PAINLESS GROUP WORKOUTS: Research shows you suffer less when you work out together

PROOFTRAINING IN A GROUP IS THE WAY TO GO
By Emma Hogan for Fit Planet

Can you push your limits further when you’re working out with others? According to new research the answer is yes!

We’re all for enjoyable workouts, but that doesn’t mean taking it easy. If you want to unlock the transformative effects of exercise you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and reach a state of fatigue. New research suggests that you can push further when you’ve got others by your side.

A recent study of Oxford University rowers has highlighted that those doing physical activity in team setting can tolerate roughly twice as much pain as when they exercise solo.

The study compared the pain threshold of 12 male rowers after they trained together and when they followed the same training regime individually. The first session involved the rowers splitting into two teams of six and rowing continuously for 45 minutes – their rowing machines were hooked up to a “virtual boat” that demanded their rowing was synchronized. During the second session rowers performed the same regime, but on their own. At the end of each session the rowers’ pain thresholds were assessed. Researchers did this by putting a blood pressure cuff around the arm and inflating it until it became uncomfortably painful.

When the rowers trained together they had significant increases in pain threshold – even though their power output was not significantly different.

It seems that the synchronized activity is key.

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According to Robin Dunbar, a co-author and head of the institute of cognitive and evolutionary anthropology at Oxford, the study shows that that synchrony alone seems to ramp up the production of endorphins. It is the rush of endorphins, a feel-good chemical that is released in the brain, that dampens down feelings of pain.

The scientists speculate that a similar surge of endorphins might result in the the feel-good sensations people experience when they dance together, play team sports or take part in religious rituals.

“We have long known that exercise releases endorphins which stimulate a sense of euphoria and act as a temporary painkiller,” says Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research. “Now, thanks to this research we have evidence that you can increase the effect by training in a group.”

Hastings adds that if you’re keen to maximize the feel-good effect, a group workout that focuses on aerobic fitness could be the way to go. A 2014 studyhas highlightedhow moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic training can increase pain threshold in healthy individuals.

Workouts such as BODYATTACK, BODYCOMBAT, BODYSTEP and RPM are great examples of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic group training options.

Training for a stronger, longer life

BY MARIYA GREELEY | March 12, 2019

Riley Bellao, 34, joined her local gym with modest ambitions. “I’d really like to walk up my stairs without huffing and puffing,” she told her personal trainer during their first session.

Fast forward several years, Bellao has found her passion and goes to the gym at least four times a week at Healthworks, an all-women’s gym with four locations in the Boston area. Her focus: boxing classes and strength training—a form of exercise that uses resistance, whether in the form of dumbbells, barbells, machines, or your own body weight, to build muscle.

Bellao’s personal trainer focuses much of their time together on strength training to help her build the muscle she needs in daily life to reach her goals, feel confident in her own skin, and stay active and healthy long into the future. More and more, science points to this kind of strength-based exercise as a “must” for younger women with similar objectives.

 

Strong for life

“Strength training is the fountain of youth,” says Artemis Scantalides, the founder of I Am Not Afraid To Lift®, a women’s strength workshop that she leads around the country.

Women can maintain or build muscle mass and bone density throughout their lives with the right program, agrees Travis Triplett, president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and professor of exercise science at Appalachian State University. Without using exercise to challenge different muscle and bone groups, they begin to gradually get weaker starting as early as age 30.

New research shows strength training can provide some of the benefits aerobic exercise is known for, too, including improved heart health and mental health. “If I get to the gym stressed out for whatever reason,  as soon as I start weight training my stress melts away,” Bellao says. “I walk out a happier person.”

Until recently, encouragement and education around the value of strength training for women was lacking. Now, with more research and media attention on its benefits, a cultural shift is taking place in how women choose to work out and reach their health and fitness goals. “There is less fear of lifting and appearing strong, versus the traditional goal of skinny,” says Lindsey Cambridge, fitness director at Boston-based Healthworks Group. “It is wonderful to watch their growth and progress and see the mental and emotional change that happens with the physical changes.”

 

“Where to start” paralysis

Like many women, Bellao initially stayed away from weight training at the gym because she was intimidated by the seasoned lifting crowd. “It’s pretty easy to get complacent and jump on an elliptical or treadmill instead,” Bellao notes.

The first step to overcoming this mental barrier is finding a gym where you feel comfortable trying new things and pushing yourself. “Look at a few different gyms,” Cambridge advises. “Look for a place with a really encouraging and welcoming staff, somewhere you’re not going to feel stupid going up to a trainer and asking a question about something.”

Bellao found such an environment at the Coolidge Corner based Healthworks. “They’re just so welcoming,” Bellao says. “My first time there I remember feeling like, ‘okay, I can do this.’”

Knowledge is an essential component for strength training, so take advantage of complimentary training sessions at a gym to ask fundamental questions, Cambridge suggests. Try asking: How much weight should I be using? What are the best moves to target my abs, legs, or glutes? What ratio of weights to cardio should I do to meet my goals?

From there, consider personal training long-term so your trainer can help you adjust your routine as you progress. “It’s an investment in your health,” Scantalides says, and it means you’ll be held accountable to someone with a plan. “You won’t even think about what you have to do. All you have do is show up. You just have to keep that appointment.”

If one-on-one training isn’t in your budget, gather a group of friends for semi-private training, which costs less per-person. “You’re going to get the same personal coaching out of that, and you’re going to have a small community,” Scantalides says.

 

Forget “bulky”phobia

Although more women are aware of this myth today, some still worry that strength training will make them look bigger and bulkier. “It’s kind of an unrealistic fear,” Triplett says.

Exactly how weight lifting changes your body depends on your body type, Cambridge says, but “selecting the proper programs for your body and proper rep schemes and loads can help you tailor your end results in the way that you want.”

One thing that’s clear is it’s unlikely you can reach the result you want without strength training. While cardio exercises burn fat, strength-based workouts build the muscles underneath the fat that are crucial to achieving the sculpted look, with muscle definition from head to toe, that’s often the goal today.

After about a year dedicated to her training, Bellao says she’s much more confident about her appearance. “I see the difference, and I don’t look like a muscle girl,” she says. “I’m going to Florida and I’m looking forward to wearing a bikini.”

No consistency, no gain

Another reason to make strength training a priority as soon as possible: “A big part of starting young is getting into habits that will carry you through the different ebbs and flows of your life,” Cambridge says.

When women jump into fitness and push themselves too hard for a few weeks (Who hasn’t set after that New Years resolution or tried to stretch themselves to complete that one-size-fits-all fitness app?) they often end up skipping the gym for weeks or months afterwards, Cambridge says. Instead, she recommends her beginning clients come in just two days a week. Then, after a few successful weeks, she recommends a third day. “Introducing things slowly can help people with longer-term commitment to fitness as a part of their life,” she says.

To stay motivated, observe the little ways that being stronger makes life better. “The feelings of empowerment and confidence that you build in your training sessions translate into your everyday life,” Scantalides says. You start to notice it’s easier to move furniture into a new apartment. You find you get less fatigued while carrying your 20-pound niece or nephew around. You feel confident that you can easily lift your suitcase into the overhead compartment on a plane and sit comfortably in the emergency exit row, knowing you’re strong enough to be a hero.

Bellao not only can walk up stairs without huffing and puffing now, she can run 5ks and do 30 push-ups at a time. Her next goals? Mastering the handstand and the unassisted pull-up.

LISA OSBORNE ON INJURY: Lisa Osborne opens up about her secrets to staying motivated when dealing with injury.

LISA OSBORNE:STAYING MOTIVATED WHILE DEALING WITH INJURY
By Sarah Shortt for Fit Planet

Lisa Osborne is an all-round superwoman who has spent years developing BODYATTACK workouts, inspiring exercisers in the group fitness studio, and pushing her own limits on the gym floor. Here she opens up about a degenerative condition that recently led to a full hip replacement – providing some great insights into how she’s dealt with the tough times. 

SARAH SHORTT: Let’s start at the beginning – how did you end up needing surgery?

LISA OSBORNE: I noticed a pain in my hip a couple of years ago, and it was something I was managing for a long time – massaging it and rolling it out. It progressively got worse and we tried to fix it with rehab, but when I had an X-ray it showed that the head of the femur and hip joint was bone on bone – the cartilage has worn away. When I was referred to a surgeon he said that it was a degenerative condition and could not be fixed by rehab – I required a full replacement of my right hip. Surgery was very much the last resort. We tried other methods such as platelet rich plasma (PRP) – but in the end surgery was my only option.

Have you been scared that you won’t be able to teach group fitness again?

Yes. And that’s why I wanted to share this story and inspire others not to lose faith when you have tough times. You know, injuries happen, but you don’t have to give up. Fitness and teaching is my life – I love being with the members and it’s definitely been hard. The other day, I cried on the side of the studio because I couldn’t teach track one as I was in so much pain. But everyone gets upset about things, you’ve just got to find ways to keep going. I’m pretty positive. I’ve spent my whole life listening to motivational quotes and laughing and surrounding myself with positive people, and I’m lucky to work for a company that is all about keeping on going and being fit for life, so I’m in the right place. My mental journey has been really good.

You teach several BODYATTACK and BODYSTEP classes a week. How have you managed to keep teaching while being injured?

LES MILLS workouts feature lots of options and modifications which I’ve made good use of. I’ve learned that doing the hardest or fastest option isn’t always the best! I’ve focused on doing moves well on the lowest level. If I do a hover on my knees and do it perfectly symmetrically, this is actually a lot harder than doing it badly on my toes with no engagement of the target muscles. I’ve learned that it’s harder to balance on one leg with the other leg out in front – activating your quads, keeping your hips square, bracing your abs and squeezing your glutes – than it is to do 20 squats – badly.

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I’ve struggled with teaching some parts of workouts – the bits with lots of single knees and single leg kicks, so I have people to help me teach those tracks. I’m so thankful for the culture we have in our Tribe of helping each other out, and that we love teaching together. It’s important to ask for help if you need it – it shows authenticity, integrity and the ability to keep it real.

It’s about not being too proud to say, I can’t do that, but I can still do this, and that’s still an achievement.

How has this affected your training?

As Program Directors we’re encouraged to have personal trainers, not so that we can train harder, but rather to keep us balanced and strong for the programs that we teach. Mark, my personal trainer, actually noticed the imbalance before I did. I could feel my hip was a bit sore, but he noticed how much I was favoring my left side. He immediately took me back to basics with my movements and focused on keeping me square, but we realized that a lot of what I was doing was too heavy to maintain correct alignment.

Mark was the one who said, “You have to be more balanced, you can’t do that, you have to do this move … you’re doing too much, you need to slow down.” He kept me going by modifying things for me and ensuring I was still keeping the right muscles firing so I could maintain my strength.

We had to decrease a lot of my volume, which was incredibly frustrating. I’d say to him, “I’m square!” and he’d say, “Lisa, you’re not square.” I’d say, “I’m even! I’m doing both legs!” and he’d say, “You’re not, Lisa…” I know I frustrated him because I didn’t want to listen, but he was so good, he always made me do it and it was so helpful to have an extra set of eyes.

What has been the focus of your pre-hab?

The easiest thing with an injury like this is to become imbalanced. My absolute focus has been to work both sides of my body equally so I’m not getting strong on just one side and increasing the risk of injury. Even though I would hate it, Mark would make me stand on my bad leg for one minute as well as my good leg, and make me stretch out my right side as well as my left. A lot of people will favor one side of their body without even realizing it. As soon as you find a weakness, it’s important to strengthen that side of the body, rather than just relying on your strong side.

I started doing CXWORX once I became aware of the pain, and that has helped immensely with staying strong and balanced. When I went in to see my surgeon, he couldn’t believe how strong my obliques were – he said he hadn’t seen such a strong injured side in a very long time.

How do you vary your training to stay strong?

It is so important to mix up your training to help prevent injuries. I’ve always believed that all LES MILLS programs are awesome, and if you can do a mix of them you will have a perfectly balanced training routine. Do a few BODYATTACK, BODYSTEP, BODYPUMP CXWORX …don’t just do one program every single day. I really believe every single person should do CXWORX at least once a week as the foundation of their strength.

PULL OUT: I started doing CXWORX once I became aware of the pain, and that has helped immensely with staying strong and balanced.

How has training and dealing with such a significant injury strengthened your mind?

This injury has taught me to have more empathy with the people in my class and make sure I’m offering options that will mean everyone can tailor the workout to suit their ability, wherever they are today. It’s about using self-discipline and focus, and changing up what you need to. My mantra at the moment is: adapt, react, then get on with it. It’s what is keeping me going.

Lisa’s surgery went successfully and she appeared on crutches at the filming of BODYATTACK 103. For more on Lisa’s recovery check out these updates she’s shared with the Les Mills instructor tribe.

Lisa’s post-surgery update

WHERE IS SALT HIDING? Find out the surprising sources of sodium – so you don’t consume too much.

HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH SALT YOU’RE EATING?
By Niki Bezzant for Fit Planet

 

Sodium in food can be disguised even from our taste buds. Given the health risks associated with too much salt, it pays to know where it might be hiding.

 

We worry sometimes about additives in our food – preservatives, coloring, artificial flavors, MSG. But possibly the most harmful additive in many common foods is one we don’t think about very often: salt.

 

Salt, or technically sodium chloride, is probably the most common food additive in processed foods, and is also probably the most harmful if over-consumed. We do need some salt –it’s essential for a range of bodily processes – but the daily dose is a lot less than most of us probably consume. Around the world the recommended daily sodium level is no more than 2300 mg– about a teaspoon.

 

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Too much salt has long been linked with high blood pressure and heart disease. That’s because salt makes the body retain water; the more we eat, the more water we store. That raises blood pressure.

 

High blood pressure puts strain on the heart, arteries, kidneys and brain, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease. There’s also evidence too much salt contributes to stomach cancer and osteoporosis.

 

We get much of our daily salt intake not, as we might imagine, from the salt we sprinkle on our food. It comes instead from processed foods – and not always foods we’d expect.

 

Here are some surprising sources of salt/sodium:

 

Bread

Bread can contribute a significant amount of salt to our day. Salt is used for its preservative qualities in bread. It also helps with texture and, of course, flavor; one of salt’s known qualities is its ability to enhance other flavors. (Just ask a traditional porridge eater how they’d feel about their morning porridge without salt!). Salt also helps bread develop a golden, crisp crust. But salt in bread on supermarket shelves can vary widely, so comparing labels can be very useful.

 

Cereal
Most cereals don’t taste salty, but it’s surprising how high some can be when it comes to sodium. Salt is used to make those breakfast flakes golden and crunchy, as well as to preserve the cereal and keep it fresher for longer. Comparing between brands of the same cereal – different brands of cornflakes, for example – can be revealing, though. Look for a lower sodium number.

 

Meat substitutes

More of us are opting for vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. Some of the things we may use to replace meat – tofu for example– are naturally low in salt. But other more novel options, such as vegetarian sausages or burgers, can be surprisingly high. Salt is used in these products for its binding effect – it helps ingredients stay together in sausages, for example – and for flavor. Keep an eye especially on the newer meat-like meat substitutes; these look a lot like chicken or beef thanks to clever technology, but they can also pack a wallop when it comes to salt.

 

Sauces

It makes sense that salty sauces like soy or fish sauce are high in salt – they taste super salty. But others, such as ketchup, sweet chili, barbecue and even mustard sauces can add a lot of salt to your day, and even though we don’t add salt to our food we can blow out our daily allowance without realizing it.Keep an eye, too, on supermarket salad dressings, which can be very salty without necessarily tasting that way.

 

Cheese

Depending on how much we eat, cheese can be a major contributor to our daily salt intake. Salt is an important ingredient in cheese making; it’s used to help cheese develop flavor– think of a strong blue such as Stilton – as well as body and texture. Salt also plays a role in fermentation. In general, fresh cheeses such as ricotta and cottage cheese have very little salt, and stronger cheeses such as aged cheddar and blue cheeses have more. And some cheeses such as feta and haloumi are stored in brine, making them even saltier.


HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
A food doesn’t have to taste salty to be high in salt, so it really pays to check labels. You’re looking for the listing for sodium in the nutrition information panel, and a lower number is always better. If a food has 120mg or less per 100g, it’s considered low sodium. More than 600mg is considered high.

Want to strengthen your hamstrings?

EXERCISES YOU SHOULD BE DOING...



Our hamstrings are a vital yet often overlooked group of muscles in your body. Your hamstrings are a collective group composed of 3 muscles that insert at the back of the knee and originate at the pelvis. They provide us with multiple functions including adduction of the leg, extension of the hip, and flexion of the knee. 


Hamstrings are a crucial role in the running stride and are heavily involved in ones overall knee stability. Often times for high velocity runners hamstrings are the most important "speed muscles" in your body. Suffering from lower back pain? Tight hamstrings could also be a contributing factor! 
It is important for overall functional proper body movement mechanics that we prime our hamstrings for success through methodologies of stretching and strengthening.
Here is our trainer tip for our favorite hamstring stretch followed by our favorite hamstring strengthening drills... be sure to incorporate both of these into your weekly routine!
1.) STRETCH: "Pyramid Pose" staggered stance front leg is the leg we are stretching- tip at the hip with an almost fully extended knee, keeping a neutral spine as your tip think about bringing your chest towards the floor until you feel a good stretch.
2.) STRENGTHEN: "Single Leg Deadlifts" These are our trainer favorite as they can be done unweighted or assisted to start and gradually as we understand form we can load the movement with a kettlebell. We rate these as one of the best posterior chain movements for our body. The single leg deadlift requires strong core stability, balance, and coordination while serving our body with essential unilateral movement pattern that is applicable to our everyday lives. It also improves mobility through the hips and legs for better movement and posture. The glutes, hamstrings, and adductor are dynamically strengthened while synergistically working together to perform extension at the hips! These complimenting muscle groups during the single leg deadlift force the lower back extensors to function as stabilizers which in turns isometrically strengthens them. HOW TO...- plant your working foot into the ground-lift the unloaded leg behind you slightly above the ground-straighten your back leg, dorsiflex your foot, pushing through your heel-MAINTAIN A FLAT BACK WITH SQUARED HIPS AND SHOULDERS!-slowly hinge at the hips-bend the working side knee for a deeper hinge-pause at the bottom for a second to work on coordination and balance-slowly stand back up with feet together with a slight pause in between reps
3.) PARTNER STRENGTH DRILL: "Hamstring Fall Ins" Hamstring fall ins are a more advanced drill directly targeting activation of the muscle groups of your hamstrings and your glutes. With a partner holding your ankles while in a kneeling position slowly lower your body towards the ground. In the beginning your may use your hands to catch you very quickly yet as your hamstrings get stronger the goal is to only need your hands to catch you when you are just above to hit the ground. Think tension over time with this drill, the slower these are performed the more activation our muscles are requiring. Take your time with progressions on this drill and keep your reps to 10 or less for optimal function.

-Lindsey Noseworthy


#hamstrings #functionalmovement #movement of the week #exercisesyoushouldbedoing #singlelegdeadlift #stretch #strengthen #hamstringfallin #pyramidpose #movebetter #feelbetter #fitnessconcepts #fitnessconceptshealthclub #trainingfacility

DISPOSABLE MYTHS The truth about biodegradable and compostable packaging – and the best alternatives.

TIME TO DISPOSE OF THOSE DISPOSABLE MYTHS?
By Naomi Arnold for Fit Planet

 

We all know single-use plastic is bad, so what about those biodegradable and compostable alternatives? Unfortunately, you can’t always trust what it says on the label.

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When China stopped importing plastic waste on the last day of 2017, millions of tonnes of plastic suddenly had nowhere to go. Countries accustomed to shipping their waste offshore were forced to seriously consider alternatives.

 

What to do? Given enough time and bacteria, pretty much everything is biodegradable – even plastic, after a thousand years or so. But most of the plastic ever made is still around in some form; it’s so ubiquitous that it’s now not uncommon to see birds using it to build their nests.

 

One recent innovation has seen the rise of so-called biodegradable and compostable plastics. However, there is a bewildering array of claims, names, and standards. If it’s biodegradable, it’s good, right? But what are these newer plastics? Do they even break down? What do they turn into? And how?

 

Bioplastics: the term suggests environmental friendliness, and it’s true these products are made from renewable biomass materials, such as corn or potato starch, soy or milk proteins, straw, and wood chips. Sounds good – but not all bioplastics are biodegradable, and they don’t necessarily break down more quickly than regular plastic. Compared to fossil-based plastics, however, bio-based plastics are carbon neutral when they break down.

 

Biodegradable plastic: this means the product can be broken down by living organisms – bacteria that feed on the material. It should meet international standards for biodegradability in different environments, and end up as carbon dioxide, methane and water, as well as additives that may have been used in the plastic’s manufacture.

 

But just because a product can break down in theory, doesn’t mean it will in practice. One example is polylactic acid, or PLA, made from corn. PLA is meant to decompose into carbon dioxide and water in a “controlled composting environment” in 90 days or less, but that means a commercial composting facility where temperatures reach 140 degrees for 10 consecutive days, so bacteria can do their work. In unfavorable conditions, it may only break down into micro-plastics, creating big problems in the ocean and accumulating in soil.

 

Compostable plastic: a subset of biodegradable, meaning it’s usually been tested to return to nature – break down into humus – in a commercial facility, not a home compost heap. This can be confusing for consumers who throw their “compostable” plastics out with their potato peels and wonder why they’re not breaking down in the backyard.

 

Commercial facilities aren’t always widely available, and cities don’t often have waste management streams to direct them there. They can also be a headache for commercial composters, who have different composting cycle lengths and find their true compostables contaminated with plastic-seeming bags.

 

In the real world, unless compostable and biodegradable plastics are purposely directed to the right commercial composting facility – to which not many of us have access – they’ll end up contaminating other recycling streams or go to landfill. And they still produce methane, a greenhouse gas, when they break down in conditions with no oxygen.

 

Ultimately, there are many different ways you can measure whether a product is environmentally friendly: water, deforestation, and energy used in production; waste and greenhouse gas outputs; and how it does or doesn’t break down in the environment. But the best solution is to consume and throw away as little as you can. It’s better to be vigilant with what comes into your home, than to try dealing with what goes out.

 

Given the uncertainty around compostable or biodegradable plastics, perhaps a better idea than researching the composition of every item you bring home would be to focus on the alternatives.Here are a few of the more obvious examples:

 

Biodegradable teabags

Those pyramid-shaped mesh teabags are often made from nylon or polylactide (PLA) a corn-derived bioplastic, which can take six months to compost in a commercial facility and longer at home. As teabags often contain plastic in some form, try using loose-leaf tea instead and composting it afterwards.

 

Biodegradable coffee cups

Don’t believe the claims. For a cup to be fully compostable it has to be composted properly – and most go straight to landfill.Drink in or bring your own “keep cup”.

 

Biodegradable doggy-do bags

Dogs in the United States produce 11 million tonnes of waste a year – twice the weight of the Great Pyramid of Giza, and more than humans did in 1959. It mostly goes to landfill, when it’s not contaminating waterways with bacteria that make people sick.Yes, there are biodegradable bags available, but if you just throw them into the public rubbish bins, assume they’re treated the same as regular plastic and layered into landfill, away from oxygen and light. Maybe ask your local authority why they don’t provide dog-waste composting bins at popular dog parks – and lobby for a local pet waste industrial-composting facility too.

 

Biodegradable supermarket bags

These will also likely go to landfill unless you’re meticulous about finding out what happens to them once you’re done, and your city has the right facilities.Bring your own, or use a cardboard box.

 

“Compostable” food containers

Depending on what these are made of, you may be unable to compost these yourself at any great volume, and commercial composting facilities may not be available – so they’re probably going to end up in landfill. The best option is to either eat in, or bring your own containers for takeaway. You can also ask your local government, schools, businesses, and other organisations to adopt a zero-waste policy for events; this means people bring their own eating and drinking equipment. Encourage a school or community group to set up a dish-washing station with second-hand plates available for attendees who forget their own. It’ll soon become a habit.

 

Delivery food containers

South Korea has truly mastered the art of food delivery, turning it into an experience resembling hotel room service. Though the restaurants use a lot of plastic wrap to keep food from spilling, they at least don’t add to it with container waste. Instead, the delivery driver, who usually turns up on a scooter, unloads your meal contained in the same dishes you’d get in the restaurant. When you’ve finished, you place them outside the door, just like in a hotel, and someone returns to pick them up. In India, Hungary, and some Asian countries, an entire meal-delivery ecosystem has built up around “tiffin” or “dabba” lunchboxes containing hot meals from home. Vancouver-based The Tiffin Project, currently in hiatus, experimented with bringing this real-food, waste-free movement to the city. Could this be the future for other cities too?

 

Naomi Arnold is a New Zealand-based author and writer specializing in environmental and health issues.

INTRO TO LES MILLS GRIT: Everything you need to know about LES MILLS GRIT

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LES MILLS GRIT
By Emma Hogan for Fit Planet

Considered one of the quickest ways to take your fitness to the next level, the high-intensity interval training of a LES MILLS GRIT workout builds cardiovascular fitness and lean muscle while sending calorie burn through the roof.

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WHAT IS HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is any workout that involves short, intense bursts of effort followed by periods of recovery. The idea is that you go as hard as you possibly can for a short time, rest and then do it again. The intense intervals, particularly the use of the recoveries, allow you to keep reaching your maximum training zone, which is where the results kick in. The HIIT formula can be applied to almost any type of exercise – sprints, cycling, group exercise and functional training.

WHY IS LES MILLS GRIT THE IDEAL HIIT WORKOUT?
Every LES MILLS GRIT™ workout features a variety of functional exercises that are scientifically structured and tested to ensure they drive the heart rate into specific training zones at certain times. These highly-effective exercises are matched with powerful music, and led by highly skilled coaches who motivate you to push yourself to your max.

WHY SHOULD YOU DO LES MILLS GRIT?
If you’ve reached a fitness plateau, LES MILLS GRIT provides the challenge and intensity you need to take your fitness up a notch. With just a few short sessions a week you can rapidly improve aerobic fitness and increase athleticism. You’ll unleash fast-twitch muscle fibers and grow lean muscle tissue, which is key to burning fat.

HOW MANY CALORIES DO YOU BURN DOING LES MILLS GRIT?
In a 30-minute LES MILLS GRIT workout you can expect to burn around 400 calories* – and that’s just the beginning. LES MILLS GRIT stimulates excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which puts your metabolism into overdrive and helps you burn calories for hours after a workout.

WHAT EXERCISES DO YOU DO DURING LES MILLS GRIT?
High knee runs, burpees, mountain climbers, tuck jumps and squat jumps … these are just some of the moves you can expect in a LES MILLS GRIT workout. The LES MILLS GRIT Athletic option also features functional speed and agility training moves, and if you opt for the LES MILLS GRIT Strength option you’ll do sets of weighted squats, lunges, dead rows, and clean and presses too.

DOES LES MILLS GRIT REALLY GET RESULTS?
Yes! Research shows LES MILLS GRIT improves lean body mass and maximal oxygen consumption, while drastically cutting the risk of heart disease. LES MILLS GRIT is also recognized as being extremely effective at cutting stubborn and unhealthy tummy fat. There are studies showing how this type of HIIT exercise drives the greatest activation of muscle and fat-burning capacity, and research highlighting how HIIT creates excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), meaning your body continues to use oxygen and burn fat long after you’ve stopped exercising. 

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU DO LES MILLS GRIT?
While it’s easy to get hooked on the endorphin high of HIIT, you shouldn’t do LES MILLS GRIT more than twice a week. New research reveals optimal results come when you limit the time you spend with your heart rate above 90 percent maximum to 30-40 minutes per week (which equates to two LES MILLS GRIT workouts).

HOW FIT AND STRONG DO YOU NEED TO BE?
If you’re new to fitness, diving head first into HIIT is not a wise move. We suggest you build a good level of base fitness and have a regular routine of cardio and resistance training before you tackle HIIT.

While it’s ideal to have some base fitness, you don’t need to be super fit or strong. LES MILLS GRIT workouts feature simple movements that are relatively easy to master, and while the coaches are there to push you to your max, you can go at your own pace. In fact, if you need to stop to catch your breath it’s a good thing – as that indicates you’ve been pushing your body to the max training zone.

WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR A LES MILLS GRIT WORKOUT?

You’ll need to wear comfortable workout clothes and supportive shoes, and bring your own drink bottle and a sweat towel. Choose the LES MILLS GRIT Cardio option and there’s no need for any additional equipment. For LES MILLS GRIT Strength you’ll need a barbell and weight plates and LES MILLS GRIT Athletic makes use of a bench and weight plates.

CAN YOU DO LES MILLS GRIT WHILE PREGNANT?

This is not a good idea,as pregnancy is not the time to be pushing your body to its limits.

HOW DO YOU BECOME A LES MILLS GRIT COACH?

The first step to becoming a LES MILLS GRIT Coach is to connect with a club or your local Les Mills team. We’ll then provide you with plenty of training, you’ll get assessed, and then you’ll be ready to lead your own workouts. You can find out exactly what it takes to become a LES MILLS GRIT Coach here.

STICKING WITH EXERCISE: It seems genetics can influence whether you stick with your routine.

FIVE STRATEGIES FOR KEEPING UP YOUR FITNESS RESOLUTIONS
By Mike Trott for Fit Planet

 

Struggling to stick to an exercise regime? Here’s the thing – it may not be all your fault.

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It’s an all too familiar story: we eat too much over the festive period, and then commit to becoming fitter and healthier in January. A couple of months later, those ambitions are mostly lost and it’s likely that we feel guilty for not sticking to our new healthy lifestyle. But research shows that we may not be entirely to blame.

In fact, it seems that genetics may have a part to play in whether or not we are likely stick to that New Year’s resolution.

The study of the human genome (i.e. our DNA and what makes us who we are) has revealed several genes associated with habit formation. Some of the most interesting of these are associated with dopamine receptors. Dopamine is commonly known as the “pleasure” hormone, but when it comes to habits it serves an even more important purpose: it’s shown to increase our willingness to endure things that we don’t enjoy. This means that if you have higher levels of dopamine you are more likely to go back to the gym even if you are not really enjoying it, than someone with lower levels of dopamine.

So we just need more dopamine right?

Not quite.

Fun experiences increase your levels of dopamine, so surely everyone who does a LES MILLS™ workout experiences the magic should come back again and again? Actually no! This is where your dopamine receptors come in. The dopamine receptors are responsible for telling your brain how much dopamine is in your system, which is directly linked to the feelings of being able to handle an exercise session when you don’t really feel like it. So, the more dopamine receptors you have working, the more the body is responsive to the hormone, and it is your genes that mostly control which dopamine receptors are switched on or off (specifically D1 and D2 receptors).

Essentially, if you are that person who, when going to the gym starts to feel like a chore, struggles to get off the sofa, it may not be all your fault: your genes are at least partly to blame.

How much are we controlled by our genes?

This is an ongoing argument, but one thing is certain: genes do not 100 percent control our behavior, which means that there are things are we can do to build the habit of exercise, regardless of genes.

FIVE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR EXERCISE HABIT STICK

1.      Do exercise you enjoy

There is something for everyone when it comes to fitness, so the key thing is to do things that you enjoy. If you don’t know what you enjoy, then try everything! Dip your toes in the water – there are plenty of options.

2.      Don’t overdo it

This one is key – people frequently start off an exercise routine by doing as much as they can as frequently as possible. The bottom line is, this just isn’t sustainable in the long run, and can lead to people giving up. So, although you may want to spend every day doing your favorite workouts, be careful to take regular rest days where you do not exercise. This will let your body and mind recover. Good news, you can still get your Les Mills fix on your rest days – LES MILLS MINDFULNESS sessions are available free On Demand.

3.      Be nice to yourself – it’s okay to miss a day!

Set goals for how much you want to train, and then don’t beat yourself up if you miss one. Studies have shown that missing one planned session is completely fine. Not only will it not really affect you from an overall health and fitness point of view, it also doesn’t affect whether or not you are going to build a habit. So, if you miss an exercise session, try not to worry about it too much, and recommit to your goals as soon as possible.

4.      It takes time to build a habit – lots of time

Studies have shown that it can take anything from 18 to 254 days to build a habit, depending on the individual. That is a huge range! So please don’t worry if you see someone who can get into the flow of things and keep doing it after a few weeks, you may be one of those people who it takes longer to build a habit. One thing is for certain though, you can’t build a habit of something you don’t do!

5.      Celebrate successes

In this busy world, we don’t celebrate our successes enough. Celebrating success in fitness is crucial to building a habit, as it provides positive re-enforcement of a good habit. Successes can be small or large. So, post on social media and let the whole world celebrate with you!

The bottom line

Some people are genetically pre-dispositioned to be better at building habits, but that does not mean that you can’t build a healthy habit of exercising by choosing something you enjoy and not beating yourself up about missing one session.

Descartes, an ancient philosopher, is quoted as saying:

‘I think, therefore I am’

This holds true for building habits. If you think you don’t try, then you will never build the habit. So why not adopt a positive mental attitude, tell yourself and others that you will, and you can sustain it this time round, and who knows, despite genes, it may well be true.

MORE REASONS TO LOVE LIFTING: New studies add more weight to the value of resistance training.

MORE REASONS TO LOVE LIFTING
By Emma Hogan for Fit Planet

If you haven’t made strength training part of your weekly workout regime what are you waiting for? Not only will it get you strong, lean and fit, new research now associates lifting weights with halving the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

You get stronger, you get fitter, you burn calories, you enjoy long-term fat burning benefits, and you even grow stronger bones. If these benefits of strength training weren’t enough, new research reveals that resistance training goes hand-in-hand with a healthy heart.

This good news comes from a team of US researchers who analysed the health records of thousands of men and women, delving into the details of their exercise habits and medical history over an 11-year period. The researchers considered how often people engaged in resistance training (not at all, once, twice or three or more times a week) and the amount of time they dedicated to lifting (more or less than an hour each week). They also considered whether people met the recommendation of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. All of this information was assessed against medical data – specifically incidences of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths.

The findings show that even a small amount of resistance training is associated with a lower risk of heart attack or stroke – remarkably, the risk of heart attack or stroke was roughly 50 percent lower for those who lifted weights compared to those who didn’t. Those who enjoyed the greatest declines in risk lifted weights twice a week for an hour or so in total. And it seems these savvy strength trainers benefit from the reduced risk even if they don’t engage in frequent aerobic exercise.

So is resistance training better than running?

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While aerobic exercise such as running or walking has long been linked to heart health, thanks to another studythere’s evidence that strength training could be the better option.

This study compared the cardiovascular risk factors (such as high blood pressure) and exercise habits of 4,000 adults, breaking the exercise into two types: static activities (strength training) and dynamic activities (running). Both types of exercise were associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease risk factors – but the static activity appeared to be most beneficial.

There is also proof that strength training packs more punch than expected when it comes to calorie burn. For a long time strength training has been mistakenly perceived as being relatively ineffective when it comes to calorie burn. But ground-breaking research from Les Mills Lab throws that thinking on its head. The study,published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport,highlights how, even though strength training typically burns fewer calories than aerobic training, the calorie burn from strength training has a more profound effect on long-term fat burn. You can learn more about it here.

BEYOND CALORIE BURN: This new research will change the way you think about calories.

PREPARE TO CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT CALORIE BURN

By Finlay Macdonald for Fit Planet

 

New research makes it clear we should look beyond the immediate calorie burn of a workout, focusing instead on longer-term benefits for body composition and metabolism.

In this era of activity tracking, when we have instant workout data at our fingertips, it’s very tempting to judge our activity based on how many calories we’ve expended. Have we burned enough to justify that post-workout latte or glass of wine this evening?

But while balancing calories-in versus calories-out plays an important role in maintaining a healthy weight, it isn’t the only factor. Vital research from the Les Mills Lab proves it.

The New Zealand study–published in the Journal of Science andMedicine in Sport– showed that certain types of exercise can trigger far greater fat-burning and other healthy responses in the body than simple calorie counting suggests.

 

The results fundamentally challenge the way we think about calories, demonstrating that different workouts have different effects on the hormonal and physiological changes that take place in people’s bodies, even if they burn the same number of calories.

 

Conducted by Associate Professor Nigel Harris of Auckland University of Technology, the study aimed to identify the underlying causes of clear differences (shown in an earlier study) in body fat reductions resulting from resistance trainingcompared to more intense cardiovascular workouts.

 

By comparing the levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) present in subjects after they had completed resistance training and cardio cycling workouts, it was shown that HGH was 56 percent higher after resistance training.

“Human Growth Hormone oxidizes fat and builds lean muscle tissue,” explains Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research. “That’s important for ongoing calorie expenditure because muscle burns more calories than fat. The more muscle you can build, the more calories your body will burn long-term. Combine that with increased fat loss and the result leads to rapid changes in body composition.”

Similarly, blood lactate levels were up to 81 percent higher after resistance training sessions compared to cycling sessions. Lactate levels build when the muscles work hard, and it is the accumulation of lactate from exercise that sparks the previously mentioned growth hormone response.

The results also have implications for the exercisers relying on simple measurements of calorie output during workouts or training sessions, according to Dr Harris.

“Calories matter,” Harris says, “but so does the effect of an exercise session on hormonal and physiological responses, which are known to have positive, long-term effects on body composition. A wearable device which only measures heart rate and calorie count may therefore be too limited a tool to get adequate understanding of the other, arguably more important, adaptations taking place in our bodies when we exercise.”

In short, the beneficial effects of certain exercise types – such as resistance and high-intensity interval training – can last long into the recovery period, well after the actual workout is over.

Overall, says Hastings, the new study points to how much more people need to know about the effects of certain exercise types. “It’s complex, he says, “and just counting calories misses a big part of the jigsaw. We now know that.”

HOW THE STUDY WORKED

If you burn 300 calories doing cardiovascular exercise – steadily pedalling on a bike, for example – is that the same as burning 300 calories doing resistance training? This is the question exercise scientist Nigel Harris, of Auckland University of Technology, and a team of researchers set out to answer.

To investigate, they set up a study to compare a weights-based resistance training workout to a steady-state cardio session on a bike. Specifically, they were interested to see how study participants’ physiological and hormonal responses to the two different workouts would compare, even when the calories burned and duration of the workouts were exactly the same.

The study focused on 13 healthy females and the weights program used was a 55-minute BODYPUMP workout. First of all, participants did a BODYPUMP session. They measured the calories they burned during that class and set the intensity levels for the cycling session accordingly, to make sure calorie expenditure was exactly the same in both workouts.

So, for example, if a participant had burned 350 calories in the original 55-minute BODYPUMP class, their cycling session was programmed to ensure they cycled for 55 minutes and burned 350 calories in this workout too.

To measure their hormonal response to the two workouts blood was taken from the participants before and after both workouts.

The results were striking.

Human growth hormone: long-term calorie burn

The first hormone measured was Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which oxidizes fat and builds lean muscle tissue. That’s important for ongoing calorie expenditure, because muscle burns more calories than fat; the more muscle you can build, the more calories your body will burn long term.

Both workouts boosted levels of HGH, but HGH was an impressive 56 percent higher after the weight training than after steady-state cycling; BODYPUMP had a far greater impact on the body’s metabolism and long-term calorie burn.

IL-6: changing body composition

The study also measured levels of interleukin 6 – a chemical that’s released by your muscles when you exercise. Interleukin 6, or IL-6, plays an important role in the body’s inflammatory response to exercise and is known to induce fat oxidation, which suggests it’s a significant factor in exercise-related changes in body composition.

IL-6 was a statistically significant 3 percent higher after BODYPUMP than after the cycling session.

Blood lactate: the catalyst for change

Finally, the study looked at blood lactate. Lactate levels build when our muscles work hard, and it’s the accumulation of lactate from exercise that sparks the growth hormone response we mentioned earlier. In fact, research suggests that exercising at an intensity above the lactate threshold, and for a minimum of 10 minutes within a workout, is the greatest stimulus there is to the secretion of HGH.

Lactate was 81 percent higher after BODYPUMP than after cycling.

Focus on the long-term benefits

On all counts, then, our body has a far greater long-term response to certain types of weight training, specifically the high repetition training of BODYPUMP, than it does to a calorie-matched cardio class. And that’s really important, because when you exercise, you want to make lasting changes to your body – it’s what makes all the effort worthwhile.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

HIS Basically, when you’re deciding what exercise to do, remember: it isn’t just about the calories burned during the workout itself. It’s important to also consider the longer-term physiological benefits. When compared to a more intense cardiovascular session, a workout such as BODYPUMP might have a lower calorie burn during the 55 minutes of the class itself. However, as this study shows, its impact on metabolism and body composition is both significant and ongoing.

SHOULD YOU BE WORKING OUT MORE?

By Alex Hernandez for Fit Planet

 

Forget spending hours excessively exercising, we’ve got more evidence that maximizing the time you spend working out won’t fast-track your fitness. It’s quality over quantity that gets results.

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Now more than ever in human history there are tons of options for working out. In spite of that, there are now also more obese people, more injured people, more people with poor body images. And the answer we hear most often is that we need to work out more, but is that really the case?

A recent study looked at three groups of individuals doing the same workout, varying the speed of the exercise. For example, one group did a chest press for two seconds on the way down and four seconds on the way back up; another group did 10 seconds on the way down, 10 seconds back up. Every group did their workout to momentary failure. The shorter duration exercisers did more reps than the slower exercisers, but all of them spent approximately the same length of time under load (about 90 seconds).

 

The researchers found no significant difference in strength gains between the three groups, even though the slowest group was only doing 1.5 reps of each exercise. You read that right: ONE AND A HALF reps at 30 seconds each way. 

 

In another study three groups of experienced lifters were put through the same regular workout, with the only difference being the volume of exercise: one group did a single set, the second did three sets, and the third did five sets. They all used a weight that took them to momentary failure after about 8 to 12 reps. The researchers found that all the participants experienced the same strength gains, even though the single set only took about 17 minutes to finish, and the five sets took about 70 minutes to finish.

 

If you work out to the point of momentary failure, you will get stronger, regardless of how long you work out. 

 

Both of these studies confirm what we’ve known all along: it’s not quantity, it’s quality. 

In both studies, the key was reaching momentary failure; if you get to the point where you experience momentary failure, you will experience strength gains, regardless of the length of the workout. 

 

This is one of the reasons I love Les Mills BODYPUMP. During a BODYPUMP workout each muscle group is given anywhere from three to six minutes of isolated work. Whenever I take the class as a participant, I focus on maintaining perfect technique every rep and I select a weight that takes me to momentary failure by the time the workout for each muscle group is done. That’s been the recipe that I’ve used to get stronger and accomplish my goals. 

THE POWER OF PULSES - Science shows even the littlest movements matter.

By Bryce Hastings for Fit Planet

 

If you want strong, lean and toned muscles it’s the littlest movements that can make a real difference. Check out these new insights from the Les Mills Lab to find out how small movements can create big change.

 

We’ve long known that when it comes to resistance training it’s fatigue, not load, that generates change within the muscle – and there’s plenty of research to back it up. We also know that maximizing fatigue comes down to manipulating range of movement and repetition speed. New insights now clearly show that pulses are a great way to maximize fatigue when lifting light weights for higher repetitions.

 

What do pulses do that full-range exercises don’t?

 

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The team in the Les Mills Lab set out to measure the difference in muscle activation between full-range squats and squat pulses. Here’s what we found:

 

Full-range squats, as you’d expect, fire up all the global muscles that drive your body away from the ground. This highlights how full-range squats are great for working the gluteus maximus, rectus femoris and the hamstrings.

 

What we see with squat pulses is a more isolated activation of the quadriceps muscles closer to the knee. The activation of these muscles is key for stabilization.

 

We see a similar pattern when comparing the activation levels of the key muscles involved in a full-range chest press with pulses. This is what we found:

 

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Again the full-range chest presses resulted in activation of the key push pattern muscle groups, the pec major and anterior deltoid. As soon as we introduced a pulse action we saw a significant increase in the activation of lat dorsi, again acting as a stabilizer.

 

IN SUMMARY
These findings highlight how combining pulses with full-range exercises changes activation patterns and allows you to engage all the key target muscles. This is the secret to maximizing fatigue and driving muscle change.

 

What’s the difference between a pulse and a bottom half?

 

If you’re a BODYPUMP regular you’ve probably very familiar with both the terms “pulses” and “bottom halves”. Both movements are designed to help maximizing fatigue by manipulating range of movement, yet there are slight differences. Pulses are much smaller in amplitude and involve moving just a few inches above and below the point of maximum tension (e.g. bottom of a squat or mid point of a bicep curl). Bottom halves work a larger range from halfway up to the bottom of the movement.

 

Pulses are based on the science of occlusion training
Occlusion training (often termed blood flow restriction training) commonly involves wrapping a pressure cuff around your limb to restrict blood flow of a working muscle. When this happens the low oxygen level in the muscle forces your body to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers and lactic acid accumulates, which accelerates change within the muscle. Engaging in pulses creates a similar effect as using a pressure cuff, as the small range of motion restricts blood flow to the muscles, and that’s when the transformative effects kick in.

 

 

Bryce Hastings is a leading New Zealand physiotherapist and fitness expert. As Les Mills Head of Research he leads research into the most effective approaches to exercise and plays a pivotal role in structuring all LES MILLS™ workouts. Bryce’s passion for effective exercise is born from spending 30 years in physiotherapy, where he saw “people getting their lives wrong” every day and felt like he was acting as an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. By working in fitness he gets to be the fence at the top.

HOW’S YOUR PERSONAL WAR ON PLASTIC GOING?

By Margo White for Fit Planet

PLASTIC POLLUTION SOLUTIONS
Simple steps you can take to fight the war on plastic pollution.

With manufacturers and retailers finally waking up to the plastic pollution crisis, what can we do right now as individuals to keep up the pressure?

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Assuming you’re not living under a rock, you’ll be aware that the planet is suffocating in plastic. It happened so fast; plastic has only been around for 65 years or so, but it’s estimated we’ve produced 8.3 billion tons of it in that time. By weight, that’s the equivalent of 25,000 Empire State buildings or one billion elephants. 

Worse could be yet to come; plastic production is predicted to double again in the next 20 years, and a report from the World Economic Forum warned there’ll be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by weight by 2050.

The better news is that people are sick of plastic, angry about the plastic, and a long overdue plastic backlash has begun. This could partly be thanks to David Attenborough’s BBC series, Blue Planet 2, which featured albatrosses unwittingly feeding their chicks plastic, and a pilot whale mother nursing its dead calf, poisoned by plastic. Also, China has banned the import of low-grade recyclable waste, so countries are having to face up to the waste in their own backyard, rather than shipping it for some other country to take care of. 

Companies seem to be waking up to their responsibilities too, or at least recognizing that all this plastic is bad for the brand. Getting rid of the plastic straws (which can’t be recycled) is hardly going to save the planet, but it’s a start. Starbucks has announced it will replace them with “adult sippy cup” lids, Ikea says it will phase out all single-use plastic products in its stores and restaurants by 2020, including plastic straws, plates and garbage bags, McDonald’s has started using paper straws, and Seattle has banned plastic straws altogether with its “Strawless in Seattle” campaign.

 

More than 25 countries around the globe now either ban or tax single-use plastic bags, the UK-based Iceland supermarket chain is working to transition all its own label products to being plastic-free by 2023, and a number of companies responsible for 80 percent of the plastic packaging produced in the UK have signed up to the Plastics Pact, pledging to make plastic reusable or compostable, and eliminate single use packaging, by 2025.

 

Plastic is fantastic, malleable, durable and cheap to make, and for some decades we’ve been persuaded that there was no alternative. That was rubbish. Yet we had the brains and technology to develop synthetic plastics in the first place (if not the brains to consider where it would end up), so we have the brains and technologies to come up with viable, less environmentally disastrous alternatives. 

“One single water bottle will remain on the planet in some form for a minimum of 450 years.”

One way to address this ever-escalating problem is recycling, but only about 9 percent of plastic waste is recycled, and 12 percent is incinerated, while the rest ends up in landfill or the sea. We clearly need better and more consistent recycling systems, butrecycling is never going to be a fix-all solution; plastic can’t be recycled infinitely, and after a handful of times it will be end up in landfill. As stated in a recent column in the Independent, “One single water bottle will remain on the planet in some form for a minimum of 450 years.”

Many researchers are focusing on biodegradable plastics, butit’s not yet clear what “biodegradable” actually means; some so-called biodegradable plastic might just break into smaller pieces of plastic and end up in the ocean, where the water is cold enough to preserve them as long as other plastics.

Bio-plastics, which are derived from plants and actually compostable, are also getting a lot of scientific attention. The problem with bio-plastics is that they have typically been made from corn, sugarcane, vegetable oil and starch, which would mean diverting resources (fertilizers, water, land) used to make food, to make plastics.

Many researchers are now turning to seaweed as a more sustainable raw material, because it grows fast, without fertilizers or land. Indonesia, one of the world’s largest seaweed producers, is leading the charge in this area, with Indonesian startup Evoware developing a seaweed-based jelly cup, and now expanding into other types of packaging such as dissolvable sachets for coffee or seasonings. Work still needs to be done to find ways to make seaweed-based plastics as versatile and economically competitive as oil-based plastics.

Many argue that solving the plastic crisis requires shifting from a linear (buy, use, dispose) economy to a circular (buy, use, re-use, recycle or repurpose) economy. This would also mean designing products in ways that prioritize what happens to them at the end of theirlife, and developing social policies to support the infrastructure to dispose of them in an efficient and sustainable way. 

What can we all do in the interim? We have the people power. Not so long ago supermarkets said they used all that plastic packaging because consumers demanded it. So by that logic, consumers could (and should) demand supermarkets use less of it; when a carrier bag surcharge was introduced in the UK in 2015, carrier bag use dropped by more than 80 percent. 

Let’s face it, we had the technology to get ourselves into this mess, we can come up with the technologies to get out of it.

WHAT CAN WE DO RIGHT NOW?

·         Recycling isn’t the fix-all solution, but recycle when you can. Don’t contaminate your recyclables with items such as polystyrene trays and plastic bags, or the plastic on tissue boxes – contaminated recyclables end up as general waste.

·         Pay attention to how many plastic wrapped or plastic items you buy each week in supermarkets, and see what you can do without. Say no to plastic straws, microbeads, plastic shavers and whatever plastic you can. Make a game of it!

·         Use re-usable bags, and use them as many times as you can before throwing them out.

·         Avoid putting fruit and vegetables into a plastic bag before putting them into your re-usable bag. If you really need bags for the fruit and vegetables bring your own or, if you get caught short, use the paper bag usually provided for mushrooms.

·         Buy in bulk when possible.

·         Put pressure on businesses and retailers to reduce unnecessary use of plastic, and local and central governments to support alternatives and recycling initiatives.

·         Keep the faith that things can change. Get mad if it doesn’t.

2019 = Skill Up!

The New Year is approaching soon! Are you ready? 

Do you want to be successful this year? 

Here’s how! 

Step 1: Become aware of the skills you need to be successful! What do you need to work on in the new year? Become familiar with the obstacles ahead in order to manifest what you want! How will you take the next step in your health or business? SKILL UP! 

 

Step 2: Gazelle Focused! I mean get quiet and decide what you want. “Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” In other words, make like a gazelle and run for your goals and dreams! Don’t stop until you get there! 

Step 3: Practice self discipline. Without discipline you cannot achieve big things. Self discipline is being stronger than your greatest weakness. Resist temptation and keep yourself accountable towards your goals ahead. 

Step 4: Prepare for failure. If You want to do anything great in this world you may face failures. As you step out of your comfort zone there is a chance of failure. Acknowledge that today, so If failure does hit you are ready.  It will be how we deal with those failures that will determine how successful we will be in the future. 

 

Follow our page here Crossfit 696 Kids! Not only will you get to see our CrossFit youth fitness programs. But starting January 1st our first “Move For Life” post will be posted there! Mobility tricks, stretches and more! Move better this New Year.  Spend just   10 minutes a day stretching and mobilizing the muscles, joints and bones! 

“Move for life." Make your health a priority in 2019! 2019 is your skill up year!! 

~ Coach Kayla 

 

BURPEE BASICS

BURPEE BASICS: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW TO MASTER THIS MOVE
By Emma Hogan for Fit Planet

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If you want to shift your fitness fast, burpees will make it happen. With this one simple yet challenging moveyou can send your heart rate through the roof, build cardio endurance and torch fat.

Burpees are fast-paced, dynamic and never boring. You don’t need any equipment and you can do them any time, anywhere. String together burpees in rapid succession and you’ll put your fitness, agility, coordination and strength to the test.

The muscles you work

Burpees are the ultimate full body exercise! You work your triceps, chest, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and all the muscles of your core with each rep.

How to set up the perfect burpee

·         Place your feet slightly wider than your hips

·         Position your feet with toe angled 5-20 degrees outward

·         Lift your chest

·         Ensure your weight is distributed through the heels and balls of your feet

·         Brace your core muscles.

 

The movement

·         Squat down and keep your chest elevated

·         Place your hands on the floor

·         Brace your core and jump your feet back to a plank

·         Jump your feet back in wide

·         Jump tall and land with bent knees

·         Repeat

 

Tailor the move to suit your ability

An alternative to doing the burpee is to try a few by just walking your legs back instead of jumping into plank. You can also take out the jump at the end.

To advance this move try and shoot your feet out even faster into the plank. However, it’s important that you have your technique right before you add speed.

Other ways to up the ante includeadding a push-up during the plank phase of the movement, doing one-armed burpees (make sure you alternate arms), adding a tuck jump at the end of each burpee, or jumping laterally over a bench in between burpees.

Fun fact: The burpee is named after American physiologist Royal H. Burpee who created it in 1940 as part of his Ph.D. thesis as a quick and simple way to assess fitness.

 

Make sure you …

#1       Don’t skip the squat movement. It’s important that you really focus on the squat component, as squatting reduces the stress on the lower back as you transition to the floor. Learn more about why you need to squat – not crouch – while you burpee here. (LINK TO BURPEE SQUAT article)

#2       Jump safely. It’s important that you bend your legs a lot as you land, as this will help absorb the load and protect your knees.

#3       Brace your core hard as you jump back into the plank – bracing your abdominals will help look after your lower back.

 

 

How to get better at burpees

Try 12days of burpees. Start on day one by seeing how many burpees you can do in two minutes, and aim to add an extra burpee each day. On day six and day 12 do the 2-minute burpee beep test.

Give your body a short, sharp cardio kick by doing the2-minute burpee beep test. Press play on this soundtrackand see if you can do a burpee every time you hear a beep – be warned, the beeps get quicker towards the end!

Up for the 100 burpee challenge?See how long it takes you to power through 100 burpees. If you can do it within 10 minutes you should feel pretty pleased with yourself. Do this 100 burpee challenge weekly and aim to knock off a little time each week.

 

Fun fact: Burpees first became popular when the US military began using them to test the fitness level of new recruits during World War II.

 

If you like the idea of smashing out sets of burpees to some motivating beats give LES MILLS GRIT a go. Burpees are also a regular feature in BODYATTACK and often BODYSTEP too. You can find a class or work out On Demand.

MUSIC, MIND & MUSCLE

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MUSIC, MIND AND MUSCLE: HOW IT WORKS
By Margo White for Fit Planet

For many people, listening to music is an essential part of exercising – it motivates, helps us maintain or increase our pace, makes working out more fun, sometimes less painful. Now science is beginning to uncover exactly how why this happens.

Some things about music are well known. It captures our attention, lifts our spirits, triggers emotions, alters and regulates mood, heightens arousal and encourages rhythmic movement. It also distracts us from any pain and fatigue that we might be experiencing while exercising.

So it’s unsurprising that when it comes to working out to music, both the brain and body are involved, and each influences the other.

Professor Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University London, a leading expert in the interplay between music and exercise and author of Applying Music in Exercise and Sport, has described the use of music while exercising, as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug”.

One of the unusual things about being human is that we unconsciously, instinctively, move to the beat of whatever rhythm we’re listening to. As many studies have shown, a certain rhythm can make people walk, run, swim, pedal or paddle faster.

Ethiopian athlete Haile Gebreselassie famously attributed his breaking of the indoor 2000-meter record in 1998 to synchronizing his stride rate to the beat of the 1995 hit, Scatman, by Scatman John. “I’m a Scatman! Dum dum and then you know the timing and at the same time your style changes immediately,” Gebreselassie told CNN. By all means, give it a go. It’s certainly infectious.

It seems that music can make us work out faster and harder, but also make exercise seem easier. In one of several studies in this area, Karageorghis and his team found that participants who cycled to music that matched the tempo of their pedaling rhythmused less energy than when the music was slower.

This interaction between music and exercise is a burgeoning research topic, partly prompted by new technologies that allow us take our music with us everywhere we go. Yet the mechanisms involved are not well understood. What is going on in our brain when we exercise with music?

Scientists have long known that there are direct connections between the auditory neurons and motor neurons in the brain; even if someone is sitting perfectly still, listening to music they like increases activity in various regions of the brain important for coordinating movements. Some researchers argue that people’s instinct to move in time to music could be put down to this “neural crosstalk”.

Dr Marcelo Bigliassifrom the University of São Paulo, Brazil, has spent the last ten years looking at the neural networks that activate in response to exercise and music, to understand better how music influences psychological, physiological and psycho-physiological behavior.

“In general, my studies indicate that auditory and audiovisual stimuli have the potential to increase the use of dissociative thoughts, such as daydreaming, elicit a more positive affective state, ameliorate fatigue-related symptoms, and enhance exercise performance,” he says. “And the mechanisms that underlie such potent effects appear to be associated with the rearrangement of the brain’s electrical frequency.” 

He has found, for instance, that theta waves – the low-frequency waves in the brain, often associated with sleep, that correspond to feelings of deep relaxation – tend to up-regulate in response to exertion, but are down-regulated throughout the brain in response to music. “Therefore, sensory stimuli might have the potential to partially counteract the detrimental effects of fatigue and facilitate the execution of movements.”

This seems to be particularly true in challenging situations, such as first training sessions, or with clinical populations, such as patients with obesity and/or diabetes.

In a recent study he used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the regions of the brain that activate when participants exercise with music. He found that the combination of music and exercise yielded increased activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus, an area of the brain that appears to be directly associated with processing feelings of exertion. “Accordingly, increased activation in this region appears to assuage negative bodily sensations during exercise.”

Music, he says, can also reduce the neural outputs sent from the brain to the working muscles, effectively blocking the negative bodily signals entering our focal awareness.

However, it’s important to understand that the psycho-physical effects of music on exercise depend on a variety of factors. Those new to a particular exercise, it seems, might be more responsive to music than experienced trainers. It may partly depend on personality – some researchers have suggested that extraverts (who typically seek out external sources of stimulation) are more responsive to music than introverts.

“The use of music is reliant upon several factors, such as the participant’s attentional style, exercise intensity, complexity, mode, etc,” says Bigliassi. What might work for a spin class, for instance, probably won’t work for something involving a high level of concentration (such as golf putting), in which auditory distraction is more likely to disrupt performance than enhance it. 

Context is everything. Some activities lend themselves particularly well to musical accompaniment, particularly if they’re repetitive and strenuous, such as warm-ups, weight/circuit training, stretching and so on. Whatever you’re doing, it’s best to match the rhythm and tempo to the activity, says Professor Peter Terry from the University of Queensland, in his paper, Psychophysical Effects of Music in Sport and Exercise.

“For example, if the goal during warm-up is to elevate heart rate to 110 bpm [beats per minute], then limit choices to music with a tempo in the range 100-120 bpm or, better still, selections that increase gradually in tempo from resting heart rate (around 70 bpm) up to 120 bpm.”

We know at an intuitive level that music is motivating and sustaining, but if gym managers, trainers, athletes or anyone trying to get/keep fit want to harness the psycho-physical benefit of music, they should be aware that one play list does not fit all. One person’s motivational music is another person’s turn-off noise. It’s personal, but used in the right place, at the right time, it’s increasingly apparent that music – as a motivational tool, and an endurance support – really does work.

THREE WAYS TO DO BETTER PUSH-UPS: These three things could be holding you back.

HOW TO DO BETTER PUSH-UPS: By Alex Hernandez for Fit Planet

Mastering the push-up is easy when you say goodbye to these common technique issues.

 

Doing push-ups on your knees can be just as effective as doing them on your toes. Now, we’re going to address a few push-up technique issues that could be holding you back from realizing your push-up potential.

 

ISSUE #1:The Rocker

 

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A lot of kids learned to do push-ups on their knees with their feet up in the air and it carries over into adulthood. It’s probably taught this way because the lower leg is thought to act as a counter-balance to the upper body (think of a see-saw!) and it makes the push-up a little bit easier. But there are two big reasons why you should lose this habit immediately:

 

·         The distribution of mass in our bodies is such that the mass of the lower leg is tiny compared to the mass of the upper body. Imagine an adult on a see-saw with a child: it’s not going anywhere! In exchange for the small gain of the counterbalance effect, you’re essentially grinding your knees into the floor. The rocking effect requires the knee joint to act as a fulcrum on the floor. The patella, or knee cap, is floating in front of the joint and, as we rock on the knee, it gets mashed around, causing discomfort and possibly pain. 

 

·         Having your knees as the only two points of contact on the floor can make you unstable. If you’re working to try to get stronger in the push-up, this instability can take your focus away from the pushing motion, instead you are simply concentrating on not falling over. When this happens you’re no longer isolating the push muscles and it makes it that much harder to get stronger.

 

Here’s the solution: Rather than keeping your feet dangling up in the air, place your toes solidly on the floor. With your toes on the floor, you’ll find that the tibial tuberosity (the head of the bone in your lower leg) actually makes contact with the floor rather than the patella. And the four points of contact (knees and toes) will make your body more stable so you can focus on isolating the arms and chest. 

 

ISSUE #2: The T

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When most people think of a push-up position, they think of the capital letter T – the arms are out wide and even with the shoulders.

 

In this position, the motion is outside of the line of action of the pectoral muscles, so the anterior deltoid and muscles of the shoulder become the primary movers. Since the shoulder muscles are relatively weaker when compared to the pectorals, the force generated is less. So if you choose to do push-ups in the T position, you may find that you struggle to do push-ups on your toes, or simply tire sooner.

 

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Instead of thinking of a T, it’s a good idea to replicate a position that’s closer to an arrow shape.

 

When your arms are in this position the hands are in line with the center of the chest and the motion is within the line of action of the pectorals. This allows the bigger chest muscles to take over and the shoulder muscles are used for stabilization. When the larger chest muscles are recruited, it becomes easier to do the push-up on your toes and it takes longer to fatigue. 

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ISSUE #3: The Eccentric

 

If you’re still struggling to do push-ups on your toes, give this one last thing a try. Start in a plank position with your knees off the floor and lower yourself down into the push-up. At the bottom, drop your knees to the floor and push yourself back up until your arms are extended. Lift your knees and repeat.Why does this work? It’s taking advantage of a well-known training principle: your muscles are stronger while they are extending (eccentric) than they are while they’re contracting (concentric). On the gym floor, training the eccentric phase of a movement is called “negative” training and is commonly used to build strength once you’ve hit a plateau using traditional techniques. Follow this approach and over time you’ll find that you’ll get stronger and develop confidence in your ability to do the push-up. After a while, you’ll be able to mix in a few full on-the-toe push-ups. 

 

If you’re really keen to master the toe push-up give this 16-day push-up challenge a go.

 

If you want more tried, tested and true news from the leading edge of health and fitness sign up to get Fit Planet insights and advice straight to your inbox.

 

 

Alex Hernandez is a North Carolina-based BODYPUMP and LES MILLS GRIT trainer who also teaches BODYCOMBAT, BODYJAM, and BODYBALANCE.He is a proponent of purposeful training to improve movement and performance, embraces the idea of the unsteady state, and as a master trainer for Trigger Point Performance, he regularly shares his expertise in self myofascial recovery. He is also a mechanical engineer.

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This piece originally appeared on lesmills.com.

Hospitality, The Game Changer in the Fitness Industry

Our world has grown and changed and along with that so has the fitness industry. As an industry it is important that we recognize these changes and adapt. Gone are the days where joining a gym or health club meant just becoming another member. It is so much more than just that, it truly is a lifestyle change. Along with this change has come the ever growing need to integrate the act of hospitality into the fitness industry.

People have long thought that service and hospitality were interchangeable terms, but that is far from the truth. Any gym can provide a facility and equipment for one to workout in, a service that is. Not every gym can provide hospitality. Hospitality is much different in that it is how you make one feel, it’s personalized and it is making the member feel as though you are on their side. 

We are in an industry where we can not only change people’s lives, but we can save people’s lives. Integrating hospitality within the fitness industry is one of the big factors that can help lead to one’s success on their fitness journey. Not every situation is cookie cutter. Our industry needs to be able to show passion and care for every individual and personalize their experience so that we can best help them achieve their goals. Hospitality is what keeps them coming back, it makes them feel welcome, comfortable and most importantly it makes them feel as though someone is right there fighting with them all along the way. Let’s face it, none of us can do it alone. At one point or another we all need someone on our side to push us when we’re on the brink of giving up.

As both a member and employee of Fitness Concepts Health Club I strongly believe hospitality is what sets us apart from everyone else. Hospitality is woven into the culture of the organization. There is a culture of truly caring, and of being there right beside each other to fight for whatever one’s goal may be. We are not just here to provide you with a service, we are here to provide you with hospitality. To make your life better in the best way that works for you and to be their fighting with you throughout your whole journey. Our members are not just members, they are part of our family, that is what makes Fitness Concepts so special.