Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

What’s your fitness personality?

May 23, 2017

Understanding your personality can help you succeed in many areas of your life — work, relationships and even fitness.

Physical activity is an expression of personal choices and comfort. Health and fitness goals are easier to achieve when they align with your personality. Identifying and participating in activities you enjoy makes it easier to achieve your goals. Performing activities you don’t enjoy is difficult, if not impossible, over the long term.

According to the American Council on Exercise, fitness personality types can be sorted into four groups: planners, go-getters, social butterflies and adventurers.

The planner: This fitness personality type leans towards what’s familiar. You know whether or not you’re a morning person or evening person. You plan your exercise routine around not only time, but also what you know. You might attend the same group exercise class. You might be more reserved about the way you approach fitness. Handling change doesn’t come easy. You might also enjoy being left alone when you go to the gym. You have a favorite familiar cardio machine, listen to your own music and perhaps go through the same workout day after day.  

The go-getter: If you fall into this category, you welcome change and are first in line to try something new. You might compete with others. But most of all, you compete Quick read more or view full article with yourself. You’re disciplined and motivated. You thrive on personal improvement. If you fall into this fitness personal group, you might enjoy taking high-intensity group exercise classes or working with a personal trainer.

The social butterfly: The social butterfly is just that – social. You want to be around friends, visit and have fun.  Exercise is part of your life. Your gym activities definitely include group exercise and perhaps small group training. You’re an extrovert and radiate positive energy to those around you.  

The adventurer: If you’re an adventurer, your willing to try anything at least once. Signing up for challenge events and obstacle courses wouldn’t be out of the norm. Neither would taking Zumba or kickboxing classes. You have confidence. This fitness personality doesn’t mind change, loves variety and thinks outside the box. 

One fitness personality the American Council on Exercise didn’t mention is the true introvert. According to Michael Scott Scudder, a well-known fitness counsultant, this type is often overlooked. If you’re an introvert, you might be hesitant to go to a health club. Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t come easily. You might have a difficult time asking for assistance or seeking out motivation and instruction. If this is you, know that health club professionals will work with you at your pace to discover activities that fit your personality.

So, do one of these fitness personalities fit you? Limiting the complexities of personality to only a few categories is a bit constrictive. Many people fall into more than one type. Some days you might feel a little more adventuresome or social than other days. 

Lifestyle changes, age and other factors all play into our feelings about fitness. Your overall natural tendencies don’t change, however. Find a fitness routine that fits you. By taking into consideration your personality, it’s easier to achieve your health and fitness goals. Participating in activities you enjoy and fit your lifestyle is the key.

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Put your heart into fitness with cardio

April 18, 2017

 It’s no secret: To stay healthy, we must get our bodies moving every day. Movement strengthens our muscles, including our heart. Did you know the heart is the only muscle that never stops working?   

Cardiovascular exercise keeps the heart strong. Learning what cardio exercise is and why it’s important is the first step. From there, you can explore ways of getting cardio exercise in the gym and some tips on making your experience the most enjoyable and beneficial it can be.

Simply put, cardio is exercise that raises your heart rate. When you think of going for a run or walking up and down stairs, you’re performing cardio exercise. The stronger your cardiovascular system becomes, the more capillaries you have delivering oxygen to the cells in your muscles, where those cells can then burn more fat.  

A strong cardiovascular system means more than just weight loss. Cardio exercises strengthen the heart and lungs, increase bone density, reduce stress, enhance sleep and reduce the risk of heart disease. The list goes on. Most importantly, cardio exercises will enable your body to function more efficiently in your daily life.

Cardio exercise should be personalized to fit you. Begin by finding your target heart rate. This will give you a starting point to Quick read more or view full article make sure your workout is not only beneficial, but also safe.
To calculate your maximum heart rate, use the following formula:  220 minus your age equals your maximum heart rate. To calculate your target heart rate multiply your maximum heart rate by 55 percent and 85 percent. That gives you the range you’ll find the most beneficial for your workout.   

A heart rate monitor offers an important tool to help you track your exact heart rate throughout your workout. It can record the amount of time you exercise in your zone and how many calories you burn. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, buy one.

Cardio exercise can be done inside and outside. It’s a personal preference and both offer advantages. Cardio equipment in a health club is designed specifically for exercise. Each machine is designed to imitate your body’s natural movements. Understanding what each machine does will help you decide which one works best for your body and your goals. Ideally, it will be a combination of a few of them.  

Start with the treadmill. It simulates walking or running.  This machine has both incline and speed adjustments. By increasing the incline of the bed of the treadmill, you’ll feel as though you’re walking uphill. This will also increase your heart rate because it’s more difficult. Try to use the handle for balance only, not to support yourself. When you use the treadmill without holding on, you’re engaging your core muscles to stay balanced.

An elliptical machine is a non-impact form of exercise. This cardio machine is a good alternative for people who have joint or back issues. This machine can provide upper and lower body strengthening and conditioning. You can set the resistance for a harder workout as well as the cross ramp for an increased incline. 

The recumbent bike is a beneficial cardio machine. It works the gluteal muscles. This bike allows you to change the level of resistance. Other cardio machines include the Stairmaster that simulates climbing stairs, the AMT machine that can vary from stepping to running with stride length and the rowing machine that offers a great cardio intensity workout.

Cardio exercise is one of the four cornerstones of exercise, and one of the most important.  There are various ways to increase your heart rate. Choose one that best suits your body and fitness goals. By choosing exercises you enjoy, you’ll be more apt to consistently do them. The benefits of cardio exercise far exceed just weight loss.

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Posted by Paula Reece
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Yoga benefits body and mind

February 22, 2017

Yoga is all about learning to balance life with calmness and positive thinking. Yoga means “to join or yoke together” the body and mind into one experience.

Yoga dates back more than 5,000 years and combines three main areas: breathing, exercise and meditation. Breathing techniques are based on the concept breathing is the source of life in your body. Exercises put pressure on glandular systems and promote health and well-being. Through meditation, practitioners learn how to quiet their minds and heal from the stresses of life.

There are more than 100 schools of yoga.  The most common type and one most people associate with is Hatha yoga. This is an easy to learn form of yoga that combines physical movements and postures with breathing techniques.  

Another type is Bikram Yoga that includes muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular flexibility and weight loss. This type of yoga is performed in a room headed to 95 to 105 degrees. The heat promotes flexibility and detoxification while preventing injuries. Warm yoga is similar, but in a warm rather than hot environment.

Power yoga combines stretching, strength training and meditative breathing. Many of the poses resemble such basic calisthenics as push-ups, handstands and side bends. The pace of this type of yoga is faster, with each move flowing into the next without pausing.

Although there are many Quick read more or view full article more forms of yoga, these give you an idea of what’s available. Many instructors incorporate different forms of yoga into one class.

Most adults with varying degrees of abilities can practice yoga. There are some advanced classes that aren’t suitable for people with physical limitations from injuries or pregnant women.  Always check first with your doctor before engaging in an exercise program. However, there are special classes that incorporate yoga into a workout with modifications. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and always listen to your own body.

 In taking your first yoga class, you can expect to enter a low-light room with soft music. You should wear comfortable clothing. You don’t need special shoes — most people are barefoot. You’ll have a mat and such props as bands, block and blankets. Your instructor will tell you when and how to use these. At the end of each yoga class, most teachers bring their hands together in front of their hearts, bow their heads and say “namaste.” Students bring their hands together and respond in kind. Namaste means “I bow to the divine in you.”

Yoga offers numerous benefits, including improved breathing, flexibility, posture and strength. Many people worry they’re too old or unfit for yoga. In fact, you’re never too old to improve flexibility. Yoga not only stretches your muscles, but also the soft tissues of your body, including ligaments and tendons. Nearly all of the poses in yoga build core strength in the abdominal muscles. With this stronger core strength comes better posture. You also become more aware of your posture in daily activities. Most forms of yoga concentrate on breathing. Learning to deepen or lengthen your breath will stimulate relaxation. Yoga also improves mood and concentration.

People have told me they want exciting and fun group exercise classes, not a class that’s quiet and serious. Is yoga serious? It’s serious in this way: It requires concentration and practice to stretch your muscles, focus on your breath and clear your mind. 

If you’re already a “yogi,” you understand all this. If you’re not, hopefully I’ve answered some of your questions about yoga.   Challenge yourself to try a few classes for a couple weeks and see if you experience some of the amazing benefits. Namaste.

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Fitness equipment or health club? Consider options carefully

January 24, 2017

It’s a new year and you want to get fit. Losing weight and eating right are at the top of your to-do list for 2017. But you’re also wondering on how the fitness piece is going to fit into your new healthy lifestyle puzzle.  

As with any project — especially one as important as your health — it’s imperative to carefully weigh your options. Will you purchase home fitness equipment and do it on your own or join a local fitness facility? It’s important to not only consider the pros and cons, but also your personality. The key to success is finding ways to incorporate your fitness routine into your life and remain committed. Asking some simple question could help you decide what’s best for you. How much do you want to spend?  How will you stay motivated to continue on your fitness path? Does your plan take into account  all the cornerstones of fitness?

Many retailers offer special deals on home fitness equipment at the beginning of the year. Finding equipment that will help you achieve your fitness goals is the first step. If you want to walk,  run or simply improve your cardiovascular conditioning, you might want to consider a treadmill. There are many cardiovascular exercise machines on the market, and each one offers unique features. There are so Quick read more or view full article many new-fangled fitness items you can buy that claim to target one specific body area. Remember the Suzanne Somers ThighMaster? Beware, though, of infomercials that claim, “This machine will do it all.”   

There are pros to home fitness equipment. On days when weather could be a detriment to getting to the gym, home equipment makes it easy to exercise. Home equipment can be convenient to use. Some people also like the idea of working out alone. But this can be a negative factor as well. Unless you’re good at motivating yourself, that newly purchased piece of fitness equipment could become an expensive dust collector or clothes hanger.  

And unless you purchase numerous piece of fitness equipment, weights and accessories, you might not be able to have the variety needed to combine all the aspects of fitness: cardiovascular, flexibility and strength.  

Meanwhile, there are many advantages to joining a local fitness facility. Variety tops the list. Cardio machines include treadmills, elliptical trainers, recumbent bikes, rowers, arc trainers and many more that track calories burned, distance and heart rate.

There’s also a variety of options from which to choose in building strength, including circuit weights, free weights, kettlebells and plate-loaded strength equipment.

Consider, too, the variety of group exercise classes available at a local facility, whether it’s yoga or Pilates to increase flexibility; strength classes using weights, such as Chisel and BodyPump; or cardio classes that include Kick-It, CIZE and cycling to get your heart pumping. There are also classes for different age groups and fitness levels. 

The most important factor of all to consider, though, is the relationship you establish with a local facility. When you join a health club, you gain an opportunity to meet other fitness enthusiasts. The staff, trainers and instructors are all there for  you. Because of their education, experience and passion for fitness, coaches become cheerleaders who inspire you each and every day to make you successful.

Whether you choose to buy home fitness equipment, join a health club or a combination of both, the most important thing is to make sure you exercise. Make time for yourself. Make living a healthy lifestyle a priority. Be healthy. Be happy.

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This year, set goals — not resolutions

December 20, 2016

We’re approaching a new year and the overwhelming tradition of resolutions. Jan. 1 of every year has become that day when we make our lists and proclaim this will be the year we change our lives for the better. Losing weight, breaking bad habits and saving money usually top the lists.  

Will your New Year’s list look like last year’s list? For most of us, it will be very similar. So why are New Year’s resolutions unsuccessful? Simply put, it’s because there’s no plan to follow.   

This year, don’t call it a New Year’s resolution list. Call it your goals list. The reason I encourage the change is this: Goals work. Goals mean action. Goals involve a plan. 

Most of us make a list for the grocery store or errands to run or create an agenda for a meeting. These activities have one thing in common — they detail what needs to be done and how we intend to do it. Whether you realize it or not, you set goals each day whether they’re written down on paper or compiled in a mental list in your head.

When you write your goal list for 2017, begin by asking yourself some basic questions. Why do you want to achieve these goals. How will it change your life if you do? 

The second step is Quick read more or view full article to prioritize the items according to what’s most important to you. Limiting a goal list to only a few items you’re really serious about will make it easier to devote the time and attention needed to make you successful.

Take one item at a time and turn it into a goal. Try using the SMART system when writing your goals:

Beginning with “S,” make your goal specific. You might write down your top goal is to “lose weight.” How much? 

The “M” stands for measurable. You have to be able to measure your progress. 

The “A” stands for attainable. Divide a big goal into smaller goals. Remember the joke about how to eat an elephant? The punch line: One bite at a time.

The “R” stands for reasonable. Many people set unrealistic goals. Create a goal you can actually see yourself completing.

Last but not least, the “T” stands for timely. Goals take time to achieve. You need to know how much time you’re willing to spend to achieve your goal. Most importantly, give yourself a timeline of when you want to achieve it.

Another important factor in realizing your New Year’s goals is accountability. Decide ahead of time each week what you plan to do. Take two group exercises classes, attend a strength-training class or exercise with a buddy, for example. Tell someone who’s close to you about your plan, then ask for help in keeping you on track.

Setting goals that follow the SMART plan and holding yourself accountable will lead to success. Planning and commitment make the difference between realizing the goals you want to achieve to enhance your life or waiting until January 2018 and putting the same items back on your list. Challenge yourself to set goals this year, not resolutions.

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