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: shopused.2ndwindexercise.com

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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. 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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  4. 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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  5. Burn More Calories With This HIIT Workout

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  6. Are You Foam Rolling the Right Way?

    It seems like every week, we can find a new mobility tool on the market…one that's guaranteed to cure our aches, improve our performance, and leave us feeling years younger. While you can spend a small fortune staying up on the latest gadgets, the foam roller is one of the most reliable tools out there for increasing mobility, range of motion, and muscle recovery. Widely available and inexpensive, this is one addition you should include in your home gym. Once you've got it, getting the most from it requires using it, frequently and correctly.

    Self-Myofascial Release Technique: Myofascial tissue (fascia for short) is a connective tissue that covers your muscles and runs throughout your body. Over time, fascia responds to injuries or muscular tension by developing adhesions or scars. These adhesions create tension within the fascia that prevents it from fully expanding and contracting, limiting the mobility of the muscle that is contained within this connective tissue. In addition to reducing the mobility of the muscle directly contained within that fascia, mobility and nerve patterns of other muscles can be impacted because of the interconnectedness of fascia tissue throughout the body. Healthy fascia provides better circulation to muscular tissues and reduces neuromuscular imbalances. While it's tempting to simply roll across your aching muscles as a form of self-massage, foam rolling should target trigger points, areas of greater tension within the fascia. So how do you target myofascial tissue in your foam rolling?

    Slow Down: Targeting adhesions within your myofascial tissue requires using your foam rolling sessions to focus on trigger points, areas of increased sensitivity. The technique is simple. Start by rolling slowly along the targeted muscle, avoiding joint areas. When you find a sensitive or painful area, stay in that place, applying as much pressure as you can tolerate with the foam roller. Continue to apply pressure there for at least 20 or 30 seconds (remember to breathe). Ideally you should feel the tension in that area begin to release. Continue rolling and finding other areas of tension and focusing on those areas.

    Timing: The most effective time to foam roll is after your warm up and before your workout. After you have warmed up, the circulation throughout your body has increased, making your foam rolling sessions more effective. Additionally, by releasing areas of tension and dysfunction, your mobility will improve during your workout, reducing your risk of injury and increasing your efficiency. Don't worry, however. If you struggle to fit in a foam rolling session during the middle of your workout out, the second best time to foam roll is whenever you can do it. Try keeping a foam roller in your office or living room and take foam rolling breaks while you watch television, read, or work at your computer.

    Self-Myofascial Release Technique (SMRT) can be used on almost any muscle, taking care to avoid joint areas. If you wish to target areas of the low back or neck it is best to use a ball rather than a foam roller, in order to avoid the spinal vertebrae. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid foam rolling the inner calf, as that can be associated with premature labor. With these precautions in mind, foam rolling works well for nearly everyone. You can control the amount of bodyweight you place into the tool, allowing it to be adapted to your comfort level and pain tolerance. The slightly forgiving nature of the foam roller, make it better suited to SMRT than other, harder devices, which target deeper muscle tissues. Most importantly, remember to make a habit out of your foam rolling. While a session or two might improve your recovery, the biggest benefits will occur over time as circulation and muscle efficiency improve throughout your body.
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  7. 5 Ways to Speed-Up Your Weight Loss During the Workday

    If you’re a busy working professional you know it can be hard to fit in daily exercise, which also makes it even harder to achieve weight loss goals. With so many busy professionals strapped for time, we wanted to figure out how they can still lead a healthy lifestyle and, more importantly, lose a little weight while working. So, we turned to a few personal trainers, who are also 2nd Wind store personnel, for some tips on how to squeeze in a little extra calorie burning activities throughout the day. Here’s what they suggest:

    1. Take Time for Walk Breaks: Movement is crucial when trying to lose weight. Every time your body moves, calories are being burned. If you’re at a desk all day, be aware of the dangers that come along with sitting too much. In fact, check out this infographic we put together awhile back. It’s a quick insight into some of the issues that come along with sitting too much, as well as some of the benefits regular moving can bring. OK, let’s get to it. Here’s what we suggest you do every work day. Go for walks. Whether it’s down the hall, around the building, outside in nature… wherever you decide, grab a buddy and go! Set a schedule and hold yourself accountable for completing your walking goals each day. If you have a whiteboard in your office, write down your schedule so colleagues see it and ask about your progress. Set calendar alerts reminding you to head out for a quick stroll for 5, 10, 20, or 30 minutes, depending on what your schedule allows. Schedule at least two, 30 to 40 minute lunchtime walks per week.

    2. Move While You Work: Be cognizant of how much you can actually move while you’re completing daily work tasks. Do you talk on the phone a lot, read documents or watch webinars from time-to-time? Those are perfect opportunities to move while you’re being productive. Having a desk that gets you moving is one of the best investments you can make for your health. Treadmill desks (see the LifeSpan Treadmill Desk pictured below) or bike desks will allow you to move with your work right in front of you. Walk or bike at a pace that suits you and you’ll be surprised at how many calories, steps or mileage you can cover while getting caught up in workloads.

    3. Increase walking speed: If you have a treadmill desk, bike desk or take walks outside throughout the day; add a little HIIT or high intensity interval training to the walk. Just like any other workout effort, moments of increased speed equals an increase in calories burned. Try taking your speed from 2.0 to 4.0+ for one minute on your treadmill desk, then bring it back down. Continue that cycle as much as you can. Maybe your 30 minute lunch time stroll incorporates this HIIT effort; one minute up, two minutes back down, and repeat.

    4. Be sure to hydrate: Do you drink enough water throughout the day? Take a look at your daily water drinking habits. How much should you drink? That depends on size and weight, and also on your activity level. You should drink between 1/2 an ounce to 1 ounce water for each pound you weigh, every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. What are some benefits to drinking more water? Water boosts metabolism, helps break down food, flushes out toxins, helps you feel fuller and acts as a natural energy booster (just to name a few). Keep it cold! An added bonus of drinking icy cold water? It burns calories! Drink one 16 oz. glass of cold water and burn up to 17.5 calories. As your body brings down the temperature of the water, it will burn calories.

    5. Incorporate fat burning foods: Foods like green tea, whole grains, hot peppers, lean meats or lentils can actually boost your calorie burning engine, even while you’re not moving or exercising at all. Spicy foods like hot peppers contain a high thermogenic which increase the heat in your body causing it to burn more cals. Enjoy foods with whole grains? Great! You’ll burn a little extra there, too. In fact, your body burns twice as many calories breaking down whole grains so that’s a win-win!

    6. Eat smaller food portions more often: Shrink your tummy by consuming those foods above in smaller portions more often throughout the day (aside from breakfast, lunch and dinner). Consider having 5 to 6 small meals a day. Start with a breakfast that includes hearty whole grains, berries and nuts, then mid-morning, have a snack. For lunch, keep the portion small because early afternoon, you’ve got another snack waiting for you. Then, have a portion controlled dinner when you get home. Breaking down your meals into smaller portions throughout the day might take your stomach some time in getting used to, but once you do, you’ll notice your hunger is satisfied much earlier than it used to be. Smaller amounts will start to be plenty of food for you (pay attention to those changes).

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  8. The Best Stretching Exercises to Improve your Cardio Workouts (Part 2: Post-Workout)

    While stretching before your workout provides you with a greater range of motion and makes your workouts more comfortable, stretching following your workout is a great opportunity to improve flexibility and to reduce tension in the muscles while they are still warm and benefiting from the increased blood flow of your cardio workout. After your next workout, give these stretches a try to reduce your soreness and improve range of motion the next day. Stretches following your workout can address areas that you typically hold tension or feel unbalanced and can be held for a much longer period of time (up to five minutes!).

    Supine Hand to Foot Stretch (Hamstrings): Lying on your back, using a strap or exercise band, loop the band around your right foot. Gently lead the right leg towards your right shoulder, lengthening the hamstring. Hold for up to 2 minutes, bending the leg slightly if you feel a pull behind the knee or on the sit bone. After holding for up to 2 minutes, keeping both hips on the ground, lead the leg across the body and towards the left shoulder. You should feel a stretch on the outside of your right leg and hip. Hold again for up to two minutes. Finally, bring the leg as far out to the right side as you can comfortably hold, feeling the stretch on the inside of your right leg. This stretches all three segments of the hamstrings and can be helpful for low back pain.

    Half Bow (Quadriceps and hip flexors): Lying on your stomach, bring your hand or a yoga strap around your right foot. Keeping the right knee in line with the right hip, draw the right foot close to the body until you feel a stretch through the front of your thigh. You may also kick back into your arm or strap, elevating the knee. Hold for up to three minutes. Repeat on the left.

    Figure 4 (Hips): Lying on your back, bend your right leg, bringing the foot to the floor and the knee to the ceiling. Bring your left foot on top of your right thigh, flexing the foot and pressing the knee away from your body. For a greater stretch, pull the right leg closer using your hands or a yoga strap. Repeat on the left.

    Supported Bridge (Low Back/Psoas): Bringing both heels to the floor, lift up into bridge pose. Now place a yoga block or bolster under your low back supporting you in bridge pose. Lower your back onto the block. Over time, straighten both legs. Over time, come into a higher bridge and bring the block into a higher position.

    Seated Spinal Twist (Shoulders, hips, and back): Seated on the ground, cross your right leg over your left bringing your right ankle to the outside of your left knee. Place your right hand on the ground and bring your left arm over your right ankle as you rotate your shoulders and torso to the right. Hold for up to two minutes while focusing on opening the left shoulder and releasing the middle back. Repeat on the left side.

    Adding these flexibility exercises to your home fitness program will prepare your muscles for the demands of your cardio and strength training, allowing you to perform better and more effectively. They will also improve your range of motion and reduce muscle tension, allowing you to recover quicker and making your daily activities more enjoyable. For the best pre-workout stretches, read this blog post.

    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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  9. The Best Stretching Exercises to Improve your Cardio Workouts (Part 1: Pre-Workout)

    The best home fitness programs include three components, cardiovascular workouts, strength training, and flexibility. While it's easy to overlook the importance of flexibility training, spending a little time improving your mobility and range of motion can go a long way in preventing injury and improving your performance in your other workouts. Flexibility work is no longer limited to long periods of stretching (though those can be beneficial at times). It now includes dynamic movements and range of motion work directly targeted at improving your workouts and assisting in injury prevention. The best part about bringing stretching and flexibility work into your home workouts is the way it improves your functioning and reduces soreness from day to day, while requiring only a modest investment of time. Ready to get started?

    Before and after your cardio workout are the ideal times to include mobility work and stretching exercises, but you should treat these times very differently. Early in the workout, your muscles are not yet warmed up and will have a reduced range of motion. Stretching and mobility work at this time, should target areas that you are experiencing tightness, stiffness, or injury, as well as introduce the range of motion that you will need during your planned workout. For most athletes, this work should target your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hips, and shoulders. Rather than holding one position, you'll want to repeat moving in and out of a position fluidly and slowly. Before the workout avoid deep held stretches, especially in the hamstrings and low back as these can reduce the elasticity of your muscles that you need to perform your cardiovascular activity. Keep reading for the best pre and post workout stretching routines! Pre Workout: Next time you work out, start with a light five minute warm up, and then add in these pre-workout stretches.

    Quad Stretch/Dancer Pose: Standing with your feet at hip distance, take hold of the top of your right foot in your right hand (you can also use a yoga strap to assist with this). Bring your knees together to evenly stretch the front of your thigh (position 1). Now kick back into your hand to bring your knee behind your hip and to level your hips toward the ground (position 2). Return to the starting position. Slowly repeat five times. Repeat on the left leg.

    Knee Ups: Standing on your right leg, bring your left knee up to your chest, clasp with both hands to hug it in closer. Now step forward onto the left leg and repeat on the right. Repeat five times on each side. This warms up the hamstrings and prepares the hip flexors for the work of running or cycling.

    Calf/Achilles stretch: Step your right leg directly back behind you at a distance that allows your heel to reach the ground and your toes to point straight ahead. Keeping the toes in the same position, slowly raise and lower your heel five times. Repeat on the other side. This prepares your calves for the work of running or the elliptical.

    Shoulder mobility: Holding a resistance band in each hand and applying little resistance to it, raise your hands from in front of your hips to overhead and then behind. You can also make a figure 8 pattern with the band. Repeat five times in each direction. This warms the shoulders to prepare for strength training and improves range of motion for daily activity.

    Cat/Cow: Kneeling on all fours, inhale and allow your stomach to drop towards the floor, extending the spine downwards (Cow pose) then exhale and press your stomach upwards, flexing the spine towards the ceiling (Cat pose). Repeat five times. This activates the core, reduces low back pain, and prepares the spine for exercise or daily activity. Read on for Part II on the Best Stretching Exercises to do After You Work Out!

    What about stretching after a workout? Stretching afterwards is also very important to help restore muscles so you can keep up with your routine. Click here to read another blog that includes the best post-workout stretches suggested by certified fitness trainer, Joli.

    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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  10. The Best Calorie Burning, Leg Sculpting Elliptical Workout

    If you’re using fitness equipment to help you reach weight loss or fitness goals, try adding some body weight exercises to the mix to really fire things up. Here’s a fun elliptical workout, created by our certified fitness coach, Joli that will rev-up your metabolism and sculpt those legs. In no time you’ll be done with this very effective workout! Let’s start with why you need this: An intense interval session on the elliptical is a great way to burn some serious calories and get your lower body circulation ready for training. By targeting the large muscle groups of the lower body, you'll keep your metabolism revved up for hours, supporting your weight loss.

    Now, let’s get started:

    Warm Up:
    Start with five minutes of easy movement on your elliptical, bringing your heart rate up to 75% of your max effort. Increase your intensity working at 85% of your max effort for 90 seconds, recover for 45 seconds, repeat.

    Circuit 1:
    Lunges: Step in and out of a lunge 20 times on your right leg. Repeat on your left leg. Follow by completing 16 stationary lunges on each leg. For more resistance, add plates or dumbbells into each hand and complete a bicep curl with each lunge.

    Circuit 2:
    Elliptical: Reverse your pedal movement for five minutes. Maintain an uncomfortable level of intensity (you should be able to speak in short sentences.

    Circuit 3:
    Bodyweight squats: Keeping your torso upright, sit your bottom down as low as you can. Stand up. Repeat for 3 minutes. Rest for 30 seconds. Follow with a Wall Sit for up to 90 seconds, with breaks as needed.

    Circuit 4:
    Bridge with toe taps: Lying on the floor with heels close to your bottom and knees towards the ceiling, lift up into bridge pose. Pressing into your left heel, lift your right heel, leaving right toe on the ground. Lightly tap right foot up and down. Complete 16 reps. Repeat on the Left. Complete two to three repetitions taking a break between as needed.

    You're finished with this elliptical workout! Nice work. Now, make sure to stretch and recover your muscles so they're ready to hit this again in the next few days.
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