Friday, April 30, 2010

Fitness inspiration

Being fit is something that requires dedication. It can be difficult to at times to stay focused, even for a fitness professional. So, how have I done it for so many years? I find inspiration to be fit in just about everything. This is something I learned, not something I was born with. That means, you can learn it too!

Here's an example. When I worked as a full time ballroom dance instructor, I was surprised to find that most of my colleagues didn't work out.

Sure, dancing was great exercise. But I looked at it like this: I wanted to be fit so I could be focus on my job. I wanted the dancing not to be the workout so I could put my focus on my technique and on my students I taught. I was inspired to be as fit as possible to be better at my job.

It's the same now that I'm a trainer and group fitness instructor. I enjoy staying fit so that when I work with clients or groups, it's easy for me. That way, I can put my focus on my clients rather than on how hard I'm working.

I've noticed that a lot of people have a different view than I do. I think most people would say that having an active job is enough. I see it the opposite. I want to be as fit as possible so my job is easy. It's just a matter of adjusting the view point.

What's your view point? Maybe you don't have an active job, most people don't. Do you have kids? Stay active and fit for them. Kids are little bundles of energy and they require us to have energy, too.

Find your inspiration in whatever your circumstances are and stay fit for your life!

What inspires you to stay fit? Share you secrets with us!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Push ups: a closer look

Push ups; what do you think when you hear those two words? If you're a beginner exerciser, maybe you think push ups are only for the elite, very fit athlete.

Wrong! Push ups are for everyone, from the beginner to the advanced exerciser and are a great addition to any workout routine.

Let's take a closer look.

Benefits: Why are they so great? First, you can do push ups anywhere. You don't need any equipment and little space. Second, if done properly, push ups strengthen not just the upper body, but they give a great core workout, and can help strengthen the lower body as well.

Muscles worked: The main muscle group is the chest, but it also strengthens the triceps and deltoids (anterior). By stabilizing and holding proper form, your upper back, core (torso) will also benefit. If you are performing push ups on the toes, the quads will come into play a little.

Technique: Get on the floor facing down (prone). Start with arms straight, hands on the floor at chest level and slightly wider than shoulder width apart.

From head to toe (or, if you're doing them on the knees, head to knees) keep your body straight. Pull the abs in tight, shoulder blades pulled back and down (if you were standing, this would be good standing posture).

Inhale, bend elbows, lowering your body toward the floor stopping when your chest is about 2-3 inches from the floor. Remember to keep the posture you started with.

Exhale and push back up to starting position. Repeat until they get very difficult but before your form breaks. 1-3 sets of 8-15 repetitions, 2-3 times per week will produce great benefits.

Where to start: If you're new to it, performing push ups on the knees instead of toes is a good place to start. If you're unable to keep your form while on the knees, you might try doing them against the wall.

Progression: Once they start getting easier, it's time to try them on the toes (see picture). Don't be afraid - they'll be difficult at first, but keep practicing!

No time like the present to start. Up and at 'em!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fitness Fun Indoors

Bad weather can bring us all down, especially if we've made plans to go outside. If you're anything like me, my weekends are filled with outdoor fitness activities. But when rain comes in and plans are ruined, what can we do to stay active?

Here are some ideas to stay active even when we can't get outside:

1. Have a library of exercise DVD's.
Get a wide variety so you have endless possibilities. You'll never get bored and you'll be well rounded in your fitness. You can pick up exercise DVD's just about anywhere, or go to collagevideo to find every possible type of fitness video you can imagine. They even have video previews you can watch.

2. Go shopping!
You don't have to be a senior to get fitness benefits from the mall. Get out there and get moving. Hey, maybe you'll find a cool outfit, too. Just stay away from the food court!

3. Find local indoor rock climbing clubs, skate clubs or indoor pools.
Why not put some fun back into your fitness?!
You may never have dreamed of being a rock climber, but try it! It's not as hard (or scary) as you might think, plus it's tons of fun and great exercise.
Remember going to the skating rink and pool when you were a kid? It was exercise, but it didn't seem like exercise. There are indoor pools (most high schools or colleges have open swims) and skating rinks all over, just waiting for you.

4. Break out the games.
Get the whole family involved and play games like Twister or Wii. I was shocked when my husband and I played a Wii game one evening and I woke up sore the next morning! It really gave me a workout...and I must admit, I had a fun time playing.

Don't let bad weather get you down. Be creative with your fitness and don't forget to have fun!

Need more ideas? We've got 'em here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

No Worries In Fitness

"Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" ~ Matthew 6:27

How does this apply to wellness & fitness? Let me give you an example. When I was in high school, I was extremely strict about my fitness routine and my nutrition, to the point where it was an obsession.

I exercised way too much. Besides going to school, it was pretty much all I did. I wouldn't eat anything with more than 2 grams of fat (try finding anything with less than 2g/fat!). I wouldn't go out to eat - ever. I didn't hang out with friends or family because I would worry about when I would workout next.

How does that sound to you? Sounds pretty horrible, right? It was. I was a self made prisoner of my own health. I worried constantly about fitness and was obsessed with control.

One day, I realized the exact thing I was striving for was making my life miserable! I was so unhappy because I was worried about my own body that I couldn't enjoy being healthy.

Years later, I work to help people find a happy medium so they can enjoy life in good health.

Where are you in all of this? Are you obsessive about exercising, freaked out if you miss a workout or eat a piece of pie once a month? It's easy to be that person...Or maybe you're someone who's tried to lose weight several times but have been unsuccessful and you're worried you'll never get the weight off.

We all need to strive to be our best. Our bodies want to be healthy and fit - but, if we worry about it too much we're sabotaging the exact thing we're working towards!

Have fun with your fitness. Be thankful you have the ability to do whatever mode of exercise you choose. If you miss a workout every now and then, it's not the end of the world. If you're over weight, strive to get healthy yes. But don't forget to enjoy the process of learning a new lifestyle.

Remember, we all touch everyone we come in contact with, especially our families. We're not doing anyone any favors by worrying about our bodies. Be an example that fitness is fun and proper nutrition is not a chore.

I guess the bottom line is, leave the worries behind and enjoy the ride!

Learn more about Emily Collins here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Exercise Vs Physical Activity

Do you know the difference between activity and exercise? There is a difference and it's important to understand.

Physical Activity: This refers to any bodily movements that result in the burning of calories. Anytime you're up and moving, you're being physically active.

Exercise: A subcategory of physical activity; it is physical activity that is planned, structured and repetitive. The intent of exercise is to increase your fitness level.

When you are physically active, you aren't necessarily doing it to increase your fitness level. For example, when you mow the lawn (with a push mower of course), you're doing it to cut your grass, not to get fit. But, if you put in an aerobics DVD, that's exactly your intent. See the difference?

Everyone needs to exercise and stay physically active throughout the day. You wouldn't want to work all day at your desk, take a 30 minute walk when you get home, then sit the rest of the night watching tv. That's just not enough movement. Try to add more activity all through the day. Walk the dog, do housework, play with the kids, etc, etc.

If you're new to all of this, try adding more physical activity in your day before you jump head first into a full exercise program. You'll be more successful at making it a lifelong habit if you take one step at a time.

The old stand by's like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and park further away from the doors at the store are easy ways to start. Think of some other ways you can add activity.

Here's an idea: wear a pedometer. You'll have a constant reminder to get up and move. Plus, it's a great way to see how many steps your taking, set goals and stay motivated.

Wear your pedometer for 3-4 days to see how many steps you take. From there, you can set some realistic goals. Shoot for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day.

Remember to aim for a combination of activity and exercise for best results. Be creative and have fun with it!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Someone's Following You; Are You Aware?

One of the reasons I try to be healthy and fit is because I want to be a role model to those around me. I want to be someone who encourages people to be their best, and show people they can do whatever they set out to do.

Do you struggle to stay motivated in your quest to become fit and healthy? Would it help to know that you're an example, good or bad, to everyone you come in contact with?
Kind of a scary thought, huh? It doesn't have to be. To have the ability to be a part of a change in someone's life - what a privilege!

If you look at health and fitness as being strong for others, for preparing ourselves for what life may bring and for changing our family tree, it makes it easier to get up and exercise. It makes it fun to prepare a healthy meal for our family rather than getting fast food. Try it!

One of my favorite bible verses helps me remember I have a responsibility:

"So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong." Hebrews 12:12 & 13

In the last post, we talked about the first part of this bible verse and discussed discipline.

So the next time you're feel too busy for exercise, or want to swing through the fast food joint, take a moment to think about who is taking a cue from you. It might just strengthen your resolve to become healthy!

Do you have a favorite quote or bible verse that motivates you? We'd love for you to share it in the comment section below!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Choose Discipline

Let's face it, staying healthy and fit isn't easy. It requires daily discipline. Some days it feels like a chore to get up and exercise. Sometimes it sounds like so much more fun to eat a bowl of ice cream than a bowl of fruit. Right?
Even for fitness professionals it can be difficult. I know for me, I've had days I'd rather sit on my couch and watch tv than to go for a run. Do you know why I pick myself up every time? I know the payoff is far better than the immediate satisfaction.
By payoff, I don't mean fitting into a pair of jeans, although sometimes that's what helps motivates me! But, it's more than that. Much more...
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
Wellness, health, fitness -- whatever you want to call it -- is just like any other discipline. We don't enjoy discipline for it's own sake. Discipline is painful. But what comes out of the discipline is wonderful!
Think of the peace we have when our bodies are healthy. Training our bodies, making them strong, is so much more than looking good. It's about having stamina to play with and teach our kids. It's about being healthy so we can be the person we were created to be.
Our bodies are created to MOVE! They WANT to move, they shout out to be FIT.
Nowadays, if I miss a workout, my body screams at me. It's true! I've trained it to move and be challenged daily. If not, I feel tight, bloated and I've been known to get a little cranky (just ask my husband).
Have you felt the peace of being fit and healthy in life yet? If not, I encourage you to try it!
You don't need to go for a run to do right for your body. Get up and MOVE! Work up a sweat, and do something daily. You'll be surprised what a little daily discipline will do!
Share your story with us. What helps you with your discipline?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Get Your Cardio On!

Ok, you've been trying to be healthy lately. You've been increasing your physical activity and watching what you eat. Maybe you've been taking a walk here and there and you're ready to tackle more...but what?

We've talked about the components of fitness, and we've touched on resistance training & flexibility. Today we're going to spend some time on cardiorespiratory fitness.

Cardiorespiratory exercise (aka 'cardio' or 'aerobic') defined:
The ability to perform repetitive, moderate to high intensity, large muscle movements for a prolonged period of time.

Examples of this would be walking, biking, running, swimming, aerobic dancing. Got kids? Be creative with your cardio and include them! Kids are natural exercisers, they can be enormous motivators if we let them.

Benefits include:
*Increased caloric expenditure (burns calories). Burn at least 150 calories per day, or 1,000 calories per week.
*Stronger heart
*Lowered blood pressure & cholesterol
*Increased metabolism
*Stress relief
*Many, many more. Try it & see for yourself!

Training guidelines:
Do some form of cardio a minimum of 3 times per week for a minimum of 20 minutes. More is better, but if you're just beginning, this is a good start point. If your goal is increased fitness or weight loss, work up to 5 times per week for 30-60 minutes.

Remember that when you're working on your cardiorespiratory fitness, it's important to know how hard you're working. Click here to learn how hard to work.

It's also important to find an activity or two that you enjoy. In other words, if you enjoy being outside, take a bike ride or go to the park for a walk.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, increase your fitness or just get healthy, adding some cardio to your workout routine is a must. Try it!

Don't forget this rule: have fun with your cardio! Challenge yourself, find a friend to workout with, be creative & try something new. Have FUN getting FIT!

Hey, if you have a favorite form of cardio, we want to hear it! Leave us a message below.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Dwight Schrute Inspires Me

I like comedy. The sillier, the better for me. Watching crazy situations that would never really happen make me laugh. If you've ever seen the tv show called The Office (NBC), then you know what I'm talking about.

I like it not just because it's ridiculous, but I love this character named Dwight Schrute. As crazy as it sounds, watching him has inspired me to be bold in my fitness goals.

Dwight is quite the oddity. He pictures himself a militaristic leader, believes that smiling is a form of weakness and is abundantly confident.

If you're familiar with Dwight, you may think he's just an example of what not to be and that I'm crazy. Let me explain this perspective...

Dwight has something that we in the fitness industry call a 'zest for life' that's unmatched. Yes, he's nutty. But no matter the circumstances, Dwight, in his odd way, always finds the bright side of life. He goes head on into everything he's involved in.

An example of this is in the episode Traveling Salesman/The Return. Dwight lost his beloved position (assistant to the regional manager) at the office and was forced to job hunt. Did this discourage him -- no way! He picked himself up and went out in the middle of winter and worked it. My favorite quote sums it all up:

"I am ready to face any challenges that may be foolish enough to face me."

What would happen if only we had that attitude when things aren't going our way? What if we tried new things or did something completely out of our comfort zone?

I try to keep Dwight's attitude when I'm in the water at the start line of a triathlon shivering with nerves, or when I face a long day and my adrenal fatigue has kicked in full force.

I'm also working on stepping out of my comfort zone this year. I'll be thinking about Dwight this summer during my first mountain bike race (yikes!)...

What have you always thought about doing but never had the nerve to try?

We all have challenges in life. Maybe it's weight we need to take off, health issues or trying to juggle a career and family. Bottom line, whatever you are facing take a fresh perspective & learn from Dwight Schrute!

If you need assistance getting started, let us help! Contact us

Have you conquered a fear? We'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why Stretch?

Stretching. What do you think of when I say that? Yawn; a waste of time?

Guess what -- flexibility is one of thecomponents of fitness. Yep, it's true. It's just as important to stretch as it is to work the heart & strengthen the muscles.

As a trainer, I've worked with a lot of people that thought stretching wasn't important. Some need a little convincing, but in the end they all agree how much better they feel afterwards.

A general relaxed feeling isn't the only benefit. Here are 3 of the many benefits of regular flexibility work:

1. Improved muscular balance. Balanced muscles will help your body feel better and reduce injury.

2. Reduced risk of injury. Including exercise related injury AND injuries in daily activity. For example, if you have tight/stiff hamstrings and you trip, you're more likely to injure yourself as you try to catch your balance. (Picture what happens when an elderly person falls with stiff muscles -- not good.)

3. Improved performance in sport related activities. If you're a runner or walker, or whatever your chosen mode of exercise, stretch! You just may see an improvement.

Guidelines for stretching:

1. ALWAYS warm up before you stretch. The easiest way, do it after you exercise.

2. Stretch all major muscle groups. Pay particular attention to tight muscles.

3. Hold the stretch 15-30 seconds.

4. Stretch until a level of discomfort but not pain.

5. Stretch at least 3 times per week. Every day is even better!

Don't forget, as we age our tissues stiffen and get tighter. That's why you sometimes see elderly people taking small shuffle like steps. We can fight that and make true progress in the opposite direction simple by stretching.

So the next time you workout, don't forget to spend a few minutes at the end to be good to your muscles, tendons and ligaments. You'll thank me later!

Have a favorite stretch, comment or question? We'd love to hear from you. Leave your comment below. If you enjoy our blog, follow us!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Change Your Family Tree

I've been listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio for a couple of years, and one thing he always mentions is changing your family tree by getting debt free. When I hear that term 'change your family tree,' I can't help but think how it relates to health & fitness.

My thoughts always go to my own family. The other day my dad and I were talking about where I got this passion for fitness. It's funny, because when you look at our family, we're just like most people. Growing up there was really no one that exercises consistently. We were laughing because my passion for fitness seems to come out of nowhere.

Thinking about it a little more, I remember when I was really young my grandma loved to take walks. She and I would go for long walks in the evening and come back and get on the floor and stretch. I really enjoyed spending time with her, and it never seemed boring.

So, how can we change our family tree? How can we put a seed in our children's future so they live healthier lives and are an example and inspiration to others? It doesn't have to be a huge, instant change. Those don't usually last and you're likely to get some resistance. Making small changes in our daily lives -- and in our attitude, will make a bigger impact than we may ever know.

First and foremost important, be an example. 'Do as I say not as I do' isn't going to cut it here. Taking a few minutes every day to enjoy exercise will make a positive impact on how our family looks at being physically active. I tried for several years to convince my husband to exercise; finally, I gave up trying to convince him and just enjoyed my workouts. Guess what, that's when he started and now we workout together!

Second, do fun activities together. Don't be a family that sits on the couch every night. Find a family activity that you all enjoy. With the invention of the Wii, even video games are getting healthy these days! Whatever it is, find something your family can do together. You're not only making healthy choices, you're making memories! We've given some other ideas in our previous blogs about getting the family involved.

Another simple change: start stocking the cupboards with healthier food choices. My grandma was a great cook and always had good food in the house, including lots of fruits and vegetables. Instead of going super strict, find healthy foods you can start adding, like baby carrots to snack on or popcorn for a evening treat. Simple changes like this can make a difference as our children learn.

I know my grandma never dreamed her walks were creating a fitness professional in her young granddaughter! Even so, that little thing was a big impact in my life. In turn, I've devoted my life to not only changing my family tree, but inspiring others to do the same.

Remember, we're all role models for someone, even if we don't want to be. I urge you to be a healthy role model and change your family tree!