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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Swim, Bike, Run: Get Ready for Triathlon Fun

IMG_9430Does the idea of swimming in the nice early-morning summer sun excite you? Does riding along the hilly but beautiful road at Eagle Creek get you smiling? Does doing a challenging run through Eagle Creek Park drive up your endorphins? Then you need to think about doing a triathlon this year.

“Why this year,” you ask? I say “Why not?” No one is getting any younger, and IT’S OUT THERE. This is a real comfort zone buster! Life is about challenges big and small, so here’s a great way to get out of your comfort zone. Here’s all ya gotta do.

Get into the Water

Get in the pool or a lake; stop by Eagle Creek, Morse Reservoir, or any body of water you can get into. Go for a swim. If you are awful, keep working, and read blogs about swim drills. Plan for at least 4 to 12 weeks of prep. The longer the race distances, the longer the training.

Get a Bike

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Next, find yourself a bike. If you have a really nice bike, this should not be a problem. If you don’t even have one, go to one of our fine bike shops (we have some really good ones here in Indy) and get a bike. Get your tires aired up, oil the chain, and PLEASE check the brakes (and get those tuned up again). Then get on those wheels and ride, enjoying the sun and the spring breeze on your face.

Put on Your Running Shoes

After that, put on your running shoes and hit the road, trail, or track and start jogging. Again, start slow and then go.

Prepare and Have a Plan

AAHH… it seems so simple as you read this, and it can be, but to have a ton of fun on race day you need to prepare. Try to follow a plan to get you to the finish line with a smile. Work backward from your race day. You need to be able to swim 500 meters, ride your bike 10 miles, and then run 3 miles. Plan your workouts for distance or time, the latter of which is often easier to calculate.

This is the 11th year of our NIFS Go Girl TRI-training Program that prepares you for the Go Girl race at Eagle Creek in August. Our training program is the city's longest-running training program for the race. Are you jumping on board this year? Get registered today!

tri training header 2019 LOGO-01-1This blog was written by Kris Simpson BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. To read more about Kris and the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running swimming NIFS programs Indianapolis biking triathlon training program

Are You Joining the NIFS Triathlon Training Program This Year?

The Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek Park is now in its 11th year. NIFS’ Go Girl Tri-training Program is the city's longest-running training program for that race. Will you join us for this year’s training? Here are some good reasons for you to tri.

Tri-group-2018


Running, Biking, and Swimming Coaches

The coaches for our program have experience in each discipline of the race:

  • Our run coaches train you to be faster and injury-resilient.
  • Bike coaches teach the techniques to ride fast and strong.
  • Swim coaches build confidence and determination to tackle any body of water.

A Different Discipline Each Week

The training sessions are broken down into a specific discipline each week. Some weeks we will be doing “bricks," which are two disciplines back to back. These are great for building fitness and confidence going into race day. The work is challenging, which pushes your fitness to another level.

More Open-water Swimming Practice

There are extra open-water swim opportunities on the weekends and occasional weekdays. These prepare you for the challenge of the open water, which is often difficult to get in the pool. The dark and irregular water is a different test than the clear pool with a line at the bottom. The sighting drills in the open water make the race day swim easier to manage for a nervous race-day mind.

More Hills

The training at Eagle Creek will prepare you for all the race-day hills and undulations. You will be changing gears and cruising by your fellow racers because you will know every section of the course in the park, including in the demanding first hill you will climb as you get on your bike. You will have traversed this hill many times in training. On race day, the final run-up will be a piece of cake.

Help with TransitionsIMG_1799

Did you ever consider the fourth discipline: transitions? We will hammer home many fine details to make that part of your race a strength, and you can chuckle at your fellow racers who can’t find the rack where their bike was placed.

The Hidden Details

The little details of each discipline may be the most valuable piece to our training program. Did you know you will have to pin your race number on your brand-new tri top? Well, in our program we will show you how a race belt keeps you from putting holes in your nice top.

Tri Training Starts June 11tri training header_no date-1

All in all, it’s a great group of ladies who will sweat, work, and cheer each other on during the race day—from the early-morning jitters to the finish, with medals proudly displayed around your neck. June 11 is our start, mark your calendar and get registered!

This blog was written by Kris Simpson, BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. To read more about Kris and the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running swimming NIFS programs Indianapolis biking women triathlon training program

Not a Workout Junkie? How About Swimming and Aqua Bootcamp?

Of course everyone knows that swimming is good for you. But what are the real benefits gained by jumping into the water?

Swimming Burns Tons of Calories147915512

How many, you ask? Well, here are some hard numbers:

Calories burned in 1 hour for a 155-lb. person:

  • Lap swimming, slow: 493 calories
  • Lap swimming, fast: 704 calories
  • We Water jogging: 563 calories
  • Treading water, moderate: 281 calories
  • Treading water, fast: 704 calories

Swimming Works All Muscle Groups

Swimming uses all major muscle groups. Remember, working big muscles burns big calories! This means you are strengthening your arms, legs, shoulders, and glutes, and it gives you a good core workout at the same time.

Swimming Is Low Impact on Your Body

Because you are suspended in the water, your joints don’t take the pounding they would on the ground or treadmill, plus the movement helps increase your range of motion. More range of motion means more muscle worked through that range, and yes, more calories burned!

Swimming Is a Refreshing Workout Any Time of the Year

The water in the competition pool at the Natatorium is kept between 75 and 79 degrees, the back pool is kept at 85 to 88 degrees, and the diving well for aqua fitness classes is kept at 85 to 88 degrees.

In short, there are few exercises that can give you the workout swimming can. If you have not found a love for kettlebells, weight machines, or treadmills, take the plunge and see what swimming can do for you. You may find a whole new workout routine you enjoy and look forward to.

For additional health benefits read this article on Active.com, 9 Good Reasons Why You Should Get in the Pool.

Swim Drills Anyone Can Do

To get you started, here are some great swim drills you can try in the pool.

  • Stroke improvement drills (with pull buoy): The buoy is held above your knees and you work your arms and upper torso. You can also place the buoy at your ankles to feel your core and inner thighs work harder.
  • Kick drills (with or workout fins): Work on the leg/hip action while holding a kickboard. It may be slow without fins, but you get great singular-leg and cardiovascular work.
  • Side stroke: Lying on your side, down arm extended. Works your legs and core. Make sure you switch sides to get balanced work.
  • Intervals, fast length down the pool: Give yourself proper rest time to go fast on the successive intervals. As you improve, add to the number of intervals or go-down-and-back sprints.

If you are interested in lap swimming as part of your training, access to the IU Natatorium lap pool is now part of your NIFS membership! Click here for more info.

Also check out Aqua Bootcamp for A HIGH INTENSITY water fitness workout that gives you the CARDIO boost of the pool and the benefits of RESISTANCE training in the gym. If you are interested check in at the Natatorium desk before class or contact Kris Simpson at ksimpson@nifs.org or 317.274.3432 ext.211

Screen Shot 2019-09-16 at 2.24.06 PM

This blog was written by Kris Simpson BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. To read more about Kris and NIFS bloggers click here.


Topics: fitness workouts swimming

TRI a New Challenge This Summer—NIFS Triathlon Training Can Help!

tri-1.jpgThere are so many different types of races out there to challenge yourself with this summer. Maybe you are signed up for a Spartan Race, a trail run, or a half marathon; but have you ever considered giving a triathlon a shot? If you haven’t done one before, I can say from first-hand experience: they are challenging, but very fun!

Triathlon is the combination of swimming, biking, and running. Now most of us would say, “Okay the last two don’t sound too bad…but no way, I am not a good swimmer.” One of the biggest deterrents keeping people from going out for a tri is the swim aspect. It is true that for most this is the most intimidating part, but just like the other two events, you just have to practice and get comfortable with it! Let’s take a quick look at the three events.

Swim

The length of the tri you sign up for will determine the distance you have to swim. The swim portion is done in open water (Tri Indy does theirs in the downtown canal, and Go Girl has their swim at Eagle Creek Park). Most people are not able to train in open water, but get into the pool as much as you can before the race. Find a training plan to follow, making sure that you are getting both distance and speed work, as well as drills, in your swimming sessions. Also, if you do not have any experience in swimming, I would suggest getting a lesson or two to learn proper breathing, strokes, and efficiency in the water.

Bike

The bike portion of the triathlon is done on the road. And like the swim, the distance will depend on what race you sign up for. A common misconception is that you have to go out and spend $2,000 on a great road bike. When race day comes, you will see every shape and size of bikes! The important thing to remember is, before getting out on your bike, to make sure it’s tuned up and in good shape to ride. Then practice running with it for the transitions, ride different distances and speeds, practice shifting gears, and just get comfortable using it.

Run

For many, next to swimming this may be one of the most challenging elements of the race. Just think you have already swum and biked, and now you have to get off and run! In the beginning your legs feel like jello and your body is telling you that you can’t possibly put one foot in front of the other and keep going. But you can do it! During your training, get in some longer runs and be sure to practice some bike-then-run days as well.

***

Seems like it could be a lot, but thousands of people finish triathlons every year around the world. Make 2018 your year to scratch that off the list. There are training programs out there: get one, follow it, and finish that race!

tri training header 2019 LOGO  
ATTENTION WOMEN: If you are interested in completing the 2019
Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek, we have a triathlon training program at NIFS!

Early Bird Registration is happening now! Sign up before May 15th and save $10 off training!

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

Topics: NIFS running group training swimming triathlon NIFS programs summer training biking women

You Can Do It! NIFS Training Helps You Meet Your Goals (Part 2 of 2)

IMG_9434Following on from part 1 of this blog, where I talked about goals, there are few fitness achievements that are more impressive than completing a triathlon. The combination of running, swimming, and biking along with power, endurance, perseverance, and attitude are imposing, especially for those who have never completed one before. The traditional Ironman races are comprised of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run for a grand total of 140.6 miles.

The Event Takes Many Forms

You can’t wake up today, without training, and begin to dream of the goal of finishing such an event. Most people will never complete a true Ironman triathlon in this form, but there is hope. Through the vision of great-minded individuals, we have a multitude of triathlon options that tinker with the original chemistry to create some equally impressive challenges for all levels. There are indoor versions that are held in the friendly confines of a gym (usually with a pool); there are sprint triathlons that modify the distances to a 5,000-meter run, 250-meter swim, and 14-mile bike ride. Notably, NIFS has been involved with a women-only triathlon called the Go Girl, the Indianapolis event of which is held at Eagle Creek Park. With so many options available (more will surely surface), there is hope for our triathlon aspirations after all!

Why Would Anyone Want to Do a Triathlon?

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Why would you ever want to do a triathlon in the first place? Kris Simpson, a personal trainer and triathlon coach at NIFS believes, “It is great cross-training” and “it can test your mental toughness by getting out of your comfort zone, especially if you have been traditionally a single-sport athlete.” With that being said, getting into a structured training regimen with focused end goals might be just what you need to awaken your inner athlete and competitive drive.

According to another triathlon finisher, Kaci Lierman, competing the tri event is a monumental occasion. Hours of hard work cumulate in that moment when you step across the finish line and take a deep sigh of relief. A sense of accomplishment, wholeness, and pride overtake you. You can stop there if you like, but the endorphins from the actual high are so great, you might want to do it again and again.

NIFS Training for Triathlons 

How does one train for a triathlon event? You could train on your own, but with so many small details (think transition training, bike maintenance, and clothing management), it’s beneficial to seek guidance from a seasoned professional. NIFS offers such training, catering to beginners who are new to the event, as well as triathlon veterans trying to get personal bests.

NIFS group training currently includes the Go Girl Triathlon Training Program. Women who are interested in the training program can contact Kris Simpson at ksimpson@nifs.org for more details regarding times, dates, and signup deadlines. Don’t limit yourself to traditional triathlons; you can find an event that best suits your abilities, needs, and training module length. The commitment to greatness is huge, but the rewards are even bigger. Dream BIG!

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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: Thomas' Corner running group training swimming triathlon biking triathlon training program Go Girl

NIFS Personal Trainer Takes on a Triathlon Challenge (Part 3)

IMG_9672.jpgWe have followed NIFS trainer Crystal Anne Belen throughout her triathlon training program experience (see part 1 and part 2). It’s finally time for the race, the moment the entire group has been waiting for and anticipating for the past 2½ months. Let’s hear from Crystal about her experience!

It’s the week of the race and training is complete. A lot of preparation has happened over the last 10 weeks. The hard part is over. Hydrating, breathing drills, staying healthy, visualization, staying positive, and relaxing were my areas of focus. By the end of training, I was feeling confident with my transitions and prepared for the race.

Goal: 500m Swim, 10-Mile Bike, 3-Mile Run

At the start of the race, I felt the excitement in the atmosphere! Almost 400 athletes were there to compete, and everyone had worked so hard for this moment. From my perspective, the distance didn’t look that far to swim in the open water. As I stood there waiting for my time to enter the reservoir, I was determined to conquer it, and there wasn’t anything that was going to stop me. However, the swim turned out a lot harder than I expected. I unfortunately found myself going kayak-to-kayak, needing assistance, and eventually met George, a gentleman who stuck with me as far as I could go. He encouraged me as I went along and said that he was there for me whenever I needed him. No matter how long it was going to take me, I was determined to finish the swimming portion.

I swam about halfway through the 500m, and there came a point where I was taking too long in the water and was told that I had to be picked up in the boat to catch up with the rest of the swimmers. Along with a few other ladies, sitting in the boat in tears, I was disappointed in myself. The official who picked us up offered that if we wanted to swim the last 50m, we could get back in. I wasn’t about to end the swim in total defeat, so I got back in the water and swam the rest of the way in.

The Ride

While I thought that the obstacles were over for me, the bike portion of the race brought even more roadblocks. I started off with a nice, quick transition to begin the ride. Determined to make up some time from the swim and knowing that I couldn't let the swim get to me, I came upon the first hill of the race and ended up running into a problem immediately. As I shifted gears, my chain came off my bike and I ended up having to pull off the road to put my chain back on.

After getting my chain back on, I rode for the next 6 miles, passing a few ladies, but then another unexpected mishap took place. As I shifted gears on another hill, my bike came to an abrupt stop. Emotionally done, I had had enough, and the disappointment of all the training I did for nothing was overwhelming. Another gentleman came and asked if I needed any help. He tried to see what was wrong with it, spent a few minutes looking at it, and ended up telling me that I was going to have to walk my bike the rest of the race. My derailleur flipped over and would catch in my spindle, not even allowing me to pedal. Beyond frustrated and embarrassed, I wasn’t able to keep the positive mindset I had been working toward, although I was still determined to complete the course. It had to happen.

While walking the rest of the course, an unexpected turn of events took place. I caught up to a woman who was also walking with her bike. I felt so frustrated and defeated but as we began to talk, I was grateful for this time. She said, “I’m sorry to hear about your bike, but I'm thankful that you are walking with me.” In that instant, my mindset completely changed. In the full-throttle of my stress, someone needed my help more.

The next thing I knew, the trainer in me ended up encouraging her to keep persevering. I was no longer thinking about the struggles I was going through. I walked with her the rest of the 3 miles, and she eventually rode back on her bike to complete the remainder of the race. Finishing in last place in the biking portion allowed me to put things in perspective, and I was so thankful that I had the opportunity to help another athlete. I was no longer mad at myself, and I kept telling myself that the only thing left to do was the 3-mile run, my strongest portion of this triathlon.

The Last Leg

Running indeed was my strongest event as I completed the 3 miles without any major incidents and ran the entire way. I finished my run in 28 minutes with an overall race time of 2 hours 12 minutes and 10 seconds.

With the rollercoaster of events that took place, I'm very grateful for accepting the challenge, going through the experience, and stepping outside of my comfort zone, and especially grateful for the people I've met along the way. I’ve learned that there are things that happen in life that you can’t control, things happen in which you have a decision to make, for which your attitude can instantly determine the path that you will travel on. As a trainer, I work with many individuals who go through their own challenge on a daily basis, and this has given me more appreciation and a fresh perspective on the process it takes to overcome a difficult part in your life.

With how I completed the race, I've been asked if I'd do another one. Surprisingly, yes, I would do another one. Knowing what it takes and where I currently stand, I can work to improve. So the journey continues, I am tentatively planning on completing another triathlon on September 30, in Illinois, to write a new chapter in this book.

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This blog was written by Crystal Anne Belen, personal trainer and health fitness instructor at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running swimming nifs staff race challenge biking triathlon training program

NIFS Personal Trainer Takes on a Triathlon Challenge (Part 2)

IMG_5313.jpgTriathlon training is past the halfway point (see part 1 of my blog) and has been quite the journey! With long days of juggling my work schedule, the training plan, a dog, a home life, and trying to find time in there to rest, training for this triathlon has been quite challenging! In addition to the training plan that I am following, I have analyzed areas where I need to improve, especially in the swim portion of the race. I have noticed that not only the physical aspect of the triathlon training needs work, but my attitude does as well.

Back to the Basics

How do I tackle this without being overwhelmed with the other 50 things running through my mind that need to be done, and then keeping a positive mindset about my energy to top it off? I have decided to break it down and take each segment one step at a time, in order to not become so stressed out. I have taken the mindset of going back to the basics of training and mastering those first.

Mastering Swimming Basics

On our first swim training, one immediate thing I noticed was how my heart rate skyrockets when I’m in the water. My quads are on fire from kicking incorrectly, my breathing and head are uncontrolled, and I tend to hold onto the edge of the pool in order to not drown. Even worse, this all seems to happen within a 50-meter stretch in the pool! While I wanted to quickly bail, I was reminded to take it one step at a time.

Something that really helped to reassure me was that our coach mentioned to our group, “The hardest part is getting in the water; once you’re in, you’ve accomplished half of the battle. The key is not swimming faster, but it is to concentrate on your form and technique.” Needless to say, I’ve been focusing on those basic tips and am beginning to feel more comfortable in the water and see my swimming improve!

Biking: Getting to Know the Bike

I ride my bike for recreational commuting purposes but have never raced competitively. One of our first rides as a group was focused around getting to know your bike. We had to check our seat height and the air in our tires (and know how to fill them up), learn the gearshifts, and learn a few other tricks about knowing our own bikes. This was a huge help for me.

Another training day we were working on mounting and dismounting our bikes in order to learn to be efficient with our transitions between the swim-to-bike and bike-to-run. A few seconds in your time makes a difference. I ended up having a nice bruise on my leg as my pedal caught my knee on my first try. On the plus side, the convenience of working at NIFS and being downtown has enabled me to run errands and train with my bike, accumulating cycling miles over the course of the week. This has helped me to be more comfortable on my bike and learn how to get on and off quickly.

Improving My Running

Running is probably my strongest event in the triathlon. Last year I ran competitively in the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, although I have not kept up with a consistent cardio program until now. My goal is to increase my pace in hopes of making up for where I am challenged in swimming and biking, but without running out of energy before I cross the finish line. Getting back into a running program is hard! I’ve battled plantar fasciitis in my left foot and a mild case of low back pain. I’ve mixed my workouts with weight training prior to running, sprints, and longer-distance runs in hopes of mimicking the fatigue that I will feel from swimming and biking on race day.

My Top Triathlon Tips

I have learned through this triathlon training program so much about myself and the importance of not stressing over the big picture, but instead focusing on each segment of the training and race. As a trainer and a first-time triathlete in training, here are a few tips I’d like to share:  

  • Use a coach to help you. It’s hard to see your technique when you are swimming, biking, and running, and a few simple tips will make a big difference. You can always improve.
  • Warming up is essential. Techniques such as foam rolling, tension release, dynamic stretching, and letting your body adjust to the environment have made such a big difference in my workouts.
  • Bring on the food. Don’t get me wrong; eating healthy, meal prepping, and portion control are all essential to my daily way of living. However, what I’ve noticed is that I’m hungrier and my body has been leaning out and getting toned from the additional training. I’ve had to increase my food/calorie intake so that I can stay energized throughout the whole day.

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This blog was written by Crystal Anne Belen, personal trainer and health fitness instructor at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS running swimming triathlon cycling nifs staff triathlon training program personal trainer

Allison Anderson on the Benefits of NIFS Tri-Training

Allison-3.jpg It’s triathlon season and 2016 program participant Allison Anderson is coming back for another round. Many people come back to try something a second time, and for Allison there was no question whether she was going to tri again!

I took some time to talk with Allison about her experience with the NIFS Tri-Training Program and what inspired her to do it. Take a few moments to hear what she has to say.

What made you decide to
join NIFS Go Girl Tri-Training Program?

I saw the Go Girl training advertised on the NIFS Instagram. I immediately thought, "I can swim, I can ride a bike, and I can run/walk 3 miles. Let's do this!" The training was intense, but it prepared me for what was ahead. I was also interested because it was an all-female race. It seemed a little less intimidating than competing in a male/female triathlon.

What was your favorite part of the training?

Swimming! I was a swimmer in high school and was missing the workouts. The swimming aspect of the tri was the deciding factor for me. I was ready to take on the challenge again.

What did the group training program offer you that you wouldn’t have been able to do on your own?

The training program offered a full training plan, the opportunity to find others that were around the same level, and information on appropriate nutrition and food choices.

Allison-1.jpgWho would you recommend this training program for?

This training program would be great for any woman interested in participating in a triathlon. There are multiple levels of intensity, so it is appropriate for everyone. The NIFS staff is helpful with all levels, encouraging beginners and challenging veterans. 

Do you have any recommendations for those in the training program?

Have fun and follow your training plan. Following the training plan to a t will help you be as successful as you can. Making a friend who works at the same pace is encouraging and gives you accountability to keep working out, even when the whole group isn't working together. It's also nice to see that someone is working toward the same goal as you are. 

***

If you are a woman looking for a new challenge like a triathlon, or maybe you’re a seasoned veteran in triathlons but are looking for a training group, the Women’s Triathlon Training Program may be just what you are looking for!

Spaces are limited! Register now so that you don’t miss out!

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

Topics: NIFS nutrition group training swimming triathlon accountability triathlon training program

Sink or Swim: Get More from Your Swimming Access

ThinkstockPhotos-95099348.jpgSalutations NIFS friends! Our facility has a partnership that allows members access to lap swimming at the IU Natatorium. This amenity is something that has been on many bucket lists for some time, and now that we can say we have a pool, it’s time to get in there and take advantage of it. While the benefits of swimming are undeniable, there are some great points we can discuss for people (like me) who have found it a little more challenging to float. This blog will bring to light some interesting facts and some general ideas that can make your next swim (or float) more efficient, effective, and fun.

The Effects of Body Fat on Swimming

A big question that many new swimmers have is, “Why do I sink and you float?” The answer can be correlated to your body density and body fat percentage. Because fat is less dense than water, it floats. If you are an individual who carries a higher percentage of body fat, you are more likely to stay above the water surface. Competitive swimmers, therefore, would have an advantage to having both strong muscles as well as low body fat.

Using Aerodynamics to Your Advantage

Something else that you may notice is that some people who swim wear drag suits. The idea behind this is to increase resistance, therefore making the exercise more difficult. When a person competes, they wear normal swimming gear (making the exercise easier). There are advantages to this technique, but because most of us are recreational exercise swimmers and not in competition, this may be a moot point.

Along the same lines, you will see Olympians who not only use the drag suits, but also shave all body hair in the hope that they can shave :01 seconds off their personal best. NIFS personal trainer Kris Simpson suggests, “If you just want to swim, and do not care how fast, the extra resistance [of body hair] will get you a better workout and calorie burn.”

Treading Water for Fitness

As a total beginner, I find swimming can be quite challenging. Inefficient movements and lack of knowledge make long-distance routines almost too hard to bear and definitely less enjoyable. What I have found to be a great exercise, without using a lot of space or thought, is treading water. Basically, find a deep enough place in the pool where you can stay stationary in the water (no touching bottom or the sides) for a time. Then tread water for time, starting off with a minute and working upward. Add drag for more calorie-burning fun.

Get Started in the Pool

Whether you are swimming toward an Olympic dream or just trying to keep your head above water, swimming is undeniably a great exercise that cannot be overlooked. For NIFS members who are eligible, stop by the NIFS service desk to get your Natatorium pass. Also, see Kris Simpson about HIT classes or Aqua Fitness over to the “Nat”.

As always muscleheads, rejoice and evolve!

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

Topics: NIFS exercise Thomas' Corner swimming calories

Water Fitness: How to Get Better at Swimming

ThinkstockPhotos-103584574.jpgIn my previous blog on swimming, I talked about the vast benefits that can come from adding lap swimming into your off-season workout regimen. But maybe you are already comfortable in the pool and swim on a regular basis; wouldn’t you like to get better and become more efficient in your stroke? By taking small steps to improve the different components that make up the specific strokes, you can become a better swimmer in a decently short amount of time.

Focus on Form

As other sports, form tends to be one of the key players in overall success. Each stroke has a certain form that will allow the swimmer to be more efficient. Take some time to research the different strokes that you like to do and learn the correct form. Whatever swim stroke you happen to choose, the different pieces will consist of breathing, kicking, arm movement, location of chest and hips in the water, and what you do with your hands, feet, and ankles. I know it seems like a lot to think about, but you may really benefit by simply understanding what the stroke should look like.

Breathe More Efficiently

Breathing tends to be one of the hardest elements of a swimmer’s performance. Getting the breathing technique down right takes time, practice, and patience. Master breathing by using a kickboard or holding onto the side of the pool before combining it with the actual stroke and movement in the water. You also will need to learn your breathing cycle—for example, if I am swimming freestyle, do I need to take a breath every three or four strokes? You may need to learn to breathe on both sides and be able to turn your head to the left and right to get air.

Learn the Body Roll

This movement is used specifically in freestyle. Have you ever seen someone swimming freestyle (on their stomach) and when it’s time to take a breath, they pick their entire head up out of the water? The body roll will allow you to efficiently roll your upper body (and partially through the hips) to get air so that only part of your head is not in the water. This movement can be learned easily using different pool equipment like a pull buoy.

Slow Down

We all have the tendency, when getting into the pool to do some laps, to go a million miles an hour. Whether or not you mean to do it, you will quickly be made aware that you need to slow down because your breathing will remind you! Take your time, be patient, and learn the proper technique in every stroke by putting your foot on the break. You will be amazed, when you slow down the pace a little bit, at how long you can actually swim!

Develop an Efficient Kick

Another great way to improve your overall swimming skills is to learn the different kicks that go along with the various strokes. Each kick has specifics in how far to pull your heel back, how big of a splash you should be making, how far below the surface you want your hips and legs to be, etc. Utilize a kickboard or the wall, as you do in learning to breathe right, to master the different kicks.

Utilize Equipment

There are so many great tools out there to help you learn to swim better. Utilize things like kickboards to improve your breathing and kicking, pull buoys to work on your stroke, and fins to work through power kicks and master the body roll. At most pools you will usually see hand paddles to work on power in the pulling motion to propel you through the water faster, and maybe even gloves that have webbed fingers. All of these things will allow you to work on certain pieces of form one at a time.

Learn the Turns

When I was younger, I spent hours in the pool trying to learn how to do the flip turn. And while many think it’s simply “cool,” the flip turn happens to make your swim efficiency shoot through the roof. This move will also take some time to learn, but if you are patient and work on the timing of the flip turn, your lap swimming will soon be quicker.

Watch and Evaluate

Do not be afraid to have someone watch you and evaluate the different strokes you are working on. Often someone outside the water can easily tell if you are kicking too hard, slapping the water during your stroke, or not efficiently breathing. Take some time to have someone watch and give you tips to work on.

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While this can seem like an overwhelmingly large list of things to work on, just choose one thing at a time. Each small tweak will make a huge impact on your overall swimming performance.

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

Topics: fitness equipment swimming workout sports