Joli Guenther

  1. Five Minute Yoga Practices for Workout Recovery



    If you've already hit the ground running on your New Year's resolutions, you might be noticing aches in new places. While DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) will reduce after a few workouts, it is be a great reminder to start adding some yoga into your training routine. In addition to increasing your flexibility, yoga can make you a better athlete by improving your concentration, breath control, and functional movement patterns. Since you're already warmed up and building strength in your regular workouts, you don't need a lot of time to benefit from yoga. Here are some of the best ways to incorporate yoga into your workout recovery practices. Standing Poses: From Warrior 1 to Triangle pose, some of the most familiar yoga postures will help you to build functional flexibility and strength. Because you are holding your bodyweight, these poses build strength, while challenging you in different movement planes. Holding these poses will build stability. Repetitions in and out of the postures will ingrain healthy movement patterns, improving the stability of the knees, shoulders, and low back. This video shows ways to use Standing Poses for Recovery.



    The sequence: Warrior 1: with shoulder shrugs and repeated transitions from standing Warrior 2: with wrist flexion and increased depth Triangle: with shoulder opening Hip Openers: These poses help to release tightness from the piriformis, as well as the rotators and flexors of the hip joint. This can reduce low back strain and increase range of motion in running and strength training. This active recovery video focuses on the hips and low back.



    The sequence: Ardha Matsandrasana (seated spinal twist) Easy Pose Supported Bridge Pose using a block for support Foam Rolling: Add foam rolling to your yoga practice to increase its benefits. By holding a posture with the foam roller or foam rolling prior to the stretch, you release areas of held tension in the body's connective tissue providing the opportunity for realignment and healing of dysfunctional movement patterns, as well as improving circulation and hydration in the muscle tissue. This foam rolling sequence is a great way to wind down at the end of the day or after a workout.



    The sequence: Figure Four with Foam Roller Modified Pigeon with Foam Roller Lat Foam Roll followed by Modified Child's pose Adding yoga for recovery into your workout routine doesn't need to take a lot of time. The brief practices provided above are excellent ways to warm up or cool down and can be rotated throughout your training week. If you have the time to include a yoga class on your active recovery days, you'll find that your practice and its associated benefits will progress even more quickly. Whether your yoga practice is intense or limited to a few minutes each week, commit to using that time to observe the effect of each posture on your body and breath to fully incorporate yoga's benefits on and off the mat.
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  2. Jump Start Your Fitness Today with These 7 Helpful Tips



    We are officially into 2017, and maybe you've already made goals for the New Year. If not, that’s okay, it’s always the right time to start a new goal or a life improvement. If you're making health and performance related improvements such as losing weight or getting in shape, a little planning and a few tricks can make all the difference towards making those goals a reality. If you've got big plans for 2017, here are a few are a simple tricks you don't want to miss.

    Set Concrete, Achievable Goals.

    This widespread advice is still important. If you want to make your goals a reality, know what you are trying to achieve and when you will achieve it. Give yourself a realistic deadline, such as lose 5 pounds this month. While your goal may be to lose 20 pounds or more, breaking this goal into smaller pieces lets you celebrate your progress along the way. Big changes don't happen overnight. Consistently sticking to your plan for reaching your goals over time will ensure you get the results you envision.

    Track your Progress:

    Bad days happen. The scale will weigh heavy. You will make bad diet choices. You'll miss a workout…or even three. That's called life and it's why you need to document your progress. A simple calendar or spreadsheet can record the basics: a daily weigh-in, meal planning, or just getting your workouts in can all be recorded in less than a minute. When you see a string of successes your goals become a part of who you are, making it a lot easier to stay on track and on the wagon.

    Build a support network.

    By making your goals public, you create accountability. Take this a step further by enlisting a network of others who can support you in your goals. Scheduling a few personal training sessions can be a big help in creating accountability. You can also take advantage of on-line support networks, including ViaFit integrated into everything from treadmills to recumbent bikes. This virtual technology allows you to effortlessly upload your workouts (see Track your Progress above), while choosing friends, joining in challenges, and setting personal goals that will help keep you motivated.

    HIIT it Hard.

    High Intensity Interval Training has big benefits for all exercisers, whether you're a serious athlete or just looking to shed some body fat. Two sessions per week is ideal. Just 20 minutes will increase post exercise oxygen consumption (you'll burn calories AFTER you work out!) reduce body fat, and increase your VO2 max (i.e. cardiovascular efficiency). Think that HIIT training is just for hard-core athletes? HIIT is based off of your own heart rate and performance and can be used by any level of exerciser. Overwhelmed? Sprint 8 is a patented way to take the guesswork out of HIIT training by providing efficient 20 minute workouts that are proven by research to reduce body fat and increase energy levels.

    86 Sugar and Alcohol.

    Say good-bye to sugar and alcohol. It's been fun. You know that container of your favorite cookies in the cabinet? Take them to the office. Leftover wine and sugary soda in the fridge? Throw it away. Do not buy more. Whether you're improving your performance or shedding body fat, it's time to get the empty calories out of your house so you can support your goals with wholesome nutrition that will improve your workouts and your blood sugar. And if you're looking to blast belly-fat, this is important. Not all calories are created equal and those from sugar and alcohol are the most likely to build up as inches around the middle.

    Start Slowly.

    When you want to make big changes, take the time to build a base. Frequently new exercisers are excited by their training goals and feel the need to hit their workouts hard, day after day, risking injury and burn-out. Remember that your tendons and joints will also be keeping up with the work that your heart and muscles do, but will take longer to grow strong and to recover. Build in active recovery and low or no impact training sessions so that you can keep your momentum going without creating additional aches and pains. Recumbent bikes and incline settings on treadmills are great ways to continue training and burning calories without stressing your joints.

    Invest in yourself.

    While you might be tempted to reward yourself with opportunities to indulge in skipped workouts and "cheat meals", the best rewards are investments that will move you closer to your goals. We all know the frustration of working with sub-par equipment and the joy of having workouts and progress click. Personal training and massage sessions are affordable and motivating gifts. Home fitness equipment that allows for a range of training options and body sizes is another way to ensure that you stay on track when celebrating your success. The Matrix TF50XIR treadmill offers a top of the line, commercial experience that accommodates running, incline training, and larger athletes with ease. With a large surface area and a user rating up to 400 pounds, this machine is tough and will stick with you as you progress in your training. Virtual Active and Sprint 8 integration take the guess work out of creating effective and motivating workouts that you can share through the effortless ViaFit platform. As you move towards your goals in 2017, remember that making lasting changes takes time and perseverance. Commit to manageable goals, record your progress, and remember to build in rewards and recognition for your achievements. By this time next year, you won't believe how far you've come!
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  3. Time Crunching Workouts to Blast Fat and Boost Fitness this Holiday Season



    Letting fitness slide over the holidays is easy to do. Tight schedules, short days, and frequent celebrations sap the motivation of even dedicated gym goers. Your best weapon? Create a go-to workout that's time efficient (less than 30 minutes), convenient (in your home on your schedule), and effective enough to keep you coming back for continued results. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) meets those requirements and is adaptable and effective for any level of athlete. Here's what you need to know.

    HIIT is effective.
    Despite the shorter duration of these workouts (less than 30 minutes), the intensity of HIIT workouts results in a higher calorie burn both during and after the workout. This means that the post-exercise oxygen consumption (an indicator of resting calorie burn) is higher following HIIT workouts than other forms of training, and will stay high for two hours afterwards. After HIIT training your body is primed to use your holiday meal building muscle and fueling for your next workout, rather than putting on fat. HIIT is also demonstrated to specifically target abdominal fat. Additional health benefits of HIIT over steady state cardio include improvement in insulin levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, cardiovascular fitness, and body weight (ACSM)

    HIIT is efficient.
    A true HIIT workout is short in duration. 20-30 minutes is ideal. These workouts are well suited to busy schedules that require results in less time. HIIT workouts also deliver results with 2-3 workouts each week. While you can complement HIIT training with active recovery, strength, and endurance training for a full program, using HIIT sessions as your go-to during the last few weeks of the year will maintain fitness, provide mental health benefits, and support a healthy metabolism while you enjoy your holidays.

    HIIT is adaptable.
    You don't have to be a well-conditioned athlete to benefit from HIIT workouts. HIIT training targets work periods of 85% or greater of your personal maximum heart rate, which makes it responsive to your ability. HIIT workouts can also be adapted to any piece of exercise equipment to provide intense workouts that are lower impact and directed at the fitness level of the user. Elliptical machines and Indoor Cycles are both incredibly effective means of delivering HIIT workouts without the impact of running and jumping.

    HIIT is motivating.
    Knowing that your workout is limited to less than 30 minutes makes working hard more approachable. Understanding the benefits of HIIT also makes it easier to push into a level of training difficulty that you might normally avoid. The repetition of specific intervals in HIIT training sessions, as well as the constant variation in intensity, makes these workouts fly by. The post-workout benefits are also motivating in completing the workout.

    Here are two of my favorite HIIT workouts.

    Indoor Cycle

    Minutes 1-3, Warm UP: Work into a target heart rate of 75% of your maximum at a pace of 80-100 RPM under moderate load.

    Minutes 3-8, Interval 1: Speed
    Alternate 3 1 minute speed bursts with 1 minute recovery periods. During the speed portion, maintain the load that you established during the warm-up, increasing your cadence to as fast as you can control. During rest periods, focus on recovering and then returning to your warm-up pace and effort before your next work.

    Minutes 8-12, Interval 2: Climb
    Alternate three 45 second climbs with three 45 second recovery periods. Reduce your cadence to 60-80 RPM's and increase to a heavy load pushes you up out of the saddle. Maintain this load for 25 seconds then return to the saddle and maintain the load for 20 seconds more. Rest for 45 seconds by reducing the load and returning to a cadence of 60-80 RPM's. Repeat. You can also choose to maintain your position in the saddle if you prefer.

    Minutes 12-15, Interval 3: Power Tabata
    During your recovery from your final climb, return to a cadence of 60-80 RPM's with a moderate load (a level that returns you to about 75% of your maximum heart rate). Maintaining the same load, increase your cadence to close to 100 RPM's for 20 seconds. Rest completely during the ten second break. Repeat the effort for a total of six work periods.

    Minutes 15-20, repeat Interval 1, Speed.

    Minutes 20-24, repeat Interval 2, Climb.

    Minutes 24-27, repeat Interval 3, Power Tabata.

    Minutes 27-30, cool down.
    Continue riding at a reduced load and speed until your heart rate returns to 75% or less of your maximum heart rate. Finish by stretching your hips, quads, calves, hamstrings, and shoulders.

    This workout can be adapted to an elliptical trainer or recumbent bike using the same variations in load and speed. It can be used as a template for treadmill workouts as well.

    Workout 2: Sprint 8
    Vision Fitness's Sprint 8 Treadmills take the guesswork out of designing a HIIT workout. Backed by research, this patented program combats body fat gain, declining energy, and reduced metabolism through a HIIT style training program. Your workout will start with a warm up period followed by eight 30 second training segments with an intensity that is based on your fitness and performance level. This entire workout takes only 20 minutes and is a proven way to keep holiday weight gain at bay this year.
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  4. Creating Daily Habits that Support your Goals



    Habits are a powerful determinant of our daily behaviors. Our daily triggers and automatic responses have a big impact on our actions, including whether or not those actions support our long-term goals related to fitness and wellness. Think about it. If your goal is to make daily workouts a part of your life, are you supporting it by scheduling reminders of those workouts and preparing yourself with the clothing and nutrition you need? Or do you allow work and family demands to crowd into all times throughout your day? If you have big goals related to improving your health and even your relationships, examining the triggers that occur in your daily life and giving yourself the opportunity to rewire those responses, is an enormously powerful way to improve your success in moving towards those goals. To put this into practice, identify your goal and then create a trigger that will help you to automatically take action that supports that goal. Here are a few examples.

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  5. 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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