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Choosing the Perfect Gym for Your Fitness Needs

Written by Lisa Jillanza

We all know that exercise is good for us and that one of the best places that we can utilize in order to get in shape is the gym. So how do you know what gym is right for you? How do you choose between one gym and another?

According to MSNBC, with the wide variety of equipment and services offered at health clubs these days, choosing the right gym can take a lot of time and research. Some of the best tips can be gleaned from friends and associates; however, you need to personally inspect gyms in your area to find the one that will work best for you.

Fitness experts suggest the following pieces of advice that may help you when it comes time to choose the right gym for your needs:

Location, location, location- Location is one key aspect in deciding what gym may work best for you. Chances are that if your gym isn't close to your home or workplace, then it will became a hardship to you to try and get to the gym on a regular basis. Plus, there is always the benefit of saving gas money if you choose a gym that is relatively close to your home or office.

Research the gym- Find out important details about each gym that you are considering starting your membership with. How much does it cost? What services do they offer that are included in your membership fees? Are lockers an additional cost? Is there a discount for seniors or students? Is there a cancellation or dropped membership fee? By asking the right questions you will find out everything you need to know about the gym before you hand over any money.

Hours- Knowing the hours that the gym is open is a very important aspect of choosing a gym. If you would prefer to do your workout before work, then the gym you choose needs to be open prior to your work hours. If you would like to work out after work, the gym needs to be open later at night. Choosing the right time to go to the gym is important, as is whether or not the gym is extremely busy at this time. If you are constantly waiting around to use equipment because the gym is overcrowded at certain times, you may want to choose a different gym that is more accommodating or has more equipment.

Comfort in the gym- When you enter the gym, do you feel comfortable with the way it is set up, the cleanliness of the gym and the way the other members act towards one another? If you are going to be spending your hard-earned money, then you need to feel comfortable in the gym. Cleanliness is also important and will let you know how the owners take care of the gym. How the other members of the gym interact is also important because you will be working out amongst these people and if you feel uncomfortable just being around the gym's members, then you certainly won't feel comfortable working out with these people. Trainers, machines, and classes- When choosing a gym finding out the experience of the trainers, testing out the equipment ahead of time and learning about the classes that the gym has to offer is also very important. The trainers will be there for you to help you with problems or with your workout, the equipment needs to be in the best condition possible and having a wide variety of classes in addition to great equipment will only motivate you to keep your exercises fresh and try different things.

Look for a variety of equipment- If there's a variety of cardio equipment available, you're less likely to get bored and you'll have the benefits of cross training. It's also important to make sure that there are enough machines to guarantee you'll have one when you want to work out, even during peak hours.

Decide what is important to you- Think about what kind of facility that you want and what, if any, extras are important to you. For example on MSNBC they suggest that you consider if you would like a club that has a pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and steam room. Will a simple set of weight machines and cardiovascular equipment do? Will you need child care? Do you want a juice bar? Etc.

Take a trial run- The best way to find out whether a club is right for you is to try it out for a few days. Most clubs offer special passes for prospective members. It's also a good idea to try the club out during the hours that you will be using it. If it's too crowded when you would normally prefer to work out and you don't like crowds then you may want to keep looking.

While this is only a starting point when you are choosing the gym that will best fit your needs, you need to consider a number of issues before you sign any contracts or pay any fees.

Exercising While on Vacation: A break from work doesn't mean taking a break from fitness

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Everyone looks forward to that one or two weeks out of the year when they get to take a break from their daily work or at-home duties and go on vacation. Vacation is the perfect time to relax, unwind and have a great time with friends and family.

The lure of rich meals, fruity drinks and endless hours of lying by the pool are hard temptations to resist while on vacation. And after all, you are on vacation so you owe it to yourself,.in moderation. Your vacation is your time and it's fine to indulge a bit but it's also important to get up and moving so that you don't pay the price once you get home.

While vacation is a time to unwind and relax, it is not necessarily a time to take a break from your daily fitness routines. Just because you are away from your gym, doesn't mean that you can't get your exercise elsewhere.

Being on vacation is a great time to try something different with your cardio workout. Remembering to keep your routine different each day will help you to enjoy your vacation and exercise even more.

Here are a couple guidelines for staying fit and active while on vacation found on MSNBC.

Change your vacation brain- Consider your hiatus from work as an opportunity to be more active and try new things. Oftentimes you'll have more time for exercise when traveling because there's no housework, laundry or long meetings to attend. Try to do something active every day on vacation, even if it's only dancing in the disco. Include one calorie-burning (and fun) activity in your itinerary each day, such as snorkeling, kayaking or even hula classes, and aim for a manageable 30 minutes.

Be active early- Allow yourself a couple days to sleep in then try to get out of bed early and do an activity that's related to where you are, such as taking a walk on a beach, riding a bike around town or hiking in the hills. If I don't go first thing, it's easy to get too busy. Find a local activity you love and do it early in the day. Or pack running shoes, shorts and a sports bra to turn any vacation spot into a beautiful scenic workout trail.

You can also try these great cardio workouts while on vacation:

Surfing, swimming or snorkeling: While you may not be the “hang ten” type, even attempting surfing can be an excellent form of exercise. Snorkeling is more laid back and still provides a great workout and we all know that swimming is an excellent form of exercise for all of your major muscle groups.

Walking or running on the beach: Experts have said that walking or running on the beach burns more calories than running or walking on a flat surface, thereby making this an excellent vacation workout for anyone.

Biking: Biking trails and biking in general is a great form of exercise and it a great way to get around on vacation. You won't be burning up gas in a car to get around and you'll be giving your body a pretty intense workout.

Hiking: Many families choose the outdoors instead of the beach for their vacation, which allows for another great workout by hiking trails and through the mountains. Adding elevation and a backpack to your hike helps you to burn additional calories.

Beach volleyball: You don't have to be a professional volleyball player in order to get a great workout by playing beach volleyball. Besides burning more than 150 calories per hour, playing beach volleyball is a great way to meet some new people while on vacation.

Play golf: Many of you are probably saying, “Play golf? Now that's up my alley.” You may not realize this, but playing golf is an excellent form or exercise and is also a great way to relax the day away while you are on vacation. By carrying your clubs and walking the course, you can burn 200 to 300 calories per hour and you'll be exercising even though you might not realize it.

Shopping: Yes, men, believe it or not, when your lady decides to take a day out of vacation and get some shopping in, she is actually getting in a pretty decent work out. While this workout is a leisurely one it can still be a good form of exercise with all of the walking and heavy lifting/carrying that could ensue.

So whether you decide to hit up the beach volleyball court and try your hand at surfing, or if you just go shopping and take a walk on the beach, there are plenty of ways that you can get a good workout while you are on vacation.

This way, when you return home you will not only be well rested, but you won't be out any fitness time and can jump right back into your normal routine without starting fresh.

 

It's Pool Time: Ways to Make the Most of This Seasonal Exercise

Written by Lisa Jillanza

mother daughter swimming With the warm weather comes the opening up of public pools, home pools and breaking out the bathing suit for another season of swimming. For many people, swimming is a good way to wind down after a long day. But others are using swimming as another means of exercise and they are finding that this form of exercise can be both effective and fun!

Exercise experts recommend swimming as a form of exercise because of the great cardiovascular workout you get from swimming. It is considered a great aerobic exercise because by definition it is an action that maintains an elevated heartbeat for a minimum of 20 minutes.

According to Webmd.com swimming recruits all the major muscle groups, including the shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, hips, and glutes. Water also affords 12 times the resistance as air in every direction making it very effective for building strength.

In addition, swimming is a good fitness choice for just about everyone, especially those who have arthritis, musculoskeletal or weight limitations or those who find other forms of exercise painful. Water's buoyancy accommodates the unfit as well as the fit. Water cushions stiff joints or fragile bones that might be injured by the impact of land exercises. When immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight; immersed to the chest, its 25%-35%; and to the neck, 10%.

You can simply add swimming to your pre-existing aerobic workout to help switch things up and keep your workouts fresh. Alternate days that you decide to use swimming as your cardio for that day, so you don't get bored with any one workout. Instead of staying indoors and using the treadmill or elliptical for a day, get outdoors and swim laps in the pool for the cardio portion of your workout and you will find that exercising comes much easier when you aren't sticking to the same routine day in and day out.

Like any exercise, you should also start any swimming workout routine by stretching first. You may not realize the affect swimming has on your entire body until it is too late, so be sure to stretch appropriately before you begin. If you're a beginner, start slowly. Try to swim for 10 minutes. Build up to a 30-minute workout, three to five times a week. Include a warm-up and a cool-down, and, in the middle, challenge yourself by working on endurance, stroke efficiency, or speed.

Experts suggest starting out swimming laps for approximately 20 minutes for women and 30 minutes for men. You can begin to increase your time as necessary and as you continue your workout over the course of weeks or months. Again, this will prevent you from getting too tired, too sore, wore out or disappointed in your swimming workout.

For weight loss, Webmd.com recommends interval training, in which you push yourself hard for short spurts, and then drop back to a less-intense level of exercise.

Try out different strokes when you are swimming. Do some laps using the breaststroke, then switch up and do the backstroke, or even the doggy paddle. Each swimming stroke using a different variety of muscles and therefore will give you the best overall workout.

Playing games in the pool is also a good way to get some exercise in the spring and summer. You can play water polo, water basketball, chicken fights, diving games, or even just do some aerobics in the water. You will get your workout in without even realizing it!

Be sure to wear your sun block (preferably a waterproof kind to avoid unnecessary reapplications) to fight the harmful UV rays of the sun while you are in the pool.

And lastly, keep it safe and have fun. Before you know it, the warm seasons will be over and we'll be looking for ways to exercise indoors again. Enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts!

 

Put on the Weight by Adding to Your Resistance Training

Written by Lisa Jillanza

weight lifting help Adding weight can be a good thing : if you are adding to your resistance training!

In an article on Medicinenet.com Richard Weil, an exercise physiologist and the director of the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program provided a thorough question and answer guide to those interested in or beginning a weight training regimen.

In the article, Weil explains what resistance exercise consists of as well as the benefits of an effective weight resistance program.

Resistance exercise is defined as any exercise where muscles contract against an external resistance with the objective of increasing strength, tone, mass, and/or muscular endurance. The resistance can come from dumbbells, weight machines, elastic tubing or bands, cinder blocks, cans of soup, your own body weight (for example, pushups), or any other object that forces your muscles to contract. Results occur when you train consistently over time.

The benefits of adding weights to your exercise routine includes improvement of muscular strength, endurance, functional capacity and ability, blood pressure, osteoporosis, low back pain, insulin resistance and glucose metabolism, resting metabolic rate and psychological well being.

Senior Workout - PowerAnd it's never too late to start a resistance program either. In a classic study in a Boston nursing home, 100 residents ranging from 72 to 98 years of age performed resistance exercise three times a week for 10 weeks. Muscle strength increased 113%, walking speed increased by almost 12%, and thigh-muscle area increased 2.7%!

Although it may be intimidating to start, Weil provides some basic rules for properly lifting weights:

Take your time and lift mindfully. Feel it in the belly of the muscle you're trying to work and not in the joints. Select weights that your body can handle without having to cheat or force the weight up (leaning way back, using momentum, etc.).

Here are a couple starter weight lifting programs that Weil suggests. They are broken up by muscle group and are three days per week. You can experiment with splits, exercises, and the number of days per week. He suggests 12-15 repetitions and one to three sets per exercise for beginners (remember, you can gain significant strength with just one set). He's included more than one exercise for each muscle group. You can stick with one exercise if you like, or experiment with more than one. Increase the weight when you can perform 15 reps easily. If you're using elastic tubing, start with the tube that you can lift 12-15 times to fatigue, and then increase when you get stronger.

Day 1: Chest (bench press with bar or dumbbell press, flies, pushups), triceps (bench dips, kickbacks)

Day 2: Back (bent-over rows), biceps (curls, standing or seated)

Day 3: Shoulders (lateral raises, front raises), legs (squats, lunges)

Here's a different split.

Day 1: Chest (bench press with bar or dumbbell press, flies, pushups), back (bent-over rows, pull-downs)

Day 2: Biceps (curls, standing or seated), triceps (bench dips, kickbacks)

Day 3: Shoulders (lateral raises, front raises), legs (squats, lunges)

Resistance exercise is worth it. You'll gain strength, endurance, and confidence. It's feels great to feel strong, so give it a try! For more information and examples of resistance exercises that will help you to “put on the weight,” visit Medicinenet.com.