What is toning?

Sometimes when someone is looking to introduce exercise and fitness into their lives, it is not just in order to get thinner or fitter; it can be about the look of their body too. This is most commonly referred to as toning, and tone can be achieved through a number of different exercises.
When someone is referred to as “having a toned body”, what we are really talking about is the firmness of their body, and how muscularly defined they are, so although some body products promise to add tone, the best way of toning your body is through exercise. Tone can be sought after in every part of the body, but most likely in the arms, legs and stomach areas.
In order to get muscular definition, you must not only increase the muscle tissue, but also get rid of excess body fat too. The best exercise methods for getting toned are strength training and fat burning activities. Her is your guide to four simple exercises that will have you toned in no time.

Toning your arms:

ARM CIRCLES: This is the simplest movement for toning arms. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and stretch each arm out to either side of you. Keep your shoulders down and make small circles from your wrists, first forwards, and then backwards. For added impact, do this movement whilst holding light dumbbells.

Toning your stomach:

CRUNCHES: To perform a basic crunch, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet both flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the sides. Your fingers should not be linked. Pull your abdominal muscles inwards and lift your head off the ground and towards your knees. Hold the pose for 5 seconds then lower your head again, and repeat.

See NuYu’s “Tummy Toner Workout” sheet for more stomach toning exercises.

Toning your legs:

SQUATS: There are many different types of squat, but this is a great one for beginners. Put your arms out straight out in front of you, keeping your spine straight. Make sure your feet are flat on the ground and are hip-width apart. Push your hips and buttocks backwards and whilst doing this, bend your knees. Keep you arms in front of you and your knees in line with your feet. Keep going down until your hips are lower than your knees and then slowly come back up.

All over toning:

PLANK: Master the plank and you’ll receive toning all over! For a forearm plank, start in a push-up position, leaning your bodyweight on your toes and forearms. Make sure your body is straight from your shoulders to your ankles. Suck in your stomach to engage your core, and look forward. If you are new to the plank, hold the pose for just 20 seconds but when you get used to it, work on holding a plank for as long as possible, without being in pain or compromising your breathing.

Antioxidants: What are they?

Antioxidants. You may have heard about them, but what are they exactly, and why are they supposed to be good for you?

Free radicals

In our bodies, we produce free radicals, whihch are highly reactive chemicals. They have both positive and negative impacts on the body. Free radicals are important in many cell functions, but if there are high concentrations in the body, they can cause damage to components of the cells, including DNA, proteins and cell membranes. This damage, particularly to the DNA could lead to the development of cancer and other health complications.

Antioxidants to the rescue!

But never fear about free radicals, as antioxidants are here to save the day! These chemicals help to neutralize free radicals, which lowers their concentration, meaning they are unable to cause any of this harm to the cells. Although antioxidants are also made in the body, we are all reliant on external amounts of them as well, which are obtained mainly through the food that we eat. These are generally foods that contain selenium, vitamins A, C and E, amongst some other minerals that you may not have previously heard of.

Lycopene

(pink food) protects specifically against prostate cancer and heart and lung disease. Grapefruit, guava, watermelon and tomatoes are included.

Carotenoids

are found in orange foods (just think “carrot-enoids”!) like mangoes and sweet potatoes, which store the antioxidant beta carotene (vitamin A).
Yelllow and green foods contain lutein and zeaxanthin tackle cataracts and atherosclerosis. These include honeydew melon, avocados and yellow corn.
Finally, many purple fruits and vegetables contain anitoxidants, like blackberries, blueberries, aubergine and red cabbage. These foods prevent inflammation due to the presence of anthocyanidins.

Here’s a great recipe for a salad that will boost your antioxidant levels:

Carrot and chickpea salad

Ingredients

400g tin of chickpeas, drained
2 grated carrots
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
2 tbsp sesame seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 small bunch of mint

In a bowl, place the chickpeas, carrots, spring onions and pomegranate seeds. Mix together the lemon juice and sesame oil then pour over the ingredients in the bowl. Toss the salad then serve garnished with mint leaves.

The benefits of spinning

You may have heard, or experienced it for yourself, but Spinning classes can feel tough, especially on your legs, as they will be doing most of the hard work. But once you hear the benefits and start to see the changes that spin can have on your fitness and physique, you are bound to want to saddle up more often.

What happens in a Spinning class?

At all three NuYu gyms, our spinning classes take place in our designated spin studios on special designed spin bikes. You will be guided by the instructor through a series of different movements to work your arms and upper body, as your legs pedal away below. The workout is set to music, so the pumping beat and the encouragement of the instructor will keep you energised right to the end.

Spinning versus cycling

So what’s the difference between a Spinning and regular cycling on a bicycle (apart from the obvious fact that the bike isn’t moving!)? Without the distraction of a moving environment, you focus can be 100% on your pedalling, not to mention it being a lot safer. There’s no need for helmets or pads, or to think about the interfering weather; spinning classes can be completed in your ordinary gym gear. The movement in your upper body will also tone your arms, back and abdominal muscles, something that cannot be obtained by normal cycling.

Hard work pays off!

You get out what you put in, so you are in charge of your own speed and effort in these classes. This means that Spinning can be enjoyed by any age and any ability. However fast you are going, though, your thighs, hamstrings and calves will feel the benefits of your spinning and improve in both tone and shape.

Get on your bike!

Working on your individual goal in a group environment will ensure you reach your personal targets and have great fun along the way. Sign up to one of our Spinning classes as any of our NuYu gyms as part of our Free Play activity range.

A beginner’s guide to the cross trainer

An elliptical trainer, a X-trainer or, as it is better known, a cross trainer is a piece of machinery you may or may not yet have come across in one of our NuYu gyms. But what is it, and how is it going to help your workout?

How do you use a cross trainer?

A cross trainer has two platforms on which to put each foot, and two handle bars set either side of a screen for you to hold onto. After stepping onto it carefully, align your feet hip-width apart and take hold of the handles. As you start to pedal with your feet, the handle bars will move as well, meaning one foot and arm will be moving in opposite directions each time. It is important to keep your spine straight to avoid any pain and damage to your back or back muscles.

What are the benefits of working out on a cross trainer?

If you are looking for an intense cardio work out, a cross trainer set to a high level of resistance will ensure that you burn off calories and get your heart beating faster. The cross trainer engages all parts of your body for a full workout, increasing your tone and strength. The movements made combine those that you would experience on a treadmill, exercise bike and stair stepper, but all in one machine. The handle bars work your upper body, including your shoulders, chest and arms, at the same time as the pedalling movement works your legs. Letting go of the handle bars and just pedalling with your feet will also engage your abs.

Who is the cross trainer suitable for?

Most cross trainers can be set to different levels of resistance, meaning that each movement takes more effort to complete. This makes the cross trainer suitable for use by a variety of abilities. You are also in charge of your own speed/resistance, so you can take it at your own pace, and add in bursts of high-intensity where you want to. This is another reason why the cross-trainer is so safe to use; when you stop, the machine stops too.
Working on a cross trainer is easy on your joints so if you suffer from joint pain, or are recovering from an injury, this could be a good piece of equipment for you, whereas an activity like running or jogging could put strain on those areas.

Try it out for yourself!

If you’d like to be shown how to use the cross trainer, do ask an instructor in your local NuYu branch. See great results for yourself from this great piece of machinery. 20 minutes is great to boost your cardiovascular system and get your heart and lungs pumping.

How to avoid the temptation of junk food

Whether it is the sugar or fats that get your taste buds going, junk food is a temptation for us all. Not only is it available everywhere, but it is often our cheapest and fastest option too. Junk food, is everywhere in todays society and eating this regularly can have a serious impact on our health, and often stop us achieving our weight loss and fitness goals. If you’re looking to avoid it completely (or to eat very occasionally!), here are some tips:

Learn the facts

We all know that junk food is bad for us, but what does “bad” actually mean? If you are trying to put yourself off it, you may want to read up on some of the following facts…
Ever heard of the phrase “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”? This may not exactly be true, but here are some unsettling truths about our junk food treats. To burn off one Big Mac burger, for example, it would take 48 solid minutes of sit-ups, an hour of constant punching on a boxing bag, or over two hours of weight lifting. And that is without including the milkshake and fries that might go with it!
One can of Coca-Cola contains an incredible ten teaspoons of sugar, which is already over our daily allowance. Too much sugar and fat in our diets will not only expand our waistlines, but can lead to heart diseases, attacks and blockages which are all potentially fatal. So, put down the chocolate for a healthier heart, and a healthier you.

Find an alternative

Sometimes we convince ourselves that we need to eat chocolate or sweets to get an energy boost or to emotionally feel better in the moment. In fact, the fast releasing sugars in these products mean that your sugar levels will spike and then crash again soon after. To really lift your energy and mood, why not reach instead for a banana, or other fruits like pineapple or dried apricots? These will release their natural sugars into your system slowly. If it is the salty, fried food that you are craving, try instead to eat fibrous foods like quinoa grains or rice. Foods that are high in fibre will make you feel fuller for longer. Unsalted nuts are also far healthier to snack on than processed foods.

Plan for difficult times

There are likely to be difficult times when it comes to social events or celebrations, like birthdays, parties or meals out with friends. Make sure you put a plan in place well ahead of time so as to not give in to the temptation when you get there. This could be planning on ordering a coffee instead of a dessert, keeping a piece of fruit in your handbag in case you get hungry, or how about warning your friends beforehand not to ask you if you want a slice of cake? It may sound funny, but everything you can do to help yourself will avoid moving off your healthy path at the event.

Make it count!

There will be those times, of course, where temptation is far too hard not to give in to. And if you do, make sure you enjoy it! The good news is, however, that by limiting your intake of junk food on a daily basis, it is likely to feel like more of a treat when you do allow yourself to indulge. You may also find that you do not need to eat as much as you did before to satisfy your cravings and soon, you may not even want or need it at all. The most important thing, however, is to get back onto your healthy eating plan as soon as possible. That way you can limit the damage and carry on to achieve great things.

Vitamins explained

There are thirteen vitamins that are essential for your health. Although supplements are available, each one can be found in naturally growing food products, and surely that’s got to be a more exciting way of consuming them!

Vitamin A-

Vitamin A is vital for healthy eyes and keeping your vision in the best condition, in particular the functioning of your retina. As well as everyday sight, vitamin A will help improve your night vision, and if deficient, this could cause what is known as night blindness. As well as your eyes, vitamin A also helps maintain healthy looking skin, bone growth, a strong immune system and help fight infection. Vitamin A can be found in orange, yellow and dark green fruits and vegetables, like carrots and spinach, and in eggs too. You can also raise your vitamin A intake by eating liver and salmon too.

Vitamin B

There are in fact eight types of vitamin B – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12 – which all have slightly different functions: promoting heart and brain health (B1), providing antioxidant qualities (B2), managing cholesterol (B3), maintaining a healthy digestive system (B5), developing the brain during pregnancy and infacy (B6), helping cell growth (B7), preventing anemia (B9) and aiding DNA development (B12), to name just a few. Together though, they are all in charge of converting fat and carbohydrates into energy for the body to use. e.

Vitamin C

When you are feeling under the weather, vitamin C is a great first place to turn. It increases the production of the cells and antibodies that help fight diseases, and therefore boosts the immune system. It also helps wounds heal more quickly by promoting the creation of scar tissue, blood vessels and cartilage. Drinking juice from citrus fruits like oranges is a good way of keeping your vitamin C levels high, but equally you could try eating pineapple or strawberries and blueberries.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is sometimes also called the “sunshine vitamin” and the great news is that it is easy to get into your system – simply go and step outside! It may sound incredibly simple, but by increasing your levels of vitamin D you will improve so many areas of your body, as it helps fight osteoporosis, rickets and multiple sclerosis, heart disease and diabetes, depression and also certain cancers too. You will also find vitamin D in fatty fish like tuna and mackerel and in fortified dairy and cereal products.

Vitamin E

If you are above the age of fifty, it would be particular good for you to look out for your vitamin E levels. Vitamin E helps to prevent against many degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, age-related eye issues and a lack of immune function caused by getting older. This is also true of zinc, another important nutrient. Vitamin E is easy to add to your diet; simply add in some sunflower seeds, peanuts or almonds, or swap to vegetable oils.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is sometimes overlooked, but it is in fact very important to your body’s wellbeing. Vitamin helps to promote good bone health, as well as looking after the way that your blood clots. It is naturally made in the intestines, but you can also get vitamin K into your system by eating green leafy vegetables, and fruit like kiwis and grapes.

What is Fight FX?

Ready for a high-intensity workout that pushes you to get results? Then Fight Fx may be just the thing for you.

The origins of Fight FX

Fight Fx was developed by the LesMills group, who began in the United States in the late 1960s. They now run twenty different types of classes across the globe which are enjoyed by thousands of people from Africa to Australia. BodyPump, another of the LesMills workouts, is also taught in classes at NuYu.

You don’t need a black belt

The Fight Fx class is inspired by martial arts training, but don’t worry – you do not need any experience in any of these areas to get started. Fight Fx has cleverly worked in movements from Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, boxing and lesser-known martial arts like Muay Thai (also known as Thai boxing) and Capoeira (a form of martial arts from Brazil), to make a workout that is suitable for all levels. For a beginner, it is suggested that you start with one or two classes of Fight Fx per week, and work up from there.

Be a warrior in training!

In a Fight Fx class you will be using your arms, legs and everything in between. Your instructor will teach you punches, jabs, crosses, hooks, upper cuts, kicks and blocks, making you feel like a real fighter! The sessions are suitable for all abilities as not only can the moves be tailored by what your instructor thinks is appropriate, but you are also in charge of how much effort you want to put into each move.

The benefits of Fight Fx

As well as providing you with a warrior-style attitude in your mind, Fight Fx will have great benefits to your physique too. The moves will make sure to work out your whole body, improving your strength and power all over. Fight Fx is a form of high-intensity workout, which means that you get results from working harder in a shorter amount of time. You can burn up to 740 calories in one session, meaning you will be losing weight, and getting fit and toned too. Fight Fx is a great stress reliever and you are bound to feel empowered by the end of the class.

Ready for round one?

If you are interested in taking part in a Fight Fx class, talk to your trainer or at the NuYu reception. Sessions are part of Group Exercise Free Play, so come and enjoy it in our fun, friendly and safe environment.

What is strength training

Strength training is favoured by many over exercise on cardio equipments for its health and fitness benefits. Read on to find out what these are, and how you can start doing strength training straight away! Strength training consists of physical movements that repeat, known as reps. But repeating certain positions, the muscles in particular areas will contract and relax, and therefore grown and strengthen.

What types of strength training are there?

You can complete strength training for all different parts of your body so whatever your aim, it will be worth looking into it. A strength training workout will include movements like squats, weight lifting, push ups, press ups, sit ups, crunches, pull ups and pull downs, using pieces of gym equipment like bench presses, leg presses and pull up machines. However as you can tell from this list, equipment is not always required, so strength training can even be completed at home. It is suggested that before completing a strength training workout, one should warm up for five to ten minutes at a moderate intensity on a machine like a treadmill, to get the blood and oxygen flow to the muscles. To aid your workout, make sure you are also well hydrated, and sticking to a balanced diet with good levels of carbohydrate and protein.

The benefits of strength training

Some may be under the misconception that strength training is only for men, but this kind of exercise is beneficial for women too, and the longer you carry out strength training, the benefits will only increase. Although the name might suggest it, the these benefits do not just include muscle strength, but also bone density, flexibility, muscle toning and will help improve your posture too. A combination of all of these factors will also contribute to weight loss, inch loss and make your body look visibly better as well.

The calories that keep on burning

It has been proven in studies that although strength training may burn the same amount as calories as cardio workouts whilst you are doing them, over the next 24 hours after strength training, your body carries on burning far more than with cardio. Working without even trying – what more could you want!

Ask for some RAW advice

If you are interested in finding out more about strength training, why not sign up for one of NuYu’s RAW workout sessions? Your trainer will guide you through a personalised programme and give you a better understanding of what strength training could mean for you.

How to stay motivated to exercise

We can have the latest trainers and access to the smartest gyms around, but if we do not have the motivation, we simply will not move forward with our fitness journeys. It is often thought that getting started is the hardest part, but actually, staying motivated and positive is just as hard, if not harder. A loss in motivation can be caused by many personal factors, but here are our tips for getting back in the swing of exercise.

Remember why you started

Whether it is for weight loss reasons or to improve your fitness, there will have been a very important reason that you started in the first place. Take a moment to remember back to that time and that feeling. It may be an emotional experience, but it will certainly help to keep your mind focused on how much staying on track means to you.

Realise how far you’ve come

It’s likely that since starting, you have already made great improvements. Remind yourself of these! Whether it is through looking at old photographs, old pieces of clothing, or registering your ability levels between when you first started and now, this realisation should make you feel positive and proud about what you have achieved, and give you the confidence to continue.

Make a plan of action

Now you have the desire to start again, you will need to make a plan, and what better way than to use the 2 for 12 activity planners on offer at NuYu’s gyms? Working with your trainer, you can use this activity planner to map out your goals, and how you are going to achieve them, in a series of simple steps. Having this planning in place will break down what might seem like a mountain into manageable stages, and you will feel excited to carry on as you tick each of these off before moving onto the next challenge. If you have completed a 2 for 12 planner before, this is a good opportunity to look back at what you found easy or difficult in the past, and work those into your plan for the future.

Tell everyone!

Sometimes it is easy to lose motivation when you feel you are only doing it for yourself. Once you have the commitment in place, tell people about it! This will make it seem like more of a reality. Whether it is your friends or family members, if they know how much it means to you, they will be there to give you support and encouragement along the way.

Find a friend

If you are positive about the changes you are going to commit to, you may find that you encourage others to join you. Embrace this, for the more people you can share the journey with, the more likely you are to stick to your plan. Bring a friend along to exercise with you, or if you don’t know of anyone, make a friend who is already active, or even a member at NuYu. They are likely to have new tips and advice for you to try, which will give you a fresh outlook on exercise. You never know, they may be equally appreciative of the support you offer them too. If you are previously used to working out alone, trying some of our fantastic group activities could be a great place to start. Check out our Classes page to find out more.

What is Zumba?

What-is-zumba_980X650

In the past few years, Zumba has taken over the world. It’s a new way of losing weight and having fun at the same time. Does that sound too good to be true? Here are the facts!

The origins of Zumba

Zumba was in fact born out of an accident during an aerobics class in the 1990s. Don’t worry, nobody got hurt! Founder Alberto Perez was about to teach the class when he realized he had forgotten his regular music. Instead, he played a tape of salsa and merengue, and improvised some new dance/exercise routine. It was a hit with participants, so Perez gave it a name and started teaching these new Zumba classes in gyms across Colombia. He moved it to the United States in the early 2000s where it took off in popularity, and now Zumba classes accommodate 15 million people at 200,000 locations in 180 countries.

Feel the burn

This intense form of aerobic exercise will help you to burn calories and lose weight. If you are a woman who weighs 150lbs for example, you could burn up to 600 calories in just one hour of Zumba. That’s more than would be burned in an hour session of swimming, cycling or jogging. However like most dance classes, this will be dependent on how much effort and intensity you put into the activity.

Take it to the max

The intensity can be adjusted to suit you personally, making Zumba a class suitable for any age and ability. To increase the effects of the class, make sure to put your all into each move, using your arms and legs to bend, reach and move in the best way that you can. As well as calorie burning, Zumba is excellent for targeting certain areas of your body, like strengthening your core, and toning your quads, hamstrings and glutes.

Step straight in

Zumba can also help improve your flexibility and co-ordination as well. There’s no complicated choreography to learn and you do not need to have any dance experience to take part. Simply follow the rhythm of the instructor. There’s no need to invest in specialized equipment either – just wear a good pair of trainers and clothes you can move easily in, then you are ready to go.

Sign up for Zumba now!

Come and take part in a Zumba class at any NuYu gym. It’s fun, exhilarating, effective and easy to follow. To see class times, please take a look at the Free Play timetables, or ask at the reception.

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This will lead to a fuller sense of satisfaction and well-being after each class.The class will end with relaxation on three levels. First, the body is relaxed, and then the mind and finally the spirit.

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