To Join or Not To Join The Health Club

Joining a health club used to be a luxury but now with obesity rates rising finding ways to stay in shape are no longer for the rich and famous. The problem becomes to join or not to join especially in this economy.

Joining a health club can be one way of keeping your fitness goals. In fact according to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportclub Association a health club membership can up your chances of reaching your fitness goals but joining means paying a fee to use the facility. So the question becomes – should I join or is my money better spent another way?

In full disclosure I used to own a fitness center. I understand the need for fees and contracts and member commitments, however I also have been a member at various clubs and understand the decision to keep or toss a membership card. Here are some thinks to about when you are deciding to join or not to join.
Will you use the facility – Number one reason I hear for dropping a membership is “I just don’t use it”. Yet the person had get ideas to start a program and fronted the enrollment fees, monthly dues, and sometimes more to begin. Why pay anything if you won’t be using it. Be honesty with yourself.

Do they have want you are looking for? Classes, personal trainers you trust, supplemental services, i.e. towels, lockers, massage, tanning, juice bars, etc

What is the cost? If you can’t afford it look for something less expensive that still meets your needs.
Where is the room in your budget? Are there other monthly fees you can let go of to take on the club membership without strapping your cash flow?

Is it close enough? The average person will not commute more than 5 miles to a facility. If you are further ask yourself if you will still get there when its cold, hot, rainy, your tired, other errands need to be done, the house is a mess, etc. If you can’t answer a resounding YES you may want to consider another spot.

Will you exercise outside of the club? Many people have trouble staying focused if they are working out at home, outside, or in different places each time. If you need the routine and ritual of walking through the club doors to keep fitness a priority – become a member!

It’s a great idea to explore and “try out” different clubs. There are many styles from everything included to bare bones facilities out there. Each has its own personality, membership base, and offerings. Finding one that really fits with you is as important as finding a great pair of jeans. It’ll keep you coming back over and over – which might be why most people have more fitness success when they are members.

Exercise on The Cheap

Many of us want to stay fit but as the economy becomes tighter we are beginning to question how we can. Check out these ideas so you don’t let your fitness slide along with the stock markets.

Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive. Truly all you need to move is you. Exercise can be accomplished using things you find in your everyday life. Are you looking ideas to keep working out but need something a little less posh? Try these out.

Use your body weight – push-ups, squats, pull-ups and all their variations can add overload without any fancy equipment.

Look in your pantry. Canned food and gallon jugs can effectively add resistance similar to a hand weight. Empty milk (or other liquid) jugs can be refilled to your needed weight so you can add more as you get stronger.

Use broom handles and a couple of chairs to create a modified pull up bar. This will allow you to lift only what you can rather than your whole body as in a traditional pull-up. In addition couches, chairs, ottomans can become “benches” for better range of motion.

Look for stairs around your house – they don’t have to be “real” stairs. Stools, rocks, stumps, etc all count if you have to step up to get on them. *safety note: you don’t want to be stepping too high – no more than 18 inches is plenty or so your knee and hip are perpendicular to the ground.

Kids are good for something! If they are small use them as weight – backpacks, strollers, and simple play can help you build your muscles. If they are older let them lead you in a fun game of tag or obstacle courses they love being the leaders. Teens may be willing to take a healthy lifestyle challenge with you with the bonus of building a closer relationship.

Invest simply in fitness equipment – rubber tubing, hand/ankle/wrist weights, a step, a ball, etc are versatile and inexpensive pieces that give a bit gain for little cost. The trick on equipment is – IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW CHEAP IT WAS IF YOU DON’T USE IT!

There are many ways you can continue fitness on the cheap. The trick is to get creative, think outside the box, and make sure you are being safe. As always discuss your new fitness routine with your healthcare person and remember to have a great time!

If you decided to build a home gym, comment below and tell us what you decided to use? What was your essential must have piece of equipment (it’s ok if that’s a milk jug!)

Like this article – read more: Try planning home workouts or Cardio Workouts Indoors for more ideas on working out at home.

Exercising Sore Muscles, Using Active Rest

We’ve all had those days when we wake up and know we did something active the day or two before. Delayed onset soreness isn’t uncommon but can affect how you feel about exercise, your body, and your fitness accomplishments. Exercising sore muscles can help. If you injured yourself during an activity but don’t need immediate medical care active rest can help, too but first some basic first aid can help.

The best thing is to train ahead of time. If you have failed to practice or train ahead of time there are some things you can do to get over those aches and pains with relatively little couch (whine) time. According to physical therapist Jim Rauzi, of the Center for Muscle and Joint Therapy in Superior, WI, “go for ice. You can usually do right by ice. Many people reach for heat because it feels good, however, heat keeps the injury bleeding which can cause more damage. You are better off to reach for ice if you need something right away. “

Follow R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is important to understand how your injury is affected by movement. “Once you are able, you’ll want to follow immediate treatments with active rest,” says Rauzi.

Active rest means find movement you can do which does not affect the injured areas. If it feels ok, there is a school of thought and some research to support moving in the same pattern which created the soreness. In other words, if you are sore from walking, walk some. Use a slower pace and include stretching. Sorry, but it sounds like laying on the couch may not be the best alternative. You should get up and move, possibly do a little bit of stretching.

Whatever you decide to do it should not hurt more. It should help you feel better, and remember, this is not to treat or take the place of doctor’s advice, make sure you communicate with your health care professional.

Steps To Train For An Event

Are you one of those people who decides to do an event and spends the next few days on the couch whining about sore muscles and poor performance? We’d call you a weekend warrior! See last posting for more info on that, but if you want to feel great about your performance and know you did you best keep reading.

If you are preparing for an event think about what movements you must do to perform well in your activity. Maybe it is a 5k run, hit a home run, or par for the course. Maybe it’s a walk around your block, playing with the grandkids, or hiking with your children.
It is a great idea to train ahead of your event, outing, or race. You’ll be less likely to injure yourself and spend following days on the couch. Come to terms with where you are today in relation to where you were and move according to your current level.

Ø Practice movement patterns required by your event – break down your golf swing, run/walk, practice swimming strokes, etc

Ø Build up your endurance and speed – figure out how much time you have to train and incrementally increase your training to reflect how much time you have and how fast/long you want to complete the event at.

Ø Eat well – training isn’t just about exercise and movement. Eating right for an event gives your body the energy it needs to perform well. Hint: Eating right doesn’t just happen the day of or night before an event.

Ø Take breaks – your body needs time to rest while you are training. Make sure to take a day or two off (with active rest) each week.

Ø Be realistic in your goals – use your current fitness level and length of training time to determine realistically where you should finish. Choosing your high school track meet times may not be in your favor.

It is totally possible to compete at great levels as we age. Training and practice are a must – so once again I am telling you, “Get active, get in the gym, and get living”.

Tips for Weekend Warriors

Are you a weekend warrior? You know, the people who go all out each weekend as if they were as nimble as they once were. Yet, they are the ones on the couch nursing (or should I say whining about) their aching back, hip, arm, shoulder, elbow, head, whatever for the next two days!

Are you a weekend warrior? You know, the people who go all out each weekend as if they were as nimble as they once were. Yet, they are the ones on the couch nursing (or should I say whining about) their aching back, hip, arm, shoulder, elbow, head, whatever for the next two days! My former professor wrote a book on retiring from athletics gracefully, a tough but necessary rite of passage. We try to hang onto former levels of activity, however, we are no longer practicing at the same level, which means we are no longer at the same level. A hard realization, I know.
According to Jim Rauzi, physical therapist with the Center for Muscle and Joint Therapy in Superior, WI, the first part of understanding the pains associated with weekend warrior type activity is to accept that you are experiencing a little (in some cases a lot) more activity than you are used to. No matter what you used to do, you no longer work at that level and accepting that you cannot jump into activity the same way is crucial. Ideally, you should be training for your events. Train for golf outings, sports leagues, 5-Ks, and other activities you know are taxing. Many people feel this is overkill, however, those who train feel much better after the race and are much less likely to suffer a debilitating injury.

For those of you with time before the big event consider training to help you perform your best. The biggest mistake I see is overestimating what the body can do based on old memories of what it did. Yea, you used to be able to run, skate, tumble, row, ride that fast or further. Unfortunately, you haven’t been training and at one time you practiced those activities.

More on training for an event next time.

Learning To Balance

Balance is something many of us take for granted. Think about how you balance. Has anything ever taken away your balance? An injury or loss of hearing, sight, or a case of vertigo? Have you tried incorporating balance into your fitness training and noticed how much your core engages? Balance can be a great way to begin adding functional activity into your daily life.

Balance is learned. Many of us don’t remember learning because we were little when we learned to walk. If we can learn it, we can unlearn it, so we must keep doing it to keep our balance strong. Balance is done not only with the body, but the eyes and ears. If we lose a sense, we will have to adjust how we balance.
Start noticing when do you need to hold onto the railings, walls, things around you? Begin trying to hold on less. If you already have great balance begin incorporating unstable surfaces into your workouts, such as the BOSU, balance discs, and foam rollers.

Balance can be incorporated into many different movements, but my favorite way to teach balance is to have people brush their teeth while standing on one leg. Your body will adapt very quickly, as this is more a nervous system adaptation. Once you’ve got it on one leg move to your other. You may find you balance easier on one leg than the other. Each of us has a dominant side so it is normal to feel as though you are better at balancing or using one side or the other. By practicing balance on both sides of the body you are creating freedom to move.

More freedom in movement will translate into moving more, and you’ll be feeling great about your body’s ability to move. Once again, your body – absolutely amazing!

How to Stretch Effectively

Photo Credit: www.Sunlighten.com   

Many people fail to stretch because they just don’t know how. The basics of flexibility are easy and once you get them down begin adding them into all your workouts for maximum benefits. Stretching may seem mild in comparison to your normal workout but don’t forget to stretch your muscles will thank you.

When you begin flexibility training start slow. Begin by holding stretches for 15-30 seconds at the point you feel tension in the muscle. Do not bounce as you hold these stretches, you’ll run the risk of hurting muscle tissue. We have a built in response system for muscle tension, and bouncing can damage muscle tissue by moving it beyond the threshold too quickly. Stretch all muscles you worked.

Try foam rollers to help you relieve soreness and deepen your stretches.

Many times stretching can help soreness. There are many theories surrounding muscle soreness, but stretching seems to relieve it. Begin by moving around or taking a hot shower or bath, allowing blood to reach muscle tissue, stretch muscles that are sore using the above guidelines, and feel better.

Remember: 

Warm Up Your Muscles
Start Slow
Move to the Point of Tension
Hold for 15-30 Seconds
Repeat Stretches 2-3 Times Per Muscle Group
AND Don’t Ignore Your Flexibility Training!

What is Flexibility Training?

Many times this fitness component gets left behind. Here’s why you should take this part of your exercise routine seriously.

Flexibility refers to our joints’ ability to move through their complete range of motion. This is very important to our fitness level because it allows us to perform the movements we want to do. If you are an athlete you’ll want to have the ability to move through full range so you are at the top of your game. If you are moving for health you’ll want to train for flexibility because supple joints allow you to move well.

Inadequate range of motion is the cause of many injuries. Lower back pain is often associated with tight abdominals, hip flexors, or hamstrings, and the more you hurt the less you move. The less you move the more tight your muscles become and the less you move. See where this leads?

As a component of fitness, flexibility training should be done after a workout, when the muscles are warm. Stretching after a workout allows your muscles to learn. They remember how far they stretch, which is how our flexibility grows. Performing flexibility training when the muscles are warm allows them to capitalize on the blood they have, creating more stretch safely.

Flexibility does have limits. We are genetically programmed to be more or less flexible, but not an excuse for not training. You will build upon what you have. Remember fitness is about where you are, not where you think you should be or where your neighbor is. It is all about you.

Feel like you need a tool to help you reach your flexibility goals? Try foam rollers.

Who Are You Changing For?

Many of us decide it’s time to do something different in our lives. But is this decision truly ours? Or has someone else put the idea we need to change into our head? When deciding to change honestly answer these two questions.

Once you have convinced yourself you are ready for change you must determine who you are changing for. The obvious answer may not be the real answer. Deeply look at your motivation, are you the reason for the change, or is a parent, spouse, doctor, sibling, friend, etc. Is it someone else’s idea or voice you hear?
If it is not you; commitment is likely to wane. Next determine why you want to change. As with the question of who, why is a critical factor in realizing a goal. Determine your why. Get passionate about it. Taste it, feel it, begin to live it.

Immersion into an idea is supported by research and will lead to change. In other words, find as many ways to support your new lifestyle, new activities, new thoughts, rewards, support, new ideas about how you could change your habits to support your new direction.

The more pathways you create in your brain to support this change the more likely you are to succeed. Believe with every cell in your body and it will manifest.

Change Is Hard

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen. You can and why not start today.

Change is hard. It is very hard. The truth is, changing is harder than staying the same, regardless of how I might beat myself up for failing to change. It is easier to continue smoking, eating poorly, or being sedentary even when I know these things are bad for me. Our food choices are based on their ability to fuel our bodies, release “feel good” hormones, and satisfy us, and we seek out activities that provide us pleasure. Pleasure is a personal choice which may not have anything to do with what is best for us.
If you are going to make a change in your life you have to be ready for discomfort – at least for a short while. In the beginning it will seem easier to go with your old routine rather than try a different activity. It will also feel better (comfortable) to stick to the old. Starting something new usually requires a little risk, a little uncertainty, and a little discomfort. The key is to be ready for this discomfort and accept it. Deal with it and use it to your advantage.