Switched On: our monthly blog from Gym Manager Roberta O'Brien

Roberta O'Brien is the SWITCH Gym Manager and a passionate advocate of the benefits of fitness, not just for physical health but also for mental health and because it's fun!

Roberta has been in the fitness industry for 10 years but has always been affiliated with local gyms and sport. She loves ocean swimming and running, particularly trail running. She has three children who enjoy a healthy lifestyle of predominantly surfing and dancing, and they enjoy fun and fitness together as a family.

In Roberta's monthly blog you'll find information, encouragement and inspiration.. Enjoy!

 

May: Byron Swim 50

The sisterhood, swimming and turning 50

I CELEBRATED 20 years of swimming the Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic this year with my good friend Annie.

We know it's been 20years because we started the Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic when her daughter Conor was nine months old - this year Conor turns 21.

Also another milestone for Annie - she hit the 50-55 Female category.

We talk a lot about the 'fullness' (we refuse to say busyness) of our lives with family and work, and how important it is to keep active and healthy as we age.

The other day we also came to the realisation that as we age and continue this 'full' lifestyle, the competitive edge to be good at everything dulls a little.

We acknowledge that participation can sometimes be enough.

In the years of our swimming together, who beat who has gone to and fro.

When Annie had babies, I seemed to have the edge on her, and then when it was my time to have children, Annie grabbed the baton and swam me down big time.

Now we are on a level playing field. Children are bigger, we both work hard, we enjoy downtime walking our dogs together and ocean swimming is like our religion.

We swim every Sunday. It's a combination of the purity of the water, the challenging conditions (shark fear, big swell, mid-winter freezing water) and the cleansing of our minds and souls when we are so present swimming with people and yet alone.

But it's even more than that, too.

Sounds quite crazy, but it is about the coffee after the swim and the sitting down with friends - like we have done for 20-odd years - and celebrating that Sunday morning awakening like no other.

Exercising with women in my age group is such a humbling and positive experience.

We can do what 20-year-olds do, sometimes better and faster... and sometimes not.

Most of all, staying healthy together gives us a sense of worth.

It keeps our social bonds alive and there is nothing like the strength and support of the 'sisterhood' to get you out of bed on Sunday morning.

April: Never too old to exercise - Seniors all welcome

I recently visited Caroona Kalina Nursing Home and bumped into the beautiful Jenny Dowel who was busily putting on her tap shoes to demonstrate to a room full of senior residents, that even whilst sitting in a chair, you can still enjoy the experience of moving to music.  No matter what your age, or ability, sometimes it just takes a little imagination and courage to try something different.

Every morning in Lennox Head a small group of senior men gather at a local coffee shop after their morning walk (rain, hail or shine) – they exchange laughter and chatter and stimulate their minds as they share a brains’ trust over a daily crossword.  They call themselves the ‘table of knowledge’.  Their daily routine allows them to benefit from both physical and social interaction, keeping them healthy mentally and physically.

Not all illness or pain is avoidable, but many of the physical challenges associated with aging can be overcome or at least diminished by exercising, eating right, and taking care of yourself.  Even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years, you can still add extra years to your life and more importantly add life to your years.

There are many valid reasons for slowing down and becoming more sedentary as you age; you may experience health problems, you may struggle with weight or pain issues, or you may worry about falling and injuring yourself. But it is for these very reasons that an active lifestyle is even more important to your health and well-being.  As you age, exercise can help you:

  • maintain strength and agility
  • increase vitality
  • improve sleep
  • boost mental health
  • diminish chronic pain
  • prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia.

Regular exercise will help you stay physically and mentally healthy and improve your confidence and overall outlook on life.  You’ll not only look better when you exercise, you’ll feel sharper, more energetic, and experience a greater sense of well-being.

What to do?

  1. Check with your doctor to see if any health conditions or medications you take affect the type of exercise you should choose.
  2. Choose an activity you like and that will keep you motivated. You may like to exercise in a group like aqua aerobics or you may prefer solo exercise like swimming.
  3. Start slowly, especially if you are new to exercise.  Slowly increase the time and intensity to avoid potential injury.  Watch out exercise can be addictive.
  4. Start with the basics like walking.  Walking is one of the best ways to stay fit, and you don’t need any fancy equipment, clothing or money – just time.
  5. Exercise with a friend or family member to keep each motivated, accountable and social.

There are lots of activities this week that you can join in as we celebrate Seniors Week across the state…be adventurous and try something you haven’t done before…an aqua class, stretching, dancing, swimming – do it with a friend and have a laugh.  No amount of botox would ever replace your roadmap of years of laughter lines.

March: Heat and Exercise

Exercising in the heat…be cool and sensible.

Have you ever driven past someone running out on the road with heat steaming up from the bitumen, in the middle of the day and thought ‘man you are crazy!’. Well the other day that was me and my Samson team mates.  We are in training for the ‘Our Kids Samson Challenge’ and the only time we are able to train together is in the middle of the day on a Monday.  So in keeping safe, we have taken a few precautions to make sure we are not over stressing our bodies in this heat. 

  • The workout is a maximum 30 minutes.
  • The session finishes with a swim in the pool (part of Samson training anyway).
  • We wear loose clothing.
  • We drink plenty of water during the workout – to avoid dehydration.  The fluids helps us sweat and cool down.
  • We factor in recovery and breaks.
  • No more running out on the road – we are keeping the running to short shuttle runs in the stadium.

Other ways you could keep exercising in this heat and stay safe, is to:

  • Avoid the midday sun – train early morning or late afternoon.
  • Have a back-up plan – maybe train indoors at a gym – you can get back outside in the cooler months.
  • Know your fitness level – if you are new to exercise, start gradually and build your fitness level and dial up intensity as you feel fitter.
  • Watch out for weather alerts and extreme heat warnings.
  • Wear sunscreen if you are outside.
  • Understand your medical risks – certain medical conditions or medications can increase your risk of a heart-related illness.  Talk to your doctor about precautions.

Being committed to your health and fitness during these hot months is fantastic, but if you happen to experience any of the following heat-related signs and symptoms, please back off your workout…

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sweating extensively
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Visual problems

If you develop any of these symptoms, you need to stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat, so that you can lower your body temperature and get hydrated.  It’s simple really…stay safe when exercising in the heat by drinking enough fluids, wearing proper clothing and timing your workout to avoid extreme heat.  So I guess that means I have to keep flipping tyres and pushing that dreaded prowler…aaagh!

February: Must Balance Energy In and Out

OBESITY is literally bursting the seams of Australians' clothing. My Pop was a big man, obese even. He drank beer and smoked and did less and less exercise as he grew older. He was happy in his big freckly skin and we loved him just the way he was. But we would have loved the chance to love him for longer than his 79 years. And for me that really is the plain truth about being overweight and obese. Guaranteed, your life will be shorter.

Did you know...

  • Seven in 10 Australian men are overweight or obese
  • One in two women are overweight or obese
  • One in four children are overweight or obese
  • 10% more adults are obese than in 1995
  • 15% more people living in regional areas are overweightthan those living in cities
  • More women living in areas of disadvantage are overweight than those in areas of least disadvantage - no difference in men.

The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn't shorter-term dietary changes, it's about practising a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity. We certainly don't have to strive for model-like or athletic physiques, but we can attempt to house our body in a physique that is strong and one that repels health problems like cardiovascular disease (which ultimately took my Pop) including high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, depression and asthma - just some of the many stigmas related to being overweight and obese. Maintaining your weight means balancing the energy going into your body (as food and drink) and the energy being used for growth and repair, for physical activity, and to keep your bodily functions working.

But no matter how many BodyPump, BodyAttack, RPM or GRIT classes you do, your weight control will always be compromised and challenged if you put more energy into your body than what you push out of your body during these classes. It's as simple as an excess energy intake, even a small amount over a long period of time will cause weight gain.

I understand it's harder for overweight people to move. Overweight people experience more stress on their joints and bones, which can lead to injuries, which means they need to rest, which means they are back to square one...not moving, but still eating. I see my personal training clients train hard. What I don't see is the energy they consume at home. I understand that overweight people lack self-esteem and confidence, which makes it hard for them to join a gym or a group fitness class. But I also see that most human beings are empathetic and will responsively support and encourage people who are struggling with their weight.

  • Focus on portion size. You don't have to finish everything on your plate. Children's portion sizes should be smaller than those for adults. Cutting back on portion size will help you balance energy in and energy out. Be active. Make personal and family time active. Find activities that everyone will enjoy. Reduce screen time. Limit the use of TVs, computers, DVDs, and video games because they limit time for physical activity. Health experts recommend two hours or fewer a day of screen time that's not work- or homework-related.

Make it your goal to decrease weight steadily so that you are changing long-term lifestyle behaviours. Fat cells hang around for a long time and have good memory recall...so sometimes the hardest thing is to keep the weight off. Balance is key. This information wasn't around for my Pop...but it is for me and my children.

http://www.healthdirect.

January: Dance like nobody's watching

GAYLE at 73 years of age, can still do the splits. She has danced and exercised all her life for fitness and fun. She has been through all the fads, leg warmers, headbands, g-string leotards, hot pants, crop tops and more. Gayle didn't make my stretch class last Tuesday Melbourne Cup day as she was "too busy boogying with Lisa Hunt” at the top pub in Byron.

The boys in my family surf, whereas my daughter Mattaya and I...well we like to dance. Like Mattaya, I danced from a very early - mainly ballet and jazz back. These days Mattaya does it all jazz, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical, heels, musical theatre and tap dancing. I marvel at what Mattaya can do at 14 years of age as my sister and I never really got past the old 'step ball change' at jazz. For her dance is not incidental fitness, dance is fitness. Dance offers her core, flexibility, posture, strength, balance and aerobic fitness...all my different exercise disciplines rolled into one. I love seeing how dance makes her feel - and watching her makes me feel extremely happy! Whatever your skill level or training background, you don't have to be experienced or professional to enjoy a dance class. BodyJam, Zumba, Sh'Bam are pre-choreographed dance classes to music and there is also Salsa, Burlesque, Pole Dancing, Capeira. The benefits of these classes are not just about the calorie burn, toning and increased fitness. More importantly these classes guarantee you a giggle, smile and a big hit of endorphins. I did a Zumba class recently for a group of Year 9 girls preparing for their belonging camp. What I loved was the girls' ability to have fun and smile while doing simple, sometimes cheesy dance moves.

A new craze ready to hit this region is called Pound - the world's first cardio jam session inspired by the infectious, energising and sweat dripping fun of playing the drums. The world would definitely be a better place if we all danced more, don't you agree?

December: Christmas Do's and Don'ts

Are you finding that you are double, even triple booking yourself into Christmas social events and festivities?  Your staff party, your partner’s staff party, the kid’s school Christmas concert, the end of year dance concert, throw in a birthday (the dog’s birthday), school award ceremonies, graduation ceremonies, end of year school breaks ups – oh and don’t forget the endless $10 Secret Santa presents and candy canes required for all these gatherings!!!!! Lack of sleep, an abundance of food and drink combined with pent up excitement and stress is the perfect recipe for weight gain and fitness loss.  But you can empower yourself with some simple tips, rules, pinky-promises and get through the silly season unscathed.

Learn to say NO
Be a little selective with your social calendar, particularly when it plays havoc on your health and fitness regime.  Do not let FOMO (fear of missing out) sabotage your rules and emotions.  When you say NO, mean it and have no regrets.

Limit your alcohol intake
Drink water or mineral water with ice and lime out of a wine glass – no one will know the difference. Be the designated driver – that way you can’t over indulge in beverages, and you will wake up the next morning better than the rest of the crew you were out with the night before.

Avoid over indulging
Try not to arrive at a party hungry (it’s like grocery shopping when you are hungry – never a good outcome).  Consider wearing tight fitting clothing and uncomfortable shoes – you will eat less and possibly won’t stay out as late.

Stay socially active
Stay accountable to your friends – keep up all your usual active walking/running/exercise doggie dates – you can squeeze all your social activities in and around your active activities – not the other way around.  Send that text message to your trainer saying ‘I’m coming”.

If I overindulge what should I do?
Firstly don’t stress or beat yourself up – this could lead to a downward spiral.  Pick yourself up and start fresh – do not delay restarting, the kilos won’t go on hold with you.

Something is better than nothing
Keep exercise a priority.  Exercise will help you to stress less and of course burn more calories – and will make you think twice about whether indulging is really a good idea.  Do something every day of the holidays – get up and get your active wear on even before everyone else is awake.  Remember something is better than nothing.   Oh and if you are going away for Christmas – take a skipping rope – you can skip anywhere.

If you follow these tips (even just one), hopefully your New Year goals will not solely revolve around getting the Christmas kilos off!

At the end of a walk or a run try this holiday workout at a park or at the beach…3-5 rounds. 

10 X tricep dips
10 x push ups
10 X jump squats
1 minute plank

November: Mental Health

Some days I feel like Roberta Pinterest with the predictable motivational sayings that spill out of my mouth (while yawning) at 5:45am every morning to my training group…’the hardest part was getting here’, ‘this workout is better than a kick in the teeth’, ‘wouldn’t fancy doing that on my own’, ‘this pain is temporary, if you quit you will think about it all day long’.  The one saying that really does get them over the line every time though is ‘I can smell the coffee’.  For many of us exercise is more than just looking good, shaping up, toning up, gaining strength or losing weight…exercise offers a real opportunity to feel better about ourselves and forget about some of the burdens and stresses we carry throughout our day. 

Unsolicited, I received the following text message from one of my regular clients yesterday, ’Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result make a different choice.  If I always do what I’ve always done, I’ll always get what I’ve always got’.  After a long time of not feeling good about herself or happy, this client made the investment and choice to commit to regular personal training sessions with me.  Changes in her mood, body language and physicality have been immediate.  If you feel like crap, but you don’t want to feel like crap anymore then you have to change what you are currently doing and do something different.

Most of us know that exercise is fantastic for our body – but it also has an overwhelmingly positive impact on our mental health.  No matter what your age, fitness level, if you let it, exercise can be one of your most powerful tools to feel better.

Obstacles in your way?

When you feel exhausted, tired or stressed…exercise will not make you feel worse. In fact it has the opposite effect – physical activity is a powerful energizer. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed…physical activity can help you to step back and create time for everything. It is like decluttering your mind to function more efficiently.  Give exercise priority and you will learn ways to fit small amounts in your busy schedule.  

Sometimes we feel hopeless…you can still workout even if you are the lowest of your lows.  If you have little exercise experience, start with low impact exercise and build your confidence first.

If you are in pain…or have a disability, severe weight problem, arthritis, or any injury or illness that limits your mobility, talk to your healthcare or exercise professional about ways to exercise safely.  Divide your exercise into shorter chunks to feel more successful – remember to walk before your run.

Remember you are not alone…no matter what your weight, age or fitness level, there are others like you with similar exercise/fitness goals. Surround yourself with like-minded people and be their inspiration.

How to kick start exercise when you feel anxious or depressed?

Smart start – start small…ditch the big marathon goals and settle for a run/walk lamp post to lamp post. Set SMART goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and in a Time frame.  For example I want to be able to participate in two aqua classes a week for one whole month.  Australian Government Guidelines recommend adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate to intensive physical activity on most or all days of the week. You can make up 30 minutes over the day by combining shorter 10–15 minute sessions.

Exercise when your energy is at its biggest…that could be first thing in the morning before work or school, during your lunchtime or before the mid-afternoon slump hits.  If you lack energy all day long put your earphones in and go for a short walk – chances are even a short walk will pick up your mood.

Do things that you like… if you like the beach go for a walk and dip your toes in the water.  Jump on your town bike and ride down to the local shops to get the milk.  Break up your long stints of your normal mundane, same routine. 

Express gratitude…find time in your day to be grateful and show kindness.  The act of kindness is one of the quickest ways to feel good about yourself.  Shift your constant self-probing focus and deflect your kindness on to someone else.

Exercise with a friend…chances are you will laugh more, and laughing is great for your core.  Make plans to walk with your friend so you stay accountable and committed.  When you are feeling low, the companionship can be just as important as the exercise.

  • Exercise makes you feel good because it releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. I
  • Exercise gently forces you to be social – which can help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation and put you in touch with other people.
  • Exercise helps improve your sleep.
  • Exercise pumps blood to the brain, which should make you think more clearly.
  • Exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory.
  • Exercise increases the connections between the nerve cells in the brain. This improves your memory and helps protect your brain against injury and disease.

Headspace Lismore is presenting a fundraising gala event “Shine the Light” on the 19th Nov 2016, Spotted Pig, Linendale.  The event will create awareness of the mental health issues youth face in our region. 

My advice is to always grab what you can…10 minutes, 30 minutes one hour – more.  Pin this one… ‘something is better than nothing’ when it comes to exercise.

FOR 24/7 COUNSELLING AND SUPPORT

Lifeline - 13 11 14

Kids Help Line - 1800 55 1800

MensLine Australia - 1300 789 978

Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467

Domestic Violence line – 1800 656 463

These numbers are either free or the cost of a local call.

October: Holiday Exercise Sweetens a Wine

It is school holidays and I just got a text from my friend Renee who is camping.

"Hey Bertie... walked, supped (stand-up), yoga'd and ran stairs! Made the champers and the prawns that much sweeter.” And that people, is exactly how you exercise on holidays!

Personally, I like nothing more than taking a break from my usual workouts - but I also know I am going to have a much better break if I keep moving in some way or another. Some of my holiday exercise tips include:

Get moving straight up. Go for a walk, run, bike ride or swim as soon as you get up (and while the rest of your family is still sleeping) - get it out of the way so that you don't feel guilty later on when you are lounging around and you haven't done what you said you were going to do.

Pack workout gear - running shoes, goggles, skipping rope - you can just recycle that same gear day after day - quick rinse out or dry out the sweat in the sunshine. My sister and I skipped ourselves around Africa when we went on a six-week overland safari...30 minutes every other day - skipping with the lions in Kruger National Park!

Don't stress that your holiday exercise is not as high-energy as what you normally do - put everything into perspective. If you find a BodyAttack class somewhere, go for it, but low impact exercise like walking and stretching/ home yoga will still provide you with benefits and satisfaction... remember something is better than nothing at all.

Find a buddy - my friend Melissa and I walked different routes daily in Maroubra recently where our kids were competing in a surf contest. We always included a hill.

Use walking/running as a good excuse for sightseeing and exploring. Do some body resistance/stretching/core work outside at the end of your walk, run or bike ride. I do this simple little routine of 10 push-ups, 10 dips (off a park bench) and 10 jack planks five times through at the end of my run.

Use nature as your gym - bush walking, trail running, stand-up paddling, surfing, snorkelling - all get your moving. Better still go on a "family action holiday” - camping, surf trip, ski holiday or trek.

Think about how extreme your indulgences should be... enjoy yourself without going silly on the desserts, alcohol and cocktails.

Remember the incidental stuff - take the stairs, carry your bags, piggy back your kids even go shopping in a huge shopping centre... get your legs tired for the end of the day.

My biggest piece of advice... make sure you start on the very first day of your holiday. If you find an excuse on day one, chances are you will find an excuse every.

September: Fun and run do go together

I  DID my first 10km fun run in my 20's when I lived in Japan. I wasn't a runner. I joined my company's running club headed up by a very enthusiastic employee Sato San and trained twice a week with my work colleagues. It was definitely FUN. Since then I have participated in a number of other fun runs - mostly charity events.

Most fun run junkies would agree that preparation should comprise not just of straight distance running. Incorporate hills and speed interval work and even add in a weights program to build lean muscle and stronger bone density. You can run indoors on a treadmill at the gym or outdoors on different terrain including sand, trails and stairs even.

Four 'no-brainer' reasons why you should enter a fun run...

  • Motivation - Lots of us need goals to keep us focussed.
  • Fun - Race day is usually loaded with fun and excitement, including bands and music lining the roadsides, loads of happy, smiling volunteers at water and fuel stations, fun giveaways and prizes, and cheering adoring supporters clapping and encouraging you on your way.
  • Social - If you happen to join a team, you can expect the excitement of a team singlet, team training sessions, team carbohydrate loading dinners and lots of team banter.
  • Fitness - as I say over and over, mix your training up - otherwise the spark of exercise can fade.
     

The Darrell Chapman Fun Run on September 11, is ideal for first timers as it offers shorter distance like the 5km and 10km. Part social, part fitness and geared towards a charitable cause.

 

Be careful though, fun runs can be addictive. I have a friend Lesa who did her first 10km Byron Lighthouse Run two years ago and is now officially hooked, having now participated in over 20 fun runs since.

 

Have a try - the sense of achievement will give your self-belief a kick-start.

August: Even personal trainers have personal trainers...

I have been a personal trainer for almost 10 years and only recently myself engaged a personal trainer. I can now put myself in the running shoes of my clients. I understand how clients put total belief and guidance in their trainer. I appreciate the desire to self-satisfy and to please. I acknowledge the flutters of apprehension and excitement pre-workout and I high five and ride the highs post-workout – I get it!

One of the easiest ways to make yourself accountable to the fitness and health goals you set yourself, is to engage a personal trainer. Set yourself SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and in a Timeframe. My sister Maria is a single mother of two boys. She works full-time as an educator. Time poor, busy and yearning to be more active, I would offer Maria workout ideas and suggestions, but what Maria really needed was an emotional and financial commitment. Tammy is Maria’s personal trainer and trains her twice a week – 30 minutes each session. Maria complements these personal training sessions with bike rides with her boys and doing lots and lots of walking.

Carefully choosing a personal trainer enables you to select the type of guidance that will benefit you. You can get fit and healthy your way and take ultimate responsibility for your own health and fitness. What could be better than making a commitment to regularly meet with someone who will provide you with individualised attention and support?

At SWITCH 24-hour gym you can engage one of our well qualified and experienced personal trainers for a 30-minute session – as a one-off workout or in a 5 or 10 pack. Our trainers are keen to work with you personally, to not only help you reach your fitness and health goals, but to go beyond your expectations.

July: The more the merrier

IT SEEMS everyone is getting involved in group exercise these days. There’s everything from outdoor boxing, ocean swimming, bootcamps, surfing meet ups, running and walking groups. What is the big attraction of exercising in a group? I love my own space and time; sometimes I really crave it. But I also love getting with friends for a run, walk or a gym session – making a date keeps me accountable and committed. So whether you join a formal group or just get together with a group of friends and their dogs for a walk, here are some reasons why more is merrier for earning your fitness gains.

Motivation

Many people who attend a group class will show up exhausted from just their regular everyday life routine. But once they join the group, they become re-energised. A friendly fitness instructor will give you purpose and reason for making the effort. If you work out with people who are faster, stronger or fitter than you, you will always strive to be as fast, as strong as fit – or more. Exercising in a group really challenges you to work above and beyond your perceived limitations.

Accountability

As you get to know your instructor and fellow participants, they will notice when you don’t attend class – they will genuinely miss your presence. You are held accountable because people are relying on you to turn up. You can count on a text from your friend at 5.15am saying “see you at 5.45am for boxing”, and most likely one from the instructor the night before… with a smiley face emoji of course. They remind you when you don’t turn up, and tease you about how good the session was. We experience a certain Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).

Social camaraderie

There is a lot of carry-on and joking around during my outdoor fitness sessions and my running group. The major factor to signing up to a group is to get fit and shape up. However, after that, probably the biggest by-product is the strong friendship group they make along the way.

Group fitness classes provide social networking opportunities and often lifetime friendships are forged.

March: 5 great benefits of cardio exercise

Cardio – some love it and others hate it.  Either way you look at it though, cardiovascular exercise is one of the key components that should never be left out of a fitness plan.

Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, is any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation. There are various forms and methods of performing cardio exercise - all which will have specific benefits and guidelines.

Most individuals performing cardio are using it as a way to burn off excess calories and since you are moving the body, it is going to increase the need for energy. Some forms are slightly better when strictly speaking of fat loss but all cardio, regardless of form will burn off calories. Since fat loss does depend on calories burned versus calories consumed it is a step in the right direction.

The reason to do cardio does not end with fat loss though; there are a wide variety of health benefits you receive from a regular cardio program.

Improved Heart Health

The first one is an improved condition of your heart. Your heart is a muscle just like any other and in order for it to become strong it must be worked. If you fail to work it, it will weaken over time and this can cause a variety of negative health effects.

By getting the heart pumping at a faster rate on a regular basis you will keep it in shape and healthy. Too many people are getting winded just performing simple exercises such as walking up the stairs and the primary reason for this is because they are neglecting to work their heart muscle.

Increased Metabolism

Another reason to perform cardio is for its effects on the metabolism.  Along with speeding up your heart rate, cardiovascular exercise also increases the rate of various other processes in the body, also known as your metabolism.

Generally speaking, the more intense the cardio session, the more noticeable increase you will see with regards to your metabolic rate. Intense interval sprints (also known as HIIT) increase the metabolism; the highest with a process called EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). An increased metabolism means an easier time maintaining your weight (or losing weight as the case may be).

Performing cardiovascular exercise also changes the hormonal profile in your body considerably. It releases 'feel good' hormones that will help ease symptoms of depression and fatigue as well as releasing hormones that decrease the appetite.

Individuals who partake in regular cardio exercise often have a much more positive outlook on life simply because they are getting the stress-relief benefits from these hormones.

Improved Recovery Ability

Certain types of cardio exercise, usually lower, more moderately paced forms, can decrease your recovery time too. If you have just performed a hard session in the gym, hopping on the treadmill for a walk or light jog will help to remove some of the by-products that were created during the lifting session.

This will help to reduce your DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) and help bring more oxygen rich blood to the muscle tissue improving in the repair and rebuilding process. To you, this translates to your being able to get back into the gym quicker and work the muscles again.

Building muscle mass is a combination of an overloading stimulus and sufficient rest to allow the muscle to heal itself. If you skew this balance either direction, either working out too much or providing too much rest in between, you aren't going to get optimal results.

The more frequently you are able to work a muscle though (assuming full recovery has been achieved) the faster you will add additional new muscle. Cardio helps you do this. Just don't take this too far as excess cardio or cardio done at such a high intensity that it places additional strain on the muscles is going to actually hinder recovery rather than aid it.

Management of Diabetes

Lastly, for those who have diabetes, cardiovascular exercise helps them manage this condition. By performing the exercise you will increase your muscle's ability to utilize glucose. Those who exercise regularly tend to have better control of their blood sugars and do not see as many blood sugar swings as those who don't. For diabetes this is increasingly important as they are extremely sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels.

These are just a few of the benefits that you will see with regular cardiovascular exercise.  If you are just getting started, first focus on simply finding an activity that gets you moving and gets your heart rate up. Those are the two key components to what cardio is. Any form of exercise will do, whether it is going for a walk, a bike ride or performing in an organised sport.

The important thing is to keep your body moving. Weight lifting, unless done in a circuit style fashion, would not be considered aerobic cardio exercise since you are not moving continuously. It would be anaerobic and would use a different energy system than that of cardio (the ATP-CP system).

As you build up your fitness level, then you can concentrate on performing more advanced forms of cardio such as interval training, tempo training, HIIT sprints and so forth. First get started on building a solid cardio base though and then work from there.

Cardio is one thing you do not want to overdo in the beginning because spending hour upon hour on a machine at a moderate pace is really not going to give you any further benefits than someone doing a more moderate volume.

Once you are able to do 30-45 minutes 3-5 times a week then step it up a notch and look at those advanced principles. It's usually better to increase the intensity of your cardio, rather than the volume (unless you happen to be training for a long distance even such as a marathon for example).

The PowerMill is a fabulous new piece of cardio equipment.  Come and see a trainer and check out the benefits…it works!

February: Bootcamp Benefits

Here is a great article I found online…written by Healthy Magazine. 

Boot Camp Benefits

Boot camp workouts are intense exercise sessions that challenge every muscle in your body. By rapidly moving from exercise to exercise with little rest in between, you tone and firm muscles while getting a good cardiovascular workout at the same time. These sessions are known as boot camp workouts because the exercises used are similar to those the military employees to keep recruits in shape.

What are the benefits of boot camp exercise and why should you be doing them?

BOOT CAMP WORKOUTS ALLEVIATE BOREDOM.

Yes, a boot camp exercise routine is challenging, but never boring. Time goes by quickly when you’re engaged in so many types of exercises. Time can drag when you’re walking on a treadmill, but with a boot camp workout, you’ll be surprised to look up and see the session is almost over.

BOOT CAMP WORKOUTS GIVE AN AEROBIC AND MUSCLE TONING WORKOUT AT THE SAME TIME.

If you have limited time to exercise, a boot camp workout is one of the most efficient programs around. It allows you to get aerobic and strength training done in a single workout, which means you’ll spend less time exercising. Despite working out less, you’ll still burn a substantial number of calories due to the intensity of the workout.

BOOT CAMP WORKOUTS ARE GREAT CALORIE BURNERS.

Because you’re moving rapidly from exercise to exercise and working upper and lower body at the same time, boot camp exercise burns big calories. You can expect to burn off up to 600 calories per hour during a single boot camp exercise session. This is more calories than you’ll burn with most other types of exercise.

BOOT CAMP WORKOUTS BUILD CONFIDENCE.

There’s nothing more exhilarating than successfully completing a boot camp workout. You’re tired and sweaty, yet strangely energized. Each workout builds confidence in your physical ability.

Boot Camp training also benefits mental fitness. Many feel that they sleep better after a good workout, and if they do boot camp in the morning, they are better able to cope with stresses at work. Indeed, research has shown that strenuous physical exercise can trigger elevated mood states, an improved sense of well-being, and the ability to cope with stress. Exercise can also alleviate anxiety and depression, and improve mental clarity; for example, some who have ADHD report that exercise improves their ability to think clearly without getting distracted.

One of the most important benefits of boot camp is, of course, the value of exercising in a group, as well as the discipline. Many of us wish to get fitter and improve our health, but all too often our good intentions are temporary. We are so busy and there are so many competing demands for our time that despite our best intentions, we sometimes fall by the wayside.  Being healthy is the best thing you can do for yourself, so join a boot camp and see results. And like we say “Pain never looked so good!!”

January: Goal Setting in 2016

NEW YEAR, NEW GOALS, NEW YOU

Improving your health and fitness, getting lean and toned, becoming more organised or saving for a holiday… whatever your goal, don’t sabotage it by turning it into a New Year's resolution!

January 1 has come and gone. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Don’t worry if you didn’t, because research shows that New Year’s resolutions just don’t work. Only eight per cent of us who set New Year’s resolutions actually see them through. But that doesn’t mean we should abandon smart and realistic goal setting. Maybe just take a different approach.

Ditch the term 'resolution'

Rather than holding yourself to a resolution, choose to set a goal or a series of goals. The term resolution can have a negative connotation and sometimes encourages you to focus on problems rather than solutions. Consequently, highlighting these problems can make your feel like you are failing. Setting goals feels more positive and uplifting. Goals encourage improvement, progression and optimism – and that’s what sets you up for success.

Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today

It’s never too early to start chasing positive change. Start working towards your goals now and you’ll have your healthy new behaviours embedded before you know it. The first step can often be the hardest, but once you have created a new habit, routine will prevail and keep you focused and on track.

Don’t go too hard too fast

Small wins are the secret to securing big-picture goals. This might mean swapping a mid-afternoon treat for a handful of nuts, working out for 30 minutes twice a week or making your mornings more productive by setting your alarm 20 minutes earlier. Research shows that when it comes to exercise, a gradual approach will set you up for success much more than jumping in the deep end. Try pacing yourself and build gradually – lessen the likelihood of confusion by keeping everything related to your goals relatively simple. By exercising for short times more days a week you can get in the habit of exercising before stressing about how hard you’re working.

And remember, it doesn’t have to be a complete backflip. As my husband always says, it’s the little things that make a BIG difference – you just need to back yourself and trust that you are making good choices. So ditch the resolutions and take action now to kick some goals in 2016!

December: There's something great about group fitness!

Group fitness classes offer fantastic social inclusion opportunities as well as physical and psychological support.

Group fitness classes are a great way to start your fitness journey, make new friends and have fun while doing something positive for your health and wellbeing.

Group fitness is much more than loud music in a room packed with sweaty people being shouted at by an instructor! Our instructors provide motivational and inspirational cues, and you’ll soon find yourself feeling happy among that sweaty group and making new friends who can help keep you motivated and on track.

The beauty of group fitness classes is the diversity – whatever your tastes or interests, there is a group fitness class that will reflect that. You can choose boxing, freestyle and pre choreographed strength and cardio classes, indoor cycling, outdoor circuits, aqua workouts, bootcamps and more. Each of the classes will challenge and improve your fitness and physicality!

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Social opportunities

You are more likely to have fun exercising in a group than working out on your own. Fitness classes are a wonderful place to meet people who have similar lifestyle goals and needs. Make friends, converse and solve the problems of the world over a coffee after class. Group fitness classes provide social networking opportunities and often lifetime friendships are forged.
 

Motivation

Group fitness classes really challenge you to work above and beyond your perceived limitations. Because everyone is exercising toward the same goal, you are more likely to work harder than if you were working out on your own. As well as motivating and encouraging you, a group fitness instructor explains the benefits of each exercise, which increases your reasons to complete the workout and keeps you coming back for more.
 

Physical benefits

Group fitness classes are available in a variety of workout styles to suite your likes and personal goals. If your goal is to improve cardiovascular output and lose weight, you may choose aerobic-based classes such as Les Mills Body Step, Body Attack, RPM or Fit Boxing/Circuit. On the flipside, classes like Body Pump and Bootcamp will improve your muscular endurance and strength. For those seeking to improve flexibility and balance, a stretch or yoga/Pilates class is a great option.
 

Accountability

As you get to know your instructor and fellow participants, they will notice when you don’t attend class – they will genuinely miss your presence. You are held accountable because people are relying on you to turn up.

Whatever your goal, chances are there is a group fitness class with your name on it. Try it out… the worst that could happen is that it might hurt a little. Oh, and one final warning: group fitness is highly addictive.
 

My personal favourite

SWICTH has a huge range of group fitness classes but my personal favourite is Body Pump. This is an all over body workout using barbell. Research has confirmed that Body Pump has strong calorie and fat-burning effects and it improves aerobic fitness, muscular strength, and muscular endurance.

The secret to Body Pump is ‘The Rep Effect’. This is a breakthrough in resistance training that is proven to deliver a total body transformation. The Rep Effect throws traditional thinking about lifting heavy weights on its head. It exhausts muscles using light weights while performing high repetitions.

Using The Rep Effect, Body Pump classes give you sculpted shoulders, defined biceps and triceps, strong lean legs, firm glutes and a tight core. Choreography in each of these areas is specifically targeted so you'll burn fat and more calories to achieve more meaningful fat loss and muscle fatigue, which builds strength without building bulk.

In a typical Body Pump class you’ll perform 800 reps in a single group workout. That’s more than four times the amount a person can achieve when training alone. If you’re yet to experience Body Pump, or simply haven’t done it in a while, you need to give it a burn!

Until next time,

Roberta :)

November: Switch has arrived... experience the difference

As many of you know, our 24-hour gym SWITCH was launched on November 1.

I invite everyone in the community to come and try the new facilities and check out the fresh, modern gym we have created for you – we’re sure you’ll love it!

One of the features of SWITCH is our new functional training centre – a fitness playground for everyone to enjoy.

This exciting, bright yellow piece of equipment is great for functional training on your own or in small groups. We offer versatile training methods, which will add that extra challenge and fun in your workout.

The exercises you can do on the functional training equipment are endless. There are monkey bars for pull ups (whatever grip) and TRX straps for abdominal, upper and lower body weight training – fantastic for improving agility and strength.

Attachments include a power rack and torsonitor. You can also easily attach resistance bands for more core functional strength.

The functional training centre also includes stretch bars, a stretch cage and kettle bell and slam ball racks – great exercise tools to drive your cardio output. And Trainer George Stevens has added some power rings to bring the gymnast in you out!

Come and ask our helpful, professional trainers for an introduction – anyone can do it. The functional training centre is all about you finding what works for your own personal health and fitness needs.

Come and experience the new 24-hour gym for yourself and make the SWITCH today!

Until next time,

Roberta :)