All Entries For at the gym

Getting Started with Strength Training in 5 Easy Steps


You know that strength training (also called resistance training) is good for your body. It can help you maintain and build muscle mass, rev your metabolism, make you a better recreational athlete, strengthen your bones and reshape your body. But unlike cardio, where you usually just pick an activity you enjoy and get out there and do it, strength training can be a lot more complicated to a novice. Most people don't just walk into a weight room, stare at the sea of weights, and know how to begin.

If you've never lifted weights before (or it's been a long time since you have), it can be intimidating to know how to start. There are so many weights, machines, classes and options. Which ones are right for you and your goals?
 
While the idea of strength training can be complex, hopefully these basics will point you in the right direction so you feel comfortable starting a training program.
Posted 4/8/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 3 comments   34,579 views
Read More ›

HIIT Workout: An Hour's Worth of Cardio in 20 Minutes!


These days, high intensity interval training is hot. More and more exercise researchers are discovering that steady state cardio still does a body good—but pushing your body during shorter bursts of high intensity effort can achieve similar—if not better—results in less time. Sure you have to work harder but I prefer to think of it as working smarter, taking a 60-minute indoor cycling class, for example, and getting all of the same health and fitness benefits in just 20 minutes. Who’s not up for that?
Posted 3/18/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 2 comments   37,336 views
Read More ›

All You Ever Wanted to Know about Zumba


Editor's note: You've been asking about Zumba for a long time, so we are happy to share this guest blog post from one of our favorite bloggers. Gina, otherwise known as The Fitnessista, is not only a HUGE fan of Zumba, but she's a Zumba instructor and former dancer as well. She was happy to write about her favorite form of aerobics for the dailySpark.

Hi, everyone! My name is Gina and I write over at a little blog called The Fitnessista. On my blog, I write about fitness tips, nutrition advice, recipes, workout routines and my daily shenanigans. Determined to experience a negative “freshman 15,” I lost 40 pounds about 8 years ago and have since then become a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. My favorite class to teach, by far, is ZUMBA!

So, you may have heard about Zumba or you might be wondering what the heck it is.

Posted 5/8/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 482 comments   137,982 views
Read More ›

Confession: I Don't Change in the Locker Room


I grew up playing school sports and taking phys ed class, so I've been in my share of locker rooms. But now that I'm an adult, the only locker room I encounter is at the gym. And to be perfectly honest, I'm really—I mean REALLY—uncomfortable changing in the women's locker room. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the odd woman out or if I'm normal after all.
Posted 4/19/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 831 comments   160,238 views
Read More ›

30-Minute Interval Workout for the Elliptical


I know plenty of people who love their elliptical trainers—and there is plenty of reason to. The elliptical mimics the motion of walking or running but with very little impact on the joints. That means it's more comfortable for you to get your heart rate up and get really sweaty. Whether you want to go easier, go harder, or something in between, a standard elliptical has plenty of options for you.
 
But following the same elliptical programs day in and day out can make your elliptical workout turn stale—and hurt your results. So I developed a fun interval-style workout that'll challenge you and help pass the time. With frequent changes in speed and resistance, your workout will fly by—and you'll reap the fat-burning, time-saving, calorie-torching benefits of interval training!
Posted 2/27/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 26 comments   135,733 views
Read More ›

The 500-Calorie Treadmill Workout


It's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of the treadmill. I love to run, hike and even walk with my pup, but I do it all outdoors all year round. Rain, snow, wind, heat—almost nothing can keep me from my outdoor workouts. For me, a treadmill is a "last resort" when I have no other option to get outside.
 
But I know that not everyone is as gung-ho about outdoor exercise as I am. Many people hate running in the cold or the heat. (Nothing wrong with that.) Others have no other option to work out, especially if they have to be at home with kids or don't live in a safe neighborhood for walking or running. And still some prefer the slightly cushioned surface of a treadmill, which takes away some of the impact of running, making it easier on the joints and even the spinal discs.
 
Whatever your reason, we've all turned to the treadmill from time to time. And the best way to prevent boredom and get great results from your treadmill workout is to incorporate intervals. Here's a simple workout I developed to help you torch calories with your trusty treadmill.
Posted 1/16/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 112 comments   547,950 views
Read More ›

How to Injure Yourself at the Gym


Although I’ve been a fitness coach for years, I will admit that I don’t always practice what I preach.  I don’t stretch quite as much as I should, and as a result, I’ve sustained frustrating injuries that could easily have been avoided. 
 
Whether you’re new to exercise or a workout veteran, we all make workout mistakes from time to time.  While some can be harmless—where the only consequence is burning fewer calories—others can lead to serious problems. Here are four common fitness mistakes that can lead to serious injury if you don't catch them early. 
Posted 11/5/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 13 comments   25,678 views
Read More ›

Creative Cardio Workout: The Machine Mixer


We all have our own cardio personalities. Some swear by sweating in the great outdoors. Others prefer the air conditioning. You might prefer exercising solo, while your best friend lives for the contagious energy in a Spinning class.

Whether you're a diehard gym-goer, or (like me) only set foot in the gym when the weather hits unbearable extremes, we all have a few things in common:
 
We want our workouts to be more fun than boring. We want to get the best possible results for our efforts. And we want to feel like the time is speeding by—not dragging.
 
Well, good news! This simple workout technique will help you reach all three goals above, whether you love cardio machines or only use them as a last resort.
Posted 8/24/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 57 comments   32,223 views
Read More ›

Confession: I Can Run 10 Miles, But I Can't Do a Sit-Up


I am a creature of habit.  Once I get into an exercise routine I like and works well for my schedule, I tend to stick to it.  For years, my primary cardio activity has been running.  I regularly change up the distance, speed and route to keep my workouts challenging.  I like that I’m good at running (I’m not fast, but I’m consistent) and it’s something I enjoy.  But I also know that variety is important. 
 
My husband had been bugging me to try a new fitness class at his martial arts studio.  After months of making excuses (“I don’t have time”, “I don’t think I’d like it”, etc.) I decided to give it a chance.  Within the first few classes, it was easy to see the areas where I was very fit, and the areas where I clearly was not.  I like feeling strong and fit.  I like it for myself, I like it as a positive example for my kids, and I also feel a certain amount of pressure to be fit because of my job.  I think I hesitated to try something new because I was afraid it would show me (and everyone around me) my weaknesses. 
Posted 8/2/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 74 comments   20,427 views
Read More ›

6 Secrets to Take the Dread Out of the Treadmill


There are two kinds of people in life: those who love the treadmill and those who can't stand it. In case it wasn't already obvious from this blog's title, I'm in the latter group! I will run outdoors in a foot snow, below freezing temperatures, 90-degree heat, and even torrential rain before I will run on the treadmill. But I do draw the line somewhere: ice. When conditions are icy (OK, also if temps hit single digits), I'm not willing to risk injuring myself by running outside. Luckily, this winter has only forced me inside (count 'em) three times, and with spring on the way, I have my fingers crossed that I won't have to use the treadmill again until next year.

Usually, I can only muster about 10 or 15 minutes on the treadmill before boredom wins and I leave the gym feeling frustrated with myself. So I had to come up with some new ways to make the most of the treadmill. And to my surprise: These tactics really worked. I'm not talking about listening to music or watching TV either. If you really want to have fun on the treadmill—or at least pass the time more easily—this is how you do it.
Posted 3/2/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 126 comments   74,441 views
Read More ›

How to Find a Qualified Personal Trainer


45 percent: That's the number of personal trainers who claim to be certified but really aren't, according to the IDEA Health & Fitness Association. If you've ever worked with a trainer, or think you might in the future, a statistic like that should worry you at least a little bit.

A few months ago, I shared tidbit, along with some other scary and startling facts about personal trainers. From what certifications to look for to what makes a trainer really qualified, I laid down the cold, hard truth about navigating your way through this confusing profession so that you don't get scammed into working with a trainer who just isn't any good.

Now there is an even easier way to find a credible and certified personal trainer—and verify that what he or she says about their education and experience is actually true. This quick and simply tool is a must-use for anyone who works with a trainer or thinks they will someday in the future.
Posted 2/18/2011  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 18 comments   10,956 views
Read More ›

Poll: Are You Gym-o-Phobic?


You're thinking about joining a gym to lose weight and tone up. But the fact that you are overweight (and aren't an exercise guru) prevents you from going. After all, a health club is the Mecca were fit, healthy, and thin people congregate, right? You'd stand out like a sore thumb in a place like that! Talk about feeling out of place...

Ever felt like you're not "good enough" or "fit enough" or "skinny enough" to go to the gym right now? That you need to lose weight before you join a gym, but that you need to join the gym in order to lose weight? (Try to wrap your head around that one!)

You're not alone. I've heard this time and time again from friends, family members, and SparkPeople members. When I recently read about the 8 mental barriers that keep people from the gym, it led me to wonder: How common is gym-o-phobia? Are you (or have you ever been) too self-conscious to work out at a gym?
Posted 2/11/2011  10:14:06 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 75 comments   14,003 views
Read More ›

Stuff We Love: 4 Essentials for Spinning Class


I have had a strong and unwavering love of Spinning ever since I took my first class 10 years ago. Soon after, I completed my certification to teach Spinning and I've been teaching at least once class per week for the last several years. And this time of year, Spinning is a great workout when you don't want to go outside, but don't necessarily want to trudge on the treadmill for an hour.

I teach at a gym where a lot of serious cyclists train. They take Spinning mostly when the weather is too bad to train outdoors, and you can easily pick them out of the crowd with their cycling shoes, padded bike shorts and cycling jerseys, water bottles (or often, sports drinks), watches, and bandanas. It can be intimidating for any newcomer to the class. But technically, you don't need anything special for Spinning. Standard workout clothes, a hard-soled pair of athletic shoes, and a water bottle will do just fine. But there are a few extras you could consider purchasing in order to make your ride more comfortable—and get more out of it. Want to know my must-haves for Spinning?
Posted 2/2/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 41 comments   86,948 views
Read More ›

10 Full Body Gym Exercises for the Beginner




Last week's fitness blog featured strength training exercises a beginner could do at home. This week's blog features those exercises that allow you to do a full-body workout routine in the gym.

If you feel you do not have time to incorporate all the various exercises into your busy schedule, according to the American Council on Exercise, "significant fitness and strength gains can be made in just two strength training sessions per week when you target all muscle groups."

Below are ten strength training exercises to do at the gym.

Please be sure to do a nice warm-up and cool-down before and after doing these exercises.

Note that if you have a history of joint problems or health issues you will want to get medical clearance before performing any of these activities.


Posted 9/1/2010  12:13:14 PM By: Nancy Howard : 30 comments   87,383 views
Read More ›

6 Scary Truths about Personal Trainers


When Stepfanie recently told me and then subsequently blogged about a bad experience she had with a personal trainer, I wasn't surprised. I know a bit about what goes on in gyms where the line between trainer and salesperson is a fine one. What surprised me more was the sheer number of readers who replied to her post, relaying tale after tale of personal trainers gone wild—and not in a good way. So many asked, "What qualifies these people to train some else?" and, "What does it take to become a personal trainer?" that I thought I'd answer those questions in a follow-up blog.

I am a certified personal trainer with a degree in fitness and exercise and I have worked as a personal trainer in the past. Plenty of my friends and former college classmates work as trainers. It's an interesting profession and one that I think has potential to do a lot of good in helping people reach their fitness goals. I know some downright amazing trainers who are smart, trustworthy, extremely experienced and well educated in their trade. But I've also seen my fair share of trainers who are the exact opposite, and it's too bad that many of those trainers are giving the profession a bad rap. But even more concerning: Some are putting people who trust them at risk by having them perform unsafe exercises or giving them dangerous advice. You should be able to trust your personal trainer, right? Well, not all the time. Just in time for Friday the 13th, here are 6 scary truths that your personal trainer might not tell you.
Posted 8/13/2010  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 59 comments   45,840 views
Read More ›

Read More Entries ›