“What do you do for fun?”
If you had asked me that question at any point during the past 10 years, I would have said running without giving it a second thought. Running is a convenient, healthy, goal-oriented activity. It’s also pretty popular these days. Like many of my Facebook friends, I enjoyed posting about my next race and took pride in tackling greater distances and finishing in faster times. My collection of race t-shirts was on pace to outgrow my closet.
This spring, however, I started thinking that maybe I had been pounding the pavement for long enough. It’s not that I wanted to give up running completely. I just wondered what else might be out there for people like me – a fitness enthusiast looking for a new challenge.
That’s when I decided to take “Tennis in No Time,” Midtown Athletic Club’s three-week beginner tennis program. All you have to do is show up, and your coach will give you a racquet and teach you to play tennis in six lessons. It turns out it really was that simple, but more importantly, it was a lot of fun.
It didn’t take long to figure out that Tennis in No Time isn’t just a standard tennis class. With a small class size (just 5 players in my case), we each received a good amount of individual instruction from our coach, Jim, and we left each day feeling more confident in our skills and knowledge of the game.
From grips, shots and footwork, to singles and doubles rules and scoring and strategy, we quickly learned what we needed to do to win points on the court.
We used foam balls on a half court the first week, and eventually progressed to higher compression balls on a regulation-size court throughout the program. This is another way Tennis in No Time (TNT) helped us build on-court skills because this innovative approach allowed us to slow down the game without slowing the pace of the class. As someone looking for a new way to stay fit, I was psyched that standing around and waiting in line were not part of the lesson plan.
Each class concluded with a wrap-up session in the Paddle Tennis Hut, where another coach would review the concepts we practiced that day. We also heard some great tips on how to practice. My favorite piece of advice came from coach Mike, who taught us how to use the ball machines in the club’s complimentary practice lanes. He reminded us to “always have an intention for your practice,” and to “always practice at your highest level of success,” which were principles that were applied consistently throughout the program.
All that said, the real highlights of Tennis in No Time were the parties, where we were introduced to the social side of the sport. The first party was a Cardio Tennis theme, which included high-energy cardio & tennis drills accompanied by heart-pumping music from a DJ. With endorphins flying around the courts as fast as the tennis balls we were hitting, everyone was wearing a smile.
The second party was a doubles mixer, featuring warm-up drills followed by fast-paced tennis with coach instruction (and raffle prizes!). Both parties concluded with food and drinks, and more time to hang out with our new tennis friends.
So the question is, can a runner really become a tennis player in three weeks? In Tennis in No Time, the answer is yes, in less than three weeks. We were having fun playing tennis on the first day and every day throughout the program. And with the added benefit of tennis being a great workout (I’m even starting to develop my own set of “Michelle Obama arms”), the result is that I’m developing quite a crush on the sport…a crush that might just become a lifelong love affair.
Want to know more about TNT? Head here for another Tennis in No Time testimonial.
Ready to sign up? Click here for more information about TNT.
Have you tried tennis? What do you like about it?
The Mediterranean and Paleo diets both have their strong devotees and their fervent critics. Midtown Athletic Club in Rochester Nutritionist Sarah Guilbert takes over the blog to compare two popular diet patterns to help you discern which, if either, is the healthiest option for you.
The word “diet” tends to be associated with negative self-image and restriction (“I can’t blow my diet” or “I need to go on a diet and lose these love handles”). It also implies that eating habits are temporary when healthy eating should be an enduring and sustainable lifestyle.
An “eating pattern,” however, is comprised of lifestyle eating habits that serve as a guide to how many servings of different foods you should have each day. Both the Mediterranean Diet and the Paleo Diet fall into the “eating pattern” category.
Before we dive into the specific aspects of each diet, keep in mind that I never recommend one specific eating pattern for everyone. There are benefits and drawbacks to every way of eating. It’s important to find one that is balanced, sustainable, enjoyable, and tailored to your specific needs.
Now let’s take a closer look at these two popular eating patterns.
Longitudinal evidence has demonstrated that the Mediterranean eating pattern lowers your risk of many developing several diseases, including cancer and heart disease (1, 2, 3).
The Mediterranean eating pattern pyramid divides foods into ones that you should eat at every meal, foods that you should eat every day, and foods that you should eat weekly. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olives/olive oil, nuts, and seeds. It encourages limiting starchy vegetables, red meat, and processed meat. White meat, fish, and legumes fall in the middle, with approximately two servings per week of each recommended.
The Mediterranean eating pattern is a good choice for many other reasons. It promotes whole/natural foods, increased fruit and vegetable intake, and it does not restrict any major food groups. It emphasizes cardio-protective fats and encourages limiting the types of fats that have been shown to negatively affect your health (saturated fat and trans fat). The eating pattern promotes the consumption of healthy fat and fiber, which will help promote satiety, and includes potassium-rich food, because it is primarily plant-based and includes many fruits and vegetables.
One criticism of the Mediterranean eating pattern is that it can be low-to-moderate in protein, which is a concern for athletes. It limits white meat to two servings/week and places fish/eggs higher up on the pyramid, which implies that they should be eaten less frequently (although it recommends having at least two servings of fish/week).
For the sample breakdown menu shown below, lunch was low in protein (14 grams). Athletes who require 25-30g protein per meal may need to add more protein to their plates.
The Paleo Diet boasts that it is the “world’s healthiest diet, based on wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Stone Age” (5). It aims to improve overall health, promote weight loss, and lower disease risk (6). It is a relatively new diet and does not have the longitudinal data that other eating patterns have to support it.
Let’s look at the breakdown of a typical day. The Paleo eating pattern encourages meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, and fruits (mostly berries and melons). It excludes grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar, and salt because people living in the Paleolithic age would not have eaten those foods.
The Paleo eating pattern has many benefits. Natural foods and limited processed foods are a big part of this eating pattern, which helps to lower empty calorie intake and reduce sodium intake. It also emphasizes vegetable consumption and is higher in protein than the Mediterranean Diet. This combination will increase satiety and may promote weight loss. The Paleo eating pattern promotes the consumption of lots of fiber (the sample menu below has 47 grams), which can help healthy gastrointestinal function and lower cholesterol levels.
However, this much fiber may be a shock if new followers of the eating pattern try to increase their intake too quickly. Fiber intake should be increased gradually and should be coupled with increased water intake. The typical Paleo eating pattern is also high in potassium, which helps prevent hypertension. By encouraging nuts, the Paleo eating pattern also includes many heart-healthy fats, like the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in almonds.
On the negative side, this eating pattern eliminates multiple key food groups (dairy, grains, legumes). In a study of over 75,000 women, Harvard researchers showed that including 2-to-3 servings of whole grains per day correlated with a 30% lower risk of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease (8).
This study took place over ten years (compared to the ten days that some of the Paleo studies were conducted). Yes, Americans tend to eat too much processed grains; however, this does not mean that grains should be eliminated from the diet completely.
Another negative aspect is that this diet is excessively high in protein. Based on the 1,800-calorie plan outlined below, a Paleo eater would be getting 151g protein/day on the low end (there is an optional added 3 ounces of fish if protein intake was not satisfying for the day).
Generally acceptable protein intake ranges from .8-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram that you weigh. For example, a 130 pound person would have an upper limit on protein intake of 118g protein/day. This diet also excludes the major source of calcium in the diet: dairy products. Inadequate calcium intake can lead to developing osteopenia and can also be detrimental to heart health (9).
The Mediterranean eating pattern is a much more established, balanced way of eating for lifelong health. I would recommend it to most clients, but would also recommend increasing protein slightly at mealtimes. Is the Paleo diet the worst eating pattern out there? No. However, I would not recommend it unless it was modified slightly to reduce protein intake and include at least three servings of whole grains and two servings of dairy products daily. This would ensure that followers of this eating pattern obtain adequate healthy fuel and calcium sources while not overdoing it with protein.
In a future post, I will compare two diets: Advocare and The South Beach Diet. If you would like me to examine other eating patterns and diets, leave a comment on this post.
|Mediterranean||Paleo (menu from bodybuilding.com)|
|Breakfast||6 oz Greek yogurt
½ cup strawberries
1 tsp honey
1 slice WW toast
½ mashed avocado
|4 slices lean ham
2 cups mixed berries
|AM Snack||None||Low sodium beef jerky
|Lunch||1 WW pita
2 Tbsp hummus
1 cup fresh greens
2 slices tomato
1 cup minestrone soup
1 medium orange
|4 oz salmon
2 cups salad
1 T olive oil
2 cups melon
|PM Snack||1/8 cup sliced almonds
1/8 cup peanuts
|3 oz grilled chicken
1 serving raw vegetables
|Dinner||3 oz salmon
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp mustard
½ cup couscous
½ cup zucchini
4 spears asparagus
Salad with ½ cup arugala, ½ cup baby spinach, 1 T shaved parmesan cheese, 1 T vinaigrette dressing
5 oz red wine (optional)
|3 oz grilled lean steak
2 cups steamed broccoli
|Dessert/PM Snack||Small bunch grapes
½ cup lemon sorbet
|1 handful walnuts
3 oz grilled fish (optional)
|Calories: 1621 with wine, 1491 without
Carbs: 194g (50.5%)
Fat: 53g (31%)
Protein: 71g (18.5%)
Sodium: 1746 mg
|Calories: 1796 without fish
Carbs: 176g (39%)
Fat: 77g (39%)
Protein: 151g (34%)
(1) Couto E, Boffetta P, Lagiou P, & Ferrari P et.al. Medierranean dietary pattern and cancer risk in the EPIC cohort. April 26, 2011. Br J Cancer 104(9): 1493-9. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21468044.
(2) Mitrou P, Kipnis V, Thiebaut A, & Reedy J et al. Mediterranean dietary pattern and prediction of all cause mortality in a US population. December 24, 2007. Arch Intern Med (3) 167(22): 2461-2468. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=770019.
(4) USNews Health. Medierranean Diet-Sample Menu. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/mediterranean-diet/menu.
(5) Innocenzi, L. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Should we eat like our caveman ancestors? Retrieved on March 11, 2013, from http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442471551.
(6) The Paleo Diet. Retrieved on March 11, 2013, from www.thepaleodiet.com.
(7) Life Expectancy-what is life expectancy. Retrieved on March 11, 2013, from http://www.news-medical.net/health/Life-Expectancy-What-is-Life-Expectancy.aspx.
(8) Harvard School of Public Health. Health gains from whole grains. 2013. Retrieved on March 11, 2013, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/health-gains-from-whole-grains/#references.
(9) Office of Dietary Supplements: National Institutes of Health. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium. November 16, 2012. Retrieved on March 11, 2013, from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/.
(10) Clark, S. Body Building. What is the Paleo Diet? Dec 29, 2010. Retrieved on March 11, 2013, from http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/what-is-the-paleo-diet.html.
This May, Midtown will begin its 41st year of Tennis in No Time®, our patented 3-week program that has turned more than 100,000 beginners into tennis players. While our instructional methods, courts and equipment have changed over the years, one thing has not: the program’s personal and social impact on its participants.
Many past participants began their journey toward better health and fitness with Tennis in No Time®. Many more formed networks of friends that developed into close relationships that are still maintained on Midtown’s tennis courts. At Midtown, we believe that tennis is more than a sport; it’s a passion. And we want to know how Tennis in No Time® brought passion into your life.
Maybe you became closer to a family member, or met a future business partner, best friend or spouse. Or maybe you gained the many benefits of a fit and fun lifestyle that continue to positively impact your life.
We invite you to share your Tennis in No Time® story with us by emailing Dave Silbar at email@example.com. Select stories will be featured on Midtown’s social media channels, and all submissions will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a series of 3 one-hour private tennis lessons.
On behalf of the entire team at Midtown Athletic Club, we thank you for your participation in Tennis in No Time® and your continued support of our club.
Now, send us your story!
March is National Nutrition Month, and today is Registered Dietitian Day, which was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to increase the awareness of registered dietitians as indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and to recognize them for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.
To celebrate, Midtown Athletic Club in Rochester Nutritionist Sarah Guilbert is back to talk about how to properly fuel up for your workout, and what you should eat post-workout as well.
Pre-workout nutrition is important for ensuring that you have adequate energy stores (through carbohydrates) to fuel your workout. Consuming a moderate amount of protein before your workout is thought to increase muscle mass and strength performance.
Post-workout nutrition is important for repleting your carbohydrate stores (glycogen) in your muscles, repairing muscle damage, and helping to synthesize muscle mass through protein.
The number of carbohydrates that you’ll need will vary slightly depending on whether you are trying to lose/maintain weight (30g carbs/10-15g protein) or build more mass (40-50g carbs/15g protein). If you have a long workout day, try to get slightly higher carbohydrate repletion so that your glycogen stores are refueled optimally for the next workout.
Pre-workout snacks should be eaten 30-60 minutes before you begin exercising. Post-workout recovery eating is optimal within 30 minutes of exercise completion. Note that liquid nutrition will get into your muscles faster than solid food because solid food has to be broken down more and has a longer transit time through the GI tract.
Whey protein is quickly absorbed by muscles and has also been shown to have a greater effect on stimulating muscle protein synthesis than casein and soy. However, slower-absorbed proteins do have their benefits for providing repletion to muscles for a longer period of time after a workout.
Here are some appropriate pre- and post-workout snack options, whether you like to add protein to your shakes, have cottage cheese and fruit, or go old-school with skim milk and fruit smoothie. Try one and let us know what you think!
Strawberry protein shake
12 oz skim milk
1 cup strawberries
1 cup ice
177 calories, 13g protein, 30g carbs
Tropical fruit smoothie
4 oz vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup mixed tropical fruit (frozen)
4 oz vanilla almond milk
½ cup ice
195 calories, 10g protein, 38g carbs
½ large banana
8 oz chocolate soymilk
1 T peanut butter
1 cup ice
276 calories, 10g protein, 38g carbs
Berry Vanilla Smoothie
¾ cup blueberries
¾ cup blackberries
4 oz light vanilla soymilk
½ scoop vanilla protein powder
1 cup ice
193 calories, 15g protein, 34g carbs
6 oz flavored fat-free Greek yogurt + ½ banana
201 calories, 15g protein, 36g carbs
6 oz vanilla yogurt + ¼ cup granola
228 calories, 11g protein, 39g carbs
4 oz 1% cottage cheese + 1 cup mango
187 calories, 15g protein, 32g carbs
1/4 cup egg whites + 2 slices toast
187 calories, 12g protein, 30g carbs
*The fat in peanut butter will delay gastric emptying and may cause GI distress if you have a sensitive stomach. This one is better to have post-workout.
Club Nutritionist Sarah Guilbert takes over the blog to talk about dietary changes you can make right now to improve not only your heart health, but also your overall quality of life as well.
Today is Go Red for Women day to promote women’s heart health. I have the pleasure of working in the Cardiac Care Unit at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where I speak with patients about heart-healthy diet strategies after they have had a heart attack or other cardiac event.
Here are the dietary strategies I share with them. Please use them to make healthy food choices to protect your heart on Go Red for Women Day and every day.
Fruits and Vegetables: Produce has dietary fiber, which is important for lowering cholesterol levels. Those whose diets are rich in fruits and vegetables often have lower blood pressure. Try adding a cup of berries to your regular breakfast, or enjoy some raw veggies with hummus as a mid-afternoon snack.
Nuts: Studies have shown that nut consumption correlates with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Eat walnuts, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids (more on these next), pistachios, or almonds to keep your heart strong and healthy.
Salmon and Tuna: These two fish have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a type of essential fatty acid that have a number of health benefits, including reducing your risk of death from coronary artery disease, reducing inflammation, and potentially lowering your risk for chronic disease. Fish intake also correlates with lower risk for cardiovascular disease in general.
Total Fat: Keep your daily total fat intake within a moderate range, or within 25-35% of your daily calories. For a 1,500- calorie diet, this is approximately 40-to-60 grams of fat per day. For a 2,000-calorie diet, this is approximately 55-to-75 grams of fat per day.
Bad Fats: Keep saturated fat to <7% of your daily calories. Limiting fried foods, fatty cuts of meat, and added butter will help you reach this goal. Trans fats, also called partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, should be limited to <1% of your calories, and ideally, you should consume foods with trans fats at all. Try to avoid margarine, commercial baked goods (like pies and cakes), and fried foods in order to limit your trans fats consumption.
Dietary Cholesterol: Limit the amount of cholesterol you eat because high levels of cholesterol consumption correlates with higher levels of LDL cholesterol in plasma. Stick to less than 200-to-300 milligrams per day. Limit consumption of egg yolks to four per week, avoid fatty meat products, and limit shellfish consumption to better manage your cholesterol intake.
Sodium: Too much dietary sodium can raise blood pressure and cause the heart to work harder. Limit your intake to <2,000 milligrams per day. 1,500 milligrams per day or less is ideal. Also, avoid these high sodium foods: canned items (especially soups and sauces), prepared foods/restaurant food, frozen dinners, snack items (chips, crackers, popcorn), condiments and sauces, deli meat (especially ham), and cheese.
When you’re at the club and looking for something heart-healthy to enjoy, try Bon Marche’s Salmon Wrap, which is made on a 100-calorie flaxseed wrap (with omega-3s!) and is filled with delicious veggies to help increase your fiber intake. The salmon wrap has a total of 337 calories, 11g fat, 27g protein, and 11g of fiber. It is also one of the lower-sodium Café options (with only 304mg sodium).
Heart disease takes the lives of 1 in 3 women each year. According to the American Heart Association, studies show that healthy choices have resulted in 330 fewer women dying from heart disease per day. Make these changes to your diet, exercise regularly, and you’ll place yourself on the right track to a long and healthy life.
For even more ways you can protect your heart, check out these tips.
Want to talk about further strategies to change your diet and improve your health? Contact Sarah Guilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585-461-2300, ext. 295.
Midtown member Monica Bays shares her experience working with our Nutritionist, Sarah Guilbert, to get in better shape and decrease her finish time in an Ironman competition.
Every January, many resolve to change their negative habits, to take better care of themselves, eat more healthfully, and work out more. In 2012, I made a similar commitment, which I will share with you.
In early 2012, I met Sarah Guilbert at one of Midtown’s popular fitness classes. We chatted about our athletic and educational backgrounds, and I learned that Sarah was wrapping up her program to be a Registered Dietitian. I told her that I compete in triathlons and would be participating in my second Ironman in the fall. I wanted to get in better shape and improve my finish time.
I was pretty confident in my workout habits and had a trainer and a coach, but I have always struggled with cooking and preparing healthy snacks and meals that would fuel my endurance events and workouts, as well as help me to shed the weight I needed to in order to become more fit. In fact, when training for my first Ironman in 2010, I actually gained weight!
I wanted to be as fit as possible the second time around. She graciously offered to help me reach my goals by meeting with me to discuss nutrition.
At our first consultation, we talked in-depth about what I typically eat, how much, and how I feel before and after eating. After listening to my background, we established two food goals to work toward. She sent me home with some homework: a food journal. I had to write down everything I ate over a three-day period, which would help her to assess my typical eating habits. This assignment held me accountable and also gave Sarah clear data, which would help her assess my food plan. I handed in the information and was ready to hear what she thought.
At our next meeting, we went over my food journal. Sarah analyzed everything I ate and showed me how much protein, fat, calories, etc. were in the food I ate on an average day. It was very thorough and I have to admit that I was a bit surprised by some of the report, some of which was good, and some of which was not-so-good!
Next, she gave me simple substitutions to cut down on calories and bad fat. She also educated me more precisely on what a good balanced meal should consist of (such as what percentages should come from fruits and veggies, lean protein, and carbs). We discussed my food preferences (I tend to be a picky eater) and we collectively created better breakfast and lunch options. She put together two new breakfast plans and two new lunch plans for me to try out.
Between sessions, I experimented with the Sarah’s suggestions. I tried some of the new foods she recommended and I discovered I actually like Greek yogurt, oatmeal, squash, and zucchini! When we met again, we talked about how these new meals made me feel and whether they gave me the type of energy I needed. At this point I had lost a few pounds as well. We were making progress!
We met twice more before my big race. By November, I weighed fourteen pounds less than I did at the same race in 2010. Weight is just a number, but I felt better, stronger, and more in shape than I had in four years.
When you set a goal, it helps to have other people support you and help you reach it. Sarah was an important part of my goal of improving my Ironman time. The advice she gave me and the things we worked on helped me make improvements in my diet and get me in better shape. We are lucky to have her working at Midtown to help other members reach their goals of being fitter, healthier people!
If you’re interested in working with Nutritionist Sarah Guilbert, you can contact her at email@example.com or 585-461-2300, ext. 295.
What will 2013 look like for you?
If you want to make a commitment to a healthier you, now is the time to get a jump-start on that goal.
We’re launching a new program on January 5: the 90-Day Transformation Challenge.
It’s a team-based approach to losing weight and body fat, designed to not only change your body, but your mind as well. 10 personal trainers (Josette, Justin, Arlene, Vinny, Dina, Judy, Steve, Kevin, Dave, and Bruce) will each captain a team of 5 member participants. Your trainer will work with you both individually and within your group from January 5 through April 5.
Here’s what you can expect over the course of 90 days:
And since the program is a competition, we’ve lined up some amazing prizes for the top three male and female participants who lose the greatest percentage of body fat:
“This is an excellent opportunity to change your mind, change your body, and transform yourself,” says Vinny Mogavero, Group Personal Training Coordinator.
Here’s what you need to do.
On Saturday, 11/10, we’re placing a board listing each of the 10 teams near the trainers’ office. Sign up under the name of the trainer whose team you want to join. He or she will contact you shortly to schedule your initial fitness assessment.
Participation is limited to the first 50 members who register between November 10 and December 17. We expect this program to fill very quickly, so sign up soon.
The 90-Day Transformation Challenge will cost you just $50.
Are you ready to make 2013 your healthiest year yet? Take the first step by writing your name on that sign-up sheet tomorrow and registering at the front desk.
You won’t regret it.
Full disclosure: I had no intention of registering my four-year-old twins for Midtown’s new Tennis Explorers program.
I love them to pieces, but these two are “spirited” on their best days and the definition of chaos and mayhem on their worst. And, like many preschoolers, they are very active, very boisterous, and have very short attention spans.
Twinsanity and tennis? Like oil and water, I thought.
Boy, was I wrong.
We’re nearing the completion of our first 10-week, parent-and-child session, and my twins not only love the game, but have also mastered skills I never thought they would stand still enough to learn.
Tennis Explorers is unique because the emphasis is on fun, movement, and cultural awareness. Midtown created the program with childhood development professionals, so literacy, counting, and social skills are also incorporated with each lesson.
The kids spend the first 5 minutes of each lesson in a “circle time” atmosphere on-court, listening to their tennis coach read them a story about a different country from their Tennis Explorers book. They learn how to say, “Hello” in the language of that country, which was a huge hit with my kids. They’re stilling saying, “Jambo” to people they meet, three weeks after learning about Kenya.
Rest assured that your 3-year-old won’t be whacking around a regulation tennis ball with abandon. Tennis Explorers uses large, easy-to-hit foam balls, and in class, they aren’t even called tennis balls. They are “turtles” for one drill (kids practice hand-eye coordination skills by using the strings of their racquet-the turtle’s “shell”-to stop a rolling ball-the turtle’s body) and a “kangaroo” that needs to find its way into its mother’s “pouch” (a cone) for another.
Outside of the story, the class is kept in constant motion, which is a perfect format for active preschoolers. They work on balance, coordination, both large and small motor skills, and the proper way to hold and swing the most adorable, age-appropriate racquet you’ve ever seen. The racquet was designed especially for Midtown by Wilson and each Tennis Explorer receives one, along with these backpacks.
My kids’ tennis coach flawlessly integrates parent participation with each lesson, as we’re asked to toss the kids balls to hit, or even participate in a balance drill along with our children. Parents aren’t usually able to participate in softball, or soccer, or hockey right alongside their kids, so my husband and I are happy to have the opportunity to join our twins on-court in their first foray into sports.
It took just a single class to hook my kids on the game. By the end of the first lesson, my sometimes surly son was jumping up and down shouting, “I LOVE tennis!” He was even more excited to get his first sticker in his “Passport,” the small green book where kids collect a sticker upon completion of each lesson.
All four of us are looking forward to the next session, which begins next week.
While there are child-only classes on the schedule, where kids work with a pro sans parents as they do in other levels of tennis, I would encourage you to take the class with your kids, or have another caregiver take it with them, at least for the first time around. First, the class was designed this way, but more importantly it offers you a guaranteed 45 minutes of uninterrupted time each week to spend with your preschooler.
And with the fast pace of most of our lives, that kind of time is invaluable.
Has your child taken our inaugural session of Tennis Explorers? Please share what you thought of the program in our Comments section.
What does it mean to be fit?
For many of us, being fit means maintaining a healthy weight with diet and exercise.
However, the “healthy weight = fit” idea omits and misrepresents several important components of what being truly fit means. In biological terms, “being fit” means “being able to provide for one’s own life and wellbeing; the fittest are those who can do so the best.” Now that’s a little closer to what we should be working toward. Not just being fit to the point of sufficiency, but being the fittest.
So, the question is: What can you do to be the fittest you can be, or to obtain the best quality of life possible?
To answer that question, we’ll examine the five components of physical fitness. That’s right, there are five. Not just “fitting into my favorite jeans,” “being able to run a marathon,” or “bench pressing twice my body weight.” Our definitions are from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Body Composition: This refers to the relative amount of muscle, fat, bone, and other vital parts of the body. Body composition can provide a better evaluation of overall health than weight or BMI alone, so it is important to maintain a level of body fat that is neither too low (below 3-5% for men and 8-12% for women), nor too high (above 20-25% for men and 29-35% for women).
A variety of body fat measurement tools exist including calipers and bio-electrical impedance devices, and although some are more accurate and expensive than others, all can help you monitor changes.
Tip: Have a body fat analysis performed to know your starting point, and begin implementing small, healthy diet and exercise changes to improve body composition.
Cardiorespiratory Endurance: Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel during physical activity. This means being able to sustain an elevated heart rate. Activities like walking, swimming, and bicycling will all lead to improvement, and the good news is that the activity you choose does not necessarily have to be strenuous (at least initially).
Tip: choose an activity you enjoy and start slowly, increasing the intensity and duration over time.
Flexibility: Flexibility is the range of motion around a joint. Maintaining good flexibility helps protect the muscles and joints from injury in all kinds of activity. A basic stretching program, such as 10-15 minutes of light stretching for the upper body, lower body, and core after a workout, may be all you need to improve this oft-neglected fitness component. Yoga and Pilates classes can also add more structure to your flexibility program.
Tip: the key to improving flexibility is to make time for it! Add 10 minutes to the end of your workout to stretch or take 10-minute walking/stretching breaks at work.
Muscular Endurance: Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscle to continue to perform without fatigue. You can improve muscular endurance by doing sustained activities such as walking, swimming, or bicycling. When it comes to weight training, completing longer sets (12-25 repetitions) would be considered working in the endurance range.
Tip: look for opportunities to activate your muscles outside the club. For example, walk to the grocery store and flex those biceps by carrying groceries.
Muscular Strength: Muscular strength is the ability of the muscles to exert force during an activity. Sorry to those of you who want to stick to the treadmill, but this means using your muscles against resistance, whether that comes in the form of a dumbbell, resistance band, or your own body weight against gravity.
Tip: take the stairs instead of the elevator, or do some pushups during TV commercial breaks.
To be truly, “totally fit” we need to focus on all five components of physical fitness. Not only will we be healthier overall, but we will also enjoy the benefits of reduced risk of injury and disease prevention (osteoporosis, diabetes, etc.). The added bonus? Improving any single area of fitness will help the others improve as well.
So what are you waiting for?! What areas of physical fitness are you focusing on right now?
College students have plenty to worry about these days, with finding a job in a tough economy topping the list. Between the job search, studying, campus activities, and time spent “living the college life,” it’s easy to put your health on the back burner.
And that’s okay, right? I mean, you’re young, and your body can handle the stress of too little sleep and exercise, and too much unhealthy food…
Or can it?
In truth, it’s only a matter of time before the poor health choices you make as a young adult catch up with you. Your health is no one’s responsibility but your own and maintaining it takes constant effort. Learn that lesson now and you will set yourself up for success in the years to come.
Here are 3 of the most common health mistakes college students make and how you can avoid them:
Eating Too Much Junk Food: Dorm cafeterias put soft-serve ice cream machines and waffle makers at your finger tips, and campus convenience stores provide all of the salty snacks and sugary sodas you could ever want to propel yourself through late night study sessions. Add in a few midnight pizza runs and party binges and you’ve created quite a mess for your body to clean up.
In fact, according to teenshealth.org, studies have shown that snacking between 8PM and 4AM is a leading contributor to weight gain.
Avoid It: Eat at regular times without skipping meals and incorporate plenty of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Pay attention to portion sizes and nutrition labels (many dorm menus provide them) and limit your intake of high-calorie foods, including alcohol.
If you are up late, fuel your food cravings with lower calorie fruits, vegetables, or sugar-free drinks. Your body will thank you for it!
Not Exercising Enough: Without high school sports or gym class programmed into your daily schedule, many college students let exercise fall by the wayside. Combining lower activity levels with increased caloric intake makes putting on the “freshman 15″ a real possibility.
Avoid It: Take at least 30 minutes every day to do something active, such as walking, jogging, swimming, taking a group exercise class or working out at the campus gym. Also get up and stretch or walk around if you catch yourself sitting for an extended period of time.
Researchers have found that students who exercise at least 3 days a week are more likely to report better physical health, as well as greater happiness, than those who do not exercise. Students who stay active are also more likely to report using their time productively. If just a little bit of exercise can help boost your health and your grades, it sounds like a no-brainer.
Sleeping Too Little (and No, Naps Don’t Count): From studying and other school-related activities to social outings and noisy roommates, it’s hard to avoid poor nights of sleep in college. Among other consequences, a lack of quality sleep can lead to increased stress levels and weight gain.
Avoid It: Do the best you can to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Don’t rely on naps or power 10+ hour sleep sessions to catch up on missed sleep. Finally, avoid caffeine and alcohol too close to bedtime, as well as other stimulating activities such as exercise, TV, texting and Facebook.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself this school year is to keep your health on track. If your health is not already a priority, begin introducing positive changes slowly and build healthy habits now. You’ve got a lot of off-campus years ahead of you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you will be healthy enough to enjoy them.
What are your tips to help stay healthy on campus?