Crossroads Fitness Blog

Take a step — 10,000 a day, in fact — to fitness

September 20, 2016

Of the many physical activities that improve our health, walking constitutes one of the most beneficial. Nearly everyone regardless of age or fitness level can participate in this simple exercise and enjoy the benefits of maintaining weight, improving heart health and enhancing mental wellbeing. Moreover, people tend to stick with walking, making it a life-long fitness choice. 

We’ve all heard that walking 10,000 steps a day is the goal. You might wonder where that figure comes from. Research indicates that isn’t a magic number, but rather a good indicator of how much activity a person achieves in a day. An inactive person takes about 3,000 steps or less per day, while 10,000 steps is equivalent to about 5 miles of walking.

Unless you work in a very active job, you probably won’t get that many steps in a day. To reach that goal of 10,000 steps, you’ll need to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes a day, the minimum daily recommendation by health authorities. So 10,000 steps offers a simple way to measure movement.

You can measure your steps in a variety of ways. Many smart phones now have the capability to measure your activity if you have your phone with you. Pedometers also measure steps and come with a variety of options that not only measure steps, but also distance and calories burned. Fitness Quick read more or view full article bands offer the latest in technology to measure steps. Most of them are wrist bands that sync to a phone app and include many features to help you in your fitness journey.

Keep in mind you don’t need to measure your steps to be successful. The most beneficial aspect of measuring your steps is that you gain information. Being able to set a goal and track progress toward that goal is what’s really valuable.

There are many ways to get your daily steps in. Go for a walk, hike or run. Attending an exercise class will boost your step count quickly. Try a dance class or any other cardio-type class. You can even get steps taking a water class. If your step counter isn’t waterproof, you can count on an average of 2,500 steps during a one-hour class.  

Other ways to gain a few extra steps is to park away from your destination, take the stairs or take your dog for a walk. Without even knowing it, you’re increasing your step count and reaping the benefits. To increase your heart rate, boost your metabolism and burn more calories, try increasing the intensity of your efforts by walking on an incline or quickening your pace.  

 Another reason walking is an excellent exercise that’s easy to do and stick with is you don’t need a lot of special equipment.  All you need is a positive attitude and a good pair of sneakers and you’re on your way.

It all starts with a single step. Are you ready to step in and step up?

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Health clubs offer healthy option for exercise

December 17, 2013
Looking forward to a new year almost always prompts reflection. Weight loss and a healthy lifestyle could make your list of resolutions again this year.   

There are many ways to improve health, but exercise tops the chart. Health clubs are a healthy option, but not the only option. Alternatives include exercising outdoors or having your own home equipment. The best option could be to combine all three.

Whether you’re joining a health club for the first time or have joined clubs in the past, many factors that come into play to make your decision a successful one.  Joining a health club won’t make you fit. What you do when you get there is what’s important.

Here are some essential factors to consider in making your health club choice.

Everyone is at a different point in their fitness journey, a different stage in life and have personal obstacles to overcome. The first decision needs to be made before you enter a health club. Define your expectations and obstacles and decide what’s important.

Choose a club that makes you feel comfortable the minute you walk in. Take into consideration the friendliness of the staff and other members, the music and smells. Can you picture yourself there? Maintaining a consistent exercise program is a difficult task. If you don’t enjoy spending time at the club, your chances of a success will diminish. A health club should be more than just a building with exercise equipment. You need to Quick read more or view full article create a relationship with your club.

The other members constitute another important factor.  Look around when you tour a club and see if you can relate to the other members. Take a tour of the club at the same time you plan to use it. This will give you an idea of the type of members with whom you’ll be working out.  Ask members why they belong to the club, especially those who’ve belonged for a long time. 

Know what to expect after you sign on the dotted line. Is there a free introductory program that will help you get acquainted with your new fitness home? A brief tour of the club alone won’t get you started on the right foot. You should feel comfortable knowing what you plan to do on your first visit. 

There should be a variety of equipment options. Equipment should be clean and in working order. This will tell you the club takes pride in its facilities and maintenance is important. If you’re a runner, make sure the club offers high-quality, runner-specific treadmills. If you like to stretch, make sure the carpet is padded and clean. In fact, make sure everything is touchable.  

Variety in a club will not only add value to your membership, but also keep you motivated. Check out the schedule for group exercise classes. Learn who the instructors and personal trainers are as well as their credentials and teaching styles. Take time to watch a group exercise class or small group training session.

Choose a club that offers educational pieces, such as beginning classes, newsletters, seminars and workshops. The more you learn, the more engaged you’ll become.

Making a health club decision is an important one.  You need to find value, comfort, motivation and education.  When all these pieces are combined, you’ll be on your way to creating a successful relationship with your club and a healthy lifestyle.Looking forward to a new year almost always prompts reflection. Weight loss and a healthy lifestyle could make your list of resolutions again this year.   

There are many ways to improve health, but exercise tops the chart. Health clubs are a healthy option, but not the only option. Alternatives include exercising outdoors or having your own home equipment. The best option could be to combine all three.
Whether you’re joining a health club for the first time or have joined clubs in the past, many factors that come into play to make your decision a successful one.  Joining a health club won’t make you fit. What you do when you get there is what’s important.
Here are some essential factors to consider in making your health club choice.

Everyone is at a different point in their fitness journey, a different stage in life and have personal obstacles to overcome. The first decision needs to be made before you enter a health club. Define your expectations and obstacles and decide what’s important.

Choose a club that makes you feel comfortable the minute you walk in. Take into consideration the friendliness of the staff and other members, the music and smells. Can you picture yourself there? Maintaining a consistent exercise program is a difficult task. If you don’t enjoy spending time at the club, your chances of a success will diminish. A health club should be more than just a building with exercise equipment. You need to create a relationship with your club.

The other members constitute another important factor.  Look around when you tour a club and see if you can relate to the other members. Take a tour of the club at the same time you plan to use it. This will give you an idea of the type of members with whom you’ll be working out.  Ask members why they belong to the club, especially those who’ve belonged for a long time. 

Know what to expect after you sign on the dotted line. Is there a free introductory program that will help you get acquainted with your new fitness home? A brief tour of the club alone won’t get you started on the right foot. You should feel comfortable knowing what you plan to do on your first visit. 

There should be a variety of equipment options. Equipment should be clean and in working order. This will tell you the club takes pride in its facilities and maintenance is important. If you’re a runner, make sure the club offers high-quality, runner-specific treadmills. If you like to stretch, make sure the carpet is padded and clean. In fact, make sure everything is touchable.  

Variety in a club will not only add value to your membership, but also keep you motivated. Check out the schedule for group exercise classes. Learn who the instructors and personal trainers are as well as their credentials and teaching styles. Take time to watch a group exercise class or small group training session.

Choose a club that offers educational pieces, such as beginning classes, newsletters, seminars and workshops. The more you learn, the more engaged you’ll become.

Making a health club decision is an important one.  You need to find value, comfort, motivation and education.  When all these pieces are combined, you’ll be on your way to creating a successful relationship with your club and a healthy lifestyle.
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Exercise helps win fight with fatigue

August 27, 2013
Everyone knows what it’s like to feel tired. Fatigue is our body’s way of telling us it’s time for rest. With work, meetings deadlines and children, however, it’s easy to ignore these signs and power down another coffee or energy drink.

These quick fixes don’t overcome the need for rest, they merely subdue the symptoms for a brief time. The feeling of fatigue comes naturally, as your body will do the work and let you know. Depriving your body of its required rest will leave you with symptoms that are not only unhealthy, but also unproductive.

Sure, you can resist the urge to sleep to accommodate your busy lifestyle for a short time. Staying up late and getting up early are easy habits to start. But you could find you’re actually accomplishing less. Studies show adults need six to eight hours of sound sleep a day. Without this necessary allotment, the human brain and body don’t function to their full abilities. Work becomes complacent, family time scarce and workout regimens nonexistent.

While they sound like contradictory impulses, exercise will improve your overall fight against fatigue. According to researcher Patrick O’Connor, “More than 90 percent of the studies showed the same thing. Sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to groups that did not exercise. It is a very consistent effect.”

When you find yourself in the middle of a fatigue battle, move. If you can’t make it to the gym, do Quick read more or view full article something to release those endorphins. Complete a series of jumping jacks or go for a brisk walk at the very least. Moving will keep you going. The best choice is to set aside a time in your day just for physical training. Whatever your fitness level, start doing something.

You are what you eat. If you hurriedly scarf down a fast food burger and fries every day for lunch, your body will treat you as such. If you prepare meals ahead of time that consist of all the food groups, you’ll have more time to enjoy the nutrients you’re giving yourself. Your body works hard for you all day, give it the essential things it needs and it will provide the energy you need.
To become the productive, family oriented, present individual to which you aspire, make yourself a priority. Ensure your six to eight hours of sleep each night, eat regular healthy meals and commit to 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. You’ll stay focused on tasks and enjoy the life you live with the people that matter most to you.  Read Less
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Healthy living leads to healthy rewards

April 24, 2013
It’s been said we’re a society that loves to be rewarded. We want to be rewarded for everything. Whether it’s credit card rewards, fuel points or discounts, positive reinforcements motivate us in making purchasing decisions. 
 
But let’s talk about rewards of a different sort, those you could achieve from leading a healthy lifestyle.  

First decide what your wants, needs and goals look like. Everyone’s list will be different. These rewards can motivate you to participate in an activity. Some rewards are instantaneous, like washing your car, while others are long term, such as studying hard for years to earn a degree. 
 
One way to view the things you do is to look at the benefits and rewards first and then decide how you’ll achieve them. You might want to participate in water sports. It’s important, then, to first learn to swim.  

Think about all the choices we make in which we’re unaware of the rewards we receive. These are habits, and many habits are instilled in us at a very young age. 

Consider creating awareness in the family in which children understand that leading a healthy lifestyle through food, exercise, hygiene and safety is a choice. You could benefit from putting some kind of reward system in place in your own family setting.

Decide how this will work for your family. Make it a game. This teaches the family there’s a goal, rules and accountability. Your family could make Quick read more or view full article a reward chart for each member.  You could have such categories as exercise, chores, food and school work. Each member of the family works towards a reward each week or each month. Maybe it’s praise for work well done, a family retreat to the park or getting ice cream.

Healthy living rewards are numerous. Exercise is one of the best examples of action followed by reward that anyone can do for themselves. By exercising, you’re taking care of your body inside and out through strength, cardiovascular and flexibility training. The reward is not something that can be bought. It only comes to those who make it happen.

Healthy living is more than just exercising, though. It’s taking care of you — all of you. Not everyone loves going to the dentist, but everyone loves a great smile. A dazzling white smile is a reward of care. Eating a healthy diet, brushing and flossing your teeth every day and visiting the dentist for routine cleanings and check ups all lead to healthy dental hygiene that will reward you for many years.

The outcomes of some activities are the reward — good grades, fresh produce from the garden or a clean house. But what about when you lose your first 5 pounds, quit smoking or save money? All these things come with rewards. It’s okay to tell yourself “good job” and reward yourself with something that’s meaningful to you. Maybe it’s a new pair of jeans, a good book or a massage.

None of the things we do or want just happen. They’re a reward of effort. By making choices that lead you closer to your goals, you’ll reap the benefits that leading a healthy lifestyle provides. 

A healthy and fit body is an amazing reward, wouldn’t you agree?
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Put the weight-loss pieces together

February 21, 2013
Your New Year’s resolutions very likely included weight loss. It all sounded so easy on Jan. 1. You were so excited, committed and motivated. Now, weeks later, some of the excitement has worn off. Even with the best plans, weight loss constitutes a difficult endeavor for everyone. So how do you stay on the right path to fulfill your goal?

Keep in mind that weight loss is a multi-faceted goal. That’s what makes it so difficult. You get set in your ways, and making changes can be tough. Successful weight loss involves nutrition, exercise, motivation, time and a specific mind set.  Here are some tips to help you in each area:

Nutrition goes hand in hand with weight loss. It’s your fuel for everything you do. In simple terms, if you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. Although it’s not actually that simple, try to think of it as “good” choices versus “bad” choices. Choosing to eat an apple is a better choice than eating a cookie. Be sure to drink plenty of water.  Sometimes you’re just thirsty rather than hungry. Eating several small meals a day will help prevent becoming so hungry you snack and binge. The best tip of all?  Be careful of mindless eating — eating while on the telephone, in front of the television or in your car. Those are the calories that add up. Instead, take the time to enjoy the foods you’re eating.

The exercise portion not only Quick read more or view full article aids in weight loss, but also the numerous health benefits. Strive for a cardio workout to raise your heart rate. This strengthens your heart and burns calories. By adding strength training to your exercise regime, you’ll gain muscle. Remember that muscle burns many more calories than fat. Not only will you be burn more calories, but you’ll also become more toned and look better. 

Creating your goal was the easy part. Sticking to it is the hard part. Staying motivated EVERY DAY can be a challenge.  Try a few of these tips to help keep you engaged. Consider weighing yourself once week and making a log of your progress. Tell others close to you what you goal is and share your ups and downs with them. This will help keep you accountable. Write down a motivational quote every week and put it on your mirror where you can see it daily. Keep that goal in front of you. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Weight loss is a time-consuming process. That’s why it is important to plan out your weekly meals in advance. Shop and cook on the weekends to prepare for your week. Write down your exercise classes and workout times in your daily planner. Schedule them as if they’re an appointment you can’t miss. Make time for yourself. This goal is important to you, so make it happen. You make time for what’s important.

Reaching your weight-loss goal is a mindset. You’re the only one who knows how important it is to you. The reasons behind your weight-loss goal are unique to you. Maybe it’s your self-image, a special event or health issue. Make sure you remind yourself everyday why you’re doing this.

By putting all the pieces together, you’ll be successful not only in losing weight, but also creating a healthy lifestyle that will stick with you for life.
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Posted by Paula Reece
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Include the four cornerstones in your fitness plan

January 23, 2013
Achieving a healthy and fit lifestyle involves more than just a few minutes of exercise here and there. A complete and balanced fitness plan includes four elements considered the cornerstones of fitness: cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and nutrition. When you incorporate all these elements into your fitness plan, you’re on your way to success.
Cardiovascular exercise: Cardiovascular exercise simply means you’re performing an activity that raises your heart rate. Cardio exercise is important. It not only strengthens your heart, but it’s also one way to burn calories and help you lose weight. Another benefit of cardio exercise is that it increases your lung capacity. It helps reduce your risk of heart attack, high blood pressure and diabetes. It releases endorphins into your system to help your mood and makes you feel better. It aids in better sleep and reduces stress. Some ways to achieve cardiovascular exercise include cardio machines, playing racquetball, brisk walking and dancing.
Strength training: Strength training is an important part of an exercise plan. With a regular strength training program, you’ll increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently.  You naturally lose muscle mass with age. If you don’t replace the lean muscle you lose, your body fat eventually increases. You might hear people say they don’t lose weight the way they used to. Strength training is essential at any age. It helps you develop strong bones.  It reduces your risk of injury. It can help reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, Quick read more or view full article back pain, osteoporosis and diabetes. Did you know that a single pound of muscle burns between 30 to 50 calories a day as compared to a single pound of fat that only burns two to three calories a day? Some ideas for strength training include lifting weights; attending a group exercise class that includes weights, such as a BodyPump class; and functional fitness training that uses just your own body weight.
Flexibility and mind and body exercise: Flexibility is important because having flexible muscles allows your body to move easily. When your muscles and joints are able to have full range of motion, you have fewer limitations to your activities.  Reaching, bending and twisting are all movements made possible by flexibility in your muscles. Flexibility also helps maintain good posture. Stretching is often the most overlooked part of an exercise routine, but one of the most important. By stretching after a workout, you minimize muscle soreness. You can achieve flexibility a number of ways:  taking yoga or Pilates classes, using stretching machines or simply stretching on the floor.
Nutrition: The best laid exercise plans won’t be successful without a nutrition plan.  The fuel you put in your body is just that — fuel. Remember the old adage, “You are what you eat?”  Everything you eat and drink is part of your nutrition.  Nutrition is usually referred to as your eating and drinking lifestyle habits.  Keeping a daily food log is the first step to eating correctly.  Knowing exactly what you’re eating each day will help pinpoint the areas that are working and those areas that need improvement. This is so important, especially if weight loss is the goal. Healthy, natural foods should be the base of your diet and nutrition program.
Understanding and implementing the four components to a complete health plan is essential. Refer to it as a box. You need all four corners to make the box complete. After you create your box, watch and see what amazing things can happen. This box will become you: complete, strong, fit and happy.
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Posted by Paula Reece
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Fall a fine time for fun and fitness

October 24, 2012
As the seasons change, it’s no longer summer, but not yet winter. Fall can be a time when exercise routines can waiver. It becomes too cold to continue with many of the summer activities you enjoy. You might even get a little blue realizing summer has come to an end and your favorite activities are over for awhile. But fall brings with it many other opportunities.

Here are a few tips to keep you active and ready to embrace this beautiful season:

Take it outside: Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the beautiful Grand Valley. With so many options to choose from — like mountain biking and hiking — there’s no reason not to get out and enjoy the scenery of vibrant colors.

Go exploring. Hike a new trail or visit a park. Raking leaves or doing some fall outdoor yard work is a great way to get the heart pumping, Spending time out in nature and the fresh air does wonders for your mind as well as your body.

Layer your fall clothing: Learning proper fundamentals of layering for fall and winter activities can mean the difference between comfort and misery. It’s important to layer while exercising in chilly weather. You might feel cold at first. Then, as your body warms up, you might feel overdressed.

Follow the three-layer rule. The first layer next to your skin should be made of a moisture-wicking fabric, often called DriFit. This fabric wicks moisture away from Quick read more or view full article your skin so you don’t feel wet and cold.  The second layer should be a warmth layer and the third layer a protective layer, such as a windbreaker or something water resistant depending on the weather. Don’t forget your sunglasses.

Don’t be blue: Many of us get the winter blues as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter.  It might be tempting when waking up in the dark to hit the snooze button on the alarm, but don’t. With less sunlight, you might want to avoid the blues with increased Vitamin D.  Eat foods rich in this vitamin, such as fish, egg yolks and mushrooms.

Remember that exercise releases endorphins that enhance a good mood and feelings of happiness.

Watch the treats: By some estimates, the average American gains between 5 and 9 pounds during the holiday season that begins at Halloween and continues through New Year’s Day.

Halloween is a time when you stockpile bags of candy from the store for the one evening when a few trick-or-treaters could come to your door.  The day after, leftover candy offers the kids a sugar source that will surely fuel unhealthy eating habits into the holidays.

Then, people just put off losing weight until their new year’s resolutions. Remember that Halloween is just one day.

Plan ahead for the holidays: Take out a calendar early. Like now. Mark off time for exercise each day. Schedule a little exercise between things on busy days — 10 minutes is better than nothing.

Keep your goals in mind throughout the holiday season. The time you allow for yourself through exercise, sleep, nutrition and organization will make the busy season more manageable.

Remember to eat right and buy healthy snacks.  Don’t fall into the trap of “I’ll start after the new year.”  This is really saying you’ll find an excuse no matter what time of the year. There’ll always be birthdays, parties and special events.

Enjoy the change of seasons. Fall is a perfect time to keep fitness routines on track. Instead of using the cooler weather as an excuse not to exercise, try using it as an excuse to exercise. Read Less

Yoga combines peace, power & the positive

September 2, 2012
 Learning to balance life, with calmness and positive thinking is what yoga is all about. Yoga means “to join or yoke together” the body and mind into one experience.  Practicing Yoga dates back over 5,000 years. It combines three main areas: breathing, exercise and meditation.
    Breathing techniques are taught on the concept that breathing is the source of life in your body. The exercises in yoga are designed to put pressure on the glandular systems and promote total body health and well being.  The meditation part is learning how to quiet your mind. This silent time is to help heal from the outside stresses of life.
    There are over 100 different schools of yoga. The most common type and the one that 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 95-105 degree environment. This promotes flexibility, detoxification and prevention of injuries. Warm Yoga is a similar type, but in a warm environment, not so extreme in temperature.
            Power Yoga is a practice that combines stretching, strength training and meditative breathing. Many of the poses resemble basic calisthenics, such as push-ups, handstands and side bends.  The pace of this type of yoga is much faster. Each move flows into the next without pausing. Although there are Quick read more or view full article many more forms of yoga, these give you an idea of what is available. Many instructors will use different forms of yoga incorporated into one class.
            Yoga can be practiced by most adults with varying degrees of abilities. There are some advanced classes that are not suitable for people with physical limitations from injuries or pregnant women. Always ask your doctor before engaging in an exercise program; however, there are special classes that incorporate yoga into a work-out with modifications. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and always listen to your own body.
            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; actually, most people are barefoot. You will have a mat, and props, such bands, blocks, and blankets. Your instructor will tell you how and when you may use these.    
            At the end of each yoga class most teachers bring their hands together in front of the heart, bow their head and say “Namaste” and the students bring their hands together and respond back. The definition of Namaste is “I bow to you”.
            The benefits to practicing yoga are numerous. Some benefits include flexibility, strength, posture, and improved breathing. Many people will say that they are too old or unfit for yoga. The truth is, you are never too old to improve flexibility. It stretches not only 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 has mood and concentration benefits.
            I’ve had people tell me that they want fun and exciting group exercise classes — not one that is quiet and serious. Is yoga serious?  It really is.  It’s serious in this way.  Taking concentration to stretch your muscles, focus on your breath and clear your mind.  It’s harder than one might think, and it does take practice.
            If you are already a “yogi” then you understand all this. If you’re not, hopefully this helped answer some of the questions you may have had about yoga. Challenge yourself to try a few classes for a couple weeks and see if you don’t feel what amazing qualities you can attain from this form of exercise. Namaste!    Read Less
Posted by Paula Reece
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What has you thinking about spring?

April 25, 2012
What do you think of when you think of spring?  I asked a number of people to say three things that came to mind when they were asked this question.  Some of the answers include:  backyard barbeques, hiking, flowers, warm weather, spring house cleaning, vacation, golfing, and the list went on.  So what did I think of?  I usually include many of these in my answer but this year is different. I have had to step back after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer last summer. 

   As a feature columnist for health & wellness, I decided to write my column from a different perspective this month.  I’m not going to tell you the importance of exercise and healthy eating.  We already know that, right?  I have been asked many times how this experience has changed me.  It has indeed changed me physically, but more importantly, it has changed the way I view things.  Instead of resisting change, I now embrace it.

     Spring is a time of change.  It is a time of renewal. It’s a time to enjoy outdoor activities.  Living in the Grand Valley, our “backyard” is filled with opportunities.  I am amazed how many things there are to experience.  Spring is the perfect time to think about all our senses and how we can embrace this season of change.

            Think about sight!  The grass is getting greener, the trees are filling with leaves and the sky is blue.  The Colorado National Monument stands Quick read more or view full article proud, as the Book Cliffs and Grand Mesa outline our city.  Watch some evening as the sun sets and how beautiful these formations look constantly changing with the lowering sun.

            Listen to the birds!  Listen to children laughing! Ask how someone is doing and really listen to their answer.  The art of practicing yoga or meditation allows your mind to focus on your senses.  We live in such a hurried, over stimulated world it can be hard to teach your mind to slow down.  Spring is a perfect time to stop and listen.

            Feeling my head as my hair is beginning to grow back is honestly not something I EVER thought I would feel.  Pet your dog! Put your hand in the cool water of a stream. Walk barefoot through the grass. Hug someone you love!

            Our sense of smell is heightened in the spring with the blooming buds, plants and flowers.  The calming effect from lavender is my favorite. Savor the smell of a home cooked meal.  Enjoy the fresh scent after a rain shower.

            Patiently awaiting the arrival of fresh fruits and vegetables, I can almost taste them!  Biting into a fresh peach or cob of corn is worth the wait.  I remember helping my grandparents with their huge garden in Wyoming.  At the time I thought it was so much work.  Now, it’s a cherished memory.  Take the time to enjoy every bite of your next meal.  Be grateful.

            As the seasons change, we move from winter to spring.  With that change comes about changes in weather, activities, plans and priorities.  Take the time to think about your life and what is important to you.  Embrace the change of seasons by taking the time to become aware of your senses. What does spring means to you? Read Less
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The benefits of healthy employees

March 30, 2012
Corporate wellness” is the new buzz phrase.  It isn’t a new concept, but one that has moved into the forefront in the minds of many businesses today.   Since health care costs continue to sky rocket and the economy remains challenging, business owners and managers are being forced to look at all costs related to their number one asset – their employees!

The benefits of fit employees are numerous for both the employer and the employee. There are many benefits from a monetary stand point such as the fit employee is less likely to get sick.  Reduced absenteeism and reduced health care expenditures top the list.

Other benefits include having employees with more energy.  This energy allows the employee to stay focused at work.  A healthy and fit employee also tends to have a higher level of self-confidence in themselves and inspires confidence in others around them.  Employees, who know how to set fitness goals and stay motivated to exercise, will also be goal-oriented at work.   Leading a life with a good attitude and less stress is also a benefit of a healthy and fit employee.

How does an employer go about a wellness program? When looking for a company wellness program, look for one that is more than just a gym membership.  Employees come in all shapes and sizes, and most importantly different fitness levels.  Because of this fact, it is important to find a wellness program that takes this into consideration. Employees need to feel comfortable Quick read more or view full article and not intimidated.  They need a place to go where there is someone who will help to guide them into fitness, teach them goal-setting, nutrition, exercise and how to create a road map for success.

In addition, the wellness program should offer education to the employer and the employee. It is not only learning wellness at work and in the gym, but taking that education into their home life.  This will help create an actual lifestyle change.

Whether the company wellness plan is paid for by the employer, employee or they share the cost, there needs to be some kind of commitment.  Often times when the wellness program or fitness membership is completely free with no guidelines, it is difficult to hold the employee accountable. When there is no accountability, the programs are often viewed as not being valuable, therefore fail. The key to any wellness program is involvement.  The way to get healthy and fit is to participate.

We all want our employees to enjoy their work environment, and to bring the best of themselves to their jobs every day. Encouraging our employees to embrace fitness as a lifestyle choice pays off in numerous ways!  Read Less
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Dream on, but with a good night's sleep

February 25, 2012
When did sleep become such an important health issue facing so many people? I don’t remember a time as a child when I couldn’t sleep. I do remember not wanting to go to bed, like most children, but actually climbing in bed and not being ABLE to sleep – it didn’t happen. I didn’t lay there staring at the ceiling with a list of things that I didn’t get done that day. I’m not sure when it changed, but that cloud of thoughts now lingers above my head. It includes not only what I didn’t get done today, but also, what needs to be done tomorrow.

There are many reasons why you may not be sleeping well. Stress may top the list for many people.

Sleep is so important to the well-being of your body and mind. Without it, you are unable to concentrate on your work and you can become irritable and fatigued.  The feeling of being rested and fresh gives the world the “best you.”

There are so many things you can do to help insure you a good night’s rest. One way is to create a “sleep hygiene”, which is a routine that you do each night before bed. It prepares your body and mind for a good night’s rest.  Part of this routine is to make your sleeping environment comfortable. Be aware of the temperature of the room and the lighting, keeping in mind that this is where you wind down. Balancing your Quick read more or view full article checkbook or even watching television should not be done in bed as it causes you to be alert. Pet lovers may even consider having pets sleep in another room. Although I do not take my own advice on this one; my snoring golden retriever does affect my sleep.

Other parts of your nightly sleep hygiene can include wearing comfortable pajamas, brushing your teeth and washing your face.  Anything you do to prepare your body and mind for sleep will help you to unwind.  “You need to be able to shut down your mind and clear your thoughts.” suggests Crossroads Fitness Yoga Instructor Rhyssa Ferris, during one of her relaxation and restoration workshops, “There are distractions all around you. Learning to concentrate on your breathing and not letting your mind wander will help.”

There are other tips to help beat insomnia that may require changing your lifestyle and some of your behaviors in order to sleep better. Try to wake up at the same time each day. This consistency will help your body begin to know when it’s time to sleep. Another tip is to avoid consuming stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. Also, some medications can cause a restless night’s sleep. In addition, eating and drinking right before going to bed activates the digestive system and can keep you up.

Another remedy for insomnia is exercise.  By exercising regularly, you can improve your sleep, both in quality and duration. It is important to exercise at least three hours before you plan to sleep. Engaging in Yoga or other mind and body exercises can also teach you relaxation techniques that can be practiced when trying to improve your sleep habits.

Most adults need seven to eight hours a night of quality sleep. It’s during that time that we relax and rejuvenate our bodies. Sleep is so important for your health and well-being, your concentration and your mood. By trying to improve your sleep hygiene and creating healthy habits, you will be sleeping soundly in no time. Your “to-do” list will wait until morning! Read Less
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Finding comfort in your health club choice

December 21, 2011
 Going places where we are familiar, doing things that come easy, being around that someone special with whom you can totally be yourself – All forms of comfort! So when you think of comfort, do you think of a health club? Honestly, walking into a gym or health club for the first time can be intimidating. 
            When you are looking for a health club home there are many factors you may consider to help you choose the right one.   There are obvious reasons such as location and amenities.  Let’s also consider some of the “not so obvious” ones:  what they represent, programs they offer, and the member experience.
            One idea is to do a little homework before you go into a health club.  Call them ahead of time and see how you are greeted.  A friendly and knowledgeable voice which invites you to come to their business leaves a positive impression.  Check the website and see what they offer.
            Location is important to many people, but not always the most important.  If the club is too far away from home or work, you may find yourself using the “excuse card” and not going.  The amenities need to fit your activities and lifestyle.  Amenities may include weights, group exercise, pool, racquetball, locker rooms and /or childcare.  Make sure that the club has what you currently like to do or need in a health club.  Extra amenities are nice, so you have the option to try something new!
            Quick read more or view full article Try it first.  Before making a commitment, see if it feels right to you. Find a health club that offers a “free” trial or a money-back guarantee policy.  Then, actually go in and work out a couple times.  By actually using the club, you can tell how well it is maintained and cleaned.  Ask yourself if everything is touchable?
            One of the most important pieces of advice – Meet the members!  Nothing tells you more about a place than the people who are there using it.  Moms who take their little ones to the Kid’s Club are very careful with whom they leave their kids.  Ask the person next to you on a cardio machine about their member experience.
            Your member experience begins with the first phone call. The salesperson should be concerned about YOU and your wants & needs.  Not everyone joins a health club for the same reason.  If you are new to exercise, see if the club offers an orientation program to get you started.   Maybe you want to hire a personal trainer.  Ask for trainer bios, certifications and training specialties.  Finding the right match for you will help in your success.
            Our members tell us what’s important to them.  They find comfort in coming to a place numerous times a week to find their favorite activity in a clean environment.  Hearing their name when they walk in the door, visiting with friends, getting motivated & energized by a workout from an instructor who really cares about their needs, is what it’s all about.  Choosing a health club where you feel at home, becomes familiar, fits your needs, where you are welcomed – that’s comfort! Read Less
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Maximize Your Metabolism

November 22, 2011
Why is it that some people seem to stay thin no matter what they eat?  They are the ones you see eating a huge hamburger and fries, as you sit across the restaurant putting your chicken breast and veggies in your phone calorie counter and wondering why you can’t lose those extra ten pounds.  Your metabolism may be the reason.

Metabolism, put in simple terms, is how your body converts the food you eat into fuel and how efficiently your body uses that fuel.   The rate that your body burns that fuel (or calories) is directly related to losing or gaining weight.   Ah-ha, so we can blame our metabolism for those extra ten pounds!

It is true that there are certain factors that control your metabolism that you can’t change.   One of them is your age.  Your metabolism rate naturally begins to slow down after age 40; a little reminder from your body that you are no longer a youngster and need to start caring for your body in a few different ways.  Another factor is your gender.  Men generally burn more calories at rest than women. Being a woman, this seems slightly unfair. There are other factors including heredity or medical problems that can influence the rate that your body burns calories.  Although we may be unable to change some things, the good news is that there are things we can do improve our metabolism rate.

Among the best ways to boost your metabolism is exercise!  Quick read more or view full article It is important to combine both cardiovascular exercise and strength training to your regimen.  Cardiovascular exercise, such as running or biking, can burn many calories.  While strength training may not burn as many calories during your workout as cardiovascular exercise, your body continues to burn calories long after your work-out is over.  This is important to know because muscle burns more calories than fat – a lot more!  According to Crossroads Fitness Personal Trainer, Jess Cassinari, “Every pound of muscle in our bodies can burn over 30 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns only 2-3 calories a day.” If you include strength training into your workouts regularly, your muscles will work hard for you all day long.

Nutrition is another way to improve your metabolism.  You will be happy to know that “crash” dieting is NOT the answer.  Actually, when you deprive your body of food, your metabolism slows down causing the reverse effect.  When you do eat, your body will hang on to those calories, as your body is functioning as if it’s starving.  Most of us have attempted a diet that was unsuccessful. Chances are it didn’t work because our bodies were not supplied with enough nutrients to function normally. Then when we did eat (or cheat, as we probably referred to it as) we probably overindulged. Don’t cut yourself short on the fuel that keeps you moving.  Your best bet is to eat more often.  Eating small, nutritious meals more frequently will help keep your metabolism awake.  

Here are some additional nutrition tips that can help increase the rate of your body’s metabolism.  Add a little more protein to your diet.  Your body uses more calories to digest protein than it does digesting carbohydrates.   Some sources of protein rich foods include turkey, fish, nuts, beans and eggs.   Another tip is to spice up your dishes with red pepper flakes.  The chemical compound in spicy food can increase your metabolism temporarily.   Don’t forget to include water in your daily routine.  Your body needs to be hydrated to properly use the calories you consume. 

There are many factors that influence the rate in which your body burns calories such as gender, age, and genetics. It is easy to blame those extra pounds on factors you can’t change, however this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a slow metabolism.  Knowing that by changing your eating habits, exercising and building muscles, you can speed up the rate that your body burns calories.  The benefits will show not only on how you feel, but on the scale as well.
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