If you’re like me – from an area where it’s always sunny, never drops below 30 degrees and frost is the closest you’ll ever get to snow- then Chicago’s infinitely long winter and elusive spring has probably sucker punched you in the gonads in a lot of ways. You might find yourself more apathetic towards moving away from your couch or swearing whenever wind blows. Getting to the gym becomes less of a priority when the weather is downright terrible! But you’re in luck – we’ve got bad weather workout tips to combat that. Check them out!

Implement Dedicated Days

A large issue people run into is not having a consistent routine. However, consistency is SO important, because consistency is where you see results! It also helps motivate you when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Setting dedicated days is hard initially because you’re holding yourself accountable for working out. So start by setting a simple goal for the week. I recommend three dedicated days- that’s the easiest way to begin, that’s how I became consistent- Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for an hour.

When I stuck to the days I started to see the biggest changes in my body- three days a week. If you know you don’t like working out on Sundays, don’t! But, you also have to stick to the plan and not work out those days. Once you hit the routine regularly, you may naturally want to add a fourth (if you don’t, that’s ok too!). Just stay consistent with your days. You’ll begin to notice the difference in your body and your mind.

Change the Time of Day

We’re creatures of habit. I love working out in the morning; I go to work happier and more engaged with clients. I just feel better! But it can be difficult to get up in the mornings (especially during fall/winter, or even the odd with the dark skies of a spring or summer thunderstorm). A bad weather workout tip? Switch it up! Go to your gym after work or on your lunch break. If your office has a gym for its employees, utilize it.

Working out at night is a good for you too, as it has been known to assist in sleep and encourages your brain to wind down for the evening. Winding down is just as important as working out. We are all stressed in the age of technology and working out at the end of a day is great for releasing the mental drudgery of everyday work.

Find a Gym Buddy

Gym buddies help you stay accountable with your fitness goals and regimen. Help each other out; cheer each other on! You can even alternate who chooses what workout to do for the day or participate in a group fitness class together; you’ll take comfort knowing your friend is suffering beside you. So text each other, call each other, demonstrate different workouts you want to try. When you’re done, grab coffee, dinner, or if you’re like me, a bagel! Friends help friends stay consistent.

Related: feel like you fell off the bandwagon a little bit? Here are 5 tips to get you back into a fitness routine!

Change Up the Exercises

Get off the elliptical! Oh yeah, you heard me. Change up your routine. There is nothing more motivating than doing a different workout everyday. It helps with dedication, it’s fun and it’s challenging. This small change will help keep your mind engaged and excited to exercise. If that’s too much effort, you can also download an app. Two of my favorites are Sworkit and Workout: Gym Exercise Tracker, which offer various programs that will get you stronger, leaner and fitter, along with different intensity levels. They even offer lists of exercises and demonstration videos.

If you’d rather go for a more hands-on approach, you could also hire a trainer. It is literally our job to create programming so you don’t have to think — just do. Each FFC trainer has a unique take on fitness with different exercises and routines. For example, I work with kettlebells because they blast fat, increase strength and cardiovascular endurance. My coworker Steve is all about barbell work and lifting, Taylor does great with strength and conditioning. If this interests you, talk to the FFC membership team! They’ve worked out with the trainers and can pair you with someone suited for you and your goals. Or, if you’re feeling brave, walk up the trainers desk and ask for advice. If a trainer isn’t with a client, he or she will most likely show you an exercise or two. We’re here to help and want you to have fun!

Be Good To Yourself

Strength and fitness is a journey, just like life. You’re going to have good days and bad days and it’s ok to go with the flow. For example, if you don’t make it to the gym as much as you wanted that’s ok. Let’s say these changes are hard for you to implement. Ask yourself, “why am I making these changes and how important is this to me?”

Fitness is more than just the physique – in fact, rockin’ bodies are byproducts of exercising. Fitness is treating your mind right because your mind and psyche are what helps you reach your goals. So be realistic and make small changes so you’re not shocking your system. For example, if you want a cookie- eat a damn cookie. Don’t deprive yourself, but be aware of what you’re doing and adjust along the way. Success isn’t made in leaps and bounds, but rather in small doses. Find your small victories and build off of those!

Post written by Julia Meese, FFC East Lakeview Personal Trainer.

 

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About 8 years ago I made a change to how I approached my training. Well, to be precise, I actually started training and stopped “working out”. It all started with a fitness plan.

It’s made a huge difference in how I get results, my overall health and resilience, and my understanding of how my body reacts to stressors. My results in the gym skyrocketed and it all started with a process that occurs outside of the gym; I started following a program that a coach would write for me.

My mentor once described a good program as a “helicopter view” of the trainee’s current position and where they want to be. A good fitness plan allows us to see the whole picture and how we will get from point A to point B.

“Making it up as you go” or not having a plan at all provides us with what he calls a “car view”; it doesn’t allow us to see the whole picture and leaves a lot to the imagination. How often do you get in a car in unknown territory and leave the navigation up to your imagination? You don’t, right? Because that’s a huge waste of time! Why would you do that in the gym?

“My mentor once described a good program as a “helicopter view” of the trainee’s current position and where they want to be. A good fitness plan allows us to see the whole picture and how we will get from point A to point B.”

If you are just starting out, working with a program can be intimidating. Even a simple program can look very complex on paper and seem hard to read – which is why I’m going to break down FFC’s brand new Workout of the Month program and make sure you feel confident from the start. The first step? Grab your worksheet below!

The Workout of the Month Fitness Plan Breakdown

Each Workout of the Month will come in a 4-week block.

  • Week 1 – exploratory week
  • Week 2 – intensity increase
  • Week 3 – higher weights, lower volume
  • Week 4 – the home stretch = higher weight, higher volume
Week 1 – Exploratory Week

This is a time to get comfortable with the exercises and figure out what weights you will use with the exercises that will result in the prescribed RPE (rating of perceived exertion). RPEs will range from 6-8 depending on what kind of work you are doing. Here is a chart to help you figure out your RPE:

Why work to an RPE instead of using percentages? The short answer is flexibility and health.

Not flexibility in the sense of being able to do the splits, per say, but flexibility in the sense of being able to adjust your working weights to how you feel that particular day. If you got a lot of sleep and ate well before your workout, you may feel like a million bucks and be able to match the RPE with a heavier weight than normal. Great!

Some days, you may be tired from a long work day or not sleeping well or whatever life is throwing at you and a lighter weight than normal gets you to the prescribed RPE. That’s cool too! We’re all about getting work done and keeping it safe, relative to our current readiness. Winning!

Week 2 – Intensity Increase

Now that you have your weights dialed in, you can get after it a little bit during week 2. You will usually see increased intensity during this week due to what you figured out during week 1’s exploration.

Week 3 – Higher Weights, Lower Volume

During week 3, you will see a lower volume in your strength work – but that doesn’t mean you’re doing less – you will be adding weight to make up for the decreased volume. This week is known as the “PR and go home week” — get to the gym, work a little bit harder than you have been, and go home feeling satisfied. Hooray!

Week 4 – Higher Weight, Higher Volume

Week 4 is a tough one. This is the pinnacle of your training block that will bring increased volume as well as increased weight. However, as long as you are within the prescribed RPE, you are safe and sound.

Here’s the thing… if you stick to the program, you will see that you are able to work with heavier weights but remain at the same RPE. That’s pretty cool, right?! You’re getting stronger!!

How to Read the Workout of the Month Worksheet

You’ll notice that the exercises in this program are sectioned off by letter (A, B, C, D). Those letters indicate that those exercises in that letter group are to be performed in succession. For instance, in the A section of the Monday workout you will perform 5 Overhead Med Ball Slams, 10 total (5 on each side) Deadbugs and 10 total (5 on each side) Banded Leg Drops.

You will then repeat that circuit 2 more times in that order. Then you will move on to section B and perform those exercises in succession for the prescribed sets and reps. Easy peasy!

If you are new to the gym and training in general, ease into it. Any program is to be viewed as more of a suggestion than a rule. For example, you could start with just 1 resistance day and 1 metabolic day for the first week. Or maybe a 2 resistance to 1 metabolic ratio is more your speed. Or, for you gym veterans, you could perform all 6 days.

Do whatever makes you feel good! The goal is to feel and move better while getting stronger and more resilient. We don’t need to beat ourselves up – we just need a plan and an honest assessment of our current capabilities.

Also – make sure that you are using the key provided to pick an exercise that is right for you. You should be able to perform the exercise you choose confidently and within the RPE for the prescribed set and rep range. If you need help choosing your exercises, please ask a trainer for help.

What Can You Expect?

Now that you have your weeks laid out and now how to work with the program, let’s talk about some intricacies. Writing a fitness plan for thousands of people is daunting. How do we fit it all appropriately for the individual’s skill sets and goals?

Well, it’s pretty simple if you let it be. This program will be designed for targeting general fitness. It will help you get stronger, lose some body fat, become more resilient, and improve your cardiovascular health. Yes, it really can do all of that!

Skill levels will be addressed with exercise and RPE selections. Do what’s appropriate for you! More and more difficult is not better, what is appropriate to you and what you feel confident doing is better. Working outside of your skill set isn’t going to get you to your goals faster, it’s just going to increase the risk of injury and most likely burn you out more quickly. We’re in this for the long game here. Consistency trumps intensity!

Taking It a Step Further

If you are curious to learn more about the exercises in this program or want to gain a better understanding of it, feel free to strike up a conversation with one of FFC’s trainers. We want you to succeed and get the most out of this offering! Professional guidance is never a bad idea when you are working toward a healthier you.

We hope that this helps get you started on your journey. Questions will come up and that’s ok, just contact a trainer at your club and they will be happy to help you at any point. We are very excited about this opportunity to expand our service to you and the quality and value it will add to your fitness journey!

Post written by FFC Oak Park Fitness Director Mike Connelly.

Check out the move of the month – the kettlebell swing!

Pressed for time? Many of us struggle to fit exercise into our already busy days. Additionally, many of us think that a workout needs to be be at least 45 minutes to count. Throw that thought out the window and get your fitness in 30 minutes or less while competing against the clock! (Compound body moves, like these, also help to make your workout more efficient). Try this quick lower body workout to work your legs to the max – minimal equipment needed!

Equipment needed: Medium weight dumbbells, a mat and a body bar (for balance).

Set up your equipment and start your clock. See how many times you can get through your circuit, and challenge yourself to improve your total rounds performed on the next attempt. (And be sure that form is always your top priority)!

Warm Up

Warm up with one round of the following (30 seconds each):

  • Jogging in place
  • Alternating body weight lunges
  • Jumping jacks
  • Body weight squats

Lower Body Workout Challenge

Choose five of the following moves to rotate as many times as you can in 25 minutes.

Weighted Walking Lunges (10 reps per leg)

Walking lunge lower body workout

Walk through the lunge instead of stepping your feet back together. Make it more difficult with a dumbbell in each hand. (Perform a basic lunge if space is an issue).

Dumbbell Deadlifts (15 reps)

Dumbbell deadlift lower body workout

Start standing straight, then bend, keeping your shins vertical and your back straight, hinging just at the hips. Return to standing for one rep.

Jumping Lunges (30 seconds)

Jumping lunge lower body workout

Start in a lunge, then swing your arms to help propel yourself off the ground as you switch legs midair, landing on the opposite leg.

Ice Skaters (30 seconds)

Ice skater 1 lower body workout  Ice skater 2 lower body workout  Ice skater 3 lower body workout

Leap to your right and tap your left foot behind you, then leap to the left. For added difficulty during this lower body workout, tap your hand to the ground or keep your back leg elevated for a count before leaping to the other side.

Related: try this workout, then

Lateral Squats (10 reps per leg)

Lateral squats lower body workout

Perform a squat, step your left leg in so your feet are together, then step your right leg out to perform another squat. Repeat side to side. Make it more difficult by holding a weight in front of you.

 

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Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts with Knee Raise (15 reps)

Romanian deadlift 3  Romainian deadlift 2 lower body workout

Romanian deadlift 1 lower body workout  Romanian deadlift 4 lower body workout

Hinge at your hips, keeping your body in as straight a line as you can (grab a body bar if you need help balancing).

Jumping Squats (30 seconds)

Jumping squats lower body workout

Perform a squat, then leap straight into the air, landing softly back into a squat.

Lunge Hops (30 seconds)

Lunge hops lower body workout

Perform a lunge, then leap straight into the air without switching legs, landing softly back into your lunge. Switch legs after 15 seconds.

Cool Down

Cool down with one round of the following:

Standing Quad Stretches (30 seconds per leg)

Standing quad stretch lower body workout

Grab your body bar or the wall for balance, gently pull your knee into your backside until you feel a stretch in the front part of your leg.

Low Lunges (30 seconds per leg)

Low lunges lower body workout

You can use your dumbbells if you can’t reach the ground.

Downward Facing Dog (30 seconds)

Downward dog lower body workout

Try to keep your back and legs straight as you lean your chest down for this hamstring and shoulder stretch.

Post written by an FFC contributor.

 

A classically trained musician since age four, FFC member Kelly Richards can’t recall life without rhythm and melody. Throughout college and corporate life, music remained a focus as she kept close watch over the evolving scenes of favorite genres – and eventually found her way to digital music. Now, she spends her days in a corporate position, but the rest of her waking hours as DJ and producer, Hummingbird. Based in Chicago, she’s opened for tons of well-known artists and played numerous clubs and music festivals – locally and all over the world. Here, she’ll discuss how you can get better results with workout music and then share her favorite songs to help you kick start your workout.

The Why

Music possesses undeniable power.  It can impact our emotional state, lead us to lose our inhibitions, give us goosebumps, put us at ease, create tension – even make us smarter.  It can also help us work out longer, harder and more effectively.

Music has the remarkable ability to improve focus. One obvious way it does this is by minimizing distractions, but there are additional factors in play. The repeated sound patterns in virtually every style of music trigger certain parts of the brain’s frontal lobe – the part responsible for abstract thought, planning and analysis. If you’ve ever put on headphones because you needed to buckle down and knock out a tough project asap, this is what helped you sprint to the finish line.

Related: speaking of better results – are you trying to burn fat? Forget the cardio – pick up heavier weights!

When focused, you’re inevitably working at the highest end of your performance spectrum. Research shows this also benefits our workouts by improving our ability to analyze form and technique and make subtle yet very effective tweaks that really hone in on specific muscles.

Certain styles of music are better at this than others. Music with just a few repeated vocal samples or without lyrics altogether seems to be the most effective at increasing focus. This is likely due to how our brains are hardwired for language interpretation. When we hear words that become sentences and ultimately tell a story, we can’t help but get absorbed by it.

Sometimes this happens subconsciously, but more often than not it registers front and center, pulling us away from whatever we were previously focused on. No matter how good you think you are at multitasking, our brains are only capable of thinking one thought at a time. So if you’re at the gym and your thoughts aren’t on your workout, you’re not getting the most from your efforts.

Related: try FFC for free! Click here to get started.

The How

How workout music gets you fitter, fasterWhile classical and ambient music genres are logical options for work and study, when it comes to workout music, it’s house, techno and electronica that steal the show (and I promise I’m not just saying that because I’m a DJ!)

To get better results with workout music, you can check out a few mixes from me (Hummingbird) and my frequent musical partner in crime RJ Pickens to keep you energized and focused at the gym – and beyond.

 

 

Post written by FFC contributor Kelly Richards. 

About Kelly, AKA DJ Hummingbird

DJ Hummingbird aka Kelly RichardsFollow along and stay updated on new music by following her on social:

Facebook | SoundCloud | Instagram | Twitter

If you like what you hear, and are interested in seeing Hummingbird and RJ live, keep an eye on Hummingbird’s Facebook page for password details to allow you free or reduced price entry to upcoming shows!

 

So you’ve conquered all of the other races – 5K, 10K, half-marathon… now, it’s time for the big show: your very first marathon! First, congratulations on making the plunge into one of the most difficult and rewarding achievements for any athlete. Read on for our top 5 training tips for you as a first-time marathon runner!

After the feelings of registration elation subside, you need to make a plan. As a first-time marathon runner, you’ll need to train harder, and most of all, smarter than you ever have in your life. You can’t roll out of bed and knock out a marathon (like you did with that fun run.)  A marathon is all business.

Finally, make sure to tell your family and friends about your new goal. The marathon officially becomes a reality when you tell people, due to two things:

  1. Telling others holds you accountable for completing your marathon journey
  2. You will receive instant support which will motivate you

Read on for some other top tips that will help you as a first-time marathon runner!

Set a goal.

Simply having the goal of “just finish” is a bit broad and could lead to a training regimen that lacks focus. For instance, if you’re hoping to finish the marathon in under 4 or 5 hours, you might need a specific training program (or partner program with a charity, like Team Bright Pink with FFC Endurance) to help make that happen.

Develop a training schedule.

This is critical for preparing your body for the rigors of a 26.2 mile race. You want to make sure you don’t add too many miles too quickly, or else your body won’t properly progress. Start training for a marathon at least 5 months prior to the race and gradually increase your miles every week. You can find a variety of solid training plans online or by speaking to a running coach/club.

Related: don’t forget recovery!! Here are some tips on foam rolling & why you need it.

Mix it up.

Marathon training doesn’t have to exclusively be about the running. Most trainers encourage including a combination of cross-training and strength training to your schedule a few days a week. Rowing and swimming are two good aerobic conditioning exercises. Hitting the weight room or doing yoga once or twice a week will strengthen your muscles and help you in the long run.

Rest.

Training for a marathon is… well… a marathon – not a sprint. As a first-time marathon runner, you definitely, 100% need to rest properly during your training. You’ll need to accept that you’ll have some bad runs and that’s probably because you are very sore. If that happens, take a day off. Maybe even two days. Always allow at least one day per week where you don’t train at all. If you’re having a hard week physically, take two days off. Your body will thank you.

Simulate the marathon ahead of time.

This is where some solid research ahead of time will make you more comfortable during the race on the big day. Become familiar with the route of the course. Maybe there are a few sections of the course that have hills. You’ll want to mentally prepare for those sections of the race so they don’t cause you any stress during the race.

Have a favorite race tip we forgot? Share it with us in the comments!

As an operations consultant, I provide information to my clients about doing things faster, more efficiently with less wasted time or money and repeatedly. If you are in business and want to grow, you really want to establish the least costly methods early on and then scale up as you expand. The same principles are applied to race car driving pits, when every second counts. When tires need to be changed during a race, every move is scripted and efficient with no loss of time or movement. This is how the pit crew assures that not only are the new tires installed correctly, but the minimum loss of time occurs for the change. As a triathlete, I have applied my profession and expertise in efficiency to races in order to perfect and reduce time for more efficient triathlon transitions.

These days, my transitions are slow only if I decide I’m not worried about the time and am using my race for training instead of competing. On racing days, however, I apply all my planning and motion analysis skills to reduce the time for each transition to optimize for my best times on the courses.

What You’ll Get Out of This Post

In this post, you will learn how to achieve good triathlon transitions no matter what equipment you feel you must have for each leg of the race. Additionally, at the end of this blog you will find a list of items you may want for your transitions- both my personal list of essentials, as well as a list of extras.

I don’t recommend using every item, but it’s a comprehensive list so you can consider what items you need versus want (a very important consideration!) At the top of the list you’ll find what is essential and what you absolutely must have to start.

Under that, you’ll find a second list of extra equipment. This will allow you to practice your timing with only what is needed to get your baseline down. That way you can factor in additional seconds or even minutes to your transition based on every item you add.

The Bare Essentials

Transition 1(T1): Swim to Bike

Take off wetsuit, goggles and cap, put on biking shoes, helmet and sunglasses.

This is really all you need to ride your bike. Protection for your eyes, head and feet. How fast can you get these things on? Start by timing yourself as you put each item on. What motions are wasted? Does it help to have your helmet on the handlebars with your sunglasses inside? I say yes because I put my sunglasses on first, then my helmet and snap it over the earpieces. Shoes go on next and I’m off.

Can you get this to 30 seconds or less?

Transition 2 (T2): Bike to Run

Take off biking shoes and helmet, put on running shoes, bib and cap.

This is really all you need to run if you use nutrition on the course. Can you save time by wearing your bib on the bike? You can, but only if you pin it on before the swim. If you use a race belt, you can put that inside your cap and put both on as you run out of T2 to save time.

Can you get this to 30 seconds or less?

Arrangements: put stuff in the order you will need it.

There is a factory system called 5S. It basically means “everything has a place, and everything should be in its place” Thus, it makes sense to put things in the order you will need them and then return them there when you get back. Minimalism helps a great deal here. I use the following arrangement:

  • I put down a towel or my mini Tatami mat and put my bike shoes in front with sunscreen and nutrition inside.
  • My bike helmet and sunglasses are on the handlebars.
  • On the mat, behind my bike shoes, are my running shoes, extra water bottle, and my race belt stuck inside my cap in one shoe.
  • I use my sunscreen pre-bike and put it into the open running shoe as a reminder to use it again pre-run.
  • I always throw my goggles and cap into the bag and hang my wetsuit next to my bike on the rack during the race.

Travel Time: plan, plan, plan.

As you plan your transition, consider how far you must travel from the swim to T1, from the biking dismount to T2 and the distances out of both. These can result in minutes. Some swim outs to T2 are nearly .25 miles long and your running speed is a factor. Plan for this time so you don’t get flustered if you see you are taking longer than expected.

Related: click here to try TriMonster! Sign up for a free visit & more info.

The Extra Stuff

Now that you’ve got the basic necessities down, you can start to factor in some extra equipment and how you might arrange it for the most efficient usage during your triathlon transitions.

Transition 1 Extras: bike socks, sunscreen, nutrition, water to wash your feet, towel to dry feet, other misc.

If you are a person who must have socks, you may need to wash your feet and dry them to get your socks on quickly. Once you have mastered the essentials of T1, add the socks and practice. Ask yourself, is it more efficient to put your socks in your shoes pre-rolled or are you better off if you put both socks on first then both shoes?

Place items you need in order on your mat and practice each in order to see what works. Normally it is better to do the same motion twice rather than changing motions, e.g. put both socks on first then both shoes so that you do one motion twice. However, you may find your mind works better with a sock-shoe-sock-shoe order.

If you did not put sunscreen on pre-swim, you will want to put some on now. Some races have sunscreen volunteers but personally I prefer the spray on stuff because I make sure to get my ears, that “tramp stamp” area and my shoulders and nose. Plan your method and stick to it.

Finally, you may want to start your nutrition in transition. I use a Gu packet pre-opened and just stick it in my mouth as I put on my shoes and helmet. I can suck on it in small doses as I’m getting all my stuff on.

Transition 2: running socks, sunscreen, nutrition, water belt/bottle, towel, other misc.

Same thing here – when you run into transition, you may want to dry your feet and put on dry socks. Personally, I don’t use socks ever, but I know many who must have them. Once again, plan your order and practice it. If you like to carry water, you only need your bib on the run (usually), so you might have a water belt that has the bib on it. Put this on as you run out of transition. Maybe reapply sunscreen to make sure you don’t get burnt shoulders or a burnt nose on the run.

Related: anyone can be a triathlete! Check out this amazing story of how member Maria finished her first triathlon at 70!

Getting in and out: visualize it.

Before the race begins, practice your swim transition by “walking in” from the swim and looking for milestones to remember so you can find your bike and transition area quickly. Visualize yourself running in, tired and excited, past others ahead of you to your spot. Imagine how you will take off your cap and goggles on the run in, when you will remove your wetsuit and how you will put on your bike attire. See yourself doing this calmly, yet fast and efficiently.

Then, walk to bike out. Walk to bike in and back to your transition area, again looking for milestones or landmarks that will help you find your spot quickly. Visualize yourself jogging with your bike to your spot quickly and efficiently, staging your bike (“Will you hook with handlebars or seat? Did you come in on the right side to do that?) and removing your bike attire, calmly and quickly putting on your running gear. Walk to run out. Plan the route you will use to avoid those coming in with their bikes and those still leaving with their bikes. Find a wide row that will allow passing.

Cleaning up and keeping all your stuff.

If you are efficient with your gear up process, you will also have time to put your things into your bag as you remove them, or stack them neatly on the towel. I use my wetsuit as a locator for bike in. I remove it, hang it over my bike slot on the rack and when I return I look for it to find my rack slot.

Putting your goggles and cap into your bag can be done quickly if you plan for it in your practice and will keep your things near you as others jostle their bikes around. I’ve seen many lost goggles, wetsuits and other gear in transitions. I tend to finish later than many younger racers and could probably make a few bucks on the items that remain behind! You will be tired when you return. Having stuff neatly stacked or already in your bag makes it easy to NOT forget stuff and a relief for tired legs and back.

Bonus Tips

Remember, any time you spend in transition is part of your race time. Aim for 3 minutes for your triathlon transitions, including travel time. The pros often have VIP locations and can do transitions in less than a minute. If you can get down to 2 minutes, you are doing great. This means you are taking little time to chat, think about options or anything else but just executing your plan.

After the swim and bike, I will often sit to put on my shoes to avoid dizziness due to bending over. This actually seems to improve my transition times because I’m not stumbling around trying to put my shoes on one-legged. I’ve eliminated a lot of extras and “just in case” extras – leaving only what I really need:

Bandaids are in my bike bento box and my running belt. I do carry aspirin but only in case of dire emergency. All nutrition and water is on my bike pre-race, ready to head out. My Garmin is set to multisport and I hit the lap button at the bike mount and dismount and swim in and run out, to capture all transition times. If I forget, I hit it when I remember. The race will have your official times but it’s good to know during the race how well you executed this part of your plan.

My one final piece of advice: plan your transition and transition according to your plan.

Post written by FFC Oak Park Endurance Coach Terri Friel.

About Terri

Terri Friel is an experienced endurance coach at FFC Oak Park. Have questions, want to better your race times or even try an endurance event for the first time? Email Terri at tfriel@ffc.com!

As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain a well-rounded diet and exercise program. Though a wellness-focused lifestyle has always been important, recent studies have shown the growing correlation between exercise and lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol, the reduction of symptoms of diabetes, Parkinson’s, the risk of heart attacks and heart disease and many other ailments. Take a look at these 4 invaluable benefits of exercise for aging populations – and especially integrating and maintaining a regular exercise routine in your life regardless of your age!

Improved Balance

According to a study conducted by the CDC, falls by seniors are responsible for 800,000 hospital visits a year, costing Americans over $32 billion – an average of $30,000 per hospital visit! There are hundreds of research articles showing a reduction in injury-causing falls when people participate in well-conceived strength and balance training programs.

A good balance training program should consist of a few traditional balance exercises, core and trunk intensive training and very importantly strength training. A strong lower body will have an easier time recovering from a loss of balance and generating a stronger walking pattern compared to a weaker body, no matter how much balancing practice they do. And don’t just focus on lower body. A good training program will work the whole body so that it can function as one piece.

Related: click here to register for a FREE 1-hour personal training session at FFC!

Better Quality of Life

A good trainer can tailor exercises to fit your daily life and keep you able to do things you love, or even improve them. A study from the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that as we age, we lose muscle mass, have reduced muscle quality, and develop wear and tear on the joints that can make everyday activities difficult or painful.

But by developing lower body strength, activities such standing up from a chair or traveling up and down stairs can become easier. A more innovative trainer can also help develop a program for more exciting activities, such as golf, tennis, swimming or playing with the grandchildren!

Related: do you have chronic pain? It might be a muscular imbalance. Here’s how Pilates can help.

Less Pain

Smart trainers can easily identify dysfunction in movement and muscles (check out this recent post to see how!) and develop programs to correct those issues. For example, people may experience pain in reaching overhead due to poor control of the shoulder blade (scapula). By improving the muscles that guide the scapula along its path and allowing each muscle to function as it is intended, studies show that pain can be reduced over time.

Even just the way you stand can have an effect on pain. Studies have shown that many issues in an aging population can be traced back to poor posture. Sticking with the shoulder as an example, slouching can cause improper stresses on the body leading to neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain and more. A forward head posture can increase stress on the neck muscles from 10-12 lbs of force to 60 lbs! By improving spine movement through the upper back and training the surrounding muscles, shoulder slouching can be reduced and in turn reduce some pain symptoms.

Stronger Heart

Age is only a number! Studies show that as long as the participant is healthy, anyone can work at a high intensity that is proper for their age, goals and ability. It has been shown that high intensity circuit training can have all of the benefits of more traditional balance and strength training, as well as have a greater impact on blood pressure reduction and fat loss.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends that participants are able to work at 85% of their heart rate for 20 minutes before participating in a high intensity interval program, but did not place an age restriction. Studies have shown that even high risk patients participating in cardiac rehab have participated in some form of high intensity training with success.

Conclusion

Remember- don’t let perceived limitations prevent you from enjoying all the benefits of exercise. There are many seniors active in triathlons, marathons and recreation or even competitive sports. Everyone starts somewhere and the sooner you do, the sooner you can see and feel the results from working out!

Post written by FFC Gold Coast Personal Trainer Allan Poremskis.

About Allan

Allan Poremskis is a NASM-certified elite personal trainer at FFC Gold Coast. He specializes in core and functional training, powerlifting, stability and balance, as well as post-rehabilitation work. Have questions or want to set up a complimentary consultation with Allan? Email him at aporemskis@ffc.com!

It’s Monday night (or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday…) and you’re about to hit the hotel gym. What are your options? Well, you’ve got the treadmill or dumbbells. You don’t know what to do with dumbbells, so treadmill it is! Again. And again. Week after week your work travels bring you to this same, boring story. And eventually, you just can’t do the treadmill anymore. You’re not seeing any differences in your body anyway, are you? So, let’s give it a shot and put some weights in your fitness routine!

But what do you do with them? Read on for how to incorporate them, plus 8 benefits of working weights into your regular fitness routine.

Conveniently enough, we live in a time where we have so many resources for fitness (and even nutrition) right at our fingertips—whether it’s MapMyRun, Sworkit, MyFitnessPal or daily workout routines—you have options to dive into.

This story may sound familiar to you, or yours could be something totally different. Regardless, there comes a time when we may reach a plateau in our lives. For me, it was the mundaneness of weekly hotel living for work. Hotel gyms are nothing to get excited about, but once I started with dumbbells, I found myself looking forward to those stuffy hotel workouts.

I soon took my workouts to FFC on the nights I was home and was able to take it to another level with the machines there as well. So whatever you have been doing at the gym—treadmill, elliptical, group fitness, yoga, etc.— here are 8 benefits of adding weights in your fitness routine.

Your body will begin to transform.

Adding muscle to your body increases your metabolism, thereby increasing your body’s ability to burn fat. After a few weeks of weight lifting, I began to notice that my fat was beginning to disappear. If you’re only doing cardio, your body won’t develop this kind of muscle!

Related: get a double whammy of a workout with resistance training!

You’ll increase your commitment level. 

One of the biggest things I noticed right off the bat was I didn’t want to miss a day at the gym because I didn’t want to miss leg/arm/back/etc. day. Weight training helps to naturally guide you through your journey by giving you a structured plan to look forward to.

You will feel more confident with yourself.

Adding muscle to your body has its everyday advantages. Ever buy a pair of pants that are a tad too small for you, but they’re on sale? Well you just may fit into them again (true story). You will without a doubt begin to feel proud of yourself.

You’ll improve your mind and productivity.

Yes, “runners high” is a real thing. But working up a sweat in the weight room works, too! Weight lifting will give your body natural energy to power through your day.

Related: click here to register for a FREE personal training session at FFC!

Your health will improve.

Lifting weights adds bone density and decreases bone loss as you age. People who lift weights live longer, healthier lives!

You’ll decrease your stress.

As with any exercise, weight lifting has an awesome ability to decrease stress naturally. Getting your body to move releases endorphins, which in turn make you happy.

Life quality will improve.

Three blocks to walk home with $70 worth of groceries?!?! Get me a Lyft! Not so fast—your weight training will give you the confidence to make the walk home, get your steps in, and add a little muscle on the way!

You will learn something new!

As kids and teenagers, we were constantly learning new sports and activities, but that tends to slow down as we get a little older. Weight lifting can be your new SOMETHING to challenge your body and mind. You won’t regret it!

Post written by FFC Group Fitness Instructor Tiffany Florczak.

About Tiffany

T Florczak group fitness instructor at FFCTiffany is a group fitness instructor at multiple FFC locations. She currently specializes in strength-based formats, and you can also find her teaching on a spin bike! Tiffany enjoys spending her free time in the weight areas of FFC, experimenting with healthy recipes in the kitchen, or exploring Chicago’s food scene.

Come to her weekly classes ready to sweat! Follow her on Instagram HERE for daily workout ideas to try on your own, or find her on Facebook HERE.

 

Whether you’re taking one last seasonal trip, planning for holiday travel or jet setting for business reasons, traveling provides excitement and a new perspective. However, all that time spent getting to and from the airport, exploring new destinations and keeping up with packed meeting itineraries and happy hours doesn’t leave much time for fitness. Since many aspects of travel can be stress-inducing, it is important to fit physical activity in where you can to stay healthy and sane. Check out FFC Gold Coast personal trainer Jessica King’s 3 options that utilize a resistance band and/or bodyweight moves for a quick travel workout you can do at the airport, in your hotel room or just about anywhere!

Workout #1

  • Side raise plank left x10
  • Side raise plank right x10

Travel workout with resistance band

  • Upright row x 12

  • Bow and arrow left x 12
  • Bow and arrow right x 12

  • Tricep pulldown left x 12
  • Tricep pulldown right x 12

  • Lat pulldown left x 12
  • Lat pulldown right x 12

 

 

 

 

  • Monster Walk (walk one direction for 12 steps, come back the other way for 12 steps).

Repeat this succession 3 times.

Related: want to try out a free session (when you’re back in town) with a personal trainer at FFC? Click here!

Workout #2

  • Lunges left x 10
  • Lunges right x 10

  • Squat to press x 10

  • Alternating biceps curl with band x 15
  • Bent over row with band x 12

  • 10 tricep dips (on a chair, bench or bed)
  • 45-second plank
  • 30 bicycle crunches

Repeat this succession 4 times.

Related: along with trying to work out while traveling, eating healthy on the go can be extra tricky. Check out this recent post for some awesome tips!

Workout #3

  • Front raise left x 10
  • Front raise right x 10

  • Seated row x 12

  • Push up with band x 10

  • 40 mountain climbers
  • 30-second wall sit
  • 10 burpees

Repeat this succession 4 times.

What are some of your favorite workout moves to do on the go? Let us know in the comments!

Post written by FFC Gold Coast Personal Trainer Jessica King.

About Jessica

FFC Gold Coast personal trainer Jessica KingJessica King is a certified personal trainer at FFC Gold Coast. Her passion is exercising and helping others achieve their goals. She helps clients by changing their lives in a positive way through fitness. She challenges and teaches clients the numerous benefits of exercise and why it should be considered a lifestyle choice and not a chore. Ready to make that one-hour workout the highlight of your day? Schedule a complimentary consultation with Jessica by emailing her at jessica.king@ffc.com!

* Above images courtesy of Google and other various sources: http://www.leanitup.com/37-killer-resistance-band-exercises-burn-muscles-anywhere/2/; http://www.leanitup.com/37-killer-resistance-band-exercises-burn-muscles-anywhere/4/; https://www.mobilityguardian.com/resistance-band-chest-exercises/.

You probably know of martial arts, but do you know why they are important? Or how they relate to fitness and wellness? Martial arts require an understanding of the properties of balance, stability, strength and mental discipline. When we exercise, many of us become stagnant because of repetitive routines that do not challenge the body and mind accordingly. Not long ago, I was stuck in this same fitness routine and series of workouts. Some that even went beyond the typical exercise routine, which I felt were important for my body, aimed at every muscle group and functioned in all three planes of the human movement system.

Still, I plateaued, and even after throwing in a couple days of yoga, I felt as if I was not making headway toward my goal of not only looking better, but more importantly, feeling better.

Related: think you can’t handle yoga? Think again! Yoga is for everyone, even “inflexible dudes”. Check out this post!

Meanwhile, I was in the middle of a semi-professional football career with the Chicago Thunder. The competition was getting more intense, especially as I was getting older and having a harder time recovering from games and fighting through injury. This is when martial arts – more specifically Hapkido – became a part of my life.

I went into it knowing it would be difficult, but something I could handle. Soon I would realize the intricacies, subtle details, and principles were much more difficult to perceive than expected. This showed me how much I truly did not understand about the human movement system.

Fast-forward to the point where I had completed a few years of training. After all the breathing techniques, throwing, punching, kicking, joint manipulation, and many many falls, my body was not only stronger, but also more flexible. I also recovered much more quickly from workouts than I had in the past.

Related: want to see how a personal trainer can take your workout to the next level? Try a free session out on us! Click here.

How Does Martial Arts Help With Fitness and Wellness?

Martial Arts IS a form of training. You DO have a program and it IS about consistency. The more I practiced movements based on Hapkido forms and techniques, the better grasp I was getting on balance, stability, and controlled strength. There were many smaller groups of muscles I was not using that were leading to imbalances within the larger groups of muscles and, as a result, poor length tension relation between muscle synergies.

The difference in my human movement system was felt right away – especially in my football games. Not only did I have a greater knowledge of how to move more freely and efficiently, but I also understood how I could use other people’s force and energy to increase my own.

This truly helped from the competitive standpoint. I became one of the best receivers in Chicago Thunder franchise history and finished my career becoming a first team inductee into the Mid States Football Leagues Hall of Fame.

Martial Arts: The Real-Life Application

To be clear, I am not saying before I started practicing martial arts I was a terrible football player. What I am saying is I was able to use the movements, principles, and even philosophies of Hapkido and apply them to my life activities.

This challenged my body in new and foreign ways that the brain and muscles love. It showed me how much there is to learn about how to move efficiently and the benefits of free motion. So essentially, practicing martial arts was not only beneficial for playing an organized sport, but in everyday life situations (including dangerous ones).

Self defense is a difficult topic to discuss for anyone because it assumes the worst of a situation. The first step is to admit that bad things do happen. The next step is to prepare the best we can for different types of aggression and lastly, how to avoid them in the best way we can. This is where many students gain confidence. Feeling like you are strong enough and smart enough to deal with violent situations is empowering. To feel safe is priceless.

Most importantly, the use for martial arts is perfectly applicable to the human movement system. When practicing any martial art, you must perform movements in all three planes of motion. You can only gain proper form when you have control, balance, and stability during all planes of motion. The constant flow of forms promotes functional movement patterns, strength, and flexibility.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, I think everyone should experience some form of martial arts in their lifetime. I believe it to be an important part of anyone’s fitness regiment to incorporate some kind of martial art, whether it be formal or informal. Everyone can benefit from it because it trains the mind and body holistically and teaches us to feel more confident in our abilities to defend ourselves. If you’d like to learn more or try out some kickboxing, email me at aroldan@ffc.com.

Post written by FFC Lincoln Park Personal Trainer Andres Roldan.