Health and Fitness Tips and Inspiration

  1. The Three R's: Reconditioned, Refurbished, Remanufactured

    Shopping for a used piece of fitness equipment can at times feel a little overwhelming, especially with all of the different terms being thrown around to describe the condition of the equipment. Reconditioned, refurbished, and remanufactured are the big three when it comes to fitness equipment terms. Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between each one:

    Reconditioned: Reconditioned equipment typically means there was little work done to bring the machine back to proper working order. A reconditioned machine is typically tested, reassembled, lubricated, and cleaned. Reconditioned might sound a little more risky compared to a refurbished or remanufactured machine, but what it really means is that the machine was in pretty good working condition in the first place. It can also be the best value because the dealer will have less investment, or costs, into the machine so it can be sold for less.

    Refurbished: Like a reconditioned machine, a refurbished piece of fitness equipment will go through a testing, reassembly, lubrication, and cleaning process. However, refurbished fitness equipment will have non-functioning parts replaced. This does not typically include cosmetic items such as upholstery or shrouds unless they are severely damaged.

    Remanufactured: Remanufactured equipment is probably the closest you can get to a “like new” machine, and also consists of the most work. Nearly all parts, shrouds, and upholstery will be replaced and in some cases the machine will be repainted. While typically remanufactured equipment will be more expensive than reconditioned or refurbished equipment, it is still a great value for someone looking for the true “like new” machine.

    Lastly, one thing to keep in mind is that “as is” warranties will vary by condition and dealer. Typically, you will see anywhere from 30-90 days. Some reconditioned, refurbished, and remanufactured equipment will also have the option to add an extended warranty plan for 1-2 years.

    You can visit our used equipment here:

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  2. 5 Yoga Poses You Should Do First Thing in the Morning

    Yoga is a great way to start your morning. Your practice can help wake you up and ease stiff joints or achy muscles. It also improves digestion, flexibility, and focus heading into the day. While you might think this means you need to commit to a lengthy morning practice, taking the time for even a few postures can provide many of the same benefits. Here's an approachable practice that will increase strength and flexibility, improve balance and alignment, and leave you focused and energized before your first cup of coffee.

    Freedom Breathing
    Benefits: Increases circulation, lung capacity, and mindful concentration

    Standing with feet together and arms at your sides, inhale through the nose while moving hands together above your head; exhale while bringing palms together through your center. Repeat seven or more times allowing your breaths to become longer and deeper with natural pauses between the breaths.

    Standing Half Moon
    Benefits: Improves posture and core strength while gently lengthening each side of the spine.

    Standing with feet together and hands at your side, reach hands together overhead. Interlace your fingers while extending your index fingers. On your exhalation, reach your fingers towards the right while your hips press to the left, making a crescent moon shape. Hold the position for several breaths, finding strength in your stomach and reaching slightly further with each exhalation. Emphasize alignment by strongly engaging your thighs and pulling your right shoulder and left hip forward. Release to your starting position on an inhalation and return to the posture on the other side on an exhalation

    Back Extension followed by Hands to Feet Pose (variations)

    Benefits: Fully extend and flex the spine, completing the range of motion of the spine. Compress the digestive system and improve overall flexibility.

    Return to your starting position, raising hands overhead. While inhaling, look up and work to press your hips forward and tailbone down. Continue to lift your chest up, extending your hands and gaze behind you, creating a lifted backbend. Remain grounded by engaging your thighs strongly as you lift back.

    Follow with Hands to Feet pose. Fold down towards the ground, bending your knees substantially to allow contact between the body and legs. Reach your hands down to the ground and squat a few times allowing your heels to lift.

    Finally, reach behind your legs to take hold of your calves. Place your heels down and begin to lift your bottom up, lengthening the back side of your body. Continue to keep contact between the belly and thighs as well as the hands and calves as you continue to work to gently straighten the legs and spine.

    Plank Position with Kaphalabhati Breathing (optional)
    Benefits: Increases strength throughout the entire body, especially the core.

    Step Back into a full or half plank by bringing your hands under your shoulders and stepping your feet out to a push up position. Engage your abdominals as though you are about to cough and press the ground strongly with your hands. Contract the front of your thighs to assist in bringing your hips lower than your shoulders. Hold for several breaths, choosing to place your knees on the ground if that leaves you feeling better supported or add in several Kaphalabhati breaths to build additional circulation, warmth, and core strength. You can do this by quickly breathing in and out through the nose, pulling the belly sharply and strongly into the spine on your exhalation and allowing the inhalation to happen naturally. Try this for seven or more breaths for two or more rounds.

    Seated Spinal Twist:
    Benefits: opens the hips and shoulders, massages the digestive system, increases mental focus.

    To begin with a twist to the right, bring your left knee in front of you and place your left foot outside of the right hip (option to keep the left leg straight). Cross the right leg to the outside of the left with the right knee pointing towards the ceiling. Place your right hand on the ground behind your back, pressing into the floor to assist in lengthening your spine. Twist towards your right thigh, while inhaling and bringing the left arm up, taking hold of the right knee, or placing the elbow to the outside of the right knee. Hold for several breaths while turning your head to the right and breathing deeply into the belly and back of the shoulders. Repeat on the other side.

    Finish your practice with five or more minutes of a seated meditation or resting on your back to absorb the work you have done and begin your day refreshed, focused, and ready to move forward!

    About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin.
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  3. [Recipe] Frozen Banana Ice Cream

    Make this delicious one ingredient healthy snack to curb your ice cream cravings!

    2 - Ripe Bananas (slice them and freeze them prior)

    - Add frozen bananas to a food processor
    - Turn on processor and begin to blend
    - Use a spatula to scrap down the sides of the processor
    - Blend until smooth, takes about 4-5 minutes
    - Enjoy immediately as a "soft serve" Or put into a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 1 hour
    - Add your favorite fruits or nuts

    Enjoy this healthy treat!
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  4. [Recipe] Healthy Guacamole

    You can make guacamole healthy by eliminating sour creams and mayonnaise. Try this yummy recipe today!


    • 3-4 Ripe Avocados
    • Fresh lime juice from 1/2 of a lime
    • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
    • Minced onion (purple or red)
    • Fresh garlic - grated or passed through a garlic press
    • Salt & Pepper to taste

    Cut avocados in half and remove pit. Scoop all the flesh out of avocados and place into a bowl. Add lime juice, minced onion, garlic and cilantro into bowl. Mix until combined. Salt & Pepper to taste.

    Try this guacamole on cut up veggies, salads or chicken!
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  5. Motivation tips to get you moving and have FUN!

    The biggest barrier to working out is seeing it as “WORK”. Sometimes all we need is a little fun to keep us going! If you need some exercise motivation, give the following tips a try. Make your workout seem less like work and more like FUN!

    • If you love to read, try reading while riding a stationary bike or on an elliptical. Grab your phone, tablet, or latest gossip magazine. Reading can be a fun distraction while working out – just make sure to keep proper form and don’t slack in your pedaling while catching up on the latest news!

    • Instead of being a couch potato the next time you watch TV, hop on a treadmill or elliptical while you watch your favorite shows! Turn a 30 minute TV show into a circuit workout. Pedal, walk or run during show segments and use the commercial time for crunches, push-ups, or jumping jacks. You can also run the stairs, take a lap outside, or crank up the intensity during those 2 minute breaks. This will give you a great interval workout

    • Call a friend, co-worker, or spouse to help motivate you and keep you on track. Setting a workout time and place to exercise together will both be more fun and keep you from bowing out of a sweat session. Working out with a partner could also spark some friendly competition and they will cheer you on as you go.

    • Make a playlist of your favorite upbeat songs that energize you and keep you moving! Pick out fast paced songs that you love and that will keep your body and mind stimulated. When the music is pumping, you are less likely to slack!

    • If indoor fitness equipment is a challenge, be creative and use the things in your house or apartment to create a circuit. Use chairs for tricep dips, run the stairs, take a lap around your house, use cans of soup for weights, or purchase exercise bands. Resistance bands are a low cost alternative to dumbbells and weights. They can be used anywhere and can easily be packed in a bag or purse for mid-day workouts.
    • Don't let a time crunch be a factor for you. You don't need to dedicate an entire 30-60 minute segment to working out. Try interval training in 10-15 minute "chunks". Warm up, follow with some moderate intensity exercise, followed by 2 minutes of high-intensity exercises. Alternate back and forth of moderate to high-intensity until your time has expired. Remember, breaking a 30 minute exercise routine into 2 "chunks" of time, is far better than not exercising at all.

    • Always remind yourself that exercise has many benefits beyond weight loss. You'll feel healthier, happier, and potentially live a longer life with staying active. If you are looking for weight loss, remember, the weight didn't come on overnight, don't expect it to come off overnight. Stay focused, motivated, and be patient with yourself. Don't get discouraged.

    • Remember, making exercise FUN is a great way to keep you moving and motivated on your fitness journey.
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  6. [Recipe] Roasted Squash Soup

    Make this healthy version of roasted butternut squash soup. Perfect for any cool fall evening!

    • 2 large butternut squash
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • Fresh garlic bulb
    • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
    • 2 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
    • Salt & Pepper to taste
    • Ground nutmeg

    Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Prepare a large roasting pan by coating the bottom with olive oil. Cut the squash into halves and clean out seeds. Place squash cut-size down in pan. Prick the outside skin with a sharp knife. Place onion around squash. Cut the top off fresh garlic bulb and drizzle with olive oil. Place garlic in roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until squash is tender. Remove and let cool.

    Scrape fresh roasted squash into a large stock pot. Add in the onion and squeeze garlic flesh in as well. Add your chicken or vegetable stock and lime juice into pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Either move contents into a blender or use a hand blender in the stock pot, puree the soup until smooth. Ladle the soup into bowls and season by adding nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
    Serve with a piece of high-fiber or multigrain bread.

    Try this recipe with a variety of different squash. They are quite plentiful in the fall season!
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  7. [Recipe] Zucchini Chips

    Make this healthy easy bake snack!


    • Zucchini
    • Olive Oil
    • Whichever spices you want to add (I prefer Spanish Paprika and Sea Salt)

    Preheat oven to 375F, slice zucchini thin, place on greased baking sheet.
    Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

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  8. The Benefits of Ellipticals

    Whether you have trained on ellipticals for years or are just starting to fit an elliptical into your fitness routine, elliptical cross training has a variety of benefits that can help a person get into shape and stay healthy. The following list describes some of the benefits elliptical cross training brings!

    1. Elliptical cross training is a low-impact workout that is great for cardiovascular health! Before elliptical cross trainers were made widely available to the public, people who wanted intense cardio activity were limited to high-impact exercise.
    2. Ellipticals can be used by all ages of people and they are easy to figure out. Most allow you to hop on and go.
    3. It is a workout that is easy on the joints. With an elliptical, you can get in a vigorous, heart-pounding workout that doesn’t pound on your joints!
    4. Elliptical cross trainers provide excellent weight-bearing exercise which helps strengthen the bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. There are also muscle-toning benefits because of this!
    5. You will work your upper and lower body at the same time. With some workouts your focus is either on just the legs, or only the arms. With an elliptical you can work both! Ellipticals also have built in programs that allow you to change up your program and provides some workout variety
    6. Ellipticals do provide for some multi-tasking. If you need to read the latest magazine or catch up on emails, you usually have the capability to get these done while continuing to get your cardio on.
    7. And last, but not least, you can pedal in reverse. There are claims that pedaling in reverse works the calves and hamstrings more than pedaling in forward motion. It's fun to try, so give it a go.
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  9. When is it time for NEW running shoes?

    Old, worn-out running shoes are one of the most common reasons for running injuries. Running shoes lose shock absorption, cushioning and stability over time. Continuing to run in worn-out running shoes increases the stress and impact on your legs and joints, which can lead to overuse injuries.

    After about 300 to 400 miles of use, running shoes should be replaced, depending on running style, body weight, and the surface on which you run. Smaller runners can get new running shoes at the upper end of the recommendation, while heavier runners should consider replacement shoes closer to the 300 mile mark. If you run on rough roads, you'll need to replace your running shoes sooner than if you primarily run on a treadmill.

    Try to mark your calendar when you buy a new pair of shoes so you know when to replace them. If you use a training log, record new shoe purchases on that. Or try writing the purchase date on the inside of each shoe's tongue.

    If you want to make your pair of running shoes last longer, buy a second pair of running shoes about halfway through the life of your original pair. Your shoes will last longer when you allow them to decompress and dry out between workouts. Also, having a fresh pair of shoes as a reference will help you notice when your old ones are ready to be replaced.
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  10. 10 common mistakes keeping you from your fitness goals

    1. Not Having A Plan
    Your primary objective should influence the amount you do, as well as the the intensity and the type (cardio, resistance, stretching) of every workout. Pick a goal such as losing 10 pounds, running a 5K, or improving your endurance and research proven plans. This is a great way to optimize your workout and stay focused!

    2. The All-Or-Nothing Approach
    Research shows that just ten minutes of exercise can provide important health benefits. A ten minute workout is better than a 0 minute workout!

    3. Skipping The Warm Up
    Taking 5-10 minutes to gradually increase your body temperature and heart rate decreases your risk of injury since working cold, stiff muscles can lead to sprains and tears. Warming up also increases circulation and improves range of motion.

    4. Not Switching Up Your Routine
    Once your strength and stamina improve, it's time to upgrade your routine. The same workout week after week will lose its effectiveness and may lead to injury or burnout, as well as becoming incredibly boring. To switch up your routine, you do not need to spend more time at the gym. Simply try to manage your time differently and more efficiently. This is why interval training has become so popular!

    5. Unbalanced Training
    Most people focus only on certain muscles (such as the abdominals or biceps), but it's important to work your whole body and core.

    6. Rapid Progression
    Exercising too hard and too often, or increasing intensity too quickly, can result in injury and/or setback.

    7. Ignoring Heavy Weights
    It can be intimidating, but you aren't gaining anything from avoiding heavy weights. You have two types of muscle fibers: slow and fast. If you don't use the heavier weights, you neglect the fast fibers, which are important for moving quickly, lifting heavy objects and for spine and hip stability. Ladies, if you're worried that you'll bulk up, don't be. Women cannot add much size to their muscles due to low concentrations of testosterone.

    8. Not Protecting Your Bones
    It’s important to do weight-bearing exercises to help protect your bones. While treadmill walking is sufficient to keep the spinal bones strong, your hip bones need more loading. Remember the terms "steep," or "step." Either increase the steepness (incline) on the treadmill or attempt stepping exercises.

    9. Incorrect Machine Set-Up
    Exercise equipment is adjustable. It's important that you set it up to fit you correctly before you use it. Using poorly adjusted equipment could lead to injury and/or setback. If you're unsure about proper set up ask a staff person at your local gym or 2nd Wind Exercise fitness store.

    10. Always Running At A Steady Pace
    Again, we’re back to interval training. It teaches your muscles to burn energy more efficiently so you can go faster. Try starting out with a half or one-mile warm-up, then doing four to six rounds of running faster than your regular pace for a quarter mile and then switching to a slower pace for the next quarter mile. Strive to gradually lengthen the faster-paced intervals, but be careful not to progress too rapidly. Limit these interval runs to a few times a week to help avoid injury.

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