Simple Weight Programs to Improve Your Running

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It’s pretty much a fact now that strength training will improve your running.

Yet, some debate remains. For example, should distance runners, who excel in endurance, lift heavy weights, thereby increasing power? Some sources say yes. Here’s one.

But, generally speaking, weight training is good for runners. Benefits include improved body composition (more muscle, less fat), reduced likelihood of injury (increased joint strength), and improved efficiency in using energy and oxygen (that is, you can decrease the amount of oxygen you need to run at a certain pace, allowing you to increase speed).

So what are some good, not-too-time-consuming strength training strategies for runners? Here are two. And equipment for both is quite economical.

Sign up for the HealthStyles Exercise monthly newsletter to keep up with our latest sales, deals, and discounts on items like the Kettlebells and TRX or Jungle Gym Suspension Trainers!

Kettlebell Strength Training for Runners

Kettlebell workouts build strength and range of motion. Here are three key kettlebell exercises. Try completing 10 reps of each (or any given kettlebell exercise) with perfect form before increasing reps. Good form is king with kettlebells.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swing

The swing is the most common kettlebell exercise. It’s a fantastic way to develop power and strength through the hips, particularly in the glutes and the hamstrings. Given the constant pounding your body endures with each footfall while running, a strong backside is important both for performance and injury prevention. The quick, explosive motion of the swing also adds a unique element to your lifting routine.

Form Tips. The vast majority of the power and motion should come from the hips, not from bending the knees. Keep a slight bend in the legs but focus on snapping the hips through to move the kettlebell. Also, don’t pull on the weight with your arms. Your elbows should remain locked out the entire time, with your upper body acting as a method to hold on to the swinging weight. Video link.

Kettlebell Push Press

Kettlebell Push Press

Like the swing, the push press is designed to build power and explosiveness. This time, the focus is on the upper body. For all runners, the upper body is crucial for form and breathing – two key elements of performance. The push press builds core strength, since it only works one side at a time. It also develops explosive strength in the upper body, which is extremely important for finishing strong during the last quarter mile of a race.

Form Tips. The push press transfers power from the lower body to the upper body and builds coordination. Avoid using solely your upper half to power the weight up. After a slight bend in the hips and knees, explode up and drive the weight overhead for maximum benefit.

Kettlebell Floor To Shelf

Kettlebell Floor to Shelf

There’s actually quite a bit of twisting in the running gait. As such, rotation or twisting motions are crucial for runners. The floor to shelf helps to build strength in the upper body while focusing on the midsection. The movement also requires “eccentric strength,” where the obliques must slow down the rotation at the top of the exercise to prevent over-rotation and injury. This eccentric strength helps to prevent excess movement during running, leaving you with a more efficient running form.

Form Tips. Although the focus of the exercise is on the core and the upper body, the lower body has an important role to play. As you twist toward one side, focus on pivoting the feet and the hips to complete the motion. This helps to emphasize the rotation as well as prevent injury at the ankles and knees. Video link.

Suspension “Body Weight” Strength Training for Running

For super-low-cost strength training, harness your own body weight for strength training using HealthStyles’ suspension training systems.

This routine is aimed at lower body and core strength for runners. Developing integrated lower and upper-body strength, especially through your core, will result in a more powerful and efficient stride. Though it may seem a little counter-intuitive, your upper body and core actually play a big part in generating power and maintaining stability while you run.

The routine consists of three TRX exercises for creating core strength, stability and mobility in runners. They are, in a recommended sequence:

TRX Bottom Up Squat: 5-10 reps

This move improves mobility in the hips and ankles while warming up the entire body for any training session. It also teaches how to engage your core and arms to improve your running posture.

Photo by Blake Kasemeier

Photo by Blake Kasemeier

TRX Hamstring Runner: 5 reps on each leg

The Hamstring Runner develops your posterior chain, hamstrings, lower back, and glutes to help correct imbalances not only from front to back, but also from side to side.

Photo by TRX Training

Photo by TRX Training

TRX Chest Press: 5-10 reps

TRX describes this exercise as a “moving plank instead of a chest and arm exercise.” This chest press develops integrated core strength and stability to improve your running posture and arm drive.

Photo by TRX Training

Photo by TRX Training

Jungle Gym XT vs TRX Home Suspension Trainer

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On the surface, the TRX Home Suspension Training Kit and the LifeLineUSA Jungle Gym XT are very similar.

Both suspension bodyweight training systems offer two straps with handles and foot cradles, a door anchor, and anchor strap (to attach to posts or beams).

The TRX Home Kit also includes a mesh carry bag, “Workout in Progress” door placard, and a TRX wristband. But the functional equipment included in each kit is essentially the same.

LifeLineUSA Jungle Gym XT Suspension Training Kit

LifeLineUSA Jungle Gym XT

TRX Home Suspension Training Kit

TRX Home Suspension Training Kit

For training information, the TRX Home Kit includes a Getting Started Guide and videos are available to download or stream from the TRX website. The Jungle Gym XT package includes an instructional download plus additional exercise guides from the LifeLineUSA website. For either system, a virtually unlimited supply of workout information and videos is available online.

Sign up for the HealthStyles Exercise monthly newsletter to keep up with our latest sales, deals, and discounts on items like the TRX Home Suspension Training Kit and Jungle Gym XT!

Strap Configuration

The biggest difference between the TRX Home Suspension Trainer and the Jungle Gym XT is the strap configuration.

The TRX straps are connected at a single point to form a V shape. For some users, this is an advantage to simplify anchoring at a single point. But it limits options for exercises that may require a wider grip.

The Jungle Gym XT straps are separate which allows them to be anchored in a traditional V configuration like the TRX, neutral, wide grip, or anything in between. With the Jungle Gym XT, you can perform any exercise that you would be able to do with a TRX system AND you can perform any exercise that can be done with traditional gymnastics rings.

The TRX Straps anchor  together at a single point.

The TRX Straps anchor together at a single point.

The Jungle Gym XT straps are separate which allows them to be anchored in a traditional V configuration like the TRX, neutral, wide grip, or anything in between.

The Jungle Gym XT straps are separate which allows them to be anchored in a traditional V configuration like the TRX, neutral, wide grip, or anything in between.

The split strap design of the Jungle Gym XT also allows 2 users to share one system while doing single leg or single arm exercises.

Construction and Materials

Both systems are made of commercial quality materials but the Jungle Gym XT has a few unique features that give it an advantage over the TRX system.

Jungle Gym XT handles are made of a TPE plastic material that is comfortable and provides a good non-slip grip and is also extremely durable and easy to clean. One of the biggest complaints of the TRX Suspension system is the foam handles that are impossible to clean and wear down and deteriorate quickly. A small advantage to the TRX handles is that the straps slide freely through the handles to allow users to change the angle of the handles for a more comfortable grip.

The Jungle Gym XT foot cradles hold their shape to make it easy to get in and out quickly. The TRX foot cradles are simply additional strap loops which are easy to get tangled in.

Jungle Gym XT Handle with Foot Cradle

Jungle Gym XT Handle with Foot Cradle.

TRX Suspension Trainer Handle

TRX Suspension Trainer Handle Strap
with Foam Grip.

The Jungle Gym XT includes built-in non-scuff door anchors at the end of each strap so an additional door anchor piece isn’t needed.

The Jungle Gym XT buckles are made of a carbon fiber that is contoured and lays flush with the straps. This prevents uncomfortable scraping and snagging. Many users have complained about the metal buckles on the TRX digging into their forearms or snagging clothing while performing press exercises. The ability to adjust the width of the Jungle Gym XT straps also helps to eliminate this problem.

Best Value

In a side-by-side feature comparison, the Jungle Gym XT clearly beats the TRX Home Suspension Training kit in design, comfort, and versatility.

You really can’t go wrong with owning a TRX – it’s the original suspension trainer and the top brand in the category. But when you compare the $99.99 retail price for the Jungle Gym XT to the $199.95 retail price for the TRX Home Suspension Training Kit, there isn’t any contest.

There are a lot of other suspension training systems on the market that you can buy for less than $100. But the Jungle Gym XT is by far the best value for a commercial quality suspension trainer.

Use coupon code HEE15 at checkout for 15% OFF the TRX Home Suspension Training Kit.

Click here for the latest sale pricing on the LifeLineUSA Jungle Gym XT.

Five Essential Items Every Runner Should Have

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When you ask most runners what they do to stay in shape, they generally reply, “I run.” And although running is certainly a great cardio workout, those runners who rely exclusively on running to stay fit do so to the detriment of their running game. As surprising as it may sound, to improve your running form, endurance, and economy you need to be doing more than just running. Specifically, runners need to incorporate stability exercises and strength training in their routine if they want to truly improve their time on the track and decrease risk of injury.

Towards that end, here are five essential items every runner should have:

1. Stability Ball

Exercise Stability BallThere is absolutely no excuse for you not having a stability ball. When it comes to training your core, it’s hard to beat the big rubber sphere. But, you may say, “I’m a runner. I should focus on my legs, not my core, right?” Wrong.

As great as running is, relying on it exclusively for your fitness can lead to serious muscle imbalances and reduced flexibility. A stability ball can help address these problems by adding some instability to your training. As your body attempts to balance on the ball, it’s forced to call upon groups of core muscles working in unison. Trying to keep your balance requires far more muscle groups than sit-ups and crunches, working the front and side abdominals in combination to provide exactly the kind of core strengthening that will improve your running. A strong core is vital to stabilizing your upper body, which will allow you to maintain proper running form even when you’re fatigued.

Check out our selection of stability balls.

For some ideas of exercises to do with your stability ball, here’s a great article from Active.

2. Foam Roller

Foam RollersYou may have seen these in your local gym and wondered just what the heck they’re used for. When used correctly, foam rollers can release tension and tightness between your muscles and the fascia (the thin sheath of fibrous tissue surrounding the muscles) that result from the repetitive motions you use when running. A combination of foam rolling and dynamic stretching will help ease tension, improve flexibility and range of motion, and seriously decrease risk of injury. Indeed, using a foam roller correctly can provide benefits similar to those you’d enjoy from a deep-tissue massage. If you’re serious about running, then it’s time to invest in a couple foam rollers.

Check out our selection of foam rollers.

And here’s a great eight-part video series from Runner’s World on how to efficiently use your foam roller.

3. Kettlebells

KettlebellsAs we mentioned earlier, runners who fail to incorporate strength training into their workout regimen are not only missing out on improving their running time, endurance, and form, they’re also missing out on a prime method of decreasing risk of injury. Most runners avoid the weight room out of a fear of getting too big and bulky. However, maintaining a strength program is absolutely essential to improving your running efficiency. For example, getting rid of rounded shoulders can help increase the amount of air your lungs take in and out, while strengthening your glutes will provide more power for when you push off the ground.

Thanks to their distinct shape, kettlebells are an especially helpful tool for runners working on their strength training. Ballistic movements like swings and snatches will help improve your power and explosiveness. The shape and size of kettlebells compel you to use a lot of force, core strength, and coordinated movement, all of which increases overall body strength.

Check out our selection of kettlebells.

Here’s a nice article from Competitor.com about four key kettlebell exercises for runners to get you started.

4. Powerblock Dumbbells

Powerblock Sport Adjustable DumbbellsAnother key tool for a runner’s strength training regimen are dumbells. Most any dumbbells will do, but we like the Powerblock dumbbells best thanks to their convenient storage and easy-to-increase weight increments.

Again, most runners are hesitant about anything that even smells like weight-lifting out of fear of getting too big. But as mentioned before, strength training for runners is not about getting big but about targeting those muscle groups that running, alone, doesn’t hit, but which are essential to improving your running ability. You want to increase your strength to the point at which your body can handle running without injury. With Powerblock dumbbells, you can focus on increasing your strength and stamina without cluttering up the room.

Check out our selection of Powerblock dumbbells.

Here’s a quick video that shows a great dumbbell core circuit workout for runners.

5. TRX Home Suspension Training Kit

TRX Home Suspension Training KitWhen it comes to an all-in-one system that allows you to work on your balance, strength-training, flexibility, and endurance, the TRX Home Suspension Training Kit is simply the best. Originally invented by a US Navy SEAL to help him exercise without gym equipment, the TRX uses your own bodyweight to deliver a powerful workout that can strengthen key areas needed to increase running acceleration, top speed, and overall running control. It’s simple to set up, easy to increase or decrease difficulty, and works equally well indoors or out.

What makes the TRX kit especially great is that it constitutes a full-body workout using only your body weight and gravity, a fact that will assuage most runners’ fears of getting too bulky from pumping iron. From basic squats and pushups to jumps, twists, one-legged lifts, and more, the TRX system is extremely versatile and, no matter what exercise you do, will engage your core stabilizers so you can build strength, balance, agility, and power all at once.

Order your own TRX Home Suspension Training Kit today.

Here’s a great video to get started improving knee drive and posture with the TRX kit.

 

Muscle Isolation vs. Functional Fitness

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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 www.lifefitness.com/blog.

The Basics of Bodyweight Exercises

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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 www.lifefitness.com/blog.

Holiday Fitness Gift Guide

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Welcome to the HealthStyles Exercise Equipment Gift Guide!

We have a huge variety of accessories in all price ranges, for fitness enthusiasts of all ages and types!

Whether you are trying to add some strength training to your cardiovascular workout, replicate some of your CrossFit exercises at home, do some serious core training, or create your own Tabata interval workout, we have the best selection of quality accessories in the Denver Metro area and the state of Colorado!

Visit your local HealthStyles Retail store in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, or Glenwood Springs for the best holiday gift ideas.

Gifts Under $25


Resistance Bands

$10.95 – $24.99

Cast Iron Kettlebell 10lb
5lb – 10lb Kettlebells

$8.50 – $23


Jump Ropes

Only $8.99

The Great Balance and Stability Handbook (Paperback)
Fitness Handbooks

Only $9.95

Spri Yoga Block Purple 4in x 6in x 9in
Yoga Blocks

$9.99

Foam Roller - Full - 12 x 6
Foam Rollers

$12.99 – $24.99


Push Up Bars

$14.99 – $16


FitBall Balance Disc

Only $21.95

Gifts Under $50


Medicine Balls

$22.95 – $49.95

Rage Swivel Jump Rope
Rage R1 Swivel Jump Rope

$29.95


Pull Up Bars

$29 – $40

LifeLineUSA TNT Cable System
Heavy Resistance Bands

$29.99 – $49.99

Rage Bumper Plates
10lb – 25lb Rage Bumper Plates

$29.99 – $49.99

Cast Iron Kettlebell 25lb
15lb – 25lb Kettlebells

$25.50 – $47.00


Exercise Balls

$36.99 – $39.99

Acu-Hoop 3 pound
Weighted Hula Hoops

$29.00 – $49.99

Gifts Under $100

Cast Iron Kettlebell 10lb
30lb – 45lb Kettlebells

$51 – $97

Rage Soft Medicine Balls
Rage Soft Medicine Balls

$84.99 – $94.99

Rage Slam Balls
Rage Slam Balls

$39.99 – $99.99

Rage Gymnastics Rings
Rage Plastic Gymnastics Rings

$69.95


10lb – 30lb Dumbbells

$59 – $96

Rage R2 Pull-Up Bar
Rage Home Pull-up Bar

$99.99

Rage Steel Plyo Boxes
Rage Steel Plyo Boxes 12″ – 24″

$69.99 – $99.99

FitBall Deluxe Balance Board
Balance Boards

$67.95 – $99.95

Other Great Gift Ideas

TRX Home Suspension Training Kit
TRX Home Suspension Training Kit

$199.95

Bosu Home Balance Trainer
BOSU Home Balance Trainer

$109.99


Inversion Tables

Starting at $159

PowerBlock Sport 2.4 Dumbbell Set 3-24lbs
PowerBlock Dumbbells

Starting at $149

TAG 10 in 1 Trainer
TAG 10 in 1 Trainer

$399

Rage Conditioning Rope
Rage Conditioning Ropes

Starting at $138


Weight Benches
Ab/Back Benches
VKR Dip Stations
Vision Fitness V-Series Indoor Cycle
Exercise Bikes

HealthStyles Owners Remember 20 Years of Exercise Equipment

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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.

1993

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.

2013

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!

HealthStyles Introduces the New 2013 Vision Fitness Equipment on Colorado and Company

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HealthStyles Exercise Equipment was excited to be a part of Colorado & Company recently to present the exciting new 2013 Vision Fitness Equipment line-up.

Vision Fitness has long been a front runner in award winning equipment and innovative consoles. Now they have taken it to a whole new level with their Classic, Elegant and Touch Consoles added to their upgraded treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes.

All include the Sprint 8, a 20 minute interval program proven to get results, and some feature a touch screen and Virtual Active Programs that can take you to the mountains of Switzerland or the Canyonlands of Utah on your workout!

Click here to view our complete selection of Vision Fitness Equipment.

*The Colorado and Company delivery and assembly offer was valid from 11/9 through 11/11/2012 for this program recorded on 11/9/2012.

Give the Gift of Fitness!

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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.

The Back-Up Plan: A Fitness Must Have!

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Most of us understand that to get where we want to go, we need transportation to get there. A vehicle of sorts, whether that be car, bus, bike, subway etc. The same concept holds true for our health and fitness program. Some of us have a gym membership, while others prefer to walk, run, bike outdoors. However, as we all know there are late nights, running late mornings, bad weather issues, and hot weather at this time of year, that can sometimes prevent us from using our preferred mode to get our workouts in. I’m constantly telling my clients that regardless if you prefer to workout outside or if you belong to a gym, there are going to be times where we just can’t get a workout in.

One of the most important Fitness Must Haves is to invest in a few key pieces for your home to create a Back-Up Plan! Despite budget or space issues, there are a wide range of options to meet your needs! The bottom line is, having a solid back-up-plan will help keep you moving and on track for your fitness goals! Here are few ways to create for yourself a back-up plan to ensure you always have a way to get a workout in!

Basic Cardio:

There are TONS of options for the home user to create a cardio workout. For the budget conscious there are numerous workout DVD’s you can purchase for minimal cost. P90x is great example of a full body, 90 day workout that can keep you going that requires minimal equipment and can be done anywhere! Most satellite and cable providers have a fitness channel in their basic line-up of programs. Do some checking to see if yours’ does and then check out the options.

If watching the TV doesn’t get it done for you, invest in an indoor, "spinning" type bike or rowing machine. Both tend to take up minimal space and can provide you with an awesome way to get some cardio in! Be prepared to spend between $700-$1300 for these.

If you prefer to spend a little more dough, there are tons of treadmill and elliptical options out there! Quality that will last starts at about the $1200 range, and there are tons of options to suit your needs. Visit a speciality fitness store, where you will get quality advice and support.

BEWARE: Don’t buy cheap! It is better to buy a different type of piece, than to buy a cheap version of an expensive product! For example, don’t buy a $800 treadmill when you can spend that $800 on a quality indoor bike or rowing machine that will last. You want your Back-up plan to be RELIABLE …that is the whole point!

Resistance Training:

Again you can do this with or without budget constraints. For about $10 you can get resistance bands at various tensions. Even for the hard core lifters, resistance bands can be effective if done correctly as part of an overall program. Add a door anchor for about $5, and you can essentially turn any door into a resistance training work station!

Another option for between $100-200, is a suspension training system, such as TRX or Jungle Gym. Suspension trainers use a nylon strapping system to turn your body into a functional training station! You can get an amazing workout using your own body weight and need about 8ft. of space and a door, ceiling or other sturdy place to attach the anchor.

If you want the feel of weights in your hands, for about $400 you can get a pair of Power Blocks! This unique concept offers 24 pairs of dumbbells in a one piece set! They are durable, easy to use and give you a ton of options! For an even cooler route, try the Kettleblock. With the same concept as the Power Blocks, instead of having all those kettlebells lying around, you have just a one handled block with the ability to select the weight you want with the push of a pin!

If a home gym or functional trainer with a weight stack where you can continually increase the resistance is what you need, quality home gyms and functional trainers begin at just above $1000 and go up from there depending on the variety of exercises you would like to be able to do with the gym. Again, purchasing an inexpensive functional trainer or gym is a bad idea. It will "feel" lightweight and the cables won’t have the smooth feel that you may have experienced in the gym.

Training while Traveling:

Training on the road can be a big challenge. Make sure to plan ahead, so you have a game plan in place.

Check the hotel to see if they have a workout out room, ask what types of equipment they have, how many pieces they have and the hours of the facility. If this will work with your schedule, you’re set. Even if they have a room, ask if they have a pool, and depending on the time of year, if it is indoor, outdoor and heated. I always travel with my swim bag as a back-up, back-up plan for hotel stays. There is nothing worse than counting on the hotel workout room, only to find out the bike or treadmill is broken or so unstable it isn’t worth the risk!

If all else fails, bring along your resistance bands and door anchor or a suspension system, (TRX). They take up little space in your suit case and are an awesome way to get a workout in. Mix in some body weight squats, lunges and push-ups, create a circuit and you are good to go! Don’t let travel and a lack of planning prevent you from staying healthy while on the road!

Let’s face it …Life happens. Having a Back-up Plan in place is a sure fire way to help you stay on track for your fitness goals and keeps you moving and feeling good! Everyone should have a few key pieces in their home, as well as a take-along plan for travel!

A little planning can go a long way!

Tonja Hadley, MA, CSCS
Personal Trainer
HealthStyles Exercise Equipment