The Fitness Guide

Rosie Gomez's Guide to Getting Fit!


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Yoga Styles: Which One Is Right for You?

Yoga workoutYoga has become incredibly popular in the United States over the last few years, with over 16 million people practicing on a regular basis. With a history steeped in the religions of South Asia, yoga was originally used as a way to quiet the mind by controlling the breath in a series of movements and postures.

While yoga is still an excellent way to relieve some of the stresses and worries in our hectic lives, it is also great exercise, and the very nature of yoga poses encourages stretching and the development of long and lean muscle.

Just 10 short years ago, yoga classes were not considered as mainstream as they are today, and one didn’t have many styles of yoga to choose from. Now that its popularity has soared and yoga teachers are learning more about the many different styles, it might seem confusing to a newbie.

If you’re looking to add yoga to your fitness routine but don’t know where to begin check out this handy list of three styles and the benefits of each.

1. Hatha Yoga

This type of yoga is excellent for beginners and while it’s not always considered easy, it is the best type for those who have never practiced yoga before. The poses tend to be more manageable and each pose blends seamlessly into the next.

The focus in Hatha yoga is about breathing and placing your body in the proper alignment. Blocks and other aids are often used to assist beginners in the poses, and the teachers are often very free with corrections to ensure that you get it right. Hatha is also good for those with injuries or other situations that might have hindered their flexibility.

2. Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga, also called hot yoga, is a challenging class that takes place in a room that is heated to over 100 degrees. The poses are more difficult and the heat adds to the overall effectiveness of this type of yoga, by loosening the muscles.

This type of yoga is best practiced by those with substantial experience, and you must check with your doctor before beginning, as certain health conditions could be exacerbated by Bikram yoga. However, if you do decide this is the class for you, you can expect to lose weight and build muscle if you follow a regular schedule.

Working out together3. Power Yoga

Easily the most challenging of all the yoga styles, Power yoga is designed as an intense workout and eliminates some or all of the spiritual practices of other types of yoga. The poses are difficult and each flows directly into the next with no pauses in between. Wear your monitor from HeartRateMonitors.com to really see how this type of yoga compares to other forms of exercise.

Power yoga is best for those who already have some strength and flexibility, and who have practiced other types of yoga in the past. If you’re already involved in other intense forms of exercise such as running or cycling, power yoga can be a great way to build upper body strength and keep your other muscles loose and strong.

Whether you’re interested in stress relief or want to lose weight and become more fit, yoga is the perfect way to accomplish all of those things. Simply assess your ability carefully and consult your doctor, then join the ranks of the millions of people for whom yoga has become their go-to form of exercise.

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Bikini Season and How to Get Ready for It

Bikini WeatherIt’s getting closer and closer to that time of year again! While it’s true that much of the United States is still blanketed in snow, the days of sun, vacations, and bikinis are just around the corner. While this might seem like a great time to freak out about the state of your body after a winter of less exercise than normal, there are plenty of things that you can do now to ensure that you’re ready. Obviously the first step is to choose your bikini, unless you plan to recycle the one from last season. In some ways this can be beneficial because you already know what your toned body looks like in that particular suit. If you decide to buy a new one perhaps keep it similar to the style of the old one. While you may already have a tried and true exercise regime, specific workouts can target those areas that are more prominent when you’re in a bikini. Try some of these moves to be certain that everything stay in places and looks fab when you’re on the beach this summer.

1. Squats

Squats are a bikini girl’s best friend. This exercise targets your quads, glutes, and calves and ensure that you look good both coming and going when you’re clad in your bikini. While these exercises are tough and may have you ready to give up, if you keep with it, the rewards are worth the effort. Start by standing with your feet hip distance apart, and sit back like you’re going to sit a chair. Ensure that your knees never extend beyond your toes, and then squeeze your glutes as you return to standing. Start by doing 20 reps in sets of three if you can, then increase the reps by 10 each, day after day. As always, be sure that your form is correct or you may risk injury.

Working out your abs2. Crunches

Crunches can feel like an exercise that the devil himself came up with, but there is really no better way to ensure that your abs are toned and ready for summer. Again, the proper form is crucial when performing crunches, otherwise the proper muscles won’t be targeted and you could hurt your neck or back. Lie on the floor on a yoga mat or blanket and bend your knees. Clasp your hands behind your head and keep your eyes focused on the ceiling. This can help keep your neck from rolling forward. Raise up, contracting your abs and keeping your back straight, until you are about eight inches from the floor. Keep your abs contracted as you return to a flat position. Start with three sets of 15 reps and increase that amount daily. While it’s certainly not the easiest of workouts, crunches are the fastest way to get that slim and shapely torso that you’re looking for.

3. Yoga

If an all-around workout is more your style definitely consider a yoga class. The movements and poses in yoga target the whole body and can help you develop long, lean muscles that will certainly get you, and your bikini, noticed. Shop around for yoga studios in your area and arrange to meet with the instructors. If you can be clear about your fitness goals they can help you choose the right class that can help you succeed. If you attend the classes regularly you’ll find that results come rather quickly. You can also combine yoga with other targeted exercises to see results even faster. Summer is closer than you think so now is the time to prepare. Pull that bikini out of the closet and get ready for some hard work, but you’ll be thanking yourself later.


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Should You Join a Gym?

working outAs each New Year comes upon us, people are flooded with inspiration in the form of resolutions. It’s not surprising that many of the resolutions are health or fitness related, as we all want to feel better, look better, and become healthier.

Joining a gym might seem like one of the best ways to set yourself on the right path to these goals, but is it always the right or best way to accomplish them? The smiling receptionist at the desk of your local fitness center is likely to tell you that is, as their job is ultimately to increase revenue, but how can you be sure?

We’ll look at some of the reasons why a gym membership might be right for you and some of the reasons why it might be the wrong choice.

The Pros

People join gyms or fitness centers for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest is variety. Perhaps you’ve become bored or complacent with your self-directed fitness routine, or perhaps you’d like to try new routines, such as yoga and would prefer to work with a professional. A gym membership offers you a wider range of activity choices in a controlled atmosphere and, for some, this is exciting and motivating.

The structured environment found within a gym is also very beneficial for those who have difficulty with self-motivation. The simple fact that friends or your trainer are expecting you to be present for a certain class or an coaching session can make the reluctant fitness buff feel more inclined to participate.

Taking time out of your day to visit the gym can be a great way to relieve stress. By removing oneself from home and work environments you can focus on your personal goals and have some time to yourself at the same time. This can be especially attractive for very busy people with high-stress jobs, or those who stay at home to care for young children or aging parents.

training with a partnerThe Cons

While the benefits of joining a gym are certainly obvious, that scenario is not right for everyone, for a number of different reasons. One of the main concerns for many people is the expense. Many gyms require some sort of contract that can be up to 12 months in duration, and people often question whether they will get their money’s worth, especially if they don’t show up often enough.

While it’s true that many gyms offer extended hours, and some are even open 24 hours per day, the fact remains that even these liberal schedules might not align with your own. Acquiring child care can also be a problem for some people, as is transportation to and from the fitness center. If these issues apply to your life then a gym membership might not be the right choice.

So if you don’t join a gym how can you meet your fitness goals on your own? The option to buy your own fitness equipment is available, which gives the opportunity and the ease of working out at home. Additionally, videos and other tools are abundantly available, both free and for purchase, that can help you stay on the right path.

Whether you choose a gym membership or a home workout plan, the point is to stick with it so that you can be better prepared to meet your fitness goals.


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Go Climb a Mountain

shutterstock_151437512Mountain climbing is not for everyone. Even seasoned and well-conditioned athletes wouldn’t dream of taking on the challenge of summiting some of the world’s tallest peaks. The rigorous preparation for and the actuality of mountain climbing requires a fierce commitment and peak physical health.

Again, it’s not for everyone.

That being said, if you’ve reached a point in your life and in your training regimen that you’d like to consider tackling a peak, there are many things to consider. Read on to learn more about how to prepare for what will undoubtedly be one of the most grueling, frustrating, and thrilling adventures of your life.

Choose Your Peak

While it might seem logical to think of Mount Everest as the white whale of mountain climbing, in fact many seasoned climbers find other, lower peaks to be more challenging and more accessible. If you live in the United States there are mountains in Colorado and Alaska that might be just the challenge that you’re looking for.

Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa is another option that combines climbing and adventure into one incredible package. Europe also boasts several peaks that will test your strength and stamina. Whether it’s at home or abroad, once you’ve chosen your mountain do some research and learn more about what other successful climbers have to say about that particular climb.

Train, Train, Train

You might think that you’re in top shape, but mountain climbing is something entirely different. Not only do you need the physical strength to make the summit, but you also need an incredible amount of stamina.

If you’ll be going with a group or a guide you should be able to learn exactly what you’ll need to carry in your pack and how much weight to expect. Add twenty pounds to that start working. Run with your pack on, hike with your pack on, and do everything that you can to increase your stamina and endurance. Using your heart rate monitor during this type of training can give you great information about your progress.

shutterstock_109553405See Your Doctor

Keeping in touch with your personal physician is always a great idea when you undertake any type of specific and rigorous training, but for mountain climbing you’ll want to discuss an entirely different set of issues. The main one is the altitude of your chosen peak. If your doctor is not familiar with high altitude and the physical problems it can cause perhaps ask for a reference to a sports medicine physician familiar with the subject.

Altitude affects everyone differently but altitude sickness is no joke. If you’ve never spent time at high altitudes you’ll have no idea how your body will be affected, but even if you’ve done high-altitude climbs before with no ill effects, that’s no guarantee you won’t be stricken on your next climb.

Medication to combat the symptoms of altitude sickness does exist, but the best way to protect yourself is by ensuring that your cardiovascular system is in top condition.

Climbing a mountain can be one of the most personally satisfying experiences in any athlete’s life. Just be sure that you are adequately prepared and ready to take on the challenge.


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3 Easy Ways to Jumpstart Your Health

Drink more waterWhile most people would say that they want to become healthier, as we all know, saying it and doing it are two very different things. It can seem like an insurmountable task at times, especially for those people who might be severely overweight or have an ongoing or chronic medical condition.

The good news is that, after you receive the go-ahead from your health care provider, there are many small ways to begin improving your health, and most of these can be done throughout the course of an average day. Yes, joining a gym or an exercise program is a great way to get started on the road to better health, but it’s not the only way, and for those people who might be intimidated or unsure, having a list of little things can be a big deal.

If you’re ready to partially take the plunge and learn how to improve your health, check out this list for tiny ways to make a huge impact.

1. Drink More Water

It seems so simple, but some might be surprised to know that many people struggle with drinking enough water throughout the day. Perhaps it’s because we’ve gotten used to the strong taste of flavored drinks, but whatever the reason we should all make a conscious effort to hydrate with water over anything else.

Aim to drink 64 ounces of water each day. While this might sound like a lot, it translates into only eight 8-ounce glasses. Add sliced fruit or fresh berries to your water if you’d like a little flavor, just don’t add sugar or other sweeteners.

2. Keep a Movement Diary

Even those who might self-identify as couch potatoes move more in one day than they might think, so it is a great idea to keep a movement diary. Simply jot down the times that you engage in any movement throughout the day. This could be as simple as taking the trash out, or something more intense like walking your dog for 30 minutes.

Now might be a great time to invest in fitness tools like heart rate watches, as well. As you monitor your heart rate you’ll have a better idea of your fitness level, and seeing your heart rate decrease over time can also encourage you to keep going and increase the amount of exercise you do every day or week.

Snack Healthy3. Snack More Often

While it might seem logical to skip or reduce meals during the course of your day to try and lose weight, that can actually have the opposite effect on your health. The human body needs energy in the form of food to keep all of its systems operating, but a bag of chips or a fast food burger is not the best way to accomplish this.

Be sure to start your day with a healthy breakfast, and then plan to have a snack two hours later. This could be as simple as a spoonful of natural peanut or almond butter, a piece of cheese, or a handful of grapes. Then, plan to have another snack after lunch. Again, choose something healthy like a piece of fruit, a slice of whole grain bread, or a cup of yogurt. As your body gets used to being fueled throughout the day you’ll find that you feel better and that you eat less at meal times.

Health and fitness are not a destination but a journey. If you start with small steps that you can increase to big steps over time, you’ll find that the journey becomes more rewarding and a whole lot easier.


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Stay Fit While Working an Office Job

shutterstock_82313836Losing weight and becoming more fit is not an easy task, but it can be especially difficult if you’re stuck behind a desk all day with limited time to exercise. In fact, this is one of the biggest complaints of office workers who want to lose weight and become more physically strong and healthy.

Not only is inactivity a problem, but offices are not exactly known to be bastions of healthy eating. The snacks and sweets that are constantly present and vending machines packed with sugary drinks combine to make maintaining a health regimen particularly difficult. Add to this the fact that sitting all day is certainly not conducive to adequate exercise and you have a recipe for disaster.

Luckily, there are ways to navigate around this sedentary office trap, and here are a few ideas that will help you begin or maintain your fitness journey while working a desk job.

1. Walk as Much as You Can

If you’re busy while you’re at work it can feel counterproductive or downright wrong to get up for a brief walk, but that’s exactly what you should do. If it’s at all possible you should be leaving your desk and moving around at least once per hour, even if it’s just a walk to a colleague’s office or to the coffee machine.

Try to take five or 10 minutes per hour to walk. Make a circuit around the cubicles, or walk up and down the stairs. Not only can this help you get your blood moving and help you feel better, but it can also clear your head and leave you more focused for the next hour of work.

2. Design a Desk Workout Routine

Exercise and workouts don’t have to take place in a gym; they can take place anywhere and at any time. One easy way to ensure that your fitness doesn’t suffer because you work in an office is to design a workout routine that you can complete at your desk. This can be a lifesaver in that, like walking, a mini-workout can help relieve stress and clear your mind.

Bring hand weights to the office and use them while you’re on a phone call. Try an office chair workout for tricep dips and squats, although you may want to close your office door for this one. Also, consider recruiting some of your coworkers to join you. A group is always a great motivator.

shutterstock_2263706083. Rethink Your Route

If you live near your workplace and you drive or take public transport, you are doing yourself a great disservice. If at all possible you should try to walk or bike to work as often as you can.

As with walking during your breaks, walking or biking to work serves double duty. You’ll find yourself energized and relaxed after a walk to the office, and a walk home at the end of the day will help clear your mind of work-related thoughts and help you be more present for the family that is waiting for you at home.

And the fitness benefits of walking aren’t too shabby either.

If you feel that you have to choose between your fitness and your job, these tips can help. Take charge of your health, try some of these exercise tips, and find yourself more energized, both at work and in your personal life.


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Adopting a Dog Can Make You Healthier

It’s no secret that owning a pet is good for you. PhysiciansRunning and other scientists have for years said that there are numerous health benefits. One of the ways that humans benefit from sharing their lives with dogs is increased physical activity.

If you’ve ever wondered how the simple act of adopting a dog can help you become fit and healthier, read on to learn more about the ways that dogs help their humans get into shape.

Go for a Walk

Dogs need exercise to keep their brains active and engaged and their bodies fit and healthy. However, modern dogs are often confined to a house or small yard for much of the time, so they depend on their humans for access to exercise. Because your dog can’t walk himself, you’ll need to help him.

Long walks benefit you as much as they do your canine companion. Most dog experts recommend at least 45 minutes per day of vigorous walking. Wearing a heart rate monitor can help determine how much effort you’ve put into the exercise with your pup. The harder you walk, the better it is for you and your dog; as a result, owners often find themselves losing weight and becoming more fit in the process. Additionally, if you’re ever feeling less than motivated, a pair of sad puppy eyes gazing at you from a position near the front door should be all the encouragement you need to get out and get moving.

Exercising with dogPlay Ball

Dogs are hunters, and while many of their bloodthirsty tendencies have diminished over the process of domestication, they still share a strong prey drive with their wolf ancestors. This is one of the reasons why your dog loves to chase balls and toys when they are thrown. You can use this instinctive drive to the advantage of your dog’s health, and yours as well.

Spend 30 minutes a few times a day playing with your dog in your yard or other safe enclosure. As you throw the ball and engage your dog in an active round of chase, you’re not only getting his heart pumping, but you’ll likely find that you’ve broken a sweat in the process too.

Boot Camp

Boot camps that focus on intensive physical training have become very popular ways for people to get into shape, and many personal trainers have taken this concept one step further. In cities across the country you can now take your dog to boot camp sessions with you.

A combination of activities that challenges both human and canine, these boot camps offer exercises that will whip both of you into shape. Boot camps also have the added benefit of socialization with other dogs for your furry friend, which will help make him a great deal happier.

These are just a few ways that dog ownership can have a positive impact on your fitness. The increased activity that comes with dog ownership is a great way to be more active in many areas of your life. Visit your local animal shelter or rescue group today to find a pup that is perfect for your lifestyle. Giving a forever home to a shelter dog is a great way to change two lives for the better at the same time.