Health & Wellness

  1. 4 Reasons Why I Decided to Build a Home Gym



    Written by Dave Indelicato, Fitness Consultant with 2nd Wind store, Oklahoma City. Dave is a NASM Certified Trainer, Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist who formerly managed 6 gyms and owned 5 nutrition stores. Fitness has been a part of his life for years. Read his take on why he chose the home gym route over a membership, and how it's made exercising so much easier and accessible each day with a young family.

    "Fitness has been a massive part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted to have some equipment at home to workout with, but I always told myself that no matter what, I would still need to go to the gym. I just didn’t think that I would ever be able to get the intense and various workouts I needed in my house. When my wife and I found out that we were expecting our 2nd child we decided to take a leap and tackle our fitness goals at home. We hoped that having what we needed at the house would make it easier for us to find time to workout once we had two children to chase after. We didn’t get too crazy when picking out our equipment: an elliptical, a bench, some adjustable dumbbells, and a home gym. Well, after 17 years of absolute certainty regarding my workout needs I officially stand corrected. 20 minutes into my first workout at home I could not stop counting the reasons why my gym was better than any I had ever paid a membership for. For those of you who have been on the fence about creating your own gym, consider the following:

    Money: My wife and I are saving approximately $135.00/month in gym fees, gas, and toll fees. Time: The amount of time saved is almost incalculable. There is no drive to and from the gym, less time getting ready to workout, there is no wait for equipment, there are no large parking lots to find a spot in, and there is no checking our sons in and out of child care. This is a major benefit to us because our time together is priceless.

    Childcare: Not everyone has to worry about this factor, but for those of you who do it is huge! Our “home gym childcare” is always open. It is also cleaner, more familiar, and more comfortable for our sons. We never have to worry about limits being met on the number of children, and if one of our sons has a cold or fever we can still get a workout in. Lastly, we don’t have to get the boys ready to go; another time saver.

    Adaptability: With our home gym we have purchased the equipment that we will use, nothing more and nothing less. We are not paying to maintain a cardio cinema, a pool, or any of the machines that we did not use in 17 years with a membership. If we decide we need an addition to our gym we can do it. We can listen to the music we want, stretch where we please, and we have a “bring a friend anytime” policy! Our gym is open 24/7, 365 days a year. It is not closed on holidays or during ice storms.

    NO EXCUSE environment: Let’s be honest, with all of our own equipment right behind a door in our house there is no excuse for ever letting our health slip away. We have an exclusive and private gym that is cleaner than any health facility, and dedicated to our individualized health needs. Fitness and health do not always have a “cookie cutter” solution. You have to utilize what is right for your goals. Even without a car we can still make it to the gym.

    Lastly, and maybe most importantly, we will be setting an example for our children. We want them to see that fitness is an important part of life that requires dedication, but rewards you with better quality of life."

    If you've been considering adding a gym to your home, find a store near you or visit us online to learn about the many options we have to choose from at various price points. All brand-name, gym-quality equipment you'll actually want to workout on! Also, with many financing options, it's easier on the budget to get the gym perfect for your home, budget and goals.
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  2. Exercises to Improve Posture and Strengthen Your Core



    Exercises to improve posture are needed due to our current habit of spending hours each day hunched over a desk and slouched in a chair lead to rounded shoulders, a forward drooping head and a rounded back. We call this postural distortion Upper-Crossed Syndrome, or rounded shoulders. If left unchecked the Upper Crossed Syndrome can lead to shoulder and neck pain. Sitting at a desk for long periods of time leads to tight traps, lats and chest muscles, and can cause weakness in the rhomboids and rotator cuff muscles. The rhomboids are a key muscle group because they help pull your shoulder blades together.

    In order to fix rounded shoulders, we need to relax the tight muscles with a combination of rolling and stretching and also strengthen the muscles that are weak.

    Six Exercises to Improve Posture

    1. Foam Rolling Your Lats and Chest

    Demo Video: How-to Foam Roll Lats and Chest 

    Purpose: Relaxing the lats and chest muscles

    Execution: To roll your lats, lie on one side on the floor. Place a foam roller just under your armpit nearest the floor, and reach your arm above your head. Roll back and forth, pausing when you find a tender spot. Hold pressure from the foam roller on that tender spot for 30-60 seconds until it's no longer uncomfortable. Switch sides and repeat.

    To roll your chest: Lay face down on the floor. Place a foam roller under the right side of your chest. Extend your right arm out to the side. Roll side to side looking for the tender spot.

    Hold pressure on that tender spot for 30-60 seconds until it's no longer uncomfortable. Switch sides and repeat.

    2.  Pectoral Stretch

    Demo Video: Pec Stretch

    Purpose: Lengthen the muscles in the chest

    Execution: Stand next to a wall (a bookshelf or other sturdy object will work as well.) Place your right forearm on the wall so that your elbow is in line with your shoulder, your fingers are pointing toward the ceiling, you elbow pointing toward the floor.  Step your right foot forward. Rotate your torso toward your left side until you feel a gentle stretch in your chest. Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

    3. Lat Exercise

    Demo Video: Stability Ball Lat Stretch

    Purpose: Lengthen the lats.

    Execution: Kneel on all fours in front of an exercise ball (a chair or bench will also work for this). Place both hands on the ball and roll forward until you feel a gentle stretch along your back and sides. Be sure to keep your back flat. To intensify the stretch, you can sink your chest toward the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

    4. Back and Shoulder Exercise 

    Demo Video: Stability Ball Back and Shoulder Combo

    Purpose: Strengthen the traps, rhomboids and rotator cuff muscles

    Execution: Lie on your stomach on a stability ball with straight legs, toes on the ground. Holding a light dumbbell in each hand, squeeze your shoulder blades together and row your arms, driving your elbows up toward the ceiling. Next, rotate your shoulders and arms so that your hands are in line with your ears. Now drive your arms straight ahead. Bring your hands back down to ear level and then rotate your shoulders inward so that your hands are pointing down to the floor. Return your arms to the starting position.

    Repeat for 12-15 reps

    5. Shoulder Exercise

    Demo Video: Resistance Band - Extensions

    Purpose: Strengthen rhomboids, traps, rotator cuff and rear shoulder muscles.

    Execution: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and grab a resistance band with both hands. Lift your hands in front of your chest, level with your shoulders, palms facing the floor. With straight elbows, stretch the band by moving your arms out to your sides, squeezing your shoulder blades. Pause and return to the starting position. Be sure you're not bunching your shoulders up to your ears to complete each movement.

    Repeat for 12-15 reps

    6. Back Exercise

    Demo Video: Floor Cobra Exercise

    Purpose: Strengthen rhomboids and lower back

    Execution: Lie face down on the floor with your arms by your side and palms flat on the floor. Keeping your nose pointed toward the floor, squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your torso up off he floor. Ease back to the floor and repeat.

    Repeat for 12-15 reps

    Article by Andrae Delaney, a Fitness Consultant with 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment as well as a Certified Personal Trainer, certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Andrae holds certifications in Weight Loss, Fitness Nutrition, Corrective Exercise, Group Training and is currently working toward a Master Trainer Certificate.
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  3. Outdoor BBQ Games for Family Fitness

    Need an excuse to head outside? Whether you’re hanging with kids, the whole family, or just adults, outdoor games will do the trick. With options for every budget, fitness level, and age, outdoor games are a great way to socialize and stay active at your next gathering. Here are some outdoor family fitness games to get you started!

    Traditional Outdoor Family Fitness Games

    From corn hole to bocce ball, it’s easy to find these favorites at yard and craft sales. They tend to appeal to a wide audience and you can usually participate with a cold beverage in hand. Set up teams to increase the interaction and to level the playing field between young and old.

    Craft your Own Outdoor Family Games

    Ready to get creative? Or maybe you’re just feeling thrifty. You can make your own outdoor games with a minimal investment of time and money or create a masterpiece that you can enjoy for years to come. I love the Outdoor Twister (paint your circles right onto the grass!) and the Giant Ring Toss using pool noodles. If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can make a giant yard Jenga from 2 x 4’s. Throw in an afternoon session of painting pieces for the kids and you’ve got a double round of fun!

    Leveled Up Outdoor Games

    Got an old step ladder around? Some plastic for a slip and slide? Level up your outdoor recreation with a combination game requiring multiple steps. Combine favorites like a ladder bean bag toss (see that link above) with a run through a sprinkler or down a slip and slide. This is a great combination for kids and adults. Get creative and incorporate some of the features of your backyard, including swing sets, trampolines, rolls down a gentle hill, even animal exercises!

    Creative Outdoor Family Games

    Not all games require a big investment in time, money, or supplies. Popular favorites include water balloon fights (or Dodgeball), egg carries and tosses, bottle battle (or beer frisbee), and capture the flag. You can also put together an outdoor photo booth, create a toilet paper fashion show, or battle with balloons and empty paper towel holders.

    With a little creativity, you can take your outdoor games to a new level this year. If you have something especially wet or messy planned, be sure to let your guests know ahead of time so they can dress for it, (and mentally prepare). Set up teams so that all levels of players feel comfortable joining in on the fun and leave room for spectators to enjoy from the side. Finally, stay flexible. It’s nice to have a variety of options so guests can join in throughout the day (or evening).

    About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Joli.
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  4. 7 Tips for Healthy Knees

    Follow these 7 healthy knee stretches and tips for happy knees Knee pain is one of the most common ailments that people struggle with when exercising. As the largest joint in the body, your knees certainly take on their fair share of impact. Some people simply give in to accepting knee pain as being an inevitable side effect of exercise or aging. The good news is you CAN prevent, and even reverse it…simply follow these 7 tips to assure your knees stay happy and healthy!

    Tip 1

    Healthy Knees Require Warm-Up with Soft Tissue Work

    Before you perform your regular workouts, make it a point to include a well-planned warm-up routine. A proper warm-up is one of the simplest things you can do to prevent knee problems. A dynamic based warm-up (think things like skipping, shuffling, butt kicks, etc.) will get the synovial fluid going in your joints which means less friction during your workouts. Soft tissue work (foam rolling) is also a must for today’s exercisers. The pressure of your body into the roller allows you to hit the areas of the quads, calves, glutes, etc and work out “trigger points” that, when left alone, could eventually lead to pain or injury.

    Tip 2

    Ankle & Hip Mobility for Healthy Knees

    Knee pain is often a result of mobility issues in the joint below (ankle) or above (hip), so keeping those joints healthy and mobile will go a long way in keeping the knees pain free. Poor ankle mobility will limit your ability to perform certain exercises properly, which often means the knees pay the price by absorbing more force. Ankle mobility can be limited by tight calves or perhaps from previous ankle injuries. Poor hip mobility can have a similar impact on the knees. I generally use the body weight squat as a good indicator of hip mobility. The best way to squat is with your hips first. Those who lack good hip mobility will often bend at the knees first to initiate the squat and then end up with their weight too far forward. Again, the knees will then bear too much force because the hips aren’t moving the way they should.

    Tip 3

    Maintaining a Healthy Weight Helps to Keep Knees Healthy

    Being overweight really does have an impact on your joints, especially the knees. The heavier you are, the more stress you are going to deliver through the knees. Pretty simple on this one…maintain a healthy weight and you’ll greatly lower your chances of suffering from knee pain.

    Tip 4

    Keep Your Backside Strong to Lessen the Strain on your Knees

    When I say backside, I’m talking about your glutes and hamstrings. Your glutes are built to be strong and should be the powerhouse of your lower body. When working properly, they will take a brunt of the force away from the knees during many exercises. Likewise, your hamstrings shouldn’t be ignored! Many knee problems are caused by an imbalance in the legs. Many people tend to be quad dominant, which will put a lot of stress on the knees. Be sure to balance out your leg workouts by including an equal amount of quad, glute and hamstring exercises.

    Tip 5

    Be Aware of Your Knees' Aches and Pains

    This one almost seems too obvious, but if something hurts don’t do it! Far too many people try to work through the pain thinking they will eventually get through it. Instead, try to address the issue by figuring out what is causing the pain and then take the proper steps to correct it. Remember, when you’re injured you are not doing your body any good by continuing to do the same thing.

    Tip 6

    Focus on your Form to Keep Your Knee Movements Natural

    I’m often amazed at the amount of people who blame a certain exercises for their knee pain when, in fact, the problem is in how they’re performing the exercise. If you think your form may be off on certain exercises like squats, deadlifts and lunges, be sure to seek some help or do some research to assure you are doing them safely and correctly.

    Tip 7

    Build Good Posture and Core Strength will Help Minimize Knee Stress

    If you are one that suffers from bad posture, chances are you could be hurting your knees. Keeping your head centered over your shoulders and your shoulders over your abdomen and pelvis will keep your back, hips and knees happy. Make sure you’re including plenty of core exercises in your routine to strengthen the abs and low back. This will promote good posture and, ultimately, lessen the pressure on your knees. Knee pain can be a major road block for many lifters, athletes and every day fitness enthusiasts. But, by taking some of these tips and putting them into action, chances are very good that you’ll prevent, or even reverse, any future problems.  
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    About the writer: Ken Grall is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and owns and operates an Edge Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Ken.
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  5. 5 Tips to Help You Exercise Safely in the Summer Heat



    With the summer months rapidly approaching, it’s time to take your workouts outdoors!   While many of us may be tempted to jump right into our outdoor workouts, we should all take great care in preparing for the summer heat and the effects it can have on our bodies.

    Let’s take a looks at 5 tips that will assure your outdoor workouts are safe this summer.

    Tip #1: Hydrate

    Exercising in hot weather increases our body temperature, so it’s vital to assure your body is properly hydrated before, during, and after your workouts.

    While the body’s ability to perspire acts as a natural cooling system, it’s your job to make sure you’re hydrated enough for this to work properly.

    Your focus should primarily be on drinking water.  Remember, our bodies consist of 50-60% water, so it’s vital to maintain this amount.  On a hot day, you can easily lose 3-5% of your body’s water weight while working out.

    During exercise, aim for drinking 8-10 oz. of water every 20 minute. After exercise, be sure to get in another 10-20 oz. to assure you are properly re-hydrating.  Another great way to re-hydrate is to grab some fruit.  An orange or an apple will help replace valuable electrolyte loss and aid in recovery.

    Tip #2:  Avoid Peak Heat

    Plan your outdoor workouts for early in the morning or around sunset. Sun and humidity levels are more intense during the daytime hours, so to minimize the effects of the heat plan your workouts around that part of the day.

    Tip #3:  Dress Appropriately

    Invest in some lightweight, loose-fitting workout clothes that will help wick away moisture and keep your body cooler.  Sweating alone does not cool the body, but the evaporation of sweat does.  Clothes that soak up your sweat not only become uncomfortable and weigh you down, but they don’t allow for proper evaporation.

    Also avoid dark colored workout clothing that will absorb the heat and focus on wearing light-colored items.

    Tip #4:  Acclimate

    If you have been running indoors or working out in a cooler climate, be prepared to ease up a bit when the weather heats up.  Heat and humidity can wear your body down much faster when you’re not used to it, so gradually work your way into summer heat shape and allow your body to build up a tolerance to that kind of workout environment.

    Those high intensity intervals or long distance treadmill runs will be tough to match in the hot weather, so be smart and gradually work your way up to them.

    Tip #5:  Listen To Your Body

    It’s crucial to pay attention to your body when it comes to working out in the heat.  Heat exhaustion and sun stroke can quickly sneak up on you and put you in a world of hurt!

    If you’re feeling any of the following symptoms while working out in the heat, it’s time to shut it down and find some air-conditioned comfort:
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Weakness
    • Light-headedness
    • Muscle cramps
    • Headache


    To quickly cool off, here are a couple of tricks:
    • Run cold water over your forearms
    • Apply ice packs or cooling wraps to the back of your neck, your forearms, and/or your armpits
    • Use a spray bottle to mist your skin while fanning air on it to aid in the evaporation/cooling
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