Feeling Drained? 5 Ways to Improve Your Energy this Fall

What if you could have more energy than just what it takes to make it through the day? If you often wake up tired and immediately start counting the hours until your day is over, it’s time to try something new to increase your energy levels and improve your lifestyle.

  1. Eat breakfast: A healthy breakfast gives your body the energy it needs to start the day. They key to getting the most out of your breakfast is avoiding the sugar trap that comes with most prepackaged, convenient breakfasts like cereal, pop-tarts, and frozen pastries. Avoid sugar and artificial ingredients and strive to make your breakfast a healthy meal of real food. Filling your breakfast plate with vegetables prevents the energy-sabotaging blood sugar crash that sugary breakfasts create. Vegetables also require less energy of your digestive system, leaving you with more energy early. Add plenty of veggies to an omelet or throw istock-6733508081502999821spinach and an apple into a breakfast smoothie to fill up and get out the door with more energy to spare.
  2. A morning exercise routine is a great way to get your energy levels up before your workday even starts. FitClub has early morning hours, of course, but also group exercise classes and lap swim times. If that’s just not in the cards for you, though, just adding movement to your mornings and mid-afternoons can give you more energy. Fit a quick HIIT workout into your morning, stretch, or take a walk anytime your schedule allows.
  3. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it. The body needs a strict sleep schedule to keep it functioning at its best. Irregular sleep patterns often cause the alarm clock to wake you up when you’re in the middle of a cycle of deep, high quality sleep, leaving you feeling groggier than usual when you wake up. Sticking to a regular schedule allows your body to consistently build towards a gradual, natural wake up.
  4. Step away from the technology. Spending too much time mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds or constantly updating your screen for the latest breaking news headline is probably costing you more energy than you realize. At least one hour before bed, shut down all electronics. Give your mind the time it needs to fully unwind before you’re ready to go to sleep. Constant exposure to news also spikes stress and anger levels. Disengage and see whether you naturally find your energy peaking and your outlook getting brighter.
  5. Try something new. Often energy levels dip when we get bored with our day to day routine. Instead of moving through your same schedule and sticking to your same patterns, try small changes throughout the day to activate the creative part of your brain. You don’t have to radically alter your life to take advantage of small changes. Take a different route to work, try a new class outside your comfort zone at FitClub, or pick up a new skill or hobby that requires you to think in a different way.

Do you have an expert tip to increase your energy level when you’re feeling low? Share it with us in the comments!

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New to Exercise? 5 Tips for Beginners to Get Started and Stay Consistent

Exercise has never been more popular, and if you’re interested in starting your own healthy lifestyle, FitClub wants you to have every advantage when you get started. Read the tips for beginners below and start your own exercise program safely and productively.middle-aged-heart-health_0

  1. Experiment until you find something you love. FitClub has an option for every workout-personality. You don’t have to do an exercise that you hate. Keep experimenting with machines, classes, and weights until you find what makes you happiest. Even after you find the routine that you enjoy, keep experimenting by mixing up the order of your workout, the weight you’re lifting, or the speed you’re running to challenge your mind and muscles with every workout.
  2. Find even small bits of time in your schedule. When you’re just starting out, it can be hard to make consistent workouts part of your schedule. Consistency is more important than the amount of time that you spend at FitClub when you’re just getting started. If you can find 30 minutes to make it to FitClub in your day, you can begin to build a healthy habit. As fitness becomes a priority, you will probably find that it’s easier to find the time in your busy schedule to take care of yourself.
  3. Don’t be afraid to learn something new. FitClub has a vast array of classes designed to expand your horizons and challenge your mind and body. Don’t be afraid of a group exercise class just because you’ve never done it before. Let go of your self doubt and jump into a yoga class, Zumba class, or whatever sounds fun and interesting to you. By trying something new, you might find your new favorite exercise.
  4. Ask questions. Whether you’re in the cardio rooms or the weight rooms, form and technique are essential for your safety and health. If you’re unsure how to use a machine or how to use a particular weight, ask a FitClub employee. Whether you’re a beginner or just looking to expand your routine, there is no such thing as a bad question at FitClub. Ask for help, learn something new, and stay safe!
  5. Work with a personal trainer. If you’re new to exercise, working with a personal trainer will quickly give you the tools you need to start building your healthy lifestyle. A personal trainer can often push you harder than you can push yourself, and can always clue you in to moves and machines you haven’t used before. Whether you’re looking to drop pounds, tone up, or get healthier, a personal trainer can customize your workout plan to help you reach your goals faster.

Thinking of beginning an exercise program of your own? Ask your questions in the comments or stop into a FitClub location today to get started!

5 Ways to Stay Safe in FitClub’s Pools and Hot Tubs

One of the key advantages to a FitClub membership is being able to enjoy the water all year long. Whether swimming is your favorite form of cardio, you enjoy relaxing in the hot tub, or you look forward to swimming with your kids as the snow falls outside, FitClub wants you to have safe water workouts every time you’re at FitClub.IMG_6878

  • Limit your time in the hot tub. A relaxing post-workout dip in the hot tub can relax tight muscles, but don’t linger too long. Too long in the hot tub can exacerbate heart conditions, lead to dizziness, and cause dehydration. FitClub recommends no more than 10 minutes in the hot tub to avoid dangerous adverse effects. Stay hydrated before, during and after your short hot tub dip and if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous, cautiously exit the hot tub immediately.
  • Avoid using the pools and hot tubs if you have any open sores. FitClub’s pools and hot tubs should be an enjoyable and safe experience for all. If you have any open sores, medical conditions, or illnesses, please refrain from using the aquatic facilities until you are healthy. Waiting until open sores have healed to use the pools and hot tubs doesn’t just protect other FitClub members, it also reduces your own chances of irritation and infection. When in doubt, wait before using the hot tubs and pools to protect your skin!
  • Shower, soap, and then swim. The pre-swim shower may be more important than you think! A pre-swim soapy shower limits impurities, germs, and waterborne illnesses from even entering the aquatic facilities. While the pools are maintained by FitClub to protect swimmers, showering before swimming goes a long way in helping to keep the pools clean.
  • Use caution when walking in the pool area. The floors surrounding the pools are wet, and can sometimes be slick. When entering and exiting the pool be mindful of the wet floors and use extreme caution. Never run in the pool area and be sure that children understand the importance of slowly walking on the wet surfaces.
  • Hydrate! Even though you may not notice that you’re working up a sweat when you’re swimming laps or spending a few minutes in the hot tub, your body is working hard. Don’t forget to hydrate before entering the pool, just like you would before a run on the treadmill. Fuel yourself with water and healthy foods to stay safe and receive the maximum benefits of your pool workout.

Taking the time to read FitClub’s pool and hot tub rules will keep us all safer and healthier this year! Have questions about water safety for FitClub? Leave your question in the comments for FitClub!

What Happens To Your Brain When You Exercise?

You can usually feel physical changes to your body while you exercise. You can feel a muscle contract and release. You can feel your legs getting tired and the sweat forming on your face while you push yourself on the treadmill. But have you ever wondered what happens to your brain when you exercise?brain_workout

Regular, consistent exercise actually changes the size of certain parts of the brain. You may come to FitClub to see your body and muscles change sizes, but what’s happening in your head may be even more important.

Aerobic exercise
Harvard University reports that aerobic exercise actually changes the size of the brain’s hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Not only does increased capacity for memory and learning make you smarter, but it also reduces your risk of dementia. Researchers have found that exercise reduces inflammation and increases the growth of healthy brain cells.

While a healthy lifestyle will allow you to reap the benefits of increased memory and learning throughout your life, you don’t have to wait long to see the improvement. Research suggests that cardiovascular exercises like walking or cycling immediately prior to learning new information helps you better retain the information. Make it work for you by fitting in a trip to FitClub on your lunch hour or before work in the morning to see if you find yourself better retaining important information throughout the day.

Strength Training
A consistent strength training routine has also been found to have neurologic benefits. In a 2011 AARP study, strength training even once each week improved mental skills by as much as fifteen percent! Both cardiovascular exercise and strength training also increase the body’s production of serotonin. The lack of sufficient serotonin is associated with depression and difficulty sleeping.

Yoga
If you’re already regularly fitting in plenty of cardiovascular exercise, adding yoga will benefit your brain, too. Yoga has been found to reduce stress and anxiety, allowing you to think more clearly, control your emotions, and sleep more deeply.

Yoga teaches you how to command your breath and movement. Regular yoga practice allows you to relax your body in times of stress, even outside FitClub. The increased resistance to allowing stress to take control of your body and life is directly linked to a smaller amygdala, the part of the brain that processes stress and anxiety.

How to make it work for you.
To improve your brain’s health and ability to function doesn’t require as much exercise as you might think. In fact, experts recommend at least 120 minutes to 150 minutes each week to improve your brain health. Given that there are more than 10,000 minutes each week, finding just 120 to 150 minutes to improve your physical and mental health isn’t too daunting!

Like the rest of your body, your brain benefits best when cardiovascular, yoga, and strength training are all part of your balanced fitness routine. FitClub makes it easy to fit all three elements into your routine with a variety of group exercise classes and personal trainers. Before you plan your next workout, make sure it’s a balanced plan that benefits your body and mind.

5 Ways to Make Your Next Grocery Store Trip Healthier and More Enjoyable

At the end of a long day, it’s natural to dread the weekly trip to the grocery store. What if instead of dreading the necessary chore, though, you chose to look at a trip to the grocery store as an opportunity to be your healthiest, happiest self? It’s not impossible! Keep reading for FitClub’s 5 tips to make your next grocery store trip your best yet.grocery-shopping-list-918x516

  1. Think outside the list. While most of us could never even consider running to the grocery store without a grocery list, forcing yourself to think outside the list might lead you to a new favorite dinner. When you sit down to make your grocery list, you probably find yourself adding the same few dinner combinations and lunch options each week. Even your favorite dinners can become stale after a few weeks. Boredom with your dinner routine often leads to unplanned meals out or fast food nights. Instead of falling victim to boredom, use your imagination instead of your list on your next grocery trip. Peruse the meat and seafood counter and see if there’s a new, lean protein that can ignite your imagination and give you a new healthy go-to week night dinner.
  2. Be leery of anything in a package. Pre-packaged and frozen meals are convenient, and often cheaper than building your own meals with fresh ingredients. Before you let yourself fall victim to the bright packaging, though, stop and read the ingredient list. As you scan through the lengthy list of hard to pronounce chemicals on the list, you will probably find that you’ve lost your appetite for that convenient meal. Shopping the perimeter is best, but when you do need to venture in, make sure you know what’s in the food you will be eating for dinner later.
  3. If you find a vegetable or fruit in your favorite grocery store’s produce section that you don’t recognize, consider it a sign to toss it in the cart. Your taste buds and your body need variety. Dust off your cookbooks, use the internet, or call a friend to find out the best way to eat a fresh, whole coconut, rutabaga, or papaya. You might already be familiar with the flavors added to drinks or foods, but experimenting with the real thing is healthier and far more fun than the chemical additives.
  4. Think 80/20 even as you shop. Whether you’re curious about the 80/20 diet or already eating with that mindset, the best place to practice the theory is at the grocery store. Eighty percent of your food should come from the perimeter of the grocery store where fresh produce, lean meats, and healthy dairy items are found. If you absolutely must venture into the inner aisles, aim to limit your consumption to only twenty percent. It’s much easier to stay on track with the 80/20 mindset if you know that eighty percent of the food in your house is fresh and healthy.
  5. Slow down. If the only time you enter the grocery store is when you’re in a rush to be anywhere else, you’re probably not giving yourself the time you need to make the best decisions. Healthy food is a key component to a healthy lifestyle. Your time at the grocery store is your time to think outside the list, slow down, and get creative. Instead of focusing on rushing through this chore, consider it a valuable investment of time into your healthier, fitter lifestyle.

Have your own tips to enjoy grocery shopping? Share them with your FitClub friends in the comments!

Do You Read Labels? Not Knowing What’s In Your Food Might Be Holding You Back

Anything you buy at the grocery store that comes in a package also comes with a label. Consider this label your official warning of what you are about to consume. If you’ve never read labels before, FitClub has a cheat sheet for what you need to look for and what you should avoid.FD005285

  • The serving size. Arguably, the serving size on packaged food is the most important part of the label. A bag of potato chips or a small pint of ice cream might seem like a single serving when you’re looking for a late night snack, but the serving size is generally much smaller than anticipated. If the label says 100 calories and you’re thinking of adding it to your snack selection at home, check the serving size first. A pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, for example is 270 calories per serving, but the serving size is only 1/2 cup.
  • The ingredient list. You may assume that if it’s sold in the grocery store it’s actual food, but if it comes in a package it’s more likely a combination of chemicals. A single can of Diet Coke, for example, contains caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, citric acid, and caffeine. Even foods that are advertised as healthy foods or snacks contain lists of chemicals with names that are impossible to pronounce. The best way to avoid chemicals is to avoid picking up anything that comes in a package. Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is an easy rule of thumb to help you choose more foods and fewer chemicals.
  • Macro content. Even if something has zero calories or is sold as “low fat” or “high protein” doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthy. A balanced diet contains a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat. A quick look at the label on packaged food can tell you if your options are a healthy balance of each or high carbohydrate and low value foods.
  • The percentages are estimates. Most labels also have percentages of the macro nutrients, sodium, and sugar. These percentages, though, are based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet. For many of us trying to lose weight or live healthier lifestyles, 2,000 calories might be far too many calories and not an accurate representation of the percentages we need to hit our goals. Instead of relying on the percentages, use a calorie-tracking app on your phone, or a notebook and a pen to do the math yourself and figure out what percentages are right for you. Especially with regard to sodium and sugar, what’s “typical” or “average” might not be what’s in your best interest.

Do you read labels? Taking a few extra minutes on your next trip to the grocery store might save you from accidentally sabotaging your own healthy lifestyle goals!

Are You Working Out Hard Enough?

FitClub’s Cheat Sheet Will Help You Get the Most Out of Your Next Workout

You may already be putting in the time at FitClub to reach your fitness goals, but are you working out as hard as you should be? It’s not always easy to tell whether you could be or should be doing more during your workout. Instead of guessing or giving up, use FitClub’s cheat sheet to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts.skimble-workout-trainer-exercise-lying-clams-3_iphone

  • Can you hold a conversation? If you’re meeting up with a buddy at FitClub after work and your time on the treadmill is an hour-long conversation with few pauses to catch your breath, you can probably be pushing yourself harder. During a high-quality workout, you should be able to say a few words or a quick phrase, but if you can hold a conversation you need to up the speed or intensity of your workout to get the most out of your FitClub time.
  • Your heart rate never changes. During a high-quality workout, your heart rate will increase to between 75% and 100% of your maximum heart rate. To estimate your heart rate, hold the handles on a cardio machine, invest in a heart rate monitor, or pause to take your pulse during your workout. Sweat alone isn’t an accurate estimate of your heart rate or workout intensity, some people just sweat more than others.
  • You leave FitClub without breaking a sweat. Making it through an hour on the treadmill or in the weight room without breaking a sweat is probably an indicator that you’re not pushing yourself as hard as you could be. Sweat is your body’s cooling mechanism and if you’re not raising your core temperature and producing sweat, you’re not getting the most out of your attempts to burn calories and build muscle. Add speed, time, or intensity to your next workout and don’t be afraid to sweat!
  • You’re too loyal to one type of workout. If your workout never changes, your body adapts quickly and you stop making important progress towards reaching your goals. What used to feel hard now feels easy and you never feel sore or tired when you complete your workout. While it’s certainly an achievement that you can now run three miles on the treadmill without much effort, it’s time for a change to make sure you keep making progress towards your goals. Expanding your comfort zone and trying something new will likely make you realize how much harder you could be pushing yourself each day.
  • You don’t feel tired. At all. A high-quality workout should leave you feeling excited and full of endorphins, but also a little tired. If you don’t feel even a little tired when you’ve finished your workout, chances are you didn’t push yourself hard enough. Not every day has to be exhausting, of course. Rest days or light days are important for adequate recovery. Just make sure that you earn that rest day or recovery day by working harder on the other days in your FitClub schedule.

If any of these signs seem familiar to you, it’s time to increase the quality of your workout. Checking out a new class, trying something new, or working with a personal trainer can expand your horizons and change your body.

Is it time to push yourself a little harder?