5 Common Gym Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Fitness

1. Holding onto the Treadmill:

I see this ALL THE TIME (it helps that I sometimes work 10 hour shifts). Grabbing the handlebars when walking briskly at an incline or clamping on during a jog — it’s a pretty common crutch to have when you’re sweating it out on the ‘mill and concerned that you might take a fall. But that’s exactly what it is: a crutch. By holding onto those handlebars, you’re not letting your body do the work it should be doing, like manual stabilization of the core and additional power from those glutes, calves and hammies. Instead of grabbing on every time you climb on to the treadmill, hold something else in your hands, like a stress ball or your iPod (just don’t squeeze the latter too hard). If you’re going for a jog, leave the machine behind and opt for a run around the track or neighborhood instead. With no option to hold on to in front of you, your chances of having a crutch to fall back on are zero.

 

2. Forgetting the Progressive Overload Principle:

We are so proud of our members who consistently come in and use our weight machines every day. We love that they’re getting in a strength exercise with their cardio and class package. But what we would love to see more of is the gradual overload of weight or reps in their workout routine.

Here’s why: the body will tend to plateau if only pushed to a certain point every time you work out. You stop progressing, seeing changes in strength and endurance and muscle tone and weight loss. In order to combat this natural stage, we need to push our bodies past their expected load. We can do this by increasing reps and sets if you’re trying to surpass your current endurance, or you can do it by increasing the weight of your strength exercise.

It’s important to not overdo it, though. Just like we want to push ourselves to grow, we also need to be conscious of what our bodies are capable of. By only increasing in 2-5 pound increments, we can often ensure that we aren’t pushing ourselves further than necessary, that our muscles are still confused and strengthened by the additional weight, and that we see maximum bang for our strength training buck.

3. No Variety!

Here at Girlfriends Fit Club, we offer a large variety of opportunities to get your fit on. With 130 different classes every month, 3 different kinds of cardio machines plus a walking track, and a range of machines to use for your weight training (or free weights if you’re interested!), you can never get bored. And if you can’t get bored, then neither can your body!

But if you’re only sticking to one of those things — cardio bunnies or class junkies (yogis, I’m looking at you), or 3x a week on the weight machines, your body will take longer to see the results you want. That’s why we suggest getting in cardio, weight training and classes (which combine the two) in tandem throughout the week.

4. Social Club?:

We are all about community, but we also want you to get that workout in! Spending too long chatting with your Girlfriends, carrying on a conversation while on the weight machines or slowing down your pace while going around the walking track can come at a higher cost than you might think. Consider putting in those headphones and tuning out the world while you focus on yourself for a half hour, and then spending the rest of your time catching up with the ladies.

Being social can be great for fitness, too! Getting together a group of friends or coworkers is an easy way to make a date with the gym that you can’t back out of later: if you say you’ll be attending that Boot Camp class, your butt better be in there when your colleague shows up to meet you. It’s all about balance, and when you find it, you’ll start to see the changes in your body AND your relationships.

5. Form over Function:

You can pump out all the squats you want, but if you’re not keeping proper from through every-single-one, you’re sacrificing that booty AND opening yourself up to a host of injuries. Squat wrong and you could be looking at suffering through your hips or back or groin or knees. Overextend during a tricep workout and you could be looking at elbow issues. Involve your wrists in any number of upper body workouts and carpal tunnel could be knocking at your door in a matter of weeks.

To combat injury, research your workouts before you hop on the weight machines or free weights at the gym. Ask someone at the front desk of your gym to help you (here at Girlfriends Fit Club, we’ve all been trained to make sure you’re in the right position for every machine and exercise we offer). If you’re still stumped, join a class where you have better instruction or look into getting a personal trainer that can coach you through exercises and a workout routine you can understand.

 

a better way to diet

Nutrition

With the new six-week Commit To Be Fit program starting up again this week, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss macros, calorie counting and how to diet without starving yourself or giving up three days in.

Let me preface this post by saying this: I love carbs. Pasta, pizza, fruit, potatoes, rice, fibrous veggies, muffins and baked goods of all creeds– they’ve been my undoing during every attempted paleo or low-carb diet plan. It wasn’t until I recently heard of the concept of macros- of fitting in a certain percentage of nutrients into your diet that I realized I could have my cake, and eat it too. 

Here’s your Friday link round up on all things relevant!

Life

1. The New Class Trend: Coming out of New York City (obviously), is a new way to take your favorite classes with your favorite instructors. Follow them (and a more accommodating schedule!) with ClassPass. Pay for a one-size fits all membership at local fitness boutiques in cities where they’ve been established. Play at will.

2. But It’s All Bad News: Sick of watching WoodTV8 just to hear about all of the fires, shootings and car accidents in West Michigan? Us, too. Thank goodness for Skimm, the new email newsletter that rounds up all of the most relevant pieces of information from the past day and sends them to you early enough to grab your iPad and read on the elliptical (we open at 6am!). Only drawback: no local news. Guess you’ll have to settle for international relations over yet another Winter Weather Advisory.

3. Speaking of Winter Weather Advisory: Sure, we get a lot of snow and cold over in West Michigan, but at least we know how to drive in it by now. Louisville, Kentucky was hit with a round of snow that shut down their interstates and deployed the National Guard. Dallas, Texas found its streets covered in ice (and, presumably, no salt to lessen the effects). And here in Michigan, we’re springing forward with 6 inches of snow on the ground and temperatures below 10 degrees. Ah, the north.

4.What’s Going On At Girlfriends: SO. MUCH. Tomorrow begins our next 6 Week Commit to Be Fit program. Last time, our 10 members lost a total of 71 inches and some awesome poundage. If one of your girlfriends asks you to sign something for her, give her some extra encouragement! It’s for the program, and she’ll need that support after a couple weeks of Kelly and Pamela’s workout plans.

We also have our Spring Cleaning Event coming up on two weeks, so be sure to pre-register to get access to our detoxification yoga class, aromatherapy and clean eating information sessions, juices, smoothies and kid’s events!

Enjoy your Fridays, don’t forget to set your alarm back tomorrow morning and, most of all, remember: you go girl!

The importance of fitting protein into your diet

Nutrition

When we hear about protein after a workout, the thought of bulky men carrying around their tumblers full of powdered mix and water probably comes to mind. Or large containers wrapped with cellophane stamped with “SUPER MASS GAINER” that promise high calories and proven results.

For years, I would hit the gym thinking that protein was only for men trying to bulk up. The powders seemed unnecessary and confusing, so I kept my distance. It wasn’t until I started working at a gym and juice bar, mixing smoothies for lithe woman after spinning class, that I realized I had been doing my post-workout tradition all wrong.

Protein, it turns out, is crucial to rebuilding and regenerating muscles. To reap all of the benefits of a great workout, getting in a smoothie, some lean meats or other sources of protein within 20 minutes can speed up the process of your muscle toning and tightening. In fact, according to Shape Magazine, adding protein to your diet will burn the most calories after you eat it — it keeps your metabolism high during the day, burning off even more calories than those you sweat out on the treadmill.

why running never worked for me, but yoga changed my life

Fitness

I know you’re out there. I mean, some of you are my closest friends. And I work at a gym, so every day I’m surrounded by the type. And no matter how much I try to understand the way your eyes light up when you talk about chest presses and how you spend two hours focused on one specific muscle group— and then you repeat it with another the next day— I can’t.

I’m the kind of girl who will set her alarm to wake up at 8 am on a Wednesday morning in the hopes that she’ll get her butt up to go for a run— and by run I mean, like, three miles— but when the alarm actually goes off I’ll press “snooze” or, better yet, “off” and go back to bed for another three hours and then wake up and eat bacon instead. I’m the type that adores exercise clothing, because it’s comfy and cute and have you seen how my butt looks in a pair of lulu lemon yoga pants? Because it’s pretty great. (I’ll be honest, lulu’s doing most of the work there.) And since I do work at a gym, I get to hang in yoga pants and shorts pretty much 24/7 and I can’t remember the last time I went a day without rocking a sports bra, but the amount of time I actually spend exercising in such clothing is pretty minimal. At this point I consider it strength training AND yoga just trying to get into the tight-fitting crops.