Workout Wednesday

How to find time to exercise

A new year marks a great time to embrace change. Many people do just that by making resolutions designed to improve their lives in the year and years ahead. Resolutions regarding personal health are annually among the most popular changes people hope to make at the dawn of a new year. In fact, a quick scan of annual lists citing the most popular resolutions found that pledges to eat healthier and exercise more can be found at or near the top of such lists.


Though such lists might not have been compiled using the most scientific of methods, it’s no secret that getting healthier and looking better is a goal many people strive for upon the arrival of January 1. Unfortunately, a 2015 report from U.S. News & World Report suggested that 80 percent of resolutions fail, oftentimes as early as February. For those who don’t just want but need to get healthier, failure to live up to a resolution to exercise more can have potentially devastating consequences.

If exercising more is a goal in the year ahead, the following are a few strategies to make that happen.

• Exercise in the early morning. As the day progresses, unforeseen challenges or forgotten commitments have a way of devouring time initially earmarked for exercise. Exercise first thing in the morning before any commitments to work and family hijack the time you have committed to exercising.

• Take on less responsibility. Professionals and parents often cite commitments to work and family as the primary reasons they aren’t getting enough exercise. While those are perfectly reasonable excuses to skip a workout, men and women who recognize the long-term benefits of routine exercise may be compelled to take on less responsibility at work while also making an effort to divvy up responsibilities at home more equitably. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ongoing exercise can reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers. The CDC also notes that routine exercise strengthens bones and muscles while improving mood. Taking on more responsibility at work might be great for your career, but that may prove a Pyrrhic victory if your long-term health is jeopardized. Parents can discuss with their spouse how to better share responsibilities at home so both moms and dads can get regular exercise.

• Embrace more efficient exercise routines. Rather than working a single muscle group at a time, which can be both time-consuming and boring, men and women can adapt their workout routines to focus on multi-muscle exercises. Work with a personal trainer to make your workout as efficient as possible.

• Schedule your routine each week. Each week is different, so while it may be ideal to establish a workout routine in which you exercise at the same time each day, that’s not always going to be possible. Failing to exercise on a day you had intended to workout can compromise your motivation to workout in the future, so sit down at the beginning of each week to examine your commitments for the days ahead and schedule times to exercise in the next seven days. This can keep you on track and help you avoid the disappointment of missing a workout because life got in the way.

Finding time to exercise is not always so easy, but even the busiest men and women can likely still include workouts in their daily routines.

How to improve flexibility

Improving flexibility is a goal for many athletes, whether they’re daily exercise devotees or weekend warriors. Taking steps to improve and maintain flexibility has numerous benefits that can pay dividends for athletes of all ages.

According to the Harvard Medical School, well-stretched muscles more easily reach their full range of motion. That benefits athletes by improving their performance, and it can also improve daily life for non-athletes by making it easier to reach, bend or stoop to perform everyday tasks.


As beneficial as being physically flexible can be, many people, no matter how hard they try, struggle to improve or maintain their flexibility. Fortunately, there are some ways that devoted men and women can improve their flexibility and enjoy all of the benefits that increased flexibility provides.

• Choose the right activities. Harvard Medical School notes that activities that lengthen and stretch muscles can help active men and women reduce their risks for injury while potentially preventing back pain and issues that may affect their balance. When done correctly, yoga can improve balance and flexibility. In addition, numerous studies have linked yoga to additional health benefits, such as stress reduction, that can make people less tense, thereby improving their flexibility.

• Drink more water. Drinking water helps to prevent tightness and muscle cramps. In fact, tightness or muscle cramps in the large muscles of the leg may be indicative of the early stages of dehydration. Drinking plain water is the most effective way to stay and remain hydrated. Don’t count coffee, tea or sports drinks as water, as such beverages many contain caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, and while diuretics cause the increased passing of urine, they also decrease the amount of water that is absorbed by the kidneys, potentially contributing to dehydration. Drink plenty of water before, during and after workouts.

• Start over after an extended break. If it’s been awhile since you last worked out, resist the temptation to push yourself when returning to the gym. Depending on how long it’s been since you last exercised, you may need to start back at square one, which means reducing the amount of weight you lift and decreasing the resistance during cardiovascular exercises. Putting too much strain on muscles that have been sedentary for an extended period of time can cause aches, pains and even injury. Muscle tightness also may develop if you go too hard too quickly, greatly reducing flexibility.

• Get up and go. Poor flexibility may be a byproduct of your lifestyle. Men and women who live sedentary lifestyles are less likely to enjoy the full range of motion from their muscles than those people who are more active. Get off the couch when spending time at home, and if you work in an office, take routine breaks to stand up and walk around. Poor flexibility can be painful and inconvenient, but there are many ways for men and women to improve their flexibility and, as a result, their quality of life.

Fitness classes make exercise resolutions fun

January 1 ushers in New Year’s resolution season. Among the most popular resolutions are ones designed to encourage healthy lifestyles. 
Despite initial enthusiasm, many people abandon their resolutions after a few weeks have passed, and that may be because they lose interest or set unrealistic goals. To remedy loss of interest, fitness enthusiasts may want to explore group classes offered by many gyms. Such classes offer a change of pace from traditional workouts while still facilitating weight loss. Here are some classes that may be coming to a gym near you.

  • Barre workouts: Inspired by the postures of ballet, dance, yoga, and pilates, barre classes blend isometric exercises with targeted strength training. The workouts are designed to give participants strong, lean and chiseled bodies. Many barre classes incorporate some free weights and a ballet barre. However, the majority of the workout relies on participants’ own bodyweight and balance.
  • ViPR™ classes: ViPRTM is an acronym for Vitality, Performance, Reconditioning. This is a new concept in fitness developed by the company Fitness Professionals. The workouts are built around loaded movement training and were inspired by farm workers who moved with load in daily life, and thusly developed superior strength. ViPRTM training, according to creator Michol Dalcourt, already is being used by major sports teams, tactical military and law enforcement agencies. Movements during the workout are enhanced by a weighted ViPRTM bar. Many trainers are now earning their ViPRTM certifications as more and more classes are being offered across the country.
  • Kickboxing: Kickboxing has become a popular fitness routine, helping people to blast away fat and improve muscle tone through energizing classes. According to Fitness magazine, kickboxing can burn an average of 500+ calories per hour. Kickboxing targets many areas of the body, including thighs, shoulders, arms and glutes, all in a single workout. Kickboxing classes also help many people relieve stress. Classes may feature kicks, punches and arial maneuvers done without any equipment, or pit participants against traditional kickboxing hanging bags. Trainers often work with individuals at their own pace to develop strength and agility.
  • Dance classes: Many gyms offer their own unique fitness dance classes that boast festive atmospheres while still providing highly effective cardiovascular and toning exercises. Dance-inspired classes pair creative choreography and upbeat music with classic workout maneuvers to help participants shed pounds. Because routines are constantly evolving, there’s little chance of getting bored, and many dance fitness enthusiasts insist their classes are far more fun than traditional workouts.

Simple ways to stay fit all year long

Many people find it easier to maintain their beach bodies during summer than they do throughout the rest of the year. Summer weather encourages people to get off the couch and enjoy the great outdoors, and many people prefer to eat lighter meals during the summer to combat the heat and humidity.
But once the dog days of summer give way to autumn, the motivation to stay in beach shape tends to wane. Couple that dwindling motivation with the tendency to eat larger, heartier meals as the weather gets colder, and it’s easy to see why so many people gain weight over the last several months of the year and into the new year. But maintaining a healthy weight year-round promotes long-term health and reduces a person’s risk for various ailments and diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. The following are a handful of strategies men and women can employ as they try to turn their beach bodies into the bodies they see in the mirror all year long.

  • Keep setting goals. As winter heads toward spring, many people set short-term goals to motivate them to get back into beach shape. That’s a highly effective strategy that need not be exclusive to late winter. Setting short-term fitness and dietary goals throughout the year can keep you from falling back into bad habits. Tie your goals into the season to increase your chances for success. For example, resolve to run outdoors or cycle a certain number of miles each week in autumn, when the weather is still conducive to physical activity and the scenery is idyllic. When winter arrives and exercising outdoors is no longer viable, commit to attending a few fitness classes per week at your gym. 
  • Switch up your workout routine every few weeks. Boredom also can affect people’s ability to maintain healthy weights year-round. Adhering to the same exercise routine for months on end can grow tedious. The body can even grow accustomed to the same workout routine, meaning you won’t be getting as much out of your exercise sessions as you might if you switch things up. If you find your daily workouts taking a turn toward the mundane, switch up your routine by changing exercises or signing up for classes that interest you. 
  • Find healthy seasonal foods. Many people prefer to buy locally sourced and/or in-season foods, recognizing the positive impact that such dietary habits can have on the environment. That commitment to buying healthy, locally grown foods can be tested as the seasons change and the offerings at your local market change along with them. Educate yourself about which foods are in-season in your area throughout the year, opting for the most nutritious foods you can find. Buying in-season foods saves you money, and you will also feel good about staying on a nutritious, eco-friendly track.
  • Join an exercise group or sports league. The buddy system is an effective way to stay committed to a fitness regimen, but if you cannot find a friend or family member to brave cold winter treks to the gym with you, then consider joining an exercise group or competitive sports league. As summer turns to autumn, join a road runner’s club to motivate you to run. When harsh weather makes running outdoors too difficult, sign up for a winter sports league. Such groups or leagues get you off the couch and provide great opportunities to meet like-minded men and women who have made their own commitments to staying fit.

Staying fit all year long is a challenge for many people. But maintaining that beach body even after summer has come and gone need not be so difficult.

Combat-style exercise programs on the rise

Exercise is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can help men and women maintain a healthy weight, delay the onset of certain diseases and improve overall health. 
To ensure they get enough exercise, many people join a gym. But as popular as gyms are, many individuals have a narrow view of what constitutes a thorough “gym” workout. They may believe they’ll spend their entire time like a hamster in a wheel on the treadmill or may be intimidated by the rows of machines before them. Fortunately, today’s gyms are much more than weight benches and elliptical machines. Many boast an array of fitness classes, and a great many more offer martial arts and combat-style classes. Such offerings attract fitness enthusiasts who may be looking for a workout with an edge. What’s more, these types of routines can help increase stamina and strength all while reducing stress.
Kickboxing classes, bootcamp, high-intensity interval training, and mixed martial arts are just a few of the programs on the rise in today’s gyms. The following is a brief look at some of the popular class offerings at gyms around the country.

Mixed martial arts (MMA)
MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. MMA combines various styles of fighting in a no-holds-barred style of combat. Punching, kicking and classic martial arts moves are part of MMA. Wrestling may be thrown in for added fun as well. Fitness classes geared around MMA will incorporate many of the moves without the actual combat taking place. Therefore, expect to push muscles and flexibility to their peak.

Kickboxing classes will pit you against a punching bag. You will learn proper punching stances and will work to improve balance and movement. People may believe only the legs and arms get a workout during kickboxing, but your core muscles do their part to help you keep your footing and put power behind your kicks and punches. Some kickboxing trainers will mix intervals into the training, providing additional core work and cardiovascular

Krav Maga
Krav Maga class may entice self-defense tactic enthusiasts. Krav Maga employs techniques from martial arts disciplines but includes some self-defense moves as well. Classes will not only teach participants how to defend themselves from attacks, but will also work on agility and strength.

For anyone who has ever wanted to channel their inner Rocky Balboa, boxing classes may be just the fit. Boxing will work many of the same muscle groups as kickboxing, but without the roundhouse kicks. Boxing can be a super stress-buster, and many people underestimate just how much they’ll work up a sweat while in the ring or going one-on-one with a bag.