What Does the Rowing Machine Target? 5 Essentials You Need to Know

Notorious for burning up to 50% more calories than the treadmill, rowing machines offer more than just an upper body workout. Effectively targeting all the muscle groups in your back, shoulders, arms and legs, these training machines have become a popular option for building strength and shredding kilos.

The rowing machine is designed to offer a non-impact full body workout, so it’s become an ideal mechanism for fitness enthusiasts with joint and lower back problems. Boosting cadio fitness, muscular strength and endurance and working to tone your muscles, rowing machines can also work in reducing stress levels and building stamina. But like with any fitness machine it’s absolutely essential to use it properly and avoid the common mistakes. Here’s what you need to know about your rowing machine workout.

sport, fitness, lifestyle, technology and people concept - woman with trainer working out on exercise bike in gym

sport, fitness, lifestyle, technology and people concept – woman with trainer working out on exercise bike in gym

1. Building Core Strength and Stamina

When rowing machines are used properly, they are a fantastic training tool for building core strength and stamina. For people that struggle to get-up-and-go, using a rowing machine (also known as a cross trainer) 20 minutes a day can boost endurance. Whilst the workouts may feel exhausting at first, the long term benefits of giving you more energy, building stamina and you metabolism are huge.

Because the rowing machine works all your major muscle groups it helps to define your abs and build muscles around the area. Your core strength is one of these targeted groups of muscles and through the low-impact, high intensity workouts offered by the cross trainer it’s possible to get maximum results.

Tip: If you’re looking to build core strength and stamina through a rowing machine, opt for a higher intensity exercise so it isn’t just the cardio you’re working on.  The impact on your abs and core is based on the strength of your rowing so the harder the workout, the better it will work for this area.

2. Toning Arms and Legs

Rowing machines are ideal for both an upper body and lower body workout. Because the machine forces you to ‘row’ the arms are used extensively and muscles in this area will begin to tone (particularly the biceps and forearms).  As you pull, your back muscles help to complete the rowing technique with your shoulder blades retracting together.

The rowing stroke should behind with the legs – the most powerful part of the body, with your back kept straight throughout. As the machine starts to utilise every major muscle group, your arms, back and legs muscles will activate and tone over time.

Tip: If you want to increase the rate of which you build and tone muscle, adjust the rowing machine to create a tighter resistance. With the right workouts and technique, this can help to tone your arms and legs quicker.

3. Strengthening Back Muscles

The benefits of a stronger back and shoulders are great for improving posture and eliminating back pain. Because rowing machines work the back and shoulder muscles, it doesn’t take long for this area to strengthen and better support the rest of your body.

The trapezius in the lower and upper back as well as the rhomboids in your shoulder will receive a great workout. Whilst the cross trainer workout starts with driving through the legs and engaging your quads, your upper body and back muscles are involved at the end of the extension.

Tip: People often make the mistake of driving hard with the legs and keeping the shoulders in front of the hips so that that when the slide stops the rest of the body swings through. This can be hard on the lower back so aim for everything to end at the same time in a fluid motion for best results.

4. Know What Settings to Work

The damper setting (like the gears of a bicycle) should be set for 3-5 for the best workout. Many people make the mistake of setting it to 10, especially athletes, because the higher number gives the impression the workout will be more challenging. Really the challenge lies in the ability to accelerate the flywheel at a lower damper setting as the higher setting will mimic a slow heavy rowboat instead. This will only exhaust your muscles before you’ve had a shot at a proper cardio workout. Keeping it set for 3-5 will give the feeling similar to being on water, like a rowing machine is intended for.

The resistance setting will determine how much energy you use on each stroke. This dial is on the machine’s flywheel and should be high enough to maintain a fast, smooth rowing motion. Setting it too low will give a workout that doesn’t tone or strengthen, whilst setting it too high can result in muscle fatigue and injury.

5. Avoid the Biggest Cross Trainer Mistakes

  • Don’t row with only your arms: Use the power of your legs for each stroke and keep your feet strapped in. Pull through with your back, shoulders and arms for a full body workout.
  • Don’t hunch your back during strokes: Keep your back straight and sit tall with a straight posture to avoid damage. Keep your core engaged to help with the potions and put your spine in neutral.
  • Don’t ignore the stroke rate: Stroke rates build a better workout and determine how hard you’re pulling. To focus on the power of spinning the flywheel, think of a rowing ratio of 1 beat for every 2 beats you travel up the slide. For example: A good target stroke, measured in strokes per minute) will range between 24-30.
  • Don’t ignore the foot strap: It should be fastened so your feet feel very secure. This can make a massive difference when it comes to pushing your legs for power.

Author Bio

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson who recommends Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment and cross trainers in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.

Cross Trainer vs. Treadmill for Burning Calories: Which One Should You Be Using?

Finding the best workout plan to burn calories tends to be the highest fitness goal. But with the busy lifestyles we lead and the limited amount of time we have to actually get it done, people want – and need to – get the results fast in order to maintain a healthy level of enthusiasm. And the right machine plays a huge role in achieving your fitness goals as quick as possible.

You walk into the fitness club or the store for your next home gym purchase and you see the usual assortment of cardio equipment. Which exercise machine do you pick to burn calories in the shortest amount of time? Cardio machines are perfect for giving you the ultimate workout to shred some kilos without leaving the comfort of your home. Two of the best examples of these machines, the treadmill and the elliptical cross trainer, are subjects of an ongoing debate to determine which will give you the most effective cardio workout. Here’s a few tips to find out what one you should be using:

1. Cranking Up the Cross Trainer

Elliptical cross trainers have boomed in popularity because they are highly variable in their workout opportunities and burn a decent amount of calories. Perfect for fitness enthusiasts at any level, they decrease the impact on your bones and joints by engaging more on your muscle groups making them an ideal machine option for people with previous or ongoing injuries.

Man and woman with elliptical cross trainer at gym

It’s this comfort that makes the cross trainer such a versatile and valued exercise machine. They have more workout options than most other machines, building on strength as well as cardio. For the best cardio workout you’ll want the machine to be on high resistance. This is more important that working out at a fast pace when it comes to cross trainers and burning calories.

If a cross trainer is more suited to your fitness goals and health needs, opt for one with handles. This allows you to pump your arms as you move which is highly advised to do. By adding this movement to your workout, your upper body muscles will be engaged and this will help burn more calories.

2. Tackling the Treadmill

Ideal for extreme cardio lovers and those that thrive off running, treadmills have the potential to burn a lot of body fat. Running (or jogging) involves a good full-body workout and if you choose a speed setting that challenges you, it’s one of the best ways to burn a significant amount of calories.

Treadmills offer both low and high impact cardio workouts from slow walks at a controlled pace to runs and sprints and full potential. These machines allow you to set your desired speed and incline and because you’re forced to keep up with the moving belt, treadmills are slightly better for burning calories. This is due to the machine holding you at an intensified level. To burn the most amount of calories in the shortest time frame you’ll want to maintain an incline grade of at least 1-2%.

People running on treadmills

3. Essential Considerations

The problem with cardio workouts is it doesn’t take long for your body to become immune to the workout. As you get comfortable in your fitness plan, you’ll burn less calories because the resistance has diminished. This is why, regardless of what exercise machine you choose, it’s essential your cardio workouts are mixed up to continually challenge your body and keep burning more calories.

Other factors that can impact your ability to shred kilos on either exercise machines include your level of cardio fitness, the weight you’re sitting on now, how intense the workout is and how long you’re working out for. Once your body is at ease with the cardio workout; change the dynamics, speed and intensity of what you’re doing – the higher the resistance the more effective it’ll be.

4. Crunching Calories

The primary reason why many choose the cross trainer over the treadmill is because they don’t enjoy running – whether it’s because of injuries or just the fact that jogging and running isn’t their thing. But if you crave variety and strength building too, then make sure you focus on maintaining a moderate to high intensity. This way the cross trainer can still provide an excellent calorie burning workout (around 600-800 calories per hour). Choose the right settings for your body type and use intervals. Because the cross trainer is one of the easiest machines to just ‘tune out’ on, make sure you focus on your workout and avoid hanging onto the support bars as this won’t help in crunching calories at all!

On average, the treadmill will burn 600-1200 calories per hour between jogging, walking uphill, sprinting and running. To effectively burn calories quickly keep interchanging; start with a slow warm up for 2-3 minutes and break into a run for 3-6 minutes, sprint for 6-7 minutes, run for 7-10, sprint for 10 etc. Ideally you want to commit to a 20-30 minute workout at least. Keep workouts intense and build bone density and shred calories by elevating the incline on the treadmill.

Despite the cross trainer ticking a variety of fitness boxes, there’s still greater weight loss benefits with a treadmill. Mixing between the two exercise machines at the gym though can get all muscle groups moving and keep your cardio workouts spontaneous and intense. Invest in a heart rate monitor and maintain a solid awareness of your intensity levels to ensure you’re burning the most amount of calories – regardless of the machine you choose.

stockfresh_6069960_jogger-running-in-sportsbra-with-music-earphones_sizeS (1)

Author Bio

Jayde Ferguson writes for Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.

Optimal Workout Equipment Settings for Your Fitness Goals

Young fit woman rowing indoor on a rowing machine

With the range of equipment on the market these days it’s important you’re not just choosing the right workout piece, but engaging in the right settings to achieve your goals too. Whether you want to push for weight loss with summer around the corner or need to build muscle tone and strength, sometimes the ‘right’ equipment can be very wrong for you when you’re not using it properly.

Regardless of it you love training at the gym or you’ve purchased a few key workout pieces to set up in your home gym, finding the optimal settings can help kick those fitness goals more effectively. Get more out of what you’re using with these tips:

1. Exercise Bikes

Getting fit for summer on an exercise bike is a popular option because of the level of comfort it provides. Great for those that prefer to sit down whilst exercising, this piece will help to burn calories and boost cardio exercise. For those that want an extra level of support on the exercise bike, recumbent bikes are designed to have a reclined body seat and pedals in front of the bike instead of under the body like a regular bike. This offers the use more comfort and a better leg workout.

To get the most out of your workout, you’ll want the speed level to sit between 80-100 RPM. It’s crucial you don’t pedal at the same speed for the full workout though – especially if you’re wanting to burn calories. Instead, mix it up by riding at lower speed (50-70 RPM) and then crank to 120-140 RPM. The lower speeds will help to build leg muscle, whilst the switch to more intense speeds will assist in shredding weight and boost endurance.

You’ll also want to consider the resistance and heart rate monitor settings. By alternating between low and medium resistance settings, fat-burning will happen quicker. For the most effective workout, keep your heart rate between 50-85%.

2. Treadmills

If you’re looking to build muscles in your calves, quads and glutes your treadmill should be set to 9% incline. This is the ideal setting for marathon training, boosting endurance and slashing kilos too and will give you that burning sensation in your legs after a workout. If you’re just looking to boost those running skills though, a simple 1.5% incline will mimic outdoor running. For extreme marathon or steep hike training change the incline closer to 15%.

Both the speed and incline of the treadmill should never be too high where you find yourself walking, sprinting or running without moving your hands. Like with the exercise bike, you want to switch your speed and incline settings to mix the workout up. This will save your body getting too comfortable in a certain setting – as soon as you’re ‘comfortable’ your body is burning less calories! To build endurance, use high-intensity workouts and switch between a 4-5% to a 0% incline during various running intervals. Walkers and slow joggers will only need to a speed of 10-12km/h whilst serious joggers and runners should go for 16-20km/h.

3. Elliptical Machines

A steady 20 minute workout on an elliptical machine can shred that extra weight and get your heart rate up, boosting endurance and strength training.  But to get the full effect, the right settings are important. As far as cardio equipment goes elliptical machines, also known as cross trainers, are the powerhouse of cardio equipment; having the potential to burn 270-400 calories in less than 30 minutes.

Interval workouts are the best on these machines to boost metabolism and burn more calories. Because it gets your whole body moving, it’s ideal for strength training too. To boost strength and improve weight loss, the resistance of the machine needs to be increased – the more you turn that dial up, the more strength you’ll be building.

For a medium workout on the cross trainer, aim for a RPM of 90. Keep increasing the resistance and incline though to ensure your heart rate is high. For a full-intensity hard work out to get everything burning (including calories!) you can still go for a 90 RPM but aim for a maximum heart rate between 90-100%, as opposed to a medium work out of 85-90%. Resistance is key to achieving fitness goals on a cross trainer; once this level is bumped up, your arms and legs have to work harder to keep the machine moving. This offers a full body workout to build endurance and strength. For a more intense interval, adjust the incline to a higher level too.

4. Rowing Machine

These machines have a reputation for offering a low-impact workout that increases stamina, builds on muscle strength and drops those calories. The biggest problem with this machine is users tend to forget the damper setting – a crucial lever on the side of the rower’s wheel that can give you a solid cardio workout.

Before using this setting, make sure your rowing form is in top notch. Like gears on a bicycle, the damper setting will offer a heavier feel on the body the higher the gear. Start it on between 3-5 which will mimic the feeling of rowing in the water, and build it up to power your legs and upper body. You should feel it working your legs, butt, arms and back muscles.
Author Bio

Jayde Ferguson writes for Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.

Budget vs. “Blow Out” Home Gyms – 5 Essential Tips to Consider

You don’t need to take out a gym membership to fully develop your body and kick those fitness goals. In fact, home gyms have boomed in popularity over the years as gym enthusiasts choose the comfort of their home over the busyness of the actual gym. Offering a sense of freedom in the hectic lifestyle we live, setting up your own home gym can be the perfect motivation to train regardless of what your wallet or the weather throws at you.

b885149c-d432-4f15-99c9-ef792154316b

b885149c-d432-4f15-99c9-ef792154316b

But how can you create the most effective home gym on a budget? Gym equipment isn’t cheap and whilst those big ticket items will be seen as an investment when you start looking and feeling fantastic, you need to completely blow out your savings to make it happen. Home gyms can build great results and it can be just as safe and as effective as being at the public gym. Here’s a few essential tips to help you stay within budget:

1. Go for Quality over Quantity

Building a gym at home doesn’t mean purchasing every single piece of equipment you ‘need’. Opt for quality items that can tick multiple fitness goals rather jamming your space with bits and pieces. Home gyms are usually scarce on space so be smart about your choices.

Dumbbells are an at-home-gym classic because of the amount of exercises you can do with them, they justify the purchase almost straight away. Opt for pro-styled dumbbells like the RDCH 1-80 kg with recycled rubber coating as these last longer and much more comfortable to use, not to mention eliminate the toxic smells new rubber can give off. These can be stored on a special dumbbell rack and uses rubber coated plates and chrome end to make up the weight ensuring the dumbbell diameter stays the same and are idea for bicep curls and other weight exercises. Other quality essentials can include a medicine ball (ideal for core strength movements), a barbell with different weight plates (a staple for almost every gym) and an adjustable bench that can decline, incline and lay flat.

2. Defining Your Fitness Goals

Understanding exactly what you want to work out will make your gym decisions easier. Define your personal fitness goals and make sure you’re investing in things that help you get there quickly and as comfortably as possible. Are you wanting to focus on strength training or shred some weight through cardio fitness? If you are wanting to lose weight, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all about cardio. Whilst you want to get your heartbeat up and burning calories, cardio exercises alone aren’t enough before after a few weeks your body adjusts and stops losing weight. Incorporating a combination of cardio and resistance training however, is a better place to start.

Most home gym aren’t complete without a barbell and some weight plates to go with it. Weights are ideal for any home gym because they offer a balanced combo of cardio and resistance training. Through the right weights, you have the stabilisation and coordination aspect to your workout and allows you to use different weights depending on your fitness goals. Make sure you look for a sturdy barbell that isn’t cheap looking and flimsy. Pay attention to the diameter of the bar, too.

3. The Bare Essentials vs. a Fully-Fitted Home Gym

There’s a few at home gym staples that are compact and easy enough to tick off some fitness goals, without taking up too much space. Medicine balls are an essential purchase before they offer a variety of exercises to build core strength movements. You can focus on abdominal exercises, throw or catch the ball to assist with different muscle groups. Opt for one that is soft and if you’re unsure about the weight, go for lighter to emphasise speed and power in your workout.

Stability balls are as important as dumbbells to your home gym and will help to build balance and strength. You can do hamstring curls, abdominal crunches, squats, body bridges and so much more. They are cost-effective, easy to store and offer a good variety of workouts to suit every fitness level. Other at home gym essentials can include resistance bands, which are extremely versatile and can be strapped to the door, table or workout bench, and a jump rope for cardio workouts. Look for a rope that’s lightweight for speed and timing or a weighted rope for strength.

4. Big Ticket Items

Big ticket gym items can get expensive really quickly if you let them, so opt for 1-3 pieces max. If cardio is important, invest in a treadmill, bike or elliptical training depending on your fitness needs. If you love running but not during the winter months by all means get a treadmill – but be realistic about what big ticket items are absolutely necessary to your home gym. If weight training is a priority

If you want something that will offer a fully body workout, not just your arms or legs, a rowing machine can be a wise investment. It’s time efficient for busy lifestyles only requiring a 20min workout and you’re done. Functional trainers  or complete home gyms (max 2 and max 5 are good recommendations) on the other hand can integrate heaps of different workouts into the one piece of equipment giving you more bang for your buck and depending on your needs, you’ll probably find you only need to invest in the one big ticket item with it. Complete home gyms offer the benefits of safe training by yourself at home with settings for muscle fatigue and muscle building.

5. Get Buff, Not Broke

Getting fit at home doesn’t need to come with a hefty price tag. It’s all about being smart with your purchases and looking for pieces that can offer multiple uses. Start small and work your way up and don’t invest in the big ticket items until you fully understand your fitness needs.

Lack of time, hectic work hours, distance from gym and ability can make gym memberships a huge waste of money for some people. By turning your own personal space into an at-home gym, you can be one step closer to feeling and looking great in the comfort of your home. Home gyms are a much better investment in your long term health and fitness. On average, a gym membership is around $750 per annum per person, with a family gym membership costing about $2,250 per annum. Statistics from health club memberships indicate the dropout rate is around 90%, which proves investing in your own gym equipment is the way to go for most. You don’t need all the bells and whistles to reach your fitness goals. With the right workout, consistency and your goals set and measured, you can do it all on a budget.

Author Bio

Jayde Ferguson writes for Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment in Perth including all the at-home gym essentials. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.

Burn Fat Fast With HIIT

Fitness by HIF Health Expert and Gabriel Method Fitness Coach Brian Killian

What I’m writing about today I’m hoping you will take on board and change the way you exercise forever.

If I was tell you with only 8 minutes of exercise every 3 days, you can help turn your body into a fat-burning super engine, would you be interested? If so, read on.

I worked out very early in life I was blessed with some speed in my legs. With older brothers this ability to run fast came in very handy, and I’ve used it to enjoy a fun athletics career. However it’s the type of training I did and its effect on my body shape, which I want to pay closer attention to.

Fortunately I am and have always been fairly lean, but have definitely not always eaten the right foods. With 3 kids, a wife, a business, I am no stranger to stress either, and come from a family who are all shapes and sizes. So what is it I’m doing which helps to keep my body fat levels down?

The answer is HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT), and you can do it too!

What is HIIT?

A typical HIIT session consists of a warm up period of exercise, followed by 6 to 10 repetitions of high intensity exercise [EFFORT], separated by low to medium intensity exercise [REST], and ending with a period of cool down exercise.

The EFFORT should be done at close to your maximum intensity, with the REST being no more than 50% intensity.  One proven protocol for HIIT sets a 2:1 ratio of EFFORT to REST periods.

For example, 30 seconds of hard sprinting or your fastest walking, alternated with 15 seconds of jogging or slower walking. You perform this cycle 6 to 10 times. This protocol can be used effectively for swimming, skipping, cycling or any other form of aerobic type exercise you enjoy.

My own training experience, and that of the body shape displayed by sprint athletes, suggests this short, intense training is effective in encouraging your brain to reduce body fat and lay down muscle tissue.

But why? The key is HIIT tricks your brain into initiating your Fight/Flight stress response and as a result a cascade of hormones are released. These hormones cause a liberation of fat, an increase in muscle tissue and an improvement in aerobic capacity, even while you’re resting. Let me explain this in more detail.

FACT: Exercise is stress on your body. Your brain must always  interpret any stress, respond to this stress and subsequently adapt to it. Regardless of the origin of the stress, your brain interprets ALL as a physical threat and responds. For example when nervous I have the sensation of ‘butterflies in my stomach’, now I’m pretty sure there aren’t any in there but it sure feels like it! This is just one example of the direct correlation between a mental stress and a physical response, and it happens all the time.

HIIT is a stress on your body, it’s high intensity, short and powerful and very similar to the stress say, if you were getting chased by a predator or fighting for your life. Your brain adapts to this stress, that is, it prepares your body to reduce the risk of this type of threat ending your life. Your brain wants to keep you alive, that’s its job. So it’s appropriate then for you to be faster, stronger, leaner so you don’t get caught by the predator or you can fight off the predator, otherwise you’re dead. Your brain is in control, it controls what hormones are released, and it responds to HIIT by releasing the hormones which make you slimmer, faster and stronger.

 A word of warning though, HIIT may result in injury. The protocol I suggested isn’t set in stone, if you need more REST have it. The key is in the EFFORT and doing it once, twice or eight times doesn’t really matter, do what you can at your present level of fitness and health. Always warm-up appropriately and check you’re performing the exercises correctly and safely.

Warm regards

 

Brian Killian

Try this 15 minute routine at home now. You will need a fit ball.

Top 10 Fitness Facts

BRIAN50_emailbanner

Fitness by HIF Health Expert and Gabriel Method Fitness Coach Brian Killian

 eFit30 is delighted to welcome guest blogger Brian Killian, owner of bnatural in Adelaide to our health and wellbeing blog. For the next two months, Brian will provide weekly articles crammed with fitness information, exercise tips and much more.

With years of his own training experience as a professional athlete, and his effort to add variety and fun to exercise, Brian is well known for his non-conventional, but highly effective fitness programming. His mission is simple – “to cut through all the misinformation presented on health and provide honest, simple advice which everyone can follow”. 

To add to Brian’s impressive resume, he also works as HIF – Health Insurance Fund of Australia’s Fitness expert as well as being a Fitness coach alongside the world renowned Jon Gabriel, bestselling author of ‘The Gabriel Method’

Now I am an expert when it comes to exercise and keeping healthy, but even I get confused these days. There is just so much information on the net, TV and radio about fitness. Each day we’re bombarded with the ‘best new product for this’, the latest and greatest for this’, and it sends me into a spin, so I can only imagine how confused you guys must be.

So in my first post for eFit I’ve come up with a list of my FUN FITNESS FACTS to do my bit to cut through the pile of discarded ab rollers, vibrating platforms, thigh masters and my personal favourite, the sauna belt.

10 FUN FITNESS FACTS

1. You are never too old to build muscle.
My oldest client is 93 and she trains with me twice per week and lifts 5kg dumbells.  Age is no barrier to getting stronger.

2. A muscle dehydrated by a mere 3% will have a decrease in strength of 10%.
Always have water handy when exercising it’s the most powerful ‘supplement’ on the market.

3. The more muscle you have, the more energy your body uses at rest.
Adding some muscle to your body is a great way to help shed some body fat. The more muscle you have generally the faster your metabolism, and the greater amount of fat you use while resting.

4. You can lose fat and still gain muscle, so you can gain weight but lose fat.
Throw out your scales, such a poor way to measure your progress. Scales are so demoralising and I’m not in favour of their use. What your body is made of is of much more significance that what you weigh.

5. There’s a high correlation between the fitness level of the people close to you, and your own physical fitness.
Find yourself some fit friends!

6. People who exercise outdoors burn more fat than those training inside.
I love this one because I’m an ‘outdoorsie’ type, love the beach, the wind, anything natural. Combining being outside with exercise seems to me to be the perfect antidote for our modern, indoor lifestyle.

7. It takes twice as long to lose muscle as it does to build it, muscle builds fast. 
Now that’s good news, you’ll be showing off ‘your guns’ in no time (sorry that’s my gym speak, I meant to say ‘toned arms’)

8. There is no ‘best time’ to exercise.
The real and only best time is whatever works for you – Do it when you can, as often as you can, and make it something you enjoy. I have 3 kids, a wife, a business, I understand it can be hard to get some training done, to fit it all in. But it’s important, maybe it’s not urgent (yet) but regular exercise is important.

9. Regular exercise is linked to a better sex life. 
That’s a good enough reason for me!

10. Sleep is the most important factor is fat burning.
Studies show the more you sleep  the more fat you burn. The longer you’re awake the slower your metabolism, as your brain attempts to preserve energy. Studies show 8.5 hours to be the optimum amount of sleep.

Thanks

Brian

Yoga and Pilates: An Overview of Both and Their Benefits

Yoga and Pilates (Mat) are two seemingly similar workouts at first glance but have several differences. Everyone’s reason for exercising is different and our bodies all have unique needs. We have broken down the two popular workouts to help you decide which one makes the most sense for you.

Yoga was created in India over 5000 years ago with the main purpose to connect individual consciousness with the universal consciousness through movement and physical activity. There are many different kinds, and most kinds feel like moving therapy. There is a meditative aspect to yoga that allows you to connect to your breath and unwind and let go of stress. Yoga gradually stretches muscles, and increases the range of motion. Regardless of age or ability, over time yoga also increases flexibility.  Yoga acts as a great strength based workout. The variety of poses build key muscles in all areas of the body, including the legs, abs and arms. People who do yoga regularly report feeling an increase in muscle tone.  Many yoga poses require balance, which can take some time but after some practice, your balance will improve along with coordination. Doing yoga leads to better circulation throughout the body, which means it will be easier for your body to transport nutrients and oxygen resulting in lowering blood pressure. Yoga brings you to a peaceful state without a lot of impact on your joints.

Pilates is a more modern exercise that was created in 1920 by Joseph Pilates for physical rehabilitation reasons. Pilates aims to help people gain flexibility, strength and body awareness without building bulk. Pilates is considered a resistance exercise, even though, as a beginner, you may experience an increased heart rate. One of the main goals of Pilates is to strengthen core muscles, improve posture and elongate the spine to develop balance and overall strength. Pilates enhances overall athletic ability and daily function. The six key principles of Pilates include; concentration, control, centering, breathing, precision and flow. Pilates is a great way to achieve a long, lean and toned body.

Yoga and Pilates are two workouts that you can’t go wrong with. They both provide you with amazing physical and mental benefits. Try incorporating both into your workout schedule, you’ll experience all the benefits that both have to offer!

Try both types of routines here; with Pilates by Liz Wilson or Vinyasa Yoga practice with Lara!

Embrace Simplicity

woman doing yogaA yoga practice can appear complicated when a novice watches experienced yogis do their moves. It is understandable why one would hesitate getting on the mat. Not to mention the plethora of styles that are emerging on what seems a daily basis. The photos of serious twists and balance can push the “not me” button in the mind of one on the fence of giving yoga a try.

Here’s the deal…it is a practice. Start simple, stay simple. The more you practice, what appeared too complicated to even attempt will eventually join the ranks of what is simple in your practice. Practice to embrace the inner workings of the body as you immerse yourself in a move.

It takes life experience to truly embrace the philosophy of “keep it simple.” The word simplicity implies there are no bells and whistles to enjoy. One assumes simplicity lacks complexity; however, this assumption is wrong. It is the perceiver’s choice to feel and absorb the details of what appears to lack substance. The heart and mind are given time to synchronize. Allow that to happen and feel what happens.

Leonardo da Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Teaching a magnificent woman, who is handling the challenges of cancer, expanded my appreciation of simplicity with just one
pose. Still weak from a recent chemo treatment, we focused on breathing and grounding poses to stabilize and nourish. Dandasana
(Staff pose)
revealed the magic of stillness.

To help the spine re-learn the action of being straight and strong, she sat with her back against the wall. The shoulders were rolled back and down so that she could feel the scapulas gently press the wall. The straight arms pressing on the palms into the Earth enhanced the sense of strength. The dorsi flexed feet of extended legs with engaged quadriceps activated the leg muscles. She was strong without force.

As she inhaled, she felt inspired. As she exhaled, she felt the flow of energy move. A simple pose with complex results. Anatomically, the
body was active while the mind  relaxed. The synaptic connections in the brain relayed the message to release the enzymes that ignite the internal pharmacy to deliver the chemicals to restore. It is only when the body is in the parasympathetic state the immune system can truly function.

The connection to the Earth in an active, conscious state provided stability and confidence. Taking time to push fears into the ground to be recycled awakened a sense of well-being. Psychologically, the mind experienced a new perspective and truly enjoyed the
beauty of the present moment. Each moment built onto the next moment and a new bridge was crossed.

The envisioning of a golden thread coming down from above into the crown of the head added to the strength of the pose. I could see
her be lifted up ever so slightly. I guided her to “see” each organ smile…then, each cell. The power of smiling added to her input of positive
energy. In fact, her Dandasana transcended from being a pose to a sophisticated state of being.

Ten minutes of Staff pose felt like a timeless sense of bliss. Simple…yet, not. To guide and interconnect with this state of being was
a gift for both of us. The uniting of the energies emerged with the simple action of being present and aware of the details. Healing was taking place.

After our practice, she felt more energy, no more pain, and the color of the skin was vibrant. I share this story for those blessed with good health and those in pursuit of homestasis. There is always plenty to learn why and how something works. But, sometimes just letting it happen without mental interference is just what the mind, body, and spirit needs.

Practice sophisticated simplicity. You might find it was just what you have been seeking

Valerie Goodman

Father Time, 2013 and Yoga

Father Time has gone full circle once again. Being a traditional time to make a list of resolutions, it is a good idea to reflect. Do you feel you’re on the right path? Do you have dreams to push you forward? Or, are you in a stalemate…not sure what to do or even think about doing? Time has a mysterious way of moving quickly or quite slowly. It depends on what is going on in the mind. What goes on in the mind depends on you.

Father Time fades away when you’re in the zone of doing what you love. Take a great yoga class, for example. The energy is great, you’re focused on each move and breath, things are just flowing…and before you realize it…you’re getting up from a delicious Shavasana. You stare at the clock and wonder where the 75 minutes went! All you know is that time seemed to cease to exist. And, it did. You took the road of Now.

We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it. We can try to predict the future, but it is just a guess. There are a plethora of articles giving advice on how to make your list. Over the years, I have made my lists and saved them. What I have found is that the few things that I really wanted got crossed off and things that felt like chores did not. And, some things took a little longer than a year to manifest. But, the timing was right.

The most gratifying “checked off” achievements involved pursuits that ultimately have helped others. That won’t change….only grow.

2013 is going to be a great year to focus on growth. Mother Nature reveals the magic of growing while appearing still to the impatient eye. A seed is planted, watered and left alone. Then,  when no one was looking, a young sprout breaks ground. The energy of what the seed of the plant is to be keeps it growing. Next thing you know, the plant expands itself in all dimensions…perfectly, without resolution. It just wants to grow and only be what it can be best…itself.

If you do not have a dream or passion to pursue, now is a great time to determine one. As kids, we would dream of all kinds of crazy things…like being a famous writer, a professional in some sport, an astronaut or a ballerina dancer. By God, some of those kids actually made it happen. But, it was not an overnight event. It took work, patience, faith, and relentless perseverance. You do not have to be a kid to dream and it is never too late. Some of the greatest accomplishments happened in people’s latter half of life.

A dream would not be as gratifying if it was simple to achieve. Take the deadline (in this case, a year) off some of your goals and see what emerges as you actively water it with action.When you practice the art of pursuing dreams without attachment of results, the unexpected emerges much like the seed in the soil. You might find what you thought you wanted lead you to what you really needed. Maybe that is what it is really all about.

Save the same old resolutions for the past. Losing weight, eating healthy, quitting smoking and exercising x number of times a week comes and goes. These are conscious, active efforts that demand your effort at sometimes a minute by minute basis. You can do it if you really want to. Let the intentions list be one that inspires you. You might even discover the energy of inspiration make the “other list” a bit easier!

Lastly, suspend the “out with the old, in with the new” concept. Everything new that exists came from the old. The wheel is still round. Fire can still be ignited by rubbing two sticks together. Art from centuries ago still inspire. The music of Mozart still moves. Words of profound individuals from hundreds and hundreds of years ago are still relative to us today. We still dream.  We still have hope. We simply strive to be better at what we love. Yogi Pattabhi Jois said: “Practice and all is coming.” So true.

Father Time is timeless. Mother Nature is ever evolving. Together, they offer us the wisdom and beauty to nourish the seed within our hearts. Let it be what you love. The rest will fall into place at the right time.

Here’s wishing you a healthy, happy, prosperous year!

Teaching, Me, and Yoga

Finding a yoga class that is in sync with what you seek can be a challenge. You wouldn’t think so since there are so many different studios in big cities. There are a plethora of styles of yoga to try out and an even larger group of yoga teachers to give a chance. One can do a personal practice at home; however, there is a subtle, sweet blend of energy shared while in a collective united group practice. As a teacher of yoga for only four years, here are the top five reasons I believe and have heard my yogi following has remained strong and stable. I will never claim to know it all, for I feel I have only scratched the surface. However, I know what I am about to write to be true….for me and my students.

Action #1: Teach and practice from the heart. If the energy is feeling low, the moves practiced are designed to lift one up…physically and mentally. Synchronicity of energies consistently coincide with a collective group and it is truly beautiful to share it. To teach what you think what a group wants takes out the secret ingredient of the heart. The heart doesn’t have to think…it feels. Thinking complicates. Feeling completes. Open your heart to help others open their own.

Action #2: Teach a core of familiar poses with new twists to them. Familiarity breeds monotony. Finding a blend of staples to have in your practice along with new poses is key in staying fresh. A yoga practice is like a relationship. You love the heart of a person; however, one of the keys to keeping a relationship strong is novelty…the unexpected…an unknown truth revealed. Yoga is no different. Doing the same thing again and again and again can become diminish the vision of new horizons. Being monogamous does not coincide with monotony….lack of growth in all realms breeds monotony. Keep them expecting the unexpected. It’s fun.

Action #3: Practice to the energy of great music. The eternal debate of practicing yoga with music or no music will continue. As far as I am concerned, great music complements the moves of a yoga practice. Remember, that it is a practice of mind, body and spirit. Music that speaks to your heart and propels you to move is magical. Beautiful voices, thought provocative verses, and a great beat that flows with your moves is an element I would feel cheated if I did not have it. Music adds to creativity. After all, music that moves you is from someone’s heart of creativity. Move to the hearts of many.

Action #4: The power of touch is indisputable. To give a person a soft touch of the fingertips on the third eye place or to gently press their shoulders down gives their body permission to let go a bit more. People fear that touching another will get them in trouble or they don’t have the desire to do it. Truth is…a great yoga teacher will intuitively know how to integrate the power of touch that so many seek, but don’t even know it until they receive it. It is a privilege to share the energy of love and a wordless message to release an internal grip many hold. I consider this privilege sacred.

Action #5: Keep on learning. It does not matter if you have you been practicing or teaching for twenty plus years…you will never know it all. There is immense knowledge in the concept of “teach to learn and learn to teach.” The two go hand in hand…beyond yoga. Apply it to anything you do and will find that integrating those two actions will solidify what you know and keep you adding to the foundation of knowledge layer by layer. To stop learning is to quit. Unless you’re ready to quit doing something, never stop the quest for learning. What seems insignificant to know initially will reveal its purpose when the time is right. That is…along as you consistently follow Action #1. (Follow the heart)

These words of Helen Keller have been the foundation of how I teach and learn. Nothing could more true:

“The most beautiful things cannot be seen or even touched; they can only be felt in the heart.”

Discovering these words have been instilled in my mind, heart and body. Integrating them in how I teach has hopefully touched many hearts to truly move to their own beat.

Valerie Goodman