the friendly confines of NIFS is a definite bonus. A built-in console allows you to track intensity and time. A quick Tabata (:20 on, :20 off) for 5–8 rounds can give your workout a nice lift. Be sure to try both directions!

Concept II Ski Erg

ski.jpgThe concept of cross-country skiing for sport comes from areas in which getting around is easier and more common on skis than trudging through the snow. Out of necessity and the evolution of transportation, people in the Nordic region of Europe are now famously known for producing some of the highest VO2 Max numbers in the world. Your VO2 Max is the quantification of how efficiently your body uses oxygen when you exercise.

With that being said, how can you get similar exercise without all the snow or burden of buying skis? Concept II, the company that makes rowing machines, designed a vertical rowing machine that can simulate the upper-body cross-country skiing pattern. Like the Helix, there is a console to track your progress, intensity, and time. Once you get the hang of the Ski Erg, you can see how far you can get in 60 seconds, rest, and then do it again!

Prowler Sled Push

Alex-Sled.jpgOne of the most fascinating events at the winter Olympics is the bobsled. A team of individuals, working as one, propels a bobsled down a narrow, icy chute. To get the sled going, the team relies heavily on otherworldly leg strength. The rest of the event takes skill and some luck, as this is a race to the finish line. The winning team usually has a complete balance of strength, skill, balance, and weight.

The exercise you can do at NIFS that mimics this movement most closely is the Prowler Sled Push. There are many sled options to choose from, but this one allows you to start in a standing position and requires you to physically push the weighted sled (no attachments needed). This can be done in several ways: heavy weights for short distance and lighter weights for longer duration as well as sprints. For a great partner routine, relay races are a perfect way to give you and some friends exercise and breaks. Have one person push the sled, while the other two are on the “ends.” As the sled approaches, the next person takes the sled-pushing responsibility and pushes it back to the starting point. This continues until a certain distance is reached or for time. Try to mark a 30-yard distance and continue this exercise for 2–3 minutes for one set. Be sure to enjoy your rest times!

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Whether you are looking for a new routine or really are dreaming about the Olympics, these three exercises are sure to give you a great workout. If anything, we can appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to become an Olympian. For more fun fitness ideas, check back to the NIFS blog and social media outlets (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter). Until next time, friends, dream big! Go for gold!

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

Topics: olympics exercises skiing skating winter endurance balance vo2 max rowing

Which Fitness Assessment Is Right for Me? Part 2: Functional Movement Screen (FMS)

FMS-New.jpgMaximize Your Workout with the Functional Movement Screen at NIFS

Everyone wants to move better, to maximize their potential in their workouts, and to be free of any aches and pains that linger in the body. Some of these issues within the body can stem from imbalances between your right and left sides. Or maybe the issues lie within your mobility (the ability of your body to move freely and easily) or stability (the ability to stay balanced in both static and dynamic movement). We all compensate with movement even though we feel like we are moving “normally.”

However, the good news is that the majority of these things are fixable through corrective exercises. So where do we go from here? How do we figure out what those imbalances are and what to do to get better?

An Assessment of Limitations and Imbalances

The answer is to start with a Functional Movement Screen, or FMS. The FMS will take you through seven basic movement patterns that encompass all movement and exercise. The FMS certified trainers are looking for different things within each of the seven tests to help them score the assessment and understand what is going on in the body. And don’t let the word tests or assessments scare you off; the FMS is designed for all ability levels and ages! From the elite athlete in the NFL to the everyday exerciser, the FMS will help to identify functional limitations and imbalances in each individual.

Watch this video for a quick look at the FMS.

Get Your List of Exercises

Then what? Great question! Now it’s time to get your list of corrective exercises. You will then be entered into a database called FMS360. With this, you can have full access to your scores from the screen, exercises that are safe for you to keep doing, things that you should steer clear of until you earn a better score, and exercises that will help you work to correct those imbalances. Our trainers can also help you through how to correctly perform the exercises that are given to you.

The secret to success: You must consistently do the correctives! These exercises are simple and easily can be added into a warmup as you prepare for your workout. Stay on top of them and don’t let days go by without completing them; it’s only for the betterment of your movement!

The FMS will allow you to move as you should. No matter where you are in your training plan, I would highly encourage you to get one now, improve your movement efficiency, and reduce the risk of injury.

To schedule your FMS, call the NIFS track desk at 317-274-3432 or email fitness@nifs.org.

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 This blog was written by Amanda Bireline. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: functional movement NIFS workout mobility assessments exercises

Golf Warm Up: What You Should Be Doing BeforeTeeing Off

As promised, this video shows some great exercises you can incorporate into your golf warm up. You can do these exercises before hitting the practice range or teeing off. This warm up may help improve your stroke and even increase yardage on your shots, but more importantly, it will help prepare your body for activity and reduce the chance of injury when hitting the range.

Filmed at the world-renowned NIFS National Golf Course located just outside our back patio, I hope these exercises help you have a better round of golf!


Caddy Smack 3

Don't miss the other blogs in this series including:

“Caddy Smack”: Fitness Tips to Improve Your Golf Game

"Caddy Smack Deuce": More Fitness Tips to Improve Your Golf Game

"Caddy Smack 3": Strength and Power Exercises for a Better Golf Swing

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, Health Fitness Instructor and Athletic Performance Coach. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: golf golf training warmup dynamic stretching core strength exercises

Caddy Smack 3: Strength and Power Exercises for a Better Golf Swing

caddy-smack-3.jpgAbout two years ago, I wrote the first Caddy Smack blog to inform NIFS members of the importance of rotational power as it relates to the golf swing, and exercises that can help improve it. Last year, I wrote Caddy Smack Deuce as the new and improved variation that took a look at different areas (including rotational power) that can help take you take your game to the next level. I also tried to hit a golf ball over the White River Bridge, which was an epic failure (must have been the winter rust on my swing).

Since that first blog was published, I have met probably close to 100 NIFS members, guests, and employees who share a similar interest and passion for a sport that I love. I’ve been out to play with a few members over the last year and try to play with my coworkers as much as possible. When I picked up the game about five years ago after college, I thought it would simply be something that I would do as a hobby to take the place of the hours spent on the football field and in the gym. Little did I know that the “game” would become a moderate obsession and a constant battle with myself to improve on the previous week’s score. And as I meet more and more individuals here at NIFS and at different courses, I realize that the obsession that I have now does not seem like it will be going away anytime soon.

No Two Golfers Are the Same

The most obvious observation that I have made from these years of being a strength and conditioning coach and watching individuals’ golf swing characteristics is this: no one is the same. There may be a few similar swings that you see on the PGA Tour or among groups of golfing friends, but everyone is going to get the club from the ground, to the back swing, to the down swing, to the ball in a slightly different manner. Most of the time, the person has molded their swing to what their body allows them to do.

My second observation is what the third installment of Caddy Smack is going to be based off of. And that is the idea that on any given golf course on any given day, there are no guarantees on what type of players will be present. Golfers can be young or older in age, tall or short, skinny or bigger, mobile or immobile (in the hips, shoulders, etc.)—characteristic combinations are endless!

Critical Strength and Power Areas

My goal for this blog is to bridge off of Caddy Smack Deuce but keep strength and power at the forefront. Below you will find four areas of strength and power that I believe are critical to the golf swing. Each area has three exercises (1 = beginner, 2 = moderate, 3 = advanced) to fit your current golf and/or fitness situation.

Vertical Power

Rotational Power

Hinge Strength

Pulling Strength

If you are not doing any of these movements (or similar ones), incorporate one from each category into one of your workout days during the week. Pick and choose between the degrees of difficulty as you become more familiar with the movements. Of course, all the exercises can be modified in different ways as well, so get creative. Remember that not every golf swing is the same, which applies to the gym as well. Find the right combination for where you are now and build over the next few months as you prepare to have the best golfing season of your life!

Check out my next video blog, which will cover a warmup that you will be able to do at the course right before hitting the practice range or teeing off. I will be filming at the world-renowned NIFS National Golf Course located just outside our back patio!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, Health Fitness Instructor and Athletic Performance Coach. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: golf swing golf strength power exercises NIFS

Short on Time? 4 Fast Exercises for When You’re in a Hurry

Summer is here. Warm weather, outside activities, more social events, and many more fun summer plans can sometimes limit your gym time. If you are short on time but still want to get your workout in, there are many ways to make sure you are getting the most out of your limited time in the gym.

ThinkstockPhotos-612371494.jpgHere are four exercises you should do if you don’t have time to do your usual routine:

  • Bear crawl
  • Squat and press
  • Side lunges with an upright row
  • Kettlebell swings

Bear Crawl

The bear crawl, if done correctly, is a great exercise that will work your entire body! You will feel this in your core and shoulders. Mix it up! You don’t have to just go forward; crawl backward or side to side. This movement will get your core firing and shoulders working.

Squat and Press

Multi-joint movements are a great choice if you are tight on time. You get more bang for your buck since you are working more than one muscle group. The squat and press can be done with any piece of equipment. Dumbbells, a sandbag, kettlebells, or barbells are just a few great options.

SQUAT PRESS

Side Lunges with an Upright Row

Most people go through life only moving forward or backward. It’s important to get some side-to-side movements in your workouts. Side lunges are a good way to get some lateral movement in. Adding the upright row to the lunge gets your arms and back working as well.

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are one of my favorite short-on-time exercises! They get your heart rate up, work on the core and butt, and are especially good if you have been sitting all day. The kettlebell swing movement is a hinge pattern that is great for firing up your posterior chain (which doesn’t get worked if you sit on it all day).

Next time you go to the gym when you are in a hurry, try out these four exercises! If you need help learning any of the exercises, stop by the track desk and have a NIFS HFS help you out or check your form. Don’t let limited time be your excuse for not getting a workout in!

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Small Group Training (SGT) EXPRESS classes now available on Tues and Thurs from noon-12:30 with Kaci. Find out more and try a class for free!

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This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, Personal Trainer at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercises workout summer squat and press lunges kettlebell NIFS