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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Do’s and Don’ts in the Gym: Videos from NIFS Fitness Instructors

March is typically a make-or-break month for many folks as it relates to reaching their health and wellness goals for the new year. The resolutions are losing steam, weather tends to sway fitness decision-making, and focus begins to shift a bit away from what brought them to the gym in the first place. My message to many at this time of year is to continue to WIN EACH DAY! By that I mean have more checks in the win column than in the loss column. It’s natural to slump a little—we haven’t seen the sun in a month, for crying out loud. But continue to focus on doing those things that constitute WINS and limit those things that would be considered a LOSS.

NIFS Instructors Share Their Observations in the Gym

This is also a great time of year to hit a few reminders of what you should and should not do in the gym I asked the experts (the highly trained NIFS instructors): What are some things you see gym-goers do that needs immediate attention and correction? Along with a few of my own, here is what the team had to report on the common things we see in the gym that you should and should not do.

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Tony: Control the Weights

  • Not controlling the weight of an exercise throughout the entire ROM.
  • Dropping the weight unsafely.
  • Holding on and hunching over a climb mill.
  • Standing the wrong direction in a squat rack.

Lauren: Deadlift

  • Tuck the chin in neutral spine
  • Use clips for safety

Thomas: Bicep Curl

  • The emphasis on bicep curl contraction is more pronounced when we isolate the muscle.  this can be done by avoiding movement and momentum from arm swinging by pressing the elbows toward your sides
  • Sometimes, more weight does not make the exercise better, but better movement patterns can make the exercise more effective and safer
  • An easy way to also accomplish this would be to press your back against the wall and perform the exercise

Ashley: Proper Plank

  • Hips in the air/not a flat back
  • Proper way is flat back, hips level, core tight

Tinisi: Proper Lunge

  • Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and look straight ahead
  • lower your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle
  • Core tight

Keep Striving for Wins and Contributing to Your Fitness Community

We covered a great deal of information here—pretty important stuff for both proper technique and fitness community etiquette. As I covered in my post Culture Club: How to Be a Strong Member of a Fitness Community, we are all in this together! And a community of support and positive energy is a place we can all thrive in, and must all contribute to. I know that some of the new year perspective may have lost a little sparkle, but you are still on the right track. Just remember, have more WINS than LOSSES and you will continue to improve!

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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: fitness center resolutions workouts nifs staff videos new year's ettiquette fitness community technique instructors

Fitness Equipment Tools to Try in 2020: ViPR

It’s 2020, a new year filled with new ambitions for health, wellness, and performance. This is the time of year when we make deals with ourselves to try something new, get back to something we’ve stopped, and declare that this year is the year!

If you have followed my posts from the beginning, I feel a certain way about resolutions and waiting for a new year to make positive changes. For a review on my feelings toward a practice that typically results in failure, read Resolutions Redefined, one of my first pieces on the topic. But I want to help you try something new in the new year to help further your fitness quest. Let’s take a look at a tool that you might not have used or even seen before.

Vitality Performance Reconditioning (ViPR)

First on the list is the ViPR. Besides having a pretty cool name, the ViPR is a do-it-all piece of equipment that will make you what folks over at ViPR refer to as “farm boy” strong. Inspired by those farm kids who move with loads in their daily life, the ViPR combines task-specific movements and resistance training to add a multitude of dimensions to a fitness program. Living with energy and vigor (Vitality) to help build Performance and regain function for life, sport, and recreation is what the name ViPR stands for and pushes to achieve. Life is an athletic event, so it only makes sense that one should train for the event, train like an athlete, or in the case of the ViPR, like a farm boy.

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Movements with the ViPR Fitness Equipment

Ready to add the ViPR to your toolbox of fitness awesomeness? Here are a few of my favorite movements to help get you started:

  • Rocket Squats
  • Single Hinge with reach
  • Lunge to uppercut
  • Shovel
  • Rot. Fwd./Rev Lunge Combo
  • Lat Lunge to C&P w. Lat Step
  • Ice Skater with push
  • Lateral Shuffle Flip
  • Flip Squat

These movements barely scratch the surface of all the dimensions and patterns that can be challenged using the ViPR. You now know enough to give the ViPR a try, but for more information on how to add it to your program, schedule a session with one of our talented and highly trained NIFS instructors and take those first crucial steps in trying something new the right way!

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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: equipment resolutions resistance exercises videos fitness equipment

Go With the Flow: Spice Up your Warm-ups Using Flow Circuits

With the winter months settling in, and maybe traveling becoming part of your routine, it may become harder to carve out time for workouts. Limited access to equipment may also throw a wrench into your plan for a quick training session. But by incorporating bodyweight movements into a flow circuit, you can bypass the excuses and be workout ready any time, any place.

What Is a Bodyweight Flow?

Flow circuits typically include bodyweight movements that are linked in succession one after another with minimal or no rest in between. They can be used as a dynamic warmup, a low-intensity recovery circuit, or an entire workout in and of itself. They can also be a great way to sprinkle some physical activity into your day, especially if time and equipment are lacking.

How to Implement a Flow Circuit

If you’re looking to spice up your standard dynamic warm-up (or add one in general), a simple two-minute flow circuit fits perfectly. You can perform each movement three to five times, and when the movements are linked together in succession, they help increase blood flow, improve mobility, and increase your overall core body temperature to prep you for the workout ahead. Bodyweight flow circuits also allow you to hit large, compound movements that address stability at multiple joints in a shorter amount of time. Overall, they are a great bang for your buck. Examples of movements include bear crawls, cross-under lunges, inchworms, and rocking patterns.

Here are a couple of bodyweight flow options that you can take for a spin next time you’re at the gym in need of a warm-up.

  • Video 1 (Hip Flow Series)

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  • Video 2 (Crawling/Rolling Patterns)

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If you’re interested in learning more about how to use bodyweight movements and flows for warm-ups, circuits, cool-downs, or recovery routines, check us out down in the Fitness Center. You can also reach out to me via email to lzakrajsek@nifs.org for any and all questions. Happy lifting!

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This blog was written by Lauren Zakrajsek, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Internship Coordinator. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center circuit workout videos recovery warmups bodyweight flow bodyweight flow flow circuits low-intensity

Dynamite in a Small Package: Mini-band Exercises You Should Be Doing

GettyImages-1160240139In a world where in many cases bigger is better, just because something is small doesn’t mean it’s less important or can’t have big impact. Being short in stature my entire life, it has always been my motto that “dynamite comes in small packages,” and I have strived to create as much BANG as I can in all facets of life. Small in stature can provide big results when you light the proper fuse and utilize its power maximally.

The Little Resistance Band with a Big Impact

In health and fitness, using the proper tools to yield the outcomes you are working toward is a staple goal, no matter the size of that tool. The mini-band could be the best example of creating big effect from a rather tiny tool. This popular, small resistance band has been used for many years in fitness and even sports performance. The mini-band is versatile and can be used for strength and stability over the entire body.

One of the biggest advantages of this ready-to-use, do-it-all tool is that it can go anywhere and be used in any environment. From the basics to the advanced, the mini-band is built to challenge all fitness levels and body types. It truly is a small package that packs a dynamite punch!

My Favorite Mini-Band Exercises

Here are some of my favorite exercises that you may not be currently doing but should:

  • Single-Leg Squats
  • Goblet Carry
  • Single-Leg, Straight-Leg Dead Lift
  • Shoulder Drivers
  • Wall Sprinters
  • Renegade Rows
  • BONUS: Friday Finisher Featuring the Mini-band

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Schedule a Session with a NIFS Trainer

These are just a few of the many exercises that can be done using the mini-band. There are so many great ways to utilize this mighty-mouse of a fitness tool. Want more exercises and direction? Schedule a workout program with one of our highly trained Health Fitness Instructors and get on a path to reaching your health and fitness goals and have fun doing it!

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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: equipment resistance exercises videos personal trainer fitness equipment mini-bands exercise bands

More Than Just Crunches: A 360-degree Approach to Core Training

Whether it’s the New Year or finally approaching the summer beach-going season, you’re almost guaranteed to see someone doing sit-ups, side-bends, or leg lifts in the gym. And I get it; who doesn’t want core strength with that little added aesthetic bonus too? But training the core is so much more than just crunches!

The two primary functions of the core are to transmit force to and from the lower and upper body and to resist motion. Throughout our day, we move in three dimensions, in all planes of motion, and not just in a straight line. In order to move our hips or shoulders without compensating at the spine, it’s our core that steps up to the plate to help stabilize the system. Whether it’s carrying all the groceries inside in one trip (a future Olympic sport in my opinion), reaching down at our side to pick up our bag off the floor, or carrying our child in one arm, our core stabilizes us through these movements and myriad others. In short, we don’t go through life in isolation, so the way we train our core should reflect that.

Videos of Exercises

Here are a few videos of some exercises you can add to your 360-degree core-training repertoire to help address core movements while adding a little variety to your workout routine:

  • Tall Kneel Cable Antiextension Hold
  • Half Kneel Rope Chop
  • Sandbag Contralateral Deadbug
  • Bird Dog Row
  • Uneven Farmer Carry
  • Copenhagen Side Plank

 

Why Add These Exercises?

There are several reasons to add these kinds of exercises to your workout programs:

  • We live our lives in three dimensions; our training should be three-dimensional, too.
  • Increasing core stability can improve performance in other lifts and movements.
  • A stronger core helps reduce injury risk in real-world situations (such as lifting from the floor, or going from a sit to a stand).
  • You get a bigger bang for your buck by addressing multiple joints and muscle groups (shoulder position, hip stability, glutes, adductors).

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This blog was written by Lauren Zakrajsek, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercises videos core strength movement core exercises core stability core trainings

Marching Orders: Creating Stability Using Marching Exercises

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 11.38.50 AMHumans have the ability to become and remain stable throughout any movement, from walking, to lunges, to power cleans. Increased stability typically correlates with increased performance.

There are countless methods, tools, and tricks of the trade to find and keep stability, and one that I think provides so many benefits at any level of fitness is the marching pattern. No, that is not a typo; marching is exactly what I mean. You know, that movement you see members of the band doing at halftime. Marching, at its core (I meant to do that), creates stability just when you get into the marching position. Then you can increase the results by changing your body position and adding load to make it a hugely effective exercise for increasing stability.

Why March?

There are many reasons why you should try marching:

  • It’s a fundamental movement that can be done at any age.
  • Marching can serve as a lead-up to so many more advanced movements.
  • It creates stability on both sides of the body (hip flexors and glutes).
  • Marching develops balance while increasing core stability.
  • The exercise helps the aging athlete avoid shuffling when walking, which can lead to falls.
  • It helps increase performance in single-leg movements.

Videos of Exercises

Here are videos of some marching-based exercises you can do:

  • Bridge marching
  • Resisted bridge marching
  • Sandbag bridge marching
  • Airex pad marching
  • KB Standing marching suitcase, racked, overhead
  • Miniband resisted marching
  • Sandbag rotation marching

Stability equals strength, and we can all stand to be stronger in the movement patterns that are huge parts of our lives outside of the gym. Add marching to your program to be "life strong,” and enjoy moving for a lifetime.

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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: fitness center core exercises videos stability hips marching

Leg Day Workouts for Non-Squat Enthusiasts

GettyImages-622809280For some people, leg day at the gym is the greatest single day of the week. For others, however, there couldn’t be a more grueling and loathsome experience. We all know that leg workouts are essential to our total-body fitness plans and that there are consequences to not doing leg day, like becoming internet memes.

Reasons People Skip Their Leg Workouts

Some of the reasons people do not do leg day include knee pain, hip pain, after-workout soreness, poor technique, and sometimes mechanical reasons (your body just can’t do squats due to anatomy). Whatever the reason may be, you still need to address your lower body and quit skipping leg day.

I, for one, have been guilty of skipping leg day from time to time, but I know that there are important benefits to doing the workouts. The main reasons I do not like doing the exercises began with just being tired of standing at work all day after a great leg day. It made the rest of my day brutal. You might feel the same way, but it’s just part of the process that your body needs to go through to get stronger and better.

A very plausible reason some people skip leg day could be that they decided to start a workout “split” (each day of the week dedicated to a body part—Monday is chest day, Tuesday is bicep day, etc.). With the split, you would have to spend a lot of time at the gym to ensure each body part is worked each week—a minimum of 5-6 days per week to do the job. If you have a life event come up, such as a work meeting, a kid’s birthday party, or an illness, you will need to skip a day this week to deal with that situation. What happens is that people will skip the day they like the least, leg day. When next week rolls around, it will have been two weeks since your last leg day. That’s not good.

Leg Workout Ideas

Here are some ideas for leg workouts that are set up for beginners and people who are not fans of squats. You will see a lot of familiar exercises that will give you benefits. Hopefully, with the right motivation, you will become better at leg day.

  1. Deadlift: This can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, or even kettlebells. This link shows a variation of a deadlift called a trap bar deadlift. As you can see, the legs are definitely getting a lot of attention, while good form can be easily distinguished.
  2. Lunge: Although this exercise is about as popular as squats, the benefits are equally impressive. Not all lunges are the same. Check out this example of a lunge variation that you can easily add to your workout.
  3. Hip press machine: We don’t always want to use machines, but in this case, the hip press machine is a great way to get your legs and hips stronger and more ready for squats. Check out this video that highlights a hip press machine.

Leg day doesn’t have to be the most dreaded day of the week. You do not have to hide from your leg workouts any longer. Start off small and smart. Talk to a Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. They will not only help you set up a workout tailored to your needs, but also monitor your progress through benchmarks you can set at your free strategy session. Words of wisdom: Do not become an internet meme because you skipped leg day!

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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: Thomas' Corner workouts videos squat leg day

I Don’t Always Use a Machine: The Athletic Training Platform (ATP)

In the great pursuit to build a strong body, push through preconceived physical boundaries, and feel great, we are in a time when the training options are close to limitless and at our fingertips. The world of strength and conditioning is full of pros who develop new ways everyday to challenge the human body and create systems and tools designed to push athletes and fitness enthusiasts to new heights. Many of these tools and training systems should stay in those late-night infomercials, but every now and again someone gets it right.

Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell (WSB) nailed it with the development of the Athletic Training Platform (ATP). Premiering about a year ago, the ATP was designed as a universal training machine suited for all fitness levels and many applications for anyone working to get fit, build strength, lose weight, and build a powerful body. We here at NIFS were fortunate enough to acquire one of these great machines recently, and we feel it definitely lives up to the hype.

Setting Up the ATP

So how do you get started using this piece, you ask? Here is a quick tutorial on proper setup of the ATP.

 

 

When working with folks, it’s my belief that first you need to master your body with body-weight movements and functional movement patterns; move on to loading those patterns with dynamic equipment such as kettlebells and sandbags; and finally progress to more advanced and multi-joint movements. I typically do not use many machines in my personal or professional training other than a cable system. The ATP is a machine I can get behind and use frequently. The ATP is used for so much more than just belt-squats; it can challenge anyone in any plane of motion. It can also help with lower-back ailments due to its “traction” effect with the load coming from below.

Favorite Exercises

There are too many exercises to list in one post, so here are a few of our favorites:

 

 

You intrigued? You should be! The ATP is a versatile and effective piece that can help you achieve the fitness goals you have set for yourself. If you are interested in adding the ATP to your exercise program, I highly recommend that you see one of your highly trained and motivated instructors here at NIFS to show you more about the ATP. Stay tuned for more ATP exercises coming soon in future posts!

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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 fitness center equipment videos Athletic Training Platform

Readiness and Durability: Better Movement Warmups for Fitness Training

I used to work at a golf course during my time as a teacher. It was a great way to spend my summers and be close to a game I truly enjoy playing. I mainly mowed greens and tees and dug a bunch of holes. I really enjoyed that time of my life very much. On all of the mowers there was a sign that read, “If this equipment can’t work, nor can you.” I think the message is self-explanatory: if the equipment is not properly cared for, it is a very good possibility it will stop working, leading to loss of productivity and failure to complete the job.

I believe the same can be said for our approach to preparing the body for training so that the body (equipment) can work when you need it to accomplish the job at hand. The most critical step in this process is changing the perception of the “warmup” as a secondary or unnecessary part of a training program—something you can skip if you are short on time. In actuality, warmups should be a major part of your training program (if you are truly looking for results, that is).

Long ago I adopted, both for the people I work with and for my personal workouts, a process from a great coach on preparing the body for work. It involves four exercises in four major categories of movement preparation: mobility, stability, core engagement, and loco-motor (dynamic stretches and small plyometrics). For obvious reasons, this is referred to as a 4x4 approach to physical readiness and preparation.

Mobility Drills

Mobility drills refers to the exercises aimed at gaining and enhancing the range of motion in a particular joint. With a joint-by-joint, ground-up approach, these drills typically work to tackle mobility of the ankle, hip, thoracic and cervical spine, and shoulder. Here at NIFS, we work to mobilize movement patterns that involve these joints, and others, which we evaluate in a Functional Movement Screen.

Here are just two of my favorite mobility drills:

i. 1/2K—Abducted T-Spine Rotation
ii. Dynamic Pigeon—Knee & Foot

 
 
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Stability Drills

These drills work to help stabilize the mobility you just gained with the preceding drills. A mobile joint is a great start, but then you must stabilize it with exercises that will aid in alignment and strength of the joint. These exercises are generally used immediately after the mobility work to help in the retention of the alignment and position we are hoping to obtain. Check out a couple of these drills that you can add to your 4x4 warmup.

i. Band Lat. Walks
ii. Split Squat w/ Band Pull-apart

 
 
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Core Drills

Exercises in this phase of our preparation are to “fire up” the core to stabilize the trunk before loading the body with all the great tools we use in strength training and conditioning. A common practice is to save the “ab work” for last during your training session, which is all fine and good, but adding these to your 4x4 work before a weight is lifted can help your performance. A strong, “awake” center will keep you safe during your exercises and allow you to get the most out of them at the same time.

i. Foam Roller Dead Bug with Ext.
ii. Side plank and row

 
 
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Loco-motor Drills

After mobilizing and stabilizing the system, now it’s time to energize it! These drills are used to increase the body and tissue temperature that will prepare your body for the strength and conditioning work that lies ahead. These drills are typically fast and fun, and can combine some dynamic stretching with basic calisthenics. These can be as simple as a jumping jack or lateral lunges, or these two gems:

i. Snowboarders
ii. Sprinter Lunge

 
 
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***

To prepare your body for work and to limit the chances of injury, you must perform a proper warmup. No more skipping a major part of your training session! As soon as you begin to look at the 4x4 warmup as a must-do, the harder it will be to work without it.

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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: functional training core videos warmups mobility movement stability loco-motor drills

10-Minute Desk Exercise Routines for the Office

86490362Even though I work at a gym, I can still relate to people who work in an office setting sitting at a desk for several hours out of the day. On a typical day, I try to get in my workout before or after the work day, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen and I need to squeeze some movement into the middle of my day.

Getting up and moving around at the office doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t take a long time to get in movement that will truly make a difference.


Here are two 10-minute workouts you can do at your desk (or anywhere!) when time, space, and equipment are limited. Also, notice the exercises are hyperlinked—click the link for a video demonstration of the specific exercise.

10-Minute Total Body Desk Exercise Routine

Complete each exercise for 1 minute, resting when needed. Repeat the circuit of exercises twice through. Make sure to do some light stretching at your desk when you are finished!

10-Minute Cardio Blast Desk Exercises

Complete each exercise for 1 minute, resting when needed. Repeat the circuit of exercises twice through. Make sure to do some light stretching at your desk when you are finished!

Bring NIFS to work with you! Contact us about our Corporate Wellness Programs and bring fitness to your workplace. Contact Don Galante for more information at 317-274-3432 ext 234 or by email.

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, LES MILLS® certified BODYPUMP® and CXWORX® instructor and contributing writer. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: staying active workouts exercise at work desk exercise workplace fitness videos workplace wellness