Monthly Archives: September 2014

5 Reasons to Plank Every Day

Plank is a short and sweet exercise you can add to any workout to make it more effective and fun.  There are endless variations, meaning you’ll never run out of ideas or get bored with your daily dose of planking.  Front plank, side plank, one leg plank and plank push-up are just a few to try.  For more, check out this photo album and some of the videos here for examples and tips.  What’s so great about the plank position?  Here are five of the benefits holding a plank at least once a day can have for your body and mind.

Strengthening.  A plank will help strengthen your core, shoulders, chest and lower body muscles.  It elongates the spine and neck, engages abdominal and oblique muscles, requires shoulder, elbow and wrist stability and works lower body muscles.

Improving posture.  Practicing the plank position not only elongates muscles from head to toe, it helps improve posture by strengthening core muscles that support your hips, lower back and spine.  Having better posture means better running form, better balance and a longer, leaner body shape.plank

Wrist integrity.  Many athletes are at risk of injuring their wrists by falling, twisting or jamming during practice or a competition.  Practicing the plank position strengthens the wrist joint by increasing flexibility and stability.  Being able to easily bend the wrist to the 90 degree angle required in a plank will help prevent a variety of wrist injuries.

Mental.  Planking can provide stress relief and develop mental toughness.  Planks stretch muscles that can get tight from sitting in an office chair all day.  Taking your mind off of stressful things while you plank and concentrating on your breathing while muscles relax and loosen will improve blood flow and relieve stress.  Practicing a maximum hold plank can increase mental toughness by giving you a benchmark from which to push yourself to stay in the position longer.

While plank is a wonderful exercise for most, there are a few people who should avoid the strenuous position.  Individuals suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome should only practice plank with medical clearance under the supervision of a highly qualified instructor.  Those with degenerative lower back issues should also avoid planking.

Racing Shoes: Are They Right For You?

Racing shoes can come in many forms.  With lots of options, finding the right pair of racers might not be hard, but do you really need them?  Read on the learn the differences between racing shoes and normal training shoes and the potential benefits and risks of racing in a lighter shoe than you train in.

Let’s start with the basics.  Training shoes are heavier, thicker and more supportive than racing flats or lightweight training shoes.  Normal training shoes typically come in weighing anywhere from 8-10 ounces per shoe while lightweight training shoes range from 5-7 ounces per shoe and racing flat can be as light as 3-4 ounces.  The reason those other types of shoes weigh less than your regular trainers is because they have less cushioning and less support.  That being said, these are some of the pros and cons of sporting a barely there pair on race shoes

  • A lighter shoe is that your muscles don’t have to work quite so hard to pick up each foot.  Studies have shown that each ounce you remove from the weight of your shoe can increase your speed by one second per mile.  Take off three ounces, that’s three seconds per mile and almost ten seconds off your 5k time.
  • Lighter racing shoes can also make you feel faster.  They’re special for race day.  Just like your lucky underwear or breakfast, your shiny race shoes might not only weigh less but make you feel lighter, faster and more positive.

Unfortunately for some runners, lighter shoes won’t have much of an impact and can actually cause problems.  Here are some potential problems to keep in mind before you trot off to the running store for a new pair of racing shoes.

  • The limited cushioning in racing flats or lightweight trainers mean they don’t provide a lot of buffer between your foot and the ground you’re running on.  This lack of support, motion control and stability can be problematic for those who need them.
  • Light racing shoes might not be for you if you’re worried about an injury, tired, sore or are one of those who need lots of support and cushioning.
  • Consider what you’re wearing them for.  A 5-, 8- or 10k isn’t very long and doesn’t give you lots of time to get hurt.  For a 10 miler, half or full marathon, your regular trainer, lightweight trainers and performance trainers are probably a better answer.

If you do decide to give lightweight trainers or racing flats a try, be sure to run in them before you race and talk to your coach about your decision.  You wouldn’t wear brand new shorts on race day and it’s not a good time to experiment with new footwear, either.  Racing shoes can be a big change from your regular runners and your body will need time to learn how to adjust.

For more help with picking the right shoe to race in, ask us!  Email or fill out the form below.

5 Tips for Cutting Calories

Cutting calories, or decreasing your daily caloric intake, while maintaining or increasing your level of activity is a sure fire way to shed help your body unwanted pounds.  There are lots of ways to cut back on what you eat, from eliminating certain foods to fasting and it’s not always easy.  All methods of cutting calories are not made equal and not all of them can work for everyone but there are some simple things anyone can do to help lower their daily caloric intake.  Here are 5 simple tips to help you stay stress free when you start cutting calories.

Eat thin crust.  Pizza is delicious and everyone has their favorite toppings, but it’s the types of crust you choose that can make a real difference.  When cutting calories consider that an average slice of thin crust pizza has roughly 200 calories while regular crust slices contain about 280 and a piece of deep dish pie comes in at over 350.  To save even more cutting caloriescalories on this tasty treat use whole wheat crust and consider topping like green peppers or pineapple instead of sausage.

Go extra lean.  Extra lean cuts of mean can be found in just about any supermarket and are a good way to save calories in the main part of your meals.  Meats labeled extra lean have fewer than 5 grams of total fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of sodium per serving.  One serving is equivalent to what is consumed in one meal, roughly 3.5 ounces of meat or poultry.  When cutting calories, go extra lean.

Trade your toppings.  mayonnaise is loaded with calories so try trading it for mustard on sandwiches.  Swap marinara sauce for alfredo when you’re in the mood for Italian and save about 100 calories, as a bonus you can even have a bigger serving of the red sauce without putting you back at the beginning.  Having a salad?  Pick croutons or cheese rather than both and save up to 120 calories.

Skip the dressing.  Speaking of salads, leave the dressing off.  Blue cheese, ranch and Italian are packed with calories, undoing most of the benefits of munching on a plate of healthy vegetables and greenery.  Order your next salad with a side of cutting caloriesmustard, pico de gallo or a splash of lemon juice and you’ll be cutting upwards of 100 calories.

Drink more water.  Water fills your tummy, acting as an appetite suppressant and helps you stay hydrated.  Less hunger means less eating, which by default helps you trim your calorie intake.  Water is also the best replacement out there for sugary, calorie loaded sodas.

Use these simple and easy tips for cutting calories to help keep your weight loss plan on track.

Have questions?  Want help with weight loss or a meal plan?  Ask us!  Email or fill out the box below.

7 Trail Running Tips for Beginners

Trail running is a great way to enjoy the changing leaves, crisp air and great outdoors this fall.  It’s also a little different from road running, requiring a different mindset, different muscles and a bit more time.  Here are seven tips from Team FitNice to help your trail trail runningrunning program get started in the right direction.

Accessorize.  Make sure you’re prepared for a trail running workout with trail shoes, sunblock, a hat, sunglasses and bug spray.  You can also check out running gaiters.  These fashion accessories help keep your ankles and feet safe from stones, sticks and other trail debris while you’re out enjoying nature.

Work on your core.  Running on uneven ground challenges your balance.  The muscles of your core, abs, obliques, lower back, are what help you stay on your feet.  The stronger they are, the more stable you’ll be and that means less likelihood of injury.  Practice balance and core strengthening exercises regularly to help your trail running performance.

Leave extra time.  You’ll be looking for the path of least resistance, rather than the shortest route from Point A to Point B on the trails and that might mean switchbacks or taking the long way around.  Run for time, rather than distance until you’re familiar with different paths and the difficulties they each ask you to face.

Start slowly.  Trails are different than roads or treadmills.  They’re uneven, inconsistent and tougher on ankles and feet.  Adjust to trail running with runs short than you’d do on the road and build up trail runningover a few weeks until you feel 100% comfortable.

Keep going slowly.  With dirt paths, roots to watch out for and lots of other potential obstacles, trail running requires more effort then road running.  Slow down and run by effort rather than pace, even if it means walking uphills in the beginning.

Stay safe.  Consider head lamps, pepper spray and reflective gear.  Always be sure to take an ID, tell someone where you’re planning on going and when to expect you back.  If you can, take your cell phone or a map and be aware of what’s going on around you at all times.  Knowing the rules of the trail, such as yielding to downhill runners, equestrians and cyclists as well as staying on marked trails and running through, not around, puddles will all help you get home safely.

Bring fluids.  Trail running can be unpredictable.  Mud, rain, snow and streams all have the potential to make your run a little more hazardous, making the time it takes you to finish hard to determine.  The last thing you want to do is run out of water, so wear or stash it.  If your route crosses parking lots or picnic areas, drop a water bottle off before you start to run.  You can also use handheld water bottles, mini-bottle waist belts or a hydration pack to make sure you don’t get thirsty.

With these tips, the trail running portion of your workout is sure to be fun, safe and good for you.

Have questions about trail running?  Ask us!  Email or fill out the form below.

Streak in September

Welcome to the 2014 edition of Streak in September!  By joining Team FitNice for the next 30 days, you’re promising to get your heart rate up and do something active on every one.  By October first you’ll be stronger, faster, more fit and, hopefully, extremely proud of your accomplishment.  You can learn more here or by reading the rest of this post!

How do I participate?
Complete a fitness related activity or workout every day
during the month of September then brag about it.
Does this mean running, lifting weights or taking a yoga class every single day?  No!  All that’s required to qualify for continuing your Streak in September is a round of your favorite activity. An easy one mile jog, ten push-ups, a round of golf (without a cart!) or even a power walk with Fido mean you’ve done your good fitness deed for the day.

What if I don’t know what to do?
Team FitNice will be postinga brand new workout or activity each day right here.

Who can participate?
Anyone! There are no age or ability limitations at all. Whatever your level of fitness, this is a great way to continue moving forward on your journey.

How much does it cost?
$0! Streak in September is about challenging yourself to get stronger because you want to succeed, not because you paid for it.

Is there a winner?
Everyone who participates is a winner.  Attempting to Streak in September is a major commitment to your healthy future and you should be proud to give it a try.

What are the rules?
There’s only one.
You’ll have to Tweet or Comment each day and brag about what you’ve accomplished with

Streak in SeptemberWe can’t wait to see what you get done this month.  Share your goals with us below, with a Tweet or with a Facebook comment.