Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cardio or Strength: Which Do You Need?

Which fitness program do you need—cardiovascular exercise or strength training? The simple answer—both. The complicated answer—it depends what your goals are.

Do you want to lose weight, sculpt and tone your body, relieve stress, build stamina, or all of the above? Your goals will determine the best course of action. Put simply, both strength training and cardiovascular exercise offer benefits. Here’s the breakdown:

Strength Training
·      Weight lifting torches calories. While popular belief once held that cardio exercise was the way to burn calories, new research indicates that strength training burns more calories than once believed. Furthermore, strength training creates a metabolic spike, so your body continues to burn calories even after you’re done—in fact, a University of Wisconsin study found that metabolism was elevated for 39 hours after lifting weights. What’s more, a greater percentage of calories are burned from fat during this time.
·      Stay lean. For every three pounds of muscle you build, you’ll burn an extra 120 calories a day—just doing nothing. It’s a fact. Muscle takes more energy to sustain, so by building muscle, you’re eliminating fat and trimming your physique. Put simply—if you want to look better naked, lift weights.
·      Promote functional strength and health. Functional strength training incorporates balance, strength, and agility. This regimen promotes balance and health and can prevent injuries. In contrast, the repetitive nature of some cardiovascular exercise can cause strain and injury if it’s not supplemented with strength training.

Cardiovascular Exercise
·      Relieve stress. Cardiovascular exercise releases endorphins and elevates serotonin levels in the brain, which helps alleviate depression and relieve stress. In fact, just 15 minutes of cardio several times a week can significantly reduce anxiety.
·      Build stamina. Cardiovascular exercise helps build stamina and reduce fatigue.
·      Improve immune system. Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to activate the immune system and fight off infection. People who do regular cardio exercise are less susceptible to colds and flu.
·      Prolong life. Regular cardio exercise has been shown to prolong life. Aerobic exercise promotes oxygen delivery to the muscles and improves heart health. A stronger heart pumps more blood with each beat. Cardio exercise has been shown to prevent inflammation, raise good cholesterol levels,  and reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, and even certain types of cancer.
·      Burn calories. Though cardio exercise doesn’t burn calories on the level of strength training, it still offers plenty of benefit.

The bottom line—both cardio and strength training offer numerous benefits and both will leave you feeling great. The best exercise regimens probably incorporate both types of exercise for overall fitness and health. That said, if you have only 30 minutes to spare and you’re trying to decide how to spend them, consider what you need at the moment. Are you feeling stressed and anxious? Then go for the cardio. But, if you just need a good workout, a lot of new research indicates that the strength training will offer more benefit in terms of burning calories and reducing fat.

Whatever you choose, remember to have fun!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stand Up for a Strong Core

If you want to build a strong core, take a stand—literally. New research indicates that vertical core training is the most effective way to strengthen the core. So, ditch the mat and stand up because crunches are so last year. Get ready to jump, throw, lunge, reach, and press your way to a strong core

Why Vertical Works
The core muscles are critical for standing upright, maintaining proper posture, and moving the body in different planes of motion. We use our abdominal muscles when we move, whether we’re striding up a steep hill or bending over to pick up a heavy object.

Because we recruit and engage our core muscles when we’re standing and moving, it makes sense to work them under the same circumstances. Vertical core exercises move the body in multiple planes, thereby training the core in the way that we most often use it—while standing.

Vertical core exercises are “functional” movements that simulate real-life situations. In our everyday movements, we rarely use a muscle in isolation, so it doesn’t make sense to train our muscles with isolated movements such as crunches.

Get Vertical
Vertical core exercises don’t have to be complicated to be effective. Learn to use gravity, resistance, and mobility to train your core to be strong and functional. Start with a few basic moves and you’ll be on your way to a strong core. Here are a few exercises to get you started:

  • Wood Chops: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a medicine ball between your hands. Slowly raise the ball over one shoulder and then bend your knees and lower the ball toward your opposite foot (to simulate the motion of swinging an axe).

  • Toe Taps: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms extended out to the side. Keeping your legs and arms straight, bring your right hand to your left foot and then return to center. Then bring your left hand to your right foot and return to center. Continue alternating sides as you draw your abdominals in toward your navel.

  • Reverse Lunge and Press: Hold lightweight dumbbells in each hand and stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Step backward with your right foot as you press your right arm overhead. As you step forward to the starting position, switch arms and complete an overhead press with the left arm. Alternate lunging and pressing overhead. Variation: Instead of pressing the arm overhead, reach it across your body diagonally to engage the oblique muscles.

This is only a small sample of vertical core exercises you can try. There is a huge variety of standing exercises that will engage your core—including plyometric jumping, hanging knee raises, leaping, bounding, throwing, twisting, and even incorporating balance tools such as the BOSU ball. Get creative. Ask a trainer for help if you need it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dance Your Way to Fitness

If you want to work up a serious sweat, shed some pounds, and have fun while doing it—ditch the treadmill and shake that moneymaker. That’s right—dance your way to fitness.

If that sounds too good to be true, you clearly haven’t tried a Zumba® class yet. Zumba is the exercise class turned dance party that’s as addictive (and effective) as it is fun. The Latin-inspired cardio-dance class blends upbeat world rhythms with easy-to-follow choreography for a total-body workout that feels more like a party. Although Zumba’s roots are in Latin American music and moves, you can expect to see everything from jazz to African beats, country, hip hop, and pop.

But I can’t dance, you say. Nonsense! You don’t have to be a good dancer to enjoy Zumba—you just have to be ready for a fun workout. Zumba is for everyone. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, and skill levels attend class. If you like fun music and you enjoy shaking your booty (and who doesn’t?), then Zumba is for you. Men, that means you, too!

What to Expect from a Zumba Class
Most Zumba classes are an hour long. They begin with a dynamic warm-up and end with a cool down and some static stretching. The workout portion is broken down by song, each with a different dance routine. Common moves in class are mambas, V-steps with exaggerated hips, cha-cha-chas and side touches.

Expect to learn as you go—and even flub a few steps in the beginning. You’ll learn through repetition and example and it doesn’t matter if you “get it” the first time. The whole idea is to have fun and keep moving. If you’re like the nearly six million Zumba followers on Facebook, you’ll be hooked.

Fun Fitness
Zumba is one of the highest energy workouts out there—and perhaps the most fun. In fact, during Zumba class, it doesn’t even feel like you’re working out at all because you’re so caught up in the music and the moves. Before you know it, a whole hour has passed and you’re dripping with sweat and have a huge smile on your face.

Zoom Your Way to Zumba
Ready to try it? All you need is a positive attitude and a sense of fun. Come dressed in comfortable clothing that is breathable and easy to move in. Wear shoes that support dance movement—think side-to-side movements and pivots. Examples of appropriate shoes include cross trainers, dance sneakers, or even running shoes with a worn out tread. Bring a water bottle and a towel and come ready to sweat!

Ready to try Zumba?
Join us on Mondays 8:10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m.
All it takes is one class and you’ll be hooked!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Swim Your Way to Fitness

If you’re looking for a refreshing, fun way to get and stay fit, hop into one of the Zenergy pools. With our indoor and outdoor year-round heated saltwater pools, it’s always a good time for a swim.

Swimming Is Great Exercise
Swimming is an excellent form of aerobic exercise that’s easy on the joints and full of splashy fun. Swimming is considered a whole-body form of exercise because it recruits all of the major muscle groups, including the shoulders, back, abdominal muscles, legs, hips, and gluteal muscles. It is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise, but many consider it a form of strength exercise too because the water provides 12 times more resistance than air. In other words, each time you pull your arm through the water, you’re working 12 times harder than you would be out of the pool.

Swimming Is Easy on the Body
Swimming is easy on the joints because the water provides buoyancy—in fact, when you’re completely immersed in the water up to your neck, your body only bears 10 percent of its weight. This makes it a wonderful form of low-impact exercise for people with:
·      Injuries
·      Arthritis
·      Extra weight
·      Or, women who are pregnant

Swimming can help increase range of motion and relieve joint pain and swelling. Furthermore, swimming is an ideal form of exercise for people with exercise-induced asthma because it results in less irritation to the airways.

Building Fitness with Swimming
Swimming at a moderate pace for 30 minutes will burn about 250-350 calories, the equivalent of a one-hour brisk walk. Swimming is also great for toning because the water provides multi-directional resistance.

If you want to add swimming to your fitness regimen, it’s easy to get started. All you need is a comfortable swimsuit, a pair of goggles, and a swim cap—and some motivation.

Here are some pointers:

·      Ease into it: Swimming is surprisingly aerobic. Start with small goals and build from there.

·      Pay attention to technique: Technique matters in swimming. Making improvements in your form will make you a more efficient swimmer, which will enable you to swim farther and faster. If you’re looking for coaching, Zenergy offers private lessons, as well as ten masters swim classes per week.

·      Add variety: Perhaps the biggest complaint about swimming is the inevitable sense of boredom that comes with swimming lap after lap. Add variety to your routine by changing strokes; using kickboards, pull-buoys, fins, or hand paddles; or varying your workout plan.

·      Swim with a friend or group: Face it—any exercise is more fun with the motivation factor of a partner or group. If you need a group, Zenergy has you covered! Zen Masters is a complete Masters program for adult members. There are 10 workout sessions per week to choose from. Each workout is coached on deck and geared towards every level of swimming from beginner master to the most experienced racer. Whether your goal is stroke improvement or competition, there is a place for you in this program—and best of all, it’s included in your membership. Want to learn more? Contact Karen Morrison at (208) 720-6362.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Calorie Busters

Exercise is important for a variety of reasons—it can minimize stress, promote cardiovascular health, strengthen the immune system, build strong bones, and help you feel energized. Of course, there is another benefit to fitness—maintaining a healthy weight.

But a little exercise doesn’t guarantee weight loss. It’s all about creating a calorie deficit. In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Believe it or not, more exercise does not always equal more weight loss. If weight loss is your goal, it’s important to find the right type of exercise—the kind that blasts calories.

High-Intensity Workouts
High-intensity workouts are challenging. They elevate your heart rate and make you sweat. They also burn a lot more calories than a lower intensity workout.

High-intensity training is not an everyday activity because the body needs time to recover; however, most of us don’t use high-intensity training enough. It’s easy to fall into a low-intensity fitness rut and suddenly realize that we’re going for the same, slow jog day after day. That jog will lift your spirits and keep your heart healthy, but it won’t do a lot to create a calorie deficit.

If you want to shed unwanted pounds, consider adding one or two high-intensity workouts to your weekly exercise regimen. Here are a few ways to blast those calories:

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): If you really want to ramp up the intensity and blast the calories, then give HIIT a try. Yvette offers a HIIT clinic every month. Expect strength conditioning, cardio intervals, plyometric exercises, compound exercises and much more. You’ll have fun, blast calories, and get lean!

Boot Camp: Yes, boot camp is as challenging as it sounds—which is great news for creating a calorie deficit. Join Eric for boot camp and you’ll experience a high-intensity workout packed with push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, agility drills, running, jumping, kettlebells, and more.

Zumba: Who said fitness needs to be boring? Join Casey on Monday and Wednesday mornings for an hour of action-packed Latin dance moves that will have you sweating and grooving to the rhythm. Zumba incorporates interval training, resistance moves, and dance for a fun and challenging workout. Expect to burn about 500 calories as you let the rhythm move you.

Jump rope: No time for a class or a clinic? Channel your playground days. Remember how much fun you had jumping rope during recess? Little did you know back then that it was a calorie blaster. Have you picked up a jump rope lately? You may be surprised at how challenging it is. Jumping rope burns about 780 calories an hour—that’s 130 calories in just ten minutes. So grab a rope and start jumping—maybe between sets in the weight room. You’ll burn a massive amount of calories.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Caveman Cross Training

There’s a new trend in fitness and it goes by many names: Paleo, primal, caveman, natural, and ancestral, just to name a few. The label isn’t nearly as important as the principle: real-life movements that our ancestors performed to survive, such as pushing, pulling, lifting, squatting, bending, walking and the occasional high-intensity sprint.  

If it sounds challenging, that’s because it is. It’s also extremely effective.

Embrace Your Inner Caveman
No two Paleolithic experts will agree on exactly how the cavemen lived and moved—but there is one thing we can all agree on: we weren’t designed to sit hunched over computers all day. Our ancestors inherently knew how to move. As a part of their daily existence, they crawled, ran, walked, jumped, climbed, foraged, and much more. In our modern world we may not need to move this way, but our bodies were designed to move this way.

Train Like a Caveman
Our Paleolithic ancestors maintained a low level of activity throughout each day. They walked, migrated, climbed, and foraged—and occasionally they had short bursts of high intensity movement (think fight or flight). It may not be realistic for you to stay in motion all day, but you can certainly take a few lessons from the caveman in terms of natural and effective movement.

The freedom of natural movement is inherent to all humans—all it takes is a return to our roots. If you’re ready to embrace your inner caveman, Tim Hanna, our Health and Wellness Concierge has designed a Caveman Cross Training clinic that is designed to get you moving, playing, and having fun—all while reaping the benefits of a challenging and effective workout.

What to Expect from Caveman Cross Training
The Caveman Cross Training clinic is a circuit-training regimen that incorporates integrative movements that have a functional application to everyday life. The clinic will focus on progressive movement patterns, strength, stabilization, and balance. You’ll strengthen your “sling muscles” to transfer power from your lower extremities to your upper body. Expect a combination of TRX, kettlebells, dumbbells, and bodyweight exercises—but most importantly, expect the unexpected. You’ll gain a higher caloric burn than you would with a traditional workout—all while having more fun.

Ready to embrace your inner caveman (or cavewoman)?
Join Tim every Wednesday in May 7:00-8:00 a.m.
Drop-ins welcome: Members $20 / Non-members $25
Challenge your inner caveman while building stability, strength, endurance, and POWER!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ayurvedic Cleanse

Ready to spring clean your body? Zenergy is offering an Ayurvedic cleanse with Tona Leiseth, Ayurvedic Clinical Specialist.

What is Ayurvedic Medicine?
Ayurvedic medicine, also called Ayurveda, originated in India several thousand years ago. It is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. The term “Ayurveda” combines the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). Thus, Ayurveda means “the science of life.”

Ayurvedic medicine aims to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit. A chief aim of Ayurvedic practices is to cleanse the body of substances that can cause disease, thus helping to reestablish harmony and balance.

Why an Ayurvedic Cleanse?
An Ayurvedic cleanse is safe, effective, and teaches you good, healthy eating habits that can carry through to your daily life. The focus is on cleaning the colon, balancing the digestive system, and improving your overall health and immunity.

The best thing about this cleanse is that you get to eat! This makes is possible to continue participating in daily life, all while giving your body a good spring cleaning. The Ayurvedic diet emphasizes kitcharee. Kitcharee consists of well spiced mung beans (much like lentils) and rice. It is the easiest complete protein to digest and it tastes delicious! You will also be able to have breakfast porridge, stewed fruit, seeds, and a green juice daily. By taking away meat, wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, we give the body ample opportunity to work cleanly and efficiently.

Included in this cleanse:
·      A complete cleanse kit (see below)
·      3 meetings with Tona Leiseth, Ayurvedic Clinical Specialist
·      Recipes
·      Daily guidelines
·      20% discount on Ayurvedic body therapies
·      Assistance as needed

The cleanse kit contains:
·      7-day supply Organic Basmati Rice (3.15 lbs)
·      7-day supply Organic Mung Dal (1.63 lbs)
·      1 bag supply Kitchari Spice Mix (3.5 oz)
·      1 bottle Organic Triphala Tablets
·      1 16-oz bottle of Organic Sesame Oil
·      1 7.5-oz jar Organc Ghee
·      1 box Organic Detox Tea

Total length of the cleanse: 7 days
Cost: $250 members/$275 nonmembers
Additional costs: Ayurvedic body therapies throughout the week (strongly recommended), and fresh produce for your meals

Meetings at Zenergy:
Sunday May 26th: Pick up your supplies and go over the details of the cleanse.
Wednesday May 29th: Check in with Tona and eat some kitcharee!
Sunday June 2nd: Last day of cleanse. Go over re-introducing food in the upcoming week.

Call Zenergy at 208-725-0595 to sign up today!