Seven Habits to Declare Your Independence From This Summer

We make New Year’s Resolutions at the start of a new calendar year, so why not make a Declaration of Independence from unhealthy habits this July? We all have habits that undermine our quest for better health and wellness, and there’s no better time than the present to start cutting yourself free from the chains that hold you back.healthy20eating

  • Relying on food in a package. Summer is the perfect opportunity to step away from the processed, package food and eat straight from your garden or local farmer’s market.  Processed fruit may look enticing and easy until you read the label.  The amount of added sugar or preservatives that make processed fruits and vegetables able to sit on the shelves for years may be undermining your healthy goals to eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Letting your workout routine get stale. It can be hard to motivate yourself to prioritize your workout when your brain and muscles have adapted to the routine.  If you feel bored when you think about your next workout or your muscles no longer burn with that good effortful feeling, mix it up.  Experiment with a new class, a new machine, or a new routine to give your mind and body the summer vacation from the ordinary.
  • Sleeping too much or too little. Long days and extra sunshine can make it tempting to go to bed too late and sleep in too long.  The key to feeling well-rested is to maintain a consistent bedtime, even on the weekends.
  • Not drinking enough water. Soda, alcohol, and sports drinks don’t count towards your daily water intake.  In fact, they dehydrate you, requiring you to drink even more water than you already do.  Instead, whether you’re in the sun, poolside or at a barbecue, make filling up on pure water your priority to feel your best all summer.
  • Not taking enough time for your mental health. Summer vacations, family activities, and having the kids out of school can make summer fly by and before you know it, you feel stressed and burnt out. Don’t let your busy summer days derail your mental health.  Taking time for yourself by sticking to a consistent workout, making time for meditation, and enjoying a massage will allow you to enjoy your summer more.
  • Quit procrastinating. How many times have you said you’ll start tomorrow?  What if you started today?  If you start today, you’ll reach your goals faster.
  • Quit skipping meals. If you feel chained to your desk or you’re busy with the carpool it can be hard t make time for nutritious meals and snacks.  Summer produce makes it easy to always have a healthy serving of your favorite fruits and vegetables available, prepped and ready to grab on your way out the door.  Losing weight by skipping meals is not only dangerous, but just doesn’t work.  Your body needs fuel to burn calories and produce lean muscle.

Not all summer days are created equally, but every day this summer is a chance to celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of great health!


What unhealthy habits are you declaring independence from this summer?


Using Rock Bottom to Live a Better, Healthier Life

The term “rock bottom” has a negative connotation. Usually described to mean you’ve reached your lowest point and can’t go any further, hitting rock bottom of your fitness and health negatively impacts your life.  Whether you’re at your heaviest weight or lowest fitness level, you don’t have to stay at rock bottom.  Instead, decide this is it and use your personal rock bottom as a springboard to a better, healthier life.weightgain

  • Acknowledge how you feel and then forgive yourself. No one gets past rock bottom until two things happen simultaneously. First, you have to acknowledge that you don’t want to feel worse than you do now and then you have to immediately forgive yourself.  Beating yourself up or believing the negative thoughts you have about yourself will only dig you further into your hole.  Acceptance and self compassion are the first steps in moving forward.
  • Decide how you want to feel. Instead of jumping right into making a life changing plan, first decide how you want to feel.  Do you want to feel healthy, energetic, happy, fit?  Great!  Once you know how you want to feel, it becomes far easier to want to stick to a plan.
  • Start slowly. You don’t have to dive into a radical diet or register for a marathon when you’re starting to take the first steps towards rebuilding your health and fitness. Commit to eating mindfully and prioritizing your workouts.  Begin where you are and try to move forward with a small, incremental step every day.
  • Celebrate all progress. Don’t wait until you’ve lost a tremendous amount of weight or completed a killer workout to celebrate your accomplishments.  Celebrate every day that you ate healthy, nutrient-rich foods, slept eight hours, and made it to FitClub for a workout.  Every single day there’s some sign of progress to celebrate.  Seeking out and celebrating your smallest accomplishments will make it easier to commit to a lifelong journey.
  • Once you start to fall into a healthy routine and reap the rewards of better sleep, more energy, and a healthier outlook on life, take the time to reflect on how you got here and maybe even more importantly, why you let yourself hit rock bottom.  Learn to meditate, journal, or just notice your normal habits and routines.  Were you going through a difficult or stressful time and your inclination was to choose food over fitness to cope with the stress?  Did you procrastinate too long with every day simply becoming one more reason not to opt for healthy foods and a FitClub class?  Don’t dwell on your mistakes, but do reflect long enough to see if you can spot a pattern or reason that you’ll recognize in the future.  Don’t forget to reflect on how you feel now, too.  Take note of how much stronger, fitter, and happier you feel.  Gratitude for feeling better and the work you’ve accomplished can motivate you to stay healthy and fit for the long haul.

What do you do when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom on your fitness journey?  Do you use it as a springboard or as an excuse?

FitClub Turns Research Into Health Gains For Parkinson’s Patients

Research is happening every day to determine the positive impacts of exercise for Parkinson’s patients.  Recently, the largest-ever clinical trial completed by the Parkinson’s Outreach Project discovered that people living with Parkinson’s who completed at least two and one-half hours of exercise each week had a more positive quality of life than those who didn’t exercise.  For this reason, many neurologists now recommend exercise to Parkinson’s patients.

Another study completed by the University of Southern California found that Parkinson’s patients that exercised were able to “move more normally” than non-exercising counterparts.  It’s possible, the researchers believe, that exercise helps the brain to create new connections and maintain old connections normally subject to degeneration by Parkinson’s Disease.

FitClub is turning high-level scientific research into real life for people living with Parkinson’s Disease.  This week, FitClub caught up with its own certified trainer, Max, to learn how regular exercise is having a real-life impact at FitClub.Screen Shot 2018-07-09 at 10.07.33 AM

Max is certified to work with patients that are living with Parkinson’s, MS, and other neurological disorders.  Through that work, Max has been working closely with Jan Baird, a Parkinson’s patient for about two years.  This working relationship is a wonderful example of the impact of an exercise routine on minimizing the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. When starting work with a Parkinson’s patient, Max says it’s important to start at the beginning.  For example, when Max first started working with Jan, she couldn’t jump and found that one leg was weaker than the other.  Through a combination of strength training, cardio workouts, and balance exercises, Jan began jumping rope and her physical fitness began to rapidly improve.

Max believes that the key to Jan’s success is consistency.  Parkinson’s patients meet three or four days each week to participate in Rock Steady Boxing and two additional days to build strength and balance.  Movement in general helps to reduce the rigidity of muscles common to Parkinson’s Disease.  Each participant starts where he or she is and tries to improve each day. Max estimates that patients begin to see improvement for themselves in about two weeks of consistent work. While the doctors may warn Parkinson’s patients that every day they can expect to get worse, Max believes every day these patients can get better!IMG_9120

The key, according to Max, is to use movement that incorporates arms, legs, and voices.  For example, Max may have his group walk while using their arms and shout, the combination of which combats the degenerative effects of Parkinson’s Disease.

Max initially heard many people claim, “I can’t do that,” until Max warned it belonged on a t-shirt to remind everyone that how often it’s said.  Jan came through with a box of orange “I can’t do that” t-shirts. That’s how it is with this group, Max says.  Not only is the physical effect of exercise changing their brains and improving their muscles, fitness, and balance, but they are all benefitting from one another. The class is more than a group exercise class and has quickly morphed into a supportive community where everyone is working on individual goals at the same time.  There’s a shared benefit to engaging in the process of making yourself well with others facing the same challenges.

It’s true that this group is benefitting from engaging with Max, but Max knows that it’s a mutual experience.  “There’s not a lot of time on this planet—I like helping people while I’m here.”

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a neurological disorder, it’s never too soon to start improving.  Check in with FitClub and Max and begin to improve each day.

Can a Low-Intensity Workout Improve Your Health?

High-intensity workouts tend to get the most credit for improving health and fitness, but research suggests that low-intensity workouts may also improve your health and fitness if done right.  Intensity is generally determined by your heart rate, but you don’t have to bog yourself down in heart rate gadgets or mathematical calculations to determine intensity for yourself.  You can judge the intensity of your workout simply by observing your breathing patterns and whether you’re sweating.  Can you carry on a conversation while you’re engaged in your workout?  If yes, then you are likely in a low-intensity exercise.400-04143383c28129_field_img_hero_988_380

Who benefits most from low-intensity exercise?

Both beginners and long-time fitness enthusiasts can benefit from low intensity exercise.  Low-intensity exercise is a safe starting point for anyone new to exercise, struggling with obesity, or recently diagnosed with a heart condition. Developing a fitness routine and building consistency is often done through building a habit of long, low-intensity walking or swimming.  In fact, a 2008 study done by researchers at the University of Georgia found that sedentary adults can benefit from beginning with only twenty minutes of low-intensity exercise every day.  It’s the “every day” part that matters, though.  Staying consistent is what ultimately improves your health and fitness.

Fitness enthusiasts engaged in regular high-intensity exercise can also benefit from adding low-intensity exercise to their workout routine.  Those engaged in high volume strength training or training for an endurance event (i.e. a marathon), can remain active on recovery days by adding low-intensity exercise to their training plans.  Any movement can help alleviate soreness and facilitate recovery of overworked muscles and tendons without placing any additional strain on bones and joints.

How to make it work for you.

The two most important aspects of adding low-intensity exercise to your workout plan are consistency and length of time.  Low-intensity exercise, on average, burns approximately 2.5 calories per minute. To reap the same calorie burn as a high-intensity workout requires a much longer duration of the exercise.

Consistency may matter even more for beginners.  If the goal is to improve your health and fitness and you’re starting with low-intensity exercise, the purpose of low-intensity exercise should be to build an exercise habit.  As your health and fitness begin to improve, it’s important to extend the duration or increase the intensity for you to continue to see results.

If you’re a beginner or you’ve been diagnosed with any health condition, talk to your medical provider to determine if low-intensity exercise is safe for you. If you’re unsure where or how to get started, stop by the FitClub front desk and speak with a personal trainer than can get you started with a plan that meets your unique goals.

Five Reasons Your Summer Workouts Should Really Be Inside This Summer

Summer’s longer days and warmer temperatures may tempt you to take your workout outside, but before you do, there are plenty of things to consider.  Before your healthy intentions do more harm than good, read FitClub’s list of reasons it’s better to workout inside than in the heat!golpe_de_calor_600

  • No control over weather conditions. Trying to plan an outdoor workout in a central Illinois summer is a gamble.  You can’t predict pop up thunderstorms or excessive heat and humidity.  Rapidly changing weather conditions generally result in making excuses to skip your workout.  Instead of trying to schedule your workout around unpredictable weather patterns that are entirely out of your control, treat your workout like a priority and schedule it at FitClub where the schedule and the temperature are always stable.
  • Heat exhaustion, dehydration. We’ve experienced a hotter than usual summer already.  Even if you try to get outdoors for a workout in the early morning hours to beat the heat, you’ll experience the unfortunate humidity that swamps Springfield this time of year.  Humidity is highest in the morning, and can be just as damaging to your health and workout as the heat.  Humidity prevents sweat from naturally evaporating, causing your body to have difficulty regulating its internal temperature.  Heat exhaustion and dehydration are common among outdoor fitness enthusiasts this time of year.  To avoid dangerous conditions and have plenty of access to air conditioning and water while you sweat, opt for FitClub workouts.
  • Group exercise classes. There’s a benefit to regularly scheduling group exercise classes at FitClub. People that workout in a group generally do so with more intensity and motivation than those that workout alone.  Solo workouts are also far easier to skip because you don’t have others keeping you accountable.  Take advantage of the summer classes at FitClub to ensure you reach your potential this summer.
  • Trainers and instructors. Whether you’re new to exercise or trying something new, there’s no outdoor substitute for FitClub’s staff of trainers and group instructors.  Professionals onsite can help you with form or lead you through a safe and effective workout with proper cues and intensity for your fitness level.  Working with a trainer or under the watchful eye of a group instructor also holds you accountable and prevents you from skipping out early or giving up on a tough challenge.
  • Skin damage. A sunburn is caused by UV damage to your skin.  The sun produces UV rays even on cloudy days when you can’t see the sun or the temperature isn’t particularly high.  Any amount of sun damage can lead to skin cancer; the leading type of cancer in the United States.  Whether you intend to work out for an hour or twenty minutes, you can either lather up with sunscreen or head indoors at FitClub to keep your skin and your body safe.

What’s your reason for heading indoors for a workout?

Is There a Better Way to Cope With Stress? How Do You Cope?

Everyone has stress in their lives and everyone has his or her unique way of coping with stress.  Whether you generally go back to bed to avoid your stress, binge on junk food to cheer yourself up, or prolong your happy hour with friends after a tough day, understanding why you use a coping mechanism and replacing it with a better option can lead to better health and wellness for life.coping-with-stress-in-6-steps

Why do we have coping mechanisms?

The term “coping mechanism” is simply the habit or process you use when you feel excessive stress. While serious events (i.e. divorce or death of a loved one) may trigger habitual use of coping mechanisms, many people use coping mechanisms regularly to deal with life’s simpler and more frequent stressors.  Even when stress is related to a positive change in your life (i.e. a new baby or relationship), you still might find yourself using a coping mechanism to deal with the significant change in your life.

Coping mechanisms can fall into one of two types: active or avoidant. Active coping mechanisms require that you be aware of what is causing the stress and your mechanism is an active, aware choice as to how to deal with the stress.  Avoidant, of course, is the opposite.  You can’t identify the precise matter causing you stress, and you’re seeking to avoid the unpleasant feeling of general stress.

Which coping mechanism you choose can dramatically impact your physical and mental health.

Cope Better

Three common coping mechanisms include sleeping too much, eating too much, and drinking too much.  Too much of anything is bad for your mental and physical health, so if you fall into one of these three coping categories, FitClub has healthier suggestions!

  • Excessive Sleep. When faced with an overwhelming to do list, a difficult relationship, or a bad day at work, some people can crawl back into bed and sleep for excessive amounts of time or experience difficulty in waking even after a solid night’s sleep.  The longer you allow this to happen, the more likely it is to become a habit until you realize you’re neglecting your responsibilities.  Break the habit by starting your day with a morning workout.  FitClub has a variety of group fitness classes in the early morning hours that can wake you up, give you energy, and boost your endorphins to face whatever you’d rather avoid.
  • Unhealthy food or too much food. It might be tempting to dive into your favorite junk food when you’re stressed, but combining stress with unhealthy food can lead to a litany of health problems, including increased abdominal fat. Instead, you can actually use food to alleviate your stress.  Green leafy vegetables, turkey and blueberries are readily available foods that act to combat stress’s effect on your body.  You still have to eat; you just don’t have to suffer!
  • Reaching for alcohol. According to some studies, stress may actually change the way you experience the effects of alcohol. Alcohol may actually increase the stress in your life.  When having another glass of wine after a stressful day becomes your coping mechanism, you may be more likely to develop alcoholism.  For many people, the initial draw to alcohol after a stressful day is linked to a social aspect.  Keep the social aspect without the alcohol by joining your social group for a Zumba class, a buddy strength training workout or a yoga class at FitClub.  Talk about your day or your problem with your friends, release endorphins, and alleviate the negative side effects of using alcohol to deal with stress.


What’s your coping mechanism?  Everyone needs one from time to time, but it doesn’t have to be unhealthy!

Three Ways to Use a Disappointing Workout to Your Advantage

No matter how strong your reasons for getting fit or how consistently you make it to FitClub, we have all had a workout or two that didn’t go the way we hoped.  Maybe you were tired from a night of poor sleep, suffering the effects of a bad day at the office, or you just didn’t have the strength you expected. No matter why you didn’t feel your workout had been strong enough, you can either spend your evening worrying about what went wrong and feeling sorry for yourself or you can flip it on its head and use a disappointing workout to your advantage.1outofshape

  • Focus on what went right. No matter how disappointed you are in your workout or your effort, there is always something positive to take away from the experience.  Patting yourself on the back for the smallest accomplishment is a far better way to stay motivated and engaged in your healthy lifestyle than beating yourself up.  It may be that one rep was stronger than last week, your form was better, or just one minute on the treadmill was faster this time.  It’s enough, some days, to just celebrate the fact that you made time for a workout when there were other tempting offers on your schedule. Finding one bright spot in a dismal workout will free your mind and leave you with a positive attitude to start from for your next workout.
  • Evaluate your workout. After you’ve had a chance to find the bright spot, you can give yourself a minute to think about what you could do differently for your next workout.  This isn’t an opportunity to judge yourself or frame your workout in a negative way, but rather, a good chance to take stock of what you want out of your workouts.  Could you have gotten more sleep before a morning workout or fueled yourself better before you pushed hard?  Is it that you’re bored with your current routine and just need to give yourself the mental and physical challenge of trying something new? Choosing just one thing you can do differently will turn a disappointing workout into an opportunity to understand yourself and your fitness habits better for the future.
  • Commit to working out again soon. Don’t let too much time slide by before you hit FitClub for a new, fresher, stronger workout.  You don’t want to give yourself more time than necessary to let the disappointing workout fester and lead you astray.  Instead, give your body the time it needs to recover. If you’ve been feeling physically or mentally burned out, try a new group exercise class, workout routine, or work with a personal trainer to get to the root of what you really want out of your fitness experience.  The sooner you can experience a great, revitalizing workout, the easier it will be to maintain your consistency and achieve your goals.

Have you experienced a disappointing workout? You’re not alone! Share your experience in the comments with your fellow FitClub members who have been there, too!