Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Weight Training for Women

Weight training for women has a common concern: engaging in resistance training may lead to “bulking up” or gaining significant amounts of muscle mass. But this is simply not the case. More likely, it will lead to weight loss.

Gender Affects Muscle MassThinkstockPhotos-116356254.jpg

First, I’d like to discuss the basic physiology of women that significantly debunks this concern. Imagine a healthy adult male specimen with an ideal amount of muscle mass. Compare that to a healthy adult female specimen. I’m sure most of you are imagining that the female is overall slightly smaller and has significantly less muscle mass than the male. What other differences are there between the two specimens? They have different reproductive systems. The male reproductive system, more specifically testosterone, is completely necessary for building significant amounts of muscle mass. Testosterone is an anabolic substance; without it, the human anatomy is dramatically less efficient at building muscle mass.

Testosterone Makes the Difference

Taking this into consideration, here’s another scenario. This time, instead of adult male and female specimens, imagine prepubescent male and female children engaging in an identical resistance training program. Theoretically, both children should have similar responses and gains from their training because neither is producing significant amounts of testosterone. Now imagine those same children of similar size and health entering puberty and continuing with their training. Along with the mood swings experienced with the influx of hormones, the male specimen brings testosterone into the equation. As these children continue with their identical resistance training programs, the male should begin building significantly more muscle mass and at a much faster rate, while the female experiences a response to the resistance training similar to the response she experienced prior to puberty.

Genetics Play a Role

I’m implying that if women engage in the same resistance program as men, it is very unlikely that they will experience the exact same response as men. That being said, I am also a firm believer in genetic individuality; certain individuals’ physiology may differ slightly compared to the usual. Although men typically produce more testosterone than women, women do still produce a lesser amount of testosterone from the ovaries and adrenal glands. It’s more than reasonable to assume that a certain percentage of the female population might produce higher than average amounts of testosterone. Although this is possible, it’s also certainly not the norm.

Increased Metabolism Enables Weight Loss

In either scenario, muscle mass requires energy in order to function, whether you are exercising or just moving around the house. Our bodies get this energy from calories, so an increase in muscle mass will lead to an increased rate at which we burn calories, or metabolic rate. Now with an increased metabolic rate, it becomes easier to lose weight!

It’s also important to keep in mind that muscle mass is a dense material and weighs substantially more than fat. Taking this into consideration, the scales won’t necessarily show the results at first. Stay patient and determined, because over time you will notice a physical difference.

Here are some more reasons women need strength training, and more thoughts on why the ultimate goal of weight training isn’t always bulking up, but can instead be a boost to women's health.

Subscribe to our blog

Topics: weight loss women's health weight training metabolism weightlifting muscle mass resistance

Active Aging: Workout Technique - Form First

seniors lifting weightsWe have all heard the phrase “quality over quantity,” and most of us have even directed this adage at someone else. But do we really believe it? And if we do, why is every gym and fitness center in the country filled with people sacrificing form for a few additional reps and pounds?

Before you pick up a weight, start a treadmill, or begin whatever mode of training you have planned for the day, think about your technique. “Where should my feet be?” “Should my hips be under my torso or behind it?” and “How am I going to breathe?” should be some of the questions you ask yourself before getting started.

Common problems associated with poor exercise technique include injuries such as sprains, strains, and fractures. Decreased activation of the desired muscle is also common when performing an exercise incorrectly. I see this most often when people are doing exercises too fast and momentum begins to reduce the work the targeted muscle has to do. All of these technique-associated problems have one thing in common: time.

“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time,” said Jim Rohn. So stop wasting your time recovering from injuries you got only because you were doing exercises incorrectly or because you had to do extra repetitions since poor form caused the targeted muscle not to fatigue as quickly as it should have.

Here are some workout technique tips for making sure you take the time needed to do the exercises properly and safely.

Use Your Resources

There are countless fitness resources around us, some clearly better than others, that you can consult with to ensure that you are doing exercises properly. The first thing I would recommend you do is research the exercise technique on your own so that you have a general idea of what to expect. Then you should consult with the fitness professional in your active aging community, who can then provide you with cues and possibly hands-on instruction.

Proper Breathing During Exercise

Proper breathing can make the most difficult exercise seem easy. Or it can have the exact opposite effect, making a routine move seem like the end of the world. The most common method of breathing while performing resistance training is to inhale during the eccentric contraction (lowering weight) and to exhale during the concentric contractions (lifting weight). This method of breathing is not the only option an exerciser has, so do your research and find out what is the best method for you, but keep in mind that some variations carry risks. The Valsalva maneuver, for example, can be used when resistance training, but this method of breathing, exhaling against a closed airway, can cause dizziness as the blood levels returning to the heart drop.

Correct Body Position

Once you learn the appropriate body position for your desired exercise, pay attention to it as you execute the reps. The best way to do this is by watching yourself in a mirror. If you notice that your form is beginning to deteriorate and you are not able to correct it, stop the exercise and rest or reduce the weight you are working with. As I mentioned earlier, a few extra reps now are not worth the time you could miss as you recover from an injury.

This year’s tragic bombing of the Boston Marathon has sparked a new saying: “If you see something, say something,” reminding us all that we are the first line of defense when it comes to our own as well as our neighbors’ safety. This motto could also be used in the gym when you see someone demonstrating poor form; say something, but you better make sure you know what you are talking about first.

Topics: exercise injury Fitness Center weight training strength training

Corporate Fitness: Free Workout Friday

C  Users kgootee Dropbox Images Worksite Fitness resized 600We don’t really know how other management companies do what they do for their clients; corporate fitness services aren’t easy to secret shop.  But we are great at what we do – we’ve got the satisfaction survey feedback and testimonials to back that up.  If your company works with NIFS in their corporate fitness center, there are a TON of services our staff provides to your employees at no extra cost.  Yes, that’s right.  We give a TON of services that are FREE to your members.  We take the “it costs too much” barrier for much of your workforce out of the equation up front because our primary interest is in helping your people live well. We don’t have shareholders to impress, and we don’t put up fancy bells and whistles that mask a very lean menu of complimentary services.  Nope – we’re not fancy-schmancy.  Instead we are a hard working, compassionate crew who are focused on serving your employees.

So enough babbling about us.  We’ve provided a FREE workout for you below along with a listing of some of our many complimentary services that are available to your employees when you provide NIFS as the staffing partner for your corporate fitness center.  There are a lot of great benefits we provide to the client as well – to find out more about those benefits, contact us.

This workout includes both strength exercises as well as cardio intervals to really kick up the intensity and burn more calories in a short amount of time.

  1. Body weight squats: 12-15 reps
  2. Push-ups (regular or on knees): 10-12 reps
  3. High knees: 30-45 sec.
  4. 1-arm dumbbell row: 12-15 reps per arm
  5. Alternating lunges: 20 reps (10 per leg)
  6. Mountain climbers: 30-45 sec.
  7. Shoulder press: 12-15 reps
  8. Overhead tricep extension: 12-15 reps
  9. Bicep curl: 12-15 reps

*Go back to #1 and repeat workout for a total of 2-3 sets, as time allows.

Finish with one round of each of the following for core:

  1. Stability ball crunch: 20 reps
  2. Russian twist: 20 reps (10 per side, alternating)
  3. Core plank: hold until fatigue
  4. Supermans: 20 reps

Want more workouts like this? Consider using NIFS to professionally staff your worksite wellness or fitness center. Here is a list of all the completely free services that NIFS’ staff members can offer to your employees:

  • Exercise Consultations- A NIFS health/fitness specialist will sit down with the employee, asking him/her specific questions relating to their currently level of activity, past experience with exercise, exercise preferences, and goals in order to make detailed recommendations.
  • Exercise Prescriptions- Upon completing a consultation, your employees will be able to receive a detailed workout plan from a NIFS health/fitness specialist. The employee will run through the workout at least once with a staff member to insure that he/she understands the workout, demonstrates proper form, and feels confident repeating the workout on their own for the following 6-12 weeks. Members may have repeated exercise prescriptions.
  • Individual Fitness Assessments (IFA)- Employees will have the opportunity to schedule a series of exercise tests to gauge their current level of fitness in five different categories: body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, aerobic capacity and flexibility. The NIFS health/fitness specialist will administer the tests accurately and give a thorough breakdown of the employees of their results, as well as show comparisons to national averages for their age/gender. These results prove to be valuable in helping the employee more clearly define their exercise goals.
  • Routine Blood Pressure Screenings- Any employee may utilize the NIFS staff to routinely check his/her blood pressure. The NIFS staff will keep a log of the readings that the employee can share with his/her family physician, which can assist in decisions of medication. When high blood pressure is identified, NIFS staff can make recommendations for exercise, diet and stress level to help lower those levels.
  • Educational Print Materials- Each month, NIFS staff will provide one newsletter, one John Journal and at least two bulletin boards to be posted throughout the worksite. These materials include a wide range of topics, and the content covers national health observances and events specific to that particular month.
  • Stretch Breaks- If you are responsible for hosting a long meeting for your employees, contact NIFS staff to present a “stretch break.” Stretch breaks are designed to last 5-10 minutes and will leave your employees more energized and tension-free, keeping them more alert and productive in the middle of lengthy meetings.
Topics: corporate fitness corporate fitness program muscle toning worksite wellness corporate wellness NIFS corporate fitness centers weight training corporate fitness managment

Corporate Fitness: Four Ways to Relieve Sore Muscles

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

elderly woman stretching resized 600When starting a new exercise program, you may get sore. Muscle soreness comes from the breakdown of muscle fibers. But don’t let that drive you away from the corporate fitness center. Here are four good ways to ease the pain.

  • Rest from lifting and go for a light walk. More than likely, you are sore from strength training or lifting weights. Your body may need a rest day from the weights, but go for a light walk to get some blood flow to the sore muscles. Sitting around could make the soreness worse.
  • Take a hot bath. Soaking in a hot bath will help your circulation and soreness.
  • Use foam rollers or massage. Rolling out your muscles on foam rollers will help to work the soreness out, although it may hurt a little at first, just like with massaging the muscles. Start out gently rubbing or rolling the muscles, and then as you work the soreness out you can target the muscles more aggressively.
  • Stretch after you work out. Don’t skip the stretching component of fitness! Spend about 20 minutes stretching after your workouts.

 If you are just getting back into working out, always start out slow. If you start with long, intense workouts and then cannot move the next day due to such painful muscle soreness, you will be more likely to skip the next few days. Don’t skip days; just focus on areas of the body that are not sore.

Next time you overdo it in the corporate fitness center, remember these tips for relieving your pain and keeping up your workouts.

Topics: exercise at work exercise corporate fitness centers weight training

Why Women Need Strength Training at the Corporate Fitness Center

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

women strength trainingAt lot of women shy away from strength training for fear of bulking up. But strength training is especially important for women to help build strong and healthy bones. Because of our low levels of testosterone, most women can’t bulk up. Strength training will also help to burn more calories and fat while at rest. Here are some more reasons why strength training is important for women:

10 Reasons Women Should Do Strength Training

  1. Lose body fat
  2. Gain strength without bulking up
  3. Decrease your risk of osteoporosis
  4. Improve your athletic performance
  5. Be physically stronger
  6. Reduce your risk of injury, back pain, and arthritis
  7. Reduce your risk of heart disease
  8. Reduce your risk of diabetes
  9. Benefit from starting at any point in your life
  10. Improve your attitude and fight depression

How to Do Strength Training

Running on the treadmill for several minutes each day might not show a lot of results, but adding in some strength training will get results faster. There are several different ways to strength train, and it doesn’t have to involve walking into an intimidating all-male weight room. You can use resistance bands, weight machines, free weights, kettlebells, or your own body weight.

Schedule an appointment with your corporate wellness staff to figure out the best type of strength training for you. And don’t avoid your strength classes at your onsite corporate fitness center!

Topics: exercise at work fitness corporate fitness centers weight training women

Corporate Fitness: Kettlebell Exercises

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

What are the benefits of incorporating kettlebells into your workouts?

Kettlebells resized 600Kettlebells have a comfortable, easy-to-use handle, which I feel is a little safer if you are swinging them around your head, although others may think because the weight is on the bottom, one slip of your grip could lead to an injury.

Kettlebells allow you to get a greater range of motion, and force you to use more stabilizer muscles. The more muscles you use, the more calories you burn! Performing a lot kettlebell exercises will help to strengthen your core as well. Core muscles play a major role in stabilizing your body.

Kettlebells in the Corporate Fitness Center

Working at a corporate fitness center, we teach a lot of classes and work with a fit population overall. Our participants like to be challenged using the kettlebells. They are good way to mix up workouts instead of always using traditional dumbbells. These fun-looking weighted balls with a handle are also easy to store and don’t take up a lot of room, which is good for group fitness classes.

Best Kettlebell Exercises

A squat kettlebell swing is one of my favorite exercises. This single exercise strengthens the lower body, core, and shoulders, and gets the heart rate up. What’s not to love? I’ve listed a few of my other favorite kettlebell exercises. Try them today!

Topics: muscle toning corporate fitness centers weight training

Corporate Fitness: How to Pick a Personal Trainer

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

C  Documents and Settings kgootee My Documents Dropbox Images New personal training resized 600There are many reasons for seeking the help of a personal trainer. Corporate health and fitness specialists can introduce you to an exercise routine, help you break through a rut, or give you the extra boosts of knowledge, motivation, and accountability that you need to achieve the next level in your fitness. But how do you pick a trainer?

Check for Fitness Certifications

First, make sure that your trainer has the appropriate credentials. The most basic certifications on a personal trainer’s resume would be CPR, AED, and first aid; a four-year degree in the health and fitness field; and preferably a certification from a well-recognized organization, for example the American College of Sports Medicine.

While most corporate fitness companies will have already screened potential employees for this information, many commercial gyms require only minimal certifications or experience in the field. Knowing that your trainer has met these standards, you have a better chance of achieving your goals and staying injury-free.

Ask About the Personal Trainer's Background and Specialties

Ask about the trainer’s background and what his or her specialties are. While health and fitness specialists should have experience training with a wide population, most will be honest if they have a passion for certain demographics, for example children or senior citizens. Also, some trainers may be more inclined to work with people looking for specific athletic goals, while other trainers prefer working with those striving for everyday fitness or disease prevention.

Make Sure the Trainer Pays Attention to You

During your consultation and first personal training session, make sure that your trainer thoroughly listens to you and understands your goals. While you are exercising, make sure that he or she is watching your form and not gazing off at the TV in the corner of the gym or chatting with other people during your whole workout. Ask for feedback if they do not give it automatically.

Don’t be afraid to shop around for a personal trainer. Put your fitness into someone else’s hands only when they have shown the experience, interest, and encouragement that you deserve from a personal training relationship.

Topics: corporate fitness injury fitness success Fitness Center weight training personal trainers

Should Cardio or Weight Training Come First in Corporate Fitness?

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

cardiovascular exercise, treadmill, corporate wellness, senior fitnessBoth cardiovascular exercise and weight training are important forms of exercise in a balanced, well-rounded workout routine. Cardiovascular exercise is great for keeping the heart and lungs functioning well, whereas weight training is best for building or maintaining muscle, preventing injuries, and improving strength.

If you perform both forms of exercise on the same day, you may have asked yourself which to perform first for the greatest benefit. Well, it depends. Don’t you love that response?

It depends on your exercise goals. If your goal is to improve your 5K race time or you’re training for a specific sport such as soccer, your primary goal is probably to get your cardiovascular system working efficiently for an extended period of time. If this is the case, performing your cardiovascular exercise first when you’re fresh rather than a bit (or a lot) fatigued from weight training ensures you perform the activity with optimal energy.

If your goal is to improve your strength or build a firmer, leaner body, the opposite will be true. You want to train your muscles before they are fatigued from other activities.

Encourage your employees to start making healthy changes, whether cardio or weight training, with a worksite health promotion program. A qualified personal trainer or fitness professional should take not only your fitness goals into consideration, but also your level of skill, to create a program that incorporates strength training and cardiovascular exercise.

Topics: corporate fitness worksite wellness cardio weight training