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 beingtrulyfitmeans. 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?
LPGA golfer Stacy Lewis’ ability to overcome childhood scoliosis to become one of the game’s rising stars is an inspiring story that hits home with Midtown Athletic Club in Windy Hill, Georgia member Heather McNally, a Coca-Cola Planning and Resource Management Director.
Diagnosed with scoliosis at age 10, Heather began to experience debilitating migraine headaches—often up to 20 times per month—in 2003.
But thanks to a connection made by a Chicago neurologist that directly linked Heather’s migraines to scoliosis, along with a four-day-a-week fitness regimen at Midtown Athletic Club at Windy Hill, her monthly migraine toll is down to just a few each month.
In desperate search of relief for her headaches, McNally, 41, visited four Atlanta neurologists over an eight-year period. Her quest would eventually lead to Chicago, and her stepmom’s recommendation of the Diamond Headache Clinic. It was here where a clinic doctor observed a direct connection between her scoliosis and headaches.
Heather’s doctor in Atlanta had prescribed a drug given for epilepsy. While it reduced the migraines, the side effects were unbearable.
“I lost 10 percent of my body weight, my cognitive reasoning was weakened, and I had memory loss,” she remembers. “Worst of all, the medication made carbonated beverages taste awful. And that’s not good for a woman who works for Coca-Cola.”
Her family coordinated an “intervention,” insisting that she stop taking the drug. McNally did, but the migraines returned with a vengeance.
It was Diamond Headache Clinic’s Alex Feoktistov, M.D., who finally asked the right question.
“He asked if my head hurt when I tilted my neck,” McNally recalls. Tests would later help the doctor determine that McNally’s headaches were actually caused by stiffness in her neck and upper back—and most likely aggravated by her scoliosis.
Says McNally: “This connection was something that all my doctors previously dismissed.”
After talking with her personal trainers at Midtown Athletic Club at Windy Hill, McNally was provided with a four-day training regimen that has been working well. On Monday, for instance, it’s Pilates; Tuesday is for strength training (including neck and shoulders); Wednesday is her day for physical therapy; and Thursday is for massage therapy at the club’s spa.
Eight months into the program, Heather says that her migraines have virtually disappeared. Her back, she adds, is straighter than it has been in 30 years.
“We all know that physical activity is good for the body,” says Dina Casso, Windy Hill’s General Manager. “But for Heather, the results have been literally life-changing.”
“Many members come to us not only to help them lose weight or firm up areas of their body, but also to help them with debilitating ailments,” Casso adds. “We help by designing specific physical fitness programs to help provide our clients with a better quality of life.”
McNally wholeheartedly agrees.
“For me, even my personality has changed,” she says. “Not living in constant pain has made me a happier person. My family, friends and co-workers have all noticed. If it weren’t for Dr. Feoktistov and my great team at Midtown, I can’t imagine where I’d be today.”
As a 20-year veteran of the fitness industry, I have experienced the evolution of the popular Jane Fonda-style aerobic workout to the latest and greatest workouts, including TRX.
I am especially fond of TRX (Total Body Resistance eXercise) because it is easy to use and as challenging as I want to make it. The TRX Suspension Trainer was developed by former US Navy S.E.A.L. Randy Hetrick, as he and his fellow S.E.A.L.S. searched for ways to stay in peak physical condition with limited access to training implements and space.
TRX started as a parachute webbing, but has developed into a well-made, portable training system that is very user-friendly.Its harness system anchors to almost anything and forces you to use your own body weight for strength training, while allowing for the explosive movement of plyometrics.
Exercises performed on the TRX are multiplaner, mimicking real-life situations that require strength. The level of difficulty of each exercise changes by adjusting body position, making it appropriate for people at all fitness levels.
You can perform hundreds of exercises using the TRX, including push-ups, planks, tricep exercises, squats, lunges, and more. By hanging on for dear life, I mean, grasping the handles, you lean away or toward your anchor point, performing exercises. Your body works extra hard to keep your balance and stability. TRX increases stability, flexibility, and works the core with every single movement. You use multiple muscles at once, unlike many weight-lifting exercises, so you feel like you’re getting a full-body workout with every move.
And now, for some exciting TRX news. We’ve had an outdoor TRX Training Center for a few months now, and now we have indoor mounts as well. From today, February 20th through Sunday, February 26th, you can enjoy a complimentary 30-minute indoor class with a personal trainer. Check out the schedule and pick a day and time that works for you.
Midtown is known for hiring the best of the best in the fitness industry, including experienced, nationally certified personal trainers. Members trust our trainers to rebuild, recondition, and re-train their bodies.
Pediatric Pulmonary Physician, Samuel Vazquez, knows the importance of a strong body system. He works six full days per week (not including on-call time), eats healthfully, and enjoys playing tennis. Samuel has been a Midtown member since 2001, and recently began training with ACE & NASM-certified trainer for more than 15 years, Sandor Morris.
Born in Jamaica, Sandor is a former track star and Sprinter who still plays volleyball, soccer and basketball on a regular basis. He is has two daughters and is a favorite among high-performance athletes because of his fun, energetic, and motivating training approach. When Samuel hired Sandor, he simply wanted a couple of sessions to improve his endurance during his tennis game. He specifically requested Sandor because he had witnessed Sandor working his clients hard and after speaking with him said, “Sandor knows his stuff.”
Samuel has now been training for five months and has benefitted from personal training much more than he ever expected. Samuel gets one day off per week and chooses to spend it training with Sandor.
Ever wonder what goes on when one of our trainers works with a client?
Sandor : Samuel first came to me to improve his endurance when playing tennis. As I observed him, I realized he could barely bend his knees. He was also extremely tight in his shoulders, across the chest, and into his arms from years of strictly weight training. I needed to recondition his muscles and his mental approach to fitness. I decided to completely change up his routine. Improving his flexibility was just as critical as improving endurance to help him improve his tennis game.
Samuel: I work out with Sandor once a week and follow his routine on my own on another day each week. I play tennis at least twice a week. After one month, I noticed I could actually bend my knees again! I noticed I was in a better mood and had more energy. I have now been training with Sandor for five months and continue to see the benefits.
Sandor: I see Samuel once a week, so we work his total body in a way that will train endurance, strength, stability, rotation and core all at the same time. My favorite piece of equipment to accomplish this type of workout is the Free Motion Dual Cable machine. Although I do not do his entire routine on this equipment, I certainly could.
A session for Samuel with a focus on endurance, flexibility , stability and core may include:
Plymoterics: Step-ups on a box with dumbbell shoulder press. This works endurance, shoulders, legs, and core.
Burpees: The burpee is a full-body exercise used in strength training and aerobic exercise. It is performed in five steps:
Begin in a standing position.
Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground.
Kick your feet back while lowering yourself with a pushup.
Return your feet to the squat position while straightening your arms.
Leap up as high as possible from the squat position with your arms overhead.
Free Motion Dual Cable
- Single leg dead lift
- 1 leg, 1 arm row
- Squat to wood chop
- Triceps extension to squat, shoulder press
- Lunge to bicep curl with knee up
- Cable rotations
- V-up with medicine ball
- Medicine ball rotations
- Explosive leg lifts
- 15 minutes of assisted stretching
Interested in your own training session with Sandor? Please call the front desk at 954.384.2582. You won’t regret it!
I will humbly admit that even though I am a 40-year-old native Floridian with a backyard pool and the ocean at my fingertips, I am not a very strong swimmer. I can doggy-paddle pretty well, but usually feel like a sinking ship. I love to bike and run so I mentioned to Aquatics Director, Raphael Lima, that I would like to take some swimming lessons to prepare for a Triathlon with my 62-year-old father.
Raphael was eager to help me by suggesting Midtown’s Masters Swim Program.
The word “Master” alone was enough to make me steer clear from this offer. Raphael is from Brazil and Portuguese is his native language, so I thought perhaps he had misunderstood my current swimming skill level.
I said, “Raphael, I am a horrible swimmer and need to get a basic freestyle down so I don’t feel like I am drinking more water than I am swimming in.”
Again, he said, “Masters Swim is perfect for you.”
Masters Swim is perfect for anyone over 18 years old who wants to improve his/her swimming skills. We currently offer the program Monday through Friday with a variety of times to accommodate different schedules and levels. It’s only $60 for the month and feels like small group lessons.
Here’s what I learned about Masters Swim:
1. Choose Your Outfit Wisely
I purchased an appropriate swimsuit that would actually stay on and would not end up in the lane next to me. I bought goggles, waterproof sunscreen, and a swimmers cap to keep my long hair from strangling me during my lesson. With as few distractions as possible, I arrived for the 12:00 pm Masters Swim session ready to sink, I mean swim.
2. Bubble-Blowing Isn’t Just for Babies
The instructor asked me to swim a few laps so he could evaluate my form, or lack thereof. I was asked to bob up and down and blow bubbles, which I assume was because it was terribly painful for him to watch me swim.
This part was actually a lot of fun and somewhat relaxing. I later found out it was to help regulate my breathing, a very important skill when you are swimming. As a Pilates Trainer, I thought I had great breathing technique. The Pilates has helped, but I still had a lot to learn.
3. Kicking It
Following breathing exercises, he gave me a kick board and webegan working on my feet and my kicking. He helped me improve my freestyle stroke. I learned you are not supposed to actually slap the water and swimming should not be painful in any way. That was a great tip! I was ready to do some laps.
You know when you are young and a room in your house seems gigantic until you grow older, and then you see it as the small room it really is?
This did not happen with the pool lane.
As I have aged, the lanes seem to get longer and longer instead of shorter. After laps, I was exhausted from completely changing my usual fitness routine. One hour of Masters Swim worked all of my muscles and I was breathing heavily, yet I was surprisingly refreshed and relaxed. The water felt great, and my coach taught me so much in just one session, it was worth my time.
Surprisingly, I already feel more confident in the pool and I am proud to tell my father I am now a Masters Swimmer. It might not be like the Masters in golf, but some of the swimmers are at an elite level. I never felt intimidated. The coach focuses on helping you improve your own skills, and they are not concerned with comparing you to anyone else.
Finally I realized this was the first one-hour workout during which my mind did not have achance to wander. I did not think about the dog, the kids, or what we were having for dinner that night. The coach kept me focused and busy. Add the need for “survival skills” to your workout like I did and you will quickly be focused too.
Have you tried Masters Swim or any of our swim programs?
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