Muscle Isolation vs. Functional Fitness


TRX Functional TrainingA lot of people workout with certain body parts on their minds – they want to target the triceps, focus on the inner thighs or work their biceps to exhaustion. Isolating muscles definitely has its purpose and place, but in today’s world, it’s all about functional fitness! Haven’t heard of the latest fitness buzzword? Let us explain.

What’s the big deal? The goal of functional fitness is to train movements, not just muscles. Sometimes called movement-based exercise, functional exercises work multiple muscle groups at a time in order to build a body capable of doing real-life activities. Why? Our bodies are meant to function both inside and outside of the gym. When you lift a suitcase into an overhead compartment, a lone bicep is not doing all the work. Muscles always team up to carry the load, and functional fitness will help your body do this better!

Bosu Functional FitnessHow am I benefitting? When you work multiple parts of your body simultaneously, you not only improve your overall strength but you burn more calories, more fat, and increase your flexibility. And since many movement-based exercises test your balance – think squats on a BOSU ball – you’ll gain greater coordination and stability.

Bodyweight SquatWhere do I start? If you’re new to functional fitness, focus on these key words when you work out: push, pull, squat, hinge, and lunge. Any exercise that involves one of these five motions is guaranteed to work more than one muscle at a time. For example, your quads will be challenged on a leg extension machine, but your quads plus your hamstrings, calves and glutes will be worked with a squat!

Functional Fitness AccessoriesAt HealthStyles Exercise Equipment we love the concept of moving all our muscles at once, and our showrooms reflect that shift in strength training over the past several years. Rather than the traditional home gym that works one muscle at a time on a single plane, our strength systems now include cable gyms and multi-purpose training systems for the home like the Life Fitness G7 Gym or the Torque Arsenal. We have wall mounted racks that can be installed in your garage and used with a suspension trainer such as the TRX Suspension Trainer or SPRI Gravity Trainer Pro. Dumbbells, kettlebells, Bosus, stability balls, gravity assist bands and dozens of other accessories can be used to enhance functional training which will help you train smarter and better prepare your body for everyday life.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit

The Basics of Bodyweight Exercises


Basics of Bodyweight ExercisesWith the growing popularity of boot camp-style classes and back-to-basics workouts, bodyweight exercises are becoming increasingly common in and outside of the gym. And for good reason! Bodyweight exercises involve simple yet efficient movements that burn fat, build muscle, boost cardiovascular fitness and improve stability – with no equipment required. None! They can be done in your living room, the corner of your office or even outside. Here are a few easy ways to add bodyweight exercises into your routine.

Commit to Compound Movements. Many bodyweight exercises consist of compound movements that engage numerous joints and muscles in just one move. To fire-up your entire body and get the most out of your workout, try push-ups, lunges, squats, dips and planks.

Use Unilateral Exercises. Once you’ve gotten your form down on two legs or arms, perform an exercise on one leg or arm and you’ll improve balance and increase intensity. Switch it up with single-legged squats, one-arm pushups or single-legged jumps for a real challenge!

Do Double-Duty. If you’re not ready to go completely equipment free yet, bodyweight exercises are a great way to add a burst of cardio in between strength training moves. Instead of standing around after a set of bicep curls, maximize your time and increase your heart rate with one minute of squat jumps, burpees or jumping jacks. You’ll build strength and work up a major sweat! You can also alternate body weight exercises with short cardio bursts (2-5 minutes) on a treadmill, elliptical, or rowing machine.

TRX Lunge

Improvise. Just because equipment is minimal doesn’t mean bodyweight exercises are predictable. Add some variety and rotate between slow and fast reps. Do long jumps the distance of a rug. Try an incline push-up on a park bench or tricep dips on a chair. Try holding a plank for an entire song. Mix it up daily and get creative!

Now, are you ready to work that body weight?

TRX Bosu PushupHealthStyles Exercise Equipment has equipment to give you the workout variety your body needs. From TRX and other suspension training devices to weighted balls to kettlebells to battling ropes, HealthStyles has it all so stop by and take a look at our great selection of fitness accessories as well as strength and cardio equipment.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit

Keep Your Workouts BALANCED



I love Fall! I love the weather, the colors and I even love getting back into a routine after summer has thrown my schedule out of whack! Resuming a regular workout schedule is a part of getting back into a routine, and as we do that, it is important to make sure that our workout includes all aspects of fitness. That includes stretching, cardiovascular fitness, strength, and balance.

Balance is an area we don’t focus on enough in the fitness realm, and yet it is an extremely important factor for athletes and people of all ages. Balance helps athletes lift more weight, have more productive workouts, reduce the chance for injury, and participate in any sport with more power and agility.

Because our balance begins to erode in our 50’s, focusing on balance as a part of our regular workout routine as we age can increase our confidence in our physical abilities, reduce falls that can lead to broken bones, and help us live independently and continue to perform the regular activities of daily living to a ripe old age!

HealthStyles Exercise Equipment provides a variety of accessories that can help you improve and maintain balance as a part of your normal workout routine. Bosu Balls, Stability Balls, and Balance Boards can all enhance your balance.

Click here for a video from ACE Fitness showing a simple progression of balance training exercises:

Ace Balance Training Exercises

Modern Movement M-board 1.1In addition, HealthStyles is pleased to feature a new product, just out on the market, that is sure to challenge and improve the proprioceptive feedback that will help improve your balance.

The M-Board by Modern Movement allows the user to train using multiple planes of motion (3D) that more closely replicates the way our bodies move in balance sports, and in everyday living. For those not quite ready for the 3D movement of the M-Board, a balance stand can help you progress more quickly from a 2D back and forth motion to a 3D motion.

Click here to Shop for the new M-Board and Balance Stand.

Click here for M-Board demonstration and workout videos:

M-Board Exercise Demonstration Videos

To learn more about the importance of balance for people of all ages, we recommend the following articles:

The Perfectly Balanced Body by Andrew Heffernan talks about balance as a part of the workout routine of an athlete.

Work on your balance now to avoid falls when you’re older. Lenny Berstein talks about how working on your balance now can help you avoid falls when you get older.

Training for Balance, Training for Life from the American Council on Exercise provides more details on the mechanical principles related to balance and how to manipulate training variables to achieve better balance, improved fitness, and quality.

Or visit a local HealthStyles Exercise Equipment store to see and try our selection of balance training tools.

HealthStyles Owners Remember 20 Years of Exercise Equipment


Exercise equipment has certainly changed over the past 20 years! I was looking back over newsletter that were sent to our customers dating back to our first year in business in 1993 and was amazed first of all by the lack of variety in the cardio and strength options back then, and secondly by how much the equipment has evolved in terms of both biomechanics and electronics.

If we remind ourselves that in 1993 the internet was an unknown entity for most people, and individual cell phones were a luxury owned only by the wealthy and top business people, that puts the changes in exercise equipment into some perspective.


StairmasterIn 1993 stair climbers were all the rage, and stationary recumbent cycles were just being introduced. The other options for a cardio workout in the gym or at home were treadmills, rowing machines, upright bikes, and cross country ski machines.  A piece of equipment called the HealthRider made a brief splash about that time as well. Life Fitness, which has always been on the cutting edge of the fitness equipment evolution, had 3 programs options; Manual, Interval and Hill, on their bikes and treadmills. Elliptical machines were not even introduced until later in the 90’s and did not become a household word until well after that!

Home gyms were very traditional with the standard press arm and leg extension/leg curl. Their biomechanics were not great and the number of exercises somewhat limited.

The hot selling accessories in 1993 were the Kelly Roberts Step & Video, Air Weights which were hand weights with a built in pump to fit any hand, the Slide Trainer for lateral lower body training along with the still popular Stretch Bands, Polar Heart Rate Watches, and Floor Exercise Mats.


Octane LateralX Elliptical CrosstrainerToday home exercise equipment has evolved to fit the exerciser, whether it is the variety of movements allowed on the variety of standing and seated ellipticals available, as well as unique movements like the Octane LateralX. Treadmill development has evolved to reduce the impact on the runner and the biomechanics of both upright and recumbent bikes has improved by allowing increased seat and mast adjustment. The introduction of the indoor cycling bike made indoor cycling much closer to an actual outdoor cycling experience and became a popular winter activity for avid cyclers.

Of course the most dramatic changes in cardio equipment over the past several years has been in the electronics, that have resulted because of the changes in overall technology. Exercisers can now watch television, listen to music on their IPod, respond to emails or surf the internet on their IPad, ride or run on virtual trails all over the world, and develop their own user programs with the exact speed and intervals that fit their training needs, all while getting a workout in the comfort and privacy of their own home.

Home gyms have evolved into functional training machines that simulate actual activities required in daily living as well as sports specific activities. Accessories such at the TRX and Jungle Gym XT using the individual’s own body weight have also contributed to making strength training more functional and suited to all exercisers with emphasis on strengthening the core stomach muscles which is important for everyone to stay fit and healthy. The Bosu is another best selling accessory that helps to develop balance and works the core muscles.

There are lots of exciting new products and accessories too numerous to mention here that can enhance and improve the efficiency of your regular workouts.  The best way to find out the many options that are now available in exercise equipment, is to browse our product selection online or better yet, stop by a  HealthStyles location near you!

Crunches Alone Do Not Make a Six Pack


Somewhere far, far away, there is a magical gym where there’s never a wait for a cardio machine at 6:30pm, the boot camp instructor never raises his voice above a whisper, and jiggling upper arms instantly tighten up after just one biceps curl. This mythical place is called Imaginary Fitness Land, and it, like spot-training to burn fat, does not exist.

Welcome to the real world, where workout results take time, energy, and variety, and where our body’s ability to eliminate fat, and which specific areas it will eliminate fat from, are influenced by age, genetics, hormones, and some other factors beyond our control.

Luckily, we can control the fat-melting effectiveness of a cardio workout, so keep this real-world advice from Life Fitness in mind to maximize your results.

Two’s company. Combine fat-reducing cardio exercise with a consistent strength training program to tone and sculpt your muscles. Although spot-training won’t work for burning fat, spot-sculpting will tighten and tone the areas where you want to show off your results. Focus on a specific group of muscles during your strength training routines.

Add instability. Use the BOSU ball, balance disk, or wobble board to throw off your balance and force your core muscles to work overtime. With a strong core, you’ll be able to take on more challenging workouts, and achieve success faster.

Pilates, please. Heralded as the secret behind tons of toned tummies, a Pilates mat workout provides an effective ab routine when you want to add some necessary variety to your exercise program. Pilates utilizes very focused and specific movements, so find an instructor to get you started.

Intensify. Interval training is a great way to incorporate high-intensity exercise into your workouts. Start with 30 seconds of jogging followed by 2-3 minute of walking, then repeat for 30 minutes. Once you can complete the program with ease, lengthen the jogging intervals. Your increased intensity and elevated heart rate will result in more calories burned and a smaller waist line.

The trick to getting the fit, sculpted body you want is to be realistic. If you have overall body fat to lose, you aren’t going to see washboard abs without eliminating that excess insulation first.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit or follow us on Twitter at or join our Facebook fan page at

Give the Gift of Fitness!


Are you looking for ideas for unique Christmas gifts?

HealthStyles Exercise Equipment has some great gifts for fitness enthusiasts in all price ranges!

Whether your gift is for an avid runner, a Cross-Fit or P90X junkie, or a friend or loved on who is trying to firm up or lose weight, here are just a few of the many possible gifts you can put under the tree for those important people in your life.

What’s Happening in the World of Fitness Equipment?


What’s Happening in the World of Fitness Equipment?

The 2010 Health and Fitness Business Trade Show was held in Las Vegas last month and the owners and regional managers of HealthStyles Exercise Equipment went to the show, eager to see what was new and innovative for the upcoming year.

Continue reading

The Secret to a Flat Stomach


With spring just around the corner, everyone wants to have a flat stomach and even, better six-pack abs! The question is, how do I go about getting them? There is a lot of misinformation out there about this topic that can cause a lot of frustration. Many people think that they can get flat abs if they do enough abdominal exercises. This is based on the inaccurate premise that you can do an exercise for a certain area of the body, and get rid of fat there. A review of the headlines of any popular fitness magazine will help you understand what feeds that belief. Headlines like “Flat Abs in 2 Weeks” and “10 Quick Tips to Flatten Your Tummy” lead one to believe that spot reduction is not only possible, but easy! The real truth is that the only way to get flat abs is to lose body fat, and the only way to lose body fat is to:

  1. Do regular cardiovascular exercise to burn calories
  2. Have a healthy, low calorie diet
  3. Strength train your entire body, abdominal muscles included

There is also a certain amount of genetics involved in getting those “six pack abs” that we see in the movies or on TV, and for some people, no amount of commitment and diet can get them to that goal of abdominal perfection. That doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve the goal of strong abdominal muscles or a flatter stomach. Once you accept the above realities, and work toward the goal of lowering your overall body fat, there is a purpose to abdominal exercises as a part of your overall strength workout. We all know that strong abdominal muscles support your spine and play a large role in protecting your back. That alone should make the inclusion of specific abdominal exercises a part of your regular workout routine. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of articles written on the best abdominal workout. Here are several links to videos showing basic abdominal exercises:
Ab Exercises on a FitBall
Core Workout from ACE
2 Minute Ab Workout
Ab V-Ups with a BOSU Ball

Many abdominal exercises can be performed using an exercise mat lying on the floor. Some exercises are more effective and challenging utilizing some of the following basic fitness accessories:

  1. Exercise Balls – Fitballs are effective in stabilizing the back and encouraging proper posture during your workout. They add challenge to basic abdominal crunches. Note: There are 5 ball sizes based on your height.
  2. BOSU Ball – It’s like an exercise ball that’s been cut in half with a stable side and an unstable side. This makes it a more versatile piece of equipment than a fitball, and the exercises can be made more challenging as your balance and ability to perform more difficult exercises improves.
  3. Balance Disc – It is smaller than a Bosu or Fitball, but can be used in a similar fashion to add challenge to traditional abdominal exercises.
  4. Vertical Knee Raise – A VKR is a very effective piece of strength equipment used to do knee raises while your back is in a safe, supported position.
  5. Abdominal Bench or Board – Depending on whether the board is adjustable or not, you can add varying difficulty levels to abdominal exercises by increasing the angle at which you do traditional abdominal crunches.
  6. Ab Coaster – The Ab Coaster can help you get a lower abdominal workout, and help you simulate leg raises, which is a great stomach exercise. It allows you the same range of motion as traditional abdominal exercises, so that you’re working the same muscles, but you’re not having to support your own weight. Therefore, you are able to do many more reps correctly. Plate weight can be added to increase difficulty and the seat can be angled to each side to work the oblique abdominal muscles.

Ab V-Ups with a BOSU Ball


Here is an example of an advanced ab exercise, the V-Up, using a Bosu, Balance cushion, or other balance board.

Recommended Exercise Equipment:

BOSU Home Balance Trainer 

FitBALL Balance Disc – Blue 

FitBall Deluxe Balance Board 

Fitter First Classic Wobble Board 

Contact your local HealthStyles Exercise Equipment fitness consultant for the best product recommendation to meet your personal goals, abilities, and budget.

Fitness Accessories Expand Your Workout Routine


The use of fitness accessories to expand and enhance your cardiovascular and strength routines have never been more popular than they are today as is obvious by the number of equipment manufacturers that are getting into the fitness accessory game. Life Fitness, one of the major cardiovascular equipment manufacturers, is set to roll out Body Shape Kits this fall, which combine many of the most popular accessories sold by HealthStyles Exercise Equipment, into one all inclusive kit. Octane Fitness will combine an elliptical workout with stretch bands in the programming and design of their new ellipticals to be introduced later this Fall, to create circuit training workouts that add strength training to the traditional cardio workout. Continue reading