Tag Archives: fitness

The 3 Fitness W’s for Success in 2015

Every year in January gyms across the nation become filled with new and enthusiastic people attempting to accomplish their new year’s resolution to lose weight.  People start by joining and maybe even get a coaching session or the latest weight loss supplement but by February already start to drop off from the gym.  While training a client and seeing the influx of people at a normally non-peak time, we discussed what it would actually take to make people successful with their weight loss goals.  Together we came up with the 3 W’s for weight loss; water, weightlifting and willpower. If people were to follow these simple rules they would significantly increase their chances of achieving their goals.

As much as 75% of Americans are considered to be chronically dehydrated, and water use is one of the most underutilized tools in weight loss.  Our bodies are composed of 60% water and our muscle tissues are 75% water! Water is necessary in the uptake of nutrients and minerals into our cells and studies have been shown that just by drinking 2 glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner has shown that people eat less.  Incorporating more water in the diet is essential for success.  A good starting point for water consumption is to take your body weight (lbs) and drink half of that number in ounces.  So a 200lb person would drink approximately 100oz of water a day.  The added benefit of this is that you will have to use the restroom on a relatively consistent basis which will also get you up from your work desk and get you moving and burning more calories.

Weightlifting is the second W for realizing your weight loss goals. People still fail to realize that lifting weights actually burns more calories than running steady state cardio. When Penn State researchers put dieters into three groups—no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training—they all lost around 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? The lifters’ loss was almost pure fat; the others lost fat and muscle. Muscle loss may drop your scale weight, but it doesn’t improve your reflection in the mirror and it makes you more likely to gain back the flab you lost.

The hardest W to stay focused is willpower: The American Psychological Association calls willpower “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” Ultimately its hard work to lose weight and only you can resist foods that will hinder your progress, but here are several techniques to combat temptation when it arises. Set short and long-term goals to keep you motivated.  It can be hard to see yourself progressing; setting short-term goals constantly allows you to see the progress within reach. It’s also important to keep track of all of the short-term goals you are achieving, whether it’s in a journal or on your computer. If you keep a list of everything you have achieved, it is a constant reminder that you do have the power to achieve your goals. If dieting is a struggle, try some of these tricks:

Keep healthy snacks on you when you feel the urge to eat, so if your blood sugar drops and you get hungry you can fill up on healthy choices.  Another idea is to eat off a smaller plate, according to Cornell research, people who eat off of six-inch plates think they’re eating about 18 percent more food than they actually are. The ability to control willpower will be one of the single greatest factors to accomplish long-term success.

The 3 W’s are a simple approach to making 2015 a healthier year. By drinking water, lifting weights, and starting with a plan for willpower should set your year for great results.

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The Firefighter Fitness Guide to Gym Etiquette; The Dos and Don’ts of the Fitness Floor

The gym is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places for people-watching. There’s the lady in the neon spandex who looks like she stepped out of an aerobics class in 1984, the guy who’s constantly flexing in front of the mirror, the girl in full hair and makeup who’s just there to show everyone how cute she looks in track pants, and the guy who’s shorts are always just a little too short. And while the gym may be full of characters, there are a few rules everyone should know in order to get in a good workout while allowing everyone else to do the same. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts that every gym-goer should follow to make the most of every workout.

1. Do- Use the mirrors to your advantage.

The mirrors aren’t just there so meathead guys can flex their muscles and check themselves out; they actually do serve a useful purpose. You should perform exercises in front of the mirrors so that you can check your form and make sure you are performing the exercise correctly. This can help you avoid making mistakes that could prevent the exercise from being as effective, or even lead to injury. A lot of people are uncomfortable watching themselves during their workout, and it can be a bit awkward at first, but getting used to watching your form during each exercise will help you to make each rep count.

2. Don’t- Talk on the phone.

We get that sometimes this can’t be avoided, like when you’re waiting on a call but aren’t sure when to expect it, but for the most part, do you really need your phone in the gym? You’re only going to be in there for an hour or so, and pretty much anything can wait that long. It’s distracting to other people (not to mention annoying) to have someone chatting on their cell while walking on the treadmill or worse, standing in the way of others trying to move around the gym in order to take a call. It can also cause you to lose focus and miss out on getting in a good, hard workout. Leave your phone in the car or in your gym bag, and return any missed calls after your workout.

3. Do- Have a plan.

It’s a good idea to know before hitting the gym what exactly you’re planning to do once you get there. Separate your weight training days by muscle group (legs one day, chest the next, etc.), and at least have an idea of which exercises you’re going to do. It may also help to keep a notebook with sample workouts and number of sets/reps for each muscle group. This will help you stay on track and you’ll be less likely to leave the gym until you’ve finished what you planned to do.

4. Don’t- Block others in front of the mirror.

While it’s a good idea to use the mirror to check your form during a workout, you don’t want to prevent others from being able to do the same. Be mindful of others while choosing where to stand in the weight room, and make sure you aren’t blocking someone else from being able to see. It’s easy to forget that there are other people in the gym when you’ve got earphones in and are focused on doing your own thing, but remember to be courteous of other gym-goers who are trying to do so as well.

5. Do- Wipe down the equipment when you are done.

This one seems to be a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone up to a bench or piece of equipment only to find that it’s covered in sweat. Gross! The gym is already a minefield of germs, so the least we can all do is clean up after ourselves. Sweating is inevitable during a great workout, but be polite and wipe down the machines after use. If you tend to sweat excessively, bring a towel to the gym with you to prevent dripping.

6. Don’t- Forget to hydrate!

Be sure to drink plenty of water during every workout to avoid dehydration and to keep your performance levels at their peak. Losing just 2% of your body weight in fluid during exercise can decrease performance up to 25%, and most people drastically underestimate how much they actually sweat during their fitness routine. To keep this from happening, try to drink a glass of water fifteen minutes before hitting the gym, and another eight ounces every fifteen minutes during exercise.

7. Do- Invest in the proper gym gear.

The right fabrics and fit can make or break your workout, so be sure you are adequately dressed for whatever type of exercise you plan on doing. Tight-fitting fabrics are ideal for both cardio and weight training to ensure that your clothing will not impede a vigorous cardio session and will allow you to better check your form while lifting weights. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes that are gym-appropriate (we’ve all seen the guy who wears flip flops and khaki shorts to the gym!) and consider investing in a pair of fitness gloves for added comfort and ease while lifting heavy weights.

8. Don’t- Take too long on one piece of equipment.

I actually once saw an old man sit down on a leg extension machine and open up a newspaper to read…seriously?? The gym is not for your personal use only; there are others who want to use the equipment too. Just because there’s no one standing over you waiting for you to finish up on that weight bench doesn’t mean that someone isn’t keeping an eye on it so they can snag it as soon as you’re done. Avoid sitting for too long in between sets or stopping to text or chat with a friend while sitting on a bench or machine (another good reason to leave that phone at home!). Limit cardio sessions to thirty minutes per machine, and allow others to work in with you on the weight machines. Variety is key to a good workout anyway, so there’s really no need for you to be on that elliptical for a whole hour or clock in 100+ reps on the bench press.

9. Do- Ask for assistance.

If you don’t know how to use a particular piece of equipment, you need a spotter or just someone to double-check your form, don’t be afraid to ask! While not all of the gym staff and personal trainers have the same certifications (and no, not all certifications are created equal), they should be able help you with the basics, such as navigating the equipment if you’re a gym-newbie, and helping to ensure that you are performing exercises correctly and efficiently.

10. Don’t- Make loud noises such as grunting, yelling or dropping the weights.

Not only is doing so distracting and irritating to others, dropping the weights can be dangerous to others and damaging to the gym floor. If a weight is too heavy for you to safely re-rack it, you should be using a lighter weight. As for the grunting, is it really going to help you perform that rep? We think not. Focus instead on keeping your breathing normal and steady during each set.

Ten Tips to Tone that Tummy and Blast Belly Fat for Good!

Tired of doing crunches everyday and still not melting that muffin top? The solution may be simpler than stepping up your sit-ups. The truth is, it’s just not possible to spot-train any one muscle group, and that includes your abdomen. Even if it’s the only problem area you struggle with, ab exercises alone aren’t enough to pulverize that pooch. The key to a toned tummy involves a combo of diet, cardio, and core-strengthening moves. Read on for our top ten tips to help you whittle your middle and have you strutting in your skinny jeans in no time!

1. Fill up with Fiber

Fiber not only fills you up, helping you to consume less calories during the day, but it also helps transport the foods you eat through your body quicker. This allows your body to absorb less calories, and banishes belly bloat to boot! Try to incorporate more fiber-rich fruits into your diet such as apples, berries, and pears, as well as whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. Experts recommend getting 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily.

2. Own Your Omega-3s

We all know omega-3s are essential to a heart-healthy diet, but did you know they can also do wonders for your waistline? These healthy fats promote fat burning by making your metabolism more efficient. So, if you tend to carry a little extra pudge in your pants, upping your omega-3s will help to metabolize and melt that unwanted ab flab. Aim for at least two servings of fatty fish such as salmon or tuna per week, along with an ounce of almonds or peanuts (about 23) every day.

3. Perfect Your Proteins

The more muscle you build, the more fat you burn, and without protein you can’t build those muscles. The complex make-up of protein-rich foods make these foods harder for your body to digest, meaning your body uses more energy to digest them. In short, this means that you burn more calories when you eat protein. The amino acids found in protein also help speed up muscle recovery after a workout, helping you to build muscle more efficiently. To figure out how much protein you should be eating, multiply your body weight in pounds by .37. That number is the minimum amount of protein grams your body needs per day, but you may need more depending on how much you exercise. Make sure to stick to lean proteins such as turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, beans, and tofu.

4. Reach for Red Fruits

Recent studies have shown that compounds found in both watermelon and tomatoes help to reduce lipids (fat) in the blood which in turn helps to control belly fat. In one such study, women were given watermelon juice every day for eight weeks. The women ended up reducing their body weight and belly fat significantly more than those who were not given the watermelon juice. So add more tomatoes to your diet by topping a salad or using in soups and sauces, and enjoy a cup of cubed watermelon with breakfast or as a midday snack.

5. Keep up the Cardio

Everybody has a six pack; whether or not you can see it depends on how much fat it’s hiding behind. The best way to shed that extra layer around your abdomen is through cardiovascular exercise. As you lose extra fat, your skin will become more taut, and as the fat within your muscles decreases, you will begin to looked more toned. To reach that fat-burning zone, you want to get your heart rate up and keep it up for twenty minutes. For optimal fat-burning, shoot for five intense, twenty minute cardio sessions each week.

6. Target Your Core

Instead of doing endless sets of crunches which only work the rectus abdominis (the largest abdominal muscle), you need to pay attention to the other muscles that make up your core as well, such as your obliques and transversus abdominis (your “lower abs”). Target your core as a whole with moves such as medicine ball slams, planks, dumbbell side bends, sit-ups with a medicine ball toss, and twisting crunches. For more information on core strengthening moves and how to perform them properly, check out www.exrx.net.

7. Engage Your Abs

This is an easy little trick that you can do in and out of the gym. While working out in the gym, keep your back straight and tighten your abs during both cardio and weight training exercises. This way, even if you aren’t doing ab-specific workouts that day, you will still be engaging those abdominal muscles. When you’re not at the gym, practice good posture while standing and sitting, and keep those abs tight. Not only will you look better by standing up straighter, you’ll be getting in a little extra ab work too.

8. Stave Off Stress

Stress activates the secretion of cortisol, a hormone in our bodies that, at prolonged increased levels can lead to higher blood pressure, higher levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and ultimately, more belly fat. To keep cortisol levels under control, you need to learn to manage your stress levels in a healthy way. Whether it’s yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, or treating yourself to a monthly massage, be sure to find a stress reliever that keeps you cool under pressure.

9. Rest Up

Lack of sleep is another factor that can negatively affect your body’s cortisol levels. Not getting enough shut-eye messes with your body’s natural biorhythms, which can also trigger cravings for sugar and fatty foods. Not only that, but the longer you are up during the day, the more you’ll likely eat. That said, get 7 to 8 hours a night when possible.

10. Beware the Booze

While alcohol isn’t the only culprit in developing the dreaded “beer belly,” there is something to the saying. When you drink alcohol, your body burns that off first, meaning that it blocks your body’s ability to burn fat. Add to that the fact that when drinking, we don’t always use our best judgement when choosing what foods to eat, and often eat more or less healthy foods than we typically would, and you have a recipe for belly fat. The best thing you can do is stick to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for alcohol consumption: one drink per day for women, and two for men.

One Last Word…

The most important thing to remember is that there is no magical pill for toning your tummy. If there were, we’d all be on it. It takes hard work and a lot of patience to get the results you desire. So skip the pills and powders and contraptions that claim to magically melt away your muffin top, and remember that diet and exercise are the only real keys to success.

Just….don’t.

 

 

From Bottles to Bags: Make the Most of Your Workout with our Top Rated Gym Gear!

Sweating it out at the gym isn’t always comfortable, but that doesn’t mean your gear shouldn’t be! From ear buds falling out to hair bands sliding off, the wrong gym gear can wreak havoc on your workout. In order to help you make the most of your gym time, we’ve compiled a list of the best fitness products on the market. From watches to water bottles, we’ve got you covered with these tested-and-approved personal picks.

 

  • Yoga Mat

Manduka PROlite Mat:

($78) http://www.manduka.com

A favorite yoga mat brand among instructors and yogis alike, Manduka products are known for their durable, comfortable, slip-resistant and eco-friendly designs. The PROlite model is our pick due to the fact that it is also super lightweight, making it ideal for travel.

  • Sport Watch

Timex Ironman Sleek 50-Lap Watch:

($60) http://www.timex.com

The #1 consumer-rated sport watch on Amazon, the Timex Ironman Sleek 50-Lap watch covers all the basics in sport watch technology at an affordable price. It features tap-screen technology which allows the user to simply tap the screen in order to stop and start the timer. Other features include hydration and nutrition alarms, water-resistance, and incredible durability. The watch is featured in a variety of colors, and is available for both men and women.

  • Pedometer

Fitbit Zip:

($59.95) http://www.fitbit.com/zip

This little gadget is an absolute must-have for any fitness techie. The Fitbit allows you to track your progress through an online dashboard that is updated automatically and wirelessly to your computer or mobile device. You can set goals, track your distance and steps, and even challenge friends. The Fitbit utilizes a personal profile set up by the user to accurately assess calories burned, and it’s small and lightweight enough to easily attach to a waistband or bra strap without hindering movement.

  • Water Bottle

Vapur Element

($11.99) http://vapur.us

The self-proclaimed “anti-water bottle,” the Vapur bottle is really more of a plastic bag with a spout for sipping, making it more lightweight and easy to grip than the aluminum or hard plastic kind. The bag is designed to stand upright when filled with liquid, but can be rolled up when empty, so it’s ideal for tucking into your gym bag post-workout. Other features include a wide mouth flip-cap for easy drinking, a clip for attaching to your belt or bag, and it’s dishwasher safe, making cleaning the bottle a breeze.

  • Ear Buds

JayBird Freedom:

(99.99) http://www.jaybirdgear.com

If you’ve ever dealt with the frustration of ear buds that just won’t stay in your ears, then you know how detrimental this can be to your workout. Enter the JayBird Freedom; a lightweight Bluetooth set that features patented ear cushions for comfort and security. Not only will the ear phones stay put, but you no longer have to deal with cords getting in your way during exercise. Additionally, the ear phones are sealed against moisture, making them ideal for the sweatiest of workouts. Even if you do happen to damage your JayBird device, the 24/7 online customer service feature and lifetime warranty will have you covered.

  • Head Bands

Sweaty Bands:

($15) http://www.sweatybands.com

Forget diamonds, Sweaty Bands are a girl’s new best friend! Available in a wide variety of colors and prints, Sweaty Bands are non-slip headbands that stay put during even the most intense sweat session. Featured on the Today Show during Kathie Lee and Hoda’s “Favorite Things” segment, these headbands get rave reviews for their comfort and ability to work with any hair type. Whether you have short hair, fine hair, bangs, or flyaways, Sweaty Bands will keep your hair in place and out of your face!

  • Sport Towel

FROGG TOGGS Chilly Pad Cooling Towel

(14.99) http://www.sportsauthority.com

FROGG TOGGS cooling towels utilize a special hyper-evaporative material which retains water while keeping the towel dry to the touch. When wet, the towel gives off a cooling sensation, making it an ideal choice for summer outdoor workouts. Rinse the towel under cold water before your workout to experience the towel’s unique cooling feature for up to four hours. The towel is also machine washable for ease in cleaning.

  • Gym Bag

Women- Sherpani Meta 4 Yoga/Gym Bag:

(79.95) http://www.shepani.com

With a yoga mat strap, two exterior pockets, a detachable shoe bag, and an internal wet pocket for swimsuits, the Sherpani Meta 4 Yoga/Gym Bag is a true do-it-all bag for any athlete or fitness enthusiast. Bonus: the material is composed of 67% recycled fabric, so it’s a purchase you can feel good about in more ways than one.

Men- Ogio Flex Form F3 Gym Bag:

($90) http://www.ogio.com

Light and durable, the Ogio Flex Form F3 Gym Bag is sweat-resistant and features a ventilated compartment for sweaty clothes and sneakers along with a padded adjustable shoulder strap, making it perfect for the man on the go. With a discreet inside pocket for valuables, this bag will help you go from the locker room to the conference room easily and conveniently.

  •  Shoe Inserts

Superfeet Running Insoles

($39.95-$44.95) http://www.superfeet.com

If you’re a runner, you know the importance of keeping your feet stable and comfortable when hitting the pavement. The running insoles by Superfeet are designed to work with the natural movement of your foot to prevent blisters and pain caused by the shifting of your feet inside your shoes during motion. The insoles are customizable to the wearer for maximum comfort and support.

 

 

Common Mistakes Made at the Gym (and how to avoid making one yourself!)

The last thing any of us want to hear after logging in countless sessions at the gym is that our efforts aren’t paying off due to a common exercise error that could be easily corrected. There are dozens of mistakes that even gym regulars make that can hinder your progress, potentially cause injury, and keep you from reaching your overall goals. Check out this list to see if you’re guilty of one of these fitness faux-pas, and read on for what to do instead.

1. You work out on an empty stomach.

Unless you’re just going for a light walk, most physical activity requires a fuel-up first. Think about it; you wouldn’t head out for a drive without putting gas in the tank, so don’t hit the gym without something in your stomach. Obviously, you don’t want to eat a huge meal that will weigh you down, but a light snack that provides a good source of carbs will help keep energy levels up throughout your workout and help you burn fat more effectively.

2. You don’t warm up first.

While it’s not a good idea to stretch while your muscles are still cold, a light warm up before a workout is important in the prevention of injury. Try walking or light cardio for five to ten minutes prior to beginning your workout routine.

4. You hit the gym without a plan.

It’s much easier to give up at the gym if you don’t have an idea of what you’re going to be doing before you go in. I have found that mapping out my workouts ahead of time helps to keep me on track and motivates me to work harder when I tell myself beforehand what I’m going to do. This also prevents you from aimlessly wandering around the gym or wasting time socializing mid-workout. You don’t have to keep a notebook filled with numbered instructions, but just having an idea of what exercises you’re going to do or what muscle group you’re going to work that day will help keep you focused.

3. You use bad form.

This is a really common one, even among weight lifters that seemingly know what they’re doing. Instead of observing others to perfect your form, stand in front of a mirror during each exercise so you can watch yourself. Maintain steady breathing, keep your back and shoulders aligned, and avoid jerking the weights. If you have to jerk them, they’re too heavy. Check out www.exrx.net for advice on the proper form for each individual exercise.

5. You rely too heavily on the handlebars.

This is a common gym error that easily goes unnoticed. Holding onto or leaning on the handrails on any cardio machine causes you to shift some of your body weight onto those handrails, meaning that you are not working as hard and are thus burning less calories. If you have to lean on the rails for support, you’re likely going too fast or too hard. Try easing up on the speed or incline enough so that you can get your heart rate up without relying on the handrails.

6. You use the same routine every day.

Variety is the spice of life, and it’s also the key to a successful workout program. You may know already that you shouldn’t work out the same muscle group two days in a row because the muscle fibers need time to repair themselves. However, even if you allow enough rest time in between, doing the same exercises each time will eventually cause you to hit a plateau (and it’s boring anyway!). Mix up your routine by incorporating new moves and machines, alternating between high and moderate intensity, or checking out a group class. Even changing the time that you work out will confuse your body and keep you on the way to reaching your goals.

7. You don’t hydrate during your workout.

Water is the single most important and abundant nutrient in the body, yet it has been estimated that up to 75% of Americans are mildly dehydrated every day. It is important to make sure you stay hydrated not only throughout the day, but especially during a workout, as your water stores get depleted as you sweat. Bring a water bottle with you to the gym and aim for a half-cup to one cup of water every 20 minutes during your workout.

8. You try to “spot-reduce” during exercise.

Crunches alone won’t trim that tummy!

I hear a lot of people, women especially, say that they don’t need to weight train except in the one or two areas they want to tone. They will then spend twenty minutes on just one machine in the hopes that doing so every day will take care of said problem area. The issue with this method is that it just doesn’t work that way. In order to lose fat in any one area of the body, you need an exercise routine that consists of cardio and total body strength training in addition to a healthy diet. If you struggle with extra fat in one specific area (hips, tummy, etc.), it’s likely that that particular area is just your first spot to gain weight and your last to lose. Combining a total-body weight training routine with plyometric cardio training will help put you in the fat-burning zone and help you lose that problem area for good!

9. You over-train.

I’d say it’s time for a rest day!

Working out too much, too long or without adequate rest can end up doing more harm than good. If a muscle isn’t given the time it needs to repair itself, it cannot grow stronger. Your body will end up burning more muscle than fat during your workouts, and you will stop seeing results despite the fact that you are training so much.  Instead of working out harder, you need to be working out smarter. Keep your intensity up during workouts, but limit your sessions to under an hour, and make sure you allow yourself one to two recovery days each week.

Happy Training!

 

 

 

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If you’re in the Atlanta area, come see Firefighter Fitness at the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival!

Firefighter Fitness is excited to announce that we will be participating in the Atlanta Ice Cream and Fitness Festival at Piedmont Park Saturday, 7/27. The festival will run from 11am to 6 pm, but Firefighter Fitness will be there at 9am hosting a televised workout to be featured on the news! We will be hosting the workout at the park instead of our usual location, and we will only be doing a 9am. If you can’t make it to the workout though, come out to the festival and check out our booth! See if you have what it takes to be a firefighter and take on our Firefighter Obstacle Course challenge! Enjoy some ice cream, then come work it off with us! There will be plenty of food, fun, and fitness for the whole family! We hope to see you there!

Come join the fun!

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Firefighter Fitness is on the News!

Check out the 11Alive crew as they take on a Firefighter Fitness workout! If you’re in the Atlanta area and are interested in a free introductory class, send us an email at firefighterfitness@gmail.com or fill out a comment sheet on our website at www.firefighterfitnessllc.com and we’d be happy to sign you up for your complimentary class and provide you with information on obtaining a membership. We are currently offering a special rate of $99 a month, but this offer won’t last long! Firefighter Fitness invites you to COME FEEL THE BURN!!!!

Pictured: the 11Alive crew with the trainers at Firefighter Fitness