March 11th, 2014

Fitness Websites We LOVE!

Need some new reading material?  Motivation?  A new fitness regimen?  Check out these fitness websites we just can’t get enough of!

Tone It Uptoneitup.com

If you’re a self-proclaimed Bravo junkie like I am, you’ve watched every episode of the new reality series Toned Up…more than once.  I’ll admit I was skeptical at first.  The show features two quintessential good-looking, hard-bodied trainers, Karena and Katrina (I had to get over the alliteration and rhyming, too), who are a bit ditzy.  But after about week three, both they and the show grew on me.  That’s why I was pretty excited to learn they have a website devoted to fitness and nutrition.

Filled with good recipes and workouts, the duo also offers a free program that will help you on your get fit journey.  It’s also good if you need a laugh.   A bit over the top, Karena and Katrina never miss an opportunity to have fun.

Shut Up + Runshutupandrun.net

Snarky posts?  Check.  Brutal honesty?  Check.  Bathroom humor?  Oh yeah.  This blog appeals to my inner New Yorker and causes me to, legitimately, LOL.  Although focused primarily on running, this is a blog that truly adheres to the definition “a website containing a writer’s own experiences, observations, opinions, etc.”  Case in point: her 6 Confessions for the Week posts.  Visit this blog for running tips, nutrition tips, or if you just want to see how your dirty little secrets match up to someone else’s.

Daily Cup of Yogadailycupofyoga.com

I’ve been wishing and willing myself to be a “yogi” for a while now.  There’s just something about them.  They’re earthy, graceful, and seem to be able to get through anything by just breathing.  Yes.  I’d like to be that.  Thus far, my journey, which finds me practicing yoga about two to three times per week, has made me run a bit faster, be a little more flexible, and relaxed me…for a good 17 minutes after each class.  Needless to say I have quite a bit farther to go on my quest for inner peace.  But after navigating this blog, I feel a little closer to success.

Daily Cup of Yoga provides readers with posts about everything from yoga culture to how to achieve happiness.  After all, yoga is not just about being able to touch the crown of your head with your toes.  It’s a mindset, and this website does a great job focusing on that aspect of the practice.  Another plus:  there are many guest posts, so readers get various perspectives and viewpoints.

Girls Gone Stronggirlsgonestrong.com

Girls Gone Strong is dedicated to those ladies who are not afraid to “lift heavy.”  But if you aren’t the female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger, or don’t even like to lift, you can still benefit from this blog.  If you’re new or relatively new to pumping iron, the instructional videos on this site will make going to the gym much less confusing and intimidating.  For those of you who aren’t so quick to lift heavy, there are tons of other posts for you to enjoy – recipes for everything from meals to shakes, reviews of detox diets and supplements, and tons of motivation.

February 18th, 2014

Yogotta Try Yoga

by KC Whitsett

We all know that exercise is great for your body, but yoga is a unique form of exercise that affects your body and mind in many ways that a simple cardio or strength session doesn’t. This ancient form of exercise is popular for its ability to squash stress, while at the same time energize you both physically and mentally.

Your brain

Yoga practice is deeply tied to incorporating breath with each movement. Inhale reach towards the sky, exhale swan dive, inhale to plank, exhale to chattarunga, inhale cobra, exhale downward dog. This deep breathing activates your prefrontal cortex – the brain’s center for higher thought. Perfect for William & Mary students!

This type of breathing will also allow you to forget everything else that’s going on around you and intensely focus your attention to the present. This tight focus helps quiet your amygdala – your noggin’s emotional center, so that you can recognize and control your emotions. Especially negative ones like fear or anger.

Meanwhile, as with other forms of exercise, GABA or other happy brain chemicals will give you a “runner’s high” feeling to cheer up any gloomy moods.

Hormones

At William & Mary, it’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced stress and the side effects that come with it. After a yoga practice, the adrenal glands reduce the production of cortisol, a common stress hormone. One common association with cortisol is cravings for fatty junk foods, however after a session of yoga, it may be easier to resist these snack temptations.

Immune system

Along with Tuesday snow days in the winter here at the college, also comes the flu and cold season. As well as getting a healthy dose of vitamin C, sleep, and washing your hands, yoga can help you to better fight infections. The vagus nerve, a neural highway in the body that carries messages to all your internal organs, could alert your immune system to release immunity-enhancing cells after a yoga practice. Now if someone sneezes on you in class, no fear! …Although you should still wash your hands ;)

Balance and strength

The number one excuse I hear for people not coming to yoga is “I’m not flexible,” or “I have no coordination or balance.” But you have to start somewhere! Tiger Woods didn’t come out of the womb a star golf player, and same goes for new yoginis… you’ve got to practice (and here at the W&M Rec Center, yoga classes are beginner friendly). Sticking to it will help improve your balance – an essential to staying injury free. And twisting and bending into yoga poses stretch out your muscles, tendons, and connective tissues – another key to injury prevention!

Yoga is offered everyday at the Campus Rec Center – find a class time that works for you and give it a try!

Work Cited: Beil, Laura. “Your Body On… Yoga.” Women’s Health Jan./Feb. 2014: 74. Print.

February 10th, 2014

Don’t Make the Gym Your New Year’s Resolution

by Lauren Keefer

Not exactly the welcoming fitness support you’d expect for the new year, huh? Especially coming from a gym employee, nonetheless. However, as a Patron Service Assistant (or PSA, as we front-desk inhabitants tend to call ourselves) and a frequent gym-attendee, I find myself in a unique position to watch the ebb and flow of attendance all year round. Along with number counts, the atmosphere of the environment continuously changes depending on the season. In the slow summertime, we encounter more endorphin-guzzling runners sprinting in to put the cherry on top of their workout, whereas during finals week the stress thrown from the students’ minds is as palpable as the sweat tossed from their bodies, and the fervent churn of the elliptical halts only when the semester does. At last we encounter the New Year, with it bringing two popular trends I tend to disagree with. First (and most important) of all, the New Year prompts reflection on the past year, which inevitably leads to some unsatisfactory conclusions. You dislike your previous eating habits, regret the missed runs, vow to study more, and look with disdain on pretty much everything you did or didn’t do.

Thus we flock to the gym, and here begins disagreement number two. On college campuses, the gym is usually the most sought-after reprieve from busy schedules, essays and basic stresses of classes. Yet in the dreary months of January and February, I constantly see dissatisfaction and negativity infiltrate the safe haven of the Rec Center, and I’ve come to realize the harmful, unconscious effects of resolutions are to blame. While the numbers through the turnstiles increase, doubts triple as confidence dies. I’ve seen you sneaking glances at your neighbors, comparing your effort, form, and sweat level to theirs. This constant assessment of your workout leads to insecurity and even more misgivings, while the pressure of just trying to find an open machine adds to everyone’s troubles. Thus, the energy of the gym transforms from positive empowerment to measuring-up to the others, then the inevitable shame you feel when your imagination tells you that you don’t.

Now I’m not saying to forget resolutions. By all means, resolve to be healthy if you like. And if that means coming to the gym, come on in! Stop by, say hi – Even if you don’t, chances are I’ll say it to you anyway, headphones or not. I’m saying the New Year shouldn’t be another voice in society that says you’re doing something wrong. Don’t make the gym your resolution because you think you should. That’s when the healthy energy of the Rec changes into unnecessary stress, and no one benefits. In your new effort to better yourself, why surround yourself with more insecurity? Come to the gym, but make sure you’re making the icy trek for yourself, not for what the media, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, anyone else wants you to be. We need to celebrate ourselves and our achievements, and change because we want to – not because we have to.

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