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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Step Class: Step Up to a New Level of Fitness!

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Whether you are 18 or 80, man or woman, looking to lose weight or simply maintain, step class just might be the perfect addition to your fitness program. Have you ever considered taking a step class? Perhaps you have found yourself thinking, "I'm not coordinated enough," or “that's too intense for me (or not intense enough"). Well, give me two minutes to change your mind.

Does It Burn Calories?

The bottom line is, stepping up and down off of a raised platform burns calories. In fact, it burns a lot of calories. According to Self magazine, stepping up and down off of a raised platform burns more calories than doing jumping jacks, split lunges, power squats, or speed skating for the same length of time. A great exercise for weight loss? YES! Great way to maintain weight? YOU BET!

Am I Coordinated Enough?

Maybe you’re thinking that you lack the required coordination. But the reality of it is, if you can march in place, you can do step. The basic step is just that: basic. Up, up, down, down. Of course that move would get boring pretty quickly, so we add music, rhythm, and variations on that basic move. While it helps to have a little rhythm (can you clap your hands to the beat of a song?), anyone can step. It might take a few classes to really get the hang of it, but it is quite doable, and FUN! Don't be intimidated!

There is a first time for everything. At some point, every single person in the class, including the instructor, attended their very first step class. I’m not gonna lie, you probably won't pick up every single thing in the first class you take, but let's face it: what would be the fun of mastering it in the first hour? Half the fun is seeing yourself improve, seeing your cardiovascular fitness level improve, and becoming more efficient overall (more work with less effort). Step will get you there!

STEP_2019Is It Too Intense?

You might be thinking that step would be too hard or too intense for you. While step is designed to be a challenging cardio workout, the intensity level can be adjusted in a number of ways to meet the needs of each participant.

  • The height of the platform is not uniform; with use of individual risers at each end, the platform can be set as low as just a few inches off the floor (or as high as 8–12 inches).
  • Another easy adjustment, which your instructor will show you, is to limit your range of movement with each step. As you become more comfortable with the format, you will be able to add intensity by increasing range of motion with the steps, and by adding arm movements to further increase your heart rate. Because of this, the challenge never ends. There is no plateau.

Is It Not Intense Enough?

On the flip side, maybe you are thinking step is not intense enough. Perhaps you’re thinking that only girls take step, or that you are too fit to benefit from it. Regardless of your fitness level, step can be a very challenging cardiovascular workout. It is a well-known fact that the US military utilizes step aerobics to improve our troops' agility, coordination, and endurance. If it's tough enough for our soldiers, then it's tough enough for me! In addition to step, I also teach Insanity, total-body conditioning, and kickboxing classes. Step meets or exceeds these other formats in intensity level and calories burned per hour.

Step is the perfect group fitness format because it accommodates all fitness levels. (And if you haven't tried group fitness, well that's a whole other conversation.) But in short, try it! The camaraderie and accountability among the participants, the music, and the FUN factor will have you hooked!

So, are you ready to take your fitness regimen to the next STEP? See you in class soon, soon, soon!

Yours in fitness,
Rachel

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This blog was written by Rachel Pfeiffer, ACE and AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and proud NIFS Step instructor since 1999.

Topics: cardio group fitness step class workout plan physical fitness

Finding the Right Workout Program (with Some Help from NIFS)

GettyImages-641793510When I discuss working out and fitness with others, one question that I normally ask is, “What are your goals?” and “What does your training look like?” Most times, there will be two responses. The first is from people who are casually exercising without a plan. If you are currently this type of person, don’t get me wrong, it’s good that you are being active, but what if I told you that there is a quicker way to achieve the results that you want?

The second response I often hear is from people who write their own programs. At times they get frustrated because they’re not seeing the results that they want. I love seeing people take the initiative to chase their fitness goals, but why leave results on the table when you have great resources at your disposal?

Three Tips for Choosing an Exercise Program

In general, here are three things I consider when I decide what programming to follow.

  • Solidify your goals. I am a big proponent of writing down your goals and posting them somewhere that will constantly remind me of them. I like to post my goals on the refrigerator and on social media; this helps hold me accountable as I have a tangible reminder of my goals and the intangible support from others.
  • Cross-reference available material. I make it a point to cross reference several sources or training methods to see whether a program will really add to my ability to achieve my goal. Always make sure you ask “why” you are doing something as well. Understanding the deeper meaning behind my programming motivates me to work harder, knowing that I have invested myself in something worthwhile.
  • Make sure it’s FUN! I am much more likely to stick to my programming if I find it enjoyable. Myriad training styles will help you accomplish your goals, so pick the one that you will enjoy and adhere to.

NIFS and Your Fitness Goal-Setting

NIFS offers several ways to help you get a jump-start on achieving your goals. The staff members and personal trainers at NIFS are degreed individuals in the exercise science field and have a variety of certifications; they use this knowledge to program workouts that are effective and fun. With an extensive knowledge of exercise physiology and biomechanics, their ever-growing toolbox is full of ways to get you closer to your fitness goals. Having an expert by your side is always an advantage!

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Picking a program can seem daunting at first, but when you use the right resources, you will pave your pathway to success!

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This blog was written by David Martin. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS goal setting accountability nifs staff fitness goals workout plan

Get with the Program: 5 Benefits of Having an Exercise Plan

IMG_0653-1“Success favors the prepared” is one of my favorite quotes highlighting what it takes to be successful in life and any pursuit that interests you. Without preparation and planning, effort and action really have no direction, which can result in you being lost. I would also offer that a misguided workout plan, although it’s a plan you didn’t have before, can be just as detrimental to your success. So having an exercise plan is really important, but having a solid and well-thought-out plan is super important!

Don’t confuse movement with progress when it comes to your weekly and daily training. Getting to the gym is step one, but what you do with your time there will be the difference between achievement and disappointment. We don’t usually argue the benefits of writing down your goals; it’s important and can usually lead to reaching those goals. You have heard me say many times “if you think it, ink it.” Why don’t we do that with our exercise programs? Goals give you your destination; your training program is the roadmap that can get you there. A well-designed map can get you there more quickly and safely.

So get with the program! Or should I say, get with a professional about your program. A well-trained and educated coach’s eye can be a game changer when working toward your fitness goals. The guidance they can provide is crucial to your development and ability to reach new heights. Named number 6 on the ACSM 2018 fitness trends list, educated and experienced fitness professionals remain an important commodity to you and the rest of the public. Utilize them!

And here are five more benefits of following an exercise program that is designed specifically for you by a fitness pro.

No More Guessing

Having a plan of attack takes the guesswork out of your workout. Fitness centers can be overwhelming at times; and with the amount of information and opinions that are out there, without a plan you could find yourself kind of meandering around not getting a lot of work done. I also think that not having a clear direction can lead to low confidence, resulting in an increased rate of giving up. Getting a program is not just a list of great exercises to do; it can act as your ticket to an “I CAN DO IT” mindset instead of “I don’t know what to do, so I’ll skip it today.” Which mindset do you think is the more successful one?

Proper Techniques and Principles: Injury Prevention

GT3“Move well then move often” is a great quote from the folks over at FMS and one that we carry as our motto around here. Performing exercises correctly that are based on safe and proper movement principles will be the difference between reaching your goals and being laid up for weeks because of an injury due to improper technique or progression. You can’t work if you are injured, and no one should be injured in fitness. But people get hurt all the time due to improper exercise technique and poor guidance. And if you don’t get hurt, you will definitely not receive all the great benefits of an exercise if you are performing it poorly. A great coach can design a program and provide the technical support you need to execute it well. Move well, move often! You get only one body; don’t you want to keep it running for a long time?

Progress Tracking

With a personal program design, you have your record-keeping right in front of you. Whether you are a paper-and-pencil person or a tech-savvy individual, logging your exercises, loads, intensity levels, and rate of perceived exertion is the best way to keep an eye on your progress. And believe me, when you see the weights go up, so does your confidence level and positive mindset.

Just as you wrote out your goals and the benefits of that process, logging your efforts is the next step. How do you know you are heading in the right direction if you don’t document the journey? Seeing is believing, and what better way to see the progress than to log the important variables that make up your program?

Keeping It Fresh

A great fitness pro will be able to design programming for you that is always progressing as you do, and will include different exercises and intensities to continually add new challenges. New stimulus equals new results; that’s just how the body works. After a certain amount of time, your body will no longer have to adapt to the previous stimulus, and with no adaption, there are no results. Also, keeping your program evolving will increase the enjoyment factor, leading to greater adherence to the exercise program. Nobody wants to do the same old thing over and over again. If variety is the spice of life, let a new fitness program be the chili powder!

Challenge Preconceived Limits

One of the main jobs of a great coach is to demonstrate to an individual that they are far more capable than their mindset tells them. A personal fitness program that includes all of the above, designed specifically for you, will take you out of that box you have been living in and prove to you that you are stronger than anyone (including yourself) gave you credit for. I have worked with so many who believed that they were supposed to reside on an elliptical machine for their workout and prove to themselves that they are an athlete and love to move. Working with a fitness pro to develop your specific program can unlock the physical potential that has been waiting to be shown the world!

Most of us have heard the ageless quote from Ben Franklin: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” Without a proper fitness program that fits your needs and works toward your specific goals, failure is a very real outcome. Like most aspects of our lives, a solid plan of attack usually leads to success. Why should we treat our health and fitness differently? Get with the program and be ready for the results!

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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: injury prevention goals tracking fitness exercise plan workout plan fitness professional fitness program coach