What Does it Take To Compete at a Championship Level? FitClub’s Michael Dwyer Knows!

As a young child, Michael loved participating in a variety of organized sports, but also just enjoyed being active. Using his bicycle as a means of transportation and exploration, Michael kept active throughout his youth. He also swam well enough to lifeguard throughout his high school and college experiences. It was high school wrestling, though, that taught Michael to devote himself fully to a sport and to live the lifestyle necessary to compete at the highest levels. As a high school wrestler, Michael learned that managing his nutrition, training and his weight would allow him to compete at the level he dreamed of.St George, UT May 2017-Finish of the run

After graduating from college, it was important to Michael that he stay active. The youngest of five children, Michael began to follow in his sister’s footsteps having seen her compete in marathons and triathlons. Michael’s first triathlon was an offroad-sprint distance triathlon in Bloomington, Illinois in the fall of 2004. That’s all it took for Michael to get hooked on the sport of competitive triathlon racing.

Over the course of the next four years, Michael continued to build his endurance and increase his distance in order to compete in longer triathlons. By the fall of 2008, he was ready to compete in his first Iron distance triathlon. But after completing that race, Michael suffered from what he describes as the “post Ironman blues,” and stopped training and eating as well as he had in order to compete. By the spring of 2010, Michael had reached 190 pounds and knew it was time for a change.

The desire to compete at an even higher level drove Michael to a turning point in his life. Michael quit drinking alcohol, registered for an ironman to take place on September 11, 2011, and committed for changing his life for the better. It paid off. He completed the Ironman Wisconsin feeling strong and more dedicated to the sport than ever.

Over the course of the next two years, Michael completed two more ironman distance triathlons in Couer d’Alene, Idaho and Lake Placid, New York, as well as several shorter triathlons.

As his competitive edge grew, Michael built an incredible base of support, necessary for anyone looking to meet goals and exceed their own expectations. It was endurance sports that allowed Michael to meet the woman that his now his wife. Michael also credits his mother, mother-in-law, siblings, college friends, and the Springfield Triathlon Community for keeping him motivated and on track to achieve his successes. His family and friends often travel with Michael to events, going as far as to even schedule a family reunion around his first Olympic Distance Triathlon in Innsbrook, MO. Family and friends celebrate his successes and help to raise his spirits when a race doesn’t go as planned. He’s even been joined on the running portion for stretches by his niece.

As Michael’s commitment to the sport of ironman distance triathlons has grown, so as his success. In 2014, he was selected as the Springfield Triathlon Club’s Triathlete of the Year and in 2015, Michael competed in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Zell, a race he calls, “the experience of a lifetime!” That particular race took him through a swim in a mountain lake, a bike ride up and over a mountain, and through a footrace on old cobblestone streets alongside the greatest athletes in the world.

Michael’s not done. In May 2017, he qualified for the 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, TN in a qualifying race in St. George, UT’s mountainous terrain.

Next week, FitClub will continue to celebrate the success of its own Michael Dwyer and explore the training plans that got him here, how he stays focused, and what his goals are for the World Championships! The lessons and stories that Michael graciously shared with FitClub can motivate anyone to chase their own goals!

Thinking of Adding a Swim to Your Workout?

There’s no better time than summer to add swimming to your cardiovascular workouts, and once you get started, you may want to stay in FitClub’s pools all winter long. Whether you’re new to swimming for exercise or just looking to mix up your swim pool-images-17workout, FitClub has a plan to get you fit in the water.

Swimming not only burns a lot of calories, but it also strengthens and tones the entire body with no impact on the joints. Swimming tones your arms, legs, glutes, and core because the water has approximately twelve times the amount of resistance as the air. It’s this resistance and cardiovascular combination that lets swimmers burn calories while getting a total body resistance session at the same time.

Because swimming is easier on the joints than other forms of cardiovascular activity, it’s a complimentary cross-training activity for runners and weight lifters alike.

If the idea of long laps staring at a black line on the bottom of the pool doesn’t excite you, there are ways you can spice up a workout session in the pool for more excitement and calorie burn.

  1. Add HIIT to your swim. Just like any other form of cardiovascular exercise you enjoy, increasing the challenge by adding high intensity interval training ups the calorie burn and will make the workout fly by. Challenge yourself to add short sprints to your swim for one length of the pool, and then swim easily on the way back to catch your breath. Repeat the HIIT workout or add it between long swim intervals to get your heart rate up and max out on the calorie burning potential of the workout.
  2. Isolate specific muscle groups. Adding a few laps with the kickboard gives your legs a great workout by isolating the muscles you need to kick yourself from one end of the pool to the other. You can also use the pool buoy (the white Styrofoam tool found near the kickboards), by placing the pool buoy between your knees and holding it in place while you isolate your arms to propel you through the water. Isolation of specific muscle groups forces those muscles to work harder than when they work in combination with one another. Mixing in the kickboards and the pool buoys also eliminates boredom and makes the workout seem faster.
  3. Have fun. If you loved swimming when you were a kid or still enjoy splashing around in the backyard for fun, you can incorporate that element into your workout. Just because you’re working out and getting fit doesn’t mean a swim can’t still be fun. Challenge yourself or a workout buddy to a race and see if you can get faster. There’s no shame in throwing in a summersault or handstand at the end of your workout if that’s what makes swimming fun for you!

Do you have a favorite work out plan for the water? Share your favorite lap routine in the comment section below.

Summer Slipup? Keep it Simple and Reset Your Healthy Lifestyle

Summer holidays, backyard barbeques, and long lazy nights can make it difficult to maintain your workout regimen and healthy eating. If you overindulged on the Fourth of July or took an extended rest period for your summer vacation, now’s the time to get back on track and hit your goals. So much of health research is complicated and conflicting, but FitClub has a SIMPLE plan to help you get back on track and resume your healthy lifestyle.

Following the SIMPLE plan below will have you feeling fitter and healthier than before the holiday!

Start now. If your Fourth of July left you feeling like a contestant in the Annual Hotdog Eating Contest, start right now on getting back on track. Everyone has a rest day or a cheat meal, but to undo the damage all you have to do is start again as quickly as possible. Take your workout clothes out of the laundry and hit FitClub as soon as you realize your slips.

Intentions. If you started the summer with the intention to commit to your health and get fit and then suffered a summer slipup, it’s time to reaffirm your intention. Everyone has off days (or even off weeks), but reaffirming your intentions repeatedly will remind you why you started pursuing a healthier lifestyle.

o-healthy-lifestyle-facebookMeal prep. It’s hard to consistently eat healthy when you’re on a summer vacation, but don’t let a week long summer vacation become a season long excuse to eat poorly. Take advantage of whatever free time you have on a summer weekend and clean and cut your vegetables and fruit, prepare the lean protein of your choice, and making tossing together a healthy meal simpler and more efficient.

Push yourself. If you’ve noticed yourself gaining weight or feeling lethargic, it’s time to push yourself a little harder when you get back to FitClub. Consider adding HIIT to your repertoire, increasing repetitions, or adding speed to your cardiovascular workouts. Pushing yourself a little harder, will help you power through slips and get you into better shape more quickly.

Learn your lesson. How did you feel when you ate poorly for a week or spent too many days away from FitClub? Lethargic? Bloated? Depressed? Everyone slips from time to time, but taking note of how you feel when you make less-than-ideal food choices will motivate you to do better in the future and to limit the duration and amount of cheat days.

Excuse yourself. Beating yourself up about a week or two away from your healthy lifestyle will only leave you feeling depressed and dispirited. Excuse yourself for your unhealthy choices and commit to doing better in the future. Instead of being too hard on yourself, remember why you started living a healthier lifestyle and keep chasing your goals.

Have you had a summer slipup? What works for you to get back on track?

Why Your Body Adapts to a Fitness Routine and What to Do About It

Remember when you first started working out at FitClub and you saw increases in your fitness and decreases on the scale nearly every day? Now, after months of the same, consistent workout plan, you start to notice that you’ve hit a plateau and you don’t feel that you’re getting stronger or losing weight and inches. The good news is that your body has adapted to the fitness regimen you chose when you started exercising. The bad news is that adaptation means you’ve hit a plateau.

exercise_boredWhen you begin a consistent exercise regimen, the body’s systems adapt to accommodate the new workload. The cardiovascular system becomes more adept at moving oxygen and blood throughout the body and the muscles grow and strengthen to meet the new challenge. After weeks or months of the same time, movement, and resistance, though, the body has adapted and no longer receives the same benefit of the same work. Your body has met the challenge, and your muscles and cardiovascular system have grown bored with the plan.

When you stop seeing progress, it’s time to make a change.

  • Amount of time. If you love your evening CycleFit class, you don’t have to break up with it just because your body has adapted to the workout. If you’ve been taking one CycleFit class each week, consider adding a second if your schedule permits. Even if you can only commit to one class each week, up the resistance or increase your speed. If you’ve found a comfortable resistance or speed, it may be time to get less comfortable and push yourself harder. The same principles hold true for whatever your favorite class or machine might be. If you’re a treadmill devotee, add speed, an incline, or additional minutes to your workout to push your body out of its new comfort zone.
  • Add resistance or weight. Maybe you’ve been spending most of your FitClub time doing cardiovascular exercises and it’s time to find the free weights or resistance machines. Cardio is great for burning large amounts of calories, but adding muscle mass will challenge your body in a different way. Adding muscle mass allows your body to keep burning calories even after you’ve finished your workout. If you’re already lifting weights, but the amount of reps or the amount of weight you’ve been using has started to feel easy, try adding additional reps or weight to push your body. Your muscles need to be consistently challenged to keep strengthening.
  • Get honest with yourself. Are you really working as hard as you can? Maybe when you first joined FitClub you were out of shape, but now that your body has gotten stronger and leaner, it can take more work. If you’re not sure whether you could be working harder or smarter, talk to a personal trainer at FitClub. Sometimes it can be a challenge to push ourselves, but the personal trainers may see potential in you that you don’t yet recognize.

What’s Really In That Drink?

As you plan summer vacations and backyard barbeques, you may already be conscious about what you’ll eat to keep yourself healthy and fit while enjoying the season, but do you know what it’s in your drink?cola-being-poured-into-a-glass

If you chronically reach for a Diet Coke right out of the cooler at the neighborhood barbeque, you might be undoing all of the progress you’re making at FitClub. Knowing what’s in that drink and the possible effects it may have on your body, will have you reaching for water instead.

  • Artificial sweetners. Diet soda contains artificial sweetners instead of regular sugar, saving you up to 140 calories per 12 ounce can. Your body, though, may not know the difference and will process the artificial junk the same as sugar, triggering your body’s insulin processes and causing your body to store fat and gain weight. The effect of even one diet soda each day goes far beyond weight gain and also may increase your risk of certain cardiovascular conditions and diabetes.
  • The American Cancer Society estimates that aspartame is 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. Once in the body, aspartame is broken down into phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. Health problems that may be caused by aspartame include headaches, nausea, weight gain, fatigue, irritability, and anxiety.
  • What’s not there is important, too. Diet soda contains absolutely no nutritional substance. If plain water doesn’t suit your need for bubbly, fizzy taste, opt for sparkling water with no artificial sweetners or sugars.

If you have a habit of reaching for a diet soda when you’re thirsty, tired, or bored, switching to water or sparkling water may eliminate or reduce symptoms you’ve grown accustomed to overlooking.

  • You may find that you have fewer headaches, less anxiety, and more focus throughout the day. The season’s fresh fruit may seem sweeter than it did before.
  • Because aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar, your tastebuds may not recognize how sweet (and delicious) fresh fruit is this time of year.
  • You may finally see the weight loss you’ve been trying to achieve.
  • Making healthy food decisions may seem easier. It’s easy to believe that because our drink of choice doesn’t have any calories, we can indulge at dinner or with a sugary snack that is actually a calorie bomb.
  • The afternoon slump that sometimes keeps you from hitting FitClub on your way home from work may become a distant memory. Adding a healthy snack and an ice water to your afternoon routine, instead of a nutritionally-void diet soda, better stabilizes your blood sugar levels and naturally gives you more energy to finish your day in a productive way.

Have you ever tried giving up Diet Coke or another favorite diet soda? It’s not easy, but if you’ve already done it, you know the positive results come about quickly. Share your tips, tricks, and experiences with other FitClub members and let us know what healthy drink you’re reaching for this summer!

Four Simple Ways to Stay Healthy in the Heat

Summer is considered the busiest, most active time of the year for many people. The kids are out of school, the days are longer, and summer vacation may be just around the corner. Often we look forward to summer all year with a desire to be outside in the sun as much as possible.

While we may not like to think about the potential dangers of too much time outdoors in summer, in order to have the healthiest, happiest summer possible, certain precautions must be taken.

  • Use sunscreen every day. Everyone knows that sunscreen prevents skin cancer and limits premature aging, but most of us don’t use sunscreen unless we plan to spend the entire day outdoors basking in the sun at the beach or the pool. The Skin Cancer Foundation warns that even intermittent sun exposure on an overcast day can lead to dangerous sunburns. Put on sunscreen before you head outdoors, and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day to enjoy the longer summer days without damaging your skin.
  • Avoid excessive exertion in the heat. Heat stroke affects everyone, not just the ill or the elderly. If you’re planning to spend a summer day outside when the temperature and humidity are high, drink plenty of water and be sure to slow down or head indoors if you feel tired, have a headache or notice that you’re having difficulty breathing. Take advantage of FitClub’s air conditioned facilities and indoor pools and move your summer workouts indoors!heat-stress-prevention
  • Drink more water. By now, we all know that drinking more water is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. The summer heat and humidity make staying hydrated even more important. The summer heat means that you are sweating more and the water from your body needs to be replaced. Water also helps the body maintain its normal core body temperature and avoid overheating. Pay attention to any signs of thirst, dry mouth, or headache and as a best practice, make sure you drink plenty of water before you head out into the sun and hydrate well before you start to feel thirsty.
  • Eat carefully. If you’re headed to an outdoor barbeque this summer, be cautious about what foods you choose in the heat. Foods that cause your body to eliminate water, known as “diuretic foods,” can cause you to dehydrate more quickly. Avoid caffeinated beverages when the temperatures rise. Protein is also more difficult for the body to digest when it’s hot outside. Even though meat off the grill is a summer tradition for many people, the body’s processes create heat to digest the proteins in meat which may lead to a higher than healthy body temperature or stomach trouble. Limit the amount of meat you consumer, and instead take advantage of the season’s fresh produce!

What tips and tricks do you use to stay safe and healthy in the summer heat?

What is Body Fat?

We may think of “fat” as being the dreaded three letter “F word” we want to eliminate at all costs, but do we really know what it is? Does fat serve a purpose in our bodies? Is there a healthy amount of fat to aim for? When we talk about wanting to lose weight, we are really talking about wanting to lose body fat.Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 9.57.10 AM

The Good

Fat may be a bad word to most of us, but it’s not healthy or possible to eliminate all fat from our bodies. Without fat, our bodies wouldn’t be able to regulate a healthy core temperature or produce energy. Fat moves the vitamins we eat through the body’s bloodstream and promotes healthy cell growth and development.

The goal should always be a healthy body fat percentage!

The Bad

Even though some body fat is essential for good health, excessive body fat is linked to a variety of dire health problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. Researchers at Harvard have discovered that excessive body fat stored around the waist is particularly dangerous.

When you’re setting fitness and weight loss goals, reducing your body fat percentage should always be considered. If you’re not sure whether you need to reduce your body fat percentage, talk to the experts at FitClub or consult with your medical professional. Knowing your numbers will help you design a plan that works for you and allow you to set reasonable weight loss and fitness goals for reaching your optimal health.

What it all means for weight loss.

If your goal is to reduce your body fat percentage, don’t let the science over-complicate the lifestyle changes you can make today to reach your goal.

  • Mix it up. If you’re loyal to one particular type of workout, changing the intensity, duration or type of exercise will keep your body from quickly adjusting to the demands placed upon it. Check out FitClub’s group exercise schedule or talk to a FitClub personal trainer to add variety to your repertoire.
  • Drink more water. Not only does drinking more water throughout the day keep you from confusing thirst with hunger and flush the toxins out of your body more quickly, it also keeps you from reaching for the sticky, sweet sugary drinks. For extra fat-fighting power, make sure your water is cold. Cold water requires the body to use more calories while bringing the water’s temperature up to our normal 98.6 degree body temperature.
  • Calories in and calories out. If you’re not already tracking how many calories you’re consuming each day, today is the day to start. When you consume more calories than you burn in the course of the day, the unused calories are stored in the body as fat. The type of calories that you eat matters, too, so reach for lean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables to give your body the most efficient calories available.

Worried about your body fat percentage? Don’t wait to know your numbers and get started on reaching your healthiest lifestyle. Contact FitClub today for an appointment with a fitness professional to get your body composition checked using our In-Body body composition analyzer.