7 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE TRAINING

Dr Jinger Gottschall explains how to get the results you deserve.

Want to get the best results from the time you spend working out? Keep these seven tips front of mind.

Dr Jinger Gottschall is a university professor, studio owner, Les Mills instructor and former triathlete who has dedicated her career to academic fitness research. Here she shares some of her favorite fitness facts – highlighting exactly what it takes to shape a safe and effective training regime.

#1 CHOOSE THE RIGHT MOTIVATION

If you’re primarily motivated by external goals (how you look), it’s harder to maintain good exercise habits over time. You have a better chance of making a lifestyle change if you think about what internal factors motivate you. It might be lowering cholesterol, improving body composition, boosting energy, productivity and happiness. Choose internally-focused motivators like these and sticking to exercise will be much easier. Write your goals down. And if you want, share them. Sharing your goals with other like-minded people is proven to boost your chances of success through support.

#2 PROGRESSIVE TRAINING IS THE BEST BET

If you’re new to exercise or haven’t exercised regularly for over six months, studies show a slow, progressive training plan is the best way to build a habit and prevent burnout. Try not to do more than the plan specifies – by doing too much too soon you increase the risk of injury, not to mention frustration and the likelihood of giving up.

#3 VARIETY BRINGS RESULTS

The best results come when you follow a weekly regime that features a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility training. This was highlighted by a study involving 25 non-active, healthy adults who completed a training plan featuring a combination of LES MILLS™ workouts. After 30 weeks the exercisers saw an increase in lean tissue (+5 percent), a decrease in both body mass (-4 percent), and LDL cholesterol (-6 percent). And their cardiovascular fitness increased by an average of 50 percent. Thanks to results like these we can now confidently advise that a varied work out regime will significantly improve your chances of living a longer, healthier life.

#4 CHOOSE HIGH REP, STRENGTH TRAINING

Don’t shy away from lifting weights. Incorporating low load, high-repetition strength training can build strong, lean muscle and do amazing things for your fitness. We studied 20 non-active, healthy adults following a regime featuring three RPM™ cycling workouts and three BODYPUMP™ strength training sessions per week. After 24 weeks not only did cardiovascular fitness significantly increase, but bone density in the arms, legs, pelvis, and lumbar spine were statistically greater.

#5 LOW WEIGHTS MAXIMIZE CALORIE BURN

High repetition training with low weights can maximize calorie burn. Studies show the mean amount of energy expenditure during a BODYPUMP workout, using faster repetitions with lighter weights, is 29 percent greater than in the same duration of slower repetitions with heavier weights.

#6 ADD HIIT

If you already participate in three to five workouts per week, consider embracing the magic of high-intensity interval training. With the addition of just two 30-minute HIIT workouts a week you can see your health, fitness, and strength leap ahead. In a study of 84 healthy adults it took just six weeks of twice-weekly LES MILLS GRIT™ workouts for them to enjoy a decrease in body fat (-2 percent), a reduction in triglycerides (-16 percent), an increase in cardiovascular fitness (+6 percent) and improved back strength (+21 percent).

#7 DON’T FORGET YOUR CORE

Squeezing in the odd set of crunches isn’t going to give you the results you deserve. Core exercises that require shoulder (deltoid) and hip (glute) activity produce greater muscle activation in the abdominal muscles than exercises such as a crunch. Research shows that incorporating integrated core training into your workout regime can improve endurance, enhance stability and reduce injury.

Jinger Gottschall, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Penn State University, and former triathlete who learned first-hand the injury-inducing effects of doing nothing but cardio exercise. She has subsequently led numerous studies into the effectiveness of various exercise regimes and works closely with Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research, to test all sorts of exercise programming. When it comes to getting the best results from the time you spend working out, this woman knows the way to go.

This piece originally appeared on lesmills.com.

 

It Starts Today!

ENOUGH! Stop thinking and start doing. Yes, we’re talking to you!
We get that it can be difficult to start something new, so why not ease into it with these few ideas and soon you’ll be up early for a run and then heading to the gym before bed!

SWEAT BEFORE YOU SHOWER

As soon as you wake up, do a few sit-ups on your bed. Whilst you’re brushing your teeth, do a wall-sit or a few squats. Take some of the free time you have to include one or two exercises which will quickly become your morning routine. Get all of this done before you shower, and you will have done your workout for the day!

STAND UP

Sitting at a desk all day can get boring, so why not make it a little more exciting by standing up and walking around. It may seem silly but stretching your legs can help you feel better, as well as help you add some fitness to your workday. Instead of emailing a colleague, walk over to them, go on a short stroll outside on your lunchbreak, even if you just stand up and stretch for 30 seconds every hour, that’s something! It’s so much better for you to be stood up than sat down for most of the day.

ARE YOU REALLY HUNGRY?

One-way that people undo all the hard work they have put into their fitness routine is by snacking or eating too much. Obviously, if you’re hungry you need to eat, and you should be eating good, solid meals throughout the day to give you the energy to keep you going. However, snacking unhealthily or eating a lot when you think you’re hungry is counterproductive. If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not really hungry, you’re just bored. Always keep that in mind when you are feeling peckish and are heading over to the cupboard to grab something. Instead, go for a piece of fruit, and if you don’t fancy that, maybe you aren’t hungry after all.

ADD EXERCISE TO YOUR EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES

This is a super simple one to do, and you can switch it up each day or have a certain routine that you follow. Basically, when cooking, jog around the kitchen if you are waiting for something to boil, if you’re watching tv why not hold a plank during the adverts or do push ups. Just keep yourself moving, and by tying it in with your everyday activities, it won’t feel odd or boring.

USE THE STAIRS

When out and about, if you can, use the stairs instead of elevators or lifts. Climbing stairs raises your heart rate which is great cardio, as well as increases your core muscle strength. So, choose the stairs! It’s an easy workout to fit in without you even realising, and if you start now, whether out shopping or in a hotel, it will become second nature to use the stairs. It’s recommended that you walk at least 10,000 steps per day, so why not do something to help towards that goal!

WALK OR CYCLE

If you live close to where you work or where your daily commute takes you, why not walk or cycle? As well as getting in some exercise, your heart rate will rise which will fill your body with good hormones, making you happier and ready for the day ahead of you. If you’re a little further away, why not cycle, however if this isn’t possible, go on a bike ride when you get home from work or make it a regular weekend activity.

There isn’t time for excuses anymore, we’ve given you all you need to start doing what you’ve been talking about, so today is the day! Whether you decide to exercise whilst watching tv, think about your food, cycle to work, or take on board all of these ideas, you’re taking a step in the right direction, and all you need to do now is stick at it!

Group Workouts Shown to Improve Mental & Physical Wellbeing

By Carrie Knight for Fit Planet

A new study into the stress-relieving power of group fitness makes world headlines by proving what many have known all along – there is strength in numbers.

As the old proverb says, “necessity is the mother of invention”. When Dr. Dayna Yorks first arrived at medical school in Maine in 2013, she had a big problem. Group fitness classes were nonexistent on the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine campus, and she knew group exercise was necessary for her to maintain physical and mental health. What did this Les Mills instructor do about it?  She not only brought CXWORX™ to campus, she simultaneously studied the effects of the class on medical students.

Now her research, published in the the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association is gaining worldwide attention, including coverage in more than 30 media outlets, for its overall finding that group fitness improves mental and physical wellbeing.

Those who did at least one class a week had a statistically significant decrease in stress, and an improvement in mental, physical, and emotional quality of life.

Yorks has always excelled in sports. She played college softball (pitcher and first baseman) at university, and was chosen as captain in her senior year. When she graduated team sports ended, and Yorks felt something was missing from her life.

“I somewhat begrudgingly tried a BODYPUMP class on the suggestion of my dad. I would have much rather been lifting big weights on the floor! Turns out that I loved it!” she says. “Group fitness filled the void that was missing as I was no longer a part of a team. I started as an enthusiastic participant, then took the leap to become an instructor about 10 years ago.”

Group exercise kept Yorks fit, provided her with social connections, and offered stress relief. “Exercise has always been my outlet, and by the time I started medical school, group fitness in particular was something I needed to feel grounded, whole, and alive,” she explains.

Without a formal group exercise program at medical school, Yorks once again felt that void. “I infrequently taught free-style classes to small groups of friends in an effort to feel like myself. I’ll never forget being in the [medical school gym’s] locker room, and one of my friends said to me, ‘Dayna, you need to figure out how to create an enduring group fitness program that will live on after you leave campus.’ It was her suggestion that inspired me to do just that.”

She did just that and much more. Yorks wanted to provide her fellow students with something lasting that would not only improve their physical fitness but also provide desperately needed stress relief. “Research has shown that incidences of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder are five-fold higher in medical trainees than their age-matched, non-medical counterparts,” she says. “Additionally, many students and physicians suffer from burnout, fatigue, alcoholism, and even suicide.”

The answer for Yorks was obvious. She set her sights on Les Mills. “I realized that if I could get the school to fund the license for a Les Mills format, then I could effectively lay the foundation for an enduring group fitness program. LES MILLS programs have a strong infrastructure – there are multiple Initial Training Modules across the country for new students to become certified, and instructors are provided with music and choreography, which ensures fresh sounds and safe, effective programming based on science. I chose CXWORX because it’s only a half-hour long, requires minimal equipment, and I knew its focus on core and functional training would be relevant for future physicians.”

Yorks also chose CXWORX because of its potential to affect the way these future doctors practice medicine. “The third leading cause for patients to seek care from a primary care physician is low-back pain, and many times, it can be treated with core exercises,” says Yorks. “By affording medical students a class where they could experience core training first hand, it would hopefully carry over into their future practice as physicians.  Research also shows that medical students who engage in physical exercise are more likely to encourage their patients to do so as well.”

It was during a workout at the gym that her anatomy professor suggested she also consider a research project.  “We both agreed that concrete data on the effects of group fitness on medical student wellness would be helpful in procuring continued funding for the future. I worked in research prior to starting medical school so I was familiar with the process.”

CXWORX was a huge hit and was regularly attended by 70 students and staff. “I’ve never taught to so many people in a CXWORX class in my life,” beams Yorks.

The focus of the research was two-fold: “We wanted to see if participation in group exercise, individual exercise, or no exercise would have an effect on the wellbeing of medical students.”  To that end, Yorks and her team hypothesized that:

  1. Participation in regular exercise would yield decreased perceived stress and increased physical, mental, and emotional quality of life.
  2. Participation in group fitness classes would yield greater stress reduction and quality of life improvement than exercising individually.

Bottom line? They were right!

“Essentially, we found that those who participated in at least one CXWORX class a week had a statistically significant decrease in stress, and an improvement in mental, physical, and emotional quality of life. Those who exercised individually showed improvement in mental quality of life, but no other significant changes were noted. This suggests that participation in group fitness classes could be a solution to improving the wellbeing of medical students.”

Specifically, the data showed the CXWORX group experienced:

  • 6 percent increase in mental Quality of Life (QOL)
  • 8 percent increase in physical QOL
  • 26 percent increase in emotional QOL
  • 2 percent decrease in perceived stress

“The individual exercise group had an 11 percent increase in mental QOL, but otherwise, no other statistically significant changes were observed,” Yorks explains.

Without discounting the well-demonstrated benefits of working out individually, the study suggests the “group effect” does have a particular significance: “The possibility that the social aspects of group exercise improved QOL and decreased stress also cannot be discounted. The social component of group exercise is therapeutic. Furthermore, group exercise classes often use up-tempo music and choreography to make the class more fun and engaging. Bringing together medical students who are all going through similar stresses to work out and have fun may transcend the experience of working out on their own.”

She has been both overwhelmed and thrilled by the media attention her project has attracted. “It certainly was not our intention to take the media by storm, nor were we expecting it,” she says. “Having the study disseminated on such a large scale is also a gift. Our study advocates for a shift in medical education and training to address student and physician wellness, in particular through group fitness. The more people who can become aware of the need for this change and the power of group exercise, the better!”

Today, Yorks is completing residency training to specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. “I hope to do additional research in the future, potentially a similar project but for medical residents, which is arguably an even more stressful time in a physician’s career.”

While Yorks’ schedule may seem daunting, she says it’s well worth it. “It was towards the end of my medical education that I became a part of the Les Mills US Trainer team. So yes, juggling all of these roles is challenging! But I can’t imagine my life without all of them. I do the best I can, lead with my heart, and realize it’s okay to be ‘hashtag perfectnever’.”

TAKE FIVE

  • Medical students suffer above average stress-related depression and anxiety – making them an ideal study group
  • The study used Les Mills’ CXWORX classes attended by 70 students and staff
  • Those who attended at least one class per week showed lower stress levels
  • Compared to individual exercisers, those in the group class scored higher for stress-reduction and physical, mental and emotional quality of life
  • It was hypothesized that the social component of group exercise in itself is therapeutic.

Dayna Yorks is a medical doctor and researcher who, as a member of the Les Mills US trainer team, helps inspire and upskill a growing tribe of group fitness instructors.

If you want more tried, tested and true news from the leading edge of health and fitness sign up to get Fit Planet insights and advice straight to your inbox.

Follow the freshest thinking @fitplanetmag.

This piece originally appeared on lesmills.com.

Workout Myths

You want to start exercising more regularly but are unsure about strange things your friends have said or you’ve read online? Don’t worry, working out can be super easy and fun, and here are some busted myths to prove it!

Yoga Isn't A Real Workout

Yoga can seem quite relaxed to some people, suggesting it is more stretching than working on your body. However, it is proven to increase strength and flexibility, as well as having many other benefits you may not get from a general workout. It helps tone your body, as well as reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and chronic pain. It is a more mellow workout than others, but stick at it, and you will feel so much better for doing it. Some sessions can be intense on your joints, and push your flexibility, but it isn't as intense on your cardiovascular system as other types of workout can be, meaning your heart rate will stay at a normal, steady pace. If it's not as high intensity as you would like your workouts to be, why not use it to cool down, or to give your body a break once in a while. It is proven to calm you and make your body feel good after all.

You Need To Workout Everyday

Working out every day isn’t bad. Each day you should go on a walk, climb stairs, eat well, do at least some physical activity to get your blood flow moving. However, repeating heavy workouts everyday can be tiring, and harmful to your body without rest. You may feel that the only way to get fit, or even build muscle is to be at the gym, but your body actually only begins to change and improve when you're not working out. Not monitoring your exercise and the intensity, can also not help weight loss as it could mean your targets are all over the place, meaning your body isn't benefiting from what you're doing. Make a workout plan, including rest days, and you should see a difference in your body in just a few weeks. If you are unsure, or want to speak to someone, you can always come and visit one of our gyms to speak to us personally.

The Longer You Workout, The Better

Like the previous point, working out every day and for a long time isn’t bad, but it can be hard on your body and not help you see the results you want to see. It is often best to workout for under 60 minutes and then rest. If you work out for 30 minutes for 5 days a week, you will allow yourself to burn calories, as well as let your body recover. It is proven that short bursts of exercise are more efficient than long sessions as you are able to work harder more quickly, rather than trying to pace yourself. If you are unsure, try a HIIT workout once or twice, to see if short workouts work better for you. You should see an increase in fitness levels after about 20 minutes if you do.

No Pain, No Gain

Apparently, if the workout you are doing is painful, your body is changing and doing better because of it. You do want to challenge your body whilst working out, or you won't change and see the results you want. However, if you’re in pain, surely that isn’t a good thing. Fatigue and mild soreness is normal when exercising, but exercise plans shouldn't be painful, or even unbearable to your body. When working out, listen to your body. If you need to stop for a break, stop. It’s OK. If you’re in pain, stop. You don’t want to cause serious damage to your body. Exercise is meant to improve your quality of life, so know your limitations, and don't push yourself to do something you can't.

There are so many other myths and facts that get muddled together which confuse people, but hopefully this short list helps you understand some of the most frequent statements we hear, and figure out fake news from the facts yourself.

What is the craziest fitness myth you’ve ever heard?

Do I Need a Personal Trainer?

Going to the gym and working out on your own is completely fine, however a lot of people prefer to have someone keeping them on track and personalising what the gym offers to suit them more. Therefore, some gym goers also have a personal trainer. It’s proven that gym goers will work 5 times harder with a personal trainer. Here’s a list explaining why:

Good For People Who Don't Know Where To Start

It can be really intimidating to join a gym and not know what to do to help you get to where you want to be. Staff members will be able to point you in the right direction; however, it can be hard to ask again and again. If you really are struggling, speak to someone about getting a personal trainer, so you can talk to someone about how you feel and where you want to see yourself in a few years. Personal trainers know what works and what doesn’t for different people, if you really want to make the gym part of your daily routine, a personal trainer is a good place to start.

Help Clients Achieve Their Goals

Personal Trainers truly do want to help their clients. It’s their job, and they wouldn’t have chosen to do it if they didn’t know about fitness or enjoy it. At some point, they must’ve been unhappy with their body to want to start going to the gym and learning more about working out. They know how to help the people they work with get to where they want to be.

Motivation

Working out on your own can be nice as you’re able to go at your own pace and stop if you need to, but this also allows you to stop when you want to. Having someone with you can really motivate you to keep going and see the change over a shorter amount of time. Having someone to motivate you pushes you to work harder and get closer to your goals.

Personalised Training Plans

A personal trainer does exactly that, trains you personally. Depending on your body type, goals, and anything else, these people will be a trainer for you, rather than a group or a gym as a whole. It can be hard to know what to do to kickstart your fitness journey and keep it going, so having someone who know what to do as well as making it personalised to you, makes having a personal trainer worthwhile.

Continues Outside of The Gym

Even though a lot of people stay healthy outside of the gym, some people workout in the gym and then don’t continue that when they leave. People then wonder why they haven’t yet achieved their perfect weight, however with a personal trainer, the gym becomes a life style, rather than a choice for every now and then. Personal trainers offer plans for their clients, from eating schedules and recipes to lifestyle changes, to help their customers get the most out of their sessions and new lifestyle.

Obviously personal trainers aren’t for everyone, but why not speak to us at Gym & Tonic, or your local gym to find out how you can benefit from one!

What Is Functional Training?

Functional training may be something you haven’t heard of before. It is a range of fitness exercises that allow you to train your muscles to work together and prepare them to perform everyday tasks more easily and without injuries, whether at home, work, or during sports sessions. Functional training mainly uses weight bearing activities targeted at the lower back as well as the core muscles of the abdomen.

Body building normally uses machines which isolate certain muscles, which may be un-beneficial to most people who want to train their whole body rather than just certain sections. Functional Training is NOT that. Functional training uses equipment that helps train your muscles to be a whole, which is fantastic for sport, general life, mobility, and much more. This type of training also allows you to work at your own pace which most people prefer, especially in a gym environment.

Types of functional training equipment you may find with us and other gyms can include:

Functional Rigs

Described as ‘the ultimate piece of strength and conditioning equipment’, functional rigs allow fast and effective whole-body workouts that deliver results. As these rigs are often quite large, more than one person can use the equipment at one time, and are perfect for anyone of any skill level and regardless of ability.

Olympic Lifts

These can be difficult to learn, however once acquired, these ranges of lifts with weights can improve athletic performance, strength and power, balance, stability, and coordination.

Hiit Mill

Unlike a standard treadmill, the Hiit Mill is self-powered to build speed and strength, especially during a Hiit (High-intensity Interval Training) workout.

Dumbbells

Free weights, such as dumbbells, can be found in most gyms, but are brilliant for functional training as they can be used for a huge range of exercises to build muscle.

Medicine Balls

These are a great choice for developing strength, coordination, and endurance. Medicine balls engage your whole body and can add intensity to a range of endurance and strength exercises to get your body working harder. During functional training, many people use them whilst performing squats and sit-ups.

Functional training relates to real people for real life. It’s great for elderly people who want to strengthen themselves for things they may now find difficult at an older age, such as climbing stairs, picking things up, and mobility. It works. So many people are now talking about it, and how great it is to workout your whole body, rather than just certain parts.

Do you think you will give it a go?

Fitness instructor doing squat

Build that booty!

Build your booty with these simple exercises! Each exercise is great for building the perfect butt and can be done either at home or in the gym so no equipment required. The workout really makes your bum burn and makes you feel amazing as well!

Some tips

Before we jump straight into it here are a few tips to remember whilst working out to make sure you don't injure yourself and to get the best results for your booty workout!

Make sure your movements are slow and controlled, this gets harder as you get tired but try and keep your form as best you can.

When squatting and lunging make sure your knees don't go over your ankles and keep the weight going through the balls and ankles of the feet not the toes.

It is important to consume enough protein for your butt to build itself so make sure you have enough in your diet, protein shakes are a great way to supplement if you are struggling.

The Workout

Weighted exercises or body weight alternatives

Squats 10-15 or Bodyweight Squats 15+
Sumo Cable Squats 10-15 or Sumo Squats 15+
Standing Lunge 10-15 or Walking Lunge 15+
Weighted Hip Thrusts 10-15 or Hip Thrusts 15+
Cable Kickbacks 10-15 or Kickbacks 15+ (Each leg!)
Cable Hip Abduction 10-15 or Hip Abduction 15+ (Each leg!)
Cable Glute Press 10-15 or Glute Press 15+ (Each leg!)

Try to do each set of exercises 2-3 times with a rest in between.

Be sure to let us know how you get on or if you have any tips for building your butt!

Fitness instructor doing HIIT workout

Keep the family fit this summer!

As we juggle work and family sometimes in the school holidays we struggle to keep our fitness goals on track & as we know consistency is key, so we’ve come up with a few tips for both adults & kids so you can spend quality time together and keep active as a family.
The Heart Association recommend that children age and over participate in an hour of moderate activity every day. While an hour each day might sound like a large chunk of time, there are many ways to incorporate activity into your daily family routine.

Get Moving

Adding a new twist can make mundane things super fun and healthy!

Go for pre or post dinner walks - Stroll around the block with the dog or make it a bit of a game of an evening walk, take it in turns to pick a goal, hop to the red car, job to the next lamp post etc.

Crank up the music and boogie - Move the furniture aside, pick all your favourite tracks and dance!

Turn TV advert breaks into fitness breaks - Pick an exercise to do at each TV break, make them simple: squats, press ups, sit ups. Alternatively play COACH: take it in turns "ordering" each other to "drop and give me 5" or "follow the leader".

Have a weekly sports night - go out and pick a sport to do together, go swimming, play badminton, go to the driving range!

Make your own FIT CARDS (This can be HILARIOUS!) - Create a series of cards featuring family friendly exercises, such as bear crawling or ape walking, shuffle the cards and each person picks a card and performs the exercise

Helping with the chores - Washing the car, sweeping the patio, hoovering the lounge, cleaning the windows: put some music on and sing away!

Family Fitness Ideas in Staffordshire

No need to travel far!

Take a walk up to Stafford Castle

Cycle the Isabel trail (the old railway line)

Exhaust yourselves at Flip Out indoor trampoline park

Go to the Town Park

Play Laser Tag at Tenpin

Go on an adventure at Cannock Chase (take a picnic)

Row a boat at Trenham Estate

Top tips to get your family moving

Take it in turns to pick your favourite!

Play hide and seek or be creative and create your own game

Play your favourite sport

Go pick-your-own fruits (apples, strawberries) at a local farm

Go on a bike ride or a hike

Go swimming and see who can tread water the longest or dive under each others' legs

Create an obstacle course

Squirt gun/water balloon fight

Go swimming

Try skating, rollerblading, skateboarding or even ride a scooter

Do your own garden Olympics, create your own events

Summer family workout

And here is our quick no equipment workout that can be done anywhere! It doesn't require any equipment so is perfect for the whole family to do together!

Let us know how you get on with our suggestions and be sure to send any photos or videos of the family keeping active over the holidays to stafford@gym-tonic.net or uttoxeter@gym-tonic.net; we'd love to hear from you!