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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

NIFS 25th Anniversary: Charter Member Candy Lander

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Charter member Candy Lander talks about her favorite things about NIFS. Watch Video.

Topics: NIFS fitness fitness center running marathon training mini marathon half marathon accountability nifs staff anniversary

What It’s Like to Be an Intern at NIFS: Emily Iddins

Emily has been an intern for a corporate client of NIFS. She has contributed to the success of the center, and we wish her luck as she moves on to the working world after college. Thank you for being such a great asset to the NIFS team, and for sharing your experience on our blog!NIFS internships

Some come to the area for a taste of Indianapolis; I came for a taste of the professional world. When I originally applied to NIFS I thought that the internship would be a great opportunity to broaden my horizons; a chance to get out of my comfort zone and to work in a different environment with different populations. NIFS accomplished that and so much more.

I did my share of weighing pros and cons when finding a challenging internship that would further my development as an exercise science major. Maybe it was the hands-on experience, maybe it was the professional development, or maybe it was simply the professionals I was able to interact with that have helped to reaffirm my choice of career path.

My internship was located at corporate client of NIFS. Working with the team was a breath of fresh air. I was not just an intern, but an employee with duties that depended on contributing to a successful team strategy. Having a strong team dynamic is crucial when hosting team-building events to promote cooperative work atmospheres. Tasks also included fitness assessments, teaching group fitness classes, and leading facility orientations.INTERN 3

My greatest task, however, was that of managing a Women’s Half Marathon Training Program. Throughout this program, I have been able to shed the skin of the structured classroom environment and reemerge with a more profound meaning of what being a professional entails: leadership, planning, communication, and organization. Through the training program, I came into contact with women who I coached, but who were in turn a source of motivation to me. To see and be a part of individuals’ success in achieving goals is why I am so drawn to this field.

NIFS offers so much to each intern. Through shadowing, volunteering, and specializing at one’s site, the student has a chance to explore, find their niche, and leave with a new set of goals in mind.NIFS internships

Although there are still classes to take and lessons to learn, working as an intern at NIFS is an experience that I will always remember and cherish.

To find out more about applying for NIFS internships click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness center marathon training

Spotlight: NIFS Member Ana Traversa on Mini Marathon Training

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

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

NAME: Ana Traversa


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

NIFS Fitness: How to Dress for Running in Cold Weather

The weather in Indianapolis has been typical Indiana winter weather: COLD. Despite the near-freezing temperatures, the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program is logging miles outside in preparation for May’s big race. Running or being active outside in temperatures that are fairly icy may seem dangerous, but with the proper gear and clothing, getting out of the gym can be a great way to switch up your typical training routine.

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Tom BonDurant, co-owner of the Runners Forum, spoke at the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program orientation, providing runners with tips and tricks for staying warm and safe when running in freezing temperatures.

Layering Is Key

Tom shared his favorite key pieces of running attire to
mix and match that meet varying weather conditions throughout the year.

Layer 1: The base layer. The base layer can be long sleeve or short sleeve and should be composed of a wicking fabric. The wicking fabric will keep the body drier, which will allow the runner to stay warmer.

Layer 2: The mid/thermal layer. This layer typically consists of a fleece-lined jacket that either zips all the way or is a half zip. The zip allows the jacket to cover the chin and mouth, but can also be zipped down for some extra ventilation if the runner begins to get warm.

Layer 3: Outer shell jacket. This jacket is going to keep the elements out. It should also have reflective material on it for easy visibility when running in the dark.

In addition to these three layers, it is important to have warm and comfortable running gear on the bottom such as fleece-lined running tights, socks, wind briefs (for the guys), a hat, and gloves. With these basic layers covered, you will be prepared for the elements and running outdoors at any time of the year.

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


Topics: NIFS exercise fitness winter fitness running marathon training mini marathon half marathon health outdoors safety

NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program

It’s that time of year again. The NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program has officially begun!

Each year NIFS hosts a Mini-Marathon Training Program for NIFS members and non-members. The program consists of 14 weeks of in-depth, hands-on fun and memorable training that prepares runners and walkers to complete the Indianapolis Mini Marathon in May. Because there are different pace groups that individuals can join, the training
program is perfect for runners and walkers of all levels.NIFS Mini Marathon Training

The program takes place on Wednesday evenings at 6pm at the NIFS location in downtown Indianapolis and at Cherry Tree Elementary School in Carmel.

Wednesday, January 23, was the official orientation and kick-off for the Mini-Marathon Training Program. Participants at both locations were able to enjoy a race expo with plenty of booths and samples to go around. Some of the booth sponsors were Mudathlon, Whole Foods, Geist Half Marathon and 5K, and Runners Forum. Goodies, samples, shirts, and information packets were distributed to everyone who attended.

After the participants gathered their information and samples, the Runners Forum hosted an educational discussion about proper footwear and appropriate dress when running in colder weather.

The representative from Runners Forum made it clear that all of his employees are very knowledgeable about running and leading an active lifestyle. He encouraged everyone to stop into Runners Forum for all of their running needs because the staff would be able to answer any questions about gear, plus they have a wide variety of items to prepare runners when training for endurance sports. He also mentioned that they are offering a 10% discount to all NIFS members!

Saturday, January 26, Runners Forum hosted a NIFS night from 2 to 4pm at the downtown location across from City Market, and from 6 to 8pm at the Runners Forum Carmel location. This event is exclusive for NIFS members, allowing shoppers to have the undivided attention of the Runners Forum staff members and receive special discounts.

If you have any questions, reach out to Stephanie Greer at sgreer@nifs.org or 317.274.3432.

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



Topics: NIFS exercise fitness goal setting running walking marathon training mini marathon half marathon race