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7 Essentials You Need In Your Gym Bag

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From a change of clothes to your trusty deodorant and everything else in between, gym bags are both unique and necessary. But the problem isn’t coming up with things to put in them, it’s editing down the list in order to fit everything into your bag. Instead of cramming useless items into your bag, follow along for a list of our top must-haves that will keep you prepared and ready for the gym—or ready to freshen up afterwards.

If you’re running short on time and the prospect of getting a shower in after your workout becomes less likely than you originally planned—these wipes are here to save the day. They’re big enough to use on your whole body and won’t leave an icky residue. Keep a pack of these in your bag and you’ll unlock the keys to those lunchtime workouts you’ve been wanting to do!

If dry shampoo isn’t already in your gym bag, it needs to be—STAT. Depending on your hair needs, you may already have a preferred brand, but we like this one because it’s small and fits in a gym bag easily—but not too small so you have to constantly replenish. It also has a fresh scent that will leave your post-sweat sesh hair feeling rejuvenated and lively.

Everyone’s gym bag holds small odds and ends that don’t quite have place. Contact cases, bobby pins, band-aids, or travel toothbrushes—whatever items you need that don’t have a home now do thanks to this versatile drawstring pouch.

If you love your classic BlenderBottle, just wait—it gets better with the introduction of the ProStak system. Keep snacks to power your workout in the storage system or use it to hold your supplements and powders. Whatever you choose to keep inside, make sure to keep it on hand in your gym bag!

Getting into your fitness routine has few negative impacts on your body except for one: dry skin. More showers, more sweat—all of it can cause your skin to feel parched more often than not. If your face is in need of serious moisture, keep this stick in your bag to perk your skin right up!

This isn’t your average towel! It’s compact and made with microfiber making it extra absorbent and it can handle both sweat or post-shower drip, alike. Perfect for an extra hard and sweaty workout, this towel is made for your gym bag.

The most important rule for any gym bag is this: make sure it doesn’t stink. There’s nothing worse than a gym bag that reeks of sweat and smelly tennis shoes! Don’t worry, there’s a solution for every problem and in this case it’s a genius bag that holds all your stinky things and keeps them (and their smells) contained.

What’s your favorite gym bag goodie you can’t live without? Share your must-haves with us!

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Exercise

The Full Body Sculpt Workout You Need to Try

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Alright folks! Let’s do this! 

We are giving you some great full body workouts, that are guaranteed to spice up your gym life and refresh your routine.

There will also be workouts for ALL LEVELS OF FITNESS. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or an advanced gym-goer, these are going to push you and increase your productivity in the gym. For each exercise, we’ll offer alternatives to how you can increase difficulty or make it easier so you can customize these to your fitness level.

Here are a few ways to make it harder:

  1. Increase the weight that you load on the movement
  2. Slow down the movement of the rest time
  3. Decrease your time between going into another set

Alright, here it goes!

workout-wednesday-sculpt-spring

Full Body Sculpt for Spring

Warm up

  1. Foam Roll Spine (30 seconds)
  2. Foam Roll Quads (30 seconds)
  3. 20 Squats
  4. 10 Lunges on each leg
  5. 15 Front Shoulder Raises
  6. 15 Lateral Shoulder Raises

4 rounds

  • 20 TRX Pec Flys (Increase depth for more difficulty, decrease depth for less difficulty)
  • 20 Mary Catherines (Beginners: Reverse Lunge)
  • 20 Plank with Leg Raise

4 rounds

  • 20 Tricep Push-ups
  • 20 Squat Jumps (Beginners: Bodyweight Squats)
  • 10 Inchworms

50-minute sprint on the treadmill

  • Okay don’t do this last one.. it’s our lame attempt at April Fools! 

Remember: This is NOT a race. Don’t try to finish your rounds as quickly as possible. Take breaks as needed. Be sure to keep your movement steady throughout the workout and focus on form.

ENJOY!

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Circuit Training

Three Things Your Coach Wants You to Remember During Quick Workouts

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Add some balance

One of my favorite things to do is take “basic” exercises and make the ENTIRE body have to work!

    • Standing dumbbell curls. Do them standing on a BOSU.
    • Dumbbell skull crushers. Do them lying on a stability ball.
    • Stationary lunges. Do them with one leg on an air disc.
    • Push-ups. A BOSU or TRX works fantastically.

What matters here is you take away as much stability as possible, thus making your body take a “normal” exercise and expand twice the energy! Your body will internally be using smaller stabilizing muscles as well as a combination of flex and tension that it wouldn’t do when in a stable position. I liken it to taking a 4 cylinder engine minivan and converting it to a V8 as far as energy (calorie) consumption goes!

Create your own circuit work

I advise you to follow the first bit of advice with this one since they work beautifully together! ESPECIALLY if you’re not used to this style of working out!

Eliminate breaks

Rather than doing a set of squats, resting, then doing another set of squats and then moving on to the next set of exercises (for example’s sake we’ll say “stiff legged dead lifts”), do them back to back! Go from squats IMMEDIATELY to stiff legged dead lifts and THEN take a break!

Already do that?

Add a third exercise to the mix! a 4th! a 5th! Whatever you AREN’T used to doing, do that! When you start doing back to back to back exercises, you will need to drop weight a bit, but don’t worry, you’ll get back to strength! Taking your body out of its comfort zone is the best thing you can do in regards to making sure it is running at maximum potential.

Make sure you’re properly fueled

This is a big one… All too often I run into the “minimalist mentality.” That’s when people have the bug in their brain that says “food did this to you, so the less food the BETTER THE RESULTS!”

If your tank doesn’t have any gas in it, then you’re not going to drive anywhere! Your body is the same way! If you don’t have the ENERGY to carry you through a body-blasting workout, then you’re just going through the motions (and that really doesn’t help you in the long term).

Most of the time, the GREAT workouts were the ones where you were properly fueled and had the ability to nail it. In order to get the most out of your workout and keep up the high intensity… make sure you’ve got gas in the tank!

Lastly, remember this…

You’ve got to want it more than anything because anything can stop you.

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Cardio

How to Be Smart About Your Cardio Time

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Your heart is a pretty important muscle, and cardio training is a big part of making it stronger. But fitness conversations typically turn to touting the benefits of strength training over—or in conjunction with—cardio because its popularity as an equal player in weight loss is often misunderstood. And if you listen to the cardio chatter lately, all you hear is HIIT is hot and it’s the only cardio you need. Well… that’s not entirely true, either. Fact is, we’re missing out on a much bigger discussion about the best way to train the heart, and that needs to change.

Cardiovascular exercise includes anything that increases your heart and respiration rate. Whether you’re walking, running, riding a bike, on the elliptical, participating in a dance class, jumping rope, or taking the stairs, each will tick the box in the cardio column. The benefits of cardio are plentiful, including increasing stamina, warding off viral illnesses, reducing health risks, managing chronic conditions, boosting your mood, and strengthening your heart. Many options exist and cardio is not one size fits all; it’s best to know what’s available and find what works for you!

Do keep in mind that while cardio works the heart, lungs, and circulatory system—all of which are vital to health and longevity—on its own it cannot provide injury prevention, increased muscle, additional strength, coordination, or flexibility. A well-rounded workout plan still includes strength, core conditioning, and flexibility.

Understanding Your Cardio Options

Once you’ve found the cardio you like to do, next comes deciding workout lengths and intensities. Just like strength training, it’s helpful to know the types of cardio training that exist and how they will affect your progress when you work them into your overall plan. So let’s get into steady state, interval training, and HIIT.

Steady State

Steady state cardio training involves elevating the heart rate and sustaining a desired intensity level for an extended period. The intensity and duration you choose will be based on your fitness level and goals.

For example, when beginning a steady state protocol, you might choose to walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes at a comfortable but challenging pace (moderate intensity) by using speed and/or incline. To progress, you would either keep the intensity the same and extend the time, or increase the intensity and keep the same length of time.

Steady state is an established and proven method for improving cardiorespiratory fitness. It increases your cardiac efficiency and your ability to use fat as a fuel source, all while putting less stress on your system and creating less metabolic waste (compared to HIIT workouts). Longer cardio sessions (e.g. a nice, long walk in nature) also are a great way to boost your mood and stimulate creativity! Of course, you should keep in mind that if your goal is weight loss, using steady state as your primary source of cardio might take longer.

Interval Training

Interval training involves alternating between high(er) intensities and low(er) intensities for designated periods of time. Much like steady state, the intensities you choose and the length of time spent in the higher effort levels compared to the lower/recovery effort levels will be based on your fitness level and goals.

For example, you may turn 20 minutes on the treadmill into an interval workout by alternating 1 minute of hard work (breathing heavy, but able to speak 3-5 words before taking a breath) with 3 minutes of moderate work (back to an effort that allows you speak in sentences, 7-10 words, before taking a breath). Then, as you progress, the ratio might become a bit more even (2 min/2 min), and eventually flip to longer bouts of high(er) intensity with shorter bouts of recovery (3 min of hard work and 1 minute of recovery).

Intervals are a great way to keep your workout fresh; by breaking downtime into smaller chunks, you may find longer sessions more enjoyable. While intervals should burn more calories, you’ll need to pay close attention to the amount of time and the effort level of your recovery compared to your “working” time. Many times, the total calorie burn ends up less than that of a similar length steady state workout due to total time spent recovering or the lesser intensity of the overall workout when you average the work and rest.

HIIT Training

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training and is a form of interval training. It’s important to separate out HIIT from other interval training because of the attention it gets as being the “king” of cardio these days. A HIIT workout includes short(er) work bouts and high(er) intensities with adequate recovery before repeating.

For example, let’s use the 20-minute treadmill routine again. Instead of 1 minute of hard work followed by 3 minutes of recovery, you might go all out (breathless) for 1 minute, and then recover until you can breathe easily again, and repeat. The work should take you to a place where you can only say 1 word; it’s your max effort for that day at that time.

HIIT is an amazing way to break through plateaus, increase your fitness levels cardiovascularly, and burn a tremendous number of calories in a short period of time. But beware: too much of anything is not good and HIIT is no exception. If performed correctly, you require 24-48 hours of recovery before participating in another HIIT workout. And let’s face it, it’s hard—hard on your body and hard on your mind. Just because every magazine states it’s the only way to go doesn’t mean you must do it!

The Cold, Cardio Truth

One type of cardiovascular training is not necessarily better, or worse, than the other. Each can, and should, have a place in your plan. (If you’re unsure what’s right for you, ask an Anytime Fitness trainer!) Your decision should be based on the amount of time you have available, your ultimate fitness and weight loss goals, your tolerance, as well as your enjoyment. As with everything else in life, variety is definitely the spice of life and too much of any one thing is never the best approach. More importantly, do not forget about simply moving each and every day in any way that you can. This counts as cardio, too! Short bouts of activity add up and can help strengthen your heart, burn calories, and counterbalance the negative effects of sitting. Happy sweating!

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