In celebration of National Employee Health and Fitness Month, be a healthy trendsetter in your company by inviting a co-worker to join you for a workout at your corporate fitness center! Not only will working in a group help keep you motivated, you can push each other to strive for a better workout. Here are some ideas that are featured in this video for partner exercises that are great for any level of fitness!
- Partner squat with med ball toss
- Partner sit-ups with med ball pass
- Partner plank w/ high five
- Partner band core twist
- Partner band rows
Your workouts don't have to be stressful. If you find you struggle with fitting exercise into your routine, take ten minutes at a time to go for a walk, stand up at your desk to stretch, perform exercises at your desk, anything that can help you FIT IT IN to your schedule.
Stop reading... Get up and Move!
Talk to your corporate fitness staff about Deskercise and how you can fit exercise into your routine from your desk!
Don’t forget about the core muscles! The core helps to protect organs and keeps the torso strong enough to connect the upper body with the lower body. A strong core helps with balance and stability in everyday activities. Core strength also helps with all activities and sports. It’s very important for athletes to have strong core muscles. Strengthening the core muscles can help to relieve lower back pain/problems and increase good posture. Just like every other muscle group, our bodies need a good core workout on a regular basis. It doesn’t take long; you can get a full core workout in 15-20 minutes or less. I work at a corporate fitness center and teach multiple core classes a week. Try my workout below and let me know what you think! Form is very important, so view the video clip prior to starting for helpful tips.
- On back, hands underneath you supporting the lower back, legs straight in the air, feet together, lower legs pushing the lower back into the mat. Use the stomach muscles to lift the legs back up. Perform the exercise slow and controlled. 15 leg raises, then hold the legs just off the floor and hold for 15 seconds. Next, 6 little circles one direction keeping feet together. 6 circles the other direction, then finish with a 15 second hold again.
- Flip over to a center plank for 1 minute – on elbows & toes, shoulders above elbows, weight pushed back towards feet, keep hips low, body in a straight line, abs pulled in tight without holding breath.
- Modification can be done on knees instead of toes.
- Turn to a side plank for 1 minute – shoulders above each other, bottom hip up off the mat, feet on top of each other, abs in tight without holding breath.
- Modification can be done with bottom knee on the mat, still keeping bottom hip up high.
- Flip over to the other side for 1 minute – form is important so see details above or video clip!
- Back to a center plank (see video below) – lift one leg for 10 seconds, switch legs.
- Lift one leg out to the side (see video below) for 10 seconds, switch legs.
- Hold a perfect center plank for 30 seconds.
- Back to a side plank, but this time lift the top leg up for 15 seconds, then one leg lift to one truck rotation (see video below) for 45 seconds.
- Switch sides and repeat.
- Back to a center plank hold for 30 seconds.
- Relax on mat (on your stomach) for a few lower body exercises.
- One arm up, other down by side on the mat, use the lower back to lift the chest up & down off the mat. 15 reps. Switch arms and repeat 15 reps.
- Keep neck and shoulders relaxed, exhale when you lift, slow & controlled, always pause at the top to squeeze the lower back muscles. See video for a form check!
- Both arms and legs up & down. 10 reps, then hold for 10 seconds.
- Opposite arm & leg, lift and pause, then switch to the other arm & leg. 30 seconds.
- One arm out to side, other arm down by side on the mat, lift and rotate towards the arm that is straight out. See video. 10 reps then switch arms & sides and repeat 10 reps.
- Back up to a center plank hold for 30 seconds.
- Flip over to your back for bicycles (see video for form and modification) for 30 seconds.
- Not tired yet? Repeat the workout.
Not ready for this long of a core workout yet? It’s ok, start with a couple exercises and work your way up to completing it all. If you like the FREE WORKOUT FRIDAY, subscribe to our blog!
Do you need to improve your posture? Sit at a desk all day and not realize that you slouch? A lot of people focus on the front of their bodies and forget to work the back side. Go to your corporate fitness center to start strengthening your upper back muscles which will help to pull your shoulders up & back resulting in better poster. Strengthening the upper back can also help with back pain. A stronger back will produce stronger shoulders and shoulder joint, resulting in less risk for injuries. Now that I’ve got you thinking about your posture, sit up straight! I’ve got your “back” so try this upper back workout for an improved quality of life!
*Very important tip when performing upper back exercises is to make sure the shoulders are rolled back and use the upper back by squeezing the shoulder blades together instead of pulling with the arms (biceps). Always focus on lifting with the back, and not holding your breath! Your muscles need oxygen to get stronger so think about taking deep breaths throughout all workouts.
Traditional lat pulldowns – either with a lat pulldown machine or try a dual cable machine to mix it up a little. 12-15 reps, 2 sets
Assisted pull ups – using the upper back, pull up (squeeze), slow & controlled lower the body still using the upper back. 10 reps, 2 sets
Dumbbell row – pick a challenging weight in each hand, palms facing each other, weights out in front of thighs, knees slightly bent, slight bend forward at the waist, pull elbows up high behind you and squeeze the shoulder blades while you pause, then release the weights slowly back to starting position. 12-15 reps, 2 sets (Very important – do not bend in the spine, just slightly at the waist!)
Push up position row – this works the upper back and core at the same time. While in a push up position up on the toes (knees on mat for modification), keep the hips in line with body not up, weight in each hand, alternating sides pull the elbow up high, squeezing the shoulder blade, and try not to rotate your body. Focus on using the upper back and core muscles during this advanced exercise. 10-12 reps each side, 2 sets
Summer will be here before we know it, which means spending time outdoors and hotter temperatures. Men will be working outside or spending time at the pool, which usually means having their shirts off. And women will be wearing dresses and also spending time outdoors. It’s time to focus on our backs for strength and a better appearance. How do you get ready for summer?
Why chose to do pushups over a chest press? For most, pushups may seem harder than a chest press which is all the more reason to get on the floor and increase your upper body strength the old fashion way. Performing pushups on a regular basis helps to build strength in the arms, shoulders, forearms, wrist, and chest. That’s a lot of muscles from just one exercise! Performing pushups correctly can also help to build core strength. I teach a couple strength classes a week at a corporate fitness center and I’m always reminding my participants to use their core just as much as their upper bodies when performing variations of pushups.
Speaking of variations, pushups can be fun because you can get creative from the traditional exercise. Typically, women have less upper body strength than men but that’s no excuse anymore! There are modifications so everyone can benefit from them. Performing pushups on the knees is a little less intense than up on the toes. The best part about this simple yet complex exercise is it requires minimal space and equipment. You can get a great upper body workout in your hotel room or living room performing a variety of pushups. Try some of these I’ve listed for you below…..
- Uneven pushups – One hand up on a step, medicine ball, or stack a couple of books (example – phone book) and the other hand on the floor, arms straight. Lower chest & and hips towards the floor, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Perform 10 reps then switch hands for 10 more. These, just like most, can be done on your knees or toes.
- Incline pushups – Place hands on the edge of the bathtub, step, couch, or bed (something stable), arms straight. Lower chest & and hips down, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Perform 12-15 reps.
- Decline pushups– Place feet up on a step, edge of the bathtub, couch, chair, stability or BOSU ball, or bed (something stable), hands on the floor & arms straight. Lower chest & and hips down, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Perform 12-15 reps.
- This is a more advanced exercise because it may be challenging to do this on the knees. Although, if you use a stability ball place the thighs on the ball for less intensity. Or, roll out so the feet are on the ball to increase intensity.
- Push up jacks– Perform a regular pushup, hands & feet on the floor. Lower chest & and hips towards the floor, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Then, hop both feet apart and back together similar to a jumping jack but on the toes with hands on the floor. One jack to one pushup equals one rep. Perform 10-12 reps.
- If you want to do the push up on the knees, pop up on the toes for the jack part, then back to the knees for the push up.
Pushups get the heart rate up for a great upper body strength workout, so don’t be surprised if you are out of breath! Ready, set, go!!
You don’t have to be a collegiate athlete to join in the fun of NCAA’s March Madness! The tournament is now in full swing. You may be glued to the TV and swept up in “bracketology,” but you can use the half-time breaks to sneak in a quick workout!
Cardio is important for basketball or any sport that involves constant running up and down a court or field. Quick reaction time is also important for basketball players so that they can capitalize on rebounds and open holes in the opposing team’s defense. As for strength training, developing power in the legs for jumping is crucial as well as building upper-body strength for long passes and three-point shots.
The following exercises are similar to those that basketball athletes use to help them train for the big game. But they are a fun challenge for anyone! View the video below for exercise demonstrations.
- Basketball single-leg squat
- Basketball push-ups
- Basketball lunges (side to right and crossover to left)
- Medicine ball squat throws
- Medicine ball slams
The NCAA Men’s Final Four takes place in Atlanta this year, with the championship game on April 8. The Women’s Final Four will happen in New Orleans, with their final game taking place on April 9. For more information about March Madness, click here!
Once you have learned basic strength moves separately and have mastered the form for each, consider trying a workout where you combine both a lower and upper body strength exercise into one. Combo exercises have many benefits, such as burning more calories and increasing your physical and mental coordination. They also allow you to pack more into a certain amount of time, making your workout thorough and efficient. On busy days, this can be a good way to squeeze your normal 40 minute workout into 20!
There are many ways you can combine separate, basic strength moves into a combo exercise: upper body paired with lower body, lower body plus core, two arm exercises combined, etc. Even combinations of more than two are possible, for example a squat with a bicep curl into a shoulder press. Get creative, as long as you are using proper form for all exercises. Here are five upper body/lower body combos to try today:
1. Squat w/ tree-hugger - placing a band behind your back (or ancor if possible), sit back into a squat while bringing your extended arms out in front of you as if you were hugging a tree.
2. Deadlift w/ upright row - maintain a straight back while performing the deadlift, as you return to standing position, perform an upright row leading with your elbows.
3. Step-up w/ bicep curl - stepping up onto a box or bench while performing a bicep curl, maintain proper form keeping knee in line with the ankle.
4. Backwards lunge w/ front raise - as you step back into a lunge simultaneously perform a front shoulder raise with manageable weight, strive to maintain proper form.
5. Shoulder press w/ leg extension - can be performed sitting or standing, if standing you will balance on one leg lifting the opposite knee. You will perform a shoulder press while simultaneously extending the lifted leg at the knee and lowering.
Take a 10 minute break today and work through these exercises for worksite wellness. Be sure to complete exercises on both sides where applicable.
The New Year often provides the fitness industry with a boom of customers hoping to hold true to their resolutions. Many of those resolutions often pertain to unrealistic weight-loss goals.
Older Adults Exercise for Different Reasons
While we still see a boost in participation at our retirement community fitness centers in the New Year, the resolutions are often for a different reason. Many older adults exercise to maintain a healthy weight or to try to lose weight, but they understand the value in physical activity beyond vanity. As a fitness professional, it is refreshing to serve the needs of older adults in retirement communities who understand the value of living a physically active lifestyle for their overall health and well-being.
When a physically active lifestyle is adopted for the wrong reasons, it can be more difficult to adhere to for the long term. This is likely why the surge in participation in January often trickles off in mid-February at commercial gyms. However, when older adults adopt a physically active lifestyle, particularly one that has been designed for their individual needs, the benefits of that program help them adhere.
Selling the Benefits of Exercise in Retirement Communities
In our retirement community fitness centers, our participation levels gain momentum as the year progresses, and we don’t see that drop in participation. This isn’t all that surprising. We hear feedback from residents stating they have more energy, less joint pain, improved sleep, an easier time performing ADLs, and more overall endurance.
Kick off a motivating incentive program in your retirement community fitness program in the New Year to recruit new residents to exercise and inspire existing participants. Getting the residents started is half the battle. The benefits of exercise can often sell the adherence component for you!
It’s been a long week, it is cold outside and you don’t feel like doing much of anything, right? Join the club. You don’t have to stress about your workout. At the end of the week maybe you just need a good stretch!
- Improved flexibility occurs when the muscles are warm, never stretch a cold muscle. March in place and step side to side to get your blood pumping to warm the muscles.
- Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Only stretch until you feel mild tension, you don’t want to over stretch.
- Breathe while stretching. Taking deep breaths will assist in relaxation.
- You should stretch 2-3 times per week.
Complete the following stretches to de-stress and relax your muscles. Worksite wellness can be easy by simply taking a moment to stretch at your desk!
Chin to Chest: Seated or standing, look straight ahead and slowly drop chin to chest. Hold, and return to starting position.
Ear to Shoulder: Seated or standing, look straight ahead and slowly drop your head to one side toward the shoulder. Hold and slowly move to the other side.
Upper Back and Rotator Cuff: Raise arms out in front of the body at shoulder height, place hands together. With your palms out, push away from your body until you feel the stretch across your shoulder blades.
Tricep and Shoulder: Stand with arms overhead. Bend one arm at the elbow reaching behind your head toward the middle of your back. With the opposite hand, gently pull the elbow to the point of tension. Switch arms.
Inner Thigh: Sit on the floor with soles of feet together. Sitting straight up, keep your shoulders back with chest and chin up. Press knees towards the floor to the point of tension.
Hips and Glutes: Lie on your back with both knees bent. Cross one leg over the opposite thigh, grasp the back the thigh and gently pull the leg towards you. The stretch should be felt on the outside of your hip and glute. Switch legs.
Lying Quadricep: Lie face down on the floor and bring your right foot up towards your glute. Grasp the foot with the right hand and gently push your foot into your hand to feel the stretch in the back of your leg. Slowly release and repeat on the left side.
When it comes to relaxation and stretching, what do you prefer... simple stretches or an organized class such as Yoga?
Some exercise is better than none!
We all know how difficult it can be to make time for exercise when you have a million things to do in the day. Sometimes making it to the gym (or even the on site fitness center) just does not make the cut, even though you know it should be a priority. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get some exercise in on days that the gym is just out of the question.
Changing your daily routine to fit in 30 minutes of exercise can put you in a better mood and takes away the guilt of missing a workout. These are some great alternatives for exercise to help you burn some calories throughout the day.
Park farther away. Whether at work or at the grocery store, park in the back of the parking lot so you have to walk a little farther. It will take some extra time to get inside, but those few extra feet you need to walk will add up by the end of the week.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Taking the stairs is a great way to get your heart pumping and burn some extra calories while at work. This is also something that you could do for 10 minutes in between meetings. Instead of grabbing some coffee, hit the stairs and climb up and down for 10 minutes.
Exercise on your lunch break. There are several ways for you to get in 15 to 30 minutes of exercise on your lunch break depending on how long you have. A few great ideas are walking around the building; climbing stairs; or doing jumping jacks, push ups, or crunches.
Grab the basket at the grocery store. When you carry the basket, you’re using your upper-body much more than you do when pushing a cart.
Simple and easy, take the next few minutes to rotate through these simple exercises three times, 10-15 reps each:
1. Chair Dips - stand in front of a stable chair, place your hands on the seat of the chair and walk your feet out in front of you. The further out you place your feet, the harder the exercise. Now slowly lower your body, bending at the elbows until they reach 90 degrees and then straighten your arms to the starting position.
2. Squats - with your feet hip width apart, keeping your chest up slowly sit back as if you were to sit in a chair. As you lower your body keep your knees in line with your ankles, do not allow your knees to go out past your toes. Once your thigh is parallel to the ground, drive through your heels to stand up.
3. Push ups - place your hands shoulder width apart on the floor, either remaining on your knees or up on your toes, walk your hands out until your body forms a straight line. Avoid letting your hips drop or raise up, do your best to maintain proper form. Slowly bend your elbows lowing your chest and body to the floor maintaining that straight line. Once you are about a fist width from the floor push through your hands, chest and shoulders to the starting position.
Written by Tara Deal, NIFS Group Fitness Instructor.
If you are new to group fitness, or new to the Les Mills program, then the term “Bodycombat” may sound a bit intimidating. If you have attended even just one Bodycombat class, then you know that this intense cardio workout focuses on utilizing mixed martial arts moves such as punches and kicks to strengthen the entire body.
This past Tuesday, January 8, NIFS hosted an Intro to Bodycombat class for newcomers, beginners, and anyone who wanted to understand a little bit more about what was going on behind the punch. There was a wide variety of people attending the class, and everyone walked of off the court with a better understanding of how to properly execute the various punches, kicks, blocks and other mixed martial arts moves.
The class began with a group warm-up to get everyone moving and comfortable with the space on the gym floor. We then broke down the Bodycombat workout into smaller manageable pieces of just upper body exercises and then lower body exercises. We were able to learn the proper technique for all of the basic punches and kicks, and then apply the new and perfected techniques we learned to actual Bodycombat tracks in a shortened class.
Bodycombat is for everyone at a moderate-intermediate fitness level, and the moves are simple so little coordination is required! When you attend a regular Bodycombat class, you should expect to be led by your instructor through the martial arts moves drawn from various disciplines such as karate, taekwondo, tai chi, and muy thai while moving to the beat of heart pounding music. At the end of the class, you will feel strong, empowered, and slightly invincible.
Like all of the Les Mills classes, a new release of music and exercises is released every three months to keep your body guessing, keep the workout interesting, and keep your body in top-notch condition.
No equipment is needed for this class, just the warrior within, a towel for your sweat, and a water bottle.
Make sure to join Tasha and Emily for Bodycombat classes on Mondays at 5:30pm and Wednesdays at 6:35pm on the auxiliary court at NIFS Fitness Center in Indianapolis.