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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

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

Train Like an Athlete with Help from NIFS

GettyImages-969284736I am often asked what kind of workout program I follow, and my response is always, “I follow a program that gets me faster, stronger, and more athletic.” When people hear this, they assume that I am some kind of athlete and that they won’t be able to work out the way I do since they are not “athletes.” This is a huge misconception that I have noticed throughout the years that I have been working out. What people do not understand is that we are all athletes in our own way, and can actually train like one in order to get faster, stronger, and more athletic.

Find Out Where You’re Starting From

For me the key is to understand where you are at in terms of movement. Many programs out there assume that you move perfectly, so starting them might not necessarily be the best if you have not had the training experience needed to actually perform those movements. A good assessment to determine whether you have any compensatory patterns or movement deficiency is the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). With the FMS, we can narrow down exactly which corrective exercises are needed to get a person ready for the complex movements that might be programmed.

Start with Exercises That You’re Ready For

Once you have determined where you are at movement wise, it’s important to start with exercises that your body is ready to handle at that time. Possibly regressing a complex exercise like the Barbell Back Squat to a simpler exercise like the KB Goblet Squat or 2KB Squat will allow you to own that movement better and in turn will prepare you to progress back to the complex movement faster while performing it better.

Perform Athletic Movements

Training like an athlete does not necessarily mean you have to match their intensity or lift the same amount of weight as they do. But it can mean performing the same movements, such as these:

  • Warm-up routine
  • Power exercises
  • Squat variation
  • Horizontal upper-body push variation
  • Split squat or half-kneeling variation
  • Vertical/horizontal upper-body pull variation
  • Supine/prone abdominal exercise variation
  • Accessory exercise

These are exact movements that I program for my athletes. The cool thing is that anyone can do these movements as long as the right exercise is prescribed. No two athletes that I have trained move the same, and there are many that actually need to start with the most basic forms of movement (body squat, hands elevated push-ups, etc.). I am sure many of you have performed these “basic” exercises in the past. These exercises are often considered “too easy” at times, but if they are performed correctly, it can be a challenge even to athletes.

You Can Get Help from NIFS Trainers

I get it, it can be very intimidating for a beginner or even an experienced lifter to train like an athlete if they don’t know exactly how to go about starting a program like that. Luckily, here at NIFS, our trainers are well equipped with the materials and knowledge to get anyone who is looking for a new challenge started toward being faster, stronger, and—most importantly—more athletic.

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This blog was written by Pedro Mendez, CSCS, FMS, Health/Fitness Instructor and Strength Coach at NIFS. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS training athletes personal trainer functional movement screen fitness assessment

Happy Playmore: 5 Movement Tips to Stay on the Golf Course Longer

GettyImages-961002976It’s finally that time of year again—time to hit the links and chase a little ball all over a well-manicured green space with the hopes of golf immortality. If you are like me, you have a love/hate relationship with the sport of golf, but I look forward to my weekly round with friends to take on challenging courses and ultimately myself.

All levels of golfers are continually looking for ways to improve something in their game and to get out there more and more to test their skills. But are you taking the necessary steps to make sure you are able to lace up the spikes, strap on the glove, and swing a club anywhere from 70 to 100 times in a 3- to 4-hour span? We can plan practice like crazy on the short game, driver, and flat-stick, but if you can’t move well, or if you have an injury, you won’t be booking that tee time.

As an avid golfer myself, and an aging one at that, I have found some ways to ensure I can enjoy the game that frustrates me so much at times but provides aspects you just can’t get anywhere else. That’s why we play. Here are some tips to help you play longer and, ultimately, better.

Get Screened

Do you know whether you are moving well? Do you know whether you have some mobility issues in key joints for the golf swing, or imbalances? If you do, are you performing specific strategies to help correct and enhance any movement problems you may have? You wouldn’t expect a Corvette to drive at a high performance level if it had square tires, would you? But often we golfers expect to play in the 70s with glaring movement issues and become rather frustrated when we do not. See a certified pro, like all the coaches at NIFS, and get an FMS (Functional Movement Screen) completed to see if there are any movement deficiencies that could be holding you back on the course. You will receive an in-depth report of how you are moving and a bunch of strategies to help make your movement better. Our coaches take the approach of Gray Cook: that when you move well, you will move often; and in this case, moving better means more golf.

Emphasize Mobility

If you want to hit the ball farther, and more often, you have to emphasize mobility exercises and drills in your fitness routine when you are not playing, especially mobility of the thoracic spine. The rotation of the golf swing comes mainly from your ability to “turn” through the T-spine, or upper back area. The larger the turn, the greater the potential swing speed you can create, which can lead to bigger drives and adding yards to all of your clubs. You will receive drills from your coach after completing your FMS, and you can also read more on the importance of T-spine mobility from experts like Greg Rose and others at the Titleist Performance Institute. In most if not all athletic environments (life being one of those), it truly has to start with mobility. The more mobility you have, the more potential you can unleash.

Train the Frontal and Transverse Plane

Working in a fitness facility I witness on a daily basis a lack of training emphasis on the frontal and transverse planes of motion. We are a pretty straightforward kind of fitness planet, and not in a good way. And many times I field questions about an injury that happened on the golf course from individuals who have never trained outside of walking in a straight line, or straight presses and pulls. They are confused that they move explosively in a plane of motion they never train and somehow get hurt. The golf swing happens in the frontal and transverse planes of motion, so you need to train with movements that challenge you in those planes. Countless exercises and drills can get you out of the sagittal plane (forward and back), and prepare and load your body to take on a big swing as well as provide the endurance to perform many swings. Here are a few of the classics:

Warm Up Properly

This really should go without saying, yet I have to: WARM UP BEFORE YOU PLAY! Racing to the course, pulling the bag out of the trunk, stepping to the first tee, and hitting the big dog after a few practice swings is a sure-fire way to at best play poorly, and at worst suffer a big injury that takes you out for the season. Take the time to show up a little earlier and warm-up properly. As I typically do, I reference the experts. I learned this quick and effective warmup from Jason Glass that I use every time. If you don’t dig this one, that’s fine; just do something to prepare your body to perform for that 3- to 4-hour round of golf.

RICE After the Round

If you don’t know by now, RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. You don’t have to suffer a trauma to enlist and perform this concept. Ice can go a long way in the recovery process, and that is the goal here, to recover quickly and get back on the course. You don’t think the pros finish up, go get some dinner, and hit the rack, do you? No way! They recover properly so they can swing well every time they step on the course. Take time to perform a light stretch after a round, jump in the hot tub, or ice down sore muscles after you are done enjoying this great sport. It will get you back out quicker and you will be playing longer.

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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: NIFS injury prevention golf recovery mobility movement functional movement screen

The Inside Scoop on Group Fitness from NIFS Instructor Tasha Nichols

Tasha Bodypump 3Group Fitness is one of the most popular attractions here at NIFS, with more than 60 different classes a month taught by highly qualified instructors. If you’ve never tried group fitness or you’re not sure what it’s all about, this blog is for you.

There’s a ton of variety in our classes, which range from calming yoga to fast-paced Cardio Hip Hop—and everything in between. Group Fitness instructor Tasha Nichols has experience with multiple classes and is here to help you get the inside scoop on Group Fitness and how to get involved.

Q&A with Tasha

Tasha has been involved with NIFS for 10 years as an instructor, and previously was the Group Fitness Coordinator. She has spent much of her career expanding LES MILLS nationally when she’s not instructing classes. Not only is she an incredible instructor, but she has also claimed the title of World Kettlebell Champion.

Q: What classes do you teach? Describe your favorite.

A: I typically teach LES MILLS BODYPUMP, BODYCOMBAT, and BODYJAM. I can’t possibly pick a favorite! I love each format for a different reason. I choose to teach the LES MILLS formats because they are my favorite class styles of any group workout I’ve done. The combination of music and movement is addicting, and the science behind them as well as the preparation involved in each release makes me trust the quality of the program I’m delivering. This trust allows me to focus on delivering the best experience to the participants, whether it’s lifting, punching and kicking, or dancing.

Q: How long have you been teaching group fitness?

A: I just passed my 10-year mark in November! I actually taught my very first class at NIFS back in the day. It was ironically the 6am BODYPUMP class that I teach now. Even after leaving Indy for a few years, it still has some of the same people!

Q: How did you get involved with group fitness?

A: Teaching group fitness was something I always wanted to do. My grandma was a group fitness instructor when aerobics was just becoming a thing, so I grew up hearing lots of stories about her classes. My sister started teaching BODYPUMP when I was in college and I loved her class, so I decided to start by becoming certified in that.

Q: What’s your favorite thing (and least favorite thing) about group fitness?

A: Favorite thing: the energy of a group is very powerful, and the combination of music and movement. There’s a unique ability to get lost in the music that feels incredible.

Least favorite thing: I wish we’d get a little more of a chance to work one on one with everyone, to be able to tweak movements and coach corrective exercises. But, that’s what the awesome trainer team is for at NIFS.

Q: In what ways have your participants benefitted from class?

A: 1: Results 2: I like to think they find a little more joy, fun, and freedom in movement and in life.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who has never taken a group fitness class but wants to get involved?

A: Be brave and talk to the instructor and the people around you. Let them know you are new and don’t be afraid to take options! It’s totally okay (and sometimes necessary) to stay for just part of the class, especially when you’re new. We call it the Smart Start option in LES MILLS classes. We’ve all been new once; we get it! As mentioned above, I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, and after recently having two kids in two years, I’ve found myself taking the Smart Start option quite a bit. It’s all part of the journey, and there are no judgments in my class; I’ve got your back.

Q: Is there a certain skill set or prerequisite to get started in a class?

A: Nope! Just get there a little early (particularly for BODYPUMP) so I can help you get set up.

Q: How do you stay current with your education?

A: Three main ways:

I carry Personal Training and Group Fitness certifications from ACE and AFAA, so I stay up-to-date on their research as well as LES MILLS.

I follow many of the classic strength and conditioning coaches (Mike Boyle, Dan John, etc.) and a few physical therapists who work in the strength and conditioning field.

I also work to gain personal experience in my fields—I trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for 2+ years for BODYCOMBAT and have competed (and won) internationally for the kettlebell sport. (#worldchamp #nobigdeal)

Q: Do you teach anywhere other than NIFS? Can you compare them?

A: I don’t teach anywhere else, but I do work for LES MILLS on the business side, which gives me a unique perspective. I run trainings for BODYPUMP and BODYCOMBAT nationally and oversee the development of the assessment criteria for new instructors across all programs globally, so I get to see instructors in all types of gyms. But at the end of the day, NIFS is still my favorite place to train, and I think the participants who come to my classes are the best in the world. You all are my favorites.

Group Fitness at NIFS

Our Group Fitness Instructors at NIFS are dedicated to helping clients reach their fullest potential by ensuring they have all the tools necessary to succeed. Tasha is just one out of several amazing instructors who is here to help you reach your goals. Their drive to help our clients is what has made Group Fitness the most popular program at NIFS.

Try a Class for Free!

This blog was written by Hannah Peters, BS, CPT, Health Fitness Instructor. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS group fitness Les Mills kettlebell BODYPUMP BODYCOMBAT BodyJam

The Benefits of Physical Activity: Mind, Body, and More

GettyImages-627455550-[Converted]-newBy this point, everyone has heard that exercise is good for health. The fitness industry has been growing significantly over the past decade. As of 2017, there were more than 200,000 health and fitness clubs worldwide, which is up from nearly 130,000 clubs in 2009. Clearly, fitness is becoming a huge part of peoples’ lives. But why are we seeing this massive growth in the industry, and in what ways is it improving health?

The Physical Benefits

The physical benefits of increased activity include the following.

Increased Muscle Mass

A well-known benefit to working out is increased muscle mass. This alone has so many benefits to your health besides the visual appeal that people seek. Muscle is a huge driver for metabolism. In fact, it takes so much energy to maintain muscle mass that having more of it increases metabolism significantly, even at rest.

Improved Bone Health

Most people hit peak bone mass in early adulthood. After we hit our peak, our bone density begins to decline. Several factors go into how much we build before we hit our peak and how fast we fall once over that peak. And of course, exercise is a huge factor in this. Weight-bearing activity that forces you to challenge gravity is huge in preserving or even building bone density by breaking down the bone so it can build back even stronger.

Better Sleep

Exercise can improve sleep quality by expelling built-up energy. Another way sleep improves is the cycle of body temperature brought on by exercise. During activity the temperature increases; once activity has stopped the temperature gradually decreases, causing chemicals to be released that promote drowsiness.

Increased Energy and Stamina

In the short term, exercise increases blood flow throughout the body to improve energy. Over time, exercise causes improvements in cardiovascular health, allowing the heart to pump more oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, therefore increasing energy.

Reduced Cholesterol

When exercise, weight loss, and dietary intervention are combined, the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels decrease while HDL (good) cholesterol levels increase.

Decreased Risk of Chronic Diseases

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “exercise is medicine,” it will be no surprise that exercise actually reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Various things happen in the body to cause this, but the most important is that by getting active, the chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes, some cancers, stroke, heart disease, and more are drastically reduced.

Increased Coordination and Balance

By staying active, people learn how to be more coordinated and balanced. Motor control over movements becomes more natural the more it is practiced, and will translate to real-life scenarios. In the long run, especially through aging, this is beneficial to help prevent falls and the negative consequences, such as fractured bones, that come along with them.

The Mental Benefits

The mental benefits of increased activity include the following.

  • Stress relief
  • Positive mood
  • Improved mental alertness
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Increased cognitive function

Most of these improvements occur due to the increased blood flow to the brain, which acts on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This area of the brain interacts with several other regions, including the limbic system, hippocampus, and amygdala, which are correlated with motivation, mood, and responses to stress. Other noted improvements may be explained by providing distraction, improving self-efficacy, and increasing social interaction. Research shows that exercise can improve cognitive function by promoting neuroplasticity. By staying active throughout adulthood and senior years, cognitive decline can be prevented.

Although many mechanisms go into this complicated process, one thing that is known is that the rate of neurogenesis, or the production of new neurons, is greatly increased by exercise. This may be the result of increased blood flow to the brain during exercise, with an abundance of oxygen and nutrients.

Other Benefits

A lot of benefits that come from exercise can be measured or researched. Some benefits are harder to measure but still occur. We learn how to set realistic yet challenging goals, learn the discipline needed to accomplish those goals, and learn more about ourselves. We can gain a better understanding of how much we can push ourselves and improve our mind-body connection.

How Much Should You Work Out?

The current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans outlines the recommended amount of activity for different age groups. Adults should do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise a week. Most health benefits can start to be seen at the minimum amount; however more benefits are seen beyond 300 minutes of activity a week. Adults should also do some type of resistance-training exercise at least two days of the week.

At NIFS, we have multiple group fitness classes every day to help you reach your goals and hit the minimum requirements. Check out the group fitness schedule for 30–60-minute classes to help you achieve at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.

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This blog was written by Hannah Peters, BS, CPT, Health Fitness Instructor. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS staying active group fitness balance mental disease prevention sleep staying fit active aging physical activity

Update Your Fitness Routine: Add Variety to Enhance Your Health

GettyImages-1026603090How do you define fitness? Whatever your answer is, it will shape the way you work out, influence the goals you set, and impact your long-term health. Although everyone might have different perceptions of what “fitness” means, the American College of Sports Medicine has defined what Health-Related Physical Fitness is and has broken it down into five measurable components.

Whether you know it or not, you use every single component in everyday life, so incorporating all of these factors is vital to maintaining high quality of life. As people age, their ability to carry out certain tasks may become compromised if they don’t regularly challenge their bodies to perform them. So, one key to aging well is to incorporate all of the components of health-related physical fitness.

The 5 Components of Health-Related Physical Fitness

  • Body composition is the comparison between fat mass and fat-free mass, where fat-free mass is everything that isn’t fat, including muscle, organs, bones, and so on. This proportion can be used to assess risk for potential health issues, or used as a baseline measure to be retested after you have started a program to track progress. There are several ways to measure body composition; the most accurate methods are water displacement or the BodPod. (See the complete list of NIFS assessments here.)
  • Muscular strength is the amount of force a muscle can produce in a single maximal effort. Muscular strength is relative to a specific muscle group, so a few different tests may need to be conducted to get an overall picture of your strength. A grip strength test is popular and has been utilized frequently in the fitness world. Another is the Repetition Maximum test that can be conducted by the NIFS Health and Fitness Instructors. It is important to gain or maintain muscular strength as you age for many reasons, but we use our strength every day.
  • Muscular endurance, by definition, is the ability of a muscle group to execute repeated contractions over a period of time sufficient to cause fatigue. Like muscular strength, it varies depending on the muscle group, so multiple tests are required for a proper assessment. A common muscular endurance test is the pushup test (you’re probably familiar with this test from grade school). Another is the plank test, which is relatively new, and is a way to get a baseline value for core endurance and use it as a reference for retesting to measure improvements.
  • Flexibility is having the ability to move a joint through its full range of motion. Having sufficient flexibility can help prevent injuries and ensure that you’re capable of performing movements that you may need in daily life. While having enough flexibility is necessary, too much can be risky.
  • Cardiovascular endurance is the ability of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to deliver oxygen to the rest of the body during continuous exercise. It’s directly correlated to our ability to perform exercise that involves large muscles, dynamic movements, and moderate- to high-intensity workouts over a period of time. Having adequate cardiovascular endurance is vital to keep up with daily activities.

Start with Things You Like to Do and Then Branch Out

If your main goal is to achieve good health, you’ll want to make sure you distribute your training so you can hit all of the categories. Start by doing things you like to do and then branch out by trying new things. It’s common for people to tailor their training to one particular component for whatever goal they are trying to achieve, but to be lacking in most of the other areas. For example, a marathon runner might excel in cardiovascular endurance but be less than average in muscular strength or flexibility.

On the other hand, someone who only lifts heavy weights may lack cardiovascular endurance. However, the runner may start to notice running is easier after incorporating resistance training into their routine, or their muscles might feel great after adding stretching and mobility work. This doesn’t just apply to marathon runners or heavy lifters; almost everyone can benefit from including all 5 components into their routines.

To sum it up, you should practice different forms of exercise to achieve a holistic fitness regimen. It’s perfectly fine to include running, resistance training, or group fitness such as yoga or BODYPUMP, and that’s just a few examples. There are so many different activities and classes to try to help get you to your goals. When you blend different types of training, you can discover your talents, weak links, and things you just enjoy doing.

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This blog was written by Hannah Peters, BS, CPT, Health Fitness Instructor. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: NIFS group fitness endurance flexibility strength exercises BODPOD variety fitness assessment physical fitness

Cycling at NIFS: The Low-Impact, Calorie-burning Group Fitness Workout

Cycle-2Cycling is becoming one of the most popular trends in group fitness. Not only is it a great class to take for the cardio benefits and calorie burn, cycling is a great resistance-based workout that can also increase strength. Many cycling classes are tracked in two ways, by RPM or BPM. RPM stands for “repetitions per minute,” and BPM stands for “beats per Minute.” Each form is usually cued by an instructor to ride to a particular beat. Both are great options; which one to choose just depends on personal preference. If you like music, you might enjoy a beat-driven class more. If you enjoy competition, you might enjoy an RPM-style class more.

Not only can a cycling class burn up to 600 or 700 calories a session, cycling classes are also fun to participate in due to the motivation to push and work hard from the instructor and the fun music played in class. With each person being on their own bike, participants control their own resistance with guided cues from the instructor on approximately how much resistance to add. This makes the class a great option for all levels, since each individual is in control of their own resistance. Resistance is recommended based on the kind of track an instructor is teaching. For example, if the instructor is cuing sprints, they might also cue for lighter resistance so you can move as quickly as possible. If you are simulating a hill, you might be cued to add a lot of resistance to make you have to use more strength and power to “get up the hill.”

Benefits of Group Fitness Cycling Classes

Among the benefits of this group fitness class are the following:

  1. Low-impact cardio option
  2. Stress release
  3. Cardiovascular
  4. Muscular endurance

What to Know Before Your First Class

If you have not been to a cycling class before, have no fear! If you are on your way to a class, try to get there 10–15 minutes early. This gives you time to meet your instructor and learn how to set up your bike appropriately for your height. Usually a studio will have shoe rentals or bike cages to be worn with normal shoes. If you would like to purchase cycling shoes, you can find many different options online.

Cycling at NIFS

Cycling is offered daily at NIFS at a variety of times. Check out the Group Fitness Schedule to find a class that works with your schedule!

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio group fitness cycling calories endurance indoor cycling low-impact strength workout

March Is National Nutrition Month! 10 Tips for Healthy Eating

GettyImages-1024069556Every March, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. This campaign is intended to put the attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. If you started out 2019 with resolutions or a goal to be healthier but have already fallen back into old habits, take a look at these 10 messages and use National Nutrition Month as an excuse to get back on track.

  1. Discover the benefits of a healthy eating style. Take notes on how you feel when you eat a balanced meal. Do you have more energy and are not as sluggish? Did you enjoy the fresh flavors from foods that aren’t processed or packaged?
  2. Choose foods and drinks that are good for your health. Each week, challenge yourself at the grocery store to try a new-to-you food or drink that is good for you. This will help expand your options when it comes to making healthy meals and snacks.
  3. Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis. Aim for three food groups at every meal and two food groups at snacks. This will help increase the balance and variety of the foods you are eating.
  4. Select healthier options when eating away from home. Plan ahead. Check out the menu and see what you want to order before you arrive. Then try to balance your meal with only one higher-fat item and healthier sides, entrees, and beverages.
  5. Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that's right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do. Use your hand to guide your portion sizes! Your fist is the size of a serving of fruits, veggies, and grains. Your palm is the size of a serving of meat. Your thumb is the size of a serving of oil.
  6. Keep it simple. Eating right doesn't have to be complicated. Look at your plate and half of it should be filled with fruits and veggies, one-fourth with whole grains, and one-fourth with lean protein. Sprinkle in some healthy fat and dairy, too!
  7. Make food safety part of your everyday routine. Wash your hands and your produce. Don’t cross-contaminate your raw meat, and cook foods to their proper temperatures to avoid any food safety issues.
  8. Help reduce food waste by considering the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store. Make a meal plan based on what foods you have and then create a shopping list to fill in the holes. This will help reduce waste and save you money on your food bill, too!
  9. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week. What did you like to do as a kid? Ride your bike? Dance? It never felt like exercise then, so find something you enjoy doing and it will be something you will look forward to doing daily.
  10. Consult the nutrition experts. Registered Dietitian nutritionists can provide sound, easy-to-follow, personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences, and health-related needs. NIFS has Registered Dietitians that are here to help! Check out our website for more information!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition resolutions healthy eating new year's dietitian food safety fruits and vegetables portion control food waste dining out

Your Keys to Fitness Victory: Set a Deadline and Get Help at NIFS

GettyImages-893206214-1Have you ever told yourself you are going to lose weight and get fit in time for spring, only to be frustrated when warm weather rolls around?

It's easy to hide behind heavy winter clothes, but when the mercury starts climbing, the clothes get lighter and we can't hide anymore. "Why didn't I start working out weeks ago?" we ask ourselves. "If only I had started sooner!"

Regret-proof Your Spring: Set a Deadline

The best way to protect yourself from a regret-filled spring is to set a deadline and start NOW. Deadlines are powerful motivators. Without a deadline, you really have no set-point toward which to work. You have nothing pushing you.

We need to be pushed!

Deadlines create a sense of urgency. They help you position yourself to succeed, because that final date is always staring back at you. It forces you to prioritize and strategize. Otherwise, you will let things slide...you will keep putting off the workout and insisting that tomorrow you will start eating better.

Without a deadline, tomorrow never comes!

It’s Time to Shake Things Up

If you keep doing what you have always done, you will get the results you have always gotten. It’s time to do something different. Ask yourself this question: If I keep doing what I am doing right now, will I achieve what I want to achieve? If you answered no, it’s time for a change.

Get out your calendar and decide when you want to see your first wave of results. Be realistic; make sure you give yourself time to really dig in and see changes. But challenge yourself, too—make it a little tough so you can take full advantage of the power of urgency.

Prevent Deadline Creep: Get Competitive!

But a deadline might not be enough. Why? Because you might be tempted to move it. Deadlines are not supposed to be moving targets! The best way to prevent deadline creep is to get competitive.

Entering a competition or contest is a sure way to give you the edge you need to keep yourself on track and finish strong. There is something very motivating about competing with others. Just knowing that your effort and results are going to be measured alongside others really will give you an extra boost in motivation.

Sometimes a little peer pressure is useful! And you will find that those with whom you are in competition will also be your biggest cheerleaders: they know exactly what you are going through and will be there to encourage you to keep moving.

Here’s How to Get Started

At NIFS, we offer various activities that allow you to get out of your comfort zone, receive the support and education you need to help you on your journey, and more importantly, have the time of your life with goal-oriented individuals who will encourage and push you to become the best version of yourself.

  • Ramp Up to Weight Loss Program: This 14-week program gives you all the tools you need to reach those weight-loss goals. Not only will you be able to work with a trainer one-on-one twice a week, but you also have the option to join small-group workouts with other members. The training sessions and the small-group sessions are a great way to help keep you motivated. Commit for 14 weeks and see a brand new you at the end!
  • Small Group Training: What better way to get the competitive juices going, and have the biggest cheerleaders on your side, all while getting in a great workout with highly skilled training and support?
  • High Intensity Training (HIT): By redefining your boundaries you will discover new ways to get the most out of your workouts. HIT is designed to rev up your metabolism, burn more fat, build strength, and take your fitness to the next level!

Don’t wait until next week, next month, or even next year. Start now—you won’t regret it!

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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: NIFS weight loss high intensity fitness goals small group training

Improve Your Weakness: Train Your Fitness Flaws

FMS-NewWouldn’t it be satisfying to not be weak at something? We’re all born with differing personality traits and those exist as either our strength or our weakness. We are generally aware of these traits, which fall on either side of the line. It is normal to single out our strengths to share and use publicly because we are proud of them. However, it makes sense that we downplay our weaknesses and hide them as much as possible. It is also our human nature to speculate how we stack up in comparison to other individuals. Whether applying for a new job, competing in a sporting event, or even scrolling through social media, we are looking to see how others are doing and comparing ourselves to them.

Here, I will explore the benefits of training your flaw—in other words, making your weaknesses your strengths.

Individual Goals and Beliefs

Everyone has their own goals and beliefs, but if it were up to me, I would rather be decent at several things than great at only one. When it comes to health and fitness, I urge you to be a well-rounded individual. Whereas the nutrition aspect is difficult for some, others might have the self-control and discipline to succeed at it. Some people might enjoy a good sweat session when others despise even setting foot in a fitness center for various reasons.

We gravitate toward what comes easy or what we enjoy more, leaving behind what we dislike, and that which needs the most work. My goal is to be the best version of myself no matter how long it takes. To accomplish this, I must first identify my weaknesses and dislikes. Once I complete this, the next step is to set new goals and come up with a plan of attack. This typically means starting with the weakest links.

Pinpoint Your Weaknesses

You may or may not have specific goals, so I will explain by sharing examples. The first example is CrossFit. I personally do not participate in CrossFit; however, the concept is quite clever. Their quest to attain the title of “Fittest on Earth” stems from being the ultimate athlete. CrossFit has identified 10 measurable fitness categories, such as stamina, strength, power, speed, flexibility, balance, coordination, agility, accuracy, and cardiovascular fitness. If every exercise that ever existed were written on slips of paper and you had to draw one out of the hat and complete it, could you do it and do it efficiently?

Another example would be the use of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). It scores me based on what I am proficient at and where I fall short within seven distinct movement patterns seen not only in exercise, but also in day-to-day life. The strategic plan of attack is to start with the lowest scores to make them better so that all the other movement patterns can improve as well. Basically, the test pinpoints your weakest link (movement pattern), and the goal is to improve the movement and restore function by reducing the risk of injury.

NIFS staff members are certified to not only complete the FMS testing, but also to design corrective exercises and workout plans tailored to individual needs. Contact one of our Health Fitness Instructors, who can assist you in testing what may be a weak point for you (such as the bench press, squat, deadlift, pull-ups, stamina, mobility, and so on).

Strive for Progress

Lastly, it’s no secret that we tend to shy away from what we aren’t good at, even when it comes to our health and fitness. With some courage and the help of others, we can begin to expose our downfalls and identify weaknesses we may be blind to and start finding ways to make improvements. We should always be striving for progress rather than perfection. Find a program that improves on your weaknesses. Growth and change are not easy, but the benefits you gain are well worth it! 

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

Topics: NIFS fitness center nifs staff personal training CrossFit goals fitness assessment