Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What Works for Weight Loss: Negative or Positive Feedback?

A few weeks ago, TV broadcaster Jennifer Livingston in LaCrosse, Wis. defended herself against Mike Thompson, a viewer who criticized her for not being a responsible role model as an overweight, public personality. He asked her to reconsider her responsibility to promote a healthy lifestyle. Livingston made a public response where she said she’s more than a number on a scale, and that Mr. Thompson was out of line with his email. While the dust has settled on that exchange, the story brings to the surface a great weight loss question for discussion: What’s more motivating, positive or negative feedback?
Painful, but motivating? I’ve heard many people say that sometimes hearing the truth—even from strangers—can be painful, but motivating. Oftentimes people get so caught up with work, kids, stress and life that their personal health becomes the last thing they think about. Exercise, unfortunately, is the first thing that falls off of a daily routine when people are in a time crunch. When that happens it can take a jolt from an outsider to shine a light on their daily decisions and the toll they take on our health.
Is there a fine line? On the other hand, there’s a big difference between a friend encouraging you to exercise or keep food journals together versus a random email or online post from a stranger. It’s inappropriate to go around making judgments about people without knowing their story—or more importantly—them. It’s great to encourage family and friends to make healthy choices, as long as it is done in a respectful and encouraging way. It's never productive to only criticize.
Positive, but tough. I am wired toward the positive and have been since I was a kid.  Glass half full has been my motto forever and maybe I’m overly optimistic at times.  But, I believe you can attract more bees with honey. Having a positive mindset doesn’t mean I let people off the hook. I am positive and tough. People should be tough on themselves and get honest about the choices they are making and how those choices are impacting their health. I think people should take responsibility for their health. I am not into excuses. As a fitness trainer, there’s a balance to strike between encouragement and being tough. I do believe that those four words, “I don’t have time” are worthless and I tell my clients to switch those four words to this: “I choose to do something else I feel is more important.” Ouch! It’s a bit of a reality check. Are your health and happiness not important? I have always believed that in order for people to keep a habit, they have to enjoy it.
What motivates you to live a healthier life? Are you the kind of person who would rather have a trainer screaming in your face or someone smiling and encouraging you?
Comment and let us know! 
 Brought to you by LifeFitness

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fit Tip: Multi-Machine Cardio Workouts

exercise xenophobe (noun): 1. Any individual who works out on the same machine every day and is comfortable with their current workout. 2. An exerciser who avoids trying out an unfamiliar machine. See also: In an exercise rut.
Ok, that is a fictional term. But repeating the same cardio routine every day is getting a little dull, right? Not to worry; this 30 minute triple cardio workout is guaranteed to put some pep in your step. Simply spend ten minutes on three different cardio machines for a workout that will spice up any routine.
Try something newMake like Magellan and go exploring. Have you steered clear of the Summit Trainer or avoided the cardio rowing machine in favor of a familiar treadmill?  Conquer the foreign territory of a new piece of equipment by committing to a 10 minute session.  Using your muscles in a different way will reinvigorate your mind, too. Here’s a triple workout to try: Start with three minutes of walking to warm up, followed by seven minutes of walking at a fast pace on the treadmill. Then switch to the elliptical cross-trainer for the next ten minutes. Finally, hop onto an upright bike and pedal briskly for seven minutes, and decrease your speed for three minutes to cool down.  
Throw a wrench in it. Once you’ve acquainted yourself with each different cardio machine, change up your program to combat boredom and stave off humdrum-ness. Jack up the incline or add hand weights to your walking workout on the treadmill. Choose an elliptical with handlebars to get your upper body moving at the same time.  Try increasing the resistance on your stationary bike and make it a hill workout instead of a flat ride.
Minimize time to maximize results. Keeping your workout on each machine shorter in duration means you can pay more attention to your body and its movements instead of zoning out. Make the most of your limited time on each machine by pushing your intensity to achieve results.
Success, multiplied. Exercising on different pieces of equipment engages many more muscles than a workout on one machine would, including two of the most important muscles we have: our brains and our hearts.  Cardiovascular exercise improves heart health, and planning each new triple program will engage your mind as well.

This Fit-Tip was brought to you by LifeFitness

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fit Tip: Winterize Your Workout

It’s easy to see why people enjoy working out alfresco, whether you are challenging your friends to a pick-up game of volleyball at the beach, testing the strength of a carabiner on the side of a cliff, or jogging with your dog. But, there will undoubtedly be at least a few days this winter season when Jack Frost’s arctic temperature or dangerous, icy terrain will force even the most stalwart outdoor exercise enthusiast inside. That’s no reason to hibernate. Beat the winter blues (and blahs) with these brrrrrilliant tips from Life Fitness.
Bring the Outside In:  Many of your outdoor workouts can be tweaked to function inside. Try transitioning from outdoor boot camp to circuit training on the Cable Motion Dual Adjustable Pulley machine. Take advantage of Lifescape interactive courses, which will transport you to exotic locales across the globe and are available on Life Fitness Elevation Series Treadmills, Cross Trainers, and bikes.
Make a “hot” new playlist: Few things can shake up an otherwise dull workout like some new music. Harness the transformative powers of music by stocking your list with tracks that evoke warm weather and summertime celebrations. Need some inspiration? Start with Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer”, Buster Poindexter’s “Hot! Hot! Hot!”, and the ubiquitous summer 2012 anthem, “Call Me Maybe”.
Try a new class: Winter is the perfect opportunity to try out a new class and a new way to work out your body.  Group fitness or small group personal training also helps motivate you to show up for the camaraderie, the fun, and the benefits that accompany working out with a pro.  Plus, you may meet some workout buddies to help you greet the spring thaw.
Get in the zone: If you are used to high intensity, strenuous outdoor workouts, you may think it’s impossible to achieve similar results inside.  Try preprogrammed cardio machine workouts that simulate hills and/or intervals and customize the settings to push you both aerobically and anaerobically.  Don’t forget to use a Heart Rate Monitor; keeping track of your zones will ensure you are working hard enough but not overdoing it. 

This Fit-Tip was brought to you by Life Fitness

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ask the Trainer: Am I sweating too much?

You’ve asked and we’ve got the answers to your most pressing summer workout questions. Have a question you want answered by the Life Fitness Academy trainers in future posts? Leave a comment below!
Q: Am I sweating too much or not enough?
A: Did you know there are two to four million sweat glands throughout the body? Sweat is essential to survival and serves as the body’s cooling mechanism. Everyone is unique in how much or how little they sweat based on how active their sweat glands are. There are four factors that can affect the amount: messages from the brain that tell your body it’s overheated, hormones, emotions and physical activity. Instead of worrying about the amount of sweat, pay attention to your hydration level, especially when exercising during the hot summer months. The easiest way to measure how much you sweat and how much water you lose, is to weigh yourself without clothes before an hour of exercise. After that hour, weigh yourself without clothes again. For each pound lost, you lost approximately 16 oz. of fluid. Focus on staying hydrated and replenishing the fluids and electrolytes lost during your workout.
Q: When is it too hot to exercise outside?
A: The heat index tells you what the temperature feels like when combining the air temperature and the relative humidity. For example, if the air temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity is 70 percent, then it's going to feel as if it's 106 degrees. Most NCAA athletic trainers will not recommend exercising outside when the heat index is greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Check your local weather station to determine your heat index.

Brought to you by Life Fitness

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fit Tip: Improve Your Speed; Improve Your Game

The difference between catching and missing that long touchdown pass (or the train for your morning commute) comes down to only seconds and inches, but can end up costing a lot more.  Put some hustle behind your muscle and improve your overall speed with these easy and quick tips.
Do Strength Training. View your body as an engine: more horsepower means quicker acceleration and faster speeds overall. Focus on building strength throughout your lower body with calf raises, squats, lunges and leg presses, and pay special attention to your hip flexors.  Powerful hip flexors will improve your range of motion and are the key to sprinting faster. Try the Dual Adjustable Pulley machine for single leg and balance work. In addition to your lower body, strengthening your core will improve your speed, balance, and agility by fortifying the connection between the muscles of the upper and lower body.
Do Plyometrics. Plyometric training involves high-intensity, explosive muscular contractions, which enables your muscles to exert maximum force in the shortest amount of time possible, thereby improving your speed. Pre-stretch your muscles and then harness their maximum force by utilizing jumping, bounding, and hopping movements. Jumping jacks, split jumps, squat jumps and box jumps will torch calories and build lean muscle while helping you log faster times.
Do Intervals. Amp up your overall speed with interval training, which alternates short, high intensity bursts of speed with slower recovery phases in a single workout. Interval training will enhance your cardiovascular capacity (the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles) and ultimately leads to increased acceleration and speed.
Put on the Brakes. Speed is more than just a mad, reckless dash. As an athlete, maintaining control over your movements and agility is paramount to your performance. You can’t stop and turn on a dime with your legs flailing wildly beneath you, right? The key to slowing down is to have flexible legs, bent knees and lowered hips. Staying low will occur naturally if you are strong enough. Practice flexibility training multiple times per week.  Warm up before workouts with dynamic movements and cool down with static stretches. 

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fit Tip: Strength Training Technique

Do you ever cringe when you see someone lifting weights because their form is so bad, you can almost predict a disaster? Well, your concern is warranted. Lack of proper technique can lead to all sorts of injuries including sprains, strains, fractures and more.
If you or someone you know needs a little refresher about strength training technique and form, follow these tips.
Stand up tall and breathe. Posture is important. Stand tall with your chin up, chest lifted and shoulders up, back and down. Don’t hunch over or hold tension in your neck. Contract your abs during strength training to protect your lower back. And make sure you breathe instead of holding your breath, exhaling on the exertion.  
Use muscle not momentum. Don’t use momentum to lift weights – engage your muscles. Avoid swinging the weights and instead lift and lower with purpose through the range of motion. You will activate more muscle fibers and get better results. As a rule of thumb, if you cannot lift a weight without swinging it, it is too heavy.
Solicit help.  If using machines, take a quick look at the placard on the machine. Read the instructions and understand which muscle(s) you will be using. If you are using free weights and have questions about your knee positioning or arm movement, consult a personal trainer or take a group fitness strength class to get tips for proper technique.
Use all muscle groups. One of the most efficient ways to build muscle is to do compound exercises—those that work more than one muscle group at a time. For example, a walking lunge requires multiple muscle groups such as your quads, glutes, hip flexors and hamstrings. Throw in a bicep curl as you do each lunge and now you are also working your biceps.
Make sure you feel it. If you aren’t feeling anything after 12-15 reps, the weight or resistance is probably too light. Change up your weight or the machine so that after 12 reps you are feeling fatigue. Listen to your body and make sure to differentiate between muscle pain and muscle fatigue. Muscle pain is “ouch that really hurts”.  Muscle fatigue is “wow I’m getting tired, can barely do another rep”.  Never work through intense pain.
When strength training, make sure to alternate the muscles you are working out. If you are sore, allow a day or two of recovery before working those muscle groups again. Aim to get in some strength training two to three times every week.

This Fit-Tip was brought to you by Life Fitness

Thursday, October 4, 2012

10 Ways to Burn 100 Calories

Anything that gets you up and moving is good for your health, so try incorporating some of these 10 ways to burn 100 calories into your daily routine.

1. Vacuuming: 25 minutes
Use good posture and stand tall instead of bent over to engage your tummy muscles. Alternate arms on the push and pulling of the movement. 
Focus: Arms

2. Walking: 15 minutes
Along with the calorie burn, taking a brisk walk 2-3 times a day can also help lower stress levels. Be sure to push off your big toe and take larger strides while swinging your arms.
Focus:  Legs
3. Gardening: 15 minutes
Bending, standing, pulling weeds and digging in the dirt is a great total body workout. Remember to use a knee pad while kneeling and avoid being bent over from the waistline to steer clear of back pain. 
Focus: Total Body

4. Biking (10 mph on a flat surface): 40 minutes
Because you're not bearing weight in your legs, you'll burn less calories riding a bike than walking. However, the time can really fly by on a bike outdoors and you might even use it to head to and from work or the grocery store to incorporate its benefits into your week.
Focus: Lower Body

5. Swimming: 15 minutes
Swimming is great for the joints and can produce great toning effects.  Alternate strokes to change muscles group every five laps. 
Focus: Total Body

6. Stairs: 20 minutes
You'll find that stair climbing can boost your cardiovascular conditioning faster than going out for a run. Remember to use your arms on the hand rails to pull your body up instead of just pushing up from each stair. Going down is more challenging on the joints, so try side stepping. 
Focus: Legs and Hearth

7. Pushing the stroller: 20 minutes
Take the baby out not only for the calorie burn, but for fresh air as well. Focus on lightly holding onto the stroller with a firm grip and standing upright.
Focus: Lower body

8. Dancing: 20 minutes
Dancing has taken center stage with the celebrity competitions and classes like Zumba and Jazzercise, but you don’t have to be at the gym or on a reality show to benefit from dancing. Just put on some music and let your body start moving.
Focus: Total Body

9. Volleyball: 12 minutes
Volleyball is a fun, outdoor activity that can burn calories too. Play in the sand and burn a few extra calories!
Focus: Arms

10. Kissing: 90 minutes
While kissing may improve your love life, it won't burn calories as much as other activities you can do. But it's at least nice to know you can still burn a few while igniting your life.
Focus: Relationship

This fit-tip was brought to you by Life Fitness

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fit Tip: Cardio Exercise Technique

Don’t cheat your body of a good workout by using poor form. Avoid the mistakes that can affect your workout results and cause injury by focusing on your technique. Next time you go for or a run or jump on the treadmill, keep in mind these dos and don’ts of cardio exercise technique.

  • Don’t slump over the treadmill or elliptical, holding on for dear life. Your hands only belong on the equipment for balance and not support. When you use the equipment as your prop, you are not burning optimal calories and you aren’t effectively working your lower body. Plus, you are putting unnecessary strain on your wrists and back by leaning into the equipment.
  • Do straighten up your back, look straight ahead, rest your hands lightly on the rails and get the most out of your workout.
  • Don’t shorten your steps on the treadmill or tip-toe on the summit trainer. Fast and furious doesn’t necessarily equal a better workout. These shallow steps can reduce the benefits of your workout. 
  • Do think full range of motion. Taking longer, comfortable strides work the large muscle groups in your legs and burn even more calories in the long run.
  • Don’t get too comfortable with your routine. Becoming adept at your routine is a good thing. Getting to the point where you can do it in your sleep is not. Remember, your muscles can become as bored as your mind.
  • Do increase the incline or speed on the treadmill or do a different pre-programmed workout on that elliptical trainer for a change. Challenge your muscles and make sure you aren’t stuck in auto-pilot where you won’t make progress to a strong fit body.
  • Don’t hold your breath or take shallow breathes while doing your cardio. Your muscles need oxygen to keep moving.
  • Do take deep breaths and allow air in through both your mouth and nose when you are walking or running.  Use the "talk test" to figure out if your pace is appropriate. If you are a beginner, you should be able to speak a sentence or two without gasping for air. If you are feeling breathless, slow the pace slightly and focus on deep breaths.   
Follow these tips for good form and get a great cardio workout. 

 This fit-tip was brought to you by Life-Fitness on  10/02/12