Fitness Apps to Help You Shape Up!

Smartphones, and the apps we love have revolutionized our lives in so many ways. Whether it’s destroying fruit with a swipe of your finger or becoming “Mayor” of your local coffee shop, its undeniable that we are firmly attached to being connected.

 

“There’s an app for that”, as Apple coined when it introduced us to the world of apps in 2008 is a literal description of what the smartphone app landscape looks like, with hundreds of thousands of apps in existence. The fitness space has a ton of its own. From the seemingly ridiculous (getting chased by zombies) to the social (sharing workouts that doesn’t involve posting to Facebook), I’ve chosen a handful of apps I can’t live without. And the best part? Many of these are free!

 

1. Couch to 5k

 

What It Is: Get the support you need to train for your first 5k! It’s great for someone just getting started, or restarting, his or her fitness journey. Train for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week, in 9 weeks. Use training tools, music-synch and virtual coaching to run 3.1 miles.

 

The Skinny: Free. Available in the iPhone App Store and Google Play.

 

2. Zombies, Run!

 

What It Is: Train and conquer your fear of the Zombie Apocalypse at the same time! With over 60 missions, use this creative app to literally run from zombies! It’s simple: put on your headphones, press start and start running. As running game and audio adventure, co-created with award-winning novelist Naomi Aldermen, you’ll be ready for your Walking Dead cameo in no time!

 

The Skinny: $3.99. Available in the iPhone App Store and Google Play. Learn more at www.zombiesrungame.com

 

3. Kettlebell Training: The Basics

 

What It Is: Ready to try something a little different? Kettlebells are an excellent full body workout and can help someone bored with free weights breathe life back into their workout! RKC Certified Kettlebell instructor Robert Budd safely walks you through the basic kettlebell exercises. With over 20 exercises and 12 complete workouts, you won’t get bored soon!

 

The Skinny: $1.99. Available in the iPhone App Store.

 

4. MyFitness Pal

 

What It Is: You’re probably already familiar with this giant of the fitness-app landscape. It’s a hit for good reason: it’s awesome. With MyFitnessPal, track your calories with a database of over two million (yes, million) food items; it’s easy to track any kind of diet. And with Notifications throughout the day, it won’t let you forget to log your meals.

 

The Skinny: Free. Available in the iPhone App Store and Google Play, Windows Phone and Blackberry.

 

5. Fitocracy

 

What It Is: Fitness is social to many people, and Fitocracy ties the social nature of fitness together. It’s a community of like-minded folks, sharing their workouts, progress, and gym-friendly content. Join in the fun and find motivation through a network of social fitness friends.

 

The Skinny: $3.99. Available in the iPhone App Store and Google Play.

 

6. Strava

 

What It Is: Track bike rides and runs without lifting a finger. Strava lets user upload their workout data from their iPhone, Android or Garmin, and the app automatically logs workouts in its system. Users can compare their workouts to previous rides or runs or see how they fare against others.

 

The Skinny: Free. Available in the iPhone App Store and Google Play.

 

7. Instagram

 

What It Is: I know what you’re thinking, “This is a photo app!” But it’s oh so much more. Between all the selfies, hash tags and puppy pics, this photo app is where more than 100 million active users come to show off their healthy culinary genius, fitness feats, and everyday adventures. It’s motivation through photography. Join communities by using “hash tags”. A personal favorite hash tag is the #inshapelifestyle campaign, focused on sharing fitness-related goals and progress.

 

The Skinny: Free. Available in the iPhone App Store and Google Play.

 

What apps do you use to stay fit, healthy and happy? Let us know at facebook.com/inshape

 

About the Author: Mike Daniel is the Digital Marketing and Creative Director for In-Shape Health Clubs, one of the nations largest health club chains, with 65 locations throughout California. You can find him on Twitter, Vine or Facebook @mikejdaniel.

Get Fit! Stay Motivated in 10 Easy Steps

We all know that a good workout helps you run on all cylinders. Not only is it great for the mind, body and soul, but also it will help you live longer, gain focus and a ton of other benefits. But how do you go from being a sporadic exerciser to someone with a lifelong fitness habit that feels as natural as going to work and eating regular meals?

Here are a few tips from someone who has been on both sides.

  1. Why are you doing this? Are you trying to fit in a wedding dress? Looking to shed pounds to fit into an old pair of jeans? Or are you looking to increase your energy, sleep better, or a heightened sense of well-being?  A long-term focus is key to help create a fitness habit. If you’re doing this for anyone else (for example, your spouse says you need to lose weight) you need a new reason – and your spouse may need to sleep on the couch for a few days.
  2. Set goals you can achieve. Set both short and long term goals. Make sure your goals are achievable enough that they are not discouraging, but high enough to challenge yourself. A short-term goal can be a 30-45 day strategy, and a long-term goal can be over the course of a year.
  3. Let your own two eyes motivate you. If you’re anything like me, visual evidence is a big motivator. Take before pictures of yourself in your workout gear. Continue to take photos monthly so you have visual evidence of your results.
  4. Log it. Keep a journal to help you along the way. Write down how your routine is making you feel each day. How your exercise is helping you sleep, meet your weight loss goals, gain strength and so on. Do some exercises have more effects than others? Chart your progress and use your journal as a guide for your short and long-term goals.
  5. Do it the right way. Make sure to use proper technique. This is important to help avoid injury and unnecessary strain on your body. We always recommend discussing any concerns with your doctor. If you are not sure on how to properly perform a technique, talk to a licensed personal trainer.
  6. Join an online community. We recommend the In-Shape Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/inshape). It’s a great community of members who share motivational content, tips and tools to succeed. The In-Shape blog is another great resource that includes how-to videos on great workouts!
  7. Hire a trainer. If you’re feeling lost (and who doesn’t when they are getting started?) or find yourself in a rut, a personal trainer is chock full of knowledge and will teach you new techniques and help motivate you as well.
  8. Take a class or two. Or even three! There are classes available at most In-Shape clubs throughout the day, and offer a variety of great workouts! Whether you want to groove in a ZUMBA class, or hit the road in a group cycling class and all things in between – you get the benefit of a structured program and the camaraderie from being part of a group that will encourage and motivate you to push yourself further.
  9. Mix it up. Sometimes you just don’t feel like hitting the treadmill, or need a day away from your group class. On those days, mix it up! Many In-Shape clubs offer a variety of amenities like heated indoor pools, tennis, racquetball courts and more!
  10. Make it about you. Think of exercise as a gift you give yourself. A way to stay balanced and focused, and time for yourself to get away from your busy schedule to focus on you.

- Mike D.

Why Do You Self-Sabotage?

How long have you been trying to lose those last 10 or 20 or 30 pounds? Been a while now, hasn’t it? You know how to lose weight – eat healthy and exercise – so why are you still living in a body that you’re disappointed with? In my experience, people hold on to “unwanted” pounds for very specific reasons. These reasons are on a subconscious level, which is where things get tricky. Self-sabotage is your subconscious mind’s way of protecting you. Seems counterproductive, but it makes sense when you realize that it is a defense mechanism meant to keep things from changing. Your conscious mind says it wants to lose weight to look and feel amazing, but your subconscious mind is pulling the strings behind the scenes, keeping your goals just out of reach. As long as your subconscious mind thinks that you are safer being out-of-shape then you’ll be stuck. Your most valiant efforts will be undermined by self-sabotage every single time. But don’t give up. There’s a way to turn everything around, and it all starts with finding out the reason that your subconscious mind equates being out-of-shape with being safe. Once you turn the light on to that reason then it will no longer have any power over you.

So, let’s dig around for your reason.

  • Do you believe… You don’t deserve it? Has someone in your life made you believe that you aren’t worthy of success? Or that they wouldn’t accept you if you were more successful than they are?
  • Do you believe… Change is bad? It’s common to fear the unknown, but this could very well be the reason that you’re not reaching your goal. Being comfortable with where you are today could be the reason that you sabotage your efforts to improve your life through change.
  • Do you believe…Success will bring loss? If you met your weight loss goal, would it bring out resentment and jealousy in your friends and family? Are you supposed to be the ‘screw-up’?
  • Do you believe…You’re not capable? Are you unable to imagine yourself at your goal weight? Does the possibility of achieving your goal not seem real?

Spend time diving into your own mind to discover why it is that you aren’t meeting your goals. Once your whole mind is primed for success, then nothing will be able to stop you.

What the mind believes the body achieves.

Exercise is a huge part of the equation when it comes to achieving weight loss. I am passionate about seeing my clients achieve results – without wasting time, energy and effort on mistakes.

- Tobias Young

Functional Movement Series – Medicine Ball Twists

This In-Shape Health Clubs Functional Movement video walks you through the proper technique for a Medicine Ball Twist.

Do You Make These 5 Fitness Mistakes?

Stroll through any gym and you’ll notice many mistakes. Mistakes that waste time. Mistakes that put people in danger. And mistakes that are just plain crazy.

Maybe you even make a few of these mistakes yourself.

By avoiding these common blunders, you’ll put yourself on the fast track to results.

Check out the following 5 fitness mistakes and the solutions you need to avoid danger and to get fit fast.

Mistake 1: You use the wrong weight
The goal is to challenge your muscles, not to simply go through the motions. If you are able to complete 15 repetitions easily, then the weight is too light. On the flip side, if you aren’t able to perform an exercise through its full range of motion, and find yourself cheating on form, then the weight is too heavy.

The correct weights will feel challenging by your last few repetitions, but won’t force you to sacrifice form.

Mistake 2: You do the same routine
You may have noticed that most people do the same exercises each time they visit the gym. Maybe you’ve been doing the same exercise routine as long as you can remember – if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it, right?

The truth is that exercise routines have expiration dates, and that is the date that they begin to lose their effectiveness. As a rule of thumb never use the same routine for more than 4 weeks.

Mistake 3: You don’t warm up
Most people consider warm up time to be wasted time – they’d rather jump right into the heart of the routine. What they don’t realize is that a good warm up will allow you to perform at a higher intensity, which means greater results.

The point of a warm up is to increase your muscle temperature. This increases blood flow, muscle contraction and reduces muscle resistance. Your warm up should last 5-10 minutes.

Mistake 4: You use bad form
Gyms are filled with people performing exercises with bad form. The two biggest reasons are that you aren’t concentrating on the exercise, or you’re trying to lift weight that is too heavy. Lifting with improper form almost always results in injury.

Take the time to achieve proper form, by doing so you’ll avoid injury and will reap the full benefit from each exercise.

Mistake 5: You workout alone
People who exercise alone are less challenged, less accountable and typically see fewer results. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Why rush to the gym if no one is there waiting for you? Why push yourself if no one is watching? Exercising alone is a recipe for disaster.

The best way to avoid injury and to see results is to work with me, your trusted source on fitness.

I am passionate about seeing my clients achieve results – without wasting time, energy and effort on mistakes.

Don’t know where to start when it comes to exercise? That’s where I come in.

Call or email me today and we will get you started on the exercise program that is right for you.

-Tobias Young

Account-a-denim-bility: Say it with me

Trick or treat, dark meat or white meat, to give or to receive. Do I only get to choose one? If only you can have it all; the candy, the food, and the desserts. Are your pants starting to shrink just thinking about how nothing can prepare you for what is to come? No, but I do feel bloated. I believe that the best offense is a strong defense. Does that mean: not eating anything, avoiding seconds, laying off the wine, saying no to Grandma’s homemade pie, wearing a really tight girdle, or counting every single calorie until the new year begins?  Of course not, with the immense number of ways to hold yourself accountable during the upcoming holiday season, I have an idea that will hopefully help you to keep your sanity and the same pants you’re wearing.  

The key to your holiday success is not in what the scale measures, but in making sure you can still wear the same pants that you have on right now on the first day of 2013.  Everyone has their favorite pair of jeans that they love regardless of how they fit. Sometimes you have to force them on or you fall right into them, put them one with leg at a time or try something new. Whatever the case may be, those pair of jeans can be the answer to the most common weight gaining season. You stop taking care of yourself and sleeping well, as you are beginning to eat poorly and too much. By not having to worry so much about a baseline measure that is so finite, like inches or pounds, jeans allow you to find your baseline size, even while you do your Black Friday shopping.

Black Friday would be a perfect time to pick up a pair of jeans. It could be those that you have had your eyes on, those ones  you were waiting to go on sale, in your size , or even find a pair that may fit you just a little tight. Regardless, try them on, buy them, and put them away until January 1, 2013. This would give you just a little over five weeks to make an effort to get into those jeans.

Please be aware that different brands make their sizes different; that being said, you should not buy a pair of jeans more than two sizes smaller, even two would be pushing it, if you haven’t tried on that pair in your current size. You don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment by buying without trying them on of course. If jeans aren’t your thing then choose: a pair of slacks, a skirt, shorts, gym shorts, yoga pants, etc. If you’d rather save some cash and dig deep into your closet to an older pair of jeans as a goal, then that works just as good. I think you get the idea here, just find something that you can have as a goal to wear.

Being prepared is critical in anything you do during the holidays with travel arrangements, buying enough food, and making sure it’s all ready at a set time. You owe it to yourself to try a new way to avoid the holiday weight; whether it’s maintaining your size or just trying to get a jump start on that New Year’s resolution, find a size of jeans to hold yourself accountable to. Being prepared can definitely be promising in your strategy, simply remember these steps:  either dig in your closet and try on, or try on and buy, then store away until New Year’s. Plus, it’s a good excuse to buy something, you deserve it.

Santos Ahmed Lara, CSCS

CHICKEN ENCHILASAGNA

Chicken Enchilasagna

I’d gotten so many requests from fans to make over enchiladas that I started playing around with the ingredients to see what I could do. After perfecting them, I decided I needed to figure out a way to cut the prep time. And so, this recipe was born. This is as easy as making a throw-together lasagna. Plus, it’s nice and lean with a great protein-to-carbohydrate ratio, and it tastes just as decadent as restaurant enchiladas.

2 teaspoons salt-free Mexican or Southwest seasoning (see page 17)
2 teaspoons lower-sodium burrito seasoning or taco seasoning (see pages 15 and 18)
11/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, visible fat removed Olive oil spray
11/4 cups canned traditional mild enchilada sauce 1 cup canned medium green chile enchilada sauce
4 ounces (about 2 cups) finely shredded Cabot’s 75% Light Cheddar cheese, or your favorite low-fat Cheddar
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup sliced drained black olives
3 tablespoons canned, drained, and chopped green chiles
Eight 6-inch white or yellow corn tortillas

Preheat a grill to high. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Mix the Mexican seasoning and burrito seasoning in a small bowl. Rub the mixture evenly over the chicken breasts to cover them. Lightly mist both sides of the breasts with spray. Let stand for 10 minutes, and then place the breasts side by side on the grill. Turn the heat to medium, if possible, and grill for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until no longer pink inside. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the enchilada sauces in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Set aside.
Mix the cheese, cilantro, olives, and chiles in a second medium bowl. Set aside.
Coarsely chop the chicken breasts.
Cut or tear each tortilla into about 9 roughly even pieces.
Spread 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of an 8 X 8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover the sauce evenly with about a third of the tortilla pieces. Then sprinkle about half of the chicken over them. Pour about 2/3 cup of the sauce evenly over that. Then sprinkle a third of the cheese mixture over that.
Repeat layering with half of the remaining tortillas, the remaining chicken, 2/3 cup of sauce, then half of the remaining cheese mixture. Follow that with another layer of the tortillas, then the remaining sauce, then the remaining cheese mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Then remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into 4 or 8 pieces and serve immediately.

MAKES 1 CASSEROLE; 4 SERVINGS OR 8 PORTIONS
Each ( 1/8 casserole) portion has: 201 calories, 23 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 46 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 531 mg sodium
Each ( 1/4 casserole) portion has: 401 calories, 46 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 92 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 1,063 mg sodium

Recipe taken from Devin Alexander’s THE MOST DECADENT DIET EVER!
Copyright © 2008 by Devin Alexander published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House Inc.
http://www.devinalexander.com
Photo Credit: Theresa Raffetto

A Cocktail of Creativity: From the Couch to Top 100 in 6 Months

Mike D.

It’s safe to say that most people would agree that living a healthy lifestyle is a good thing. If you’re reading this, my guess is that you have made a commitment, in one way or another, to living a fit lifestyle. Whether it’s heading to your local In-Shape for an early morning cycling class, checking out the cool 29-Minute Circuit program, or hitting the free weights, you do something with the goal of living an “In-Shape Lifestyle.”

The question that always seems to be asked is, “How do I juggle everything on my plate while also meeting my fitness goals?” Six months ago, I was trying to figure out an answer to that question.

Here’s a little background on me: I’m a 31-year old recent father and semi-recent husband. Prior to diving in head first to marriage and family, I had the time to commit to myself to working out in a way that doesn’t seem to happen as much these days. Marriage and family commitments take a front seat to some of my personal wants. The question I asked myself was, “How do I fit everything in?” The answer: with a little creativity!

I’ve found setting goals works for me. For example, I’ve always enjoyed running, but have had difficulty sticking to it long-term. I had to figure out a goal-oriented solution that would make running a personal competition of sorts. As someone who considers himself competitive, challenging myself was something that made sense to me. I decided that I would start training to run either a 5k, 10k, or a competitive mud run once a month throughout the year.

The next step was finding a time to fit working out in my busy schedule of work and family.  I always work out better in the morning, so heading to the gym before my wife and son were awake.  That way I wasn’t missing any time I could be spending with them since I had to be away all day for work. Sure, getting up at 4:45 in the morning was not my first choice, but it got me up and allowed me to spend more time with my family.

If I was going to do this, my goal was to consistently get better and better with every run I took on. I laid out a strategy. Starting in January of this year, I started training by hitting the treadmill several times a week. The more time I spent on the treadmill, I gained confidence in my running, and decided in March to take on my first monthly run – a 10k race that included quite a bit of uphill running. I didn’t set the world on fire, but it was a start!

Fast-forward 6 months, and I just participated in the Del Osso Farms Mud Run in Lathrop, CA in September. Between my treadmill running, other resistance training focused on building endurance, and one run a month, I went from running an 11 minute mile in March to smashing through the mud run, coming in the Top 100 of 2,900 participants. It was exciting for me to see how I got from point A to B in less than a year. I attribute my success to a cocktail of planning, creativity, and goal setting. Sprinkle in a good diet and fitness-based activities with my lovely wife (more on those coming soon) and I am feeling better at 31 than I did at 21!

What do you do to stay fit while juggling what life brings at you? Any advice you have for someone looking to take on a new challenge?

-Mike D.

Fitness and the Holidays

Turkeys, wines, and pies, oh my! Yes, that’s right, the holidays are coming.  This is my favorite time of the year. Why? The joy, the giving, the spirit, and let’s not forget about the food. Ah yes, the food; the cornerstone of the holidays, the reason why we enjoy the joyous occasions,  what brings families together, and what makes the scale go up. What? You can prevent that unwanted holiday weight that tends to linger after fall begins, and for the months to follow, by not indulging in food, sweets, and alcohol as freely. This is intended to help you keep up your commitment to those fitness goals that were made when summer began and stay motivated during the toughest time to keep your fitness goals in mind. Your body, health, and overall well-being should not be compromised over a few cheat days. A few cheat days will not compromise your goals, it’s believing that since you are going to have these cheat days you should not try to reduce the effects of them. How can we stay motivated, adapt to the foods, and stay active? We don’t have to go so far out of our way to enjoy the time with our families and stay committed to our goals, we just have to combine the two.

The food may be the most enjoyable during these festive times that awaits us but let’s be honest, most of us don’t eat they way we do during the holidays on a normal basis. By that I mean that we usually don’t go for seconds, or thirds, indulge in dessert, and finish off a few bottles of wine at the dinner table. Not to say that you should not enjoy yourself, but think about how much that can effect you  afterwards. ‘Well maybe, I can have a little bit more.’ If you hear a little voice in your head saying this, stop listening to it and wait to see how full you actually feel.  It takes roughly 20 minutes before your brain begins to register that you are full, meaning there is a bit of a delay before that feeling of ‘stuffed’ settles in. Also, ‘just a little bit more’ could mean the difference of not being able to fit into your favorite pair of jeans or still being able to wear them after the holidays.  Slow down, don’t rush, enjoy the food, wine, sweets, and be aware of that little voice that says, ‘just a little bit more.’

In-Shape is growing, and luckily enough, there may be a gym where you are going or nearby. Why not do the research? It’s only a click away, simply go to inshapeclubs.com and look at the different locations that we have to offer, there are over 60 clubs to choose from.  Most of us begin to make plans at least a month ahead of time, therefore if you have family coming into town get them some guest passes. If you are traveling out of town for the holidays, make sure to bring a gym bag with you. This does not mean that you are bringing it just to bring it, it means that you plan on being active at some part of the holiday break. For example, let’s say you are going to a town where there is a 5k or 10k run traditionally on Thanksgiving morning, ask your relatives if they and anyone they know would be interested in joining and doing it with you.  Is there a park nearby that you and a cousin, aunt, uncle, or anyone would be willing to go for a walk just for the sake of taking a walk. Let’s be honest, the holidays can be very hectic for us especially with so many people with different agendas and with so many mouths to feed. As opposed to bottling in that stress, take a walk and bring a family member along. It can really help to create a healthy bonding atmosphere much like the dinner table can on a festive holiday.

The most important idea that you must keep in mind is that though the holidays are coming there is no need to be fearful of the effects of it if you have a strategy.  Don’t overeat by slowing down between servings, be active, and most importantly invite your family members to do so as well. As much as this time of the year is about festivities and giving, either thanks or gifts, the gift of health is something that is priceless and has no monetary value. If you have made a change in your life to be more active this year, think about what your motivation is and try to help your family members find theirs. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that you helped someone you care about make a small change in their life that lead to health, physical, and mental benefits. That is why I love what I do, and I get to do that on a daily basis, and for that I am very grateful.

-Santos Ahmed Lara CSCS

Maintaining Your Healthy Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle seems difficult at times, but sometimes you just have to stand back and take a look at your workout. Since June, I’ve been moved into a temporary position that is more sedentary than I am used to. After my first month in this new position I had gained a few pounds and I thought, “OK I need to figure something out and quick.” See, I’m 50 and weight comes on quickly and takes twice as long to get it off. I looked at my exercise program and changed it by increasing my cardio by 15 minutes each day and by adding more reps to each of my weight training sets. It’s been a month since I started doing that and I am maintaining my weight. I haven’t lost what I gained yet but I am maintaining until I move back into my more active position. Just remember the key is to just take a moment and think about how you can change your workout routine. If you’re having a hard time trying to figure out what you should change, as a member of In-Shape there are resources available to help you. Like what? You might ask. One resource is you have employees from In-Shape who live the same lifestyle you do. Just ask them about what they do and we are all more than willing to help. Just remember that when things in our lives change keep the healthy lifestyle you started. It will relieve stress and help you maintain what you’ve achieved until you can resume your normal routine or maybe even what your “new” normal will be.

-Paula L.

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