Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

Follow these timely tips to keep fit this fall

October 22, 2019

Fall can be a season when exercise routines waiver. It’s no longer summer, but not yet winter. It’s too cold to continue with many of the summer activities you enjoy. You could even become a little blue with the realization summer and your favorite activities are over for a while. Still, fall brings with it many other opportunities.

Here are five tips to help 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 from which to choose — like mountain biking and hiking — there’s no reason not to get out and enjoy the scenery and vibrant colors. Go exploring. Hike a new trail. Visit a park. Raking leaves or getting in some yard work offer great ways 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 clothing. Learning the 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. But then as your body warms, you could feel overdressed. Follow the three-layer rule. The first layer next to Quick read more or view full article your skin should be made of a moisture-wicking fabric, often called DriFit. This fabric keeps moisture away from 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 experience the winter blues as the weather cools and days shorten. Although it’s tempting when waking up in the dark, don’t hit the snooze button on the alarm. With less sunlight, you might want to increase consumption of Vitamin D. Eat foods rich in this vitamin, such as fish, egg yolks and mushrooms. Remember, too: Exercise releases endorphins that enhance your mood and feelings of happiness.

Watch the treats. It’s estimated the average American gains between 5 pounds and 9 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day. Halloween is a time when you stockpile bags of candy for the one evening when a few trick-or-treaters come to your door. The day after, the leftover candy constitutes a sugar source that promotes unhealthy eating habits. Remember that Halloween is just one day.

Plan 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 yourself for exercise, sleep, nutrition and organization will make the busy season more manageable. Eat right and buy healthy snacks. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll start after the new year. This is really saying you’ll find an excuse no matter the time of year. There will always be birthdays, parties and other special events.

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

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Health clubs offer healthy options

September 25, 2019

There are many ways to improve health and fitness, but exercise tops every list. Health clubs offer a healthy option as a place to exercise. Clubs aren’t the only option, however. Other options include exercising outdoors or using your own exercise equipment at home. The best option might be to combine all three. 

Whether you’re joining for the first time or joined health clubs in the past, many factors are involved in making 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, at a different stage in life and face personal obstacles to overcome. Define before joining a health club your obstacles, goals and expectations. What’s important to you? 

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

What about the 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 exercising. Look around and see if you can relate to the other members. Asking members why they belong to a club could be a helpful, especially if you ask those who’ve been members for a long time.

Knowing what to expect after you sign on the dotted line is important. Is there a free introductory program that will help you become acquainted with your new fitness home? A brief tour of the club isn’t sufficient to 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 indicate the club takes pride in its facilities and maintenance is important. If you’re a runner, make sure there are high-quality, runner-specific treadmills available. If you like to stretch, make sure the carpeting is padded and clean. 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 group exercise schedule for classes. Get to know the instructors and personal trainers along with their credentials and teaching styles. Take the time to watch a small group training session or group exercise class.   

Choose a club that offers educational pieces, including 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 come together, you’ll be on your way to developing a successful relationship with your club and healthy lifestyle.

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Say yes to living a more positive life

May 22, 2019

When I think about positivity, I think about how important that approach has become in my life. 

I’ve learned being positive is not the absence of things going wrong. No matter how positive you are, things will still go wrong, cause conflict and upset you. What I’ve learned is being positive gives you a different way to look at things, other people and events. The more your attitude remains positive during not-so-perfect times, the easier it becomes to remain positive in your everyday life.
Have you ever noticed if you go into the grocery store on a bad day, it seems like everyone around you is crabby, too? Attitudes are contagious. I was taught from a young age to remain nice to the people in which I came in contact even if they weren’t nice to me. Mom always said, “You don’t know what challenges they might be facing.” I’ve always remembered that.

It helps keep my attitude in check.  

How do you go about thinking positively? Consider the word yes. This little word is mighty.  
We’re often asked to do something we might not have time to take on — or don’t know how to do and risk failure. Eric Schmidt,  the former chairman of Google, said: “Find a way to say yes to Quick read more or view full article things.  Say yes to meeting new friends.  Say yes to learning a new language, picking up a new sport.  Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means you will do something new, meet someone new and make a difference in your life and likely in others’ lives as well.”

Saying yes to do something for ourselves seems to be the hardest. Why is it we don’t take time to put ourselves, our health and our happiness first? I’ve found this true, especially in my life and career of reaching out to others who don’t yet realize the importance of health and fitness. Not knowing how to exercise can make getting started scary. But making exercise a part of your life comes with high rewards.  

Using the word yes can do so much for us. It becomes an action word. Yes starts conversations. It can open doors and opportunities.  Yes takes commitment and work. The best part is you get to decide what things and opportunities you want to take on. Keep in mind not everything that comes your way is something to which you want to say yes. Don’t say yes to things unless they improve your life. Don’t say yes to things that keep you from saying yes to the things that really matter.
Here are some ideas to help you live a more positive life:

Practice being grateful for something in your life every day. It’s important to remain grateful for not only all the good stuff, big and little, but also the struggles that strengthen us. 

Use positive self-talk. We need to be our own best cheerleaders in life. It starts in the morning, when you first look in the mirror. Say something nice.  

Remember your attitude — good or bad — is contagious.

Say yes to being positive.

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Get moving with cardio exercises

March 20, 2019

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

Learning what cardiovascular 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 enjoyable and beneficial.

Simply put, cardio exercise increases your heart rate. When you run or walk 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 these cells burn more fat.  

A strong cardiovascular system means more than just weight loss, though. Cardio exercises strengthen the heart and lungs, reduce the risk of heart disease, increase bone density, lower stress and improve sleep. Most important, cardio makes your body more efficient in day-to-day living.  

Cardio exercise should be personalized to fit you. Begin by finding your target heart rate. This will give you a starting point to make sure your workouts are not only beneficial, but also safe.  To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. To find your target heart rate, multiply your maximum heart Quick read more or view full article rate by 55 percent and 85 percent. This range is most beneficial.
 If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, buy one. A monitor tracks your heart rate throughout your workout. A monitor records the amount of time you exercised in your zone and how many calories you burned. 

Cardio exercise can be performed inside and outside. It’s a personal preference and both have 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 meeting your goals. Ideally, it will be a combination of machines.  

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 feel as though you’re walking uphill. This will also increase your heart rate. Use the handles for balance only, not support. When you use the treadmill without holding on, you engage your core muscles to stay balanced.
An elliptical machine provides a non-impact form of exercise.  This cardio machine offers a good alternative for people with 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 constitutes another beneficial cardio machine. It works the gluteal muscles. This bike allows you to change the level of resistance.   

Still other cardio machines include the Stairmaster that simulates climbing stairs and Adaptive Motion Trainer machine that can vary from stepping to running. The rowing machine offers a great cardio intensity workout as well. 

Cardio exercise is just one of the four cornerstones of exercise, but one of the most important. There are many 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 likely to stick with them. 

The benefits of cardio exercise far exceed just weight loss.

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Ready for a good workout? Then play ball

December 19, 2018

Fitness ball workouts are becoming increasingly popular — and for good reason. If you’re looking for an exercise that will challenge you, consider a workout using one of the many different types of fitness balls.  

There are traditional stability balls and BOSU balls as well as such weighted balls as medicine, slam or wall balls. Each ball has unique characteristics and specific uses.

Stability balls come in various sizes and are made of a soft rubber that are inflated.  They’re used to strengthen and tone, particularly the core muscles. It’s important to find a ball that fits so it can be used effectively.  They range in size from 30 centimeters in diameter for children up to 75 centimeters in diameter for taller adults.

One thing that makes stability balls so popular is they can be used both in the gym and at home — and even in the office as a desk chair. Physical therapists also use stability balls for rehabilitation.  Some exercises that can be performed using stability balls include ab crunches, back extensions and elbow planks. A trainer can demonstrate how to do a full body workout using a stability ball.

Have you ever seen the funny looking balls that look like they’ve been cut in half? This is called a BOSU ball. It was Quick read more or view full article invented by David Weck and includes an inflated rubber side attached to a ridged platform. BOSU stands for “both sides utilized” since different exercises can be performed on each side. BOSU balls often are used for balance training.  

You’ll also find a variety of weighted balls in a health club setting, including medicine balls, slam balls and wall balls.
Medicine balls come in a variety of sizes ranging from small to large with corresponding weights. Medicine balls have been used since ancient times to improve strength and muscular power.  Medicine balls can be used in a range of poses and exercises that strengthen every part of the body — from lifting to rotating.

A slam ball is a weighted sphere designed for throwing exercises. Slam balls are available in different sizes and weights. The shell is made of a tough rubber that can handle the impact of being thrown down on a hard surface. Use a slam ball to develop power, strength and speed. Abs and core specifically benefit. Exercises using a slam ball will increase heart rate, making it a great exercise for burning calories. An example of using a slam ball is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Then just slam the ball to the ground, pick it back up and repeat.  

A wall ball is similar to a slam ball, but used by throwing the ball up onto a wall and catching it on the way down into a squat.  This movement works the upper body on the throw and the lower body on the catch and squat as well as the entire core. This exercise also is good for cardio and gets the heart pumping.

It’s no wonder why fitness balls have become so popular. If you’re ready for the challenge, find the type, size and weight and then play ball.

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