What is so great about women’s fitness and why is it so important to stay fit? Not only will maintaining fitness keep your weight down and give you a long, lean body, it also plays a major part in keeping your body healthy and alive. It has been proven time and again that regular exercise, a sensible and nutrient rich diet and an active lifestyle are important factors in keeping your body working to its maximum potential.
Simple tasks such as bending to pick up a child or reaching for a book on a shelf can be potentially harmful and can result in injury when our fitness is compromised. Delicate muscles, especially those in the back and neck can be injured easily when they are not exercised and strengthened regularly. Once injured, it takes a muscle even longer to reach a healthy fitness level. That’s just one of the many benefits of staying fit through a women’s fitness program.
Staying alive is probably one of the most vital benefits of maintaining your fitness. While nothing guarantees our longevity, it has been proven that a fit and active lifestyle does make a big contribution towards it. Your heart is strengthened through cardiovascular exercise and these exercises also burn calories to help you lose weight. Building your cardiovascular strength means it will be much easier to complete every day tasks without fatigue as well as those unusual times when you may need extra strength to accomplish a new challenge. For instance, if you have to chase down a taxi, it will be much easier if your heart and legs are accustomed to running short sprints.
Keeping your body in shape with resistance exercises will probably mean less chance of injury when you perform a task that your body isn’t accustomed to. Staying agile through exercises such as yoga or Pilates, is also a great way to keep your body long and lean. Each exercise works various muscle groups, to lengthen and strengthen your muscles, organs and improve your health to make you healthier mentally, physically and spiritually.
Having a long, lean body is an achievement many women only dream about. The truth is, no matter what your body type or level of fitness, you can make improvements and increase your overall fitness ability. Set goals for yourself, write them down and make a solid plan to achieve them. Don’t allow anyone or anything to stand in the way of your women’s fitness program.
Memorial Day is right around the corner, and that means a long weekend full of friends, family and food. With cookout season upon us after that, the team here at your #1 internet retailer of home fitness equipment thought it might be a good time to reflect upon which common picnic and barbecue foods we should all try to avoid if we want to see real results from our home exercise regimens.
1) Hamburger or bratwurst. With up to 25 grams of fat each, a standard hamburger patty or bratwurst is one of your diet’s worst enemies. A veggie burger would be your healthiest choice, but if you’re craving real meat, opt for leaner turkey patties or dogs instead.
2) T-bone steak or ribs. Any meat that’s marbled with visible fat is going to wreak havoc on your arteries. Instead, choose fresh fish like salmon or shrimp, or veg out by grilling up some juicy Portobello mushrooms.
3) Fried chicken. This one’s a no-brainer, but that fatty breading isn’t doing your figure any favors. Grill your chicken breast instead, and marinate with chipotle seasoning or a light vinaigrette.
4) Buttered white bun. Skip the butter, and go for whole wheat if it’s available. And PS – you don’t actually need a bun at all. For an ultra-health-conscious choice, wrap your hotdog in a lettuce leaf. That refreshing crunch comes in a 5-calorie, 0-fat package.
5) Fatty sandwich toppings. Trade the sharp cheddar and greasy coleslaw for lettuce, tomato and onion – as usual, fresh veggies are your most valuable fitness accessory. Then, finish it off with barbecue sauce instead of ketchup or mustard.
6) Potato salad. A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything mayo-based. Obviously, leafy green salad is your best option, with your own health-conscious dressing made from extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs. Not a fan of greens? Try a zesty black bean and corn side dish.
7) Potato chips. Pretzels will satisfy your salt craving at a quarter of the fat content. For dipping, opt for hummus, guacamole or salsa over traditional ranch.
8 ) Lemonade. The artificial sweeteners that make kids love lemonade stands also work behind the scenes to make you pack on the pounds. If the healthier choice of sweet tea just isn’t your thing, it’s best to stick with plain old water, freshened with a lemon wedge or cucumber slice.
9) Beer. There’s nothing like a cold one on a hot summer day, but we hate to break it to you: beer is not the best of fitness accessories. If you can’t stomach the thought of a light brew, go for dry wine like chardonnay or white zin, or a low-cal mixed drink like a gin and tonic or vodka soda.
10) Rich desserts (blueberry pie, chocolate brownies, etc). With plenty of natural sugars and so many different kinds in season for the summer, fresh fruit makes the healthiest dessert hands-down. Try fresh fruit kebobs or a colorful fruit salad to satisfy all flavor palettes.
Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive! If you want your home exercise efforts to pay off, you’ll need to supplement them with a healthy and nutritious diet. For more tips on how to stick to your fitness guns during summer gatherings, make sure you check back frequently here on the Smooth Fitness blog. Whether you’re in the market for new home fitness equipment or just looking for tips on how to stay healthy, the Smooth Fitness team looks forward to welcoming you to the family!
Who said watching lots of TV means you have to be a couch potato?
One of our favorite things about fitness equipment like Smooth treadmills, elliptical trainers and the all-new SitNCycle is how easily it helps us fit great workouts into our busy lives. There’s nothing like unwinding with a movie and your significant other after a long week at work, and when you exercise at home, you can do just that while still squeezing in your cardio for the day…all at the same time.
Investing in home fitness equipment makes watching TV while staying in shape not only possible, but practically required. What better way to distract yourself from the grueling sweat ahead than by switching on your favorite soap, sitcom, reality show, or drama? With so many popular shows returning bfor the spring/summer season, the team at Smooth Fitness is beyond excited that we’re able to stay up to date on all our guilty pleasures – without the guilt that comes from skipping a workout.
Game of Thrones (HBO): Sunday, March 31 at 9pm E/T
Debuting its third season to a record-breaking 6.7 million viewers, the HBO drama based on George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy novels has already enjoyed overwhelmingly positive reception from both its international fan base and the critical community. If you haven’t yet entered its morally ambiguous world of social hierarchy, war and politics, there’s no time like the present – this season is expected to be the best yet.
Mad Men (AMC): Sunday, April 7 at 9pm E/T
After premiering with a two-hour “movie” early last month, the sixth season has already thrown plenty of good old-fashioned 1960s drama our way, all wrapped up in a dense and poetic package brimming with humor, sadness, surprise, and characters you love to hate. Rumored to be the second-to-last season of the series, this year’s spring episodes promise plenty of potential for loyal fans and newcomers alike.
So You Think You Can Dance (FOX): Tuesday, May 14 at 8pm E/T
The tenth season will feature big names as guest judges during audition rounds, including Minnie Driver, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, and Adam Shankman. But Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy will return to their traditional seats at the judges’ table for this year’s installment of the interactive reality competition talent show, whose previous winners have included everyone from swing/Latin dancer Benji Schwimmer to ballerinas Eliana Girard and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp.
Arrested Development (Netflix): Sunday, May 26
Despite receiving six Emmy awards and a Golden Globe during its three-season run, not to mention spots on Time Magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time” and Entertainment Weekly’s “New TV Classics” lists, the show’s creator Mitchell Hurwitz opted to cancel in 2006. After a seven-year hiatus that dismayed its cult following, the critically acclaimed sitcom will return to fans in an unconventional fourth season on Netflix.
Of course, these are just a few of the gems we’re looking forward to (or already enjoying) for the spring television season this year. What TV shows will you be watching when you hop on your Smooth treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike to exercise at home this May?
Most days I stay busy from sun up to sun down. It’s not that I like to have such a crazy schedule, but there are so many things I want and feel the need to do each day that it’s hard to take it easy. I confess, I do take a restful day usually on Sunday, to enjoy time with family and friends because I believe one day of rest is needed to recharge and refresh. All throughout my busy days however, I find motivational moments that inspire and encourage me along the way.
Motivational moments are those tiny gusts of motivation that hit you for a minute and if you aren’t quick enough to grasp them they are gone like tiny sands in the wind. These tidbits of motivation come from various sources. I may look out the window and spot a butterfly moving from flower to flower, or see one neighbor helping another. I may watch a football game and feel motivated from the team spirit or listen to a heartfelt story of someone’s struggles that emulate my own challenges.
These motivational moments are not unique to my world and my life. Each and every one of us is blessed by these occurrences every day. It is how we use these occurrences that determine whether or not we are taking advantage of the motivational moments in our lives.
Motivational moments or any type of motivation is the key to sticking with your diet and exercise program. As a women’s fitness trainer, I have seen so many women who start out motivated to lose weight and they stay that way for about the first 30 to 45 days. During that time, they are full of enthusiasm and usually proud of the weight they are losing. However, around the 7th week or close to the 45-day period, the weight loss hits a plateau and they become discouraged because they aren’t experiencing the same euphoric success they felt in the beginning. These women are literally starving for some motivation to keep them going and when they don’t find it, many give up and return to a sedentary lifestyle.
Although I try to head off these low points and offer lots of encouragement to the women I work with, I know how hard it is to stay motivated in the face of low to no results. Women start to feel as if they are exercising more than ever and eating less than ever but still not achieving the weight loss goal that they have set for themselves. The good news is that if you switch to a healthy diet and combine that with an active lifestyle, you will do much more than drop a dress size. Every part of your body will benefit from these healthy changes.
Your motivational moments can turn into a motivated and purposeful life. Once you harness the power of self-motivation, you can be a motivational guru to those around you. People looking for motivation will see the enthusiasm that you have for life and will want to achieve the confidence and improved self-esteem that is apparent in everything that you do.
Dean Karnazes is known as the Ultra Marathon Man. He has accomplished super-human feats in racing and endurance events. While the average person may not dare to attempt to do what he has, it is still interesting to read about how he trains, eats, as well as what he has managed to accomplish. Here are some of Dean’s most notable achievements:
- Ran 350 miles (560 km) in 80 hours and 44 minutes without sleep in 2005
- Single-handedly completed “The Relay”, a 199-mile (320 km) run from Calistoga to Santa Cruz, eleven times
- Ran a marathon to the South Pole in -13 °F (-25 °C) temperatures without snowshoes in 2002
- Ran 50 marathons in all 50 states in 50 consecutive days in 2006
With a record like that, you have to wonder about his mentality and training habits. Here is what I scoured up around the interwebs:
Training Advice from Dean Karnazes
“Build your endurance with dual cardio workouts,” Karnazes says. “Do cardio in the morning and repeat it in the evening — a minimum of 45 minutes each on the treadmill, the elliptical, or whatever your preferred machine is.” [source: mensfitness.com]
If he could do one strength training exercise it would be push-ups. [source: ultramarathon.com]
Recovery: Listen to everyone follow no one. I never stretch. There are other guys I run with who are elite runners that do a whole lot of stretching. To me active recovery is better than passive recovery. So I always try to follow up a long run with some sort of activity. I’m also a big proponent of ice baths. [source: marathontrainingacademy.com]
Long Distance Training:
I do a lot of marathons as training runs. If I’m somewhere and there’s a marathon, I’ll sign up and just go run it. I’m also very opportunistic in my training. If I’ve got half an hour, I will throw on my running shoes and train. I have my whole office set-up at waist level, I don’t sit at all during the day. Sitting, to me, is the devil. [source: huffingtonpost.com
- Favorite healthy food: Wild Pacific Salmon
- Food or meal eaten before/after an event: Water
- I eat nothing that’s processed or refined — no high-fructose corn syrup, no sugar, no trans-fats. I eat a lot of fish and monounsaturated fats from olives, olive oil and nuts. A lot of organic, fresh fruits and vegetables. No bread. No gluten. No wheat. No rice. I use a formula of roughly 500 to 700 calories per hour of running I do, based on the intensity and heat.
Besides all of his training advice, I feel his diet is of most importance. He stays away from all processed food. You can tell that he views food as fuel for the body. In one interview I came across, he mentioned ordering a pizza during one of his long distance events because it was convenient and he needed the calories. However, it also made him feel worse after eating it. I think it’s important to view food as fuel as it helps to avoid the junk food that is so readily available.
As far as his actual physical training goes, it may be extreme for most of us but it is very motivational. Dean Karnazes is definitely someone to admire and use as motivation when you feel like skipping a workout.
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
Last month I gave you the first five of ten tips for boosting your results from the Bar Method. The manager of my home studio in San Francisco, Kate Grove, and I first shared these tips with our students during a student workshop at my home studio in San Francisco. The next three tips are the ones we gave our students for the exercises they do midway through the Bar Method workout.
Tip #6: During “standing seat,” find vertical on your body.
Standing seat can transform your body, if you do it in the right form. Here’s how you can be sure yours is correct: Imagine a vertical line stretching from your ears, through your shoulders, hips and working thigh, and keep these body parts centered on the line. Staying vertical during this exercise is easier said than done. Your mind gets the idea, but your body instinctively craves a more comfortable stance. Lose focus for a moment, and when you snap back to attention you might discover that your head has dropped forward, your seat as arched back, your torso has leaned one way or the other, or your working thigh has wandered off the line. How do you avoid falling out of vertical? First use the mirror to check that your torso is upright. Next, keep re-gripping both sides of your glutes, and remind your lower back to relax. Maintain a vertical spine, and finally, keep your working knee unwaveringly under your hip (give or take an inch). This level of good form requires self-honesty and determination, but it’s worth the effort. When you succeed, standing seat will give you gorgeous posture and could become your favorite killer exercise.
Tip #7: During “flat-back,” don’t worry about a little “pooching out.”
If you’re like many students, you’re hesitant to take the option of lifting both legs during flat-back because whenever you try to raise them, your abs push out. In fact, a little pooching during flat-back is a natural stage your abs go through on their way to getting flatter. Here’s why you pooching out happens. Your “rectus abdominis” or “six pack” muscle, which lies on top of your other three abs is potentially sexy-looking but is often weaker than your “oblique” abs underneath it. So when your “obliques” contract, they shrink inwards around your waist, leaving your not-yet-strong “six pack” nowhere to go but out.
There’s another reason your abs might be misbehaving during flat-back. Your four ab muscles tend to store fat in between their layers, and that fat can bunch up when you contract them. In either case, raising both legs during flat-back, even if your abs pooch out a few inches, is harmless and will ultimately help you achieve flatter abs. Simply put, the more you work your rectus abdominis during flat-back, the stronger and flatter it will get in relation to your other abs muscles, and the more “belly fat” you’ll burn. To accelerate your results, exhale sharply each time you lift both legs, and the contraction of your diaphragm will help pull your abs in towards your spine.
One caveat: if you’re very over-weight or have very weak abs, they may pop forward more than three inches when you raise your legs. In that case, hold back on the lifting both at the same time until you lose some weight or get stronger.
Finally, if you just can’t lift your legs no matter how hard you try, sit on one-to-three “risers,” which are firm cushions designed to raise you up a few inches from the floor. If you’re tall and need to use risers, go to a stall-bar, lay a riser against it, and place three of them under you. By sitting up higher, you’ll be able to get your legs airborne and derive the full benefits of doing flat-back.
Tip #8: During curl, imagine your favorite super-cut celebrities doing ab work.
Students have been known to say that Bar Method ab work is “worse than childbirth.” Maybe so, but this thought is not the most motivating one to have in mind when getting through the last reps during “curl” section! Switch it out with mental picture of a hunky super star working his way through is own ab-sculpting routine. Stars grunt through hundreds of crunches a workout just as you do, so picture the abs of celebrities like David Beckham, Matthew McConaughey or Ryan Reynolds doing ab exercises such as the Bar Method’s “high curl” or “clam.” Your “inspiration” hunk will get you into the spirit of embracing a macho zeal for the burn!
If you just plain have trouble staying in the burn, try this approach: Devote just as much energy to the “back” part of each crunch as you do to the “forward” of it. This techique keeps you tightly in the muscle as you proceed through the reps, and doubles your benefits along the way.
Next week: Tips for finding your inner dancer during the last part of class.
When asked what my secret is for staying in shape, my response varies. I could answer that it is my diet or that I exercise 6 days a week or that I truly believe that a fit body is a healthy body. The truth is that journaling is the real secret behind my success.
Journaling is the act of keeping a journal. While there are all sorts of journals, like work journals, travel journals, or personal journals much like diaries, the journaling I am referring to is a fitness journal. Within the pages of a fitness journal, I record everything that I eat and everything that I drink. I record my physical activities such as my strength training sessions and my cardio workouts. I make notes of the level and intensity of each exercise and write down how much time I spend walking, running and playing.
There are many advantages to keeping a fitness journal. It gives me a starting point and helps me to visualize my goals. The very act of writing these acts in a book, make them more of a reality than if I just keep it all in my head. When I am ready to take my workout to the next level, I write these goals in my journal and then form a plan to make them happen. It’s not always easy, it’s not always convenient, but I truly believe that it helps me.
It has been proven time and again, that people who keep a journal of every thing they consume and all the activities they do to burn off calories have a far better chance of success in losing weight and getting in shape than those who do not. It’s such an easy and rewarding activity and it really does help to validate your fitness goals.
You can purchase a journal with pages that can be removed or added or you can just use a composition notebook. In this digital age, many women prefer using their phones or computer to record their food consumption and workouts. I prefer the old school method of actually taking pen to paper and writing. I enjoy writing and the act of journaling both soothes and energizes me in so many ways.
The wonderful thing about writing down your goals, is reading them later and reflecting on how much hard work, commitment and dedication it takes to achieve the goals that you set for yourself. Begin journaling today and you can turn your dreams into reality.
When it comes time for Mother’s Day, coming up with new ways to express your love and appreciation can be tough. While mom is sure to love the sentimental card and bouquet of flowers, why not switch it up this year with a gift that keeps on giving?
At Smooth Fitness, we suggest nixing the Mother’s Day clichés and opting instead to give the gift of health this Sunday. Wherever your own mom lands on the fitness spectrum, she deserves a present that celebrates her life while keeping her happy and healthy at the same time. From cardio machines to fitness accessories, we are sure to have something that will fit your mom’s unique fitness needs here at your #1 internet retailer of home fitness equipment.
For the beginner: If your mom is a fitness newbie, she’ll want to start off easy. An elliptical machine is a great way for anyone to ease into regular cardio workouts, thanks to their low-impact nature and multiple program settings that can be customized depending on fitness level. Check out our Elliptical Trainer Buying Guide to determine which of our Smooth ellipticals might be best for your mom.
You might also want to consider purchasing a heart rate monitor alongside any fitness equipment you buy for a mom who’s just getting started on her personal fitness journey. Using a heart rate monitor will allow her to regulate her performance to ensure she’s pacing herself appropriately, as well as track her progress as she becomes more accustomed to working out on a regular basis.
For the busy bee: Many of our moms have full-time jobs, or their hands are full carting the kids to and from school and soccer practice, paying the bills, volunteering, trying to find time for a personal life, or more likely, a combination of all that and more. For the mom who is constantly on the go, you need a gift that fits easily and conveniently in between the responsibilities of raising a family and the obligations of building a successful career.
Our collection of exercise bikes, including the all-new Smooth Fitness SitNCycle, offers the perfect solution: a cardio workout in a hands-free package that allows your mom to answer her emails, make a phone call, check her kid’s homework, or even catch up on some unheard-of leisurely reading all while staying in shape.
For the fitness junkie: If your mom’s already big into fitness, your task might be a little more difficult. Chances are she’s already found the best treadmill or elliptical for her and is fully equipped with all the fitness accessories she uses on a regular basis. But when it comes to health, there’s always room for improvement!
Since she’s been working out regularly for a while, your mom might need an upgrade to her “best treadmill” without even realizing it. Smooth treadmills come in all shapes and sizes, but an advanced runner needs an advanced machine, so check out the selection to see if your mom could use a sturdier belt or larger variety of programs. And to remind her to take care of herself after a hard workout, throw in a foam roller or exercise mat to help relieve any sore or stiff muscles.
This Mother’s Day, ditch the flowers and baked goods for a gift that will really show your mom how much you care. No matter how you choose to celebrate, the team here at Smooth Fitness wishes all our readers and clients a very happy and healthy Mother’s Day!
There’s only one thing worse for your home exercise routine than flu season: allergy season.
Spring is in the air, but so is pollen. That means all those beautifully flowering trees and plants are releasing tiny, annoying grains that infest your nose with irritants, sending your immune system into overdrive. Since your body is trying to protect you, it mistakenly labels the pollen grains as foreign invaders and starts attacking the allergens by releasing antibodies and associated chemicals, resulting in the runny nose and itchy eyes that slow you down every spring.
Of course, working out inside on your Smooth elliptical or treadmill eliminates some of the adverse effects of allergy season by allowing you to avoid direct contact with the pollen-infused air. But sometimes you just can’t get away from those symptoms. At Smooth Fitness, we feel your pain, and we’d like to share one of the best ways to fight off your allergies this spring season: eating healthy. Believe it or not, many natural foods contain nutrients capable of relieving your allergy symptoms.
1) Dark-colored produce: As if you needed another excuse to reach for the veggies instead of the potato chips, many naturally occurring plant compounds contain antioxidants that prevent damage to your airways. Try beets, berries, cherries, and red grapes for the best results.
2) Spicy turmeric: A yellow spice found in most Indian curries, turmeric offers anti-inflammatory benefits similar to many medicines. If you’re not into curry, you can also add it to soups, stews, or salad dressing – just be sure to avoid anything dairy-based, since it will reverse positive effects with its mucous-forming properties.
3) Leafy greens: For a great source of hesperidin, a phytonutrient with antihistamine properties, go green with veggies like broccoli, spinach, and romaine or red-leaf lettuce.
4) Black, green or white tea: Drinking tea might seem like a no-brainer comfort food when you’re feeling sick, but did you know that these teas also contain an important nutrient called quercetin? With antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties all rolled into one, quercetin is great for improving lung function during allergy season.
5) Tree nuts: Because they are high in magnesium and vitamin E, which alleviate breathing difficulties while boosting immunity, tree nuts like walnuts and pecans are a great way to fend off your spring allergy symptoms. Just don’t go overboard – nuts tend to be high in fat, so portion control is vital if you’re trying to lose weight.
Armed with these five allergy-fighting foods, you should be back on the home exercise horse in no time at all! Whether you’re increasing the resistance on your Smooth elliptical or running faster and longer on your new treadmill, your overall health and fitness can only improve when you incorporate a nutrient-rich diet into your workout regimen this spring.