Friday, October 30, 2009

TRX Suspension Training

TRX is an incredible new training tool we have at the SAC. It was invented by former navy seal Randy Hetrick . He and his seal teammates needed a way to stay in peak condition no matter where they were and suspension training was the answer.

Advantages of using the TRX
The TRX can give you an edge over conventional strength training because of the high degree of core strength, balance and flexibility that it involves. However, anyone can learn to use the TRX to rapidly and safely improve these three components and increase functional fitness, which is required in sports and daily life. You can adjust the difficulty level just by walking closer or further away from the anchoring point. That means you don’t have to go grab a different set of weights or add more weight to the machine, you just simply adjust your foot placement. This minimizes wasted time in your workout and allows you to accomplish more.

TRX vs. traditional styles of training
Traditional resistance training using machines, and even free weights limits the planes of motion and core recruitment possible during an exercise. The TRX is a single piece of equipment, can be attached anywhere, and is designed to engage the body as a single coordinated system. It has incredible variation in planes of motion and movement angle for virtually all exercises. By integrating these movements into a workout muscle mass increases proportionately and in balance, which reduces your risk of injury. It is also said to be “all core, all the time” because it intentionally displaces your center of gravity forcing your core musculature to work hard whether you are doing a row, chest press, lunge, atomic push-up or bicep curl! Maintaining this core engagement and postural alignment helps to strengthen and control the stabilizing musculature with improved posture as a direct result!

So whether you are looking to dramatically improve your fitness, look and feel better or increase performance, the TRX can help you get there quick.

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Children and Sports: Choices for All Ages

Children's sports promote fitness and prevent obesity, but not all children thrive in formal leagues. Help your child find the right sport and venue — school, recreation center or backyard.

Want to give your child a head start on lifelong fitness? Consider children's sports and other kid-friendly physical activities. With your encouragement and support, chances are a few sports will spark your child's interest. Fan the flame by taking your child to local sporting events and sharing your own sports interests with your child. Then, when the time is right, provide opportunities for your child to try out equipment and experiment with various sports.

What are age-appropriate activities?
Your child is likely to show natural preferences for certain sports or activities. Start there, being careful to keep your child's maturity and skill level in mind.

Ages 2 to 5
Toddlers and preschoolers are beginning to master many basic movements, but they're too young for most types of organized sports. At this age, unstructured free play is usually best. Try:
• Running
• Climbing
• Kicking
• Tumbling
• Dancing
• Playing catch with a lightweight ball
• Pedaling a tricycle or a bike with training wheels
• Supervised water play

Ages 6 to 7
As children get older, their coordination and attention spans improve. They're also better able to follow directions and understand the concept of teamwork. Consider organized activities such as:
• T-ball, softball or baseball
• Soccer
• Gymnastics
• Swimming
• Tennis
• Golf
• Track and field
• Martial arts

Ages 8 and older
By age 8, nearly any sport — including contact sports — may be acceptable. Carefully supervised strength training is OK at this age, too.

Of course, organized athletics aren't the only option for fitness. If your child doesn't seem interested in sports, find other physical activities. Take family bike rides, check out local hiking trails or visit indoor climbing walls. Encourage active time with friends, such as jumping rope, shooting baskets or playing tag. You can even encourage fitness through video games that prompt dancing, virtual sports or other types of movement.

If several sports are available in your community, allow your child to sample a range of activities before settling on one or two — perhaps both team sports and individual sports. When you're comparing sports, consider the:
• Amount and cost of equipment
• Amount of physical contact
• Emphasis on individual skill vs. team performance
• Opportunity for each child to participate

Also consider your child's schedule. Children who are already signed up for music lessons or other activities may feel overwhelmed if athletics are added to the mix. Above all, make sure your child really wants to play. Organized athletics have many benefits, but a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to include sports. What's most important is helping your child realize that physical activity is fun.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Healthy Snacking On-the-Go!

We are all looking for fast, easy, and good-tasting snacks that fit into our fast paced lifestyle. With fall approaching and summer fruits and vegetables still in season, use this time to begin developing healthy, quick snacking habits that will stick with you year round!

Here are some ways to make healthy snacking part of your daily routine:
• Prepare in advance. When you make something yourself, you get to control the ingredients and put in what's good for you. Try making your own trail mix or cutting up melon or vegetables in advance and keeping them in single serving bags in the fridge.

• Keep healthy snacks on hand.
Make it a habit to stash fresh fruit, whole-grain crackers, or baby carrots in your or workout bag or desk drawer so you always have some healthy food nearby.

• Variety is key! Healthy snacking doesn't have to be boring as long as you give yourself a variety of choices. Whole-wheat pretzels with spicy mustard, whole-grain pita chips with hummus, or low-fat all fruit yogurt are healthy, tasty, and easy.

• Take a healthy approach. If your sweet tooth is taking over and chocolate is on your mind, try a hot chocolate drink instead of a chocolate bar. An 8-ounce mug of hot chocolate has only 140 calories and 3 grams of fat. A chocolate bar, on the other hand, has 230 calories and 13 grams of fat. If you’re craving something savory, snack on baked tortilla chips instead of regular corn chips and pair with salsa instead of sour cream.

• Read the label. What looks like a small package of cookies can contain 2 or more servings — which means double or even triple the amounts of fat, calories, and sugar shown on the label!

Simple Snack Ideas
• Ready-to-eat veggies*
• Multicolored bell peppers (sliced or miniature)
• Grape tomatoes
• Sugar snap peas
• Baby carrots
• Pre-cut broccoli florets
• Celery sticks
• Hummus*, nut butter, or low-fat ranch dressing on hand for dipping. You can buy individual containers of humus or dressing at Costco (check at your local grocery store as well) so you don’t have to worry about portion sizes or the temptation to eat the whole container!
• Eat with veggies, a handful of whole grain crackers, or 1 large rice cake
• Fresh fruit*
• 1 small apple, pear, orange, or other tree fruits
• ½ cup berries
• ½ papaya or mango
• melon
• Fresh fruit with 1 cup plain yogurt
• ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese w/ fruit slices or bell peppers
• Newman’s Own Natural White Kernel Popcorn (Microwavable) – 3 cups is a serving and is a great source of whole grains! Air or stove top popped in olive oil are also great options!
• 1 Mozzarella cheese stick*
• A handful (about ¼ cup) of almonds, walnuts, or other tree nut for a quick burst of energy*
• 1 piece of whole grain toast with ¼ sliced avocado

*Can be purchased in the SAC Café

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Stay Motivated in the Change of Seasons

With the transition in seasons, some of us start to revert back to hibernation mode. We are no longer able to enjoy the sunny outside weather that motivates us to get out and move, zapping our energy and in some instances dragging us down with feelings of depression. With the winter months and holidays quickly approaching don’t get caught in the downward spiral of getting too comfortable, missing workouts, or sacrificing your nutrition “just because of the holidays”. As the days get shorter and weather starts to change, it’s a great time to set resolutions early to beat the cold weather blues and keep your motivation running. Don’t lose sight of your fitness goals; try these tips to help keep you motivated!

1. Make an action plan. Set specific, manageable goals. While you should always keep your eye on your long-term goals, you have to break them down into bite-sized, short-term goals. Set goals by the week so that you don't lose focus or become frustrated because things aren't happening as quickly as you think they should. Always write your goals down and revisit them often.
2. Use a support system. Discuss your goals with loved ones.
3. Try something new. Try a different class instead of your usual. Maybe there's an activity you've always wanted to try, like a triathlon, snow skiing or Tai Chi. Experimenting with different pieces of equipment such as bosu balls, core boards, medicine balls, kettlebells, etc will keep things interesting!
4. Use extrinsic motivation. When you reach those goals, reward yourself! Treat yourself to a massage or buy a new pair of shoes. You can even reward yourself on a daily basis by soaking in the hot tub at the gym or taking a long, hot shower after your workout.
5. Find a workout buddy. You'll be more inclined to show up if someone else is depending on you, plus you can pump each other up. Work out with a friend, co-worker, parent or spouse. You can also join a group class, sports league or team.
6. Download new music! Make a new playlist with your favorite upbeat music!
7. Visit the blog! Our blog is full of helpful tips to stay on track with your fitness program. Reading and staying updated with insightful and useful fitness information can help remind you of your goals.
8. Make it a competition. Join the Lose It! Program and challenge your friends, family members or co-workers to a weight loss or fitness contest.
9. Choose a workout you enjoy. Change your mindset and look at working out as a hobby rather than a chore.
10. Let your emotions inspire you. Mad at your spouse? Maybe you just got a promotion at work and you can't contain your excitement. Whether you're sad, angry or jubilant, exercise is an excellent release for all those emotions and can improve your mood and mindset.
11. Be a role model. By working hard and setting an example, you will not only motivate yourself to keep going but will also help motivate others around you.
12. Chart your progress. Monitoring your daily, weekly and monthly progress will help you reach your short-term goals and set new ones along the way. Besides your physical appearance, keeping a written record is another visual reminder of your hard work and progress.
13. Think about the Longer Term. Think about the warmer months to come: the bikinis, the pool parties, etc. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to not have to shed your winter weight to be in great shape for them? Focusing on the longer term, whether the summer season coming in the future or your overall long term health, is a great way to stay motivated to continue with your exercise program.
14. Adjust with Daylight. As daylight changes, so may your attitude towards what is the best time of day to workout. You may find that your normal evening workout isn’t as easy to do as a morning time workout, or vice verse. It is best to find the time of day that is going to keep you motivated.
15. Remember the end result - improving your health. Whether you are exercising to lose weight or to stay in shape, remember it will improve your overall health - physically, mentally and emotionally - and help you live a longer, more fulfilling life.

Everyone will have their own methods for what keeps them focused and determined to keep working towards their goals, so find something that works for you! Just because seasons change is no excuse to put your fitness on the back burner, utilizing these concepts will help you stay motivated to reach your goals in a productive and pleasurable manner. And, if you still find yourself lost and lacking motivation don’t hesitate to contact one of our fitness professionals to help ignite your fire within!

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gain the Edge: Pilates Boosts Cycling Performance

If you take regular cycling classes or are an avid cyclist, Pilates can be used as a cross training tool.

Whether performed on the mat or specialized equipment, Pilates increases core strength and stability. If your core is stable, your body can devote energy and power to your legs. When flexibility improves, risk of injury to neck, spine, knees, and lower back is lessened.

Benefits specifically related to cyclists include:
• Greater effectiveness of pedal stroke
• Increased upper body strength
• Prevention of lower back pain
• Better endurance through focused breathing
• Correction of muscle imbalances

Next time you ride, think about how your body is positioned on the bike. Proper alignment helps you power up hills and sprint past opponents. Most common postural faults are:

• Rounded (hunched) shoulders
• Excessive curve of spine
• Forward head posture
• Tight calves, hip flexors, hamstrings and low back muscles

Pilates can help correct these faults. It promotes proper body mechanics and postural awareness. Joseph Pilates believed that “the mind moves the body”. Pilates gives you the tools to create that body awareness.

Regular Pilates also helps prevent common injuries and discomfort. For example, cycling works mainly the quadriceps (front thigh). This can lead to a strength imbalance in the leg muscles and to muscle injury. Therefore, having balance between the quadriceps and the ‘opposing’ muscle group--- the hamstrings -- boosts the recruitment of those under used muscles. The body works as a unit, giving you the edge.

Consider adding Pilates to your workout regimen—it can pay off big; enhancing your performance and enjoyment of cycling as well as the activities of daily living.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Eat Breakfast to Help Lose Weight!

Did you know eating breakfast is great for weight loss? Starving yourself is not the answer even though it is a common strategy practiced by most. Eating breakfast helps reduce your hunger later in the day, making it easier to avoid overeating or turning to those quick fixes such as candy, pastries or chips. Prolonged fasting or skipping a meal can increase your body's insulin response, which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain. A healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply blood sugar (glucose).

Starting with breakfast, refuel your body with the nutrients it requires to stay focused and energized throughout the day.

  • Eating breakfast reduces your hunger later in the day, making it easier to avoid overeating. When you skip breakfast, you may feel ravenous later and be tempted to reach for a quick fix, such as candy from the vending machine. In addition, prolonged fasting — which occurs when you skip breakfast — can increase your body's insulin response, which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain. In fact, skipping breakfast actually increases your risk of obesity.

  • Eating breakfast gets you on track to make healthy choices all day. People who eat breakfast regularly tend to eat a healthier diet — one that is more nutritious and lower in fat. When you skip breakfast, you're more likely to skip fruits and vegetables the rest of the day too.

  • Eating breakfast gives you energy, increasing your physical activity during the day. A healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply blood sugar (glucose). Skipping breakfast is associated with decreased physical activity.