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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

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

Quick and Easy Ways to Improve Performance Series, Shoulder Care

Shoulder Care: The Rotator Cuff

In this post I want to go over the basic anatomy of the rotator cuff, the functions of its parts, and some exercises that can help strengthen your shoulder stabilizers to keep your shoulders healthy. The shoulder tends to be a problem with not only athletes but in the general population as well. The shoulder is one of the most mobile joints we have, so when we are working up the kinetic chain we want to work on its overall stability so that we can protect it from injury.

ROTATOR CUFF

Anatomy of the Shoulder

First and foremost, the rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder connecting the upper arm (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula). The rotator cuff’s main purpose is to hold the head of the humerus in the glenoid (shoulder) cavity. Below are the rotator cuff muscles and their main functions.

 

The muscles in the rotator cuff include the following:    

  • Supraspinatus: Abducts the shoulder in the first 30 degrees.
  • Infraspinatus: External rotation.
  • Teres minor: External rotation.
  • Subscapularis: Internal rotation.

 You can remember these using the acronym SITS.

Exercises for Shoulder Stability

Now that you have a basic understanding of the shoulder’s anatomy and functions, let’s go over exercises that help improve strength and overall stability of the shoulder.

Supraspinatus (Abduction)

Infraspinatus and Teres Minor (External Rotation/ER)

Subscapularis (Internal Rotation/IR)

Grip Strength and Stability

Performing exercises that challenge your grip strength is another great way to improve the stability in the shoulder. These exercises target the entire shoulder instead of focusing on one muscle. Examples here include KB bottoms up variations such as half kneeling single-arm bottoms-up press or bottoms up walk.

Programming

As a strength coach, I deal with overhead and throwing athletes on a daily basis, so keeping the shoulders healthy is a big part of my job. My goal is always to keep the shoulders healthy and strong instead of waiting until they are completely out of competition due to injury. Shoulder care exercises are not just for throwing athletes. These exercises can benefit all athletes and should be integrated into your weekly training program.

The biggest concern that I deal with on a daily basis is fighting overuse injuries. Overuse injuries account for most of the shoulder injuries, and so I have to find a balance to keep their shoulders healthy. My pitchers are required to do some sort of shoulder care each day that they are in. This past year my pitchers were doing mostly supraspinatus strengthening and everyone else did more external and internal rotation exercises.

Depending on what is in your workout for the day, you can complete these either before or after the strength portion of your workout. If you have pressing, pulling, or any overhead exercises, they should be done first to activate the shoulder musculature to reduce the chance for injury. If it is more of a lower-body workout, you can finish your workout with some shoulder care exercises.

Hopefully you now have a good understanding of the importance of shoulder care, the benefits of strengthening your rotator cuff, and how to implement these exercises so that your shoulders can feel better than ever.

This blog was written by trainer Josh Jones, MS, CSCS, USAW, NIFS Center for Athletic Performance. Contact Josh by email. Read more about the NIFS bloggers here.

Topics: fitness center workouts shoulders flexibility strength

How to Make Group Fitness Classes Work for You

If you want to increase your fitness level, lose weight, become healthier, or say good-bye to any unwanted fat on your body, you have to work out with a plan. You have already done the hard part: you committed to becoming more fit and you got your butt to the gym, so make the most of your time and work out with a purpose.

les Mills Bodycombat

Try Group Fitness Classes

This may be overwhelming to you. No worries! It is very simple and affordable. Try group fitness classes! They are highly energetic, effective, and motivating. All of NIFS’s classes are designed by fitness professionals, so you can trust they are safe and effective. Les Mills classes are backed by ongoing scientific research and are always being tested and proven to bring results—and bring results quickly. Let me say that again in case you missed it: scientifically based and proven to work!

Creating an Effective Group Fitness Workout Plan

Okay, so all that info is great, but how can you apply it? Easy! To create an effective workout plan for all-around fitness, you need to combine strength, cardio, and flexibility. Try one of the following plans:

Les mills bodypump

Working out three days per week:

Working out four to five days per week:

  • Two to three strength classes (BODYPUMP™, Boot Camp)
  • One to two cardio classes (BODYCOMBAT™, Cycle/RPM™, Step, BODYJAM™)
  • One mind-body class (Yoga, Pilates)

RPM Les Mills

By smartly combining the different varieties of group fitness classes, you can create an effective workout plan that will get you the results you want without adding extra cost to your gym membership. Remember, each class will feature some strength, cardio, and flexibility, so use the class descriptions to get a feel for whether it will fall into a strength-based or cardio-based category.

Make sure to check out the NIFS Group Fitness Schedule to see which classes will fit your schedule and help you reach your goals.

Sign up for a free class pass today!

This blog was written by Tasha Nichols, Les Mills US National Trainer for BODYCOMBAT™, BODYJAM™, and BODYPUMP™.

Topics: NIFS cardio fitness center group fitness group training flexibility strength Les Mills