Monday, January 13, 2014

Healthy and Fit through Variety of Exercise Equipment

Studies find that keeping a fitness diary, reviewing your fitness successes and failures, and holding yourself accountable to others are all good strategies for sticking to New Year's fitness resolutions. But what about having fun?

Hopefully, you find exercise fun. Because if you did think exercising was fun, or at least made you feel good, it wouldn't be that difficult to keep doing it, right? Besides, there are so many ways to keep in shape, how could anybody have trouble finding that special exercise something that gets them motivated?

Unfortunately, it happens all the time. Folks with every intention to start getting in shape this year get started on an exercise program of some kind, maybe a diet and lifestyle change, and then revert back to comfortable, unhealthy habits within weeks. So how do you stay motivated? The top suggestions always include:

  • Keep a fitness and diet journal
  • Celebrate the little successes, face the failures and learn from them
  • Let everyone know about your goal so they can help you apply leverage on yourself (nobody wants to announce a big goal and fail in front of everyone right?)

While these are all great strategies that help you engage in your health and fitness goals, it doesn't sound like a lot of fun. Now I know, this is your life, your health, this is serious business! You've got to suffer to shed those pounds and sculpt that muscular physique! 

Well, yeah, sure you will, but if we like doing something the suffering tends to go unnoticed. In fact, there are a lot things you do, or would go through a lot of suffering for, right now. C'mon, think about it, I know there is something you are already huffing and puffing for, yeah?

So should you ditch the fitness journal? The MyFitnessApp type fitness trackers? Keep your fitness activities secret? Not necessarily, and in fact, if you can workout with others you will push yourself harder, it's just human nature. However, instead of all this regimented strategy, try just one:

Is this exciting? Am I having fun?  

Look, the body moves, the muscles work, you sweat, you burn, all that is a given. This doesn't mean suffer and be bored. You can enjoy exercise anywhere, anytime if you set yourself up for success. This means:

-Buy enough equipment to keep you busy, OR

-If you like gyms/group classes etc., invest in an awesome club. This could be Equinox, 24 hour fitness, the local tennis team, soccer league, ice hockey or dance classes. The options are endless.

-Prepare yourself for indoor and outdoor fun. Especially you folks who get bogged down in the winter. If you aren't going to the gym, or prefer not to. Set up a home gym with kettlebells, adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands, gymnastics rings, a rower, spin bike or whatever your heart desires.

For outdoor activities, make sure you have a good pair of running shoes, a bike, maybe some snowshoes, a skateboard, roller blades, a basketball hoop in the driveway...get the idea? 

Physical activitiy=exercise. If this activity is something you enjoy, you won't need to be reminded to do it. Let's say you like playing basketball, here's an example of how to remind yourself to do this everyday:

'Everyday I'm going to shoot hoops (add: when I get home from work, on my lunch break, after the kids are asleep, etc.)'

You can be more specific by saying, 'for 30 minutes,' or, after 50 pushups or a jog around the block. Find the activity, then add another. You'll never get bored. 

Maybe you like to get pumped and you want to build a lot of muscle. Ah, but getting to the gym is a hassle, then you have to wait for a bench or weights, and who left that puddle of sweat there?

Perfect. Buy barbells and/or dumbbells and keep them at home. Workout out in anything you like and always know who's sweat that is on the bench. Or maybe you are so busy you could never set aside time to 'commit' to a free weight workout no matter where they are.

Excellent. Some people are that busy. So keep resistance bands with you everywhere; in the office, in the car, in the suitcase, at the home office desk (I have one on my chair right now.) You can always reach for one and get a pump. 

Choose a variety of activities, toys and exercise equipment, and 'play' as you learn. 

Don't be intimidated by getting your workout started. You can start off at a snail's pace. Walk instead of run. Use an empty Olympic bar until you feel like putting on weight. Dribble instead of taking free throws. 

It doesn't matter. At the core of this whole healthy and fit thing is not some man or woman you think you should look like, it's not the doctor telling you you're going to die of a heart attack, it's not even your family. 

These are all great motivators, but you have to do it for you, in a way that you enjoy. It's your life, and if you choose to accept this healthy lifestyle, you can bring your motivators along with you. Think of the great example you'll be setting. 

Now go have some fun, even if it hurts!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Advanced Strength Training Techniques with Suspension Trainers

JBLM MWR Marketing

How to Build Real Strength with a TRX or Jungle Gym XT

Recently I read an article on the TRX website that struck a familiar chord with me. It addressed some of the techniques experienced powerlifting coaches have used to build world-class strength. Part of their program included using a suspension trainer like the TRX.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been through a challenging suspension training workout. The TRX is tougher than it looks, and can help you build serious strength.

TRX Powerlifting Training

To build world class strength with the TRX, these powerlifting coaches had their athletes use an extended range of motion that eliminated tension, then as the trainee became accustomed to this, they added external resistance such as a weighted vest or sandbag.

Put it into Action

What this means in practice is best explained by using an example. From a suspended chest press position, bring yourself to the point of maximum tension, where you are about to press up.

Then exhale, relax and let yourself stretch past this max tension point. From there, initiate the chest press. This slight adjustment takes away any stored energy, forcing the muscles to work harder.

This same technique can be used for all angles of pushing exercises, and was even used effectively for the high pull and hamstring curl.

Another good exercise choice for this technique is the row. No matter what angle you use to do a TRX row, exhaling and stretching beyond the point of tension is a simple step that makes the movement harder to execute, and more work for your muscles means more muscle growth and more strength.

Make it Harder

To add external resistance to pushing and pulling exercises, a weighted vest is ideal. Some vests go up to 200 lbs and higher. For the hamstring curl or hip bridge, a carefully placed sandbag adds resistance exactly where you need it.

You might wonder "why not just lift free weights if the TRX gets too easy?" The simple answer is function. Suspension training uses multiple muscle groups and engages the entire core in almost every exercise. Imagine cranking that intensity up with a weighted vest or ankle and wrist weights! The effects will be amazing.

Try this technique today and take your suspension training strength workouts to the next level!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top 6 Compact Fitness Gift Ideas for Men and Women

With the holidays here, it's important to get in the gift-giving spirit, embrace the winter solstice, light a yule log or whatever it is you do. With all the holiday foods and goodies around this time of year, it is even more important to stay in shape and to give fitness gifts that help others do the same!

With this in mind, here is a list of the top ten compact fitness gifts for men or women for the holidays. Why compact? Because big things take up precious space, and we like big value in small packages.

Stuff your favorite fitness junkie's stocking with one of these and you are sure to be appreciated (with love or some equally cool gift.)

Garmin Forerunner 405 Wireless GPS-Enabled Sport Watch w/USB ANT Stick and Heart Rate Monitor 

Who wouldn't want one of these under the tree? Remember when digital watches with timers were a big deal? If not, you don't know how lucky you are to have goodies like this available. The Garmin Forerunner 405 is like a laptop on your wrist.

It features a touchscreen bezel to change screens and has the ability to keep track of every detail of you workout. If you are an endurance athlete, or even dabble in it, this watch monitors:

  • Heart rate
  • Distance
  • Pace
  • Time
  • Calories
The USB ANT stick & wireless capabilities lets you store, share and send data to your computer or to friends. Because it's Garmin, the GPS stores routes and let's you view detailed graphs of time and distance.

Access a map of any stored workout and review details of previous routes and workouts. You can even schedule upcoming workouts on the calendar. One of the best gift gadgets for men or women. Oh, and by the way, it also tells time.

(Best deal)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Top 3 Balance Boards for Balance Exercises Anywhere

During this time of year when the holidays are around the corner and overindulgence begins to seep into our lifestyle like a pipe about to burst, self-control is an important concept. Training self control is a good way to get your mind and body stronger and in balance. You can do this with yoga, tai chi or ballet, to hame a few, but whatever you do, getting the mind to focus while under physical strain is the key.  

And nothing makes you focus more than a good balance training session that emphasizes isometric strength, static balance and coordination to keep you from landing on the floor. 

Balance boards, those devices that usually look a lot like a skateboard with a giant wheel in the middle of it, are the perfect tool (or gift) for the season. There are quite a few to choose from as well. From the Bongo Board to the Shaun White Snowboard balance trainers, to the utilitarian Rola Bola board that has an adjustable base. Then there is always the original that started the skate/surf style balance boards, the Indo Board. 

These devices will work muscles you forgot you had, and get you ready for snowboarding, skating, surfing or any activity where increased balance and stability could come in handy. Life, for instance. 

Here are our top three balance boards to pick up for your home gym:

The Bongo Board 

Call it a rocker board or a balance board, the Bongo Board is a great tool for balance training exercises and has a unique wheel design. Designed with a skateboard style deck, the Bongo Board's wheels are connected to the bottom of the board, moving back and forth along a track. Bongo Boards measure 32 inches long x 9 inches wide and weigh in at almost 8 pounds. Just enough to support you and your extra weight.

The Indo Board

The indo Board is serious professional balance training equipment, but it is also serious fun at the same time. The board sits on top of the unattached roller, which is 6" in diameter and very beefy (the Bongo Board is 7" tall with the board.) This is the original version that spawned the Indo Pro and the many indo board tricks practiced users can do on them.

Indo board exercises are similar to those you would do on other balance boards, but the unique roller allows motion that is closer to emulating wave movement. The board itself is closer to a surfboard shape and even has a supercool breaking wave design on the deck. You can also choose from 5 other artistic design/color combinations. This solid original is 30 inches long and weighs in at 15 pounds. Fun, fun, fun.

Rola Bola 

Made of strong birch plywood and intentionally shaped to appeal to everyone, the Rola Bola has a separate 6.5" roller made of heavy duty pvc pipe. Some smart touches to this 'rocker board' are the rubber grips on top for your feet and the stops, or brakes, on either end to prevent the roller from flying out from under the board.

Despite the straightforward design, the Rola Bola is every bit as challenging as the Indo Board and Bongo Board. It measures 29" long and 11" wide.

Bringing balance board training into your life yields improvements in sports performance whether in the water, on concrete or on a grass field. In addition to forcing your leg muscles to stabilize during balance board exercises, the core is extremely active as well. Bring one of these tools into your home and no matter how it improves your performance, it will add a ton of fun to your training.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

TRX Suspension Training is Alive and Well

We love outdoor workouts, and when you have a park with pullup bars, dipping stations and monkey bars, you can get a great workout and have fun. When we don't have this luxury, suspension trainers are our go to workout equipment of choice.

When it comes to suspension training, the TRX still holds a special place in our burning muscles. No matter how many imitations come along, the original TRX suspension training system has some special qualities that set it apart in the industry. 

Read more about the TRX products here:

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Suspension Trainers and Equipment