Many people think of exercise and a healthy diet as the key ingredients of a fit and healthy lifestyle. But did you know that getting a good night’s sleep is every bit as important as a getting in a good workout or eating all that kale?
Here are the three ways sleep can make – or break – your fitness goals (and why you should never cut your ‘zzz’s short).
At age 37, Barry thought it was high time to get his physical health in check, especially with his 40th birthday in sight. He called Nielsen Fitness and now, at age 41, he has never felt or looked better. Here’s his story:
There’s an app for just about everything these days - and fitness is no exception. We believe in leveraging all the tools at your disposal to help you create lasting, positive change - including technology! Here are four of our favorite wellness apps, each of which will keep you motivated and on-track in a different way.
Many of our trainers incorporate the principles of Pilates in their training – and a handful are also certified instructors. We asked one trainer, Tanya, to explain more about the Pilates method.
What started off as a Valentines gift to each other 6.5 years ago has turned into a new – and much healthier – lifestyle for Marjut and Greg. We recently caught up with Greg to give us the low down on his experience with Nielsen Fitness and how it’s changed their lives for the better.
Running is – technically – something that just about anybody can do. But there’s an art and science to doing it right.
What does ‘right’ mean? In this case, it’s an optimal stride that moves you along as efficiently – and comfortably – as possible.
There are three major areas that factor into an optimal stride – here they are, along with an overview of why they’re important and some exercises you can take away and work on.
A health scare got Deleo motivated to start her fitness journey. Now, after two plus years of working
with the Nielsen Fitness team, she is more motivated than ever to keep it up.
Here’s her story:
Over time, chronic hunching or slouching can lead to a ton of problems over and above tight muscles and a rounded back.
Chronic poor posture – which many of us are dealing with thanks to desk jobs and driving – can lead to structural changes in your spine, which cause abnormal wear and tear on the joint surfaces, which can lead to arthritis or degenerative disc disease.
If that slippery slope of despair isn’t enough to scare you, poor posture can also cause blood vessel constriction, digestive issues, headaches, and even depression.
Reversing poor posture starts with awareness, and correcting alignment when you notice slouching or hunching. Do this by pulling the shoulders down and back, followed by pulling the head back so it is in-line with the shoulders. We call this the chin tuck and it is the first of three easy, no-equipment exercises to improve your posture.
3 EASY EXERCISES FOR BETTER POSTURE:
1. Chin tuck. Sitting or standing, elongate your spine by imagining you are lifting the top of your skull to the sky. Tuck your chin back without tilting the head, until your head is in line with your shoulders. Tip: this exercise can be especially useful in the car while driving, use the headrest as a guide for optimal positioning.
2. The 'I-T-W'. Lying on your stomach, bring your arms straight out to an overhead position (or an “I” position) and lift them off the floor. From there float the arms straight out to the side (or a “T” position), followed by shifting the elbows back creating a “W” position with the arms. Return to the original “I” position and repeat. Tip: do this with palms facing the floor or with thumbs pointing up to the ceiling, make sure you are lifting the arms with the upper back and NOT the lower back.
3. Wall Slides. Stand tall with your upper back, glutes, and head contacting the wall. Bring your arms up on the wall starting in a “W” position. Slowly lift the arms up to an “I” position overhead, trying to keep elbows and wrists contacting the wall. Return to starting position and repeat. Tip: If this is too challenging, bring arms out to a “Y” position instead of an “I”.
The goal of any postural exercise is to strengthen your back while lengthening your chest. Therefore, to get the most bang for your buck, do these exercises in combination with stretches for the chest.
Looking for a personalized exercise program? Contact us today for a free assessment, anywhere in Toronto!
Most people think of exercise as a physical pursuit. But to do it correctly you need to get your mind involved as well.
Mind Muscle Connection (as we call it; MMC for short) is a critical – but often over-looked – ingredient for success, and one we focus on a lot with our clients. Here’s a primer on what it is, why it’s important, and how you can use it to improve your fitness.
WHAT IS IT?
In simplest terms, it’s a conscious and intentional connection between the mind and the body. When it comes to exercise, using MMC means tuning in to the exercise you’re doing and consciously engaging a targeted muscle during an exercise (as opposed to moving intuitively without thinking).
Studies have shown that using MMC can increase the amount of muscle fibers a person recruits, resulting in a better quality of muscle contraction and therefore larger increases in strength.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Our bodies like short cuts – we are programmed to make things easier for ourselves. When we perform exercise that involve multiple muscle groups, our bodies default to the dominant (strongest) muscle(s) to get the job done – but often that’s not what we want.
Let’s take the glute bridge (below) for example. It aims to target the glute (aka bum) muscles. In this movement, you would lie flat with your feet on the floor and knees bent, and lift your hips in the air. The hamstring, glute, low back, and core muscles are all involved here – but if you don’t consciously focus on engaging the glutes, the hamstrings will take over because they're more dominant.
In the long run, this can lead to muscle imbalances – which can lead to injury – which is why understanding how to use MMC to engage your less-dominant muscles is critical for long-term success.
HOW DO WE USE IT?
The first step to MMC is knowing which muscle a particular exercise is designed to target. As trainers, we remind our clients of which muscle group they are supposed to be feeling – tapping on the actual muscles before and during the exercise, keeping them focused with cues.
For an individual without a trainer on hand, here are three tips for establishing MMC:
Mind muscle connection is like any other skill – it can be developed and improved over time. If you want to learn more about how you can do this, contact us at email@example.com for a free assessment and consultation.
Mike Dewis is a busy professional - who, in his early 40s is in the best shape of his life - and actually enjoying his workouts for a change! Here's his story:
Why did you get started with Nielsen Fitness?
Last year, I was at a point in my life where I realized I was in my 40’s and unhappy with my appearance – I wanted to tone up and feel better about myself. Since I’m not getting any younger, I figured it was time to start doing something about it, so I enlisted NF to help me reach my goals.
Why do you think you’ve been selected as client of the month?
Since January, I’ve been working really hard with my trainer – I had a trip in March that I really wanted to trim down for. I’ve been consistent and it’s really paid off in terms of results. I think that’s why my trainer ultimately chose me.
What does the future hold for you?
I think more of the same – staying on this upward trajectory of healthy living. Staying fit and accountable to the workouts and going into old age in a much better place (mentally and physically) than my younger self.
How much fat have you lost?
According to my last re-assessment, I’ve lost about 12lbs of fat so far, and gained 18 pounds of muscle since starting with Nielsen Fitness 16 months ago.
What advice would you give someone who was in your shoes?
You just have to start – you may find working out boring or tedious, but that’s only if you aren’t doing it right and if you don’t have someone there to push you along.
Having a Nielsen Fitness trainer has helped light that fire for me and kept it interesting and fun. I no longer dread workouts and that’s the biggest compliment I could ever pay them.
Other than your amazing results, what things do you value from your Nielsen Fitness experience?
I just enjoy the workouts. It’s odd for me to say but on Friday night, I find myself looking forward to my early morning workout on Saturday. I love the comradery with my trainer, and the exercises themselves – they’re challenging in all the right ways, making the results very rewarding.
If you’re interested in tackling your fitness goals once and for all – like Mike! – we’d love to help. Reach out today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.
Poul Nielsen is the owner and operator of Nielsen Fitness, Toronto's leading team of in-home personal trainers. He has 18 years' experience in the fitness industry and has taught courses in Fitness and Lifestyle Management at George Brown College.
In addition to exercise (obviously), he loves spending time with his family, playing the guitar, strong coffee - and dark chocolate!