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3 Things Every Exerciser Needs

IMG_1085Exercise doesn’t need to be complicated. You can get a perfectly good workout at home without dumbbells, benches, or pull up bars. But, as a personal trainer, here are the three things I think every exerciser should invest in. And don’t worry, none of these are going to break your bank.

1. A Stopwatch

Okay, I know this seems too

IMG_1089simple to be a necessity, but just trust me here. I cannot tell you how often I see people wrecking their workouts because they aren’t timing their rest periods!

I know you may think you can accurately count seconds in your head, but you probably can’t. Or you’ll get distracted. Or you’ll pick up your phone and five whole minutes later (which will feel like 30 seconds) you’ll finally get to your next set or round.

So, just use a stopwatch to make sure you are timing your rests. Your workouts will be so much more efficient and every phone has one these days, so there’s really no excuse not to!

2. A Foam Roller

There is no question about it, this is absolutely the piece of equipment that I recommend most often. If you don’t have one, you need one, in my opinion.

IMG_1096Foam rollers allow you to basically massage out knots in your muscles. Knots in your muscles, or adhesions as we call them in the fitness world, will make you uncomfortable, alter your movement patterns, and eventually lead to injury.

Foam rolling (a.k.a. self-myofascial release) is essential to keeping your muscles healthy, maintaining flexibility, and reducing soreness. And, you can pick one up for around $30, so it’s affordable for most anyone.

3. A good pair of shoes

Are you pulling out the same grass-stained, 6-year-old sneakers you wear to mow the lawn when it’s time for a workout? If so, stop it right now and get yourself to the shoe store!

A good shoe is so important! You are putting a lot of pressure on your feet when you exercise, so you need to take care of them by giving them the proper support for the activities you’re doing.

For most people, a cross-trainer will be sufficient. If you’re doing power lifts, you’ll want to consider something with a more solid sole. If you’re doing plyometrics, jumping, etc., you’ll want something more flexible.

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Not sure what shoe to buy? There are plenty of shoe stores that will assess you and help you find the right one.

Once you have these three essentials, you’ll be set for an efficient, safe, and comfortable workout.

Are you already using any of these? Is there anything you find to be absolutely essential to your workout that isn’t on the list? I want to hear about it! Let me know below.

 

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Are you the 9 percent?

The following is a guest blog by my friend, Sarah Siders. Sarah is a licensed Master Social Worker and runs her own life consulting business and a client of Kim Ashford Fitness! If you’re interested in learning more about Sarah’s work, visit her website.

If you made a New Year’s Resolution this year and you’re reading this with your resolution still intact, congratulations! You are well on your way to becoming one of the mere 9 percent of people (in the United States) who articulate a resolution and follow through.

If this statistic seems painfully small, just think of all the times you’ve made other goals and quit almost as soon as you started. Some of the main reasons people quit pursuing their goals are the discouragement of not meeting their deadlines or setting expectations for themselves that are impossible.

So what sets the 9 percent apart from the 91 percent? Let’s get in the head of the 91 percent to see what people believe that makes them more likely to quit.

Myth #1: If I don’t meet my goal completely, I failed.

If you’re still focused on hitting your fitness and health goals for the year, chances are you fall into the category of a high-achieving person. While high-achievers tend to accomplish more, they often fall prey to a common thinking trap referred to as “All or nothing thinking.”

It’s the sneaky belief that anything less than 100 percent doesn’t count. It turns out requiring ourselves to be superhuman only sets ourselves up for the very thing we fear: failure.

What’s worse, we can be led to believe that not achieving a goal perfectly indicates something is wrong with us.

Instead of the black-and-white view of achievement as either “success” or “failure,” use the 80/20 rule to evaluate your effort. If you’re not meeting your goals consistently, it’s likely that there something wrong with your expectations, not you.

If you’re meeting your goals for fitness and nutrition 80 percent of the time, this becomes the new success standard, taking into account that while life happened and it prevented me from keeping my commitment 20 percent of the time, I am proving my commitment to myself with the 80 percent.

Myth #2: I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

It may seem like rest, sleep or taking a day off are signs of weakness, laziness or lack of commitment. But the intelligent use of rest is an essential element to meeting your health and fitness goals.

During sleep or on a recovery day, your muscles are doing anything but resting. In fact, your body uses this time to repair and build muscle. Without this critical component of your workout routine, you will not see the results you want by your deadlines, and worse, you may get injured or burned out and quit all together.

So instead of telling yourself, “Rest is doing nothing,” try reminding yourself, “Rest is allowing my body to do a different kind of work.”

Myth #3: If I look like I’m having fun, I’m not working hard enough.

Really? What isn’t fun about getting fit, feeling more energetic and confident, making visible progress and proving to ourselves that we are committed? Everything about that is fun.

It doesn’t mean there isn’t pain and sweat involved. In fact, it’s the pain and sweat that make your progress worth celebrating. Talking about how much agony you’re in or telling yourself you’re miserable doesn’t prove that you’re more committed. In fact, it might actually limit what you’ll accomplish.

When you hit a milestone on your fitness journey, stopping to celebrate by acknowledging your progress to yourself and others around you is a way to encourage yourself to keep going.

Sure, it’s all about the destination, but the only way there is the process. You might as well enjoy it.

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Resolutions that get Results: How to set great goals.

img_5401-1Here we are in week one of January and you may already be struggling to keep up with your resolutions. Maybe you have a goal but it’s vague and uninspiring and has already left you wondering how you will ever achieve the end results you desire. Not to worry, we are expert goal setters here at Lynx Fitness, LLC and we’re here to help you create the kind of resolutions that lead to success.

First things first: What exactly is it you want to accomplish? Good, attainable goals are specific. “I want to lose weight this year” is not a specific goal. You need the what, when, where, how and why to get you to victory.

What? Instead of “I want to lose weight”, try “I want to lose 15 pounds.” That is a specific goal that gives you something to measure. Every goal should be measurable. If you can’t measure it, you will not be able to determine whether you have succeeded. Moreover, you won’t be able to track your progress, and progress is the MVP when it comes to sticking with a goal.

When? This is a dual purpose question. First, when do you want to have achieved your goal? One year from today? Before your beach vacation this spring? Determine an end date for your goal. This will keep you pressing forward instead of aimlessly meandering toward a far-off desire that isn’t really a goal, but a wish.

Along with an end date, you will need to decide when you will actually work toward your goal. Try something like this:  “I want to lose 15 pounds by March 1st. I will do so by exercising at 7 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.” Now, you’re getting specific. You’ve got a goal with an end date and the days and times of when you will work toward that goal.

Where? Where will you be working toward your goal? Will you exercise at home, join a gym, or go jogging at the local track? These details will help you to be prepared as you move toward who you want to be. So, at this point, you’ll want your goal to look something like this: “I will lose 15 pounds by March 1st. I will do so by exercising at Home Town Fitness Center at 7 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.”

How? Now this is where people seem to get off track. How exactly are you going to do this? If your plan is to exercise, you have to know how you will exercise. Do you need to hire a trainer, find a few exercise DVDs, hire a babysitter to watch your kids while you work out, sign up for a gym membership, buy running shoes? You have to think through all of the details because any one of them could send you off course if you have not planned well. What if you go out for a run only to find that your 12-year-old sneakers hurt your feet because they’re worn out? Or maybe you get to the gym (which is half the battle) but you have no idea what to do once you are there. The anxiety or boredom you feel at that point may overshadow your desire to work toward your goal. Make sure you have decided exactly what you will do and take care of all the details beforehand, so you can be confident when you begin.

“I will lose 15 pounds by March 1st. I will do so by exercising at Home Town Fitness Center at 7 a.m. each Monday Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, using the plan my trainer has put together for me. I have obtained a gym membership, purchased 12 weeks of personal training, and have appropriate apparel to wear while exercising.”

img_0160Why? This should actually be the first question you ask yourself. Why are you setting this goal? What will losing 15 pounds do for you? If it were easy to accomplish this, you would have done it already, which means you are going to need some powerful inspiration to keep you on track when things get uncomfortable. So what is it? Is your ‘why’ important to you?

“I will lose 15 pounds by March 1st because I want to fit into the cute clothes in my closet.”

Go deeper.

“I will lose 15 pounds by March 1st because…”

What is your why?

“I will lose 15 pounds by March 1st because I am borderline hypertensive and I don’t want my kids to become my caregivers because I haven’t taken care of myself. I will do so by exercising at Home Town Fitness Center at 7 a.m. each Monday Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, using the plan my trainer has put together for me. I have obtained a gym membership, purchased 12 weeks of personal training, and have appropriate apparel to wear while exercising.”

Now that is a good goal.

Make it specific. Make it measureable. Make it personal. This is YOUR resolution after all.

Attack your fitness. You are worth it. 

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A quick guide to gym etiquette – for the new and seasoned gym-goers alike

‘Tis the season of the busy gym! As a personal trainer, nothing makes me happier. I love to see all the new and the familiar faces smashing their goals AND I love to see you all doing it with plenty of respect for the many, many people around you. So, I’ve got some gym etiquette tips that will help all of us navigate our busier surroundings and have a great workout.

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Remember to wipe down all the equipment and benches you use after you’re done!

Wipe down the equipment. There’s nothing worse than laying down on a bench covered in someone else’s sweat or body oil. And nobody wants to catch a cold because the person before them didn’t wipe down their exercise mat before returning it. Make sure you know where the disinfecting spray bottles and wipes are in your gym and wipe down everything you use. It’s just the right thing to do!

Re-rack those weights. If you put it on the bar, take it off the bar. It’s so simple. Leaving weight on a bar sends the message that you are still using it and nobody likes spending 10 minutes playing that guessing game. Same goes for dumbbells, bosu balls, yoga mats, etc. Just pick up after yourself. Nobody should have to pick up after grown-ups at the gym.

One piece of equipment at a time. We all love a good circuit, but when the gym is busy, it’s rude to take up a bunch of equipment at once. You will have to give it up and be creative to get your workout in or go at slower time. Same goes for hogging one piece of equipment for 30 minutes when other people are waiting. It’s just not cool.

Save the perfumes and colognes for after your workout. When you’re sucking wind it’s suffocating to have a strong perfume or cologne waft into your nose. Equally difficult to work through is a fellow gym-goer’s bad body odor. Deodorant (or a shower if you need to) is a go, while perfumes, colognes, and body sprays are a no.

Respect other people’s personal space. If you can leave a treadmill between you and the next person, do so. When someone is lifting in front of the mirror, take note and don’t position yourself right in front of them. Just be aware of your surroundings.

No unsolicited advice please. Unless you are a certified personal trainer, you don’t have the credentials to give strangers advice. Leave it to the professionals, unless of course, someone asks for your help or you are seriously concerned that somebody is at imminent risk of injury. There’s no room for a big ego in a busy gym.

Decency in the locker room, ya’ll. Ladies, you all seem to have this on lock, but guys, we have heard too many nasty stories. Just try to remember that the locker room is a shared space and not your personal bathroom.

As you can see, it all just boils down to being aware of the people around you and showing some respect. Easy peasy. Now, go attack your fitness and start strong in 2017

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The basics of weight lifting

“I want to start lifting weights, but I have no idea where to start.”

I hear this all the time. Squats and bench press and those dumbbells look intimidating and nobody wants to embarrass themselves. I get it!

But, they are actually the simplest and most versatile things in the gym. You just need to know a few things to get started safely and successfully, so here are the basics for beginning weight lifting.

1. Balance the Bar – Anytime you use a barbell, you must balance the weight on both sides of the bar. If you put a 25-pound plate on one side, you need to put a 25-pound plate on the other side. That’s it. Pretty simple. You don’t want to try to lift a bar that’s unbalanced. That’s the stuff serious injuries and accidents are made of.

2. Use the Collars – To keep the weights secure on your barbell, you always want to use a collar on each side. This is especially important as a beginner because you may be a little wobbly until you get familiar with the lifts and develop the strength needed to move the weight in a steady and controlled fashion. Here is what collars look like:

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Credit: BeBodySmart.com

 

Notice the collar is snug against the plate. It is distracting when you’re weights are moving around on your bar and can be dangerous if they slide out too far, so push those collars all the way to the weight. Unfortunately, these things seem to be notorious for disappearing, so you may need to go looking on another piece of equipment for them, but do what you have to do to find a pair and use them!

3. Always lift equal weight when using dumbbells – So your left bicep is not as strong as your right. What to do? Some beginners make the mistake of using a lighter weight with their weaker arm, so they’ll curl a 20-pound dumbbell in one hand and a 15 in the other. Never do this. This will only keep your weaker side lagging behind. You really want to bring it up to speed, so lift the same weight with each arm. If your left arm can’t pull that 20 pound dumbbell, then go with a pair of 15s (or whatever weight you can lift) and let your arms gain strength together. Same goes for any other muscle group.

4. Always, always engage your core – Draw your navel into your spine, hold a slight arch in your back, slightly bend those knees and don’t let that stance go until you finish your set. An engaged core is your best tool for preventing injury and for ensuring good form and technique, meaning you won’t throw out your back by letting your body swing back and forth with every rep and the muscle you intend to exercise will actually do the work!

5. Ask for a spot when attempting a heavy lift – Beginners should always start light when starting a weight-lifting routine to get their form worked out, but if you’re ready to go for a heavy lift, ask for a spot. This simply means asking another gym-goer, or the friend you came with, to be available to support you during the lift. A spotter gives you just enough assistance to successfully finish the lift. For instance, if you are doing a dumbbell shoulder press, a spotter would stand behind you and when it appears you are unable to lift the dumbbells all the way through, the spotter would help push your wrists up just enough for you to be able to complete the rep. It’s an easy job and most any gym-goer will be willing to assist you.

Now that you know the basics of weight lifting, go ahead and get in there! You’ve got nothing to lose and all kinds of gains awaiting you!