Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

Variety spices up fitness routines

November 20, 2019

It’s been said variety is the spice of life. There’s some truth to the adage. You get stuck in your daily routine and complete many tasks without thinking too much about them. You eat at the same time, go to work at the same time and take out the garbage on the same day.  

Now, think about your fitness routine. Are you doing the same exercises, going to the same class, walking on the same treadmill or lifting the same weight for every workout?  Maybe it’s time to change that routine.

When it comes to fitness, adding a little spice could turn what’s been boring into something more exciting and motivating.   Sometimes you hear the words “change” or “different” and associate them with “new” and “uncomfortable.” Being creatures of habit, it’s okay to like your comfort zone with familiar surroundings, people and activities. 

Although doing exactly the same thing over and over might be comforting, it also could have drawbacks.  Without variety, things can get pretty boring. It’s important to spice it up a bit. 

Consider, for example, cross training. Cross training is simply combining two or more types of physical activities and offers one way to create the change you might need.  

There are numerous benefits to adding cross training to your fitness routine. First and foremost is motivation. Keeping interested Quick read more or view full article and motivated to exercise is an important piece. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it. 

Cross training can help you burn more calories by exercising regularly and using different muscle groups. You reduce the risk of injury by doing a variety of exercises — performing a high-impact sport like running one day followed by a yoga or Pilates class the next day, for example.

It’s simple to create a varied exercise program. Plan a complete workout that includes the three areas of physical activity:  cardiovascular, strength and flexibility. Under each area, write down the activities you like to do or would like to try. Some activities fit under more than one area. 

Cardiovascular activities include jumping rope, riding a bike, running and walking the dog. Activities that build strength include everything from lifting weights and push-ups to yard work. Activities that promote flexibility include stretching and yoga.

Changing a routine can be beneficial in not only reducing boredom, but also increasing fitness. Our bodies are adaptive and grow accustomed to an exercise. It becomes difficult to make changes in our bodies once they’ve adapted to a specific fitness routine. Because of this adaptive nature, it’s important to keep our bodies guessing and mixing up the exercises we perform.

How do you go about changing up your workouts? Try something new. Often times we get our minds set on what we think we can do instead of what we really could do if we tried. If there’s a favorite exercise machine you use often and don’t want to give up, try changing the intensity, speed or grade. By gradually changing how hard you work, you’ll keep your workout challenging. Remember, though: When changing up your workout routine, don’t hesitate to ask for help.  

Once you choose your activities, schedule them. Allow for variety and flexibility. Experiment with different activities to find out what really interests you. Continue to enjoy your favorite activities, but challenge yourself to try something new. Spice it up.

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Add cross training to make your fitness routine anything but

April 24, 2018

It’s been said variety is the spice of life, and there’s some truth to that statement. We get into daily routines and complete many of our tasks without thinking about them. We go to work at the same time, eat at the same time and take out the garbage on pickup day.

Routines can be a good thing in many situations. But what about your fitness routine? Are you doing the same exercises, going to the same class, walking on the same treadmill or lifting the same weights? Maybe it’s time to change that routine. 

With fitness, adding a little spice could make boring more exciting and motivating. Sometimes you hear “change” or “different” and associate that with “new” and “uncomfortable.” As creatures of habit, it’s OK to like your comfort zone and its familiar surroundings, people and activities.  

Although doing the same thing over and over might be comforting, it has drawbacks. Without variety, things can get pretty boring. With fitness, it’s important to spice it up a bit.  

Let me introduce you to cross training, which combines two or more types of physical activities. 

There are numerous benefits to adding cross training to your fitness routine. First and foremost is the motivational piece. Keeping interested and motivated to exercise is important. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you Quick read more or view full article won’t do it. Cross training also can help you burn more calories by using different muscle groups. Plus, you reduce the chance of injury by doing a variety of exercises —  participating in a high-impact activity like running one day, followed by a yoga or Pilates class the next day.

It’s simple to create a varied exercise program. Plan a workout that includes the three areas of physical activity: cardiovascular, strength and flexibility. Under each area, write down what activities you like to do or want to try. Some activities fit under more than one area. Cardiovascular activities include running, jumping rope, riding a bike or even walking the dog. Strength training can include everything from push-ups to lifting weights to yard work. Flexibility activities include stretching or yoga.

Changing a fitness routine can be beneficial in more ways than just eliminating boredom. It can help improve your fitness level. Our bodies are adaptive and get used to an exercise routine. It becomes difficult to make changes in our bodies once they’ve adapted to a specific fitness routine. It’s important to keep our bodies guessing and mixing up the exercises we perform.

How do we change our workouts? Try something new. If there’s a favorite exercise machine you use often and don’t want to give it up, try changing the intensity, speed or grade. By gradually changing how hard you work, you’ll keep your workout challenging and not routine. Remember, when changing up your workout routine, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Once you choose your activities, plan them into your week.  Allow for variety and flexibility. Experiment with different activities to find what really interests you.  Continue to enjoy your favorite activities, but challenge yourself to try something new. Go ahead: spice it up.

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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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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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Follow five tips for fall fitness

October 19, 2016

Fall can be a season when exercise routines waiver. 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 has ended 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 or visit a park. Raking leaves or getting in some 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 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 Quick read more or view full article overdressed. Follow the three-layer rule. Your first layer next to your skin should be made of a moisture-wicking fabric, often called DriFit. This fabric wicks 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 alarm. With less sunlight you may want to increase your consumption of Vitamin D. Eat foods rich in this vitamin, such as fish, egg yolks and mushrooms. Remember, too, that 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 during the holiday season between Halloween and New Year.  Halloween is a time when you stockpile bags of candy from the store for the one evening when a few trick-or-treaters might come to your door. The day after, there’s leftover candy and the kids have a sugar source that will fuel unhealthy eating habits into the holidays. Then, people put off losing weight until after New Year’s. Remember: 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. Remember to 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 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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Row, row, row your way to fitness

April 26, 2016

What if you could find a piece of exercise equipment that burns calories to help you lose weight, strengthens and tones muscles and provides a great cardiovascular workout —  a total body workout, in fact. 

There is such a piece of equipment — a rowing machine. Just a few years ago, rowing machines could be found near the back wall in health clubs and you never saw anyone using them. Why the change in popularity?  The secret of it’s amazing benefits have been revealed.

Actually the biggest reason why people don’t just hop on a rowing machine placed in a health club cardio room is simple: They don’t know how to use it.  Almost anyone can figure out how to walk on the belt of a treadmill or pedal a recumbent bicycle. A rowing machine takes a little more finesse, but you’ve got this.

Let’s go over the benefits for choosing a rowing machine for your workout, learning basic rowing techniques and avoiding common mistakes and ways you can start rowing today.

Since rowing constitutes a non-impact exercise, it’s easy on the back and joints, making it an excellent form of exercise for older fitness enthusiasts. Rowing burns substantial calories, making it a great tool for weight loss. Since rowing is an endurance exercise, there are cardiovascular benefits, including improved lung, heart and circulation systems.   

Since Quick read more or view full article rowing uses almost every major muscle group in the body, stronger toned muscles are another benefit. Rowing works both the upper body (shoulders, arms and back) and lower body muscles (legs, hips and buttocks) with each stroke. It’s also a performance abdominal exercise since the core stays engaged throughout the exercise. 

Learning proper rowing technique might not be as difficult as it seems.  According to Concept2, a maker of rowing machines, there’s a four-step process to the rowing stroke:

  • The catch: This is your starting position where your legs are compressed, arms extended and you’re gripping the handle. 
  • The drive: Focus on pushing with the legs first, next pivoting backward at the hips so your shoulders pass your pelvis (you should be in a slight lay back) and then pulling the arms into your chest.  
  • The finish: This is where the abs stabilize the body and the glutes and quads are contracting as well as the biceps and back muscles. 
  • The recovery: This is the final stage where the arms are pushed away from the body and the torso moves forward as you slide up to the catch position.

Some of the most common rowing technique mistakes are to row only with your arms or hunching your back during the stroke.  It takes practice to get the technique sequence down and create a smooth stroke. 

“This sequential engagement of the kinetic chain is the natural sequence in which muscles are supposed to engage for efficient, safe and effective movement,” said Allen Russell, a personal trainer at Crossroads Fitness who has an extensive background in biomechanical performance. “The rowing machine provides an excellent evaluation tool in order to better provide quality training which will improve overall performance and function of my clients.”    

There are many ways to incorporate rowing into your exercise routine. It can be performed as a warmup prior to a strength training class or as a cooldown. You might choose to row during a high-intensity interval training program in which you engage in short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by short periods of slower-paced rowing. You might incorporate rowing as your primary cardiovascular workout as you would exercise on a stationary bike or treadmill. 

Rowing machines are used by cardiac rehabilitation patients to Olympic athletes and everyone in between. Because of the wide range of health benefits associated with rowing, you might consider making rowing part of your lifelong fitness routine.

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What’s your reason for working out?

March 29, 2016

There are many reasons people work out, but finding the reason you work out is what really matters. The benefits of daily exercise and a healthy lifestyle are numerous. But why should you exercise? What’s important to you?

There’s an underlying reason, so take a moment to find out what that reason is for you. Once you have it in your mind, it’s much easier to work out because you have a reason to do so. After working for years in the fitness industry, I’ve discovered each person has his or her own reasons to live a healthy lifestyle each and every day. 

Here are some reasons with which you might be able to identify. Maybe one of these reasons fits you now or perhaps one will inspire you:

You’ll feel less stress. Life is full of stressful situations, from family to work and everything in between. Schedule your workout time so you don’t miss out. Take a mind and body class, such as yoga or Pilates. Pull in a deep breath and stretch tall. Don’t you feel better already?

You’ll make healthier food choices. It’s so true, especially if you exercise first thing in the morning. Knowing you’ve already exercised, you’ll want to continue your great start to the day. It’s much easier to make bad food choices if you haven’t taken the Quick read more or view full article time to exercise. 

You’ll become stronger. By exercising today, you’ll be one day closer to the stronger, amazing person you’ve always wanted to be. Tone your muscles with strength training. Begin by lifting light weights and build up.   

You’ll burn more calories. The key to any weight loss program is to burn more calories than you consume. Exercise in a variety of forms will allow you to burn more calories and, in turn, burn off pounds. By exercising, you’ll continue to burn calories for the day, long after your workout is over. 

You’ll feel happier. Exercise releases endorphins that help you feel happier. Exercise to your favorite music or take your pet for a walk. Smile as you burn those calories.  

You’ll feel more confident. Confidence comes from a variety of sources. When you feel and look your best, you naturally become more confident. Exercise, flexibility and a strong core all help to improve your balance and posture. So walk tall with your head held high. Smile in the knowledge you’re taking good care of yourself. This can’t help but radiate both inwards to yourself and outwards to others.

You’ll become more motivated. By exercising today, you’ll feel more motivated than ever to accomplish both your fitness and personal goals. Once you start seeing and feeling what exercise can do, there’ll be no stopping you.

You’ll become more mentally alert. Whether you’re studying for a class or focusing on your job, exercise helps to clear your mind and gives you more energy. Numerous studies have evaluated what contributes to workplace wellness, and the results repeatedly show employees who exercise are not only more alert, but also more productive.

Do something for you today. This is probably one of the most important reasons of all to exercise. Combine this reason with other reasons if you’d prefer, but do it for you. The funny thing about exercise is that it doesn’t matter who you are, no one can do it for you.  

So find your reason to work out and then do it. Nothing can get in your way when you decide what’s best for you and your health.

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Fitness Trends for 2016

December 15, 2015
Every year the American College of Sports Medicine creates a list of what’s hot in the fitness industry for the coming year.  As with any business, trends are designed by the people who use the products and services.  What’s great about the fitness industry is that it not only gives new ideas on staying healthy and fit, but also adds a little variety that we can all incorporate into our lives.
A little history about fitness trends – they become an evolution.  Some ideas that are a century old have come back because the basic principals were good ideas the first time.  As we all know, the human body is still created the same.   Although, technology, physiology and education have grown by leaps and bounds, the basic need for movement has not changed.
Keep in mind the differences between a fitness fad and a fitness trend.  A trend is “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving, whereas a fad is a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period.” according the ACSM.  Remember the Thigh-Master®?  This is a great example of a fitness fad.  (I think I have one of those in the basement somewhere.)
Let’s get on with the results.  The fitness trends for 2016? Drum roll, please.  The number one trend is Wearable Technology.  This includes devices such as fitness bands, heart rate monitors and GPS Trackers.  The newest wearable technology is Quick read more or view full article the smart watch.  The reason these have taken the fitness world by storm, is that they provide immediate feedback.  This form of recording activity helps the user become more aware of their current fitness level and can help to motivate them to achieve their own fitness goals.    Another reason for being rated number one is in the fact that it can be worn by anyone at any fitness level. 
Body Weight Training came in at number two on the list, dropping from its number one spot last year.  Speaking of evolution, the basic principal is not new.  Using our own body-weight to create an effective workout goes back to the basics.  Think of the familiar exercises such as push-ups, lunges and squats and you are thinking about body weight training.   These types of exercises require little to no equipment and can be incorporated into many different types of workouts.   
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is ranked third.  This type of workout involves short bursts of exercise followed by a short period of recovery.  HIIT Training provides a dynamic workout with many health benefits and is performed in a short session, usually less than 30 minutes.  
 The next four fitness trends involve a personal trainer and / or strength training.  Hiring a certified personal trainer or other experienced fitness professional is on the rise.   Strength training is one of the main components of a fitness program.  The others are cardio and flexibility.  By working out with a trainer, you get not only the benefits of strength training, but an educated coach that is preparing a workout program to fit you and your needs, personally.  Functional fitness is also a trend that uses strength training and emphases balance and the movements required for daily living.
Other areas that made top spots for 2016 include weight loss, Yoga, and age appropriate fitness for older adults.
This list gives you the knowledge of what’s available to you.  Whether you are looking for a fitness facility or just getting starting in your fitness journey, it provides you options.  The number one goal of providing this information is for you to keep moving.  Whether it is a fitness fad, a studied trend or something new, finding fitness that you enjoy is the key.   Read Less
Posted by Paula Reece
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