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Keepin’ It Real

If you are reading this, chances are you are a fellow gym enthusiast. Whether it is at a boutique gym or big box, following are myths debunked for everyday gym situations:

You try to a new boot camp class and within 3 minutes you realize you bit off more than you can chew. You should leave now.gym-newbie-confused
False.
Keep calm and carry on.  Try not to be intimidated – you can handle most any class, you might just need to make modifications. Make eye contact with your instructor and ask them for alternate moves.

If I wait to get the equipment I need for a class until the class starts, I’ll be fine.
Not so much.
Try to prep your gear prior to when a class starts.  Not only is it a bit disruptive to your workout to try to grab your apparatuses (weights, bands, gliders) when the exercises begin, you may get behind and a little lost and it will cut your workout short. It’s OK to ask the instructor what you will need prior to class starting.

I can get sick from using sweaty equipment someone used before me.
True.
There are lots of bodily fluids exposed at the gym… and yes, you can catch a sickness. Not to mention we are headin’ into the sick season. Try not to assume someone else will wipe the equipment when you’re done. Just as if you would want it cleaned before you use it, wipe it clean after you’re done. Better yet, wipe it before and after you use it. Most every facility has wipes or spray bottles close by.

Stretching is not important.
False.
At the end of a class or session, it is very important to stay for the stretching. Your body is all fired up and your muscles will coil up like a slinky on a staircase if you don’t properly stretch. This is the optimal time to stretch and elongate your muscles and keep some of the next day ache away. In addition, when someone from class leaves during the stretching (relaxing) portion of the class it can disrupt the vibe.

Chatting during class is fine. It’s a social atmosphere, isn’t it?
False.
Total no-no. No one wants to hear someone having a conversation in a class – whether it’s on the phone or in person, especially when the instructor is giving instructions. Plus, it’s pretty indicative your not working hard enough. Be mindful. Save it for before or after class.

Always mute or turn off your cell phone during a gym session.
True.
Turn-it-off or put your phone on silence. For you and others around you. This is your time.

It’s ok to show off all my assets when working out. After all, I look hot.
Uh, False.
Keep it tucked in – pick a workout outfit that holds it all in tight (read: bras). It will help with your performance. Last thing you want is someone gawking at your goodies while you are working out.

Gum is dangerous to chew when working out.
True.
There is really no good reason to chew gum while working out. Most likely, it will end up being swallowed and you can choke or lose your breath during your strenuous sessions. It actually can affect your breathing pattern. Plus, no one wants to hear someone crack-a-lackin’ away during their workout.

Flying through my workout can actually have adverse effects.
True.
Slow it down. Moving as quickly as possible during exercises can be detrimental – not only to your workout but to your form (aka injury). You are MUCH better off contracting and focusing on each movement then racing through. You will see definition much quicker.

Exercising is so much more important than how well I eat.
False.
Diet is 80% of the equation. Working out is extremely important for cardiovascular, muscular and emotional health, but eating can make or break your results. Try to keep your diet as clean as possible. It will double your efforts and you will see a much faster, more noticeable impact on your body.

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Bringin’ Back Your Mojo

It’s so easy to get into a routine and feel like you’ve hit a plateau. Your body is not changing, you aren’t as energized as you used to be and you just go through the motions to get in a workout.

What’s it going to take to inspire you again? You need to re-ignite your mojo. Two solutions:

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

If you find yourself doing the same exercises week after week, in the same sequence, your body is going to adjust. Monday cardio, Tuesday Tabata, rest Wednesday, Thursday Tabata, comfort-zoneFriday cardio. There is a lot of comfortable anticipation and you may have stopped pushing yourself hard in each workout. It is critical to get out of your comfort zone. Change it up.

Instead of running on a treadmill for 30 minutes – change it to intervals. 5 minutes at 6mph, then 2 minute sprints at 7.6mph and repeat. Keep that going for 30 minutes, increasing your speed a little more each set. You will be much less bored and your body will be shocked into having to react to a new movement.

During your HIIT class, contract your abs the whole time and set yourself a goal of jumping the highest in the class…measure it – seek it out. Push yourself.

Keeps your muscles and body guessing…and readjusting…and changing.

Find The New

I was in my normal weekly routine (with a few summer schedule quirks) and scheduled to teach Tabata outside at my pool club and no one showed (tough summer vacation schedules!). Instead, the tennis director offered me a one hour private session. Holy kicked-my-ass. I was so rejuvenated, pumped up and excited I could not contain myself. I had a perma-grin the remainder of the day. I was so energized from the change, I came home and ran another 40 minutes outside (which I also never do) – from pure exhilaration of something new and challenging my body in new ways.

Find something new to get you excited. Try rock climbing – go for a hike – try a new class – something to remind you how much fun it is to challenge your body.  Change your playlist. Set yourself a new goal – “I will run 3 miles in 26 minutes.” Find a partner in crime and run on the beach – or try kick boxing.  There are so many clubs, gyms, boutique studios that offer free or reduced trial classes. Take one week and try them all: Barre, Trampoline, HIIT, Yoga, SLT… call it your exercise renewal.

You will be exhilarated by the change and it will trickle down into future workouts.

Finding the new will give you that extra spring in your step and change in your body.

 

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Foam Rolling – Why It’s So Beneficial!

There are many different stretching exercises out there and all have similar goals: increase flexibility, improve performance and reduce muscle soreness.  One of the more recent and effective additions to the world of stretching is foam rolling.  Due to a recent injury, I have spent a lot of time rolling and learning first hand about its benefits and I have been amazed at the results.

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What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rollers are cylinders about 6 inches in diameter and usually about 36 inches long that you lie on and roll over your muscles to help to loosen tight muscles. Foam rolling actually increases circulation so the connective tissue and muscles receive more oxygen and water than stretching alone.  In addition, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that acts similarly to massage. Meaning not only do you get the benefits of working out muscle knots and tightness, but you also get the same reduction in stress releasing hormones and improved mood and relaxation that you get from a massage.  Some call it the ‘poor man’s massage’.

A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research documented the benefits of foam rolling before a workout.  The study tracked 2 groups of active people: one group used a foam roller before working out and the other group did not.  The group that used the rollers not only felt less sore after their workouts, they also felt that the workouts were not as difficult.

Foam rolling is not only beneficial for those who work out, it is also great for anyone who sits for long periods of time.  Long bouts of sitting are not good for our bodies (that is a whole other blog topic!) but for most of us, it can’t be avoided.  Foam rolling is also an excellent way to reverse the harmful effects of long-term sitting.

Tips of How and When to Roll:

  • How to roll.  Either find a trigger point (painful spot) and apply pressure, or roll along the muscle (like a massage). A combination of both usually works best.
  • Roll before and after a workout. 
  • Hydrate before you roll.  In general, hydrated tissue is resilient and more susceptible to the benefits of rolling while pliable dehydrated tissue is glued-down and sticky.
  • Do it slowly.  You want slow and purposeful movements.  When you hit a painful area, stay on it – that is where you need to focus.
  • Move in multiple directions. It’s not just up-and-down; muscles and fascia attach at different angles and even in spirals, so roll in different directions.
  • Make it a daily habit.  Even if you aren’t at the gym, make a point of rolling those muscles.  Think of it like flossing – it is daily maintenance.
  • Don’t foam roll on joints.

Personally, foam rolling is the single best thing I have done to combat my injuries.  The benefit is immediate; with each rolling session, I feel noticeable improvement.  I plan to make foam rolling a permanent part of my daily routine in hopes of not only speeding up my recovery, but reducing my chance for future injuries.

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