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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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Sick Of It

athlete-fatigueDo you work out, eat well and take care of yourself yet often find you are sick or tired all the time?

Despite taking such good care of your body, if you are an avid exerciser and fitness enthusiast you can actually break down your immune system with overtraining. Many factors associated with overtraining compromise an athlete’s immune system. In fact, upper respiratory infections are actually very common in athletes.

This was a big topic during the training for my Nutrition Certification I just completed this past week. Let’s break it down.

What Happens?
When you exercise, there is an increase in stress hormones which leads to high inflammatory markers (bi-products of chronic stress). There is also a decrease in innate and acquired immunity.

Interesting Fact: 90 minutes after strenuous activity, your immunity is the lowest and you are more apt to get sick! It’s important to refrain from putting your hands near your mouth or eyes (the most susceptible areas of the body) post exercise & wash your hands immediately.

How Do I Keep The Sickness and Fatigue Away?

Protein
Protein is a key component to building immunity. Make sure you are getting adequate amounts. Your daily protein intake should be between 0.8-1.8 grams per 2.2 lbs. The high or low range depends on your activity level. An average adult needs about 0.8 – 1.2 g/2.2 lbs. where a strength athlete needs between 1.4-1.8 g/2.2 lbs.

Example: For a 150 pound active woman: divide 150 by 2.2lbs and multiply that number by about 1.2 grams of protein. Total = 82 grams of protein per day.

Vitamins and Minerals
There are several vitamins and minerals that work as anti-oxidants and help keep your immunity strong including Vitamin A, E, B6, B12, C and Folic Acid. Zinc and Iron are also important, but they should be ingested in moderation as too much can actually have the opposite effect and lower immunity. Most of these vitamins/minerals can be ingested in the food you eat: green leafy veggies, beans, eggs, dairy, lean meats, fruits and whole grains.

Ingest Carbs
Eating carbs post-exercise is said to help build your immune system and reduce stress hormones. We are not talking about eating a box of crackers or bag of pretzels – try to keep to “real” foods such as fruits, veggies and healthy grains.

Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is critical to helping your body function. Dehydration can be the main reason for fatigue. When you exercise, especially in hotter weather, it’s important to rehydrate 125-150% of fluid loss during exercise. Thirst is regulated in the brain. You are already very dehydrated when you even begin to feel thirsty.  You have to stay ahead of it.

Probiotics
I have professed my belief in probiotics for years – studies suggest probiotic and prebiotic ingestion in athletes reduces sick days.

Polyphenols
Polyphenols are abundant micronutrients in our diet, and evidence for their role in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases is emerging. They are said to be great stress inhibitors and promote immunity. These can be found in foods like kale, hot peppers, onion, apples, etc. Here is a list of 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols.

Sleep
As I preach to my clients all the time, adequate rest is crucial for an athlete’s recovery and keeps stress hormones low and repairs mental and physical function. Consistent sleep patterns and getting enough sleep to repair your body is crucial in keeping your immunity & performance levels high and stress hormones low.

Stress
And of course, keeping regular stress at bay is a big component. The more stressed you are, the lower your immunity levels and higher your fatigue. Your body may even start to hold onto some fat. The unfortunate result is when we are chronically stressed by life crises and work-life demands, we are prone to getting an extra layer of “visceral fat” deep in our bellies.

Nutrition is a big component of your day to day. It dictates everything – how your body responds to stress, your energy level and a strong immune system. Getting enough anti-oxidants, keeping stress levels in control and being able to replenish & repair your body are key to optimizing your health and energy levels.

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