Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

Ready for a good workout? Then play ball

December 19, 2018

Fitness ball workouts are becoming increasingly popular — and for good reason. If you’re looking for an exercise that will challenge you, consider a workout using one of the many different types of fitness balls.  

There are traditional stability balls and BOSU balls as well as such weighted balls as medicine, slam or wall balls. Each ball has unique characteristics and specific uses.

Stability balls come in various sizes and are made of a soft rubber that are inflated.  They’re used to strengthen and tone, particularly the core muscles. It’s important to find a ball that fits so it can be used effectively.  They range in size from 30 centimeters in diameter for children up to 75 centimeters in diameter for taller adults.

One thing that makes stability balls so popular is they can be used both in the gym and at home — and even in the office as a desk chair. Physical therapists also use stability balls for rehabilitation.  Some exercises that can be performed using stability balls include ab crunches, back extensions and elbow planks. A trainer can demonstrate how to do a full body workout using a stability ball.

Have you ever seen the funny looking balls that look like they’ve been cut in half? This is called a BOSU ball. It was invented by David Weck and includes an inflated Quick read more or view full article rubber side attached to a ridged platform. BOSU stands for “both sides utilized” since different exercises can be performed on each side. BOSU balls often are used for balance training.  

You’ll also find a variety of weighted balls in a health club setting, including medicine balls, slam balls and wall balls.

Medicine balls come in a variety of sizes ranging from small to large with corresponding weights. Medicine balls have been used since ancient times to improve strength and muscular power.  Medicine balls can be used in a range of poses and exercises that strengthen every part of the body — from lifting to rotating.

A slam ball is a weighted sphere designed for throwing exercises. Slam balls are available in different sizes and weights. The shell is made of a tough rubber that can handle the impact of being thrown down on a hard surface. Use a slam ball to develop power, strength and speed. Abs and core specifically benefit. Exercises using a slam ball will increase heart rate, making it a great exercise for burning calories. An example of using a slam ball is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Then just slam the ball to the ground, pick it back up and repeat.  

A wall ball is similar to a slam ball, but used by throwing the ball up onto a wall and catching it on the way down into a squat.  This movement works the upper body on the throw and the lower body on the catch and squat as well as the entire core. This exercise also is good for cardio and gets the heart pumping.

It’s no wonder why fitness balls have become so popular. If you’re ready for the challenge, find the type, size and weight and then play ball.

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Where do you turn for fitness information?

November 21, 2018

There are so many ways to learn about fitness. From Facebook to gaming systems and fitness videos to personal trainers, new information becomes available on a daily basis. It’s difficult for consumers to know where to turn for the information that’s most beneficial to them given their lifestyles, health, technological skills and fitness goals.

The internet offers a wealth of information, including fitness tips and recipes. Questions can be answered in seconds. It can be tricky, though, deciding what’s legitimate and what’s a sales tactic. One website might tout a cabbage soup diet that will enable you to lose 30 pounds in a month without exercise. Another site might  tell you stretching before a workout is harmful. Someone without a background in health and fitness might not know what to believe. The internet can constitute a valuable tool, but one with the risk of also conveying inaccurate information.

One of the latest fitness trends is the sale and use of gaming systems for fitness entertainment. I agree making fitness fun is a dream come true. The intention of these sports and exercise games is to get people moving. They might not provide a strenuous workout or generate the same results as running or lifting weights, but can get coach potato gamers off the coach. This goes back to figuring out Quick read more or view full article what you want to accomplish in your quest for fitness information.  

Although the next trend isn’t new, it’s one of the fastest growing and that’s the plethora of fitness apps on the market. It’s an amazing concept: you can join in such extreme workouts from your living room. Each class is led by an instructor, so you don’t have to wonder what you’re going to do for exercise that day. The idea revolves around a one-time purchase or monthly contract fee and the convenience of your own home. The pros are there are some people who are self-motivated and disciplined enough an app fitness routine works for them. They’ll exercise even when they don’t feel like it. The cons of these programs are most people aren’t that way. It’s easy to abandon a home fitness program, just like home fitness equipment that doubles as a clothes hanger because it’s never used. Without scheduled workouts and someone to help motivate you, this option is difficult for many to consistently follow.

Health clubs offer the services of personal trainers. Many trainers have studied exercise, health and nutrition in college and hold certified personal training certificates. Taking the time to find a trainer who fits your needs takes some research as well.  Whether you’re looking for someone who specializes in a certain sport or deals with injuries, finding the right trainer for you is important.  Trainers are experts in their fields, but also motivate you and hold you accountable. They are great for jump-starting a fitness program or becoming a part of your fitness lifestyle.

While it’s nice having so many options, sifting through all the information about fitness can be difficult. The best source of information is all about what works best for you, not necessarily what’s the easiest. 

Here’s something else to consider: Statistics show people who exercise in a group are more successful in sticking to their fitness programs than those who go it alone. Personally, I find nothing replaces social interaction and relationships when working towards fitness goals.

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Take steps to boost your metabolism

August 22, 2018

Why is it some people seem to remain thin no matter what they eat? They’re the ones you see in the restaurant eating a huge hamburger and fries while you use your smartphone to count the calories in your chicken breast and veggies and wonder why you can’t lose those extra 10 pounds. Metabolism could be the reason.

Put in simple terms, metabolism is how your body converts the food you eat into fuel and how efficiently your body uses that fuel. The rate your body burns that fuel (or calories) is directly related to losing or gaining weight.   

 There are certain factors that affect your metabolism you can’t change. One of them is your age. Your metabolism rate naturally begins to slow after age 40 — a little reminder from your body you’re no longer a youngster and need to start caring for your body in different ways.  Another factor is your gender. Men generally burn more calories at rest than women. Such other factors as heredity or medical problems also can influence the rate your body burns calories. Although we might remain unable to change some things, the good news is there are things we can do improve our metabolism rate.

One of the best ways to boost your metabolism is exercise, including both cardiovascular exercises and strength training. Such Quick read more or view full article cardiovascular exercises as running or biking burn many calories. While you might not burn as many calories with strength training, your body continues to burn calories long after your workout has ended. 

This is important to know because muscle burns more calories than fat — a lot more. Every pound of muscle in our bodies can burn more than 30 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns only two to three calories a day. If you include strength training into your workouts, your muscles will work hard for you all day long. 

Another way to improve your metabolism is through nutrition. You might be relieved to learn so-called “crash” dieting is NOT the answer. When you deprive your body of food, your metabolism slows down, causing the reverse effect. Then when you do eat, your body will hang onto those calories as if it were starving.

Most of us have attempted a diet that was unsuccessful. Chances are it didn’t work because our bodies weren’t supplied with enough nutrients to function normally. Then when we did eat — or cheat, as we probably called it — we probably overindulged. Don’t cut yourself short on the fuel that keeps you moving. Your best bet is to eat more often. Eating small, nutritious meals more frequently will help keep your metabolism going.   

Here are some additional nutrition tips that can help increase the rate of your body’s metabolism. Add a little more protein to your diet. Your body uses more calories to digest protein than it does digesting carbohydrates. Protein-rich foods include turkey, fish, nuts, beans and eggs. Spice up your dishes with red pepper flakes. The chemical compound in spicy foods can temporarily increase your metabolism. And don’t forget to include water in your daily routine. Your body needs to hydration to properly use the calories you consume.  

Many factors influence the rate at which your body burns calories, including age, gender and genetics. It’s easy to blame those extra pounds on factors you can’t change. But this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a slow metabolism. By exercising, building muscles and changing your eating habits, you can speed up the rate your body burns calories. The benefits will be evident not only in the way you feel, but also on the scale.

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Fitness and health bring freedom to do things

July 25, 2018

Freedom means different things to different people. Most would agree freedom in the United Stables enables us to learn, work, speak and generally enjoy life. 

Consider, though, that fitness and a healthy lifestyle also give you freedom — the freedom to do things, whether it’s routine chores or favorite activities. 

It’s never too late and no one is ever too old to improve fitness. Start with the basic four areas of fitness: flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, strength and nutrition. When you combine these four areas, you’re on the right path.

Flexibility involves more than just touching your toes. Such daily activities such as getting in and out of vehicles, walking through the grocery store and housework all requirement movement. 

Doing exercises such as yoga will improve your posture and strengthen the core muscles in your abdomen, hips, lower back and pelvis. 

Think of all the small movements you do in a day in which you use these muscles, from reaching for a glass from the cabinet to making your bed. Another major benefit of core strength is balance that can reduce the risk of injury from falls.

Cardio fitness keeps your heart strong and cardiovascular system working properly. 

Starting slowly, if you are beginner, will enable you to enjoy such simple pleasures as playing with your grandchildren or traveling. 

Walking, hiking and dancing are all forms of cardio exercise. Quick read more or view full article Choose an activity you enjoy — you’ll be more apt to want to do it. While starting slowly is a good idea, it’s also important as you become more cardio fit to challenge yourself. Try different types of activities.

Strength training for all ages has become more popular in recent years and for good reason. The benefits are numerous.

Studies show lifting weights two or three times a week increases strength by building muscle mass and bone density. Strength training also can help to reduce the effects of such diseases as arthritis and osteoporosis as well as depression.

Nutrition constitutes yet another key component in total health. Feeding your body the nutrients it requires will provide the fuel you need to not only feel better, but also look better.  

The first step toward freedom is to get started. Talk to your doctor about what’s best for you and then get moving.

Try a fitness class, such a gentle yoga class. There are many beginner classes as well as classes tailored for highly fit individuals. Ask a friend to join you.

Whether you’re already on the path to fitness or just starting out, you’ll enjoy the freedom that comes from being fit and healthy.

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With planning, vacations can still be fitness-friendly

June 26, 2018

Vacations, long car trips and busy schedules can all lead to major disruptions in our fitness routines. Whether traveling by car or plane, staying in hotels or with family, you can keep fitness a part of each day. 

Here are a few tips to help make your vacations more fitness-friendly:

Sitting in a car for a few or many hours a day traveling to that great vacation destination can make you feel tired and stiff. Moreover, car trips are notorious for combining little physical activity with eating the wrong foods. Pull off at rest stops and stretch by reaching for the sky. Take deep breaths. Spend a few moments walking around and seeing the sights. Stretching every few hours will make you feel less worn. Here’s a game you can play when traveling with your family. At each stop, a different person gets to name the activity. It might be jumping jacks or running around the car. It can be as simple as racing each other to the “facilities.” 

At times, airline travel can have you calling the airport your new home. Why not pack gym shoes in your carry on luggage? You’ve all seen the moving walkways. Don’t use them if time allows. There are many places to walk and climb stairs in most airports. When it comes to having a snack or meal, Quick read more or view full article remember that many food vendors offer nutritious choices. Consuming fewer calories while being less active is an important part of not gaining those extra vacation pounds. Pack some healthy treats in your purse or backpack. Dried fruit, nuts and water offer good choices.

Many hotels and resorts offer fitness centers. Although your choices could be limited, remember that any movement is better than nothing. Try to combine some cardiovascular exercise — a treadmill or elliptical trainer — with some strength training. 

If your accommodations don’t include a fitness area, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Plan ahead. Pack some resistance bands for strength training. They can be purchased at many health clubs, local retailers or online. Resistance bands come in different colors and widths. These differences reflect the amount of stretch they allow for more or less resistance. Try them out to see which ones work for you. Wrap your bands around a bed post or door knob. You can also use resistance bands by using your foot to step on the middle of the band for an arm workout, for example.

You can’t exactly pack weights in your suitcase, so try filling disposable water bottles with water for a lightweight workout. Be creative. Many exercises can be done on the floor with nothing but your own body weight for resistance. Pushups, for example, offer a great upper body strength exercise and don’t require anything but you to perform. Situps, leg lifts and arm circles are just a few exercises that can be performed without equipment.

Cardiovascular exercise remains important when traveling, too. Many vacations involve sightseeing. Don’t underestimate the power of walking. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring water and wear sunscreen. You’ll get more heart-healthy exercise just by taking the stairs whenever possible.

By thinking ahead, you’ll keep your workout routine on schedule. No matter the mode of travel or destination, you still can exercise and eat right on vacation. Remember, too, it’s a vacation Enjoy.

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