The heart sure gets a lot of press. It’s the frequent subject of many a film, song, fairy tale, and poem. Its name is written in love letters and uttered in wedding vows, cartoonish renderings are scribbled through notebooks and valentines in schools across the world. The emoji keyboard is rife with them, in an array of colors and sizes. It’s a pervasive concept— and image— throughout society. It conveys the presence of special, indescribable emotions— and it has for a long time. For so long, in fact, that nobody really knows how a muscular organ came to represent romance and love. It is widely assumed that this belief came from the fact that when a person is around someone they love, their heart rate increases.
Today, we know that the brain is the organ responsible for thought, and therefore romantic ponderings. However, the heart has plenty of other important jobs— namely, pumping blood through your body, hence keeping you alive. It’s also a crucial aspect of making the most out of a workout— after all, what is “cardio” short for?
If you’ve never considered the vital link between your heart rate and your fitness routine, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled some of the best advice we’ve picked up over the years and are proud to share it with our Jack City Fitness family.
Matters of the Heart (Rate)
To understand and utilize the relationship between your heartbeat and your workout, you need to become better acquainted with your cardiac organ itself. This can be accomplished by learning a bit more about your heart rates, and why they’re important. This also means finding your own unique resting, target, and maximum heartbeats.
When you put extra demand on your cardiovascular system, your heart responds by pumping blood as quickly as it can. By doing this, it’s working much harder than usual— and you’ll likely notice because your heartbeat will quicken. As a general rule of thumb, the more intense the workout, the higher your heart rate will become.
Understanding Your Resting Heart Rate
Your heart is beating all the time, not just during a workout. Right now, as you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting down. That means you’re likely at your resting heart rate at this very moment. (Though, the optimal time to check your heart for its resting rate is right when you wake up in the morning.)
Everybody’s resting heart rate is different. Some people’s hearts beat more times in a minute than others; those people have higher resting heart rates. Those with lower resting heart rates are generally in better cardiovascular health than those with higher ones— and unfortunately, having a higher rate can lead to things like a stroke or a heart attack. It’s a scary thought, but it’s something you can actively track and even control, to an extent.
Generally, the average resting heart rate is around 60-100 beats per minute, but doctors recommend to try to keep it on the lower end of that scale—ideally below 80.However, athletes and super fitness buffs can have a resting heart weight as low as 40 beats per minute.If you aren’t a serious athlete, and your heart rate comes out to below 40 beats per minute, it might be a sign of an underlying issue. The same goes for a heart that’s resting at over 100 beats per minute. If either of these is the case for you, it’s not a bad idea to check in with a doctor and make sure everything is running smoothly.
If you’ve calculated your resting heart rate, and it’s higher than the suggested amount, there’s no need to panic. You can bring your resting heart rate down significantly by engaging in a healthy workout routine with a fitness expert or coach.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s best to count your resting heart rate when you first get up, and ideally before you drink your morning cup of coffee or tea.
Getting to Know Your Maximum Heart Rate
On the other end of the scale, we have your maximum heart rate. As the name implies, this represents the absolute most beats that your heart can handle in a minute.
Your maximum heart rate, though crucial to your overall fitness knowledge and routine, is not something you’re supposed to be achieving all the time. Instead, it’s reserved for the most demanding of workouts— and even then, is impossible to keep up for more than a few minutes at a time. However, knowing your maximum heart rate will enable you to unlock your target heart rate, which is detailed below.
Your maximum heart rate, unlike your resting one, is not changeable. Working out more or less will not affect it. This also means that at a certain point, your heart rate can and will plateau— the maximum truly is your ultimate heart rate. However, your fitness levels do impact your maximum heart rate in other ways. In fact, the better cardiovascular shape you’re in, the longer you’ll be able to maintain a workout at your maximum heart rate.
To calculate your likely maximum heart rate, the formula is very simple. Simply subtract your age from 220, and you have it. According to this theory, the average maximum heart rate of a 25-year-old would be 195 beats per minute.
All About Your Target Heart Rate
As we outlined earlier, it’s possible to change your own resting heart rate by exercising and engaging in cardiovascularly healthy behavior. The reason for doing this is to achieve a target heart rate; essentially, a resting heart rate that is ideal and appropriate for your body.
Before we delve into the stats for finding your individual target heart rate, we just want to remind our readers that everybody is different. And thank goodness for that! Wouldn’t the world be boring if we were all the same? That’s not the case— but it does leave room for some errors when it comes to setting strict targets for entire demographics of people. Though the figures on charts and websites make sense for many people, they might miss the mark for some. After all, everybody has their own physical history. For example, many medications (pretty much any beta blockers) will lower both your maximum and your resting heart rates.For this reason, if you have any questions or concerns about your heart rate, you should always see a doctor. And while we’re on that note, we’d also like to remind you that your step counter and fitness counter may work wonderfully, but its word still isn’t gospel. A doctor is a real person who can comprehend your actual body and medical history.
With that said, let’s get down to the business of calculating your target heart rate. In most cases, your target heart rate should lay around 50%-70% of your maximum during a period of moderate physical activity. More intense activity should have the heart going at about 70%-85% of its maximum capacity.
Can Your Heart Rate Affect Your Weight and Burn Fat?
Yes! It most certainly can.
If your exercise goals include shedding pounds and burning fat, your heart rate can be a great tool for achieving your plans. As it turns out, during cardiovascular exercise, your body can enter a “fat burning zone.” During this time, your workout is more likely to target body fat, rather than build muscle. Generally, this happens when your heart rate is at 70% of your maximum heart rate.
Certain exercises are better than others for hitting this exact heart rate. Cycling, jogging, dancing, tennis, water aerobics, and power walking are all great ways to kick your body into the fat burning zone. Be sure to keep track of your heart rate to ensure that you’re not dipping below or over the 70% rate too often during these sessions.
If weight loss is your main fitness goal, you might also find it helpful to meet with a nutritionist. They will be able to help you chart out an appropriate diet to maintain your fat burning exercising.
Finding the Beat
Now that we’ve gone over the importance of keeping up to date with your heart rate, it’s time to make sure you actually know how to properly check your pulse. After all, this information is meaningless if you can’t find your heart rate.
Are you figuring your resting heart rate? Calculating whether you’re hitting your target? Tracking which exercises get you into the fat burning zone? If it’s the former, remember to calculate your resting heart rate when you are in a truly physical neutral state, with no caffeine in your system and ideally following some sleep. If it’s the latter two, it’s ideal to calculate your heart rate immediately following a rep or session.
You can find your pulse either on your wrist, or the side of your throat. For your wrist, place two fingers on the thumb-side of your wrist, right between the tendon and the bone. If you’re checking your pulse on your neck, put your middle and index fingers next to your windpipe.
Make sure you can feel your pulse. When you’re ready, set a timer for 15 seconds. Count the heartbeats that you feel during that time.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a complicated equation. Simply multiply your heartbeat count by four, and you’ve got your average heart rate.
Don’t Lose Track!
Though physically counting your pulse and heartbeat is an important skill to learn, the modern world has also gifted us with some pretty nifty ways of tracking our health. These days, everything from smartphones to wristwatches can count your steps, track your miles, and keep you in the loop about your heart activity. Though these devices aren’t always 100% accurate—if anything feels off, you should always go to a doctor—they are helpful tools for keeping up with your heart rates.
Apart from its fitness and long-term health purposes, being in touch with your heart rate is helpful for detecting more everyday ailments, like dehydration, an impending feverish bout of the flu, or mental stress.
Where Can I Get My Heart Pumping in Boise?
Your search is over—Jack City Fitness is your number one destination in Boise (and Idaho at large!) for all your fitness and nutrition needs. We have everything you need to get your heart rate into your target zone— and we have the staff to help you achieve this safely and at your ideal pace.
At Jack City, we don’t believe in the exclusive concept of memberships. Instead, we invite you to become a partner at our modern fitness center. This begins with a free fitness consultation, right here at our North Allumbaugh street gym. From there, you’ll have a clearer idea of all the options open to you at Jack City, as well as which programs our team thinks might benefit you the best. We are always working to ensure that our partners are getting the most out of our time together.
Indeed, a partnership with us allows you to immediately become a part of a family; here, you can work one-on-one with members of our staff, customize your experience around your own unique life, and meet new friends who share your passions and goals. We opened our fitness center with the goal of giving our locals the chance to reach their fitness goals on their own terms— whether that means making their own schedule at our 24-hour gym facilities, working out while traveling via our digital training sessions, or learning a new skill through one of our many movement classes. No matter how you choose to spend your time at Jack City Fitness, a partnership with us allows you to seamlessly merge your health and fitness with your daily routine. It can (and will!) even enhance it.
Let’s get your heart pounding! Call our team at Jack City Fitness today and find out how you can have the healthiest and happiest heart possible.
Yes, your fitness and physical health is a priority, but so are about eight million other things. The truth is, you work hard. Really hard. Sometimes, that makes finding the time for a proper workout a challenge on its own. And that’s too bad because your fitness regime is supposed to make you feel great— not stressed or unhappy.
However, no matter how busy you are, there really are ways to sneak a refreshing workout into your daily routine without causing stress or making anything more complicated than it already is. We’ve broken down some of our most helpful hints so you can always feel in tip-top shape, even when your life is moving at a breakneck pace:
Keep Your Regiment by Planning Ahead
When it comes to balancing your busy life, being organized is key. This is especially true if a part of that balancing act involves maintaining a healthy fitness routine. Here are a few ways to stay on task:
This can be done in a physical notebook or just on your computer or phone. Keep a schedule of what each of your days looks like and use as much detail as possible. (We sometimes color code it, too!) Find spaces where you think a workout could fit into your schedule without causing stress. Write that in…and stick with it.
Some of us manage to insert extra activity into their days by scheduling small bursts of activities at the same time every day. For instance, every morning at 10, perhaps you want to do a few of your favorite yoga poses. To ensure that you never forget, grab your phone and set yourself a repeating alarm for that time. It’ll hold you accountable.
An alarm is great, but having a friend to remind you that you swore you’d take a walk during your lunch break today is even better. Ask a friend to send you a daily text message reminding you of your pre-planned goals and activities.
These days, plenty of productivity apps exist for this very purpose: to make your life smoother. Streamline your schedule, and you’ll naturally open yourself up to more time for your health and fitness.
Never Stop Hydrating your Body
Any fitness buff knows how crucial hydration and the consumption of water is for the human body, both while resting and in motion. Some of its best fitness-boosting benefits?
Sometimes when we’re really busy, we tend to reach for unhealthy, prepackaged junk food or sugar-laden drinks to perk us up. And that makes sense— they’re quick and easy and tend to be pretty satisfying in the moment. However, they don’t tend to satiate any actual hunger or thirst—they only add unnecessary calories, which can derail your entire fitness journey!
Next time you find yourself reaching for a soda when you’re thirsty, think twice. You’re better off chugging some water. It will make you less parched, for starters— and it will also help keep you going.
The amount of water that you drink is directly connected to how much physical energy you have. In fact, dehydration can seriously affect one’s mood and cause negative feelings like anxiety, depression, and exhaustion.
Physical activity causes you to sweat and lose water. It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re working out, whether it’s a long Saturday bike ride or a short pre-commute jog.
Find Time in Unexpected Places
24 hours is a lot longer than you might think. Though your working and sleeping hours might eat up a large chunk of your day, there will still be moments where you can sneak some movement into your time.
If your job has you sitting at a desk all day, consider investing in a yoga ball or other movement-based chair alternative. Not only are they fun, but they also engage your core during working hours, keeping you fit while you work.
The truth is, an elevator or escalator may seem faster, but the long line of people pushing to use it actually negates that half the time. Add the fact that climbing the stairs is a great form of exercise, and you’ll see that choosing the stairs is always a great decision.
If you find yourself driving to errands that could be done without a car, time to try it on foot. Not only will it give you some fresh air and get your blood flowing, but it’s better for your wallet and the environment.
Don’t Let Yourself Become Sleep Deprived
Not-so-fun fact? Being tired doesn’t only zap your energy and make exercise less appealing and accessible, it also has another trait that can ruin your fitness progress: sleep deprivation raises your cortisol levels, which can lead you to overeat. This obviously doesn’t track well with a fitness plan, but it’s easily avoided. Maintaining a good sleep schedule is absolutely possible, even with a busy life:
Yes, sometimes it might mean leaving the party just when it’s getting good or recording the finale of that show you’re dying to watch instead of seeing it the night it airs (and avoiding social media like a plague). It’s worth it if you can maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
Before bedtime, turn off your stimuli. That means phones, tablets, computers, and televisions should be shut down. Instead of scrolling, take a hot shower and get into some comfortable clothes for sleep. Create a soothing routine for yourself.
Certain yoga moves are perfect for winding down after a long day. Find some stretches that help you relax and indulge in them after your hot shower before you get into bed.
Remember to Eat Healthily…And Frequently
This tip is somewhat similar to our hydration tip, in that eating small, healthy snacks throughout the day reduces your chances of chowing down on a bunch of junk. If you stave off on eating all day, only to be suddenly struck by hunger pangs and end up emptying a bag of chips on your way home from work, you’re not helping your fitness goals. Instead, try keeping some of these snacks with you in case of emergency:
Not only are nuts filling and loaded with good fats, but they’re also absolutely delicious and come in such a wide variety, you’ll be hard pressed to find one you don’t like.
Keep the doctor away with “nature’s candy.” There’s a reason we love apples so much; they really are packed with benefits for both physical and mental health. They’re also juicy, easy to eat on the go and keep you full.
Give yourself a dose of nutrients and flavor with a low-calorie bite— eggs only contain about 78 per serve, and they’ll keep you full for ages. We love them plain with a little salt or chopped up and mixed with smashed avocados.
Tasty and healthy, dried fruit is packed with fiber and nutrients that make your body strong. They are such a great alternative to sugary snacks— just be sure to check your labels to make sure your dried fruit doesn’t have any added nasties.
Don’t Forget: You’re Only Human
This one is so important. Be good to yourself. If your last meeting went over and you’ve now missed your chance for a post-work jog, that’s fine. If you were too tired this morning for your “daily” bike ride, and you had to drive to class? That’s fine too. Your fitness journey, like any other large undertaking in your life, is not linear. It can’t be— and if you begin to beat yourself up for missing a day of your workout, you may be looking out for your physical health, but you’re ignoring your mental wellbeing. That’s just as important!
Get Into the Habit
Do you have any habits? Chances are, they were learned at some point. Now, you can teach yourself new habits— ones that coincide with your fitness goals.
Let’s say you call your sister every Tuesday night for a chat. Usually, you take the call on the couch. Instead, pop your headphones in and call her while you walk down the block. A simple change like this may not feel like much, but it adds up.
Set your alarm a mere 10 minutes earlier than normal and treat yourself to a nice stretching session to begin your day. Soon enough, you won’t be able to imagine your morning without it.
Do you walk your dog every afternoon? Stroll up the street to get your kids from daycare? Head up the street from your office to grab a midday coffee? No matter what errands you do on foot, try to prolong them by taking the longer route. Maybe that means going an extra circle around the block with your pup, maybe it means taking the back roads when you do the pickup. Whatever it is, enjoy some extra time in the fresh air, and give your legs some additional stretching.
Find Activities you Actually Enjoy
Don’t like weightlifting? Don’t do it. Your fitness routine should be about what works for you, not anybody else. Luckily, there are hundreds of options out there for you to choose from. Many of these activities won’t even feel like “work,” since you enjoy them so much— for instance, swimming at the beach, dancing the night away at your favorite bar, or joining your friends in a beautiful hike all feel like leisure activities— but they will keep your body fit and healthy as well.
Find a Buddy
Isn’t everything better with a friend? If you team up with a buddy for your workout endeavors, you may find it much easier to achieve your goals. After all, you won’t want to tell your workout pal that you skipped the gym last night in order to stay home and stream an entire series.
Better yet, if your buddy is local, you can work out together! Whether that means going for bike rides and hikes together, or attending classes together as a pair, you’ll have a partner in your journey to enjoy your success with.
Take to the Internet
These days, you can do just about anything online— even work out. Some of our favorite ways?
Remember when YouTube was just cat videos and viral memes? Those days are far behind us. Today, you can learn anything on YouTube— including how to perform many exercises and stretches. Get searching!
If you’ve found yourself particularly drawn to a specific type of workout or sport, taking to the internet for more information is a great idea. You can learn about how to hone your craft a well as finding a community of other enthusiasts to chat with.
Yes, you can take a fitness course online! These innovative programs are ideal for the fitness enthusiast on the go…sound familiar?
At Jack City Fitness, we know that your busy
life is unique. That’s why our facilities were specially designed to accommodate
Boise’s busiest fitness fans. We offer our partners 24/7
access to our modern and capacious fitness center, so you can work
out on your own schedule— not anyone else’s. We also offer high-end fitness
and nutrition coaching, a large range of group
classes, and even custom training for sports teams. We’re here to
make all your fitness dreams a reality— no matter how busy you are, how many
responsibilities you hold, and how much you believe it might not be possible
for you. We promise— it is! Give us a call today for a free consultation visit
and see just how capable you are of changing your life for the better!
Your Guide to the Muscle and Mind Connection
What is it, and how can you get started?
Are the Rumors True?
Your favorite bodybuilder has been tweeting about it all week. Your fitness coach casually mentioned it in passing this morning. Your gym buddies have been talking about it constantly. The muscle and mind connection has certainly become a hot topic in the fitness and bodybuilding world. However, for many, it’s a new concept that needs to be learned and understood.
In a nutshell, the muscle and mind connection is pretty similar to what it sounds like. Essentially, it’s the concept of harnessing the potent strength of your own brain, and using it to enhance your physical abilities. More specifically, the MMC theory involves focusing specifically on a certain body part or muscle while undergoing training. According to enthusiasts of the technique, thinking about a specific part of the body while lifting or training can activate the targeted muscle, allowing it to be more receptive to the exercise.
It’s an appealing theory, and it does make sense. But is it actually true in practice? As it turns out, the answer could very well be a yes. According to research done by Brad Schoenfeld and Bret Contreras, a pair of Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists, there is quite a bit of validity to the supposed power of Mind and Muscle Connection.
When Schoenfeld and Contreras conducted their research, they found that, especially when lifting lighter loads, it was indeed possible to use your mind to “increase activation of the target muscle.”
The Power of a Focused Mind
Most fitness centers are bustling and busy places. That’s part of why so many people chose to join one instead of working out at home. It’s energizing, social, and inspiring to work out amongst your peers. However, it can be distracting— and focus is key for the Mind and Muscle Connection. From overhearing the strains of an enticing looking class, or the laughter of a few gym friends catching up after a session, to the lure of whatever soap opera is playing on the overhead television sets, there are plenty of ways to get distracted while training.
If you’re ready to try your hand (and muscles) on the MMC theory, it’s entirely possible to accomplish at a buzzing gym or fitness center. As we’ve learned more about the power of the Muscle and Mind Connection, we’ve come up with a few helpful hints for staying focused, even when it feels practically impossible:
There’s a reason that humans have been using mantras (like the famous “om”) for centuries to focus their minds, spirits, and bodies. Chanting “om” has a long spiritual history in the Hindu tradition, and is often used in yoga practice. However, it can be used in plenty of other situations, including weight training. In fact, it can be a powerful tool in harnessing the power of the Mind and Muscle connection.
When you chant “om,” you will begin to feel a physical vibration in your chest and throat. These vibrations are thought to produce a deep sense of focus. Really, it’s a very similar concept to that of MMC, but it’s been flipped and reversed.
The less thought you need to put into the logistics of your routine, the easier it will be to keep your mind focused on one particular muscle. After all, how can you expect to fully concentrate if you have a million concerns swirling around your brain?
A helpful way to ditch some of the background noise is to get into such a solid workout routine that you don’t even need to think twice about what comes next. You’ll just let your muscle memory do the work— it’s a symbiotic relationship, really.
Let’s try something, just while you’re sitting and reading this. Take a moment to breathe properly. Take in a big steady breath through your nose, as deeply as you can. Hold it for a moment, and then breathe out, slowly and deliberately, through your mouth. Repeat that process for a full minute.
Do you feel a bit steadier than you did before? Calmer? More focused?
When you truly focus on your breathing, you are giving your body a special gift. Concentrated breathing is a great way to soothe a scattered mind— it increases focus and calms the body; it can release tension and relax your muscles, hence making them more receptive to the powers of MMC.
Grab your favorite pair of sweat-proof headphones, because it’s time to let the power of sound enhance your workout. Whether you choose a specialized workout meditation track, utilize a focus-based binaural beat, or enjoy your favorite chilled out songs, you’ll be able to unplug from your surroundings and fall deeper into a sense of concentration.
Slow and Steady Wins in the Long Run
Your physical training routine is a personal journey, not a race. There is absolutely no reason to rush your fitness process, and that applies even more so when you are practicing the Muscle and Mind Connection theory.
As you develop your relationship with MMC, you will likely find that the more intentional and slow your actions are, the easier it is for you to connect your internal movements and thoughts with your physical ones.
This may not be what you’re used to. If you need help slowing down, it can be helpful to take advantage of the following tips:
Between sets, it’s helpful to actually flex the muscle that you’re working with. By doing this, you’re increasing blood flow to your muscles, allowing them to pump up to their fullest ability. Once they’ve been pumped up, they are thought to be more receptive to the focused, targeted MMC thinking you’re engaging in.
When you’re lifting, there’s no reason to tear through your reps. In fact, we would advise against that. Instead, take a break between each of your sets. Not only is it easier on your body, it gives your brain a much-deserved chance to reconfigure and take a break before buckling down to focus on your next set. Likely, you’ll find that taking a breather between your hard work encourages you to actually continue with the intense mental activity that you’ve been engaging in, instead of letting your concentration levels taper away.
This is a great tip for those training with lighter weights. As you work with your weights, try to take 4-5 seconds for each movement. Finally, when you hit your max contraction point, give your pose a pause. You’ll certainly feel it— and so will your growing muscles.
Rethink Your Loftier Goals…and Aim for Attainable Victories
For many lifters, fitness enthusiasts, and athletes, one of the most appealing elements of the Muscle and Mind Connection is its ability to hone in on specific targets and goals, and how it helps to reach them.
Look, we’re all for dreaming big and working towards hefty goals. However, it’s important to be realistic about the expectations you’re giving yourself. Having an ultimate goal is great, but it will be a smart idea to break your process down into smaller, more attainable targets.
When it comes to fitness, weight training, and bodybuilding, many people walk into the gym with a specific long term result in mind. Maybe your goal is to lose 50 pounds. Maybe it’s to easily lift 150. Perhaps you want a perfect six-pack or bulging pectoral muscles. That all depends on your personal needs— but the truth is, those specific goals are not actually what matters. It’s also going to be different for every person.
No matter what your goal may be, by breaking it down into manageable and accomplishable victories, you are more able to achieve them in a successful and healthy manner.
If you’ve never broken down a set of goals before, it might seem like an overwhelming process. However, it not only can be very clarifying and a helpful way to work on achieving your targets, but also it can be fun.
This logic can be applied to anything in your life, from finishing a massive project for school or work to learning a new skill, like an instrument or a language. No matter what the final goal may be, that’s for the finish line. Before you can hit that, you need to start brainstorming some “milestones” to hit.
What do you think you could realistically accomplish with one week’s work? One month? One year? Map it out and be honest with yourself—there’s no point of setting unrealistic milestones, as they won’t do anything to deliver you to your final target.
When it comes to fitness goals, this can be done in quite a few ways. Start thinking of small ways to work up to your big goal. So, if that means lifting twice as much as you currently can, try working up a few extra pounds every week— and keep track of them. If your goal is shedding a few extra pounds off your own figure, give yourself a weekly weigh-in, with a small goal to hit each time. It’s important not to beat yourself up if you don’t hit your weekly goals every time— that’s why you’ve broken it into smaller pieces. Try again next week. Don’t give up— that’s never going to bring you to the finish.
As the old adage says, “if you give a man fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat fish for the rest of his life.” There are plenty of ways to quickly build muscle or lose weight, but these techniques aren’t always very long lasting. It’s far wiser to hone a performance skill that can bring you to a long-term fitness goal, rather than just trying to find a quick fix.
Utilizing the Muscle and Mind Connection technique is a great way to put this concept into practice. By giving individual muscles special attention in each training session you undertake, you are honing your individual performance— not just trying to accomplish a “big picture” goal. In turn, you’ll be developing tools and strength that can and will bring you across the finish line to your final goal.
When it comes to your body, it’s best not to take any chances. If you have a question about the best way to strengthen your body, whether it’s through the Muscle and Mind Connection, or another fitness technique that speaks to you, it’s a good idea to speak with a professional. After all, they’re the experts.
In bustling Boise, there’s no better place to meet your fitness goals and hone your Muscle and Mind Connection than here at Jack City Fitness. By signing up for one of our exclusive partnerships, you are joining a special group of like-minded individuals who want to feel their best in a supportive and inspiring environment.
Jack City Fitness partners are invited to have full access to our sparkling, modern gym facility—24 hours a day! That’s right; with us, your workout can revolve around your busy life— not the other way around. But that’s certainly not all. We offer a large selection of group workout classes, one-on-one training sessions, nutritional counseling, and even online coursesfor when you’re on the go. Best of all, we offer a complimentary fitness consultationsession to every new partner. It helps us to determine your health and fitness goals, and help you achieve them in a way that works for you, your unique lifestyle and body.
Are you ready to let your mind and body work to their fullest potential? Allow us to help make your goals a fully attainable reality! Get in touch with our team at Jack City Fitness today, and we’ll ensure that your muscles and mind are in tip-top condition. We can’t wait to show you everything we have to offer!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary has quite a few definitions of the word core. After all, it has quite a few meanings, often relating to the middle of things. In the case of fitness, the core refers to the middle of the body. However, we think another dictionary description sums it up even better, as the “basic, essential, or enduring part” of something.
We prefer this description because it could not be any truer. The core of your body is indeed very essential to your physical health and strength. Working at it and keeping it healthy and powerful will be incredibly beneficial to you both during your workouts and also in your daily life.
What Is Your Core, Anyway?
Let’s start with the basics.
Your core is your set of abdominal and surrounding muscles, including your hips, back, and shoulders. For many, toning and strengthening their core is purely aesthetic— after all, a set of washboard abs is a very desirable feature to many of us. However, strengthening your core goes well beyond how you’ll look in a bathing suit this summer. After all, your abdominal muscles are the facilitators for a large bulk of the movements that you make every day. Also, it does store and protect your central nervous system, and quite a few of your organs. Because of this, core building and strengthening are important because they are great for your body, in terms of both your physical fitness routine and in your daily life.
Why is Core Strength So Important?
We believe that core strength is among the most crucial parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A few of our most pressing reasons?
Not only is poor posture not exactly the world’s most attractive look, but also it can be tough on your back and other parts of the body. If you’re a chronic “sloucher,” there’s still hope for you to improve your posture. As it turns out, a weak core might be to blame. By honing in on your core and working on strengthening it to the max, you’ll likely find that your shoulders and upper back are better primed for keeping upright.
You may assume that a weak core only causes pain after a tough workout that calls upon your abdomen. However, a weak core has also been found to contribute to physical pain outside of your exercise hours. Actually, overly built back muscles often go hand in hand with under-toned abdominal muscles. Furthermore, activities that aren’t great for your core have the same negative impact on your back. For example, sitting slouched over a desk every day without engaging your core muscles can lead to nasty complications, like compressed spinal discs.
As we mentioned above, your abdominal muscles encase quite a few of your most essential organs, veins, and arteries. These internal parts work incredibly hard all day— and it’s the job of your abdomen to protect them.
When you strengthen the muscles of your core, you are giving another layer of security to your internal organs and arteries. A strong core will be able to give your organs the support it needs to function, and help you move with ease. Alternately, when your organs are left with no help from your weak core, you might find yourself having unexplained pain later in life.
One of the best things about a strong core is the physical stability it provides. With a strong core, one can get the absolute most out of their workout routine; it can help you hold a yoga pose for longer, perfect your form for push-ups, or run with more speed and focus. Not only does this enhance your physical fitness results, it plays a large role in preventing you from getting injured.
When your body is in a stable, core-led position, it is easier to perform arduous tasks, whether that’s lifting a heavy sofa during a move, or participating in a triathlon. With either of these (very different) activities, it’s crucial for your movements to be on track. The wrong twist or turn in your body could most certainly ruin your day— or worse. Having the grounded stability of a strong core will prevent those types of injuries.
A stronger core will make once-difficult seeming tasks feel like a breeze. After all, your body will be primed to perform them and will have the necessary strength to follow through. Also, less risk of injury will inspire you to keep working away.
First thing’s first: everybody is built differently. A strong, powerful core will not look the same on every person, and one most certainly does not need toned abs to look amazing. However, many people who spend time strengthening their core do find that their midsection becomes trimmer, and more toned in the process. So, if you just so happen to like how you look with a stronger core, that’s great news. Bring on the trips to the beach— chances are, you’ll feel confident, powerful, and attractive. Plus, that once-difficult jog along the sand will feel like child’s play.
Are There Certain Workouts That Strengthen the Core?
Lots of folks associate core strengthening exercise with crunches and yoga balls, but it can reach far beyond that. Really, there are plenty of core-strengthening exercises that suit a wide variety of lifestyles. After all— we all work out in different ways.
Plenty of popular exercises help to condition and strengthen the core, like push-ups, or dumbbell drags. We have quite a few favorites. However, our top three would probably be:
This is a classic core-strengthening exercise, and for good reason— it works! It’s also fairly straightforward to newbies to the fitness (or core strength focused) world. To perform a plank, come down to the floor, and place your forearms and knees on your matt. Your shoulders should be directly over the elbows, and your hands should be extended. Once you’re in position, tuck your toes, and gently lift up your knees away from the matt. Be sure to hold your form and keep your core taut. For this workout, try to start out doing this for a minute at a time. Eventually, you’ll likely be able to hold it for longer.
The three-point touch is swiftly gaining popularity in fitness communities for its ability to strengthen the core without needing anything but a yoga mat.
To perform the three-point touch, get into a pushup position on your mat. Align your hands right beneath your shoulders, and keep your feet together.
Now come the “three points.” Twist your hips to bring your left leg underneath your body and over to the right side. Now, touch the floor with your heel. That’s a point. Bring the leg back to its original position, with your toes touching the matt. That’s your second point. Finally, bring it out to the side and touch the floor with your toe. That’s your third and final point. Repeat the entire process with your right leg. This exercise can start off with a minute and can be worked up into a longer routine.
The bridge pose finds its way into many forms of exercise, and we love what it does for the core. It’s also a great stretch! To safely perform the bridge, lay on your back atop your mat. Plant your feet on the mat (with your knees pointing skywards) and keep them apart— the length of your hip. Engage your abdominal muscles, press your back deeply into the floor, and place your arms on the ground, aside your body. Pull your shoulders back into the mat, like you did with your back. Starting with your pelvis, lift your body from the mat, one vertebrae at a time, and try to get your hips as high up as possible. Now, slowly return your body back to the mat, vertebrae by vertebrae. Repeat this exercise for at least a minute, and work your way up to longer reps over time.
Is it Possible to Build a Strong Core Through Nutrition?
To strengthen your core, you will need to engage in physical activity that promotes abdominal strength. However, you can supplement your hard work by following a healthy and nutritious diet in your daily life. It may not be the force that strengthens your core, but it will most certainly help your core work show up on your body. These foods help your body to bust the extra fat that tends to stick around the abdomen, allowing your torso to attain a more toned and trim appearance as your core workouts begin to take hold.
So, what are these special foods? We love:
Not only are eggs versatile, but they are also a dream for banishing dreaded belly fat and helping you reveal the abs that lay beneath. They have an ideal amino acid balance, and contain choline, a nutrient thought to raise metabolism levels and even shut down certain genes that are responsible for retention of fat in the stomach. Also, eggs make a super fortifying breakfast, and will keep you full for ages. We also love keeping them hard-boiled and peeled in the fridge, so they’re ready to snack on in a moment’s notice.
Is it just us, or are almonds the perfect food? They’re delicious raw or toasted, sweet or salty, blended into nut butters, soaked into vegan-friendly “milk,” or just enjoyed whole. They make a satisfying snack, and go with pretty much everything— seriously, try to imagine one ingredient that would taste bad with almonds!
When it comes to shaping your torso, almonds play a pretty noble role. They actually have the ability to block the calories that you consume. Furthermore, they’re loaded with magnesium, which actually helps to strengthen those muscles you’re working on. Try throwing some toasted almonds into your next salad, use them instead of pine nuts in pesto, or even throw them into a veggie stir fry for a delicate and tasty crunch.
The fiber in vegetables like kale, spinach or broccoli is a great tool for maintaining your figure and properly digesting food. They’re also chock full of calcium, which will do wonders for your muscles and energy levels during your training sessions. These days, one of our favorite uses for broccoli is to simply throw them on the barbecue, drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, and serve them with an (almond-based!) romesco sauce for dipping. Yum!
At Jack City Fitness, your core strength is important to us. That’s why we offer both nutritional counseling and personal fitness coaching sessions. We want to make sure that you are using your body in a way that enables you to perform at your very best— whether that means here at our gym, or whenever you need to carry out physical activity in your daily life.
When you sign up to become a partner with Jack City Fitness, we welcome you to the family by inviting you to our brand new facility for a free consultation. From there, we’ll be able to help you find the best workout routines for you— whether that means strengthening your core, gaining muscle, or training your cardiovascular system. It’s all available here— and our gym is open to you 24 hours a day, so you can work on your own schedule, not anybody else’s.
see us today— you won’t believe just how capable and strong you really are.
What’s the Deal with Foam Rolling?
It used to be reserved for true fitness experts and professionals. Now, engaging in self-myofascial release, otherwise known as foam rolling, has become as commonplace as the crunches or push-ups that have preceded it.
However, there are still misconceptions and pieces of misinformation floating around about this beneficial form of a post-workout massage. Luckily for you, our team at Jack City Fitness is here to set the record straight.
What Is Foam Rolling?
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, which is a technical term for a (self-administered) massage that’s designed to release tension or trigger points in the muscles. Aside from a foam roller, self-myofascial release, or SMR, can be performed with a ball (lacrosse balls are especially popular), specialized “canes,” your own set of hands, or even a wine bottle or rolling pin. These messages are often utilized after physical activity, but they needn’t be limited to that; SMR foam rolling makes for a great warm-up as well.
The idea is that, by applying a certain amount of pressure to targeted, tense muscle areas, you can massage them into a healthier state. Ideally, after a self-myofascial release session, your muscles should be functioning at their standard level— meaning they’re elastic and loose enough that they won’t get damaged if you chose to, say, take a long walk or bike ride after your workout session. It will also bring you physical relief if you’re feeling discomfort or pain as a result of tight muscles.
Some of our favorite reasons to use a foam roller are:It Can Cool You Down…
Foam rolling is especially popular (and beneficial) for use after a great training session. (Check out the best tips for maximizing muscle building here. A recent study has even shown that using this technique after a strenuous workout can actually alleviate discomfort associated with DOMS— aka Delayed Muscle Soreness. Not only does it feel better, it actually can enhance your future training days— by avoiding Delayed Muscle Soreness, you are more likely to have a successful performance in your next session.
Though the post-workout foam rolling session may be perhaps the most frequently discussed, it’s certainly not the only fish in the sea. For many, there is no better time to utilize their handy foam roller than before diving into physical activities, like a training session, a nice jog, or a rousing round of their favorite sport.
The reason that self-myofascial release works so well as a warmup is quite straightforward: it all comes down to blood flow. For instance, if today is leg day, your foam roll workout would ideally focus on calves, hamstrings, and quads. By focusing on these muscles and giving them lots of love with the foam roller, you’ll actually be encouraging more blood to flow to the area. It’ll make your workout smoother, and your muscles will be more receptive to the exercises you’re giving them.
We’ve all been there— whether it comes from diving into a routine without properly working out or attempting a trip to the gym after sitting on a long car ride or flight, sometimes tight muscles find their way into your workout. This can be uncomfortable at best, and downright painful or even dangerous at its worst. Foam rolling offers a swift and easy solution to that problem; your body will feel more flexible, have a larger range of movement, and you’re less likely to snap or tear your muscles during physical activity.
Finding your Trigger Points
When a knot forms in your muscle, that’s sometimes referred to as a trigger point. These guys can be pretty sensitive at best, and can be downright agonizing at their worst, especially when they form in large amounts— this is referred to as myofascial pain syndrome.
Trigger points are caused by a number of elements: your personal posture, an excessive amount of intense exercise, your diet, or even mental stress or anxiety can all contribute to tight muscles and trigger points. However, foam rolling massages can battle these painfully tight knots.
When you properly engage in SMR with a foam roller, you are actually releasing these trigger points. By doing this, you are enabling your body to attain a larger range of motion without pain during training. It also helps to realign your movement patterns, hence allowing you to perform at your very best.
One unique element of trigger points is that they can lead to a strange (but sometimes wonderful) phenomenon known as “referred pain.” By utilizing the powers if pain referral, your body can do some pretty spectacular things.
Wait…”Referred Pain?” Well, That Doesn’t Sound Very Nice…
You’re right. It sounds pretty negative, doesn’t it? Referred pain is actually a natural element of bringing your body more relief through foam rolling and other forms of self-myofascial release. Though it doesn’t always feel comfortable, it will save you from a lot of pain in your daily life, your workout sessions, and the future. Worth it, if you ask us.
Referred pain is a pretty fascinating phenomenon and is similar to the concept of acupuncture or acupressure. Essentially, when a trigger point is massaged or pressed, the topical site isn’t the only area on your body which feels pain. In referred pain scenarios, the soreness from the trigger will radiate to another spot.
A common example of this technique is the use of a foam roller on your iliotibial band. Though your trigger point will lay around your knee and thigh, applying pressure to this knot will radiate (or “refer”) pain out to your legs, hips, and even all the way down to your ankles. There’s no use in sugar coating it: this is not a painless or comfortable process. It can hurt quite a bit— but should never be excruciating. After the foam rolling session is over, the pain should dissipate.
How Can Foam Rolling Benefit Me and my Body?
Not only does foam rolling feel great, it’s also chocked full of benefits that will enhance your daily life and your fitness routine.
Curious about some of the best-regarded benefits of using a foam roller?
If you’ve ever suffered from uncomfortable knots in your neck, back, and other muscles, you’re probably aware of how much of a pain they can be. A good one-on-one massage session with your trusty foam roller can tackle and work through those tough knots and provide some much-needed relief.
As it turns out, participating in a self-myofascial release massage is thought to give your circulatory system a boost. That’s right— as you work the tissue in a particular area of your body, your blood will have an easier time flowing to that spot. Not only will this make your workout easier and more productive, but it’s incredibly good for you; a well-functioning circulatory system can promote heart health, as well as enhance your body’s arteries and muscles.
Yes, that’s right! Giving yourself a dose of self-myofascial release through a foam roll massage doesn’t only benefit your muscles and tissue. It also helps your body get rid of nasty toxins. Over time, your connective tissues tend to accrue a bit of unwanted metabolic waste, like lactic acid. This is completely normal— but still not something anybody wants or needs! Many health professionals believe that by directly focusing on a certain toxin-laden muscle or tissue area, one can break down and release the waste build-up.
The many benefits of foam rolling all come together to create an easier, more straightforward training session for you. Once it’s become a part of your routine, you will likely see a major difference in your daily life, especially when it comes to movement. This can apply to your fitness routine (the gym, your morning jog, your sports team, or a weekend hike,) or even to daily movements that you don’t even think about— running for the bus, playing with your kids, or even climbing up your steep driveway after you park your car on the curb.
As we’ve discussed, engaging in self-myofascial release before a workout is extraordinarily beneficial; it helps your circulation and loosens your muscles! However, the magic really comes when you combine those benefits. By always giving yourself a good foam roller massage after working out, you’ll be enhancing your next training session. After all, as we mentioned earlier, self-myofascial release is known to alleviate Delayed Muscle Soreness. In turn, your body will be better equipped for physical activity in the future. You’ll be able to move easier, with less fear of sustaining an injury.
When is the Best Time to Engage in Foam Rolling, and Why?
As we outlined earlier, foam roller based self-myofascial release can be performed at any time and is especially beneficial before and after a training session.
Though we certainly see the merit in foam rolling at any time, we believe the best time is after a strenuous workout. Its incredible ability to reduce Delayed Muscle Soreness cannot be emphasized enough— it’s a complete game changer! We also love that it’s entirely self-administered, so if any particular muscle feels especially tight or uncomfortable after a training session, working that nasty knot away is entirely in control of the individual.
Are there any Helpful Tips on How to Properly Use a Foam Roller?
Of course! Like any physical activity, foam rolling has a few techniques that make it more effective.
What are the tensest or tight spots on your body? Typically, they tend to be your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and areas along your back, such as the thoracic spine. These areas need the most love— so be sure to give them the proper attention they need during your foam roll massage.
Your muscles aren’t going to relax if you aren’t. Allow yourself to focus on taking big, slow breaths and keeping your mind and body as calm as possible.
A thirty-second rubdown with your foam roller isn’t going to accomplish very much. Take at least five minutes to engage in self-myofascial release. To make the most of it, we recommend a full ten minutes.
When you begin your process, be sure to take it easy on your body. To start, each muscle or area should ideally be pressed for around 20 seconds. It’s enough time to work that knot out, but not so long that it will harm a particularly sensitive spot. Eventually, each muscle group can be massaged for around two minutes, as long as they aren’t too tender or sensitive. On that note, if a specific muscle group or trigger point feels tender, don’t push it. Working on it for longer than necessary could cause bruising or even damaging your nerve— ouch!
Now that you’ve learned the secrets of enhancing your workout with the powers of self-myofascial release, let’s put it into action. At Jack City Fitness, we are thrilled to give our fitness partners the best Boise has to offer in fitness, nutrition, and self-confidence. When you sign up for a partnership with Jack City, we will invite you to our state of the art fitness facility for a complimentary consultation with our team— and even a go on our famous InBody machine. From there, you’ll be able to enjoy 24-hour gym access, a large variety of group classes (including our Flexibility and Mobility class where you can put these recommendations to use), personal fitness and nutrition coaching sessions, and even customized online training, for the days that you can’t make it to our site.
Come visit us
today! We can’t wait to show you everything we have
11 Foods That Naturally Give You Energy
We know how busy your life can be. Balancing a career, a family, and a healthy lifestyle can be exhausting. For many, a lack of sleep and an overwhelming amount of responsibilities can lead to burnout—and that’s something we’d like to avoid!
When sleepiness strikes, it’s tempting to reach for a sugary soda or coffee concoction to spike your energy levels. While these treats may help you feel a temporary alertness, they’re also prone to causing an unpleasant crash later. However, there are other edible (or drinkable) options available to both satiate your hunger and keep your energy levels sky high.
Though there are dozens of options out there, we’ve compiled 11 of our top picks. All of these energizing foods are nutritious, delicious, and give you the boost you need—naturally.
Is it just us, or are bananas nature’s most perfect fruit? Not only are they super healthy, they’re also incredibly versatile: bananas are a perfect natural sweetener and thickener, and can even be used as an egg substitute in baking.
Due to their high levels of vitamin B6, potassium, and carbohydrates, bananas are a perfect choice for giving yourself a healthy dose of natural energy.
Looking for some ways to incorporate bananas into your daily diet? We love blending them into smoothies—they provide a silky, creamy texture and gentle sweetness that can’t be matched. Bananas are also excellent frozen—they make a fantastic healthy alternative to popsicles or ice cream. Finally, we love a whole banana spread with almond or peanut butter—yum!
Rice wears many, many hats. Depending on your preference, you can consume this beloved product in a variety of ways: steamed whole, crushed into flours and cooked into noodles, cracked and stewed into a porridge, or soaked in water and enjoyed as a beverage. Many cultures around the world rely on rice as a staple ingredient and revolve their meals around the tasty grain.
Aside from taste and versatility, rice contains another noteworthy asset: it’s an energizing superstar. In particular, brown rice is especially helpful for boosting the power of your mind and body; it’s packed with vitamins and minerals that help banish that dreaded feeling of exhaustion. In fact, one cup of cooked brown rice contains a hefty 3.5 grams of fiber—and that’s not all. It’s loaded with the mineral manganese (it contains around an impressive 88% per serving), which aids your enzymes in the process of breaking down carbs and proteins, thus producing energy. Furthermore, brown rice has a significantly low glycemic index count, which allows your body to maintain regular blood sugar levels, hence keeping your energy consistent all day.
When it comes to cooking and serving brown rice, the possibilities are practically endless. For hot summer days, we like to use the chewy, flavorful grains to make a cold rice salad. Chopped raw vegetables (like cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes,) chilled brown rice, some nuts, and a mountain of fresh herbs go beautifully together with a big squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil. It’s delicious, refreshing, and will keep you going all day.
So, it’s not exactly a food, per se, but we couldn’t write this list and forget to include it. After all, this hydrating life force is, among other things, the key to feeling alert, energized, and ready to take on responsibilities.
Have you ever been dehydrated? The symptoms and side effects can be pretty nasty—and go well beyond the feeling of thirst. It can make your lips, eyes, and mouthfeeluncomfortably dry, cause lightheadedness or dizzy spells, or even wipe your energy levels.
By drinking plenty of water, you’re far less likely to fall victim to the exhaustion that comes with dehydration. This especially applies when you’ve been sweating—either from a great workout session, or a sunny day on the beach.
For some, only drinking water can begin to feel a little boring. We recommend infusing jugs of h20 with your favorite fruits—simply slice and dice your produce of choice, and leave it soaking overnight in your fridge. In the morning, you can strain it right into your water bottle. Whether you choose split strawberries, citrus wedges, torn mint leaves, or even cucumber slices, you’ll be left with a fragrant and tasty drink—naturally!
Quinoa may have only gained popularity in the US over the past decade or so, but it’s a staple crop in Peru, where it’s been cultivated for thousands of years.It’s beloved for its toothsome and nutty flavor, as well as its chewy-soft texture, and can be served at any temperature.
In terms of energy, quinoa packs a serious punch. After all, this tasty seed is loaded with protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. It’s high in carbohydrates, which is notorious for causing sluggishness, but since it has a low glycemic index, the starches are absorbed at a slower pace—hence keeping energy levels consistent.
Some of our favorite uses for quinoa? It’s commonly used in grain-based salad—try it in your next tabouli! Sometimes, we swap it out for pasta and bathe it in our favorite pestos and marinaras. It can also be purchased and consumed as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour— and it makes delightfully crispy cookies.
When Goldilocks tucked into the three bears’ bowls of porridge, she was actually doing herself quite a solid. After all, oats are a fantastic source of energy—likely, the bites she took gave her the boost she needed to get the heck out of dodge when the bears returned home.
What Goldie probably didn’t know was that oats contain all sorts of energizing vitamins and minerals, like iron, manganese, and vitamin B6. These components help one’s body to produce energy. But that’s not where the only reason a bowl of oats can be so fortifying. The product also contains beta-glucan, a type of fiber that enables your blood to absorb glucose at a slower rate.
If a steaming bowl of porridge isn’t your ideal meal, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy this special grain. It can be mixed with your favorite dried fruits and nuts and enjoyed with yogurt as a granola, baked into your favorite healthy cookie recipe, or soaked overnight in milk (and your favorite toppings) to make bircher muesli.
Hummus is a Jack (City) of all trades if you ask us. It can be eaten on practically any occasion—as a midday office pick me up, garnished with silky tahini sauce and olive oil as a starter, or slathered atop grilled meals or baked falafels, piled into a pocket of fluffy pita, and nestled amongst chopped salads. It’s creamy, full of flavor, and goes with a grand array of dishes. Is there anything else to say?
As it turns out, yes. The traditional components of hummus—garbanzo beans, tahini paste, lemon juice, and olive oil—are all especially energizing foods! Chickpeas, the star ingredient of hummus, is comprised of fiber and energizing complex carbs, while tahini and olive oil are packed with healthy fats, and assist your body in absorbing carbs at a slower rate. (This is handy for avoiding spikes in your blood sugar levels—never pleasant.)
There’s a reason so many people choose orange juice as their breakfast beverage of choice. Not only does the orange contain a spectacularly sunshiney flavor (and color,) it’s well known for being a rich source of vitamin C—eating just one will satisfy your Daily Required Intake by over 100%.
It’s vitamin C content may get all the fame and glory, but oranges contain quite a few healthy, boosting elements. They’re packed with antioxidants, which research has shown can potentially tackle the exhaustion that comes from oxidative stress.
If fruit juice isn’t your first choice, oranges can be enjoyed in plenty of ways. They’re beautiful in salad dressings, make for a fun marinade for barbecues, can be churned into fabulous sorbets, and of course, can be enjoyed whole.
Delicious, nutritious beans are a spectacular source of plant-based protein and are used in countless ways across the globe. Without beans or legumes, we would have no tofu, no peanut butter, and no soy sauce—just to name a few.
Despite the many differences in flavor, appearance, and cultivation climate, all beans tend to be on the same page, nutritionally. Generally, they are protein, carb, and fiber-rich, and are a strong source of antioxidants, which are both energizing and anti-inflammatory.
When you consume beans, your body digests them slowly. Because of this, your blood sugar doesn’t spike or drop— they remain stable for hours, thus giving you a steadier, more consistent level of energy.
With recipes for beans spanning the globe, it’s fun to find uses for beans that speak directly to you. Plenty of soups, stews, salads, and casseroles use beans as their main ingredient, and they’re also delicious on their own.
Even if you’ve never had a sip of green tea before, it’s likely you’re aware of its many health benefits. After all, green tea is extolled as being one of the healthiest food or drink items out there—a simple browse through a supplement or health food store will find dozens of products that boast it as their top ingredient.
When it comes to finding natural sources of energy, green tea is your new best friend. After all, it contains actual caffeine—though only about half as much as coffee, which makes it a gentler option.In fact, the L-theanine found in green tea actually can temper the negative effects that are often associated with caffeine—y’know, jitters, anxiety, and the other reasons one might find themselves reading about foods that naturally give you energy!
Green tea can be consumed hot or iced, and it’s especially nice with some local honey. Nowadays, many coffee shops and cafes hawk tasty— and Instagram-worthy— “matcha lattes,” which rely on specially-grown green tea leaves which have been ground and dried.
No offense to regular old spuds, but we’re totally team sweet potato. After all, sweet potatoes don’t just taste amazing— they’re another all-natural energizing superstar.
For starters, they are absolutely loaded with vitamin A—one single (mid-sized) sweet potato contains more than four times the Required Daily Intake for the stuff. Aside from the staggeringly high vitamin count, sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, complex carbs, and manganese.They can be digested at a slow pace—which, as we’ve learned, allows your energy levels to stay stable throughout the day. Furthermore, the high levels of manganese present make for a more straightforward nutrient breakdown.
Sweet potatoes are so tasty and brilliantly hued, it’s tempting to use them in any recipe that calls for plain white spuds. They puree beautifully into soups, and can even make a fun dip or spread. They also add a deep flavor and rich, moist texture to cakes and muffins.
Leafy greens are famous for being healthy, and we can’t refute that. They are healthy. They’re also great for keeping you alert, aware, and ready to tackle your day.
Because of the high levels of vitamins(A, K, C, and E,) potassium, calcium, and magnesium, leafy greens like spinach and kale are hailed as being some of the best foods a person can eat. They’re antioxidant-rich, fibrous, and filled with folic acid. All of these aspects make for a healthy plate and lots of energy. However, there’s one particular element that gives roughage an extra energizing kick: iron. Though it doesn’t contain as much iron as the creators of Popeye might have thought, dark leafy greens still are packed with the stuff. As it is, fatigue is perhaps the most recognizable symptom of an iron deficiency. By consuming iron-rich foods, you are adding your red blood cells in their delivery of oxygen in your body. In short: it’s going to perk you up. 
Whether you enjoy them slow cooked alongside barbecue, cooked into a tasty curry, blended into green juice, or tossed in a hearty salad, these leaves will be an asset to your day.
At Jack City Fitness, health and nutrition are a part of daily life. We love working with our partners on choosing natural and delicious foods to enhance their energy and feel their very best, whether they’re at the gym or just going about their daily errands. We offer nutritional and fitness coaching, group classes,and more. Get in touch today to see why we’re the #1 fitness center in Boise!
Plenty of us have post-workout habits. From cooling down with a protein-packed smoothie to taking a refreshing shower, an after gym routine is an easy and healthy one to get into.
However, what about your routine before you hit the gym?
If your answer here is only, “put my activewear on, fill my water bottle, and grab my headphones,” we have some news for you. There’s a possibility for your workout to be easier, more comfortable, and all around BETTER for you. It’s all in the way you prepare for your time at the gym! In fact, engaging in a solid pre-workout routine isn’t only the healthier and safer choice, it can enhance your abilities to perform better, and with more vitality.
There are plenty of smart choices that you can make before hitting the gym, playing your favorite sport, or embarking on a hike or bike ride. Some of the best known rules for a pre-workout routine include:
Many coaches and fitness buffs insist that a proper set of Z’s is crucial to any rep of squats. It will ensure that you have the correct amount of energy needed to perform all of your favorite exercises, whether you choose to run on a treadmill or bench press 100 pound weights.
Many people roll out of bed, throw on their gym clothes, and jump right into their workout without warming up. This might save you some time, but it can be a pretty dangerous practice.
We like to use the “candy bar” example to explain this one. Let’s say you stick a chocolate bar in the freezer. If you were to pull it out and bend it, the bar would snap right in half. However, if you took it out and let it “warm up” on the counter for a few hours, it would easily bend without breaking.
Your muscles and tendons actually work in a pretty similar way— when they’ve been warmed up, they are far more flexible.
Do you work out on an empty stomach? If your answer is yes, it’s time to change your tune. Even if your workout is at an unsavory early hour, we would still recommend you have something in your stomach before training. (Though we are obviously not suggesting that you force yourself to eat if you don’t have an appetite. That’s also not healthy to do!)
A successful workout requires a nourishing pre-gym meal. The optimal time to eat before working out is roughly 60-90 minutes before your physical activities begin. This is perhaps the most important—and frequently overlooked—rule of all. What you eat before you train makes a massive difference to how your workout goes.
So, What Should We Be Eating Before a Workout?
You have plenty of wholesome and nourishing choices of things to chow down on before hitting the gym. Some of your best bets include:
Seriously—how perfect are bananas? Not only are they delicious, they’re versatile, healthy, and the perfect quick bite before a workout.
See, bananas are loaded up with potassium, natural carbohydrates, and vitamins— all elements that will help keep you energized and active during your workout session. They are also quite easy to eat when your appetite hasn’t kicked into full gear, so they’re a handy thing to have for early morning workout sessions.
If chowing down on a whole banana isn’t really your thing, they are a great smoothie ingredient! We also love them sliced atop a bowl of healthy, oaty muesli and Greek yogurt. And speaking of which…
Yogurt is sort of the undersung hero of the health food world. Though it may not photograph as well as the poke bowls and kale smoothies of social media, it’s far better suited for a pre-workout snack than either of those Insta-famous dishes. (And you can read below for some reasons why…) Indeed, this cultured dairy product is a workout superstar—especially tubs of strained Greek yogurt.
Yogurt is packed with muscle-protecting proteins that keep your body moving during a strenuous exercise sesh. It’s also easy to eat on the go, and can be blended with your favorite fruits to create a powerful, creamy, and tasty pre-workout smoothie.
Ever heard the term “carb loading?” It’s a technique used by many athletes to optimize the way their body stores carbs, therefore enhancing their performance in a natural way. This technique is generally done in a 6 day, 3 day, or single day cycle.
However, not all carbohydrates are created equally. If you’re planning to load up on carbs preceding a major physical endeavor, like a big game or marathon, it’s important to make wholesome and effective decisions about what you choose to eat. Things like crackers or french fries, for instance, may contain lots of carbs, but they’re also high in fat and sodium. Instead, go for healthy whole grain products— like your favorite wholemeal bread. For an extra protein-laden kick, try spreading whole grain toast with natural peanut or almond butter…yum!
Both Irish style, steel-cut oats, and flat, rolled oats are good choices to chew on before your next workout. Their healthy amounts of fiber and vitamin B allow your body to release carbohydrates slowly. This can lend itself to a more productive workout, where you don’t feel tired or crashy.
You can consume oats in a few ways! Stovetop oatmeal is a delicious treat for any cold morning, and tastes even nicer with some pieces of your favorite fruit stirred through. If you’re looking for a nourishing, oaty meal without the cooking time, try making a pot of bircher muesli. Simply soak oats in a combination of almond milk and yogurt overnight, along some non-acidic fruit, if you’d like. When you pull it from the refrigerator in the morning, those oats will be plump and ready to eat. Once you get the hang of it, you can customize it to fit any flavor palette you like!
We’d like to stress the word “homemade” here. Many pre-packaged trail mix blends are loaded up with sugar, salt, and even artificial ingredients, making them an unhealthy choice for any time, especially heading to the gym, where you’re bound to experience an unpleasant crash.
However, making your own trail mix is simple, and a surefire way to have a healthy and easy snack to eat on the go. Nuts, a classic trail mix ingredient, are comprised of good fats, and are an excellent source of protein. We prefer them raw (not roasted!) and unsalted for both their flavor and the health factors.
Unsure of how to make your own trail mix? Pick your favorite nut and we’ll help you with some ideal dried fruits and other treats to mix them with.
Are There any Foods to Avoid Before Working Out? Why?
Yes, of course there are.
Just as there are foods that are ideal for a great workout, there are definitely items you should be skipping. However, many of these foods are otherwise part of a healthy diet, so it can be a bit confusing. Don’t worry— we’re here to clear things up for you.
This one might come as a surprise to plenty of us, as fresh, leafy greens are often thought to represent healthy eating and nutrition. And of course, they are healthy and nourishing things to eat— just maaaaybe not right before you work out.
Yes, delicious kale might be a superfood, but during your workout, it’s likely to cause some serious discomfort. That’s because these cruciferous leaves are loaded with fiber, which may be great for your diet, but not so good for your poor digestive system, which tends to go on hold mid-workout. The result is often a nightmarish bout of bloating and gas— not ideal for a gym session! We recommend leaving the kale smoothie or spinach salad for later on. Your body will thank you.
Beloved across culinary and nutrition circles for its high fiber content, nutty, savory flavor, and versatile texture, cauliflower is a dinnertime superstar. However, when it comes to pre-workout food, it’s best to be avoided. As with kale and leafy greens, cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable with an ultra high fiber count. When combined with strenuous physical activity, it can cause major discomfort in the forms of gas and bloating.
Don’t want to ditch your cauliflower-laden favorites every time you feel like working out? It’s possible, as long as you manage your timing correctly. After consuming cauliflower, let your body digest for 3-4 hours before heading to the gym.
This might require some label reading on your part, but it could be worth it. Many protein powders and energy bars tend to include unfermented soy.
Though fermented soy products (like miso) don’t have this problem, consumption of unfermented soy products can sometimes cause gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, and even slowed digestion of proteins.
If you’re working out to lose weight, it makes sense that you’re often turning to spicy foods. After all, they raise your metabolism and help you burn more calories daily. However, as much as we love hot and spicy foods for both their flavor and their benefits, there is a time and a place for them.
That time, as it turns out, is not before hitting the gym. It can cause fiery heartburn and indigestion, which can range from being uncomfortable to downright painful or even debilitating. Best to avoid it until you’re back home, relaxing after a successful gym session.
I’ve Figured out my Exercise Routine…Now, Where Should I Work Out?
You’ve come to the right place!
Jack City Fitness is Boise-based fitness facility with everything you need to get into shape and feel great. When you become one of our “partners,” you will be welcomed into a family of athletes, Nutrition Specialists, and coaches who all have one goal in common— results. Whether you want private personal training, small group coaching sessions, exercise classes, or free gym access, it’s all available to you with a Jack City Fitness partnership. We even offer online courses, so you can take your workout with you wherever you go.
Get in touch with our team today, and learn how you can become a Jack City Fitness partner!
Let’s think back to this past December. Whether you rang in the New Year by popping champagne bottles at the club or cooking an elegant meal for an intimate dinner party, the same, universal New Years’ topic was likely discussed—resolutions.
Everyone’s resolutions are entirely different, as they depend on you and your personal goals. For some, 2019 was going to be a year of learning something new, like a foreign language, musical instrument, or useful skill. For others, a new year is an opportunity to drop a “bad habit,” like nail biting, smoking, or swearing. Meanwhile, others spend their New Years Eves making nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle changes to make the coming year the healthiest yet. Did you make any resolutions? If yes, what were they?
Now, let’s fast forward back to today. The sun is shining, the flowers are in full bloom, and those winter nights of late 2018 feel like another lifetime. However, it’s 2019—how are those resolutions going?
If your honest answer is “not so well,” you’re certainly not alone. Resolutions may sound simple to accomplish amidst the giddy excitement of a midnight countdown and rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne, but in application they take a lot of work. After all, we don’t live in a perfect world—things happen, and executing New Year’s resolutions don’t always take priority.
Even if you’ve made it halfway through the year without working on your resolutions, there’s no reason to leave them behind. It’s not too late to get back on track and stick to those promises you made to yourself back in December.
Take Small Steps Daily
Any goal can feel overwhelming if you’re looking at it as a whole. By breaking your resolution down into small, manageable steps, you’ll find it much easier to tackle.
What did you resolve to do this year?
To Learn a New Skill
Did you go into 2019 with grand dreams of mastering a skill? Whether you were hoping to speak French like a Parisian, drive a manual car, or do a perfect set of push-ups, it’s entirely possible to achieve in small steps daily—even if you haven’t done much about it yet. That’s fine—you can get started today!
For any new skill, the key to success is in repetition. This is something that can be—and should be—accomplished in manageable, small steps daily.
A few tips?
We’re nearing the end of an incredible decade. Over the past ten years, we’ve seen technology advance in leaps and bounds. These incredible advances are helpful in countless ways—seriously, can you even remember what it what like trying to navigate a city before having GPS on your phone?
For language learning, there are plenty of applications that allow users to practice small amounts of words and phrases on a daily basis, like Duolingo. For those looking to hone their fitness skills, there are high-quality programs that can be done online.
Let’s say your resolution was to be able to do a perfect rep of 50 push-ups. On day one of your resolution work, you might be tempted to test your endurance and try all 30 in one go. You might succeed, but that could actually hinder your progress.
Why’s that? If you start your work towards your perfect push-up set at full-blast, you might find yourself skipping a crucial step—honing your first push-up. This goes for any skill, but it’s especially important for fitness goals. Quality is so much more important than quantity here. Once you are confident about performing a push-up safely and correctly, then you can work towards doing large and impressive sets.
Routine is so important. Once you get into the habit of practicing anything on a daily basis, whether it’s driving a car, working out, or playing the guitar, it will become a part of your routine, like brushing your teeth or making coffee. After a while, you won’t even need to think about it, you’ll just do it—and you’ll improve every single time.
To Get Into Better Shape and be Healthier
When you made your resolution, switching to a healthier and more active lifestyle seemed easy. Maybe you even wanted to hit a certain fitness or weight goal by summertime. You were going to start a new, healthy nutrition plan, find a good gym (and coach), and start crafting your dream body. However, it was a long winter. Now, you haven’t been staying on track at all— and you’re nowhere near your goal. Don’t you worry—it’s easy to get back into the right pace, but it helps with these handy tips:
If you’re planning to start a new fitness regime, it’s okay to take it slow when you begin. Sure, plenty of people are able to dedicate hours to their workout—but they have likely been training for quite some time. It’s perfectly reasonable to start out by doing shorter periods of exercise on a daily basis. Soon enough, you’ll find longer stretches of workout time will come to you much more naturally.
If a stressful or busy event causes you to accidentally miss your daily workout, that’s okay. Many people take this as a “sign” that their new fitness routine is too difficult to maintain, or they use it as an excuse to also let their healthy eating habits fall to the wayside.
Alternately, eating something that you’ve been avoiding for health reasons, whether that’s sugar or processed food, is not a reason to throw your entire nutrition plan down the toilet. It’s not going to ruin all your progress if you slip up every now and again—but it will if you let that stop your routine.
Explore Instagram and other social media platforms for fitness and nutrition experts that inspire you. They often post about their daily routines and hacks that help them stay on track, even in little ways. It’s a great way to personalize your own routine—just pick and mix all your favorite tips!
Remind Yourself Why You Decided to Make this Resolution
Maybe you wanted to get in shape to walk down the aisle at your own wedding this summer. Perhaps you were hoping to learn guitar so you can finally put those lyrics you’ve been writing to music. Chances are, your goals for the year come from a deeper reason.
Whether your New Year’s resolution was to stop swearing (around your toddler, who is newly repeating and saying everything), find a job that you love (after quitting your previous, slightly soul-sucking one for moral reasons), or finally kicking your smoking habit (per the gentle request of a concerned partner), you chose to go for it because its results were important to you.
To help yourself stay inspired and motivated, it can help to make yourself a physical reminder of your goals. A few ways to do this?
If your resolution was to eat healthier and find a better fitness routine, what results did you have in mind? Many of us are hoping to look their best in their summer wardrobes and bathing suits. Some people like to visualize these goals by making physical “vision boards.” These could include photographs or some bathing suits and summer outfits you’d like to wear, and beaches you’d like to visit.
Why did you choose your goal? Instead of just thinking about the reasons, physically list out all of the things that you’ll be able to do once you complete your goal. Instead of just reading it, however, use it as a checklist. Every time you do one of these things for the first time (like have an entire conversation in French, drive on a highway by yourself, or run a mile without feeling stopping), you can check it off and feel proud of yourself.
Chances are, somebody has embarked on a similar path to you and had common goals. Do a bit of research about some articles, books, interviews, or quotes from these people—you might find yourself especially inspired to continue on.
Find an Accountability Buddy
If there’s somebody else who knows about your intentions, you’re more likely to follow through with them. This is doubly true if you actually ask them to hold you accountable—and it’s even better if they are working on similar goals, so you can do the same for them.
A few ideas?
If your accountability buddy lives in the same city as you, it helps to work on your goals in tandem. For instance, if both you and your pal are hoping to treat your bodies better and enhance your fitness and self-confidence, it makes sense to hit the gym together. Some fitness centers even offer special team coaching sessions.
Have a no-nonsense friend who always tells it like it is? They’re the perfect person to go to if you want to help kick a habit. Have them take fifty cents from you every time you swear, bite your nails, or perform another habit you’re trying to kick. Just don’t avoid them in order to indulge the habit!
You don’t need to live in the same place as your friend to hold each other accountable. A daily text message asking for and sharing progress can be an incredible motivator.
If you perform well under pressure, this tip is especially well-suited for you. Setting deadlines for your goals might feel a bit demanding, but it pays off when it increases your motivation instead of letting your efforts drop off. This can work in quite a few ways:
Have an upcoming wedding, festival, party, or other social event? Use that to your advantage— it can help you accomplish your goals. That can mean fitting into a dress or tux in your goal size, having finished a project that you can then tell others about at the event, or being able to say that you went through the entire festival without a cigarette.
Many resolutions are lifelong goals. It’s a nice idea to “check in” with yourself as the seasons change.
You’ve worked hard, and you definitely deserve some self-care that reflects everything you’ve done to achieve your goals and resolutions. So, if you’ve spent months working out to sculpt your dream body, bring yourself on vacation to show it off. If you finally quit ciggies, get a nice new haircut and outfit to celebrate that they won’t smell like smoke. If you finished your novel, throw yourself a party! You deserve to reflect on your hard work and feel rewarded for it.
Just Show Up
It might seem almost too simple, but the easiest step of accomplishing any goal is simply showing up. Come to the gym, even when it’s raining. Do your language homework, or go to rehearsal, or keep on studying. Show up, don’t give up, and eventually, your goals will feel closer and closer.
Your goals have never been more within reach at Jack City Fitness. With both in-house and online courses, our partnerships offer a healthier lifestyle for anybody—not just Boise locals. Our passionate coaches run an impressive array of services, from personal training to nutrition skills to group classes. It’s our goal to help you maintain your goals and completely nail your resolutions—no matter what time of year it may be. We’re open 24 hours, and we’re always here for you—winter, spring, summer, or fall. Get in touch with us today about partnering up with our unique fitness center—we can’t wait to help you find the best routine to meet your goals!
Getting old is inevitable, but getting old and frail doesn’t have to be. When you think of extremely elderly people, you often think of the stereotype of a person with a cane or walker moving slowly, taking tiny steps in fear that they’ll break a bone. While osteoporosis is extremely prevalent and something to worry about as you age, you can strengthen your bones with exercise and healthy eating. Here in Boise, ID, many people find that adding strength training to their weekly workout schedule doesn’t add time, but it has extra benefits, such as strengthening bones and shedding weight.
The older you get, the more your muscle tissue atrophies. That’s called sarcopenia. As you grow from childhood to somewhere in the 30s, you build muscle tissue. Once you hit a certain point in the thirties that process reverses and you start losing muscle tissue, unless you do something to stop that, like strength building exercise. When you have more muscle tissue, they tug on the bones, causing the body to send calcium to build the bones. As your muscle tissue dwindles, you start losing bone mass, since there’s less tugging on the bones. It doesn’t stimulate the body to build the bones, so normal bone loss increases, rather than increasing or remaining at normal rates.
Not all exercises are equal for improving bone density. The amount of muscle exertion employed, the rate of muscle strain and the frequency of the strain is important. Strength building exercises like weightlifting puts a lot of muscle force on the bones, high impact exercises like plyometrics provides a high rate of muscle strain and running creates a repetitive movement for a long time, increasing frequency. One study showed that jumping 20 times a day with 30 seconds between jumps increased hip bone density after 16 weeks. Don’t forget balance exercises to help prevent falls.
You need lots of green leafy vegetables to help you increase bone mass and a good source of protein. Protein helps increase calcium uptake, while the leafy vegetables provide calcium and other nutrients, including vitamin C that boosts the growth of bone growing cells. Don’t forget to either get adequate exposure to the sun or eat foods high in vitamin D. Studies show that people low in vitamin D are more prone to bone loss. Vitamin K found in liver, eggs, meat and fermented foods like sauerkraut, also helps boost the creation of bone cells.
A healthy heart can help you live a longer, fuller life. Getting older doesn’t have to mean your heart won’t function properly. You keep your heart strong and even boost your heart’s strength when you exercise regularly. It’s never too late to start working out, either. Even people who have had a heart attack benefit from regular exercise. Of course, you need to follow your doctor’s orders and begin slowly, especially if you are out of shape. In most cases, no matter what your health condition, most physicians are pleased when patients want to start exercising, but definitely find out first from the doctor.
Not only does the heart get stronger when you workout, it gets more efficient. Exercise also boosts circulation to the heart and helps improve the dilation of the arteries that provide blood to the heart. It lowers blood pressure the longer you do it, since it causes other blood vessels in the body to dilate. High blood pressure can cause heart disease. The longer you exercise the better you heart muscle can get oxygen from the blood and the more controlled the sympathetic nervous system is
There’s no doubt about it, what you eat makes a huge difference in your heart health. Most people initially think of cutting out salt when they first learn they have to make dietary changes. They’re right for thinking so. Salt contains sodium and high levels of sodium in your body increase your risk for heart disease, as well as other problems, like stroke. Cutting out processed foods and boosting your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is a start on heart healthy eating.
Certain types of fat are actually heart-healthy. For instance, not only does butter from grass-fed cows contain higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K-2 than butter from grain fed counterparts. It contains the fatty acid CLA—conjugated linoleic acid—which can help you lose weight and is, just like the Omega-3 and K2, extremely heart healthy. K-2 rids the arteries of calcium, lowering the risk of osteoporosis, too. Butter also contains saturated fat. Don’t freak out. It’s all actually heart healthy. In fact, newer studies show that eating butter from grass-fed cows can actually boost heart health.