Staff Stories: My First Half Marathon

Our members aren’t the only ones working towards goals and striving to become a better version of themselves. Elite Sports Clubs staff share some of their own stories about their health & fitness successes.

From “I can’t” to “I did and will again!”

By Alex Yuspeh, Elite Sports Clubs Marketing Director

Alex's First Half MarathonIt started off as a dare. One of those situations where I said, “I’ll do it if you do it.” However, this was not just between myself and another person. This was with my sister, my brother and my cousin. We all agreed in December 2007 to run a half marathon together. My parents in disbelief agreed to fund the run if we all ran it. I was living in Phoenix, my brother in San Diego, my sister in San Francisco and my cousin in Manhattan, this was going to be a destination run. I Googled half-marathons in the late spring, early summer and found a fairly flat, if not a little downhill run in Vancouver in June 2008.

My sister was the only one of us that had done a run in the past. The rest of us more so resembled an offensive line of a football team than runners about to embark on 13.1 miles. My brother and I are fairly competitive. We trained together even though we lived far apart. In January, we started our training with the correct footwear. We bought running shoes and also each bought a Nike Plus to track our runs. I did not do a typical training program. Instead I just “winged it.” All I knew was in 5 months I needed to keep my feet moving for about 2 hours.

My first big hurdle was running one mile. As simple as that sounds now, I struggled when I started. However, it did not take me long to achieve that minor milestone. My brother was ahead of me with his training and warned me of the next hurdle–the 30 minute continuous run. I would go out at first and run as long as I could. I would make it 15 minutes, then walk a minute or two and then run more until I hit 30 minutes. It took me a good two/three weeks to get to 30 minutes of continuous running. Once I hit that mark, I realized that running is as much mental and it is physical. I was astonished that I could do it. After I could run for 30 minutes, I gradually increased my run times and distances. I got up to 10 miles two months before race day. (Before I go into the actual half-marathon experience, I have to say I do not endorse my program. It is not typical and if you are planning on training for a half-marathon, please consult a professional on a program.)

We all arrived in Vancouver and checked into the hotel where all the other runners were staying. You could easily tell who the runners were from the other guests. This is when I realized that this was BIG. The day before the race, we registered, picked up our bibs and went to the trade show. The trade show was an eye-opener. There was so much cool running gear. I then started realizing that running is a huge sub-culture.

On the day of the race, I did my running routine, but this time at the crack of dawn. I had a bagel, banana and an energy drink. We got our bibs on and left our hotel. All I remember were runners and that they were everywhere. My siblings, cousin, and I found a spot to do our stretching. I recall a man saying, “This is going to be fun. There are a lot of people to pass.” I thought that was so cool to have that confidence. That day my goal was to finish (and beating my brother would be a bonus). The experience was surreal. I have never been a part of something so big. My adrenaline was at a high. I was part of something, along with 15,000 runners all with a common goal–to run across the finish line.

The gun went off and I was amazed on how slow it took to even cross the start line as I was stuck in a pack in the back. I ran the first 3 miles with my brother when I wanted to run faster. I found a group of people going at my pace and ran the entire half-marathon with them. When I finished, I received my metal, got water, food and my belongings. I called my parents and found that I was the first to finish in my family. One by one the rest of my family finished.

Since that race, my sister and cousin have run 2 races together; I have run another with my brother and we are planning our next race. Going from a “I can’t even run one mile” person to now identifying myself as a runner has become a great gift, and I am thoroughly happy to be part of the running sub-culture.

We’d love to hear YOUR story! Submit your story of success (and even struggle) and you may be featured on this blog or even in our seasonal magazine!

Boxing: Not Just Sweaty Guys Breaking Noses

By Rob Martin, Personal Trainer, Boxing Instructor, Martial Arts Instructor, Elite Sports Club-Brookfield

Two Sweaty Men BoxingWhen I mention the word boxing, what image comes to mind? My guess would be two sweaty guys trying to pound each other in an attempt to earn the right to call themselves “the best.” You may imagine broken noses, cut eyes, foreheads not unlike that of a Neanderthal. In fact, I would bet that what you imagine would so turn you off, that you would almost NEVER consider boxing as an alternative to riding the elliptical for an hour, but… If you will give me a couple minutes, I will make you see that boxing may be one of the most effective weight loss tools in the fitness club arsenal.

People who try boxing are always surprised to find how their body changes. First, they notice their arms becoming stronger. Then they start to see their waist line get smaller. Their legs become toned and stronger. They notice a chiseling effect on their body that they had never seen before. While these reasons may be enough for most people to try boxing, the best benefits don’t occur in the body, they occur in the mind. Self confidence grows and becomes stronger. Boxers find themselves becoming more balanced, and gain a sense of inner strength. Boxing does more than just get people in shape; it helps them release aggression. It gives people an outlet that no other form of exercise does.

Did you know that your favorite star likely uses some part of boxing to look good enough to be in the movies? Matthew McConaughey, Gwen Stefani, Marisa Miller, and Nick Cannon use boxing to stay in shape. Many professional athletes also use boxing to cross train for their event. In the June 23, 2010 edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Charles Woodson; a star cornerback for the Green Bay Packers, cites boxing as a reason for him coming into the season in such fantastic shape.

“…It’s some of the toughest work I have done…” “ Just an hour a day and you’d be dying.”

So why do these celebrities choose boxing when there are so many different forms of exercise out there? Boxing can burn from five hundred to one thousand calories an hour! (depending on the weight of the individual doing the exercise, and the type of boxing i.e. sparring, bagwork, shadow boxing, etc.) It also utilizes a form of exercise known as interval training. Interval training is a type of training during which you exercise at your absolute maximum for a short period of time, recover for a smaller period of time, and then repeat. In boxing you go hard for three full minutes with a one-minute rest in between. Some studies have shown that this type of exercise actually burns about twenty percent more fat than straight cardio.

Men and women boxing for exerciseGenerally speaking, if a club has a heavy bag, they will have gloves or something else for you to protect your hands while you work out on it. However, if you really want to enjoy this amazing form of exercise, I recommend you buy your own gloves. Training gloves come in many different forms, but the biggest thing to remember is the weight; the heavier the glove, the harder the workout. Gloves generally range from eight ounces to as much as sixteen ounces. You can even buy gloves with weights in the wrist for shadow boxing. NOW… imagine throwing punch after punch for two to three minutes at a time with only a short rest in between each round, and do it all with an extra pound on each hand. That is quite a workout! Other tools you could use include hand wraps, jump ropes, floor-ladders, bob and weave ropes, medicine balls, etc. There are several types of hanging heavy bags as well, but generally speaking, you will only find them in boxing-specific clubs.

Most people’s first, and strongest reaction to boxing is; “I don’t want to get punched/hurt.” Boxing, like any other form of strenuous exercise, is safe as long as you have an experienced instructor. Boxing is very “form” sensitive, and for that reason the best teacher is someone who has some boxing time under his/her belt. Most of the time, sparring is an elective, and will be left up to the individuals. The only time it is not optional is when you are in a boxing-specific gym. The most common injury in boxing is wrist injury, however wrist injuries occur for two very specific reasons, both of which can be avoided. First, learn to wrap your hands well. The wraps should be tight, but not cutting off circulation. Second, you have to learn the proper form for striking something with force i.e. palm down or palm in, straight punch, or elbow up. These are some of the things that an experienced instructor can watch for and help you with.

People who exercise by using boxing will become stronger, faster, more confident, and not to mention that they will be practicing some real world self defense. They will experience the health benefits that come from regular exercise as well as experiencing the strength gains that are usually only associated with resistance training. Tennis, baseball, and golf are just some of the cross over sports that will improve with boxing. Lastly, and probably most importantly, boxing is a blast!

Elite Sports Clubs offers boxing at its Brookfield location on Burleigh. Adult boxing is offered as a small group training, contact Rob for more details and pricing. You should also check out our youth boxing camps and clinics.

So, when you hear “boxing” what image does come to your mind? Would you ever consider incorporating boxing into your regular exercise regimen? Tell us in the comments!

7 Reasons You Should Try Boot Camp

Boot camp has become a popular exercise trend because of the intense combination of strength training and cardiovascular exercises. Boot camp workouts are designed as a type of interval training—bursts of intense activity alternated with intervals of lighter activity. Different exercises that boot camp workouts may entail would include: pull-ups, push-ups, lunges, squats and crunches, as well as drills and sprints. These exercises may be performed using body weight only or with actual hand weights.

  1. Boot camp workouts provide a total body workout that contributes to building both strength and endurance.
  2. Individuals who participate in boot camp tend to thrive off of the challenging exercises and the relationships they build with other participants.
  3. According to an article from Mayo Clinic, “a nonprofit fitness organization that studied boot camp workouts found that the average exerciser burns approximately 9.8 calories per minute during a typical boot camp workout.”
  4. A well-structured boot camp workout will include at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise along with a variety of strength training exercises. AKA, the best of both worlds!
  5. By participating in a boot camp workout once a week, you can get one step closer to meeting the minimum requirements of physical activity for a healthy adult.
  6. Boot camp workouts are designed for fit individuals who are looking to mix up their routine and increase their intensity.
  7. Boot camp workouts can easily be modified for the participants.

Please note: When considering trying a boot camp workout, ask the instructor about the basic structure of the class, instructor’s qualifications, and it never hurts to ask others who have participated before what they think. If you are older than 40, pregnant, haven’t exercised for some time or you have health problems, you should talk to your doctor prior to starting any type of exercise program. Also, when you decide to try out your first boot camp workout, inform the instructor that it is your first time and of any health issues. This will help ensure that your first boot camp workout experience is fun and successful!

Check out the Milwaukee Bucks Energee Dance Team boot camp at Elite Sports Club-Mequon below!

Visit our Fitness Calendar for more information on our boot camps and other small group training programs! Not sure where to start? Let us help you find the right boot camp (or other fitness program) for you!

What makes you the most nervous about trying boot camp? Is there something that has been holding you back? Tell us in the comments!

10 Facts About Stress and Diet

By Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor

  1. Everyone handles stress differently. Some people will eat less during that time, and others will eat more. Although there is no way to avoid stress and strain, there are ways to minimize the effects these pressures have on your mental and physical health. You can adjust your dietary habits to help you cope better.
  2. Some stress is good for us. It is what gets us up in the morning and on to doing productive things, especially if we have a good attitude about the things we are about to do. Some stress frequently comes cloaked in worry, anger, frustration, and fear; and it is these stresses, called distress, that are the most harmful to your health. The physical responses to stress causes our heart to race, our blood pressure to go up, and our stress hormones adrenalin and corticosteroids to flood our system in response to modern day “threats”.
  3. In today’s world, we often do not have physical methods to relieve this pressure. We create the stress level we are in, and then we “stew” in it. Many experts feel that long-term ongoing stress can be dangerous. Stress hormones can linger in the bloodstream, blood cholesterol and sugar levels stay high, and nerve chemicals circulate in record numbers. Such prolonged stress can lead to cardiovascular problems, peptic ulcers, asthma, and a variety of cancers. It can also put a strain on the immune system, further reducing resistance to colds, infections, and disease.
  4. Stress and diet are closely interrelated. A deficiency in any nutrient can cause a strain on all the metabolic processes dependent on that nutrient. Small amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin C weaken the body’s antioxidant defenses, exposing the tissues to increased risk of damage and disease. In addition, how well your body is nourished prior to and during a stress response affects how well you handle the stress. A well-nourished person copes better than a poorly nourished one.
  5. For many people, eating habits are at their worst during periods of high stress. They can either forget to eat, or overload with an abundance of food. Consequently, a person can be more vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies during periods of stress than any other time in their lives.
  6. Mental and emotional stresses will affect the body in very similar ways. The immune system is the body’s main defense system against foreign bodies or abnormal growth cells, such as cancer cells. In a healthy state, people are able to count on the functioning of their immune system and protection against any further disease process. Optimum nutrition and low stress levels can provide years of good health, happiness, and a longer life free of disease.
  7. Research studies by the USDA found the effect of work-related stress on mineral status was greatly compromised during periods of stress by as much as a 33% reduction. These studies were especially true of the nutrients, potassium, magnesium, B vitamin complexes, and antioxidants of vitamin A, C, and E. Associated nutrients also compromised by stress responses are zinc, chromium, copper, and iron. In addition, these levels will quickly return to normal levels with vitamin-mineral supplementation and by eating foods high in these nutrients.
  8. Carbohydrates, protein, and caloric needs do increase the metabolic rate during a stressful event by as much as 13%.
  9. Stress will release the stress hormone, cortisol, from the adrenal glands. Cortisol turns on the release in the brain for high carbohydrate or sugary-type foods, especially sweets. It will be important to have protein based foods on these days to avoid the “sugar response” to stress. Milk-based foods will allow the body to release calming levels of the body hormone, serotonin.
    Stress Eating
  10. Suggestions for healthy de-stressing habits include:
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Sleep at least seven hours a night
  • Work fewer than ten hours a day
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy breakfast, and just eat a nutrient-packed, low fat diet overall
  • Cope effectively with stress
  • Positive beliefs, attitudes, and expectations, including hope, trust, love, faith, and laughter turn otherwise stressful events into more pleasurable ones and greatly reduces the risk of suppressing the immune system. In fact, these positive emotions can actually enhance immunity!

For more information or coaching on how to manage your stress & diet, contact Rita Larsen. If you’re just interested in the types of health & nutrition programs we offer at Elite Sports Clubs, check out our website.

Do your eating patterns change when you are stressed? Do you eat more or less, and does the quality (healthiness) of the food differ? Tell us in the comments!

 

Share Your Healthy Story!

Do you live an ELITE life?

Elite Sports Clubs are not just a place to play tennis, or get in a good workout. We strive to fit your needs, fit your family, and fit your life! And a part of that is being supported by a strong community that helps you get RESULTS.

We are constantly blown away by the amazing accomplishments of our members. We are so proud of all of you! You serve as healthy examples of how it feels to be ELITE, and how exercise & good nutrition not only adds years to your life, but life to your years!

Whether you have lost weight, overcome an injury, are finally crossing that finish line, lived long enough to meet your great grandchildren, or achieved any other healthy goal; we’d all love to hear about it! It’s your stories of hard work and progress that inspire the rest of us to accomplish our own goals. So, please share them!

Elite Sports Clubs support systems extend beyond the clubs’ walls. You are all out there doing amazing things and we want to hear your stories! Because it truly is our members’ successes that make our clubs ELITE.

Have a story to share? Submit your story!