Tag Archives: how to

4 Moves to Release Tension in the Neck & Shoulders Using a Tennis Ball

If we feel tight or tense anywhere, it’s often in our neck, shoulders and upper back. Yoga leaders Amy Younkman and Cary Fyfe share 4 fantastic and easy ways you can use simple tennis balls to release that tension from the comfort of your own home or even while traveling.

 

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Staying Fit in the Summer Heat: Training Tips & Building Your Heat Tolerance

Tips for Staying Fit in the Summer Heat

by Alli Phillips

by Alli Phillips

With the hot summer months quickly approaching, let’s talk about how we can best beat the heat and continue to enjoy outdoor exercise during those sometimes brutal summer months with a smile on our faces!

Your body acclimates to heat in a number of ways, and by cautiously training in the heat to improve the efficiency of your body’s “cooling system,” you will not only be able to better tolerate high temps and humidity (like we have here in Austin), but you’ll also be able to continue to participate in and enjoy your favorite outdoor activities and exercise classes — and may even be motivated to try some new ones!

Here are some important facts about training in the heat and a few tips for building heat tolerance:

Acclimating to Heat

  • The Body Mechanics: The body acclimates to heat with changes in circulation, increased blood flow to the skin for cooling, increased sweat production, and decreased sweat electrolyte concentration.  As you adapt and acclimate to heat, the body begins sweating earlier in exercise, produces a greater volume of sweat, and produces more dilute sweat (losing fewer electrolytes).
  • How to Safely Acclimate: Gradually increasing the duration of exercise in hot conditions allows the body to safely acclimate. With repeated, but cautious and gradual increases in daily exposure, acclimation occurs within 10-14 days, depending on your initial level of heat tolerance.

Tips for Better Cooling Your Body

  • It is the evaporation of sweat (not sweating itself) that cools the body, so wear wicking fabrics that allow sweat to evaporate and light colors that reflect the sun (dark colors absorb sunlight, and thus, heat).
  • Avoid exercising in the direct sun, but rather seek out green shadey spots and trails (versus heat-absorbing pavement), preferably near water where air movement and breezes aid in the evaporative cooling of sweat.

Hydration 101

Because as you adapt and acclimate to heat the body begins sweating earlier in exercise, produces a greater volume of sweat, and produces more dilute sweat (losing fewer electrolytes), PRE-hydration, hydration DURING, and RE-hydration are crucial!

Therefore, increase your overall water/fluid intake during the 24 hours prior to a bout of exercise in the heat. More specifically:

  • 1-2 hours beforehand, drink 15-20 oz of water
  • 15 minutes beforehand, drink another 8-10 oz
  • During, drink 6-8 oz every 15 minutes
  • Afterward, continue to rehydrate, drinking 15-20 oz within an hour or two

Keep In Mind!

Be aware that although your body can and will acclimate to hot temps, you will not be able to exercise at the same intensity as you do in a “thermo-neutral” environment.

  • With the changes in circulation to aid in cooling, more blood is sent to the skin for evaporation, less blood is available to the working muscles, and therefore the intensity of exercise must be reduced.
  • When you’re running or cycling in the heat, use a “rating of perceived effort” or “feel” to gauge the intensity of exercise, instead of your watch, as your pace/speed will be slower than at the same effort level in moderate/mild conditions. (Runners and cyclists should let go of any pace/time-based goals for the summer months.)

Even after acclimating, exercise in extreme temps always requires extreme caution. The following are symptoms of heat related illness and heat stroke. If you experience any of these, take immediate steps to cool down and seek medical attention.
Symptoms of Heat Stress/Illness:

  • Headache
  • Cold, moist skin
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Fast shallow breathing
  • Nausea
  • High body temp (103+)

Adjust Your Route

Finally, when running and/or cycling this summer, plan new routes that start, finish, and/or include stops at pools, splash pads, and natural “watering holes,” to cool off, rehydrate, refuel, and ENJOY AUSTIN!

Here, I’ve put together a few cool spots to cool off here in central Austin:

  • Barton Springs Pool/Spillway
  • Deep Eddy Pool
  • West Enfield Pool
  • Big Stacy Pool
  • Ramsey Pool
  • NorthWest Park Pool
  • Clarksville West Austin Wading Pool
  • Little Stacy Wading Pool
  • Butler Park Splash Pad
  • Pease Park Splash Pad
  • Bailey Park Splash Pad
  • Clarksville Splash Pad

Visit austintexas.gov/pools for pool/splash-pad locations, hours, and more info.

Last, but not Least…

One more suggestion for staying cool this summer while enjoying fitness and fun…don’t just exercise near water — take the plunge and try these activities IN the water:

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The Secret is Exercise QUALITY Over Quantity

by Molly McCauley

by Molly McCauley

As I’m reading through my Jillian Michaels Making the Cut workout book, I came across a really great couple of paragraphs that I’d like to share with you all. It makes complete sense, and it is something we iGnite leaders try to emphasize throughout our classes. Of course we want to have fun, visit with friends, and make new friends (that’s what iGnite is all about!), but we also want to make sure we have proper form and technique with every exercise we do so that we don’t get injured and so that we see the results we are wanting and hoping to see!

Here’s the info from the book: (Don’t worry, I’m only going to give a little bit!)

So what constitutes proper form and technique? Precision, concentration, control and breathing.

Concentration: Concentrate on what you are doing and the specific muscle you are training. Your mind should be focused on the task at hand, isolating the muscle group you are working and really feeling the work you’re doing. To achieve maximum results, you must focus on the muscle you are training and make every rep count.

Control: You must perform your exercises through a full range of motion in a deliberate, steady manner.  This will ensure that you are stimulating the entire muscle, not just a portion of it.

Breathe: Not only is breathing essential for keeping your blood pressure steady, but it also promotes slow, controlled movements, which will max out your results. Additionally, by holding your breath during even a single repetition of an exercise, you are depriving your body of valuable oxygen and encouraging muscle fatigue.

There’s much more to be learned, of course, but let’s focus on these three components!  Keep up the hard work and keep iGniting!  

Yoga Poses to Relieve Tension in the Neck, Shoulders & Spine

Because many of us store  tension in our necks, shoulders and backs, it is crucial to know what we can do to help relieve that tension and physical stress in a safe and healthy way. Whether you spend your days sitting at a desk, running kids around, driving in the car, or however — take the time to do these moves a couple times a week and watch the tension begin to fade!

Poses demonstrated by iGnite yoga instructor Amy Younkman

Join us for an iGnite yoga class on the lake Fridays at 6:00am and 8:30am! View our class schedule here

1. Cat/Cow Pose

Cat/Cow Pose

  • BENEFITS: This pose is beneficial for warming up the spine and stretching the torso and neck while focusing on deeply inhaling and exhaling. It is a great first exercise to begin to tune into the breath, bring suppleness to the spine and create awareness of where you are holding tension. Focus on the breath, each time trying to go a little deeper.
  • TRY IT! Step 1: Start on all fours in table top position, lining up wrists and knees and keeping your spine and head in a neutral position. Step 2: On the inhale, draw your chest and tailbone up to the sky, allowing your belly to sink down and your eyes to look straight ahead. Step 3: On the exhale, reverse the tilt of your pelvis by curling your tailbone down and rounding your spine toward the sky as you release your head towards the floor. Repeat several times.

2. Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

  • BENEFITS: Great for stretching the chest, neck and spine while calming the mind and stimulating the abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid. Bridge is a great release for the low back while energizing the legs and stretching the iliopsoas and thighs.
  • TRY IT! Step 1: While lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet hip distance apart, about 8 – 10″ from your sit bones. Step 2: Press your feet and arms actively into the floor and lift your hips, keeping your knees directly over your heels. Step 3: Draw your sternum towards your chin and try clasping your hands and reaching your fingers and tailbone towards your heels, creating length in the neck and broadening across the front of the chest.

3. Reclined Abdominal Twist

Reclined Abdominal Twist

  • BENEFITS: Stretches the lower back and tones the abdominals while stretching and strengthening the abductors and obliques. Twists aid digestion, improve breathing and ease back and neck tension.
  • TRY IT! Step 1: Bend both knees into chest, tuck the chin in slightly and gently push the lower back and sacrum toward the floor. Step 2: Extend your arms out to the side in touchdown position, palms facing up. Step 3: On an inhalation, pin your inner thighs and knees together. Step 4: On an exhalation, lower both knees to the right, twisting through the abdomen as you turn your head and look to the left. Try to keep your shoulder blades looped down your back pressing towards the ground. Step 5: On the inhalation, return the knees and head to center. Step 6: On the next exhalation, lower your legs to the left as you turn your head to the right. Inhale and return the knees and head to center. Repeat 2 – 3 times.

4. Forward Fold with Arms Washing Overhead

Forward Fold

  • BENEFITS: Calms the brain, helps relieve stress in the neck and shoulders, stimulates the liver and kidneys, releases the low back and stretches the hamstrings, calves and hips.
  • TRY IT! Step 1: Clasp your hands behind your back, draw your shoulder blades down your back, broaden across the chest, and reach her knuckles down towards the ground as you straighten your arms. (You can also clasp a belt or towel behind your back if your shoulders are tight.) Step 2: On an inhalation, lift your clasped hands up behind you and begin to fold forward, bending from the hip joints, not from the waist. Step 3: Release your head towards the ground and melt your chest towards your thighs. Keep a gentle bend to your knees if your hamstrings are tight. Step 4: Let your extended arms wash overhead. With each inhale, try to expand and lengthen; with each exhale, try to relax and soften deeper into the pose. Stay here for 8 – 10 breaths.

Gardening 101: What to Plant in April

Garden

In honor of the approaching Earth Day (Monday, April 22 if you’re curious), we’d like to touch on the beauty of growing your own veggies, fruits and herbs. If you’re at all like me, the idea has always sounded appealing, but I have yet to actually jump in and take a stab at it. I think mainly because I just plain haven’t made the effort to learn anything about it!  So, now — a chance to get informed. Not sure what to plant?  The county and the all-knowing internet has made finding this out pretty easy for us, providing calendars of ‘what to plant when’ online.

So what’s on the list for planting in April in Travis County?

Between April 1 & April 15, plant:

  • Lima Beans
  • Snap Beans
  • Beets
  • Cantaloupe
  • Chard
  • Sweet Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Black-eye Peas
  • Pepper Plants
  • Pumpkin
  • Radishes
  • New Zealand Spinach
  • Summer Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomato Plants
  • Watermelon

Between April 15 & April 30, plant:

  • Lima Beans
  • Snap Beans
  • Beets
  • Chard
  • Okra
  • Black-eye Peas
  • Pepper Plants
  • New Zealand Spinach
  • Summer Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes

For a full list and endless additional resources for gardening in Travis County, visit http://www.co.travis.tx.us/agext/garden/veggies/planting/aprjun.asp

Not in Travis County? Check out your county’s .gov website for resources specific to your region.

Go ahead, give it a go — and let us know how it turns out for you.  Happy planting, and happy early Earth Day!

 

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WORKPLACE WORKOUT: Tricep Dips at your Desk

Tricep Dips at your Desk

Performing a tricep dip is a simple and effective way to strengthen and tone the triceps, and simple to do at work to get your blood flowing and sneak in some exercise while you are at your desk.

Unlike our quadriceps, hamstrings and deltoids, the tricep muscle is small and not directly involved in most everyday activities; therefore, they lose their tone and tightness more quickly than other muscles do. While regular exercise, drinking at least 64 oz. of water each day and eating a high-protein / low-carb / good fat diet contributes to losing excess fat throughout all parts of the body (including the triceps), performing a dip can certainly help tone and tighten the tricep area.

How-To:

  1. Place palms, fingers facing forward, on the edge of a bench or chair
  2. Sit up tall with straight arms, eyes forward, shoulders down and back, chest  out, elbows squeezed in tightly and glutes off of the chair (glutes ≤3 inches  from the edge at all times)
  3. Slowly bend arms (no more than 90 degrees)
  4. Slowly press up to straight arm position and repeat *For a more advanced dip, position your legs straight or keep one leg lifted and straight while the other leg remains bent

Important Pointers:

  • Avoid tricep dips if you have a shoulder injury
  • Never dip beyond a 90 degree angle. This places negative strain on  the shoulder, increasing risk of injury.
  • Be cautious if dipping on rolling or swivel chairs. An ideal dip setting is  on a secure and non-mobile bench or chair. If dipping on rolling chair,  place chair on carpet and in secure location, preventing chair movement  while dipping

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Take a Dip! Swimming 101 with Sha

iGnite Swimming Instructor Sha Klatt

iGnite Swimming Instructor Sha Klatt

Swimming is a fantastic mode of exercise, so why do so few of us choose it as our method of staying active? Here to demystify swimming for fitness is Sha Klatt, iGnite leader and swimming instructor. “Swimming does it all,” Sha says. “It gives you a full-body workout, increases your aerobic capacity and strength and builds long, lean muscles. With zero impact on your joints, it is perfect for all fitness levels.”

What do you need to get started? Sha gives the low-down on swim gear.

  1. An athletic swimsuit. “They tend to run small, so don’t be surprised if you’re wearing a bigger size than usual. It should feel snug, but comfortable.” 
  2. Goggles. “I personally love the Tyr Nest Pro, and petit women may prefer a junior size. Another great pair specifically made for a woman’s face is View, which are very popular among the iGnite swimmers.”
  3. Cap. “A silicon cap will keep the water out better and off of your hair, but stretchy knit caps are also comfortable.”
  4. Pool. “I love the outdoor & heated facilities at the J where iGnite swimming classes are held. I also encourage everyone to get out and experience the beauty of the individual pools around the city!”   In Austin? Find a pool near you. 

Don’t have any gear? Sha brings extra caps and goggles to all iGnite swimming classes. Lane Four Swim Shop in Austin also has a store-full of swimming equipment year-round.

You’re in the water, now what? As a starting point, Sha recommends trying this basic workout:

  • 10 minute warm-up: swim a variety of strokes slowly with long, stretched out strokes
  • 15 minutes on a kick board
  • 15 minutes with arms only
  • 15 minutes swimming faster, stronger and harder to build endurance and lung power
  • 10 minute warm down of slow, long streched-out strokes and nice, easy kicks

Meet Sha at the pool every Tuesday & Thursday!

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