Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

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 things.  Say yes to meeting new friends.  Quick read more or view full article 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 rate by 55 percent and 85 percent. This Quick read more or view full article 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 invented by David Weck and includes an inflated Quick read more or view full article 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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Where do you turn for fitness information?

November 21, 2018

There are so many ways to learn about fitness. From Facebook to gaming systems and fitness videos to personal trainers, new information becomes available on a daily basis. It’s difficult for consumers to know where to turn for the information that’s most beneficial to them given their lifestyles, health, technological skills and fitness goals.

The internet offers a wealth of information, including fitness tips and recipes. Questions can be answered in seconds. It can be tricky, though, deciding what’s legitimate and what’s a sales tactic. One website might tout a cabbage soup diet that will enable you to lose 30 pounds in a month without exercise. Another site might  tell you stretching before a workout is harmful. Someone without a background in health and fitness might not know what to believe. The internet can constitute a valuable tool, but one with the risk of also conveying inaccurate information.

One of the latest fitness trends is the sale and use of gaming systems for fitness entertainment. I agree making fitness fun is a dream come true. The intention of these sports and exercise games is to get people moving. They might not provide a strenuous workout or generate the same results as running or lifting weights, but can get coach potato gamers off the coach. This goes back to figuring out Quick read more or view full article what you want to accomplish in your quest for fitness information.  

Although the next trend isn’t new, it’s one of the fastest growing and that’s the plethora of fitness apps on the market. It’s an amazing concept: you can join in such extreme workouts from your living room. Each class is led by an instructor, so you don’t have to wonder what you’re going to do for exercise that day. The idea revolves around a one-time purchase or monthly contract fee and the convenience of your own home. The pros are there are some people who are self-motivated and disciplined enough an app fitness routine works for them. They’ll exercise even when they don’t feel like it. The cons of these programs are most people aren’t that way. It’s easy to abandon a home fitness program, just like home fitness equipment that doubles as a clothes hanger because it’s never used. Without scheduled workouts and someone to help motivate you, this option is difficult for many to consistently follow.

Health clubs offer the services of personal trainers. Many trainers have studied exercise, health and nutrition in college and hold certified personal training certificates. Taking the time to find a trainer who fits your needs takes some research as well.  Whether you’re looking for someone who specializes in a certain sport or deals with injuries, finding the right trainer for you is important.  Trainers are experts in their fields, but also motivate you and hold you accountable. They are great for jump-starting a fitness program or becoming a part of your fitness lifestyle.

While it’s nice having so many options, sifting through all the information about fitness can be difficult. The best source of information is all about what works best for you, not necessarily what’s the easiest. 

Here’s something else to consider: Statistics show people who exercise in a group are more successful in sticking to their fitness programs than those who go it alone. Personally, I find nothing replaces social interaction and relationships when working towards fitness goals.

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Take steps to boost your metabolism

August 22, 2018

Why is it some people seem to remain thin no matter what they eat? They’re the ones you see in the restaurant eating a huge hamburger and fries while you use your smartphone to count the calories in your chicken breast and veggies and wonder why you can’t lose those extra 10 pounds. Metabolism could be the reason.

Put in simple terms, metabolism is how your body converts the food you eat into fuel and how efficiently your body uses that fuel. The rate your body burns that fuel (or calories) is directly related to losing or gaining weight.   

 There are certain factors that affect your metabolism you can’t change. One of them is your age. Your metabolism rate naturally begins to slow after age 40 — a little reminder from your body you’re no longer a youngster and need to start caring for your body in different ways.  Another factor is your gender. Men generally burn more calories at rest than women. Such other factors as heredity or medical problems also can influence the rate your body burns calories. Although we might remain unable to change some things, the good news is there are things we can do improve our metabolism rate.

One of the best ways to boost your metabolism is exercise, including both cardiovascular exercises and strength training. Such Quick read more or view full article cardiovascular exercises as running or biking burn many calories. While you might not burn as many calories with strength training, your body continues to burn calories long after your workout has ended. 

This is important to know because muscle burns more calories than fat — a lot more. Every pound of muscle in our bodies can burn more than 30 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns only two to three calories a day. If you include strength training into your workouts, your muscles will work hard for you all day long. 

Another way to improve your metabolism is through nutrition. You might be relieved to learn so-called “crash” dieting is NOT the answer. When you deprive your body of food, your metabolism slows down, causing the reverse effect. Then when you do eat, your body will hang onto those calories as if it were starving.

Most of us have attempted a diet that was unsuccessful. Chances are it didn’t work because our bodies weren’t supplied with enough nutrients to function normally. Then when we did eat — or cheat, as we probably called it — 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 going.   

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. Protein-rich foods include turkey, fish, nuts, beans and eggs. Spice up your dishes with red pepper flakes. The chemical compound in spicy foods can temporarily increase your metabolism. And don’t forget to include water in your daily routine. Your body needs to hydration to properly use the calories you consume.  

Many factors influence the rate at which your body burns calories, including age, gender and genetics. It’s easy to blame those extra pounds on factors you can’t change. But this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a slow metabolism. By exercising, building muscles and changing your eating habits, you can speed up the rate your body burns calories. The benefits will be evident not only in the way you feel, but also on the scale.

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