Sync Fitness Blog

How a Workout Buddy Can Boost Your Fitness Routine

While we all hatch plans to finally hit the gym, jog a mile, or join a fitness class with noble intentions, following through and showing up consistently is far more challenging. However, if you make those plans with a fellow fitness-minded friend, you can hold one another accountable and reap more rewards than you may realize!

Here are a few of our favorite perks of getting fit with a workout buddy.

Accountability: Making plans to go to the gym or even check in with someone about weekly workouts is a highly motivational tool. Keep in mind, accountability is a two-way street – your buddy needs you as you need him or her. Try to find a buddy with a similar schedule so you have fewer excuses to avoid the gym.

Providing support: Group classes are great ways to mix up the routine. Nonetheless, walking through the doors the first time can be daunting. Signing up to try new things with your buddy can ease the awkwardness and help build a stronger bond between you two.

Healthy competition: A little friendly competition never hurt anyone! Trying to keep up with one another or even push each other to continually improve benefits both workout buddies in the long run, especially if you’re both at similar skill levels.

Refreshing the routine: It’s easy to walk into the gym, go through the motions of the same repetitive 30-minute workout you always do, and leave. Workout complete. Inviting someone to join you on your fitness journey can help revitalize the mundane. You and your workout partner can work together to devise a plan to incorporate your favorite modes of exercise into an ongoing routine.

Increased safety: It can be difficult to keep your form in check, as you can only observe yourself in the mirror (if the room is equipped with one). A second pair of eyes is a more reliable method to ensure you’re completing moves correctly. A workout buddy can also help spot you if you plan to lift weights.

Set and meet goals: It is possible to meet and maintain your own fitness goals, but sometimes the road to solo success can feel a bit long and thankless. Talk to your buddy about setting similar and mutual goals. When working as a team, it’s easier to keep the goal in sight and stay on track.

More fun: Simply put, working out with your friends, co-workers, or partner is just more enjoyable. Make fitness fun by blending it with your social circle!

Breaking Down the Benefits of Boot Camps

Fitness is an ever-evolving concept. We’re constantly hearing different, and sometimes conflicting, information about what is the true key to a healthy lifestyle. One friend might preach the gospel of cardio, while others swear by weight lifting, pilates, barre… the list goes on.

In reality, the best thing for your body is typically somewhere in between all of these suggestions. Staying fit usually requires a happy medium of cardio combined with muscle-strengthening activities, which is precisely what a good boot camp program has to offer!

So… what is boot camp?

No, this type of boot camp isn’t synonymous with military basic training! A daytime boot camp at your local fitness center can also kick your fitness routine into gear… without any ruthless drill sergeants or mud pit crawls. Instead, an effective fitness boot camp provides a challenging yet supportive group exercise environment. Of course, you’ll still sweat it out and push your boundaries as you move through a rapid succession of cardio and strength exercises throughout a typical hour-long session.

What are the benefits?

Boot camps offer several benefits that a standard solo workout plan may not. You can expect boot camp to be:

  • Dynamic: Let’s face it — the same old weightlifting routine or monotonous 45-minute session on a treadmill is just not enough to keep most of us committed to a fitness regimen. Boot camp classes offer varied exercises each and every class, so you won’t know quite what to expect next! No matter what, you can expect it to challenge you and push you to discover your strength. Bonus: because you’ll be moving quickly between sets, there’s little downtime to count the minutes until it’s over, so you’re bound to keep your head in the game… and (gasp) you may even enjoy yourself!

  • Efficient: Classes typically last 1 hour or less, which may seem short… however, since you’re working so hard for the entire duration of boot camp, you can still end up burning up to 600 calories per hour on average.

  • Effective: The combination of the team atmosphere, as well as a well-rounded rotation of strength and cardio workouts, makes boot camp an excellent way to shed some extra pounds, improve your endurance, increase lean muscle, and refine your balance as well as your coordination.

  • Motivating: While the physical health benefits of boot camps are obvious, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover the ways in which they can boost your mental disposition. Because there is little downtime in a typical boot camp session, you’ll find yourself scrounging up every last drop of self-determination to push through and complete your workouts. For the moments in which you may doubt your ability to keep going, your instructor and fellow campers are right there to help motivate you. You’ll be feeling on top of the world by the end of the session!

Is your interest piqued? Sync Fitness offers dozens of boot camp classes each week, along with numerous other perks for members. We’ve spent the last 14 years figuring out what works best for our clients, and we remain committed to making sure you leave happier, healthier, and having lifted yourself higher than you ever thought possible. We can’t wait for you to join us and experience the difference!

How to Optimize Body Composition (without Obsessing on the Scale)

If there’s one universal fitness truth, it must be this: shame isn’t going to help you be your best, healthiest self! Unfortunately, for many people seeking a healthier lifestyle, shame can be the end result of fitness programs and weight loss efforts. If the only way your progress is tracked is by a number on a scale, you could end up feeling like you’re constantly falling short. That won’t help you stay with the program. Instead of obsessing about reaching a specific number, shift that focus to your overall well-being and body composition as indicators of your health.

Body composition is essentially your unique ratio of fat and muscle. Your body readily stores fat when you eat excess calories, but it takes more effort to build muscle. For many who start exercising and getting into shape, initial losses trickle to a plateau, at which point your weight hovers in the same zone. Many times, this phenomenon is caused by increased muscle mass and improved body composition. After all, muscle weighs more than fat. Don’t let the scale deter you! Focus on building muscle and the excess fat you’re worried about will be consumed by your increased muscle mass.

Top Tricks to Improve Your Body Composition

1. Focus on strength-building exercises, not just aerobics. The stronger you become, the more muscle you build. That extra muscle, in turn, burns more calories, even when you’re at rest. While you do want to engage in aerobic exercise for heart health, strength-building programs can make a massive difference in your body composition. You may not see the difference that getting stronger makes when you step on the scale, but you will see it when you look in the mirror.

2. Fuel your body for better health. When you want to build muscle, eating enough protein is essential. You should also make sure you have adequate sources of healthy fat in your diet. Combine those two with plenty of veggies and fruits and lots of water, and you have a recipe for easy, clean eating.

3. Determine your healthy ratio of body fat. A personal trainer can help you determine your current body composition. If you wish, you may also track how your shape changes, even if you don’t “lose” any weight.

4. Consider an inclusive, health-focused exercise program. A body-positive fitness program such as a local boot camp can help you feel stronger and happier without pressuring you to drop pounds. You shouldn’t have to feel like a contestant on a weight loss show, being ridiculed and mocked for your body, to lose weight in a gym setting. Your best hope of improving your body composition and physical health will come from working with those who will support you in your endeavors — regardless of what the scale says!

An Abridged Guide to Understanding Your Metabolism

If you’ve ever read fitness articles, talked to a trainer or medical professional about healthy body composition, or wondered how your body processes the food you consume, you’re likely at least somewhat familiar with the concept of metabolism. In the most basic sense, metabolism is the way our bodies convert food into energy. Some of that energy gets used right away, while some of it is stored as fat. Even while you’re sleeping, your body still requires energy to keep your heart, lungs, brain, and other organs and systems functioning.

The rate at which your body converts consumed calories into energy is called your metabolic rate. Generally speaking, more active people have higher metabolic rates, meaning they burn through more calories each day and need to consume more high-quality nutrients to sustain themselves. Your metabolism plays a role in how easily and how quickly you are able to lose, gain, or maintain body weight.

What determines your metabolism?

Many factors impact your metabolic rate, including age (as we celebrate more birthdays, our metabolic rates start to slow), stress levels, sleep patterns, past and current eating habits (extreme dieting or fasting, especially taking in fewer than 1,200 calories a day, can cause metabolism to take a hit), and muscle mass (the more muscle you have, the more calories you tend to burn, even while at rest).

Can you control your metabolism?

Many people assume that their metabolism is set in stone. While factors such as previous health issues and genetics play a significant role in determining your metabolism, there are always ways to actively improve yours. Effective workout regimens, such as boot camps and high-intensity interval training, are one of the best ways to help boost your metabolism. Regular exercise elevates your metabolic rate even after you finish your workout, kicking into higher gear for hours or days.

Does dieting improve your metabolism?

Building lean muscle helps your body burn more calories, including those that are stored as fat. Dieting, on the other hand, can trick your body into believing it is going to starve. This forces it to use less caloric energy for essential internal functions, which can have negative long-term effects on your metabolism. While healthy eating is a critical part of a healthy life, simply restricting calories will not help you burn more fat.

Exercise, specifically strength training exercises, is the most effective means of increasing your metabolic rate. So long as your calorie intake is sufficient (at least 1,200 per day), exercising can create a caloric deficit, where you burn more calories than you consume in a day. This means healthy eating combined with regular workouts is the ideal way to boost your metabolism and maintain a balanced weight.

5 Practical Health and Fitness Tips for New Moms

Whether you’re a seasoned mama, a brand new parent, or expecting a bundle of joy, you know (or will soon find out!) that motherhood, while a labor of love, is a full-time job. Especially on the first go-around, new moms are bound to encounter several challenges — from running on very little sleep to finding time for self-care. But with plenty of mindfulness and a little support, you’ll also discover that the strength to overcome the hurdles is right there within you!

You likely spent a good deal of effort optimizing your health throughout your pregnancy. When your baby’s health depends on it, there’s an extra boost of motivation. However, after your baby arrives, it’s just as important to follow a personal health and fitness regimen for your own sake. The flight attendant’s script before every plane take-off also happens to offer wise life advice: Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Here’s how you can achieve it.

1. Don’t overcommit. Set goals within your reach and take baby steps toward each milestone. If you know you can’t swing a 1-hour gym session every day, start small by committing to three 45-minute workouts each week, such as a group boot camp class to keep you accountable. Ultimately, you simply want to get your feet moving, even if it’s a quick stroll on your favorite trail with baby and stroller in tow. If your little one is napping and you can’t get out of the house, bring the exercise to you! Try some yoga at home or a fun workout DVD in your living room.

2. Ask for help! Sometimes we all need a helping hand, and there is no shame in asking for it. This is especially true when you are a new mother adapting to a more demanding schedule. Ask a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor for help with childcare on a day when you could really use a brisk nature walk to clear your mind and get your blood pumping. You may also consider arranging a babysitting swap with your other parent friends. You’ll be happier and healthier when you tap into your support system.

3. Make a plan. While we all know life doesn’t always go according to plan (especially when young children are in the mix), it helps to make a weekly checklist you can reference for guidance when things get hectic. Leave space for some workout time and pat yourself on the back as you tick off each completed exercise session. Track your progress and make a game of improving your results each week.

4. Exercise early. Some of us aren’t morning people. However, when schedules are busting at the seams, early morning is often the best time to squeeze in some exercise or “me time” before other obligations stand in the way. If possible, do this before your spouse or partner leaves the house, or arrange for childcare.

5. Go easy on yourself. There will be days when the unexpected happens. Remember to go easy on yourself if you miss a scheduled workout. If you miss a day, just keep on truckin’.

4 Homemade Nut Butters (and Their Health Benefits)

Nut butters make the perfect pre- or post-workout snack! Most nut varieties are packed with protein to promote energy and recovery. They can also help balance cholesterol levels and tend to be a good source of healthy fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids), fiber, and an assortment of vitamins and minerals (these vary depending on the type of nut).

The problem with many store-bought nut butters is that they often contain additives, including excess sugar, sodium, and trans fats such as partially hydrogenated oils. When you make your own DIY versions, you can be confident about what you’re putting into your body — no surprise ingredients here!

Because nut butters are relatively easy to make at home, you can try several batches using a variety of your favorite nuts. Simply soak, dehydrate in the oven, and process until smooth. Then scoop a heaping spoonful onto yogurt and granola, dip apple slices or celery, slather onto a slice of whole-grain toast… there are so many ways to enjoy your daily serving of this healthy yet hearty food.

Here are a few favorite nut butter varieties beyond classic peanut butter. Happy snacking!

1. Almond Butter

Almond butter has been climbing the ranks as a popular peanut butter substitute for sandwiches, dipping, and even baked goods. In addition to its complex and creamy texture, it boasts loads of fiber, beneficial fats, protein, manganese, vitamins E and B, and magnesium. Almonds may also help control blood pressure and cholesterol and can be excellent sustenance for those looking to lose weight. This is one butter that packs a punch — both in flavor and health benefits!

2. Cashew Butter

Cashew butter is less common, but still a great option. Cashews contribute to bone health (courtesy of calcium and magnesium) and can also help lower blood pressure. Much like almonds, they can help curb your hunger with monounsaturated fats. They are also rich in vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.

3. Pecan Butter

Pecans are practically nature’s multivitamin. They contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Fun fact: they are the most antioxidant-rich tree nut!

4. Hazelnut Butter

Hazelnuts are a great source of oleic acid, which lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol, plus vitamin E, flavonoids, and vitamin B, which supports proper energy metabolism.

Any of these nut butters are great choices before or after your workout in order to simultaneously fuel up on nutrients and curb your hunger. Sufficient vitamin and mineral intake is essential to ensure your body stays strong and healthy as you continue along your fitness journey. Consider these tasty treats for your active lifestyle!

How to Find a Workout Modality You Actually Enjoy

One of the most challenging aspects of committing to an exercise regimen can be finding one you enjoy. If your current workout modality doesn’t fuel you, or if you find it more frustrating or boring than rewarding, it can be that much more tempting to let your goals fall by the wayside — especially in the initial stages before you start to notice concrete results.

If you are committing to boosting your health and improving your fitness, start by spending some time experimenting to determine what forms of exercise and workout modalities best fit your preferences and lifestyle. Motivation can sometimes be hard to come by, so if you’re struggling to kickstart your fitness journey, try working out in a group environment where other people can provide you with support.

What Do You Want from Your Workout?

Everyone has a different lifestyle with varying comfort levels. What are your personal fitness goals? For instance, are you hoping to increase cardio for heart health, supplement a healthy diet with regular activity, or build muscle tone? Do you prefer competitive activities, such as handball or soccer, or do you prefer a more collaborative workout environment, such as a group class? It’s important to understand your own goals and motivations, and there is no problem with pursuing realistic, gradual milestones.

Set bite-sized, short-term objectives to help push you toward your longer-term ones. Each day on your feet is another step toward your optimal health. Choosing exercises that are fun, that you look forward to each day, is important in achieving these steps. The more you enjoy your workout, the easier it will be to reach concrete goals. Eventually you can consider an integrated approach that focuses on major points such as flexibility, endurance, joint health, muscle-building, cardio, and more.

Find the Right Program and Commit to It!

One of the most important things you can do is find ways to increase accountability in order to fully commit to an exercise program. Signing up for a multi-week class is one especially effective way to do this.

If you’re looking for a fitness program that will help you reach your fitness goals in a fun, social environment, consider becoming a Sync Fitness member with access to our weekly boot camp courses. We also offer an 8-week program that includes emotional and social support from other women: our Accountability Club! This is a great option for those who seek additional motivation and encouragement within a distinct timeline. Contact us today — we love helping fellow fitness warriors find exercise modalities that suit them!

Start Your Day and Fuel Your Body with These 4 Green Smoothie Recipes

Waking up and staying alert in the morning can already be a struggle. A cup of coffee or caffeinated tea can provide a short-term fix, but loading up on syrupy vanilla lattes and other processed sugars can end in a mid-morning energy crash. On the other hand, starting your day with a refreshing and nutrient-rich breakfast smoothie can keep you satisfied and naturally energized through lunchtime. Add a handful of greens and you’ve got a delicious opportunity to drink your veggies! All you need to do is grab your blender and a few additional fresh ingredients.

A serving of spinach in your smoothie can provide many health benefits courtesy of essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants including:

– Magnesium (bone and heart health, premenstrual syndrome relief)
– Iron (Energy and athletic performance)
– B2 (Energy and mineral absorption)
– B6 (Heart and kidney health, improved metabolism)
– Folate (Heart health, lower risk of depression and some cancers)
– Vitamin K (Bone, blood, and heart health)
– Vitamin E (Hair, skin, and blood health)
– Vitamin A/beta-carotene (Eye health and skin repair)
– Calcium (Strong bones, muscle and nervous system health)
– Potassium (Blood pressure, heart, muscle, and bone health)

And there are even more perks to keep you feeling (and looking) at your prime! To name just a few:

– Weight maintenance without going hungry (stay full on fewer calories)
– Antioxidants that keep your immune system healthySustained energy for workouts and day-to-day stamina
– Increased fiber intake for a happy digestive system
– Clearer, brighter skin

If you don’t have spinach on hand, you can also substitute kale in its place for many of the same benefits.

Convinced yet? Read on for four tasty and refreshing green smoothie recipe picks!

1. Low Carb Green Smoothie

Sync Fitness makes healthy eating less of a chore with our free e-book, 42 Delicious Fat-Burning Recipes (get your free download right on our homepage!). You’ll find dozens of breakfast, snack, and lunch and dinner entree recipes to complement your Sync boot camp or fitness program.

In the mornings, start with our very own low-carb green smoothie recipe. Blend coconut water, almond butter, wheatgrass, spinach, banana, low-carb chocolate protein, and ice and sip on 15 grams of protein with less than 200 calories. See page 10 of the book for complete measurements, nutritional analysis, and more details.

2. Tropical Green Smoothie

Add pineapple, mango, papaya, or guava (or all of the above!) to your blender with your favorite greens for a quick island getaway in the AM. This vibrant tropical green smoothie recipe relies on ripe frozen pineapple and mango chunks for a bright dose of fruity flavor (and for their anti-inflammatory properties plus digestive and immune system support).

3. Detox Green Smoothie

This Spring Detox Smoothie is packed to the brim with veggies for maximum nutrient power. Green tea adds even more antioxidants. Blend digestive superstars such as cilantro, baby kale, cucumber, avocado, ginger, and lemon, and throw in a hint of pineapple for just enough sweetness.

4. Berry Green Smoothie

Mixed frozen berries and sliced banana make this an accessible green smoothie for even the pickiest eaters. A scoop of natural peanut butter means additional tasty protein and flaxseed meal adds fiber and heart-healthy fatty acids.

Why Staying Hydrated Through Winter Is So Important to Your Health

People tend to think of dehydration as a summer issue exacerbated by seasonal heat. However, you can actually become dehydrated just as easily, if not more so, during the chilly winter months. Your body’s natural thirst sensitivity is lower in the winter, meaning you may not feel as compelled to sip water as you do during the summer. Combine that with dry air, from both outdoor conditions and indoor heaters, and you have increased potential for damaging dehydration. Proper hydration is critical, even when you may not feel the urge to have a glass of water. This is true for everyone, but becomes especially important for athletes and those who exercise.

Winter: The Perfect Storm for Dehydration

Winter conditions can be draining in many ways, and a reduced sense of thirst doesn’t help to restore your vitality. Believe it or not, sweat evaporates faster in cold air. The cold and dry winter air can also actively sap your skin of its natural moisture. Most of us bundle up to fend off the cold, which in turn adds weight that makes your body work harder during daily activity. This means even more sweat and more moisture loss. Poor hydration is a serial contributor to many health concerns, including fatigue, urinary issues, and decreased physical performance with longer recovery times.

How to Maintain Proper Hydration

If you’re exercising outdoors, wear several layers of clothing. This way, you can remove pieces as you heat up, reducing the amount of moisture lost to excessive sweating. In addition to staying on top of your daily recommended fluid intake, remain vigilant about drinking water and sports drinks to replace what you lose during exercise. Try drinking room temperature water, which can be easier for the body to absorb than cold beverages. Try to supplement your fluid intake by snacking on plenty of fruit, which can also provide a short-term energy boost from their natural sugars and carbohydrates. Milk (or even the occasional mug of chocolate milk or hot cocoa!) can provide your body with protein, some fat, minerals such as calcium, and vitamins such as vitamin D.

Finally, remember that both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, meaning they can contribute to dehydration. Take care to increase your fluid intake by one glass of water for each caffeinated or alcoholic drink you have. Your body will thank you!

Get Real This New Year: Fitness Resolutions You Can Actually Achieve

We’re all for committing to self-improvement in the year ahead — but some New Year’s resolutions are notorious for falling by the wayside when we set, ahem, lofty expectations. The reality is sobering: a mere 8 percent of people complete their resolutions. That’s a pretty exclusive group. Far more of us fall into the 92 percent that let go of these goals – often by February. The ensuing disappointment can feel defeating.

The problem, in many cases, is that many people set goals that are difficult to achieve. The key is to focus on what you can realistically commit to accomplishing, especially when considering your personal track record and comfort level. Often, setting small milestone goals can help get the ball rolling, and you may then feel inspired to use that momentum to surpass what you hoped for.

Maybe you want to get in shape, and your goal for doing so is to start running. It sounds awesome to say you’re going to run a marathon in the summer, but for some, that’s an extraordinary goal that can feel far out of reach when your body isn’t used to long-distance running and you find yourself out of breath after a mile. Instead, you may consider signing up for a 5K in the spring and a 10K in the fall. Work toward those smaller goals, and the motivation you feel upon hitting them can spur you to aim for a marathon.

Experts note that the key is to be honest with yourself. Understand what your current fitness level is and where you want to be. Not everyone starts from the same place, and that’s fine. Fitness requires some lifestyle changes, and it’s not going to happen overnight. Below are a few more tips that can help you steer yourself in a positive direction:

 

– Pair up with a workout buddy who can help keep you accountable.
– Join a class or a boot camp to jumpstart your new lifestyle.
– Shoot for small goals first – like running a mile or bench-pressing 100 pounds – with the idea that you’ll level up as your body adapts.
– Keep a journal to track your progress.
– Try not to stress out about it. Instead, find workouts that you enjoy and want to do.

 

If you set up realistic goals for the new year, we’re confident you can and will tackle your New Year’s fitness resolutions!

Sync Fitness is here to help you along the way. We wish you a happy and healthy 2017!