The Importance of Heart Rate Monitors

Dr. H. James Harrington said, “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.  If you can’t understand it, you can’t improve it.  if you can’t control it, you can’t improve it”.

Most people know what a heart rate monitor does, but they don’t know the importance of heart rate monitors. A heart rate monitor is a great tool that does exactly what its’ name implies, it measures your heart rate, or how many times a minute your heart beats.  It is important for your safety and success as it lets you know how hard you are working, which ensures the safety of your fitness workout.  Whether you are a beginner who’s just starting to work out, or a professional athlete looking to hit specific fitness goals, a heart monitor allows you to see how hard you are working at the gym.
Think of your heart as a muscle and the harder you work it, the stronger it gets and aerobic exercise is the best way to work it.  The more you exercise your heart, the more you lower your resting heart rate (RHR).  A stronger heart pumps more blood per beat, so the same work is performed with less beats. A healthy heart will help prevent cardio disease/heart attacks. 

For the maximum benefit from your cardio workout it is recommended you work out at 50% – 85% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).  To calculate your MHR, deduct your age from 220.  Keep in mind, that  your MHR can be off up to 10% using this method, as heart rate levels vary depending on your fitness level, nutrition, medications, genetics, and environment.  After you have calculated your MHR with the above method, check your heart rate monitor to determine if you need to lower or increase your intensity level.
We cannot underemphasize the importance of heart rate monitors. We recommend a heart rate monitor for everybody that works out and encourage you to inquire at the front desk about our MyZone heart monitors (we have made them very affordable for our members). In addition to measuring your heart rate, MyZone measures calories burned and your effort level, which allows you to set goals and evaluate your progress while enjoying a safe workout.
Learn more about our MyZone program.

Exercise Tips for Seniors

There is always an excuse to be sedentary. However, for the estimated 46 million elderly people in the US who are aged 65 years and above, physical activity is very important for healthy aging and to increase mobility & functioning. The benefits of exercise or physical movement are enormous, including improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance. It also helps increases cognitive function, reduces obesity, lowers risk of diseases and medical conditions including cancers, coronary problems & hip fractures and promotes better mental health by reducing depression and anxiety. Some exercise tips for seniors include finding a partner who you can go on walks with, hiring a personal trainer who can create a personalized plan for you, and making sure you set aside time every day for physical activity.

Elderly people can choose different types of exercise that are suitable to their physical condition. Seniors vary in their abilities to perform physical functions whether due to a chronic illness or the effects of aging. Going to the gym, performing floor exercises, vigorous walking or aerobics are possible options for seniors. What is important is to engage in physical activity, however small. 

Explore our workout options and contact us for more exercise tips for seniors and to see what exercises our trainers recommend for you.

How To Treat a Pulled Muscle

The most common sports injuries are injuries to your muscles, tendons and/or ligaments.  These soft tissue injuries can be either an acute injury or a chronic injury.  An acute injury is an injury that occurs at a specific and identifiable time, and if not treated properly, can become a chronic injury. A chronic injury is the result of overuse and repetitive movements.

Pulled muscles are caused by:

  • Lack of proper warm-up;
  • Lack of flexibility;
  • Lack of conditioning;
  • Fatigue;
  • Over-exertion.

A pulled muscle is painful and can cause swelling, bruising and loss of function. The severity of the injury is determined by whether you have strained the muscle or torn the muscle.  A severe strain or tear may require medical attention.

How To Treat a Pulled Muscle

The recommended protocol for treating a pulled muscle is the P.R.I.C.E. principle.  P.R.I.C.E. is an acronym for the following:

P- Protect the injury by stopping the activity;
R- Rest the injured muscle by avoiding any painful movements;
I- Ice the injured area ASAP, every 20 minutes of every hour you are awake.  Ice will reduce the pain and the swelling;
C- Compress the injury with elastic wrap to provide support and reduce swelling;
E-Elevate the injured area to further reduce swelling.

Our other recommendation on how to treat a pulled muscle is to take an anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Aleve.

Keep the above in mind the next time you strain or pull a muscle during an activity.  Immediately stop your activity and follow the P.R.I.C.E. principle to lessen the severity of the injury and shorten the healing time.

Ready to get back in the game? Sign up for a class today!

What to Do When You Hit A Plateau

This is the year you have committed to changing unhealthy habits and working out. Your diet is on point and the workouts are a regular part of your week. At first, the changes to your body are obvious, and people are noticing until it happens. The weight loss comes to a screeching halt, but you are still working just as hard! You have hit a fitness plateau and it feels like you have hit a brick wall. Here are some tips on what to do when you hit a plateau to kick start the positive momentum.

Give yourself credit for the meaning of a plateau

When the results slow or stop altogether it is easy to feel let down or like you have done something wrong. In reality, the plateau isn’t a sign of you doing anything wrong, it’s a positive sign that your efforts are becoming a part of who you are. It is a sign that you have changed your overall health level and your body is making adjustments. It is a new normal for you and your body is in balance.

Get F.I.T.T.

According to the American Heart Association, the best way to break through a fitness plateau is to use their F.I.T.T. System to mix things up. F.I.T.T.= “…frequency, intensity, time and type.” Changing one or more of these components of your workout routine can mix things up enough to jumpstart the changes you are looking for in your body.

An example of a change that can have a big impact is looking at what types of fitness you are focusing on and adding a bigger variety. If you are doing a lot of running, add in some weight training for strength. Adding cardio to a workout week that is mainly weight training can have a similar boost for change.

Build in rest and recovery and keep things fun

When you made a commitment to get healthy, you may have gone all out and skipped a simple bit of down time to let your body recover. Adding in time to rest and let your body recover can actually help to prepare yourself to improve. It is a misconception that if working out 5 days a week is working for you working out every day will work even better. It is possible to train too much if you are expecting change and not to just maintain a certain level.

Rest and recovery are essential aspects of avoiding burnout. If you overdo it in your workouts, you may get tired of what you’re doing and start taking shortcuts more often or skipping days you would normally hit the gym. Another aspect of avoiding burnout is keeping things fun. Try new forms of working out each week or seek out other ways to spice things up–for example, you might take your dog with you on a hike or try a Krav Maga class with a friend. When a workout is fun, you’ll actually look forward to doing it, and that’s a great way to keep yourself on track.

Change small things to see big results

Changing too many things at once may not give your body time to adjust and make changes. It is better to change a few things like doing a larger number of reps at a lower weight than your regular lift for several weeks, Not only is it suggested that you make small changes, but it is also good to give these changes time to work. You may not see immediate jumps in progress but over a few weeks, the momentum will show again.

Measure and celebrate all types of progress

Workouts or new fitness goals are usually tied to a certain magical goal of losing a certain amount of weight or something that is pretty easy to measure. Focusing on just the numbers of weight loss can be frustrating if you stop seeing the pounds fall off. As you workout, your body is going through a variety of changes that go well beyond just the number on the scale. Start to look at things like body measurements, changes in muscle tone, higher endurance and other changes you will see with improved health. There is a good chance you are still seeing changes, just maybe not the number on the scale.

Taking the time to do things like a selfie each week to track visible changes can do a lot to boost your mood and keep you motivated. You may find you are still making progress, just in a different way. Talk to our trainers to get more ideas on what to do when you hit a plateau. Then, sign up for your next class!

Breathing While Exercising

Proper breathing while exercising is extremely important. Breathing is how we supply our cells, tissues and organs with oxygen. Breathing while exercising is important to:

  • Lower blood pressure;
  • Reduce stress by decreasing stress hormones and increasing the mood enhancing hormone, serotonin;
  • Enhance athletic performance;
  • Improve brain function and focus.

When we inhale, we bring oxygen into our blood to distribute, and when we exhale, we purge our body of toxins and gases, such as carbon dioxide. Proper breathing involves inhaling and exhaling through your nose and breathing into your abdomen, not your chest. To ensure you are breathing correctly, your abs should rise before your chest. If you breathe rapidly with shallow breaths you will often experience a shortness of breath, stressing your heart and lungs.

When exercising always exhale on exertion. Do not hold your breath, as this causes a drop in the energy in your cells, leading to fatigue.

Keeping all of this in mind, it is important to note that one method of breathing while exercising does not work for all workouts. During cardio workouts continuous breathing increases nitric oxide gas, which relaxes arteries and maintains the blood flow needed to sustain rhythmic activity, such as running. While lifting weights you want to inhale on the less strenuous phase of the exercise and exhale on the more strenuous phase. During free-weight exercises or body weight based exericses such as push-ups, a good rule of thumb is to exhale during the phase of exercise where gravity is opposed. Proper breathing will tense your core muscles and aid you in keeping the proper form. Proper breathing also keeps the systolic blood pressure (the active pressure) more normalized and helps prevent a spike in pressure, which may cause several adverse health conditions.

During stretching concentrate on slow, deep breaths. This will help you loosen up as you stretch your muscles and lower the chance of “pulling a muscle”.

If your workout involves plyometrics, it helps stabilize your body when you hold your breath during explosive movements. For example, to keep your body rigid you should focus on holding your breath when your foot strikes the floor.

When you are finished with a tough set of exercises your body is craving oxygen and it needs to be replenished. Remember to breathe deeply into your abdomen(diaphramic breathing), bringing in more oxygen to your body, aiding in a quicker recovery.

During your next workout, keep these points in mind and check yourself to ensure you have the proper breathing techniques. If you find you are not breathing correctly, focus on the proper technique and soon it will become automatic. Be sure to ask our trainers about more tips on breathing while exercising and sign up for your next class!

How To Make Working Out a Habit

Almost everyone would love to create the “Workout Habit” and live a healthy lifestyle. The hard part is creating the habit and making it part of your daily lifestyle. The following are tips on how to make working out a habit:

  1. The first steps to take are to make your workouts part of your daily schedule and to view your workout as a “cannot” miss appointment on your “to do list”. Block the time off on your schedule, and to help ensure that life does not get in the way, plan it for the first thing in the morning. To make getting to the gym easier, gather up what you need for your workout the night before and set it aside, so everything is ready for you. Tell yourself you will not make excuses for missing workouts.
  2. Find yourself a workout partner.  You are more likely to show up at the gym if you know someone is depending on you to be there.
  3. Try different forms of exercise until you find the workout regimen you like.  Once you have the workout you enjoy, it will make getting to the gym a whole lot easier.
  4. Start off slow and easy and build on it.  This will help you avoid injury and prepare yourself mentally and physically for more intense workouts to come.
  5. Look at exercise in a positive light and tell yourself that you, “want to workout”.  Remind yourself how great you feel after working out and visualize how the “new you” will look!
  6. Set a goal and commit to it by writing it down.  We are much more likely to commit to a goal if we have committed to it in writing.
  7. Remember, you will not always get a great workout in, but a bad workout is always better than the one you did not do.  Some exercise is better than none!
  8. Measure your workouts.  With today’s technology it is easy to track the intensity of your efforts.  It is a lot easier to improve something, if you have an accurate way of measuring it.

Working out is like many things in life; If it were easy, everybody would do it! Tell yourself you will not make excuses for missing workouts and keep in mind, “If you think you can or think you can’t, you are absolutely right”! The secret to how to make working out a habit is to just believe you can.

Ready to get started? Check out our class schedule and sign up for a free class!

Why Warm Up Before Exercise?

Why warm up before exercise? Here are ten reasons to warm up before your workout:

  1. It helps you mentally prepare for the workout ahead;
  2. The increased blood flow to your muscles and connective tissues will increase their elasticity, leading to better performance and helping reduce the chances of injury;
  3. Raises your body temperature, reducing the chances of injury to your muscles and connective tissues;
  4. Your muscles are supplied with more oxygen through the process of oxyhemoglobin which is the form in which oxygen is transported to the blood supply;
  5. Nutrients are delivered to your muscles through increased blood flow allowing for energy production and warming  your muscles preparing  them for the coming workout;
  6. Your risk of cardiac injury related to exercise is reduced;
  7. Your muscle control improves through the transmission of nerve impulses;
  8. The amount of heat stored in your body is reduced through perspiration, which is helpful because your body expends more energy cooling itself than through any other activity.
  9. Prepares your cardio system for the increased demand of blood and oxygen that is coming;
  10. You will experience less pain during your workout if your body is prepared for it.

A proper warmup should take five to ten minutes and the more intense the workout, the more important the warmup! Now that you know why to warm up before exercise, schedule your class with Champion today and ask our coaches for the best warmups to do!

Is Kickboxing a Good Workout?

“Is kickboxing a good workout?” a lot of people ask us. Well, we’re here to tell you that the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Boxing/Kickboxing is one of the most effective forms of exercise for getting and staying in shape.  With a boxing/kickboxing workout you are honing your athletic skills and having fun.  You will experience increased physical strength, speed and quickness, agility, hand-eye coordination, endurance and power while your self-esteem grows as you become more disciplined and confident.

Cardio boxing/kickboxing is a form of interval training as you engage in a series of intense three minute rounds followed by thirty seconds of less intense exercise.  Interval training is extremely effective when it comes to cardiovascular fitness and will reduce your risk of cardio disease, high blood pressure, and lower your risk of stroke.  Hitting the heavy bag and performing mitt work are also great ways to release some of the stress in your life.  The intense workouts will leave you feeling good about yourself as the exercise releases endorphins into your body.  Endorphins are the feel-good hormones which leave you feeling more confident and feeling less stress.

As you train with boxing/kickboxing as your mode of exercise, you will burn up to 1,000 calories in a one hour workout.  These workouts combined with a sensible nutrition plan will change your body composition, increasing your muscle mass and lowering your fat content.  Watching your calorie intake while maintaining your workouts will  enable you to reach and then maintain your ideal body weight.

With a boxing/kickboxing workout you will be performing weight bearing exercises such as push-ups, lunges and planks, which help you preserve and even increase your bone mass.  As we age, beginning around the age of 30, our bone mass shrinks and our bones become more brittle.  A boxing/kickboxing workout loads all of your major bones and fights the onset of osteoporosis and aging.

Boxing/kickboxing has long been recognized as one of the most effective full-body workouts combining aerobic and anaerobic elements. The workout allows you to go at your own pace and increase the intensity as you see fit, providing you with cardio and resistance training. So, if you want to look better and feel better, a boxing/kickboxing workout is just about the best form of exercise there is. Next time someone asks you, “is kickboxing a good workout?” you can tell them with confidence “YES!” Sign up for your free class today!

Tips for a Quicker Sports Injury Recovery

Whenever you participate in a rigorous exercise program, such as boxing, you can count on getting a few muscle strains and some bumps and bruises along the way. Here are some tips on sports injury recovering and taking care of yourself that will help you stay on track.

If and when you sustain a small injury remember the letters I.C.E. which means; Ice, Compression and Elevation. The first thing you should do is keep it compressed. The initial goal is to reduce swelling and inflation. Keeping a firm compression (wrap) on the injury will help minimize swelling.

The next thing you should is to apply a bag of ice to the injured area for 20 minutes at a time. You should continue to apply the ice, 20 minutes on and 20-minutes off for as along and often as you can over the next few days. Keep the injury elevated above your heart when possible. If you do these three things, you will reduce the swelling and minimize the recovery time.

When you are ready to resume exercise, make sure you warm up the affected area. You may apply heat to the area to help stimulate blood flow. Immediately after working out, reapply ice for a period of time. Repeat this process before and after workouts until your injury is gone.

Of course, it is always best to see a doctor if you believe your injury is more than a simple one or continues without improvement.

Stay healthy, follow these sports injury recovery tips, and we’ll see you in class. Browse our workout schedule here.

Breathing Techniques While Exercising

A lot of our members ask me about proper breathing technique during training. Breathing is not something you need to worry about preset…trust me, your body will tell you when its time to breath and there is no real secret to it…even in boxing.  On the other hand, there are breathing techniques while exercising that can be used in boxing (and other sports) that do produce better mental focus, system recover and harness energy.

Focus: Next time you are in class between rounds or when your trainer give you a break, I want you to stop, plant both your feet and focus your attention on your breathing.  Put your hands behind your head (this will expand the lung capacity) and begin taking in deep breaths through your nose.  Then exhale out through your mouth. Imagine ice cold crystal clear BLUE air, each time you take in the breath through your nose and as you exhale, imagine pushing out hot dark RED air through your mouth.  As you practice this skill, you will soon discover that you recover faster, your heart rate slows quicker, and your thinking becomes more clear faster than if you simply breath as you would normally. This is both a “visualization” technique used in sport psychology and a breathing technique while exercising used by exercises physiologist that will help you improve your control and help you get the most out of each training session.

Ready to get started? Browse our workout schedule here and sign up for a class!