• This entry was posted in Fitness on March 02, 2016

  • Sore from an intense workout yesterday? Severe leg pain isn’t something you should try to power through. Give your body a rest day.

    That being said, your rest day shouldn’t be spent glued to the couch. It’s helpful to do low-key versions of the exercises that made you sore. For example, if a five-mile run caused your soreness, go for a 30-minute power walk or slow jog to help ease the pain and enable your muscles to recover faster.

    Another way to recover is stretching. Here are a few of the best stretches you can do to ease leg and foot pain – using only a towel and two chairs. Paired with moderate cardio (which can also help you recover after strength training sessions), you’ll be feeling better in no time.

    Hamstring stretch. Lie flat on your back. Lift your left leg up with a bent knee. Support your knee with a towel, holding on to both sides with your hands. Slowly straighten your knee. Stop or slow down if you start feeling any pain. Continue stretching until the bottom of your foot is facing the ceiling. Hold for 10-15 seconds, and then switch to your right side.

    Quad stretch. Stand up with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly bend your left knee back until your foot is as close to your backside as it can go. Slowly bend it back forward and back to the ground. Repeat 10-15 times, and then switch to your right side.

    Calf stretch. Stand up with your feet hip-width apart with your knees slightly bent. Slowly raise your heels so you’re standing on your toes and hold for five seconds. Lower your heels down and repeat 10-15 times, gradually increasing the time you hold at the top.

    Foot stretch. Sit down in a chair with a small hand towel placed on the floor in front of you. Pick up the towel by scrunching it between your toes – keep your heel planted firmly on the ground. Repeat 10-15 times. If this move is too easy, you can make it more challenging by placing a small weight on one side of the towel.

    Knee stretch. Sit down in a chair with your left leg resting on another chair in front of it. Slowly raise your leg into the air and hold for 10 seconds. Focus on making this happen using only your leg muscles. Repeat 5-10 times, and then switch to your right leg.

    Knowing how to recover is an essential part of working out safely and effectively. Make sure you’re eating healthy protein-packed meals, taking some time to rest, and engaging in mild cardio and stretching on your days off to prevent injury and keep yourself motivated.

  • This entry was posted in Fitness on February 25, 2016

  • A fitness routine is only as successful as what fuels it. Intense weight lifting and cardio sessions can’t help you reach your full fitness potential if you’re not treating your body with the healthy, protein-packed food that it needs to work hard.

    While some claim they burn more fat exercising on an empty stomach, most people will reap greater benefits if they eat before and/or after a workout.

    Pre-workout fuel can give you more energy and drive, making your workouts more effective, and post-workout protein can help your muscles recover and rebuild after intense sessions. Healthy and satisfying snacks are also great motivation to get moving on days when you’re not feeling up to it.

    Here are six of our favorite ways to prepare for and recover from workouts with food. Above all else, it’s important to remember that food isn’t the enemy to achieving your wellness goals – if prepared thoughtfully, it can be your best friend!

    Before Your Workout

    1) Bananas. Bananas are loaded with digestible carbohydrates and potassium, which helps maintain muscle function.

    2) Oatmeal. Packed with protein and fiber, oatmeal will keep you energized and full – without leaving you bloated – throughout your workout.

    3) Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is filling, protein-packed, and easy to customize. Buy the plain kind in bulk and make it your own with honey and the fruits and nuts of your choice. Need something to eat on the go? Prep yogurt bark (frozen yogurt bars with cocoa nibs and raspberries) you can eat as you head out the door.

    4) Coffee. Coffee doesn’t come to mind for most people when they think of pre-workout fuel. Although it isn’t packed with protein, its caffeine will wake you up, energize you, and often give you a better workout.

    After Your Workout

    1) Lean protein like chicken, eggs, quinoa, or salmon. Eating pure protein immediately after a workout can help you recover quicker and see results faster.

    2) Protein-packed smoothie. Not only packed with protein to help your muscles rebuild, smoothies help you rehydrate. They’re also a lot more fun than your typical baked chicken or salmon post-workout meal.

    We hope these six snacks give you a few ideas about how to prep for and recover from your workouts. Have fun, get creative, and stay fueled.

    And don’t forget the most important item to consume when revving up for and/or recovering from a workout – water. Nearly half of Americans don't drink enough water already– and exercising means you need to be drinking even more than you already do.

  • This entry was posted in Fitness on February 22, 2016

  • Long live the protein-packed shake. Few snacks offer greater benefits when paired with an active lifestyle. Smoothies not only rehydrate you and help your muscles repair and rebuild with the addition of protein, but offer the flexibility to mix in an endless amount of your favorite nutritious ingredients, from spinach and kale, to cocoa nibs and Goji berries.

    Here are a few of our favorite ways to drink protein shakes, along with recipes to get you inspired.

    For breakfast

    Experts say you should be consuming water and protein first thing in the morning for optimal health. Use one frozen banana and a cup of a milk of your choice (we recommend almond or soy) as your base. Mix in maqui berry powder for a nutritious punch of flavor, or add peanut or almond butter if you’re craving comfort. Dried and fresh fruit, flaxseed, and spinach make great additions.

    Before a workout

    Pre-workout protein smoothies can make you work faster, harder, and stronger at the gym. Plus, they’ll ward off any hunger that might hit you during your workout. Check out any of these 13 quick and easy protein shake recipes.

    After a workout

    This is the ideal time to consume a protein shake. In order for your muscles to repair and rebuild after intense workouts, your body needs a healthy, protein-packed snack within an hour after exercising. Because you won’t necessarily be moving around a lot after your post-workout smoothie, this one can be more indulgent. Mix a frozen banana and almond milk with a few tablespoons of natural peanut butter and oats. Add in vanilla or chocolate protein powder for a snack that’s great for you and tastes like dessert. Want to take it up a notch nutritionally? Add in cocoa nibs or flax seed.

    In place of dessert

    Reward yourself with icy goodness at the end of a long day. Our favorite recipe: Almond Date Breakfast Shake. Although categorized as a breakfast shake, this faux-indulgent smoothie can satisfy any dessert milkshake craving with its creamy texture and caramel flavor (all from medjool dates – truly nature’s candy!).

    Protein shakes are a guilt-free way to enjoy different flavors and textures, while also doing something unquestionably good for your body. Paired with cardio activity and strength training sessions, smoothies can help you take your health, wellness (and foodie!) goals to a whole new level.

    P.S. One of our favorite tips: a handful of spinach can be slipped into almost any smoothie undetected. Sometimes you’ve got to sneak in your greens!

  • This entry was posted in Fitness on February 10, 2016

  • Everything is better with your best friend. There are numerous reasons why people who work out in pairs tend to work out harder and longer. 1) You have someone to hold you accountable. 2) You have someone to motivate you in the midst of your hardest sets, and 3) You’re more likely to work out if it’s fun, and good friends make everything more fun.

    Here are seven of our favorite workouts you can do as a pair. Grab your best buddy, boyfriend, sibling, parent, or any other pal of your choosing – make a vow to help each other strive for better health this year. It’s the best way to show you care.

    1) Push up high-fives. Do push-ups head to head about an arms distance apart. When you pull yourself back up to the top, pause and extend your arms, high fiving before moving back down to another push-up.

    2) Clapping planks. In the same position head to head about an arms distance apart, come up into a plank. Remember to keep your legs straight and your abs tight. This move should be coming from your core. Touch your partner’s left shoulder with your right hand. Alternate 10-15 times.

    3) Explore local neighborhoods. Have the two of you been dying to try the new Thai place about three miles down the road? Meet at one of your houses and take a jog, run, or power walk to the restaurant. Scrumptious and healthy food is a great motivator – and will give you plenty of time to catch up with your friend.

    4) Netflix and sweat. Have fitness machines or gadgets at home? Set up a TV in front of your workout station and enjoy binge-watching Pretty Little Liars or The Man in the High Castle while you get stronger and fitter.

    5) Use a medicine ball. You can get a full-body workout with weighted medicine balls – and having a partner can take it to a new level! Here are some of our favorite partner medicine ball exercises.

    6) "Superman wrestle." Lie facing your partner facedown on the ground, palms touching. Lift your legs and arms (and torso, if you can) into the air, focusing on lifting them with your lower back and butt muscles. Hold for 10-15 seconds.

    7) The body-weight squat. Hold onto your friend’s forearms while standing arms length apart, both of you with feet a bit wider than hip-width apart. Squat down at the same time and then hold. Repeat 10-15 times.

    Friends can be great motivators or great enablers – be the latter. With these seven fun workout ideas and exercises, you and the partner of your choice can laugh your way to healthier minds, spirits, and bodies. It’s always better as a duo.

  • This entry was posted in Fitness on February 08, 2016

  • Some say sitting is the new smoking. Day after day, we slouch in chairs (that rarely fit us), hunched over with eyes squinting at screens. Unless you’re one of the lucky few with a stand-up or treadmill desk, chances are your 9-5 job is damaging your health.

    It’s hard news to hear when there’s little we can do to stop it – most of us don’t have the luxury of quitting our jobs in exchange for daily yoga sessions and runs on the beach.

    That’s why we get excited at the mention of fitness balls at work. These fun, often brightly-colored gadgets can have a significant impact on your posture, overall fitness level, mental health, and happiness.

    Here are a few benefits that come from using a fitness ball as your chair (for at least part of the day) at work.

    Better balance. The unstable surface will constantly challenge your body to stay upright and straight, keeping your muscles working all day long.

    It’ll also challenge your abs…

    Sitting on an exercise ball is the ultimate “passive” ab workout. To stay on an exercise ball all day, your core will have to remain engaged. Work toward the 6-pack you’ve been aspiring to without having to leave your chair.

    Energy and fun. If hanging out on a bright purple fitness ball all day doesn’t perk you up, we’re not sure we have the cure for what ails you. All kidding aside, keeping your muscles active all day can give you significantly more energy and drive, improving your health and performance at work.

    With an exercise ball at your side, you can sneak in workouts. Come to a good stopping point with that report? Now’s the perfect time to try this 15-minute ball workout.

    Are you ready to give the most fun chair a try? KETTLER USA has a wide selection of different exercise ball products to choose from. Too shy? More discreet gadgets like Movin' Sit, an inflatable wedge cushion that perfects your posture, might be more your speed.

    We recommend everyone try sitting on an exercise ball at work at least once – and not just for a day, but for 5-10. It can take a while to get used to keeping muscles engaged that you’re used to letting slump.

    If you’re not ready to commit, ask a friend or a co-worker to borrow theirs for a day. We’re confident you’ll feel and love the difference this fun, affordable, and healthy gadget can make in your life.