Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fit Tip: Impact vs. Intensity

Many people confuse the terms “impact” and “intensity” when it comes to workouts. “Impact” refers to the force of your body used in a particular exercise, while “intensity” refers to the level of difficulty, focus and your power.  
High impact exercises include running, jogging, plyometrics (jumping) and other workouts where the body is making contact with, or pounding, the ground. Low impact exercises typically mean that one foot stays in contact with the ground, such as walking, climbing, riding a bike or pedaling the elliptical.
Since high impact exercises tend to put more stress on the joints – particularly ankles, knees, hips and backs – the good news is that low impact does not mean low intensity.
Follow this advice to find a low impact/high intensity workout that works for you:
Low impact can be high intensity. Another word for intensity is exertion – how hard you are working. When it comes to workouts, intensity also means raising your heart rate or your concentration level, which can happen concurrently while performing a low impact exercise. Add intensity to your workout by increasing your range of motion, increasing your speed, adding resistance, changing directions (moving forward/back/diagonal instead of stationary), ramping up your incline or moving your arms above your heart and head. 
Low impact/high intensity workouts:
  • Power walking and swimming are two excellent examples of low impact, high-intensity workouts that provide no impact on your joints. By adding short bursts of speed or an occasional steep hill to your walking workouts, you can increase the intensity of your workouts as well as your calorie burn.
  • Climbing stairs, riding a bike or pedaling an elliptical are all great low imapct workouts that can fall into the high intensity category depending on your effort. 
  • Try walking lunges while pressing hand weights overhead or side step with deep squats and a resistance band around the ankles.  
  • Don’t forget dancing and aerobics, which usually incorporate lots of overhead arms and movement using large ranges of motion.   
Benefits of low impact/high intensity workouts.  If you want to get in a good workout, increase your calorie burn and get your heart rate up without all of the jumping and pounding on the ground, try a low impact/high intensity workout.  Protect your joints, but push yourself to work hard.  Don’t use the excuse that you can’t increase your heart rate because your body can’t take the high intensity pounding anymore. Instead, work your mental muscles and push yourself to achieve!

This Fit Tip was brought to you by Life Fitness

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fit Tip: Track Your Health for Better Results

Documenting diet and exercise can go a long way in helping you stick to a fitness regimen. Whether you use pen and paper or a smartphone, documenting your health and fitness routines is an essential part of getting and staying fit. Use these tips from  to stay on track, even during the holiday season.
Log your exercise. You can use a monthly calendar or go high tech with tools like theLife Fitness LFconnect site. The site and mobile app allow exercisers to create and track their workouts and view progress over time. Remember to record both your cardio and strength training routines for a full picture.
Keep a food journal. You can go online and track what you eat through sites like MyFitnessPal and apps like Lose It!, or keep a notebook and write down what you eat every day. Keeping a food journal makes you more aware of what you are putting in your mouth, because you know you have to write it down later. Use your food journal to see how you are doing. Are you eating five servings of fruits and veggies most days? Are you eating too much at certain times of the day? Understanding your problem areas is essential to improvement. 
Track triggers. Be your own support system. Write down times or days when you have trouble eating healthy and see if you can identify any patterns. When do you stress eat? Keep a log of what triggers you. Eventually you can predict when you might emotionally eat and arm yourself with other choices.
Follow your vitals. Keep a list of health stats from doctor appointments and see if you can improve those as well. Weight is the easiest and most visible, but doesn’t give a full picture of your health. For example, you can take note of your HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood glucose to get a better understanding of your health over time.
People who track their diet and fitness have more success than those who don’t. Documenting helps you visualize the change you are creating in your life, so get tracking.

This Fit Tip was brought to you by Life Fitness 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fit Tip: Family Fitness for the Holidays

It might feel like you gain weight just thinking about the holidays, but don’t despair. The holidays don’t have to end up making you feel as big as Santa Claus. You can enjoy the turkey of Thanksgiving all the way to the champagne of New Year’s (and the holidays in between) by using these tips along the way.
Get your family moving.  Weight is always an equation of calories in vs. calories out, so encourage your entire family to be active even in down times. Hop on the treadmill during your favorite holiday TV shows or movies. Park farther away at the stores, mall or post office and take the stairs with your packages. Better yet, get your workouts at the gym in early in the morning before you get derailed by holiday hoopla.
Turn shopping into a family sport. Zigzag the mall to get all the gifts on your list, take the stairs, and skip the escalators and elevators. Calorie burn can triple for each minute of stair climbing vs. mall walking, so take the stairs whenever you can. And while you are at it, do some arm curls with all of those gift bags in hand.
Eat before the party.  Never starve yourself before a holiday party. The hungrier you are, the less capable you are of staying in control. Eat a protein-based snack before the party begins and avoid the grazing mentality at parties. Take a plate and fill it only once with appetizers. Grazing can result in a major caloric disaster.
Escape the sedentary couch routine. Step away from the living room and invite family and friends to get active. Get out and power walk to check out the neighborhood holiday lights. If you have a video gaming system like the Wii-Fit or the Kinect for the Xbox, use it to get a family competition going. Choose gifts that encourage venturing outdoors, such as sleds, ice skates and snowshoes, or surprise family with some new fitness equipment for your home.
The holidays don’t have to mean lights out on your fitness regimen. Just stay smart and the festivities won’t derail your health.

Brought to you by by Life Fitness

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Three Ways to Boost your Metabolism

Everyone seems to understand the basics of losing weight: calories in versus calories out. However, we all have met those people that seem to eat whatever they want and don’t gain a pound. They claim, “I have a fast metabolism!” -- which may be true in your twenties and possibly your thirties but the quality and quantity of fuel you intake will build your body’s infrastructure (like it or not) to reflect these choices at some point over the years.
What is metabolism?
Metabolism is the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. Translation: The amount of calories you need to breathe, eat, sleep and function on a daily basis.
How can I boost my metabolism?
1. Eat breakfast
Fueling your body first thing in the morning isn’t just for school age children. Skipping breakfast actually slows our metabolism during the day and increases our hunger and appetite later in the afternoon. Slower calorie burn, slower reaction times and high calorie craving later in the day are the result.
Tip: Try simple breakfast ideas like quick oatmeal or cholesterol free scramblers like Egg Beaters 100% Egg Whites.
2. Muscle Up
You don’t have to be a body builder to have a lean muscle to fat tissue ratio. Leaner bodies have higher metabolic rates. Muscles burn calories - fat doesn’t. Muscle also burns calories while you sleep while fat doesn’t.
Tip: Incorporate body weight training programs in addition to your cardio routine
3. Move it
Exercise doesn’t just burn calories, but also improves metabolic rate even after you’ve stopped moving. When your body needs more fuel to move, it first uses the fast energy stores of “sugar/glycogen” in your muscles. Once these fuel centers start to deplete, the body has to break down fat for energy, which it has to work even harder to do. But the best part is, when you stop moving, the body has to work to replace that muscle by burning up more fat and restoring the muscles with more sugar/glycogen to be ready for the next workout. That “after burn” is revving up the metabolism.
Tip: Try something new to challenge yourself or work out with a partner to get some healthy competition going.

Brought to you by LifeFitness

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fit Tip: Crunches Do Not a Six Pack Make

Somewhere far, far away, there is a magical gym where there’s never a wait for a cardio machine at 6:30pm, the bootcamp instructor never raises his voice above a whisper, and jiggling upper arms instantly tighten up after just one biceps curl.  This mythical place is called Imaginary Fitness Land, and it, like spot-training to burn fat, doesn’t exist.

Welcome to the real world, where workout results take time, energy, and variety, and where our body’s ability to eliminate fat, and which specific areas it will eliminate fat from, are influenced by age, genetics, hormones, and some other factors beyond our control.

Luckily, we can control the fat-melting effectiveness of a cardio workout, so keep this real-world advice in mind to maximize your results. 

Two’s company. Combine fat-reducing cardio exercise with a consistent strength training program to tone and sculpt your muscles. Although spot-training won’t work for burning fat, spot-sculpting will tighten and tone the areas where you want to show off your results. Focus on a specific group of muscles during your strength training routines.

Add instability. Use the BOSU ball, balance disk, or wobble board to throw off your balance and force your core muscles to work overtime. With a strong core, you’ll be able to take on more challenging workouts, and achieve success faster.

Pilates, please. Heralded as the secret behind tons of toned tummies, a Pilates mat workout provides an effective ab routine when you want to add some necessary variety to your exercise program. Pilates utilizes very focused and specific movements, so find an instructor to get you started. 

Intensify. Interval training is a great way to incorporate high-intensity exercise into your workouts. Start with 30 seconds of jogging followed by 2-3 minute of walking, then repeat for 30 minutes. Once you can complete the program with ease, lengthen the jogging intervals. Your increased intensity and elevated heart rate will result in more calories burned and a smaller waist line.
The trick to getting the fit, sculpted body you want is to be realistic. If you have overall body fat to lose, you aren't going to see washboard abs without eliminating that excess insulation first.

Brought to you by Life Fitness

Friday, November 9, 2012

Top 5 Things to Look For In a Personal Trainer

For some people, working out feels natural, almost like an addiction. Not for this girl. Every day I beg myself – Please go work out, please go work out. And, if you’re like me, who better to push you than a trainer?
I mix personal trainers into my weekly workout routine to keep me on task, teach me new things and hold me accountable when I start skipping my lunges. Here are some things to look for when  choosing a personal trainer:

  1. Honesty: Make sure you can trust your personal trainer, because hearing the truth is the only way to improve and make progress. Don’t pick a trainer who tells you look bad when you don’t, but find a trainer that has the guts to point out the obvious. When I first met my trainer she complimented some things, but also pointed out my problem areas with blunt force. I laughed, considered her suggestions, and thanked god someone had the guts to tell me. I knew we were on the right track.

  2. Creativity: Find a trainer who knows how to mix up the workout on the fly. If you feel like they are following a play card, you’ll realize you could do that yourself. You want a person that will come up with interesting workout ideas when, on any particular day, you have a new area you want to target. Once I was put on a Pilates trapeze. Was it graceful? Absolutely not. But I had a blast and I worked out just a little bit longer because it was so different

  3. Balance: A personal trainer should push you beyond what you personally thought your limits were. If a session feels too comfortable, you won’t see results and will stop coming back. But, he or she should find balance and be aware of your limits. If you feel like someone is always pushing you to a point of instability  you’ll dread your sessions and start to skip them. Find someone that can give you a good mix.

  4. Attention to Detail: I need a trainer who won’t let me get away with the wrong body position and forces me to do it right. You can do ab work for practically hours if you’re doing it incorrectly. Get someone who notices the subtle differences in your positioning and it will make a huge difference long-term.

  5. Attitude: Find a trainer who you enjoy being around. Personally, the cheerleader-type would exhaust me during a 6 a.m. workout and the drill sergeant type would terrify me. I like someone who can keep on task but is also pleasant. Positive reinforcement will keep you excited to do better with each workout. 
It’s not easy to find a trainer that fits you just right. If you’re having trouble, ask your gym for advice on which person might work best with your style. And if you don’t have a good fit at the moment, there are ways move on from the relationship gracefully. I love this post with tips on breaking up with your personal trainer. 
If you’ve found your dream personal trainer, make sure they know. Simply telling them can help to make the relationship stronger and feel more personal. But you can also nominate them for the Life Fitness Personal Trainers to Watch Awards to recognize them in a bigger way.
 Brought to you by LifeFitness

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fit Tip: Ski Season Training

We all know that apr├Ęs ski activities consist of sipping hot chocolate next to a roaring fire in a Navajo-print jacket, but what about avant (before) ski? Skiing and snowboarding are physically demanding sports and optimal conditions occur at high elevations (less oxygen) and in cold temperatures, but it’s also fun and a great way to get your heart rate up during those winter months. Whether you are a Blue Circle bunny or a Double Black Diamond Slalom, uh, mogul, you may want to do some ‘pre-season training’ to prepare before you hit the slopes, focusing on these four areas: 
Stamina.  Optimize your cardiovascular strength so you can schuss all day. Higher elevations and cold weather put extra strain on your lungs, so do some interval training on a treadmill or elliptical machine to challenge your heart rate and improve your oxygen intake capacity. Begin with at least 3 days a week for a half hour and increase the time, frequency, and intensity over time so you are in prime condition to conquer the mountain.
Core. Core strength is key for skiing. A tight, stable core allows you to control your movements with more precision. Simple exercises such as bicycles on the floor, back extensions, and full body roll ups or crunches on an exercise ball will benefit your core and therefore your skiing abilities.
Balance. All Carvaholics know where to find their CM (that’s ski slang for Center of Mass). Improve reaction time and agility by taking advantage of the balance-training aids available at the health club or for the home, such as a Bosu ball. Begin by balancing on one foot and progress up to balancing on the Bosu ball itself.  Take it a step further and try squats and plyometric drills on the Bosu ball.
Flexibility. Yoga not only keeps you limber but improves your mental focus and breathing techniques. Yoga can help protect against injury by addressing muscle imbalances and improving flexibility, so try out a beginner-level class and work your way up. The positive influences that yoga can have on your skiing (and other athletic activities) may surprise you.

This Fit Tip was brought to you by Lifefitness