Thursday, December 31, 2015

[Video] New Year's Resolution Booty Challenge Workout - Day 1

Happy New Year! I hope you're ready for some great workouts in the month ahead! We're going to kick the new year into high gear with some hard-hitting, fast, fun workouts to get you back in shape after the holidays (although hopefully our holiday workout series helped keep some of the pounds off this year!).

In today's video, get ready to work that butt and get your glutes and legs toned up with this 10-minute workout. All you need for this workout is a mat and some ankle resistance bands, and 10 short minutes of time.

Do this one every other day this week, and stay tuned next week for your next New Year's Resolution workout!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

10 Reasons Why You Should Make Fitness Your New Year's Resolution

We all know about certain benefits of exercising - above all, that it's good for us. But this isn't always enough to get us motivated into actually doing it. If you're looking for a little inspiration to get started on your New Year's resolution then here are 10 reasons why exercise can improve your life.

1) More Energy: Although exercise in itself may be tiring, one of the major benefits of exercising is the fact that it'll ultimately leave you feeling more energized. Studies have shown that regular exercise helps to reduce fatigue.

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2) Increase Your Mood: Every time you exercise your body will release endorphins that help to make you feel good. Exercise really will give you a natural high! Plus, you'll have the great feeling of accomplishment and confidence that comes from taking care of your body.

3) Improve Your Health: There are so many health benefits of losing weight that it's impossible to list them all here! By getting fit you'll reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and much more.

4) Improve Your Appearance: If being overweight or not being toned leaves you feeling unhappy about yourself then losing weight can help you to look and feel better.

5) Play With Your Kids: As you know if you have kids, keeping up with them takes a lot of energy! By losing weight and getting fit, you'll be able to run around with them without constantly getting out of breath. This can be one of the most rewarding benefits of exercising: it helps you to enjoy life more!

6) Sleep Better: When you exercise more you'll start to find it easier to get a good night's rest. This adds to the energy boost that you'll get from exercise in the long term.

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7) Increase Your Strength and Stamina: Do you find it hard to go on long walks, even though you want to? Or maybe even carrying shopping bags up the stairs is a struggle? Exercise more and you'll eventually be able to handle these activities with ease.

8) Reduce Stress: Exercise can hugely reduce stress levels. If you regularly suffer from stress - or even mental heath issues such as depression and anxiety - regular exercise can help to reduce your symptoms.

9) Gain A Sense Of Achievement: When you start to exercise and see the improvements you're making week on week, you'll really get the feeling that you've achieved something worthwhile!

10) Keep Your Independence Later In Life: The more you can exercise now, while you're still able, the more you can reduce the impact of certain health problems later in life. In short, keeping fit and healthy will help you to keep your independence as late into life as possible.

So how much will you need to work out to feel these benefits of exercising? That all depends on your current fitness levels. The good news is that just 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to improve your health drastically. Make a decision to improve your health and well being by exercising regularly in 2016!

Remember to keep an eye on this blog, as we will be bringing you more fun workouts throughout the months ahead to keep you motivated and help you fit more exercise into your life!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

4 Reasons Why You May Need A Break From Exercise

If you've been working hard along with us to keep fit this holiday season, maybe it's time for a break! You've worked hard, but it is possible to overdo it, and it's okay to take a rest from your exercise routine once in a while.

Other than just needing a short rest, there are actually lot of reasons why you may need to take a break from exercise. If any of the following scenarios sound familiar to you, you might want to take a chill pill and slow down your physical fitness efforts.

You Are Overdoing It

You started to see some results, so you began exercising more frequently. More results appear, so now you are working out intensely every single day. Hey, it's great you are getting some results. But if you overwork your body, it will fail you.

That means that while you are recuperating, many of the results you achieved are lost. Scale back if you think you might be overdoing it with your exercise efforts. You only need 3 to 5 sessions of moderate to intense physical activity each week to enjoy the healthy benefits exercise offers.

You Are Becoming a Perfectionist

English: KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea— Airmen ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you spend a lot of time obsessing in front of a mirror about your physically fit body, you may need to dial back the exercise-ometer. Some people become way too laser focused on building the "perfect" body. Exercising and working out should be about physical and mental health, and not pushing each and every muscle on your body to a level of perfection that continues to seem just out of reach.

You Always Feel Sore

Anytime you exert physical force on your body, you tear your muscles. This is a natural reaction, and when you supply your body with proper nutrition, your muscles actually heal and grow back stronger than before. This is how you notice muscles building on your body after several sessions of exercise.

It is also natural to feel a little sore after you have played some intense sports or lifted some weights. However, it is unnatural to feel sore all over your body, day and night. If you constantly suffer aches and pains long after your physical fitness routine is over, you may be exercising too much.

You Develop an Unnaturally Short Fuse and Temper

Are your friends and family members constantly complaining about your temper? Do you lash out verbally at the people you love, sometimes for no reason at all? It could be because your natural cortisol levels are spiking.

Exercise produces cortisol. That "stress hormone" can cause you to become anxious and anything but relaxed. Excessive exercise can naturally lead to heightened anxiety, where you strike out at others in a sense of frustration because your body and mind are stressed out from not enough down time.

Keep in mind though, that this can also be a symptom of not exercising enough! Exercise can be a great stress-reliever that can actually make you happier and less short-tempered. You probably know whether exercising too much, or not enough, applies to you, but if you're an exercise-a-holic, this is a symptom to keep an eye out for.

Now, it's time for the holidays, so let's take a break this week, relax, and enjoy your Christmas!

We'll be back next week with some tips on setting healthy exercise resolutions for 2016, plus a great, fun, workout to kick off the New Year!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

[Video] 10-Minute Belly Blaster Medicine Ball Ab Workout

The tummy is a "trouble area" for many people, especially after all the snacking of the holiday months! This short workout will help you keep your abs tight and your tummy trim, using just a mat and a medicine ball. It takes less than 10 minutes, so you can tone your abs between holiday shopping trips and still make it to the mall on time!

Use a medicine ball that is appropriate for your fitness level; 10 lbs is usually a good weight for beginners. Keep your abs tight throughout to maximize the benefits of the exercises and minimize risk of injury.

Please note that there is no voiceover on this video, so you will want to watch the instructions for each exercise on screen the first time through.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

5 Ways To Use A Medicine Ball To Improve Your Fitness

If you're looking for a fun way to exercise, a medicine ball may be a nice addition to your workout equipment. You can get fast results in many different areas with the use of this versatile tool.

The saying “work smarter, not harder” applies to many facets of life, including exercise. Some people spin their wheels on a boring treadmill or exercises bike for month, and often until this mundane routine does little to accelerate their fitness level.

The truth is there is a wide variety of exercise equipment available on the market that targets specific exercise and body conditioning goals. It is important to become educated in the various types of workouts and equipment available and to use those as applicable in order to make the best use of your workout time and effort.

Using different equipment and varying your workouts helps to deter boredom, makes exercise more fun, and helps to keep the body guessing and challenged, which helps to improve overall fitness a great deal. One great fitness tool is the medicine ball, a versatile and extremely useful apparatus that meets a variety of fitness goals.

What Is A Medicine Ball

English: Outer rubber shell and inner core of ...
Outer rubber shell and inner core of an air filled 10 pound medicine ball (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A medicine ball is a specially designed fitness ball approximately 13.7 inches in diameter. The weight of a medicine ball can range from 2 to 50 pounds. Some medicine balls are covered in leather and others in rubberized material. Medicine balls may have a sport specific shape such as that of a football while others bounce. Depending on the purpose of the medicine ball, it may also have built in grips or handles to increase the variety of exercises available for its use.

People engaged in rehabilitation therapy and integrated fitness practices often include the use of a medicine ball in their regimen. In athletics, exercises incorporating a medicine ball build speed, agility, increased muscular power and endurance as well muscle resilience. The goal of incorporating a medicine ball in rehabilitation for non-athletes is often simple functional fitness, to be able to perform daily activities efficiently and proficiently.

Training Benefits Of A Medicine Ball

1. Strength Training

The versatility of the medicine ball makes it an ideal fitness tool when training for whole body muscular fitness. Medicine balls may be lifted, pressed, swung, bounced and caught on the rebound as well as pulled or thrown. For example, the ball may be tossed back and forth between partners to build upper body strength. 
Sample Strength Training Exercise: The Medicine Ball Slam is an exercise where the ball is slammed to the ground and caught on the bounce back.

Another example is the Medicine Ball Side Throws where the ball is held by the hands in front of the body and moved from the center to the left and right.

2. Speed Training

Medicine ball exercises, which emphasize plyometric movement through the legs, extending and contracting the leg muscles forcefully while carrying or moving (lifting or throwing) the weight of the ball build speed.

Sample Speed Training Exercise: A simple exercise for this purpose is the squat throw. During the exercise, the athlete holds the medicine ball in front of them at chest level with elbows moderately bent squats then throws the ball forcefully away as they jump out of their squat. Exercises that build core strength also assist with speed gains.

3. Core Training

Medicine balls effectively build core strength, because the exercises associated with their use require core stabilization to be completed safely. The core may also be isolated during a medicine ball training session. For example, the side pass to a partner calls for two people stand back to back and twist to pass the ball behind their backs to one another alternating sides.

Sample Core Training Exercise: Another core exercise is Medicine Ball Leg Raises, where the medicine ball is held by the hands over the head, then the hands, legs are lifted to meet, and the ball is passed to between the ankles, after which the legs are slowly lowered to the ground. 

Another popular core exercise is the Russian Twist. When performing a Russian Twist, the athlete sits on the floor with knees bent, and feet grounded and leans the torso back about 45 degrees while holding the medicine ball in their hands. Once in this position, the athlete twists left and right with the medicine ball in hand for several repetitions. The feet may be lifted off the ground for additional resistance and to make the Russian twist much more challenging.

4. Rehabilitation for Functional Fitness

The variety of medicine balls available makes it an ideal rehabilitation tool. Clients are able to perform a variety of exercises suited to functional fitness, including, lifting, pushing, pulling, etc. Medicine balls also allow them to do so with weights suitable to their current fitness level and the desired fitness outcomes.

5. Power Training

Medicine balls are especially effective when athletes use them with the intention of building power. As mentioned earlier, the addition of medicine ball weights to plyometric exercises significantly increases strength and power.

Sample Power Training Exercise: A person may include squat jump tosses in their exercise regimen; starting with the ball overhead, the athlete squats while swinging the medicine ball between their legs. To finish the exercise, the athlete rises and jumps into the air while tossing the ball up and letting it fall behind them.

Precautions And Considerations For Medicine Ball Training
  • If you want to include medicine balls in your fitness regimen, consult with your doctor to get clearance for weight training
  • Consult a skilled fitness trainer that can help to develop an appropriate routine for your fitness level and goals. 
  • Training with free weights requires a bit more skill and attention. Medicine balls are a type of free weight; without the safeguards of a weight machine, keeping control of the weight falls on the athlete. 
  • You'll need assistance selecting a medicine ball of the appropriate weight, size, and style (bouncing, with handles or grips, etc.) for your exercise goals and fitness level.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

[Video] 4-Minute Holiday HIIT Workout

Too busy to keep up your regular workout routine this month? No problem! Remember, it doesn't have to take 2 hours of exercise a day to stay fit during the Christmas season, but it does take consistency. You can still get a great workout in under 5 minutes with the right intensity and dedication. Here is a good example.

This workout only takes about 4 minutes - it's super quick and intense. You can do this one as before breakfast cardio (super fat burner), as finishers to your regular workouts (to get ripped), or just to get some exercise and keep up your fat-burning efforts on days when you don't have time for a full workout.

Please Note: This is a high-intensity workout! You should consult with your doctor or personal trainer before attempting this workout, especially if you are at a low fitness level. Always listen to your body, and pay attention to proper form when performing each exercise to avoid injury.
This powerful little workout will help you burn fat not just while you're doing it, but all day long afterwards. With workouts like this, you can keep fit and keep off those holiday pounds, even during the busy holiday season!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

5 Awesome Health Benefits of Ditching Your Car & Walking

It has been scientifically proven that walking more and sitting less provides multiple health benefits. Your heart gets stronger, and healthy oxygen is pumped throughout your body where it is put to work powering all of your inner and exterior physiological systems and functions. When it comes right down to it, you know you should be physically active more often.

While you may be extra busy this time of year, you also have lots of great opportunities to walk more, as you hit the malls for all that holiday shopping! Parking is a nightmare anyway, so why not walk (if you can), or at least park far away from the store entrance instead of fighting for that last parking spot near the door? As an incentive to "ditching" your car when it is not really needed, take a look at the following 5 health benefits you can enjoy by walking instead of driving.

#1. You May Live Longer

The Archives of Internal Medicine have released some scary statistics about sitting: Sit between 8 and 11 hours a day and you are 15% more likely to die from any cause than those who sit for 4 hours or less daily. You probably do not spend several hours driving in your car every day. But the evidence that extended sitting shortens your life span should provide enough motivation for you to walk instead of driving your car whenever you can.

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#2. You Will Lose Weight

A UK study showed that parking your car and walking can lead to more weight loss than regimented diet and exercise! The research measured the BMI of 7,534 men and women. Men who walked or rode their bikes to work were on average 7.0 pounds lighter than their driving counterparts (allowances were made for demographics such as age, fitness level and other factors). Walking women were approximately 5.5 pounds lighter. What a great incentive to walk more this month - it can help you keep off those extra holiday pounds!

#3. You Will Feel Happier

There is plenty of research which equates being outdoors with a sense of happiness. Just 10 to 15 minutes a day exposed to sunshine actually gives you a sense of happiness and peace of mind. (The reason you feel happier walking and driving might have a lot to do with benefit number 5 below.)

#4. It Will Make Your Friends and Family Healthier Too

Fitness is contagious. When you start walking instead of driving, losing weight and looking great, people will notice. Your family members, friends and coworkers will ask you what you did to lose the weight. When you tell them it was simply by walking instead of driving, you can have a positive health impact on others.

#5. It Helps Relieve Anxiety and Stress

There is a reason why the daily commute can lead to road rage. Driving to and from work or anywhere else, especially in a crowded metropolitan area, can lead to anxiety, panic and a whole lot of stress. The next time you are going for a short drive and it is beautiful outside, walk instead, and see just how stress-free the experience can be.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

[Video] Holiday Hustle Workout

This time of year it seems the activity never ends. From work and holiday parties, planning events with family and friends, and of course trying to get all that holiday shopping done, who has time to work out?

Unfortunately, what with all of our busyness, plus our tendency to eat lots of holiday goodies, the holiday months are those that we tend to pack on those unwanted pounds. Even those of us who are usually very dedicated about working out may find our resolve slipping.

That's why, this month, we're dedicated to bringing you a short, intense, and effective weekly workout! We promise every workout will take 15 minutes or less. All you need to do is commit to doing each workout 3 times that week, and you will definitely put a dent in those holiday pounds before they even take hold of your hips!

This week's workout takes just 8 minutes, but it will definitely get you moving, get your heart rate up, and tone your entire body. It requires no equipment, so you can do it in your living room or even on a break at work - just about anywhere!

Let's get your workout in, and then you can get back to your regular holiday hustle and bustle.  :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Does Fitness Depend Mostly on Will-Power?

You have probably achieved some of the fitness goals you have set during your life. But you have probably failed to reach certain levels of physical fitness as well, haven't you? You are the same person, so why did you succeed in one physical endeavor and fail in another? Was it because you were not "mentally tough" when you needed to be? Was your mindset to blame? And if it was, how can you change that?

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Dr. Jim Loehr is a globally recognized performance psychologist. He wrote a wonderful book titled Mental Toughness Training for Sports: Achieving Athletic Excellence. In it he discusses and defines mental toughness, revealing that it is made up of the following 7 components:
  • self-confidence
  • attention control
  • minimizing negative energy
  • increasing positive energy
  • maintaining motivation levels
  • attitude control
  • visual and imagery control
He uses the word energy twice and the word control 3 times in defining the 7 dimensions of mental toughness in physical endeavors. And while the actual meaning of mental toughness may vary from one expert to the next, controlling your energy has a lot to do with your ability to accomplish any physical fitness goals.

By controlling and directing your mental and physical energies, you are able to set a habitual course that improves your ability to achieve the physical goals you set. But let's get back to our original question.

Does fitness, and your state of physical health, rely mostly on mental toughness?

Research in the past few years has shown that 60% to 80% of your physical appearance and fitness will be determined by your diet. So nutrition is obviously very important.

But let's take two identical individuals. They are the same age, same height and weight. They both enjoy a healthy diet. But after work, Subject A heads straight for the couch and the remote control. They watch television until bedtime, go to sleep late, wake up tired and start the process all over.

Subject B exercises in the evening. She makes sure that she drinks plenty of water throughout the day, goes to bed at a decent hour, and gets plenty of rest. In the morning before heading off to work, she exercises. On her lunch break she goes for a walk outside her workplace rather than spending that time stuck to her office chair.

Which one of these two individuals is going to be in better physical shape? It is obvious that subject B will enjoy a healthier and more physically fit body. And it's because she programmed her mind to consciously adopt a healthy lifestyle, which over time becomes an unconscious habit.

However you define it, mental toughness has to be present to some degree for you to reach your physical goals.

But you cannot simply sit on your couch and think about the level of physical fitness you want to achieve. You have to take action. You have to exercise. You have to adopt a healthy diet, drink lots of liquids and get plenty of rest.

Take all of the actionable steps you need to create the body and lifestyle you desire, and combine them with a persistent and confident mental focus. You may just find that the physical barriers of your past become the physical achievements of your future.