Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Starting an Exercise Plan

GettyImages-625675312-1.jpgThe most important part about fitness is starting an exercise plan to begin your journey. Making a fitness journal/plan is a way of keeping track of your goals and records. You can also use a fitness journal to keep track of your diet and what meals will need prepared. Fitness does not just come in the gym, but most importantly, fitness is started in your plan. Using the simple steps that follow will lead you on the path to success.

One way that you can use a fitness journal is to keep track of your short-term and long-term goals. For example, before I go to the gym I make a monthly list of all the goals I want to accomplish in that month. These goals include, but are not limited to, bench press weight, leg press weight, and how many miles I need to walk/run on the treadmill by the end of the month. At the end of the first month, I will then set long-term goals for the end of the year. These goals will be under the same gym exercise, but more weight and more miles. In my opinion, this is the most important part about keeping a fitness journal because it helps you know where you need to be.

Keeping track of your diet and meals is another way to incorporate a fitness journal. In your fitness journal, each day should have what foods you will be eating that day and how many calories. Doing this will help you know how many calories you are taking in each day and also what food needs to be prepared that day. For example, in my fitness journal I write down what I will be eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then, once that is done, I will write how many calories are in each meal. By keeping track of my meals each day, I can plan ahead for what I need to have prepared.

The last thing I write in my fitness journal is how much I weigh at the beginning of every day. By weighing myself each day, this lets me know where I need to be. For example, if you want to lose weight or gain weight, weighing yourself at the start of the day will let you know where you are goal wise. Doing this will also help you know if your diet or gym exercises need to be adjusted.

As you can see, using a fitness journal can be very helpful in many aspects of the fitness life. Using a fitness journal will help you achieve your goals in the easiest and most efficient ways possible. In order for your goals to be achieved, follow the steps above and you will love the outcome.

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Should We Still Use BMI and Body Composition in Corporate Fitness?

GettyImages-844045822.jpgFor years, fitness professionals have been trained to use Body Mass Index (BMI) as a prescreening tool when individuals join a fitness program. It was part of the recommendations by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for evaluating health risks; tobacco use, cholesterol profile, and family history for cardiovascular disease were also part of that process. In 2015, the ACSM updated their guidelines, and guess what? No BMI screening was included.

(Find out more about the changes to exercise prescreening in this FAQ.)

Why Is BMI No Longer a Screening Tool?

The changes to the ACSM guidelines were positioned largely around decreasing barriers for individuals to start an exercise program. After years of research, what they found was that BMI was not a driver of cardiovascular events during exercise. Anecdotally, I can say from experience that I had a lot of (sometimes angry) individuals wanting to join the corporate fitness center who needed a medical release because their BMI was "too high" and they had one other risk factor, such as not knowing their cholesterol or current tobacco use. So for our staff and their members in corporate fitness environments across the country, I thought this was a positive change.

But it leaves me wondering if we should be looking at BMI at all. There's a lot of back and forth in the wellness community about the "value" of BMI. The screening tool was always meant to be a field test to determine appropriateness of weight for a given height. And truly, it's an easy measure to determine; there are BMI calculators all over the internet. But that may be the end of its utility as a screening tool. There are a lot of questions about how meaningful the information really is to either the individual being assessed or the practitioner with whom they're working.

If We Don't Use BMI, What Should We Use?

This is something of a loaded question and points to our cultural obsession with "healthy" body weight. Do we need to screen for fatness? What's the value in those figures? Certainly measuring percent body fat or circumference might provide more meaningful ways to track an individual's desire to lose weight. But there are caveats on providing that information, too. Our staff members are providing those measures as field tests in our clients' corporate fitness centers, and the accuracy can be questionable, particularly for body fat assessed by skinfold testing.

We have a responsibility in our clients' fitness center environments to help the members live well in the ways that are meaningful to each individual. That might mean helping someone work on gradual, healthy weight loss. It might also mean working with someone to help them learn to appreciate the difference between feeling good when they move their body and feeling bad when they step on the scale.

The goal for our staff is to help the members they serve improve their health in all the ways that are articulated. When tools like BMI are so limiting (and potentially harmful to the psyche), we have to take a hard look at whether those tools are helping us achieve that goal. With so many other fantastic programs in our books to help people move more, try new areas of healthy living, and even remember what it felt like to play at recess, I think we have just what we need to create positive, successful, healthy environments for our corporate and senior living clients.

Check out our creative and effective programming to help keep your members active.

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Topics: BMI corporate fitness center body composition prescreening tools risk factors weight loss healthy living senior fitness

Debunking the Myths About Personal Trainers

 

TRX Cher (2).jpgThere are a number of misconceptions these days about personal trainers and what it’s like to be one. Don’t all personal trainers have perfect bodies and eat nothing but fruits, vegetables, and protein shakes? Sure, you’ll have a select number of trainers who eat, sleep, and breathe fitness, but the vast majority of us are just normal people. Let’s debunk some of these common myths about personal trainers.

  • We eat healthy foods every day of the week. While most trainers enjoy a nutritious, well-balanced diet, most have no problem mixing in a few splurge meals throughout the week. I personally follow extremely strict nutrition Monday morning through Friday afternoon, and then reward myself with fresh pasta or pizza and breadsticks for a Friday dinner. You better believe I’m getting up early on Saturday morning for a long bout of cardio to put those extra carbs to good use!
  • We work out two or three times a day. It’s true, trainers should practice what they preach; however, most of us only work out once a day, most days of the week. One big misconception is that trainers and fitness specialists spend most of their workday working out. I actually had a friend ask me, “What do you do all day at work, just work out?” I was flabbergasted with my friend’s question. Whether I’m delivering fitness and nutrition presentations, making workouts for group exercise classes and clients, or creating fun and exciting fitness challenges, most fitness professionals don’t spend all day “just working out.”
  • We love all types of exercise. Variety in your workouts is essential, but any trainer would be lying if they said they love all modes of fitness. Most trainers have been working out long enough to recognize what they enjoy, so they generally stick to those methods of exercise to maintain a healthy weight. The key is understanding your client’s needs, and providing them with a variety of options that work for their likes and dislikes. For example, I have two left feet in Zumba class and feel like I might drown in a pool, but I understand that some clients thrive in a choreographed class or swimming freestyle.
  • We never get hurt. It’s true that trainers should be demonstrating impeccable technique and injury prevention form while exercising. The truth is that even trainers can overdo it with too much weight or too many repetitions. Furthermore, trainers can sometimes feel like Superman or Superwoman and try things outside of traditional exercises that could potentially hurt them. I learned this the hard way recently while thinking I could ski all day for four days straight in Colorado. The second to last day of my vacation I severely tweaked my back, making the long plane ride home almost unbearable. I credit my consistent core training for my quick recovery; however, I learned my lesson that anyone can overdo it.
  • We’ve never had issues with our weight or body. Believe it or not, trainers can be even more self-conscious than their clients. We have problem areas and imperfections. We look in the mirror and wish a certain part of the body was more defined or had less fat. We set such high standards for ourselves; it’s easy to be extra critical of the way we look. Most good trainers can relate to these insecurities and use these feelings to help empathize with clients. Eventually trainers and clients alike have to learn to accept imperfections and embrace the beautiful qualities of their body.

Now that you know a little more about what it’s like to be a personal trainer, you can learn more about personal training at NIFS, and even get a free 30-minute assessment.

 

 

Topics: personal training personal trainers nutrition workouts injury prevention NIFS

Health and Wellness: Healthy Doesn’t Mean Perfect

GettyImages-842336990.jpgWhen people think of the word “healthy,” they typically have a vision or an expectation in their heads. We equate “healthy” with having the perfect body (which, by the way, means something different to everyone), making the perfect food choices, getting a certain amount of exercise each week, getting a certain amount of sleep each night, and having very little stress.

Everyone Makes Health and Wellness Mistakes

But this isn’t always reality. It’s not uncommon for people to begin making healthy lifestyle changes and developing healthy habits, only to give up once they realize how incredibly difficult it is to maintain "perfect" nutrition and exercise. In fact, I would argue that this level of perfectionism is impossible to achieve.

Your journey to health will not be perfect. And your efforts to maintain your health will not be perfect. We’re all imperfect. You won’t always make the healthiest food choices. You won’t always get 150 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise each week. You won’t always dedicate enough time to stretching, or practicing meditation on a regular basis. Wouldn’t it be a dream if we could all get eight hours of sleep every night? And we all have different body types; we come in all different shapes and sizes.

What Does It Mean to Be “Healthy”?

Everyone has expectations, and being a fitness coach and personal trainer for the last 15 years, I’m no exception to this rule. Even I have struggled with finding my healthy. So what does healthy mean? What does healthy look like

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines healthy as

The condition of being sound in mind, body, or spirit; a condition in which someone or something is thriving or doing well.

The World Health Organization defines healthy as

A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

What’s truly important when becoming healthy is how you feel mentally and physically. Healthy people tend to have more energy; feel well rested, have fewer aches, pains, and illnesses; and just generally feel good about themselves. And that right there is, by definition, healthy. Healthy really doesn’t mean you always make perfect choices or have the “perfect” body; it means you feel well.

My healthy means I occasionally eat chicken nuggets with my kids for dinner so we have time to go outside to play basketball before it gets dark. My healthy is going to bed at 9:30pm and waking up at 5:30am to get some work done, so once my kids go to school I can work out. My healthy means I have wrinkly, stretched out skin on my belly from having two kids, but I’m at a weight where I feel great. I’m not perfect, but once I stopped trying to be perfect, and just was healthy, it made life and achieving mental and physical health so much easier.

At the end of the day, being healthy is not about fitting into a certain mold. It’s not about following the latest diet or exercise trends. It’s about finding your definition of healthy that allows you to thrive physically, mentally, and spiritually. Practice healthy eating as often as possible, get exercise whenever you can, go to bed when you’re tired, and try not to compare yourself to other people’s definition of health. Remember, each individual is different and healthy looks different to everyone. Focus on feeling well!

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Topics: healthy habits health and wellness nutrition perfectionism

How to Build an at-Home Gym: What Is Essential Equipment?

509255562.jpgOpen 24 hours a day, no membership fees, and no commute; this is what you have to look forward to after you complete your at-home gym! This can be an exciting time, but also overwhelming if you don’t know where to get started on your quest to exercise at home.

Planning Your Equipment

If you build a home gym the right way, it should take a couple of years. You don’t want to build the picture-perfect gym with no money left in your pocket and lots of equipment acquiring dust. Make a plan to grow your gym as your workouts progress. You will commit to more complicated workouts, and will need heavier weights and more equipment to mix up your workouts. When you purchase a piece of equipment, you want to know you are going to use it and it is going to be part of your routine. When planning, think of the cost vs. benefit for each piece in your home gym.

If you are a runner and know you will complete most of your workouts in the winter months on the treadmill, you know the workouts you put in will outweigh the cost of the treadmill. You should splurge on this item and buy a state-of-the-art treadmill. If you are just getting into weightlifting, the benefit of an extravagant dumbbell set might not outweigh the cost. Think about what your workouts look like now, purchase that equipment, and build over the next few years.

If there are pieces of equipment that are more of a want than a need or you are working on a smaller budget, look into purchasing used equipment. Lots of websites sell gently used gym equipment. Ask your family, friends, and coworkers if they have equipment they don’t use or have suggestions on brands to purchase.

Home Gym Essentials

If you have no idea where to start, here is a list of a few essentials that are seen in most home fitness centers.

  • Adjustable bench: A sturdy, comfortable bench is vital to your workouts. An adjustable bench can be used in so many different ways.
  • Power rack: If you are looking to lift heavy and do it safely, this piece is a no-brainer. You will bench, squat, press, and deadlift using this machine.
  • Barbell and plates: These can be used for free-standing exercises or along with the power rack. Purchase the weights you know you will use and you can add to your collection over the years.
  • Adjustable dumbbells: They are an investment but will save you money and space in the long run.
  • Piece of cardio equipment: Pick a piece that you enjoy or is right for your budget. These pieces will be pricier, so choose one you know you and your family members will use.

After you have the essentials you can purchase some extra fun pieces of equipment that are typically lower cost. These may include jump ropes, resistance bands, stability balls, etc.

Planning the Space

You will also want to think about where you place your gym, what kind of flooring you use, paint color, windows, display case with awards, motivational quotes, posters, TV, etc. These are things that will be personal preference but are important and will make your gym unique. Include items that motivate you and fit your workout personality. You want your gym to be a place that you can escape to and feel motivated to work toward your goals!

 What is your favorite in home piece of equipment?  Comment below and share with us!

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Topics: exercise at home equipment weightlifting resistance winter Fitness Center

Running in retirement

It's more common than you think - folks well into their 70's and 80's still running for exercise. (I hope it's my story when I'm 80 years old!) Below are accounts from two resident who live in a community where NIFS provides fitness center management services. We were so impressed with these two residents, we asked to spotlight their stories:

Judy Carlson

She was born in New Jersey, but lived in Honolulu, Hawaii with her husband RJudy Carlson Marathon Quilt.jpguss, for almost 50 years before becoming a Timber Ridge resident. 

Throughout her running career (she started at age 35), she's competed in 42 marathons, all across Hawaii. Although she says she's run her last full marathon, she continues to run races and has a group of friends with whom she runs the Hawaii Pacific Health’s Women’s 10k every year. She has also picked up races local to Seattle and she plans to complete the Seattle Half Marathon this Thanksgiving weekend.

Judy loves running because it brings people together and creates a sense of community.

I used to meet with a running a group and it was nice because there was no age discrimination; you just show up and run, nobody cared how old you were.

She told us that despite all of her long distance running, she's never seriously trained; she's in it for the enjoyment.  You can see Judy pictured next to a quilt she made from some of the t-shirts she received during marathons she's completed.

Dan Anderson

Dan Anderson Marathon.jpgShortly after Dan graduated from MIT, he married the love of his life, Portia, and they moved to Southern California where he began taking classes at USC and started work at the Hughes Research Laboratory.  He's had quite a career - not only did he play a large role in the development of the modern day laser, he later went on to serve as the Chief Patent Counselor at Boeing. Now, at the age of 89, Dan resides with his wife Timber Ridge.

When Dan wasn't in school, developing lasers, or working through patent law, he was running.  He finished his first marathon, the Palos Verdes Marathon, at the age of 24, and he went on to run marathons in Boston, Tri Cities, Culver City, Northern California’s “Avenue of the Giants” (his favorite), Vancouver, Memphis, Austin, Los Angeles, Athens, among others.  

In his earlier years, Dan enjoyed training others using his 6x6 training method that helped his trainees go from walking to running a 10k at the end of six months. He trained his colleagues from Boeing, including the President of Boeing at the time.

All told, he completed 116 marathons.  He ran his last marathon at 80 years old, but he's not done running; he's led and participates in the running group at Timber Ridge.

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Topics: senior fitness older adult running fitness programs for seniors