exercise

Ready…Aim…Higher!

Goals! You just gotta have ’em!

It’s well into the new year and whether you had a resolution or not, you may have goals that have not come to fruition. It might just be how you went about forming your goal in the first place! Let’s talk about how to set solid and attainable goals.

Here’s a great example that I know many of us could work on: “I want to drink ½ my bodyweight in ounces of water every day for the next 30 days.” There is a how much, how often, and it is realistic!

Set a Deadline!

Just like an open-ended work project, you will likely keep pushing it off knowing you can do it tomorrow…or never. Consider having both short term and longer-term goals ranging from this week to 6 weeks to 6 months to a year. Your long term goals can have shorter sub-goals within them that will help you reach them – get creative! Just be sure to set a deadline.

Write it Down!

Why is your goal important to you? WRITE it down. If it doesn’t make you tear up a bit, it may not be important enough for you to follow through with! In the example above, drinking water, maybe you’ve been excessively fatigued, and you regularly walk around dehydrated. Your fatigue causes you to say no to playing with your kids, getting your “me” time running with your friend, or missing other life events that are important to you.

Writing goals and the “why” for them makes everything more real, and when goals are more real they are more attainable!

Be Prepared to Sacrifice!

Not everything of course! But if it required no changes to achieve your goal well, you’d have already achieved it now wouldn’t you?

You may want to ask yourself, “Is this something I’m willing to give up what I want NOW for what I want MOST?” If it’s not, you may not be ready for your goal. In our example of water, you may be craving that coffee, soda, or other habitual food/snack that is taking you away from your goal. There will be challenges along the way, but choosing rewarding goals will ultimately overcome and outweigh any strife involved in reaching them. Just make sure your goals are healthy and realistic!

Confide in Someone!

Share your goal with a confidant; a friend, your trainer, a family member, or someone you feel safe with but accountable to. Be sure to communicate to the person you share it with that you want them to hold you accountable! And that you want them to call you out if you are not taking proper steps toward your goal or perhaps taking steps away from it. One more thing that’s very important – don’t get mad at them for taking you seriously!

List Action Steps!

List at least 3 action steps you are going to take in order to achieve your goal. In the case of drinking more water:
1) I am going to buy a 40 ounce water bottle and make sure to consume 2 (assuming ~160 lbs person) servings a day.
2) I am going to keep the bottle with me wherever I go so I don’t have a reason not to sip regularly.
3) I will start by drinking 12 ounces of water first thing in the morning when I wake up.

Of course you can list more than 3 steps, you can even list steps you can take daily to move in the right direction, but the purpose of the exercise is not to get discouraged by those lofty goals you’ve set. Bring them down to Earth by listing concrete steps you can take to make them happen!

Valentine’s Workout for Two!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We’ve got a holiday workout to share, just because we like you!
Here’s what you’ll need:
• Friend
• Pair of dumbbells
• Heart!

Great things come in twos!

Not a member and want more workouts, just like this?
Get started at Ellipse today for just $49!
Or experience everything we can do for you in 21-Days for $99.
Email support@ellipsefitness.com now for more information!


Celebrating Lent? Considering making a sacrifice for the next 40 days? Instead of depriving yourself, indulge your muscles and mind with movement. 21 Days of great workouts like this with professional coaching for just $99. Think Spring!

Five Stretches You Shouldn’t Live Without!

…and sometimes – it is that simple!

Flexibility and “warming up” are two of the most highly underrated fitness principles around. Sure, many people warm up before an intense workout, but what about the rest of your day? As soon as you wake up – what has your body been doing for the last several hours? Lying still.

As soon as you step foot out of bed you begin placing demands on your body to lift, bend, and hustle around to keep up with your day. Start your day with a bit of injury prevention and increased blood flow, and you might be amazed at how it makes you feel.

Start from the ground up!

Plantar Fasciitis and other foot issues can make stepping out of bed painful or challenging due to the foot being in a pointed position through much of the night. Try flexing the foot up towards you and holding for 20 seconds 3-5x/foot. This can be done by sitting on floor and using a towel to pull the upper foot toward you. Or sit on your heels with shins and feet flexed under you. Sit back on your heels for the same amount of time. If you have a step nearby, you can also let your heels hang off of it like you would a calf stretch. All these movements bring your toes closer to your shin in a flexed position, stretching the foot fascia, and helping you get ready for the day!

The World’s Greatest Stretch??

We didn’t name it, but with a name like that it has some serious expectations to live up to, and it does a decent job! This awakens all the major muscle of the body. Hold each position for a few seconds and perform 3 movement patterns per side. This stretch is great to utilize throughout the day since it also stretches out the main muscles affected by sitting for long periods of time!

Watch the video to see what the buzz is about!

Wake up your spine!

The Cat/Cow Stretch can help relieve tension in your spine, morning or night, by opening it up and decompressing vertebrae. Set up in a quadruped position (all-fours: wrists under shoulders, knees under hips) and inhale while gently moving the chest/belly toward the floor so the spine is in extension. Exhale as you press into your hands, tuck the tailbone under, pull the chin toward the chest and round the back upward allowing the shoulder blades to move apart. Perform 10 reps or as many as you have time for.

You’ve got a litte tension in the those shoulders…

Wake up the spine and shoulders in the morning by simply standing and standing tall & reaching the arms overhead as if trying to reach the ceiling. Then work into a reverse shoulder stretch – clasping the arms behind you and lifting hands gently toward the ceiling near your edge and hold for 20 seconds.

Get off my back already!

Several statistical analyses have put the number of Americans suffering from chronic back pain above 10%. Our spine is the root of basically all movement, so we are driving home the importance of maintaining mobility and joint health in your back!

The Cobra stretch awakens the body with full extension of the spine, neck, shoulders, and chest. Lay on the floor, belly down. Place your hands under your shoulders, press into the floor, and lift the chest. Keep the abdominal muscles turned on, and draw the inner thighs towards each other to avoid hinging at the low back.

Watch the video for a demonstration!

The Year of YES!

Maybe 2018 should be deemed The Year of YES!

I think we have all had those days …

  • I walked by the dog the other day thinking I should take her for a quick walk, but I kept going to the couch. Have you ever done this too? I wonder if my tail would wag as happily as my dogs’ at the invitation to go on a walk.
  • My kids wanted to go to the park, but I tried to talk them out of it. I don’t want to just sit there when I could be getting things done.  They talked me into it anyway.  They wanted me to play with them.  I was tired so I sat on the bench and waited mindlessly scrolling on my phone.
  • The kids are glued to their iPhone or iPad so often that I can hardly get their attention. Suddenly I have two notifications pop up on my phone and immediately log in to check.  I’ve read about having technology blackout times to refocus on important things in my life.
  • I have friends that are always inviting me to one run or another. Most recently it was a mud run.  I was afraid I would make a fool out of myself, having them wait for me or even hurting myself.
  • My significant other comes home and asks almost nightly if I want to go for a walk. I’ve turned them down citing a long day, rain, cold, smog…
  • I turned down my neighbors invite to come over to swim in their pool because I was worried that I would actually have to show up in a swimsuit.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’m alone here.  All these scenarios can be and are often very real.  What if we said yes just a little more often?

Fitness isn’t some crazy lifestyle requiring hundreds of hours in a gym, extremes in food or special equipment that costs thousands of dollars.

Fitness is a hundred simple choices a day that we have to make anyway.  Walk the dog or kick back on the couch? Throw the ball around with the kids or scroll a small screen?

Eat an apple or eat a cookie? Drop into the gym a few times per weeks with a friend or make an excuse not to go?

The foundation of fitness can be easy. We simply do the stuff we have to do anyway everyday a little differently.  We have to eat, so let’s eat some good food instead of pulling through that drive-thru on the way home.

The kids will do what we do. If we move, they move. If we sit, they sit.  Let’s set the tone for an active life that will propel them into adulthood.

Simple walks a few times a week with our spouses can at least give us time to communicate uninterrupted or at its best assist us in earning a few more quality years together.

Fitness can be easy. Just move every day until you can’t.

And if you move every day you will most likely have many more days in your life to spend with your loved ones and to do that “when I retire”.

Let’s make 2018 the year of YES!  SURE!  I’M IN!

Christmas Workout

As we wrap up another year, we could not ask for a better group of people to call our Ellipse family/community.

Although Ellipse Fitness isn’t open today, that doesn’t mean you can not get a great workout in today (if you want!).

Below is our gift to you. A Christmas workout!

So, grab your mom, dad, sister, uncle, cousin, significant other, niece, nephew, and do this holiday workout together or stash it for a snowy day!

70 Speed Skaters

60 Jacks

50 Speed Squats

40 Pogo Jumps (think fast jump rope feet)

30 Lower Body Mountain Climbers

20 Pushups

10 Burpees

1 Turkish Getup

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Holidays!

Set Yourself Up For Holiday Success!

Here at Ellipse Fitness Training Center we wish you and your families a very happy holiday! As this season comes to a close we have a few last minute tips, tricks and reminders to help you stay on track with your goals!

Maintain a regular schedule – Try to not to veer off your normal sleep, eat, and workout schedule during the busy holidays! Illness is opportunistic with large jumps in nutrition, sleep, and/or workout routines, so remain consistent to lessen your likelihood of getting sick. If you know you will be feasting at dinner, have a lighter balanced lunch like a salad with grilled chicken.
During busy times, try to schedule your days out ahead of time to maximize your time and keep those important appointments with yourself too!

Give to others – The holidays can be, for some, a stressful time. One thing that can put the holidays back in perspective is gratitude and giving to others. Let’s all find a way to help others this holiday season! There’s still time to ring bells for the Salvation Army, help out at a soup kitchen, cook a meal for a shut-in neighbor, shovel someone’s driveway after a snowstorm, and rekindle that feeling of doing something good. Remember all the blessings that are bestowed on our own lives.

Eat your meat (protein) – Our friends over at Examine.com concluded a recent analysis with this sentiment: “Since you’re going to splurge on food, focus your overeating on protein-rich foods. Not only does this have the greatest likelihood of minimizing fat gain during the overeating itself, but protein’s well-known satiating properties might help reduce overeating to begin with. As a bonus, if you are looking to manage blood sugar levels, eating protein before starchy carbohydrates has been shown to reduce post-meal blood glucose and insulin responses.“
Check out the full article here: https://examine.com/nutrition/meta-minimizing-fat-gain/

Seek out the better alternatives – Instead of the spinach and artichoke dip, think guacamole and salsa with vegetable crudites (remember? Bite size cut up veggies!). Instead of the pigs in a blanket, seek out the shrimp cocktail or meat kebabs. Bring your own healthier dessert! Here’s a super simple one:
Baked Apples
Core 2 honeycrisp apples and fill with stuffing (Mix 1 T walnuts, 1 T raisins, 1 T dried cranberries, ½ t cinnamon, ¼ t nutmeg).
Place apples in a loaf pan w/ ¼ c water on bottom and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until apples are tender!

Bring a dish to pass – Plan ahead! Ask if you can bring a dish to your next outing. Bring something that you know you can eat that is still a healthy option. Try some of these appetizers from previous blog posts:

Spinach dip made with cottage cheese and greek yogurt

Fresh Fruit dip made with applesauce and yogurt

Ellipse Classic cottage cheese ranch dip

Relax and recharge – As the hustle and bustle picks up in these last days before Christmas, give yourself permission to relax. Sit back with your kids, significant other, pets – whomever – and watch a movie, play a board game, or simply enjoy each other’s company. Give yourself permission to do something non-productive for a while to re-center and recharge. When you are feeling at your best you are at your best for those around you too. Thank you for taking time for yourself and recharging with Ellipse Fitness! Happy Holidays!

The Inside Scoop on Ellipse Workout Programming

A lot goes into our programming at Ellipse Fitness. This week we’ve brought you a sneak peek into the what some of the components are, and the how’s and why’s of what we do at Ellipse to get RESULTS from our members. Each paragraph corresponds to the respective workout of the day, in order throughout this week!

(Monday)
One important component we look at is Training Volume. # of sets X # of reps. More Volume = More Results/Muscle Growth. No matter the reps, the key here is to work up to – or close to – fatigue to continue to achieve results. However, ONLY doing high volume work can lead to burnout or injury which is why we do not perform high volume workouts exclusively.

(Tuesday)
Power is another factor we take into account when designing workouts. Remember our partner-resisted runs and broad jumps earlier this week? Power is a combination of strength and speed that reflects how quickly you can exert force to produce a desired movement. As we age, power diminishes even quicker than strength, so it’s important to make it a part of your fitness program. Power training increases reaction time (think catching yourself during a trip or fall). You can’t be powerful without speed, so if you are strong, work on your speed; if you are fast/reactive, work on the strength piece. It is important to train both aspects for overall health and quality of life.

(Wednesday)
How can you get better at a specific movement or activity? In short, work on the movement pattern! If you struggle stepping up on the boxes, to a specific height or with weight? Work on your split squat, increasing your range of motion first and then adding weight to the movement. If you can’t perform a solid chest press, a push-up will be a real challenge. Both movements require core stability in addition to chest, triceps, shoulders, and back strength, however a push-up forces the core stabilization and works on relative body-weight strength – making it a more difficult move. You may have heard us reference ways to practice push-ups without dropping down to the knees because this common regression takes most of the core work out of the movement, making it difficult to ever progress to a push-up from the full plank position. This principle is called Specificity.

(Thursday)
Much like power, Mobility declines drastically as we age if we don’t continue to work through a full range of motion. Mobility training also promotes healthy joints and helps to prevent injury! Flexibility is only one component of mobility. Mobility is flexibility under tension – think flexibility that you can actually put into practice in your day-to-day life. Passive stretching to improve flexibility can last as little as a few minutes sometimes, while mobility exercises actually change the way your body is able to move. Walking like a monkey is a lot more than just a fun move to practice

(Friday)
Rest Based Training (RBT) is another really effective way to achieve strength gains and fitness results. The motto: Push until you can’t; rest until you can again. This training format prevents overexertion, allowing even high intensity workouts to be executed safely. Studies have shown that when individuals are given the opportunity to control their own work to rest ratios, people exercise at a higher intensity than predicted by the researchers. The rest is shown to make exercise psychologically easier, often providing a more enjoyable workout in addition to being safe and effective.

(Saturday)
If you’re one of our members you’ve probably been waiting to hear us talk about this next one: Kickboxing! In addition to being a really great cathartic experience that allows you to melt stress right out of your body, kickboxing complements our strength training perfectly by addressing some other key factors related to health and well-being. It sharpens the mind by improving neuromuscular connections, coordination and proprioception, it has been shown to slow the effects of degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and it increases you aerobic capacity, abdominal and upper body strength!

Tune in next week for more!

At Home BBQ

Last week, the type of “BBQ” that Ellipse was up to was brought to your attention…and it was not your average BBQ! If you missed it, here’s your refresher…

BICEPS. BOOTY. QUADS.

This week, we want to share with you some at home moves that you can perform over the long weekend or on your Labor Day weekend travels. These moves don’t require equipment and will give you that bit of sweat you need until you return to us next week! (Don’t forget, most of our locations have particular hours for this weekend. Check with your studio to make sure you’re aware of the workout times.)

BICEPS

We usually think we need to be doing bicep curls to focus on these particular muscles, which isn’t wrong, but what is often forgotten is that zoning in on the other areas of the arm can also give the biceps a burn. Our muscles should always be working together! Owner and trainer Ann Morrow, of Ellipse St. Louis says, “A great way to make the biceps look better is to challenge the triceps! Try to use the triceps more during a pushup by keeping the elbows below the shoulder and moving back towards the ribs at a 45 degree
angle. That is sure to make both muscles work together and look great!”

Ann gives a perfect example here of what you can do on your own and without equipment. Use pushups to challenge different muscles around the arms and shoulders. Use hand placement variations and leg variations (i.e. lift one leg) to challenge you and you can get a great sweat out of this!

 

BOOTY

All you need is a mat and you can perform your own booty burner at home or on the road! Using a movement like the glute bridge will have you feeling the burn in no time.

An option is to do about 4 to 8 sets, and anywhere from 6 to 20 reps. If you have weight options, rest them on your hips. We recommend to start with lighter, more manageable weight, then add to it and decrease reps as needed.

 

QUADS

Combining squats, lunges, wall sits and proper form will surely give you the workout your looking for, no equipment necessary. Take on something like this for 3 rounds and consider yourself golden!

  • 25 squats*
  • 30 sec wall sit
  • 25 (each side) alternating lunges*
  • 30 sec wall sit
  • 25 wide leg squats*
  • 1 minute wall sit (stay low!)

*To add extra challenge add 10 seconds of pulsing to finish the move

Good luck this weekend and happy BBQing!

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5 Strategies to Reduce Muscle Soreness

Exercise induces free radicals, boosts serotonin, and energizes. It aids us in burning fat and building muscle. If all goes as planned, we leave the gym feeling awake and accomplished! Exercise also causes our muscles to contract and our bodies to sweat, increasing our chances of muscle cramps, fatigue and dehydration. This is why it is equally important to not only exercise, but to take care of yourself before and after a workout. A large part of getting fit is dealing with muscle fatigue and soreness. Here are 5 Ellipse tips to help reduce muscle soreness and keep you heading back to us for more!

Foam Rolling

What an inexpensive deep tissue massage, am I right? At Ellipse Fitness we encourage members to foam roll for 5 – 15 minutes before and after each workout session. Foam rolling can inhibit overactive muscles by breaking up adhesions and loosening up muscle knots. Before a workout, foam rolling hydrates the tissue and gets blood flowing. After a workout, rolling over tight spots and trigger points can relax the muscle. By rolling them out, you help to clean up some of the lactic acid that builds up when you exercise.

Foam Rollers do not break the bank, but even so, a tennis ball will also do the trick. Heather Trevarthen, Owner and Trainer of the Allouez location, says they keep tennis balls at the studio and hand them out to members to use at home.  Heather says, “Tennis Balls help to grind into those hard to reach areas of the body, like the Piriformis.”

Stretching

Like foam rolling, stretching is a must do when it comes to combatting soreness. Intense training contracts muscles and shortens the fibers. By lengthening them before and after a workout, you’re increasing your mobility and recovery. A post-workout stretch series is excellent for bringing your heart rate back down. Use your breathe to guide you and stretch into each move.

Recovery Fuel(s)

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery. BCAAs preserve the bulk of muscle fibers through increased protein synthesis and reduction of muscle breakage. BCAAs can be added to your diet easily by adding a scoop into your water bottle before you workout. Sip during your workout and finish afterwards. Ask your Ellipse trainer to hook you up with some from the pro shop!

Eating Right

Getting those BCAAs is a big part of proper nutrition intake for a healthy post-workout recovery. However, you also need to actually eat. Though you might be trying to consume less during your fitness journey, it is what you eat and how you prepare it that matters. Make sure to be getting enough protein, carbs, and healthy fats in order to repair muscles.

Ultimately when we experience soreness, it is because of inflammation. After your post workout protein, add foods such as salmon, avocado, or flaxseed. These foods are rich in Omega-3s and have anti-inflammatory compounds; Properties that will help to dial back inflammation and soreness.

Movement

When your trainer tells you to cool down, we usually don’t listen because we have to run and pick up our kids or get to work. The cool down instructions are to encourage you to keep moving, even when you have finished your sweat session. The importance behind this is that circulation promotes healing.

Active recovery is something we talk about at Ellipse often. A low-intensity exercise that gets your blood flowing without taxing your muscles is what we consider active recovery, such as yoga or walking. Though you may be tempted to hit the couch after an evening workout, try to keep the movement going for a bit to avoid muscle cramps and enhanced soreness.

Fitness Tip: Warrior Crunch

Strengthen the core and engage the obliques while working the lower body in the Warrior Crunch.

 

Begin by standing with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, and toes turned outward. Place the finger tips behind the ears, keeping the back upright and the arms and chest open. Then lower down into a squat until the thighs are parallel to the ground.  Once in this position, crunch side to side, bringing the elbows to the tops of the thighs, engaging the obliques.