Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Introduction to Bikram (Hot) Yoga

Most people have at least a passing knowledge of what Yoga is these days.  But until you have tried Yoga it is impossible to know whether or not it is for you.  Yoga, quite simply can be a life changing experience and the discipline and mental strength that result from it can completely change your perspective and world view.

Bikram Choudhury at a book signing in New York...Image via WikipediaOne method of Yoga which is currently very popular is know as Bikram Yoga.  Bikram Yoga, often referred to as "hot yoga" follows the Bikram Yoga Method.  As with all Yoga it has multiple goals - to build your inner strength as well as your outer physical strength.  A vital component of Bikram Yoga is the flexibility and balance required to perform the exercises and it is believed that this comes from mental strength as much as physical practice.  The roots of Bikram (and most other yoga forms) are in Hatha Yoga, which is a healing form of Yoga that strengthens both body and mind.

The founder of Bikram Yoga was Bikram Choudhury, a yoga practitioner and innovator.  After a weightlifting accident Bikram Choudhury was determined to recover and set about investigating the healing ability of practicing certain types of exercise.  The result was Bikram Yoga, which so many people found to be an effective method of healing that it's tenants were recorded and passed on as a new form of Yoga.  Those who practise Bikram Yoga purely for it's healing benefits are plentiful, but there is also a strong holistic component, which is a key reason behind using Bikram Yoga for many of those who are regular users.

They key to success with Bikram Yoga is to develop the mental strength required to discipline yourself in it's use.  If you can master this side of the Yoga then the physical benefits will be forthcoming.  They have been proven by scientists including a group from the Tokyo University Hospital.  The medical benefits are beyond question and have been shown to improve chronic ailments as well as greatly assist in the treatment and recovery of tissue injuries.

Emily Bikram Yoga 19Image by OpeningMinds via FlickrAt the 1972 International Medical Conference the findings were presented and it was concluded that Bikram Yoga had the ability to assist in the recovery of internal tissue.  The explanation given was that the positions practised by Bikram Yoga replenish cells and assist in the lymphatic system flushing toxins from the body.  In addition to the toxin drain the cells are assisted by higher oxygen flows during and after exercise. Bikram Yoga is typically done in a heated room, and the heat is believed to increase flexibility and improve circulation.

Bikram showed that to get the best benefits from the exercise a healthy and well balanced body was important.  Where the body is weak Bikram Yoga will have less affect in the healing process, which relies on correct balance and circulation. 

Bikram demonstrated 26 exercises and recommended a regime, which was to be practised every single day in order to best treat the body.  Each posture exercise was developed based on a background of both Eastern and Western Yoga disciplines.  They all focus on the movement and pressure on muscles, nerves, ligaments glands and organs.  The exercises are meant to be performed together and in sequence, because they are all inter-related to each other.

Bikram Yoga is low impact and can be performed by people of all different ages.  The important component is the discipline required to perform the posture exercises every day for maximum benefit.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bikram Yoga Resources:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Video - Proper Crunch Technique

Here is a really quick video on the proper way to do a crunch to get strong abs. It's only about a minute long, but will help you see how to do a crunch without straining your back or causing injury.

Home ab workout: crunch exercise for 6-pack abs
Don't let the TV ads convince you to buy some bulky contraption that will gather dust in your closet, crunches are safe and effective! This video clip shows how to do crunches with varying degrees of difficulty based on your ability. Remember that ab...

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Worst Ab Exercise - Avoid This if You Actually Want Sexy Six Pack Abs

The truth about ineffective abdominal exercises and "ab machines"
by Mike Geary, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
lean stomach and six pack abs 
I was at a poker party up in North Jersey over the weekend at a friend's house.  My friend had moved into this beautiful new home about a year ago, but I had never made it up for a visit until this weekend.

Well, as they were giving us a tour of the house, we took a peek into one of their spare rooms which wasn't being used for anything. The only thing they had in this room was one of those infomercial "ab loungers" covered in dust... you know, the ab-chair looking thingy that they hawk on the infomercials as being the end-all solution to a flabby stomach... telling you that you can get a flat stomach and perfect abs just by sitting on this thing and rocking a little bit while you lazily watch tv.

The cleverly marketed infomercials for these products lure you in by showing you the ripped sexy abs of the male and female fitness models that they hired for the show (who have never actually used these gadgets themselves...they actually got their toned near-perfection bodies through following REAL workouts and strict nutrition!)

Ab LoungerImage by sparr0 via FlickrWell, since this "ab lounger" was sitting in this vacant room getting dusty, obviously it wasn't actually being used, so it was really a waste of their money that they spent on it.
Regardless, even if it was being used regularly, it would never have given my friends the results they were looking for, because these infomercial ab gadget machines (and all ab exercises for that matter), don't accomplish the most important aspect of truly achieving flat six pack abs...


And worse yet, just for kicks, I jumped on this "ab lounger" and gave it a try... I have to say, I've never done any abs exercise where I felt it LESS in my abs... As a matter of fact, this piece of crap lounger didn't even feel like it was making my abs work at all! 

It felt more like a lounge chair I should be using to relax with a beer at a barbeque.

My point of this story is that there are still thousands of people every day that fall for these gimmicks and waste their hard-earned money on every ab-gimmick that comes out next.

So what does it REALLY take to get flat sexy six pack abs?

Check out the rest of the article here and find out....

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How to Make Exercise Fun Again

It seems that most people that keep giving up on exercise are often the ones that don't enjoy it. From my perspective, I don't understand this problem as I love almost any form of exercise and get true enjoyment out of it.

This goes beyond just your typical weight lifting and cardio routines also. You really do need to find forms of exercise you enjoy and that are fun for you if you're really going to stick with them for the long term.

Check out this great article for a lot of fun ideas to get back on track with your workouts.... 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Video - Shiva Rea Flow Yoga for Beginners

Here is a 10-minute segment of a great yoga workout. This type of yoga is called Vinyasa - or "Flow" yoga. Shiva Rea is one of the leading teachers of this style of yoga. It focuses on continuous flowing movements, and of course breathing. This is just a sample of Vinyasa yoga so you can get a feel for what it is like, and it is at an easy beginner level. Other Shiva Rea videos can be found below.

Enjoy, and feel free to share your comments below!

Flow Yoga for Beginners - Shiva Rea - 1/7

More Shiva Rea Yoga Videos:
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Fat Loss Workouts for Those Short On Time

This week we have a helpful guest article by a well-known fitness expert. Enjoy!

Unique Lean-Body Workouts for Time-Crunched People:  Super-Fast "Multi-Workouts" to do at Home or the Office
by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer
Author - The Truth About Six Pack Abs

Warning: this style of workout is WAY different than anything you've ever tried before and may result in a dramatically leaner, stronger body so that your friends no longer recognize you in a matter of weeks!

Picture of person taking Heart Rate on MIO watchImage via WikipediaAlright, I exaggerated about your friends recognizing you, but this workout is still great for busy people that always use the excuse that they don't have time to go to the gym, or even for the normal gym rat to try out for a few weeks to break out of a plateau.

Please keep an open-mind and don't worry so much about what other people think, because this is quite different and you may get some funny looks, but you'll get the last laugh with your new rock hard body! To be honest, most people are too self conscious to try something like this. If that's the case for you, then that's your loss.

Here's how it works (these workouts can be done at home or even in your office):
Instead of doing your traditional workouts of going to the gym 3-4 times a week and doing your normal weight training and cardio routines for 45-60 minutes at a shot... with this program, you will be working out for just a couple minutes at a time, several times throughout each day, 5 days/week.

The program will consist of only bodyweight exercises done for about 2-3 minutes, 6-8 times per day, throughout each day. Now obviously if you work a normal office job, you are going to have to not be shy about doing a few exercises in your office and having your cube-mates watch you. Actually, I've found that some people that have tried this have actually gotten their co-workers to join them!

If you have a private office, then you don't have to worry about anybody watching you. If you work from home, or are a stay at home mom, there's no reason you can't fit these in throughout the day while at home. If you end up having a busy day with meetings and so forth, and can only fit a couple of these 2-minute workouts in, then so be it, but try to get as many done each day as you can.

If you're on a normal 9-5 office schedule, I recommend doing your 2-minute workouts every hour, on the hour, with the exception of lunch. For example, you could try 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, and 4 pm.

Some of the bodyweight exercises that are the best to focus on are:
  • bodyweight squats (and variations)
  • pushups (and variations)
  • forward, reverse, or walking lunges
  • up & down a staircase if one is available
  • floor planks (holding the plank position from forearms and feet)
  • floor abs exercises such as lying leg thrusts, ab bicycles, etc.
  • one-legged bodyweight Romanian deadlifts
This list is not fully comprehensive, but I wanted to keep it relatively simple. If you know other good bodyweight exercises, you can add those to your routine also. If you want to keep it real simple and don't want to get down on the floor for anything, you can stick to squats, lunges, and pushups and still get great results.

The good thing about these workouts is that you do enough in 2-3 minutes to get your blood pumping, heart rate up a bit, a large portion of your body's muscles worked, and body temperature raised. However, it's usually not enough to break a sweat in only 2 or 3 minutes, so you don't have to worry about sweating in the office or where ever you may be. At most, you might just get a little moist on the skin.

Here's an example workout routine at home or the office (adjust the reps up or down based on your capabilities):

Mon/Wed/Fri9 am - 10 pushups/15 bodyweight squats, repeat 1X for 2 sets
10 am - plank holds (hold the planks as long as you can taking short rest breaks for a total of 3 minutes)
11 am - 5 pushups/10 bodyweight squats, repeat for 4 sets
1 pm - plank holds (hold as long as possible in 3 minutes)
2 pm - 8 pushups/12 bodyweight squats, repeat for 3 sets
3 pm - plank holds (hold as long as possible in 3 minutes)
4 pm - max pushups/max bodyweight squats in one set (no repeat)

9 am - 6 fwd lunges each leg/6 rev lunges, repeat 1X for 2 sets
10 am - one legged bw Romanian deadlifts (RDL) 6 each leg/floor abs for 20 sec, repeat 1X for 2 sets
11 am - 3 fwd lunges each leg/3 rev lunges, repeat for 4 sets
1 pm - one legged bw RDL 3 each leg/floor abs for 20 sec, repeat for 4 sets
2 pm - 5 fwd lunges each leg/5 rev lunges, repeat for 3 sets
3 pm - one legged bw RDL 10 each leg/floor abs for 30 sec (no repeat)
4 pm - max fwd lunges each leg/max rev lunges in one set (no repeat)

In order to progress on these workouts, you could either add 1 or 2 reps to each set per week, or you could progress to more difficult versions of each exercise each week (for example, close grip pushups, one leg raised pushups, squats with arms raised straight over head, etc.).

QT interval corrected by heart rate.Image via WikipediaThe above routines are just a couple examples of how you can use this very unique style of training. Use your creativity and come up with your own. Think about what you've accomplished with these "mini" workouts completed throughout each day... You've increased your heart rate and pumped up your muscles 6-8 different times throughout each day, burning a lot of extra calories and stimulating your metabolism.

Even though each "mini" workout was a very short duration, you've accumulated lots of repetitions for almost every muscle throughout your entire body, and you didn't even have to break a sweat during any of the "mini" workouts. And there's hardly any excuse for not being able to take a 2-minute break once per hour and do a couple of exercises.

Another benefit of this style of training is that now you don't have to devote any time before or after work to going to the gym because you already got your workouts little by little throughout the day. You've now got some extra free time on your hands!

Try this type of time-efficient workout routine out for 3-4 weeks and then go back to your normal gym routines. I think you'll find that it was a great way to break out of a plateau and stimulate new results in your body. You can try mixing in a cycle of these "mini" workouts every couple of months to keep things fresh.
Keep in mind that this is only one method of training and doesn't mean that you should only stick to this method for eternity. You will hit a plateau on any given training method, so I'd recommend just rotating it into your arsenal of various training methods. And by all means, don't worry so much about what other people think...have the courage to try something a little different. In the end, you'll be the one laughing back at all of the "blubber-bellies" at your office that are giving you funny looks while they eat their donuts!

Feel free to email this link on to any friends or coworkers that you think would like to try these types of unique quick daily workouts.  Heck, try to get your co-workers to do these with you if you can!

If you liked these training ideas, Mike's internationally best-selling ebook The Truth about Six Pack Abs contains hundreds of more innovative training and nutrition ideas to lose stubborn body fat and carve out a rock hard set of abs and a flat stomach.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Yoga Obsession

So I tried a new yoga class last night. My best friend wanted to go try a class at this new place, so we both went to check it out. I am finding I am becoming rather obsessed with yoga! I've done Pilates for over 10 years, and really loved it for a long time, until I hurt my back, and since then I've found that Pilates can be very stressful on it. I've actually hurt my back a couple of times doing Pilates, although now that I know to be careful with certain exercises, I usually do okay. But yoga has never hurt my back - on the contrary, it usually makes it feel better, which is interesting as there are several poses you would think might be hard on the back, but I haven't found it to be so.

Hatha Yoga Standing Balance Pose - Warrior 3Image by myyogaonline via FlickrYoga provides both stress relief and relaxation, and a great workout - and sometimes even pain relief. And I am really fascinated by all the different types of yoga out there - it's quite interesting to see the differences between the styles! (If you aren't that familiar with yoga yet, and aren't quite sure what I'm talking about, check out our previous post on the different types of yoga.) The class we attended was a Hatha Yoga class - this is the most popular type of yoga, although there are many variations within Hatha as well. I had previously attending another Hatha class a few times, which was VERY different. Last night's class was very relaxing, done in a rather dark room, and involved a lot of slow stretching and breathing - it wasn't nearly as hard of a workout as the previous class I had gone to, although it was a longer class. But any way you slice it, I love yoga!

 I recently got my hands on a couple of new yoga DVDs - Yoga & Pilates: Total Body Toner - a combination of yoga & Pilates which seems deceptively simple, but actually is quite a decent workout, and Shiva Rea: Creative Core & Lower Body - Vinyasa or "Flow" yoga, which is short but I found it very challenging, and it really is a full-body workout despite the title. I've only done these once, so I will post a full review of them once I get into them a bit more, but the first time through I really enjoyed them a lot.

As for last night, I'm not sure if I will return to that class.... It's not that convenient for me in terms of location, and the wood floor was too hard for me, even with my trusty yoga mat. Plus it wasn't very challenging in terms of a workout, although I did enjoy the relaxation benefits and I can always use the stretching. But it was definitely enjoyable - after all - it's yoga!  :-)

For some of my favorite yoga workout DVDs, see below. Or visit our Amazon store for more fun ways to exercise.

Yoga Favorites You Can Do At Home:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Video - Zumba Fun!

If this incredibly fun video doesn't make you want to try Zumba, I don't know what will! It's not a professional instructional video, but just a group of awesome Zumba dancers getting their groove on to some fun music. This is a longer video, and it does cover a lot of different moves. But even if if you just watch the first 3 minutes or so it will be enough to give you the flavor of what it's all about.

Check it out, and get ready to get down with some Zumba!

ZUMBA® Fitness!!!
ZUMBA® Fitness is the latin-inspired dance-fitness program that has spread across the world. When I took this video almost 5 years ago, I had no idea the ZUMBA program would become a worldwide phenomenon, presently with 12000000 class participants a ...

Get Your Authentic Zumba Here!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Zumba: Fun, Fitness, and Dance All In One

Zumba has taken the fitness world by storm. If you’re looking for a new fun way to burn fat and lose weight, you might want to consider Zumba. It’s a fun fast fitness blast.

Zumba Workshop ZOOmeravondImage by Erik van Roekel via FlickrSo Just What is Zumba?

Celebrity fitness trainer, "Beto" Perez stumbled upon Zumba in 1999. Forgetting his music for a packed aerobics class, he improvised. He grabbed the Latin music tapes he’d been listening to in his car and voila – Zumba was born.

Zumba is an aerobics class infused with Latin music and vibrant Latin dance moves. It’s wholly fun and addictive. So addictive Zumba is now being taught at more than 90,000 locations in 110 countries, has sold millions of DVDs.

Get in On This Fun Fitness Craze

While you can of course take a Zumba course at any number of locations (gyms, fitness centers, and YMCAs) around the country you can also enjoy the workout routine in the comfort of your home.

The term "Zumba" is actually proprietary, meaning that the course belongs to Beto Perez and is licensed by him. Make sure any Zumba home workout is created by him (see below for the authentic workout sets). One of the best Zumba home workout programs is the Zumba Fitness Latin Workout Routine 4 DVDs Box-Set. This complete set includes four DVDs including.

1. Beginners DVD
2. Abs, Buns and Thighs DVD
3. Advanced DVD
4. Power DVD

The beginners DVD as you might suspect, teaches the basic moves. You’ll learn the step-by-step way. It sets the foundation for the other DVDs and workouts. The Abs, Buns and Thighs helps you focus on spot reduction – burning fat and toning those trouble areas. The Advanced DVD takes your workout to a whole new level.

Finally, the Power DVD amplifies your workout for maximum calorie burning. You’ll sweat and have a blast dancing to the Latin music. Reviews have called this Fitness DVD pack the closest thing you’ll get to a class.

You don’t need anything but a little bit of time and a whole lot of energy. And don’t worry if you don’t feel like working out. Just turn on the invigorating music and you’ll be dancing and getting in shape in no time. You can’t resist the Latin beat.

If you love to dance or are looking for a new and energizing workout routine, consider Zumba. Try a class or grab this four pack and Zumba in your home any time you want to.

Check Out the Authentic Zumba Workout Sets Here:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Workout Ideas to Make Fitness Fun

When you ask someone to workout with you, you will often hear the word "no." People often think of working out as boring. Maybe even you think that working out is boring and would rather do "fun" things than spend time at the gym doing some Chris Sharma Ultimate Route 8сImage via Wikipediaboring workout routines. However, in today's world, more and more people are putting up with boring workout routines because of the alarming increase of heart related diseases and obesity. You have to consider that you have to take care of your body in order to live a happier and more satisfying life.

You and only you are responsible for maintaining your body's health. This is why you have to do regular workouts in order to keep your body in top working condition. Failing to do so will result in a disease-ridden life where you and your family will suffer. So, right now, while you are still in good health, is the time to start doing fitness workouts in order to keep your body healthy (plus this will give you the benefit of having a great-looking body that you can show off during summers at the beach!) :-)

However, if you find regular fitness workout routines very boring, there are quite a lot of things that you can do to make your workouts more fun. There are lots of fun activities that you can do which you can enjoy and at the same time, have a very effective workout.

First of all, many people think of fitness workouts as being limited to the gym. However, you have to start thinking out of the box and start being creative. Active sports such as swimming, golf, tennis, football, and basketball are fun sports that can give you a great quality workout experience. For example, if you like to play tennis, there are quite a lot of tennis schools available that can teach you how to play. You can even include your family in this fun activity and all of you can have fun while at the same time, promoting fitness.

Tribal-style belly dancers.Image via WikipediaIf you are not sports minded or you can't think of any sport you enjoy, you might also consider dancing as a great fitness workout that is a lot of fun. There are many dance classes available at all different kinds of fitness centers and dance studios these days. Although some people think that dancing is easy, may be surprised when you try it to learn that it's not. Dancing is quite difficult and can be very stressful for your body as it will require you to run, walk, and jump around in the dance floor to do those dance moves. Dancing can definitely be a great fitness workout alternative if you find regular gym workouts boring. Plus, dancing is also fun for two if both you and your significant other enroll in the same classes, and may even add some new romance to your relationship!

These are just a few examples that can make your fitness workouts more fun and more enjoyable. There are still quite a lot of activities out there that you can do for fun and at the same time, give you a great quality workout. There are belly dancing activities, there are hiking and camping activities, there is rock climbing, horseback riding, ice skating and a lot more. All you need to do is find one that interests you and be creative.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Video - The Firm Express Workout

Here is a quick video demonstrating some clips from The FIRM workout set we reviewed on Tuesday. There are many different FIRM workouts available, so look for one that suits your fitness goals. These clips are from The FIRM Express DVD(See below for some other FIRM workouts.)

The Firm Express: Get Thin in 30 Days
Segments from the "The Firm Express: Get Thin in 30 Days" workout video: You get 12 total-body workouts plus two bonus programs and a 40-page fitness guide. The progressions and sequencing are carefully designed to maximize both fat-burning and body-...

More The FIRM Workouts:
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Body Sculpting To Get Fit and Firm

Do you struggle with problem areas? Many people want to tone up their backside. They want to get rid of their “muffin top.” Or they want to shape their arms and legs. Toning and strength training work quite well when they’re combined with cardiovascular exercise.

Jogging coupleImage by Ed Yourdon via FlickrWhy Cardio to Tone Muscles?

Cardio exercise, exercises that kick up your heart rate, are necessary because they burn fat. Your beautiful muscles cannot be seen if they’re covered by a layer of fat. When you combine a toning and strength training program with a bit of cardio you’ll see results fast. You’ll burn calories and fat and you’ll tone your muscles. In short, you’ll get that body you’ve been dreaming about.

What’s an Ideal Routine to Sculpt Muscles?

Muscle sculpting is another term for toning. It’s generally achieved through a series of very specific exercises designed to give you that ‘sculpted’ look. For example, if you want to achieve six pack abdominals then you’d sculpt those muscles. You’d perform crunches, sit-ups and other exercises all designed to sculpt and tone all of your abdominal muscles. If you wanted to sculpt an ideal backside then you’d perform exercises designed to tone your top, side and bottom gluteus muscles.

Of course, you still want to burn fat while you’re sculpting. An ideal routine to accomplish body sculpting results would include five to six weekly workouts. Your workouts will either alternate between cardio and strength training or you’d combine both in each workout. For example, you’d do twenty minutes of cardio followed by twenty minutes of strength training.

The FIRM Body Sculpting DVD Set can help you achieve the results you’re looking for. This three pack series offers a whopping 210 total minutes of cardio and strength training workouts. It includes options for both types of trainers. If you want to alternate cardio and strength training workouts you can. If you prefer to combine them both into one workout, you can do that too. The set includes:

* Total Sculpt – a whole body workout
* Firm Abs – Focus just on your abdominals
* Complete Aerobics and Weight Training – for those serious workout days
* Maximum Cardio Burn – Burn fat fast!

The set usually retails for $49.98 however you can often find it on sale. It makes good fitness and financial sense to invest in a set like the FIRM Body Sculpting set because you get variety in your workouts and you save money. It enables you to receive all of the benefits of a personal trainer and workout classes but you can do it in the comfort of your home – when you have the time and energy to work out!

If you’re seeking a beach body or you simply want to get into better shape, consider the FIRM Body Sculpting DVD set. There are several different FIRM workouts to choose from now, and the FIRM series of fitness videos and products continues to be a stand out success. It’s a great package at a great price.

The Top 3 FIRM Workouts:

Enhanced by Zemanta