Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fun Summer Activity: Water Balloons

In the winter everyone loves a good snowball fight - build a fort and stockpile the snowballs and you are set. Kids AND adults can enjoy this fun game - and get some great exercise at the same time. The same idea can be implemented in the summertime too.  If it’s a nice day, just fill balloons with water and have a balloon war! This can be a fun activity for the kids, but why not join in, yourself, as well? Not only will you have fun, spend some family time with the kids, and get some exercise running around, you'll also get to cool off, too.

Water balloons filled with water and ready for...
Water balloons filled with water and ready for use. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But if you don’t like the idea of your kids throwing balloons at each other (or at you), there are other
uses for water balloons that are just as fun.
  • Set-up a target and have a competition to see who can hit it the most times.  You can make it a challenge to break the balloon each time or make it harder by setting the rule of hitting the target but not breaking the balloon.
  • Play water balloon baseball; replace the baseball with a water-filled balloon.  Of course the person up at bat is going to get wet if they are able to hit the target.  If a child hits the balloon and it doesn’t burst it is considered a strike.  When the balloon is hit and does burst it is an automatic home run.
  • A simple game of catch can be fun too.  Trying to catch the balloon without bursting it can be hard – see how long one balloon can be tossed before it breaks.  As you are going to get wet, it is best to play any of these games on a hot day (which I don't think there will be any shortage of this summer).
Clean-up after any game that has involved water balloons is very important.  Small children and pets could pick up the small pieces and choke on them.  You can make picking up the most balloon pieces a game at the end for incentive.  Let the kids know that whoever has the most balloons after they are all cleaned up will get a special surprise. Or, give each a different color of balloon and make it their job to pick up all the balloon pieces that are of their color. This will give them another burst of exercise after the balloon fight has ended.

There are endless fun and creative ways to get some exercise into your day during the summer. Just use your imagination, or if you have kids, or family that has some they'll lend you, ask them what they'd like to do outside, and they'll be sure to have some ideas. We'll also be sharing more of these here throughout the season, so be sure to check back for more fun ways to exercise this summer!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Body Temperature Rhythm & Exercise: Sleep Better This Summer

This time of year, with the longer daylight hours, more to do, and warmer nights, many people can find themselves tossing and turning into the wee hours. It may be tempting to turn to drugs, but most sleep aids can have harmful side effects, not to mention leaving you groggy in the morning. I've got a better suggestion - if you want to instantly increase the quality of your sleep, then start an exercise program if you don't exercise already. Exercise helps you sleep better in a number of ways, not to mention all the other health benefits!

    Chart showing diurnal variation in body temper...
    Chart showing diurnal variation in body temperature, ranging from about 37.5° C. from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M., and falling to about 36.3° C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Exercise will raise your body temperature rhythm, and make your body temperature “peak” at a higher level. This will increase your energy levels throughout the day, you'll feel more awake, alive, and motivated. 
  • As your body temperature levels will max out at a higher level, your body temperature will also drop more easily and deeper. This will allow you to sleep deeply, without interruptions. 
  • Regular exercise will prevent your body temperature rhythm from “flat-lining”, which will allow you to sleep deeply even if you've had a stressful day, or couldn't exercise on one particular day. 
  • Exercise delays the body temperature “drop” in the evening, allowing you to stay awake and alert longer without feeling tired and drowsy. 
  •  Exercise is also a great reliever of tension and stress, which as you'll later find out, is a major cause of sleeping disorders. 
If you don't exercise yet, GET A MOVE ON! and start now. The best time to exercise is in the morning, as this will promote a quick temperature rise. However, avoid exercise 3 hours prior to going to sleep, as your body temperature will probably still be on the rise, and you may find falling asleep / sleeping deeply more difficult.

(Photo credit: SurvivalWoman)
However, if you don't exercise, I'm not suggesting you get up off your butt right now, get a membership at your local gym and begin an intense full scale work out program. You can do that if you really want to. However, recent studies show that just moderate exercise during the day has many health benefits. If you can't motivate yourself to start a structured exercise program, you could find a less intensive physical activity that you still enjoy, like walking briskly, biking, rollerblading - these are all great exercise and will still have a substantial effect at raising your body temperature.

BUT, my final point about this would be: What's the point of trying to rejuvenate your body, and increasing the quality of your sleep, if you're not going to USE YOUR BODY? Ultimately, starting any form of exercise will be helpful to your overall health, but where you are really going to benefit is by making regular exercise a part of your daily life (which you enjoy) - not just something you do once in a while to sleep better, or lose a couple of pounds before swimsuit season.
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Video - 5 Awesome Ab Exercises On The BOSU Ball

Here is a short video with 5 amazing exercises that will get your core in shape fast. We love Yuri's workouts because they're quick and effective, and they work the whole body together as a unit. As you'll see when  you try these, these exercises target the core, but unlike static crunches or situps, they also challenge arms, shoulders, legs, buttocks, upper and lower back, and more.

The BOSU ball makes this more challenging, and also works on balance. If you're just starting out, you can certainly do all of these exercises just on the floor as well, and then work your way up to the ball when you're ready for something harder. As he mentions, this entire core workout will take less than 10 minutes, but you'll sure feel it!

And for more free exercises, be sure to visit the link below the video.

Ab Exercises on the BOSU Ball Core of Steel Ab Workout with Yuri Elkaim

Click Here to Visit for A Free 45-Minute IPod Workout

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Avoid The #1 Ab Exercise That Is Hurting Your Back

I  know this is a short post, but I wanted to share this video with you. My friend and fellow fitness expert, Yuri Elkaim has just put up a brand new video showing you the #1 ab exercise that is hurting your back…and your chances of losing belly fat.

=> Watch it here...

If you want to know how to train your abs properly in order to lose belly fat and finally see some definition in your abs, then watching this video is the first place to start.

You're sure to learn some helpful info here so go check it out....  #1 Ab Exercise That Is Hurting Your Back

And after you've watched this one, check out the next free video in the series, to learn what are the BEST exercises to give you strong, defined abs just in time for summer!

In this video, Yuri divulges his 3-step formula for getting amazing abs and it's loaded with actionable exercises and quick workout ideas that you can benefit from in minutes.

I personally really enjoyed the part (around the 4:00 mark) where he compares the fat burning effect of sit-ups vs. the clean and press (a full body exercise) - it's very powerful and it will probably give you one of those "ah ha" moments.

This is easily one of the best ab training videos I've come across.

Click here to watch "the 3-step formula for amazing abs."


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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What’s the Ideal Amount of Exercise to Lose Weight?

Here is a great article by fitness expert Yuri Elkaim. We love Yuri's approach because he focuses on total-body fitness and wellness - taking a holistic approach to fitness and exercise. Check this one out for some great info.

What’s the Ideal Amount of Exercise to Lose Weight?
Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN

Ah, yet another thought-provoking exercise question. How much is enough??? Well, it depends. What do you classify as exercise and how do you structure your workouts?

To give you some more clarity on the question of workout frequency, let me break it down for you.

Our bodies were meant to move, not sit. The bare minimum amount of activity needs to be daily walking for at least 30-45 minutes. And it shouldn't be a lazy stroll. You should be walking at a moderate to fast pace so that you can slightly hear your breathing. Walking is so important for your health and your ability to lose weight. It's no wonder that Europeans are more slim than North Americans - they walk more!

Fighting Fitness is the ultimate 30 minute wor...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I wouldn't stress too much about doing hours and hours of cardio. What you'll realize is that full body workouts that engage a lot of muscle will actually give you an incredible cardio workout. 

If anything, you should be interval training for your cardio workouts. You can do as little as 10 minutes after your workouts or dedicate 1 to 2 days a week to cranking 20-25 minutes of intense interval training. And, believe me, that's all you'll be able to do.

Strength training is truly the key to losing weight and maintaining a lean and fit body. I'm not a big fan of bodybuilding workout routines that break up workouts into body parts, like doing chest and back. It's not functional and doesn't serve much purpose besides gaining size. If that's your goal then terrific. If not, then you need to be doing full body strength training workouts at least every other day. That means you should be working out 3-4 times a week.

What you need to be doing, especially if you want to lose weight and get fit, is increase the intensity of your workouts and train movements - not muscles. The easiest way to do that is use heavier weights and challenge yourself with only 6-10 reps using full body exercises like squats, lunge walks, deadlifts, pull-ups, and step-ups - just to name a few.

The reason that you want to train using full body exercises is that you target all your muscles - not just 1 or 2. As a result, you strengthen your body as a whole and burn more calories in the process. Burn more calories? Yup! Because you involve more muscle mass, you inherently burn more calories because your body will require more oxygen to fuel the given movements.

And since you're not breaking up your workouts into "split routines" that target specific muscle groups you won't have to hit the gym 6 or 7 times a week. Instead, because full body workouts train all your muscles, your body will need 24-48 hours rest between workouts. Therefore, working out every day wouldn't make sense, and would actually be detrimental. Rest and recovery are key components to getting stronger and achieving your fitness goals. So those 2-3 days of rest are important especially if you're sweating up a storm and challenging your muscles each time you hit the gym.

A complete weight training workout can be perf...
A complete weight training workout can be performed with a pair of adjustable dumbbells and a set of weight disks (plates). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Repeat this workout for 3 sets. For each superset, take 30-60 seconds rest only once you've completed a set of each exercise (therefore no rest in between).

DB Swings x 8 reps
Stability Ball Roll-outs x 8 reps

Step-ups x 8 reps (each leg)
Bench Press x reps

Squat Presses x 8 reps
Pull-ups x maximum reps

Remember to take at least 1-day rest in between each workout. Repeat this workout 3-4 times per week and you’ll be on your way to losing weight and getting fit in no time!

About the Author
Yuri Elkaim is a world-renowned fitness, nutrition, and weight loss expert. He is the creator Fitter U and Treadmill Trainer, author of Eating for Energy, and the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for men's soccer program at the University of Toronto. His trademarked 12-week Fitter U iPod workout program has been helping thousands of people around the world get in shape and lose weight fast without the cost and inconvenience of hiring a trainer. Click Here to go to now to get your FREE Fitter U workout and "How to Get Fit and Lose Weight Fast" report!
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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Video - Intro to Bob Greene's Total Body Makeover

This short video demonstrates some of the toning and cardio exercises you will find on Bob Greene's Total Body Makeover DVD. There are exercises to work every muscle group in the body, and Bob gives tips for proper form, correction of common problems, and modifications for each exercise. All you need is a set of hand weights, and for some exercises, a mat. The easy-to-follow 8-week program will get you in shape quick just in time for that summer beach vacation! To grab a copy of the DVD for yourself, just see below the video.

Bob Greene Eight Week Total Body Makeover
Learn how to get into the best shape of your life with Bob Green's eight week total body makeover. Learn more at

Grab Your Copy Of the Full 8-Week Program Here: 

Bob Greene: Total Body Makeover DVD 
Oprah's personal trainer takes the guesswork out of losing weight. Fool-proof system helps you get fit in less time!

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: Bob Greene's Total Body Makeover

There are few workouts that combine both cardiovascular exercise and strength training. If you’re seeking the full body benefits of exercise, it means alternating workouts - doing cardio one day and strength training the next.

There are of course benefits to both. Cardiovascular exercise strengthens your heart and lungs. It gets the blood surging through your veins. It releases hormones that optimize your metabolism, stress management systems and even brain function.

Strength training builds and tones your muscles. It makes you stronger and helps prevent injury. It helps you have better endurance and of course it makes your body look great. It’s why there are so many flat stomachs, great chests and six pack abs on the covers of fitness magazines, books and DVDs. That’s what people want to look like.

If you prefer to work out at home (and who doesn’t appreciate the convenience) trying to get both strength training and a cardio workout can seem difficult at times. However, Bob Greene has created a home workout DVD that helps you achieve both. All you need is your television and a DVD player.

Bob Greene Total Body Makeover

Bob Greene made headlines when Oprah introduced him as her personal trainer. He has a whole body approach to fitness and has had great success helping his clients get into the best shape of their lives. The Bob Greene Total Body Makeover is a workout DVD designed to do exactly what it says – help you make over your body.

It’s an eight week program that is designed for beginners and expert exercisers alike. You can find your appropriate level with each exercise. Be ready to sweat. Bob’s DVD will have you building muscle and strengthening key areas. You’ll also be burning calories and raising your heart rate for maximum cardio benefit.

True to Bob’s nature he doesn’t stop with fitness and exercise advice. He believes in a whole mind and body approach. So the DVD also comes with an hour of motivation, diet and nutrition advice. The bonus features really help round out this DVD.

In addition to the workouts which are easy to follow and promise fast results you get a thorough introduction to Bob’s “Best Life” plan. He teaches:

* The science of weight loss
* How to overcome emotional eating
* How to prepare yourself for change, and success.

If you’re looking for a full body workout and you enjoy working out at home, save yourself thousands of dollars on expensive equipment. Try Bob Greene’s program first. It may be everything you need to get the body you want. It retails for $14.98 or  less and you can find Bob Greene’s Total Body Makeover online or at your local retailer.  

Find Bob Greene's Total Body Makeover DVD & Other Resources Here:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Try These Fun Fitness Ideas

It is not vital to enroll at a local gym or build a home gym to improve your health and fitness. There are a lot of fun ways to get in a workout, that you may not have thought of, but which can help you build up cardiovascular conditioning as well as develop your muscular endurance and strength without paying expensive gym membership fees and purchasing loads of exercise equipment. Here are a few ideas to try.

Rollerblading (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1.  Choose an aerobic exercise which you like and can be done outdoors like walking, hiking, running, soccer, tennis, or inline skating. These types of exercise work many different muscle groups in a natural way, and can improve cardiovascular capacity, strength, flexibility, and balance.

2.   Either rent or purchase exercise videos. You can select from many various types of videos. For example, a kickboxing video, yoga workout, or step aerobics. This is less expensive compared to buying exercise machines and going to a gym. Many videos can be found for $10.00 or less, so you can test them out to find what you like without spending a bundle - and you can of course use them over and over. For best results, get a  variety of different workouts and exercise types - this way you can avoid getting bored, work different muscle groups, and switch it up between different intensities and workout durations. I have some videos I like for cardio workouts when I really want to move, and others that are more mellow, such as Pilates and Yoga, as well as short and long workouts to choose from, so I can get a workout in in whatever time I have on a particular day. (Visit for some of my favorites.)

3.   What about housework? Okay, maybe that's not so "fun," but it's definitely functional - get fit and get the house clean at the same time! Try mowing the lawn using a non electric push mower for a great full-body workout. You can also vacuum your carpets. If there is a snow in your pathways, then shovel it. Carrying things for household chores - e.g. your laundry basket filled with dirty clothes or handbags of groceries is also good. Even these simple household chores can give you some amount of exercise.

4.   Turn on your radio, listen to your favorite dance music (ballroom, hip hop, and more) and get your groove on. This is one of the best ways of working out your body and relieving your stress - and it's tons of fun!

5.   Organize fun outside games with your friends. These can include kickball, football, basketball, soccer, and more. You'll get a great workout without even noticing! Swimming is also a great summer activity that provides a full body workout and is a lot of fun to do with friends and family.

SpeedRope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
6.   Skipping rope is a very inexpensive way to get in some great cardiovascular activity. 

7.   Visit local parks. Sometimes you can find fitness trails which include exercise stations. Often, exercise instructions are provided. Not only will you relieve stress and get in a good workout, but you'll get to enjoy the beautiful outdoors at the same time.

Before you start any type of workout, be sure to keep a few things in mind.

1.    Any activity must be started in gradual manner. This is important for warming up your body to adapt to the movements. It is not a one-day task to get a healthy and fit body. Be patient with your fitness regimen. 

2.    If possible, perform physical activity for about thirty minutes each day every week.

3.    Select the right equipment and clothes for your exercise. You should also consider weather conditions. Make sure that you have a backup plan in place in case the weather doesn't cooperate, and you have to move your daily exercise indoors.

4.    Encourage a friend to exercise with you. Not only will this make your routine more enjoyable, but also you will be more likely to stick to your program.

5.    Try cross training. You can alter the length and the type of your exercises to prevent boredom and injuries.

6.    Consult your doctor or health care provider before starting any form of new exercise program - especially if you're out of shape or recovering from an injury.

Visit for more fun ways to exercise!
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Video - YogaFit Example Exercises

Here is a very short video with an example of some YogaFit exercises from Beth Shaw's DVD that we mentioned on Thursday. This will give you an idea of the basic nature of the workout, including the emphasis on modifications for beginners, and the flow with which the movements occur - this is a less static yoga workout than many traditional types of yoga, so it does get the blood moving and heart rate up a little bit.

Check out the video, and if you are interested in picking up a DVD for yourself, see below.

YogaFit Basics
YogaFit Basics Video gives you all the tools you need to start your yoga practice. Learn safe and effective warm up, work and cool down phases as you move through basic postures. Create a strong foundation while getting a workout. Prepares users for ...

YogaFit DVD Workouts:
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Is A YogaFit Workout?

I'm sure you're familiar with yoga, but one fun exercise trend you may not have tried yet which is growing in popularity lately is called YogaFit.

Yoga Class at a Gym Category:Gyms_and_Health_Clubs
Yoga Class at a Gym (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
YogaFit was created in 1994 by an experienced certified yoga instructor named Beth Shaw. Beth noticed that traditional yoga principles did not always translate well into the group setting that is commonly found in today’s health clubs.

YogaFit differs from more traditional yoga practice in several important ways. First, YogaFit does not strictly adhere to the ancient Sanskrit names of various postures and poses, which makes YogaFit more reliable and easier to pick up for many participants. In addition, YogaFit does not incorporate the traditional “chanting” that is sometimes done in certain yoga stances. This helps to distill the various yoga exercises into the most “user friendly” experience possible.

What Are the Benefits Of YogaFit?

YogaFit is based upon the time tested principles of Hatha yoga. This style of yoga combines exercises and poses that work to develop a practitioner’s balance, strength, power and flexibility. Yoga poses and movements are ideal as a low impact and safe way to exercise nearly all of the muscles of the body without weights or complicated machinery.

Balasana pose in Hatha yoga, commonly known as...
Balasana pose in Hatha yoga, commonly known as child pose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
YogaFit also has the benefit of greater accessibility. Some exercisers may be intimidated by (or simply don't relate to) the “spiritual” elements of traditional yoga, so YogaFit offers them a way to take advantage of all of the fitness benefits without having to get up to speed on the nonphysical ones.

How to Get Started with YogaFit

There’s a good chance that YogaFit is currently being offered in a health club or gym near you. Because YogaFit has proven so popular with so many individuals, a number of yoga studios across the country have added YogaFit classes to their traditional yoga offerings. If you have a yoga facility located close to where you live, then this might be the best place to take your first YogaFit class.

If you’re already a member of a fitness facility, ask the staff if they offer YogaFit. If not, then tell them you’re interested. Even if a health club doesn’t have a particular offering, they are likely to consider adding it if enough of their members express an interest.

Wherever you decide to take a YogaFit class, make sure that your instructor is properly certified. YogaFit trains its teachers through various levels of expertise, and also offers three different levels of certification. YogaFit also works to keep its instructors fresh and up-to-date on new techniques through a continuing education program. Many of the YogaFit instructors choose to receive their continuing education at various conferences that are conducted each year throughout the U.S. and Canada. Many of these conferences also have programs that permit students to participate. For individuals who are fully embracing the YogaFit lifestyle, these conferences can be a great way to better their understanding of the exercises they are doing.

You can also find YogaFit workouts in DVD or book format, so you can try this at home whenever you like. Beth Shaw's version is probably the most popular and well-liked, and you know you're getting great instruction, since she is the founder of the method! See below to pick up a copy for yourself.

YogaFit Resources For Home Workouts:
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

3 Common Mistakes by Yoga Beginners

Whenever we start something new we have a certain feeling of trepidation and uncertainty of the unknown,  although in most cases it is completely unfounded and we get on with things very quickly and easily.  However, sometimes a simple little thing can cause us to have an entirely negative first impression and perhaps even never want to try that activity or pastime again.  Yoga has so many health benefits, on both a physical and spiritual level, that it would be a tragedy for anyone to miss out on them because they made a silly avoidable mistake on their first day.  With that in mind this article addresses the 3 most common mistakes of new yoga practitioners, and how to make sure they don't happen to you.

Mistake One:  Not Knowing What You Want From Yoga.

Yoga Class at a Gym
Yoga Class at a Gym (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The reality is that there are numerous different styles and forms of Yoga and each has it's different attractions.  Ask yourself what it was about Yoga in general that attracted you and then you can investigate a style that caters more specifically to that.  You may like to set goals, be they physical, mental or spiritual.  If you do then it's a good idea to discuss them with the instructor of your class before you begin.  Yoga instructors are usually very approachable and happy to talk about their passion.  They will be able to talk to you about your goals for the class and let you know if you are being realistic, aiming too high or too low.  Make sure you goal includes a time frame so it becomes something that is measurable.

Mistake Two:  Jumping In Head First.

Having decided that they will give this Yoga thing a try many people take a running leap and jump in to a 12 month stage-by-stage class.  These classes are usually an upfront payment arrangement and progress from one level to the next as the weeks progress.  They are a fantastic way of learning Yoga and becoming very good at it, but it's quite possible you will choose a class that is not ideal for you.

Yoga Class at a Gym
Yoga Class at a Gym (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The best way to avoid this is to join a Yoga beginner class, also known as a drop in class.  If you do these classes for a few weeks you will notice a high turnover of students as new people join and old people move on.  These classes are designed to give you a very broad feel for the different types of Yoga.  The level of the students in the class usually varies greatly so you can expect the instructor to keep the classes quite tame.  The other key benefit of doing this is that the classes are pay as you go so there is no big financial outlay for you while you decide the type and style of yoga that best suits you.  You are also not obliged to attend every class.  With the longer courses you can fall behind quickly if you miss a week or two in a row.  With the pay as you go classes you will find that while each class is different the level stays quite low to cater for the newer people joining in.

Mistake Three:  Choosing the Wrong Teacher.

Traditionally a Yogi had to be an apprentice to a skilled Guru for many years before he could teach even the simplest of Yoga techniques.  Nowadays a 3-day course over a long weekend is considered enough by some people.  There is a big difference in what you will achieve depending on the skills and abilities of the person teaching you.  Yoga is starting to make a regular appearance on the sports injury list and a large reason for this is instructors who have been taught just enough to be dangerous.  A qualified teacher won't necessarily be fantastic and an unqualified teacher won't necessarily be terrible - but the odds are certainly cast in that direction, so it's a good idea to check your instructors background and qualifications before you begin studying with them. Again, check out a beginner class so you can try out different teachers and get a feel for the teaching style you prefer, and above all - listen to your body - if it tells you not to do a certain movement, don't do it (or do it more gently than demonstrated).
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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Video - Example Of A Typical CrossFit Workout

The first CrossFit video I watched online made me somewhat terrified. It looked sooo hard and fast and hard on the body - and everyone in the video looked incredibly muscular and fit.

But after watching a few more, including this quick example of a typical CrossFit workout, I found myself smiling with excitement - I really wanna try it! Wow, it looks like such an amazing workout, and it's great that you can really get such a good full-body workout in such a short amount of time.

I don't think they mention it in this video, but in one of the others, the trainer was talking about how so many of the exercises in a CrossFit workout are designed to get your body in shape for the everyday movements and tasks that you need to do in your daily life (lifting boxes, reaching up over your head to get something off a shelf, carrying things, etc.), instead of just running on a treadmill for 40 minutes, which really has no useful application for most people. I am all about functional fitness, so this sounds great to me, and seeing how much fun the people are having during this short class is inspiring and exciting.

Check it out, and find a class near you to try it for yourself!

What's a typical CrossFit workout like?
Sample Session

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hot Workout Trend: CrossFit - What Is It?

Amongst burgeoning fitness trends you’re sure to hear about a growing trend with strength training and fitness. It’s called Cross Fit and while it isn’t new (the first CrossFit was opened in 1995) it is a growing trend. More gyms are opening up all around the country and more people are learning the benefits of this fitness approach.

What is CrossFit?

July 2007 CrossFit Trainer certification, Sant...
July 2007 CrossFit Trainer certification, Santa Cruz, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning approach that combines several types of fitness activities including weightlifting, plyometrics, medicine ball training, and even gymnastics. The theory behind the creation of CrossFit is that a healthy and fit person should have a proficiency in ten of the general physical skills. These include cardio, endurance, strength, flexibility, speed, agility and balance.

Many police departments, fire departments, and military organizations use CrossFit in their training programs. However, you don’t have to be training for the Special Forces to benefit from a CrossFit program.

What are The Benefits of CrossFit?

CrossFit can help just about anyone develop optimal physical performance and motor development. When you’re focusing on strength, flexibility, speed, and balance your body is going to learn to move better. You’re also going to burn calories and lose weight.

Another primary benefit of CrossFit is that it is infinitely customizable. Anyone can benefit from CrossFit and start a CrossFit program. Whether you’re a seventy year old woman or a twelve year old boy, CrossFit can be customized to fit your needs, skills, and goals.

How to Get Started

CrossFit studios are popping up everywhere. And as demand continues to grow, you will be able to find more facilities. You may also be able to find CrossFit trainers at your local gym or fitness center. Some personal trainers are trained in CrossFit and can help you get started.

Crossfit Basel
Crossfit Basel (Photo credit: Big Titan)
Finally, if those options aren’t available, there are at home options. Many CrossFit studios have online or YouTube workouts. These can be advantageous because you don’t have to travel to the gym. However, proper form is important for many CrossFit exercises. You can also find many good CrossFit DVDs and books.

If you’re starting at home, consider starting with a video. Once you feel as if you have the hang of things, consider consulting with a trainer to make sure you have good form. Initially, no equipment is necessary and you can perform the exercises with your own body weight. As you improve, you may want to add weights and equipment like kettle bells to your workout.
At Home CrossFit Workouts: 
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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why Should You Warm Up Before Exercising?

It’s tempting to skip the warm up and go straight for the workout, especially when we’re short on time.  It may save time, but it’s not the best plan to stay safe.  While it may seem logical to go as hard as you can for as long as you can, this is not a good way to treat your body. 

Students Warm Upo
Students Warm Up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A proper warm up helps increase muscle flexibility; meaning you’ll be able to stretch farther and will be less likely to overextend during your regular workout.   Warming up does exactly what it sounds like: it warms up your body.  This increases blood flow, slowly raises your metabolism, and raises the temperature of your muscles.  This makes sure they’re ready and prepared for a hard workout.  When your muscles are ready to go, your performance during the actual workout is improved.  This not only means you can beat out your competition more easily, it also means your body is doing more and functioning more efficiently; giving you the most from your workout. 

The best way to perform a good warm up is to do the activity you’re planning on doing at a lower pace.  For example, if you’re going for a run, run at half speed for 5 minutes, then ¾ speed for another 5 minutes before you get up to full speed.  If you play a sport and can’t “play slowly” for a few minutes, try doing a light workout with another activity.  Jog laps around the soccer field or run drills slowly before a game.  This will at least give your muscles some preparation for the coming activity. 

Chang-Hwa Bank Team make their warming up at 2...
Chang-Hwa Bank Team do their warm up at 2006 Taipei 101 Run Up to prevent damage and accident. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It used to be that we were told to stretch before each exercising session to keep ourselves more flexible and injury free.  When muscles are more stretched out, you’re less likely to overextend them.  While the theory is correct, we are generally taught to do static stretches, which actually does little good before a workout.  You should try to include dynamic stretches which involve moving and using momentum to stretch without going beyond your normal range of motion.  Normal static stretches, like the kind you do in gym class, are great, but should be done on a daily basis, not just when you work out.

In addition to a warm up, you should also be sure to add a cool down to your workout as well.  Just do the opposite of a warm up and slowly bring yourself back down from extreme activity levels slowly.  Just like a warm up, you can best do this by performing your same activity at a slower pace.  You should also include stretching exercises in your cool down as well.

You may not want to bother with a warm-up because you feel you just don’t have the time to add it into your routine; however, if you work out hard a little less and warm up more, it can actually give you more time to work out in the long run.  A few minutes of warming up are nothing in comparison to the time you may have to skip working out because you’re injured.  A good warm-up is always a good idea, and can keep your exercise program from getting derailed by an injury. 
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