Welcome Back, FitClub Members!

Whether you spent the last several months curled up on the couch or working on your fitness plan with the FitClub app, FitClub is ready to welcome you back!  No matter how you spent the last several months, you can easily jump right back into your fitness routine and implement FitClub’s tips for returning to total wellness!IMG_3585

1. Reconsider why you started.  Over the course of the last several months, many of us having been thinking more about our health and wellness.  Perhaps you faced challenges dealing with stress or had trouble finding the motivation to fit in a workout.  How you handled the last few months may cause you to reconsider your “why” when it comes to your fitness goals.  Did you find yourself eating or sleeping poorly?  Was your stress level significantly higher than usual?  Everyone responds to unprecedented events differently. By recognizing how you responded and how you might like to respond, you can come to terms with your own motivation for wanting to live a healthier lifestyle.

2. Ease back into a challenging regimen.  If, during the shutdown, you weren’t challenging yourself as much as your trainer or favorite group exercise class generally challenges you, you might need to ease back into fitness for a few days before you ramp up.  By taking the time to properly warm up, cool down and stretch, you can quickly make up for lost time without injury or extreme muscle soreness.  The most important thing is that you get started again sooner rather than later.  Don’t let your fitness wait another day!

3. Practice healthy habits.  As FitClub reopens, it’s more important than ever that we all commit to promoting healthy habits and exceptional personal hygiene.  We have laid out the details of what FitClub and its staff are doing to keep us all safe and healthy, but you have a role to play too.  As much as we all want to get back into shape and put the last several months behind us, please do stay home if you feel unwell.  While at FitClub, please be courteous of other members and mindful about social distancing, hand washing, and thoroughly cleaning any used equipment between use.  As FitClub members, we’ve always known that we are all on this journey together, but now more than ever we need to take care of ourselves and each other.  To better understand what FitClub is doing to keep its clubs open and safe, check out the FitClub phase 4 information page!

4. Take time to care for your mental health.  There are many challenges that we’re all facing right now.  In addition to your physical health, be sure to take care of your mental health.  If you’re new to meditation, FitClub’s meditation class is a great, healthy way to protect yourself from stress and negativity while you live your happiest, healthiest life!

How are you approaching your fitness now that FitClub is reopened?  Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Yes, Exercise Improves Your Immune System! Here’s How it Works

Many of us have been thinking about our immune systems more than usual over the course of the last few weeks.  A healthy dose of exercise in your day to day life can strengthen your immune system and keep you living a happier, healthier, longer life.  Whether you’re new to FitClub or a long-time member, FitClub wants you to understand how exercise improves your immune system so you can incorporate daily exercise into your lifestyle today!olderwomanliftingweights-59b025b96f53ba0011a9fb68

  1. Stronger immune systems.  When you exercise, your cardiovascular system and respiratory systems are challenged and grow stronger with each workout, right?  Your immune system is no different.  Exercise challenges the cells that are responsible for finding and attacking bad bacteria in your body.  When you exercise, those cells move more quickly and work harder to protect your health.  When you live a more sedentary lifestyle, the cells move slower and you may become sick more often. In fact, a recent study showed that regular exercisers took almost half as many sick days from work as people that didn’t exercise at all.
  2. Get enough exercise.  You don’t have to workout for hours a day to achieve optimal immune system function.  In fact, too much exercise may leave you feeling chronically fatigued and unable to give your immune system the nutrients and recovery it needs.  Thirty to sixty-minutes of daily exercise will leave your immune system functioning at its best.  When you’re short on time, adding a thirty minute walk to your lunch break or before dinner in the evening can help you build a habit that will keep you healthy all year long.
  3. Consistency counts.  No benefits of exercise last forever if you stop exercising.  Your immune system may only be impacted for a few hours after your exercise ends.  This is why you have to build a consistent exercise program to see long-lasting results.  If you want to feel better every day, you need to move every day.  Fueling your body with high quality foods and plenty of pure water throughout the day will help you maximize the boost to your immune system.
  4. Manage your stress.  It’s likely that you have experienced an increase in your stress the last few months.  It’s been a very difficult, and often scary, time.  Stress management is critical to maintaining a healthy immune system, and fortunately, a thirty to sixty-minute workout can also help your body ward off excessive stress, improve your sleep quality, and clear your mind.  Scheduling time for yourself is critical and using that time for exercise can improve almost every aspect of your life.

What are you waiting for?  Now’s the time to get fitter, healthier, and improve your immune system.  Let FitClub know what you’re doing to fit in those workouts in the comments below!

Only Have a Few Minutes? Moves You Should Do When Time is Short

You may not always have thirty to sixty minutes for an intense workout.  Maybe your workday runs late, or your family obligations keep you from a full body sweat-session.  On those days when you only have minutes, instead of hours, to focus on your fitness goals, there are certain moves that you should prioritize to get the most out of your mini-workout.  FitClub knows that time is valuable and often in short supply.  Before you skip another workout because you’re short on time, throw these moves into the mix and feel fitter every day.high-intensity-interval-training-1200x900-1

  1. Maximize your efforts with a circuit training workout.  Just because you’re short on time doesn’t mean that you can’t fit in a total body workout.  Using body weight or a pair of free weights at FitClub, you can put together a series of three to four moves that allow you to work major muscle groups for maximum effect in little time. To get the most out of your circuit training workout, add weight to your moves.  For example, if your circuit workout includes lunges, add a pair of dumbbells to increase your heart rate for an added calorie burn.
  2. Up the intensity with a HIIT workout.  Even if you’re short on time, you can burn major calories and increase your lean muscle mass with a twenty-minute high intensity interval training workout.  When you’re short on time, it’s important to work as hard as possible in short bursts of energy.  A short, HIIT workout performed with maximum effort can be more effective than a long, moderate aerobic session.  HIIT works both your cardiovascular system (calorie burn) and your muscles (strength gains) by pushing your effort, not your time.  To make HIIT workouts work for you, choose three or four of your favorite heart pumping moves (pushups, squats, burpees), and put together a routine that requires you to go all out for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and go hard again for 20 seconds.  Using full body moves that incorporate multiple muscle groups will help you get fitter, stronger, and leaner in short workouts.
  3. Less time, more effort.  When you only have twenty minutes and you know you need your go-to cardio move, up the effort when you reduce the time.  Maybe you prefer a sixty-minute walk, run or bike ride, but when time is slipping away from you, go harder not longer.  You can throw in sprints, add hills, or just keep a quicker pace as you power through your cardio session for the day.  A twenty-minute workout can be added to any part of your day when you need a quick calorie burn and a mental health break.

What is your go-to routine when you’re short on time and in need of a workout?  Check out the FitClub app or head to FitClub’s outside workout zones when you need to run through a quick, mini workout for your physical and mental health!

Better Sleep Durning Stressful Times

Whether you routinely struggle with the right quantity or quality of sleep or you’re sleep schedule is frequently interrupted by stress, each of us can make simple adjustments to improve the sleep we do get.  Sleep and stress can create an unhealthy cycle—too much stress often leads to too little sleep, which leads to too much stress.  Until we break the cycle, it’s impossible to use our sleep patterns to combat stress.  FitClub has easy adjustments you can make tonight to sleep away your stress.47mte5bd5zej3aai7xxmd4uuia

  1. Build your resilience.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that up to thirty-three percent of American adults struggle with getting enough sleep on a regular basis.  The percentage was so high, the CDC has deemed it an epidemic!  The National Sleep Foundation recommends building your resilience to stress in order to sleep better.  To boost your resilience, you may need to confront your individual stressors.  Can you forgive a person that may be causing you stress?  Can you teach yourself to meditate during the workday when stress threatens?  Becoming more resilient to stress as it occurs can prevent the stress from building all day and interfering with your sleep at night.  While becoming more resilient to day to day stress is a challenge, each day that you take a step forward and manage your stress as it occurs is a building block.
  2. Exercise.  We already know that exercise has a profound effect on the release of endorphins and management of stress, but its role in combating insomnia is critical.  Exercise helps you build that resilience to sleep, tires you out, and allows you to combat your stress in almost real time.  Try it for yourself!  The next time you feel family or work stress start to build in your body, try out the FitClub app and dive into a workout.  Within fifteen minutes, you might begin to feel the tension in your body begin to subside and the endorphins take over.  
  3. Prioritize.  Too often, busy adults skimp on sleep in order to catch up on other work or household obligations.  If this is happening to you, you may be caught in a cycle that is causing you stress and limiting your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.  Prioritizing seven to nine hours of sleep each day is a must for better overall physical and mental health.  If sleep doesn’t come naturally to you, you may need to start your bedtime rituals earlier in the evening, allowing you to begin to fall asleep more quickly when you lay down.  This may mean taking a warm bath, avoiding electronics or stressful triggers (i.e. the news or social media), or allowing a few moments for meditation to clear your mind.  Sleep is its own sort of obligation and with high quality and sufficient quantity of sleep, every other obligation becomes easier to manage.

What works for you when you’re experiencing stress and having difficult falling asleep?  Share your advice with your fellow FitClub members and get some rest!

Does a Weak Core Hold You Back?

Could your core strength use some work? You’re certainly not alone. Many people suffer from problems related to weak core muscles without realizing the cause. Here are common signs that a weak core may be limiting your potential, along with fixes anyone can incorporate today.posture-600-400

Day to Day Functional Fitness

Your core is integral in nearly everything you do throughout your day. When you pick up your child, twist in your chair, or pull a suitcase, your core engages to move your body through the motion. A weak core can contribute to poor posture, which can cause back pain, headaches, and even difficulty breathing. Simply put, a weak core may be limiting how your body copes with its day to day assignments. If you feel discomfort or experience difficulty with any of these routine day to day tasks, your core may need additional strength work.

Experts indicate that even your digestive system may be impacted by a weak core. Less-than-perfect posture caused by a weak core can cause constipation and heartburn. A report in the Harvard Health Publishing found that slouching throughout the day can pressure your stomach to send substances the wrong direction, like stomach acid towards the esophagus.

Are you motivated to plan your next core-work session yet?

Workout Performance

Even if your day to day activities feel easy and routine, your fitness performance may be suffering because of a weak core. If you feel that you’ve reached a fitness plateau or if it takes excessive effort to run, throw, jump, or lift weights the way you’d like, your core may be to blame. Your core is responsible for contracting the muscles involved in most exercise-related movements and stabilizing your spine and pelvis while you move your entire body. A weak core can hold you back from living your fittest life.

Adding additional core work to your FitClub routine can help, but so can engaging your core by consciously contracting those muscles as you move through your favorite activity. Whether you’re running, lifting, or swimming, staying mindful of whether your core is engaged can add strength and power to your entire workout.

Build a Stronger Core

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend hours on the floor doing sit-ups and crunches to build a better, stronger core. Adding common, equipment free exercises like planks, glute bridges, and balancing activities like yoga to your workout repertoire can build a stronger core and better abdominal muscles.

If you’re interested in learning more about core work and improving your total body range of motion, hiring a professional trainer can help! The professionals at FitClub know how to get your core in peak shape using innovative moves that can be done safely.

What’s your favorite core work exercise?

Easy Ways to Create a Staycation this Summer!

Perhaps your summer vacation plans have come to a sudden halt. This summer may not be what any of us had in mind just a few short months ago, but we can still salvage our summer vacations and reap the physical and mental health rewards of taking a pause to enjoy the summer.FitClubhas easy tips anyone can use this summer to create a staycation right here at home for a better, healthier summer break!hp-staycation

  1. Hit the farmers’ market. If you were on vacation, eating like a local and exploring the area’s specialties might be on your itinerary. You can do the same thing right here at home by hitting the local farmer’s markets for a taste of Illinois in the summer. Produce is never fresher than it is right now and shopping the farmers’ market for a new vegetable or fruit might give you a new culinary experience right here at home. Combining a new herb, veggie or fruit to your summer dinners and allowing your imagination to roam freely might start to taste a little like summer vacation in your own backyard!
  2. Get fit while exploring home. If your summer vacations are built around family adventures, you can start at the local parks or hiking and biking trails. Even if the scenery doesn’t include the mountains or a beach, you can take in the summer sun, avail yourself of fresh air and get fitter and healthier together. Being outside is great for your mental health and taking advantage of longer days can help you stay fit all summer. Don’t forget the sunscreen when you head out for your local adventure!
  3. Try new things. Maybe your idea of summer vacation is experiencing something new and exotic. FitClub’s variety of classes might be your best staycation place to start. Trying new fitness classes can help to break you out of a fitness rut and create more balance in your life, as well as in your body. Maybe you can’t hear your body and muscles crying out for variety, but variety can make your workouts more interesting and keep you from hitting fitness plateaus. Try a Zumba class for a taste of a summer festival or drop into a strength class to feel like you spent a day on an adventure vacation.
  4. Do a little less. If the entire point of your summer vacation is to log off and step away from whatever drags you down, you can accomplish that at home. Turn off your devices, step away from the television, and do a little less for a while this summer. Whether or not you call it a “staycation,” take a few days away from work or just create a new summer Sunday tradition. Stepping away from reality can do wonders to reset your physical and mental health one day at a time.

How are you approaching your summer vacation plans this year? Share your comments and use your imagination for a better, happier summer!

What’s Ripe? Fresh Produce Available in Central Illinois Right Now

With apologies to our hard working farmers and farmer’s market vendors, some of us still need a cheat sheet this time of year to remember what produce is in peak season right now here at home. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until the fall harvest to enjoy healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally. Before you plan your next meal, check out FitClub’s list of fresh produce and be sure to stock up!

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Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on Pexels.com
  1. Asparagus—Not only does asparagus make your meal taste more like summer, but it also packs a huge nutrient punch and can add vitamins like vitamin K and vitamin C, as well as several minerals including zinc and manganese to your diet. Asparagus has been associated with reducing carcinogens in your body, fighting fatigue, and promoting healthier use of insulin. While it can be enjoyed raw, baked, or grilled, experts advise that cooking asparagus may cause it to lose some of its nutrients. Adding raw asparagus to your summer salads adds huge health benefits with very few calories and no fat!
  2. Spinach—One serving of spinach includes only twenty-three calories and the only carbs in spinach are from its fiber content. The fiber content alone can make you feel better and improve your digestive function, but the vitamins and minerals in spinach make it a summer favorite. Like asparagus, spinach is full of important vitamins, but spinach also contains iron and calcium, important for bone health and oxygenation throughout the body. To complete a peak-season spinach salad, add radishes and broccoli, both of which are also nutrient powerhouses and in peak season right now! Not only is spinach delicious in a salad, but adding a handful to a fruit smoothie will add all of the nutrients, without any taste.
  3. Cilantro, garlic, parsley—If you’re looking for a way to add flavor without calories to your next home cooked meal, cilantro, garlic and parsley are ripe and taste great with many dishes. Fortunately, in central Illinois we can easily come by fresh, homegrown herbs without relying on the packaged varieties in the grocery store aisles.
  4. Cherries, rhubarb and strawberries—If you’re looking for a sweet treat, cherries, rhubarb and strawberries are also in season. Cherries are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber but also contain healthy doses of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re sore after your next workout, try adding cherries to your diet to relieve tension and soreness. Add this fresh produce to your favorite seasonal meals or enjoy them alone as a sweet treat after a healthy dinner.

Adding fresh fruits and vegetables is always a good idea, but in the summer each of these nutrient-dense foods can provide an instant taste of summer while you also maintain peak health. Be sure to post your favorite recipes in the comment section and let us know how you’re enjoying the fruits of our local farmers’ efforts this summer season!

Four Ways to Improve Your Workouts at Home

For many FitClub members, working out at home is a radically new experience.  We are accustomed to the benefits of group exercise classes, state of the art cardio machines, and personal trainers that hold us accountable and correct our form.  While you experience virtual FitClub classes and workouts on the FitClub app, you may be making mistakes.  FitClub wants you to get the most out of your workouts at home during these challenging times.  home-exercise-1024x683-1

  1. Listen to your instructor.  If you were taking a group exercise class in person at FitClub, you would be focused on the instructions, right?  The same should be true during your home workouts.  If you find yourself distracted by the television in the next room, the whir of the washing machine, or the constant noise from your work emails you might need to eliminate distractions to the extent possible.  Being able to focus on the cues from the instructor on your FitClub app will help you follow the moves more precisely, take instruction on your form, and help you better reset your brain after a taxing day of trying to do everything from your own home.
  2. Check in with your body.  While you’re without the benefit of live personal trainers or classes, you should be checking in with your body.  Do you feel as though you’re working as hard as you can?  Does the form feel good to your body while you perform the move?  If you have access to a mirror while you work out, you can study your own form and ensure that it not only feels correct but looks correct.  Without a personal trainer available to ensure that your form is correct and you are working to your capacity, you have to zone in on yourself and be your own best advocate right now.  Taking time to listen to your body as you glide through moves is just as important as actually performing the work.
  3. Create a routine.  If actually doing the exercise is your biggest challenge, you might need to practice consistency right now.  Not only does consistency help ensure your workout actually gets completed, but it can help you establish a routine while you’re primarily stuck at home.  A healthy routine includes a consistent workout regimen, high quality sleep, and healthy meals at regular intervals.
  4. Pump up the music.  What would you listen to at FitClub to pump up the adrenaline and improve your workout?  If a fast beat and quick lyrics help you increase your effort at FitClub, it’s time to turn up the tunes at home and raise your heart rate!

How are your at home workouts going?  Do you have any favorites on the FitClub app?  Share your thoughts with fellow FitClub members in the comment sections below!  

Creative Ways to Survive Social Distancing

Have you been experiencing trouble sleeping, or unwanted weight gain from being sheltered-in-place during COVID-19? You’re not alone. Many people all over the world are struggling with staying sane and happy while you also stay physically safe from the COVID-19 virus. If you’re tired of being told to clean your house, read a classic novel, or learn a new hobby, FitClub has practical advice that you can use today to make your extra time at home more interesting.cooking-hobby-for-men

  1. Create personal space and time for yourself. If you’re still sheltering-in-place with another person or your family, the restless feeling might be a need for alone time, rather than cabin fever. Astronauts that excel in out-of-this-world social isolation recommend treating your home like you might your office. During the course of any workday, even the best coworkers can have you craving quiet time. Retreating to another room in your house, closing the door, and carving out moments, activities, or escapes for only yourself can actually help you feel less alone by helping you appreciate the extra time you have with your immediate family right now. Taking time for yourself is not selfish, even during this unprecedented time, it’s essential!
  2. In 2015, there were ten scientists living in Antarctica conducting research. With access to the internet and one another, these scientists were voluntarily self-isolating before we coined the term in 2020. In an interview at the time, the scientists reported that they made use of their station’s gym and video room, as well as communicating with the outside world via Skype. Sound familiar? Fortunately, in 2020, we have a FitClub app that can keep us all physically strong, mentally healthy, and socially connected while we continue to socially distance.
  3. Historically, some people have been able to thrive in social isolation. Shakespeare created “King Lear” during the plague in the early 17thcentury. Isaac Newton developed the theory of gravity in quarantine. The famous painting, “the Scream” was created by painter Edvard Much during the Spanish Flu epidemic in the early 20thcentury. Maybe none of these activities or masterpieces personally resonate with you, but what might you be able to do with this new, forced free time? Could you remodel a room, learn to cook, or virtually study up on a hobby that you’ve been considering? What connects these famous masters is that they allowed themselves to indulge in whatever their particular passions might have been at the time. In a world free of time constraints, a social activities, and day-to-day distractions, they created their best work. There may never be another time (hopefully, not for many years, at least) when we have as much free time to develop a passion or cultivate an interest. Continuing to take advantage of this time may be the best decision you ever make.

Have you discovered any quirky new hobbies during quarantine? What have you been exploring virtually?

Build a Better Week!

What are you doing this week?  If you’re staying in and working from home, that question might seem more difficult to answer than usual.  If the days are beginning to blur together, it might be time to take control of your week and build a better week with the FitClub App or an outdoor workout at FitClub.  Ready to plan your epic week?  Let’s go!

  1. Schedule your workouts.  Just like meetings, dates, or other social obligations, once you commit and put it on your schedule you’re more likely to follow through than you might otherwise be.  The app makes it easy to schedule your live workouts or register for an outdoor workout with the touch of a button.  This week’s schedule has a variety of options to fit every fitness personality.  Block off that chunk of time, pull out your exercise clothes and escape with a FitClub class on a schedule.carmine virtual
  2. Meal prep, plan, and keep track of your meals.  Have you been logging your meals while FitClub’s closed?  If the first few weeks of staying at home meant binging on your favorite snacks, this is a good week to get back to your healthy goals.  The FitClub app easily links you to a calorie counting/nutrition based app that makes it easy to see what calories you’re consuming while you’re stuck at home.  Using a few minutes of forced-free time to meal prep, create a healthy online grocery list, and plan your meals for the week, will have you feeling healthier than ever from your own kitchen!
  3. Log your progress.  Are you going in the right direction?  If you’re not taking advantage of the FitClub app and logging your progress and recent activities it might be impossible to know.  Instead of losing fitness and gaining weight while you’re stuck at home, use the progress function to motivate yourself to stay active and on track.
  4. Socially connect virtually.  Use the app to say hello, ask a question, or engage with your FitClub staff and community.  You’ll find trainer tips-of-the-day, see new classes being posted daily, and get great healthy cooking advice from experts.  If you’re feeling lonely, it’s important to socially connect with others.  Seeing positive, healthy posts from familiar faces can help you feel less alone and make you feel more accountable to the goals you had before our circumstances changed.  If you have questions, concerns, or just want to say hello to the faces you miss, use the app to reach out.
  5. Do a little online shopping…from the app!  Need additional equipment for the workout you’ve been missing?  Browse the selection on the FitClub app to add to your home gym and get moving!

What helps you stay on track during these difficult days?  Now, more than ever, we need to hear from one another!