Good Supplements – Filling in the Gaps

iStock_000004424358XSmallLast Tuesday, I wrote a bit about the dangers of bad supplements, and how they can do a lot more damage than good. Things like carbohydrate blockers, unregulated testosterone boosters, and too many vitamins can cause harm to the way your body functions. Many don’t measure up to the outrageous claims made on late night tv commercials.

Many supplements can do damage, but that doesn’t mean all supplements deserve a bad rap. In fact, many supplements on the market can do a lot of good, depending on what your body needs and your diet might be lacking.

There are plenty of supplements in the market that are perfectly healthy, when taken in moderation and with the full knowledge of what you’re putting in your body. I could write a book about all the good supplements out there, but lets take a brief look at some of the well known supplements out there:

Whey Protein – When I bring up protein mixes, a lot of people initially think I’m trying to turn them into a muscle head or a body builder. Having extra protein in your diet isn’t going to automatically give you bulging muscles, but what it can do is help preserve your muscles after exercising.

Whey Protein is a great source of Branch Chain Amino Acids, or BCAAs. These proteins reduce the amount of protein breakdown in your muscles. This means your muscles are going to recover faster after a workout, and promote muscle growth.

There are many, many different types of whey protein out on the market. There are even many types of protein mixtures other than whey you can use. I typically do not pay attention to the label as much as I do the nutritional information. Since it’s a protein mixture, I tend to choose mixtures that are higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates.

Vitamin C – This particular vitamin has many uses throughout your body. From fighting colds to reducing pollutants, curing infections to promoting better blood flow, Vitamin C goes a long way to promoting healthy bodily function.

So how much is enough Vitamin C? As I wrote before, having too many vitamins can be a bad thing, but one to three grams of Vitamin C per day can go a long way toward promoting healthy body functions.

Green leafy vegetables and fruits like oranges and kiwis are very high in Vitamin C, and are a great natural source of the vitamin.

Fish Oil – This is a generalized supplement, but fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes healthy body function when paired with omega-6 acids. Because the common diet of red meats and eggs contain many omega-6 acids but not as many omega-3s, having a healthy boost of omega-3 acids can reduce the risk of diabetes, reduce plaque buildup in the arteries, and even reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Again, supplements should not be taken in excess, as fish oil can also raise levels of cholesterol. But when taken in moderation, the omega-3s found in this oil can be very beneficial.

Of course, the big question comes to mind: do I need to take these supplements? And the answer is of course not! Supplements do nothing but add nutrients to your body that you might not normally get in your everyday diet. There are no miracle cures that will automatically give you the body of Wonderwoman. But what supplements can do is fill in a few gaps you might have in your every day diet. They won’t do the hard work for you, but it might give you a little extra help.

No matter what though, make sure you talk to your doctor before you start taking supplements of any kind. And be sure to talk to me about any supplements you might be considering! I am happy to share my two cents on any and all supplements out there.

Bad Supplements – Causing More Problems Than Solutions.

iStock_000005673431XSmallHave you ever seen those late night TV ads that tell you “Lose weight quickly with this easy pill”? They always have the animated shot of fat disappearing, the bogus infographics, and the customer reaction shots telling you that this pill works. Some ads even get someone dressed as a doctor on the screen telling you they recommend it for all of their patients. And it’s for the low low low cost of four payments of $29.99!

What a deal, right?

I cannot help but laugh when I see these commercials, but it worries me that so many people take these commercials for truth. People want to lose weight, but they don’t think they are capable of the hard work that is involved. Other people not only want to lose weight, but gain tons of muscle mass in a short amount of time. They want to believe in the miracle pill that can solve all of their problems.

If you know me, you know what I’m going to say next: there are no short cuts to fitness. While we might be able to cut corners in other parts of our lives, you get exactly what you put in to your personal fitness regime.

Some body builders use steroids and testosterone boosters to help themselves build muscle mass, but please do not confuse that with fitness. That’s unnatural body building, and while they might look good on the surface, there are always side effects.

Take a look at some of the worst offenders in the world of bad supplements that I have seen:

Unregulated Carbohydrate Blockers – Carb Blockers keeps Amylase, a natural chemical that helps your body digest carbs, from doing its job. As a result, carbs will pass through your body without being absorbed. While prescription carbohydrate blockers are safe and effective at their job, unregulated carb blockers sometimes have unlisted ingredients that can cause harm to your body. On top of that, you don’t necessarily want your body to stop absorbing carbs, since carbohydrates are a natural form of energy your body needs.

Testosterone Boosters – These boosters can be safe when prescribed by a doctor, but I have seen many “miracle pills” out there that claim they can boost your testosterone levels, giving you more energy, zeal, and muscle mass. In the end, these pills are more dangerous than they are helpful. Testosterone boosters can raise blood pressure, elevate blood cell counts leading to blood clots, and even liver damage.

Believe it or not, many doctors posit that simple lifestyle changes, like regular visits to the gym and a change in diet, can give you the kind of boost that testosterone treatment claim to give you.

Too Many Vitamins – Many of us take a multivitamin pill every day. After all, we want to get a natural amount of vitamins in our system, right? It turns out, there is truth to the idea of too much of a good thing. Getting an overdose of vitamin C, for example, could lead to nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Having too many vitamins can be just as bad as not getting enough.

Even if you’re taking regular doses of vitamins, it’s important to be aware that many multivitamins on the market include fillers that make the pill more appealing. This can include hydrogenated oils, artifical colors, and other fillers that are unhealthy at high levels. Make sure you check what’s really in your multivitamin before you take them.

Please, before you do anything else, talk to your doctor about using these “as seen on TV” drugs and miracle cures. These scams are worse than sugar pills; they will change your body chemistry and lead to more problems than solutions.

Aches and Pains – What to look out for

iStock_000009735766XSmallThis last Tuesday, I wrote a bit about why you get aches and pains after a hard day at the gym. If you worked out the right way, those aches and pains are a good thing! It’s the way  your body tells you that you exerted yourself more than you usually do, and your muscles will start to show results.

But sometimes, our body aches for the wrong reasons, and those aches and pains might not be telling you such good things. But how can we tell a good ache from a bad ache?

There are many, many bad aches and pains you need to look out for. Many more than can be outlined in a single blog. But I have three big sources of aches and pains that you need to look out for when going to the gym, and are completely preventable.

Pain from Bad Posture

Bad posture is something I have seen throughout gyms, even among professional bodybuilders. We might start off a workout session with the best form possible. But by the end of the session, you might be tempted to lift with your back, instead of your legs.

As we get tired, our body naturally tries to take shortcuts to make it easier for ourselves. Like I have said before, think about your body as a river. Instead of moving the boulder, a river will simply flow around it.

Thats why when your arms start to get tired from doing push-ups, you might start arching your back. Your body isn’t trying to hurt you – it just doesn’t want to change.

When I’m working with a client and I see that their posture starts to slack, I stop that particular workout set immediately. Working out with bad posture is asking for injury, and can be extremely damaging if done over long periods of time. Instead of pushing yourself toward injury, it’s best to stop the exercise and move on to another set of muscles.

Localized Pain

If you’re working out correctly, you’re going to feel a burn across a wide spectrum of muscles in your body. Every muscle is interconnected and work together to give you your range of motion. So if you’re doing bench presses, you’re going to feel a burn in your arms and your chest.

Thats why you should not ignore aches that are in a localized, specific part of your body. For example, if your knees really seem to ache after doing squats, you might need to readjust how you perform the exercise.

If you are experiencing pain like this during a workout, stop immediately! You are here to work out your body, not hurt your body. We will readjust your posture, or we will find other ways to work out that set of muscles.

Connected Aches

Dedication is great, but do not allow yourself to ignore an injury when you go to the gym. Working out on an injured ankle will not only make the ankle worse; you’re going to start feeling pain in your knees, thighs, lower back, and beyond.

Because your muscles are interconnected, pain in one part of your body is going to radiate outwards to other parts of your body. Think about it this way: If you injure your big toe, you might think it’s no big deal. It’s just a toe, right?

But when you spend some time on a treadmill, you’re going to walk on your foot a bit differently to avoid putting pressure on your toe. That’s going to cause your ankle to roll a bit more, which will add some more pressure to your knee. After 10 minutes, that slight issue of a stubbed toe isn’t going to be that slight any longer.

Don’t ignore pain. Recognize it, and treat it before it can get worse. Missing one day at the gym and resting an injury is better than spending 2 bad days at the gym and making it worse.

Feeling the burn at the gym is great, but only if it’s the right kind of burn. Make sure you recognize the difference between good aches which are caused by a good workout, and bad aches which are caused by other problems. Make sure you talk to our team of personal trainers so you know how to recognize the difference.

Aches and Pains – What do they mean?

10394567_822127597835919_2048834069246516979_nIf you managed to come to our Charity Boot Camp this last weekend, you might notice that you’re a little more sore than usual. Getting out of bed might seem like more of a chore, the stairs seem a little steeper than usual, or it might seem a little more difficult to raise your arm to brush your teeth. When you’re sore, you suddenly realize how many muscles you use in your daily life.

So why do we get sore? It’s happened our whole lives, but it might seem like the older we get, the less it takes for our muscles to ache after a workout. Especially after we do a completely new set of exercises at the gym. Our arms ache, our legs ache, our shoulders ache… What is our body trying to tell us?

Even though it might not seem like it, sore muscles are telling us that we are making progress in our personal fitness. Take a look at some of the science behind your Aches and Pains:

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Those aches and pains you feel after a workout is referred to by physiologists as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, and is completely normal for anyone who does strenuous activity. From those just starting their workout regimen to body builders who spend hours lifting weights, everybody feels sore at some point after a workout.

When you’re exercising, your putting your muscles through strenuous activity they haven’t had to endure before. Your muscles are going through some minor stress, which causes some microscopic tears to occur. Exercise physiologists believe these tears, paired with the minor inflammation that accompanies it, cause the minor aches you feel.

But despite how you feel when you wake up and struggle to get out of bed the next morning, these pains are actually a good thing! As your muscles endure your exercise regimen, they adjust to better accommodate your strenuous fitness activity. The next time you do deadlifts, squats, lunges, or bicep curls, you may notice you ache a little bit less… at least until you increase the resistance you’re using.

How do I ease these aches?

One thing I always recommend to my clients is stretch, stretch, stretch! Stretching your muscles better prepares them for strenuous activity, lessening the sudden shock of jumping off the couch and into your gym shoes. It also allows your muscles to limber up, providing less of a chance for injury.

Once you’re done working out, be sure to spend some extra time doing some easier, aerobic activity. This allows your muscles to cool down, again lessening the sudden shock of strenuous movement to less strenuous activity.

Another way to ease your sore muscles is to pace yourself while you work out. Spend one day doing a solid workout, pushing yourself to the limit. Maybe take part in on of our charity Boot Camps! But after pushing your limits, spend the next day or two working on something less strenuous, such as cardio. Your muscles need time to recover from the activity you just put them through.

Believe it or not, one of the best ways of easing muscle aches is to keep on exercising. In order to get the proper nutrients into your muscles, such as Vitamin C or those antioxidants in those blueberries you had for breakfast, your muscles have to move. Exercising allows your muscles to get the nutrients they need to prepare for the next bout of strenuous activity you throw at them.

So instead of waiting out sore muscles on the couch, give your muscles the attention they need! And remember that despite how they might feel at the time, the good kind of aches you feel after a good workout is the feeling of progress.

Sticking to Your Goals While Travelling

11084264_813465242035488_1911318864560426423_nSpring is here, and summer is just around the corner! It’s always exciting when it gets nice outside, and  I know a lot of people take the opportunity to start planning their vacation when this time of the year starts to roll around.

This last week, I had the chance to visit Las Vegas. It was a great chance to visit Vesta Hospitality, enjoy some time in the sun, and even meet the Seahawk Great Curt Warner! It was a great time, and I hope I can do it again sometime in the future.

It occurred to me, though, that when people are travelling abroad, it might be a little more difficult to fit in your fitness goals. After all, fitness usually demands a time table, and your vacation time pushes aside your everyday life for something a little more relaxing.

Now, you know me. And you know that even while on vacation, I always stress how important it is to stick to your goals, even if it requires a little extra dedication. You have earned a vacation, but don’t let your fitness suffer!

That’s why I like to suggest a few key points to clients who are planning on taking a trip for an extended period of time:

Talk to Boomer Fitness about sticking to your fitness – One of the best things about Boomer Fitness is we continue to work with you on your fitness outside of the gym. The personal trainers here have a wealth of knowledge, and it’s a resource we want you take advantage of while you’re here.

If you’re planning on travelling abroad, let us know, and we’ll talk you through some basic workout routines that you can do on the go. We’ll talk you through proper technique when doing stretches, some basic exercises you can do in a hotel room, and write up a dietary plan you can refer to.

Plan ahead so you can enjoy yourself – Let’s be completely honest for a minute: Whether its food or drink, you’re going to enjoy yourself on your vacation. You know it and I know it, and there’s nothing wrong with that. So if you’re going to enjoy yourself while on vacation, lets make sure you’re working on your diet ahead of time so you can afford to enjoy yourself.

When you’re planning out your vacation, choose which meals you’re going to allow yourself to splurge on, so you can enjoy yourself when you finally get to that meal. Plus, the anticipation of such good food will just make it taste all the better!

Look for fitness avenues while travelling – One thing I always advocate when people are travelling is finding a hotel that has a decent workout center. But believe me, I know how hard it can be to find a “fitness center” that is more than just a closest sized room with a treadmill.

The trainers here at Boomer Fitness can help you with exercises that require little to no equipment, and can be done in your very own room. These exercises include Lunges, Wall Presses, and even the cult favorite, Burpees!

Dedication to fitness doesn’t stop when you’re on vacation! But it also doesn’t keep you from enjoying yourself while you’re away. Talk to us for more information about how you can include fitness in your time abroad.

What Makes a Great Gym? Part I

10420366_800561496659196_5160659795092338580_n“What makes a great gym?” Is it the equipment? The location? The atmosphere?

It’s a question I used to ask myself when I was starting Boomer Fitness. When I was planning this program, I wanted to make sure that my ideal gym had all the best traits you could ask for. Sometimes, I still find myself asking the same question when I’m reviewing my progress over the last few years. I love Boomer Fitness, and I know it’s got some of the best features you could find in any gym out there. But I still like to ask myself: What really makes a Great Gym?

When I ask clients about why they join a gym, I usually get a few variations of the same handful of answers. “It has some great equipment that I don’t have at home.” “It’s really close to where I work.” “My friends go to that gym, and I figured I would do the same.”

All perfectly valid reasons to go to the gym, but it just doesn’t seem like the right kind of answer. Most gyms have comparable equipment, and a lot of people seem to go out of their way to get to a particular gym. So what really makes a gym a place you want to go back to?

To discover what’s in a great gym, we actually have to ask another question: What do you want to get out of your gym? I break that question down into two answers: Time Well Spent and Time Enjoyed.

Time Well Spent – Let’s face it, when you’re going to be spending a lot of time working out, you want to be spending the right kind of time there. I have said time and time again that fitness is a long-term process, and not something that you can get results in with half-hearted effort. You have to give it your all, 100% of the time. That means a lot of dedicated hours at a gym.

So why would you want to go to a place where you feel like your time is being wasted? Heading to a gym and getting nothing done is like going to a Packers Game and playing angry birds on your phone. But so many times when I worked at a larger gym, I would see people who weren’t using their gym time to its fullest.

It’s game time when you’re at the gym! Use it to your full advantage!

Time Enjoyed –  It’s a lot easier to go to the gym to work out if you’re looking forward to your time there, but sometimes that isn’t always the case. One of my clients has told me that in the past, the hardest part about going to a gym was resolving herself to get out the door. Going to work out wasn’t something she necessarily enjoyed; it was a chore that she had to do.

Sure, it’s a workout, and it’s probably going to push your physical condition. But that doesn’t mean you have to dread going to the gym! You want to enjoy the time that you spend at the gym because you will be more willing to back to the gym. Turn the idea of ” I could go to the gym” to “I get to go to the gym,” and you’re going to find you’re spending a lot more time working your muscles.

It’s not rocket science. When you go to the gym, you want to spend your time working on relevant parts of your body, but you also want to enjoy yourself while you do it. But like a lot of things in life, this might sound easier said than done. What do you factor in when you’re signing up for a gym to make sure you hit these two marks?

To me, both of these points can be attained by making sure your gym has one key factor: the right kind of community. This ranges from the personal trainers to the people you work out with, from the group work out sessions to the individual one-on-one meetings we have. It differs from person to person, but having the right type of community that fits your work-out style is the difference between having an average gym an a Great Gym.

So how do you find that kind of community? Where do you start to look for the right kind of atmosphere that will help you be your best at the gym?

Be sure to check in with my blog on Thursday to find out!

How We Get Ready for a 5K

iStock_000009329788XSmallIf you missed my blog last Tuesday, I wrote a bit about why I like getting people ready for a 5k. It’s a great way to set goals, test our fitness, and succeed our prior selves. Best of all, there’s no greater feeling than crossing that finish line, knowing that you were able to accomplish what you thought was impossible mere months ago.

So now you’re amped! You want to start training for a 5k, but if you have never done it before, training might be a little difficult to find a good place to start. Running long distances might be something you did a long time ago, or it might be something you have never attempted in your life.

The best thing about Boomer Fitness is we take your entire history of training into account when we put together a plan for you. It’s all about realizing where you are now, planning a course of action and setting goals, and then achieving those goals through measurable time frames.

Maybe you want to train for a 5k, but what if your running experience consists of a treadmill? We can work around that and start with the very basics of running. Maybe you used to be a cross country running in high school, but it’s more of a recreational activity for you now. Instead of focusing on the basics, we can instead work on getting your endurance up.

So what are we going to do first? Take a look at a few of the basics that we might cover when you come in to Boomer Fitness:

Training Beyond your Legs– Running is a full body exercise, and we need to make sure your body is prepped for endurance running. A lot of people make the mistake of only exercising their legs when they get ready for a run. While you’re legs are certainly going to be doing the bulk of the work, It’s vital to make sure your entire body is ready to go. After all, you’re entire self is going for the run, not just your pair of legs.

Think about it this way: If you want to tune up a car, you don’t just add new tires and expect the car to drive faster. You would have to tune up the engine, the transmission, change the oil, maybe add some high-octane fuel… It’s the same idea for working on your body.

Instead of just focusing on the muscles in your legs, Boomer Fitness Trainers will be focusing on your entire self. We will spend a lot of time on your legs, sure, but we will also work on your core, back, and even your arms.

Goal Planning – So you want to run a 5k at the end of August? Great! Lets get started now.

The sooner you start getting ready for an event, the sooner you can start making improvement. Many participants in 5ks leave training until the last minute, thinking they can cram enough training into a month, or even just a few weeks prior to the event. We have to remember that marked improvement takes a lot of time and dedication, and it isn’t something you can just cram in at the end.

If you start now? You will be in a much better place come summertime than if you start mid July.

Escaping the Treadmill – If you know me, you know how much I dislike constant use of bicycle machines or treadmills. Running on a treadmill is great training for a treadmill edition of a 5K, but these events aren’t done on a treadmill. They’re done outdoors!

The outdoors have hills, slopes, different types of pavement, and other variables you just can’t train for on a treadmill. Our training for a 5k is going to be much more intense than just ramping up the difficulty on a machine and calling it good. We will look at getting your heart rate up, resistance training your legs, endurance building, and switching up your diet as we get closer to the race.

Getting in the Right Mindset – I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: Fitness is only half physical. The other half of fitness is purely a mental state, and it’s vitally important that we get in the right frame of mind when we start.

Boomer Fitness puts a huge amount of emphasis on the mental side of fitness. True, we spend a lot of time on the machines, free weights, and mats, but we also spend a lot of time talking to you. After all, it’s your fitness we are working on, so we want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your program.

The hardest part about getting ready for a 5K is telling yourself that you can finish the event. It’s about starting the run and knowing that it’s not a question of if you manage to get to the finish line, but a matter of when and how you feel when you do it.

I know you can do this event. I know because I’ve seen many clients make the transformation from “I can’t” to “I will.” One of my favorite moments of being a Personal Trainer is seeing you make that transformation, and I want to help you get there. Send me an email when you’re ready to make the transformation!

Completing a 5k: The Biggest Competition is You!

iStock_000009546366XSmallSpring and Summer is a great time to get outside. Despite the rain, overcast skies and even the wind that comes with early spring, we still get some beautiful days outside which give us a taste of summer time.

One staple of the warmer season are the multiple marathons, triathlons, and 5ks that make an appearance around the Portland and Vancouver area. Whether it’s for a great cause you believe in, or just because it’s something to do, 5ks are a great way to put your fitness to the test.

Some clients at the gym like to get themselves prepared for a local 5k, but I have noticed others don’t even consider the opportunity to take part in a 5k. I like to recommend participating in a 5k for a couple reasons:

It’s A Way to Challenge Yourself – When I bring up running a 5k, a lot of clients outright say “I can’t do something like that,” or “I’m not a runner.” But this kind of outlook misses the point of taking part in one of these events. Running in a 5k is about beating your own limits, not about beating the others in the competition.

Just by signing up, you’re already beating the prior version of yourself who was so adamant that you could never take part in a 5k.

It’s a Tangible Goal – A running event like a 5k as a scheduled start date. It has a measured distance (5 kilometers) and a detailed route, so you know exactly where you’re going to be running. Why is this important?

Because when you sign up for a 5k, you know exactly what kind of improvements you will need to make in order to participate in the event. You and I can work on endurance and spend a little extra time on legs. If you’re feeling some extra incentive, you can even practice on the route before the event even happens, so you can anticipate the kind of track you need to practice for.

It Gives Measurable Improvements – When you first start training for an event like this, I like to measure where you start off, so you can compare it to where you end up on the day of the 5k. Not only is a 5k event a great way to set goals, it’s also a great way to measure how much improvement you make leading up to the event.

Think about it like this: When you sign up for a 5k, you know you have to eventually get up to travelling 5 kilometers at a set pace. That’s a long distance, but we don’t do it all at once. Instead, we make a goal of getting to 1 kilometer, and then we move up from there. Eventually, getting 5 kilometers won’t be so far out of your grasp.

Finishing is Better than Never Starting – Whether you sprint, jog, or walk across the finish line, you are still beating the version of yourself who never started. It doesn’t matter to me what pace you take during the 5k, as long as you are pushing yourself to do the best that you can.

The pace that you finish only matters to one person: yourself. If you have kept the best pace you can and completed the 5k, you have already beaten your prior time. No one can beat that.

Competitng in a 5k really is a no-lose scenario. Most runs in the area are meant to benefit a local organization, like MS research or the Humane Society run. You get a chance to spend some time running outdoors, and most of all, it gives you a goal to work toward. Where can you go wrong?

Let me know when you’re ready to take part in a 5k, and we’ll start a timeline to get you ready for the occasion!

Taking Fitness Outdoors: Be Prepared!

Photo by Chris Elias
Photo by Chris Elias

This last Tuesday, I wrote a little about places to explore when you get an urge to get outdoors during one of our sunny days. It’s all well and good to talk about exploring in good weather, but the elements have to cooperate if we want to go outside.

If I’ve learned anything about the weather in the Pacific Northwest, its that the only thing certain is rain. Case in point, the beginning of this last Tuesday was beautiful! But by the end of the day, it was gray, wet, and not quite hiking or cycling weather.

But that’s one of the great things about life isn’t it? We can learn from our challenges. Even though we might plan for blue skies and warm weather, there could be anything in the forecast for tomorrow. You never know what life is going to throw your way.

So to make sure we’re ready for whatever weather might be headed our way, we have to prepare for the challenges at hand.

This is especially important when we head outdoors for our fitness. If something happens at the gym, you’re surrounded by fitness professionals who can help you out, and know when you’re pushing yourself too far. But if you run into an issue on a hike to see Multnomah falls? There may be others on the trail. but you’ve got to take care of yourself and know when you’re pushing yourself too far.

Here are a few tips you can remember before headed to the trailhead:

Plan ahead – I like to say “Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.” It might sound pessimistic, but think about it this way: When you’re a mile away from your car dressed for a warm day in the sun and it starts to drizzle, it’s going to get cold and wet awfully fast.

So make sure you are prepared for the trail before you set out. I highly recommend you take proper clothing for the occasion when you head out. If you’re going hiking, wear hiking boots, light, breathable clothing, and take some light rain gear in a backpack. Don’t forget to prepare for sun, either, so wear sunscreen and a hat.

Calories and Water – Always, always, always take water with you if you’re going to be spending some time outdoors! As you go hiking or biking, your body is going to be using a lot more fluids, which means you’re going to need more water than you might for a day in the office. The last thing you want to experience when you’re on a trail is dehydration.

Another thing many people tend to overlook while headed outdoors is trail mix. Like water, your body is going to be burning quite a few more calories than normal. Trail mix will provide your body with the energy it needs to keep going, so you don’t burn out halfway through the hike.

Know where you’re going – Even if you’re headed to a well defined path, it’s very important that you know exactly where you’re starting, where you’re headed, and how long the trail is. On a map, trails may look very easy to navigate, but sometimes maps don’t always include forks in the road, or unmarked trails. Know where you’re going, so you at least have a fair idea of what to expect on the trail.

Stretch – I cannot stress this enough for anyone who is planning on travelling outdoors. Unlike spending some time on a treadmill or an elliptical, outdoor trails are going to vary in exertion with every step. Some portions will be level, others will be fairly steep, and some might shift both uphill and downhill.

Make sure you’re doing your stretches for your legs, so your body is prepared for a little extra exertion than normal. The last place you want a cramp is on the trail.

Don’t overexert yourself – If this is one of the first times you’ve gone on a trek, remember to take it easy, and don’t feel compelled to go too far. Just because there’s something to see at the end of the path doesn’t mean you have to get there in record time. Pushing yourself at the gym is one thing, but remember that you still have to make it back to the trailhead once you get to your destination.

Grab a camera – Maybe not an essential, but you’re going outdoors to enjoy the view in addition to your fitness. So grab a camera and take some shots so you can share! I love to hear about where everyone is going on the weekends, and would love to see pictures of your latest experience!

When you do get a great shot, be sure to share it with Boomer Fitness on Facebook, and tell us about what you’re doing outdoors!

Taking Your Fitness Outdoors

Senior Couple In Fitness Clothing Running Along BeachI love spending time in the gym, and my hope is you enjoy your time coming to the gym as well. But that doesn’t mean our fitness is restricted to weights and machines. One of the key success factors of a fitness plan is enjoying yourself as you do it.

To me, good weather is the perfect opportunity to take your fitness outdoors. It gives us a chance to go out and soak up some vitamin D, breath the fresh air, get some great pictures, and get some real-life fitness in at the same time.

But March is always a grab bag when it comes to good weather, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s in like a lion, out like a lamb. Other times the lion seems to stick around for a while. But when the forecast is good, It’s a great chance to enjoy our first taste of spring and summer, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

On the rare day we get a nice day outside, I want to make sure you can enjoy the great outdoors and get some fitness in at the same time. Here are a few ideas so you can enjoy the great outdoors to its fullest:

Cycling

If you know me, you know I have some very strong feelings about spin class. You end up burning some calories, but you’re doing the same action over and over again. And at the end of the day, you haven’t travelled anywhere, have you?

Real world cycling is a little different. You’re going to encounter some more variation in resistance and, best of all, you’re going to see a lot more scenery! The best part is the Portland/Vancouver area is a great place to cycle, no matter your skill level. So whether you’re an avid cyclist or just jumping on the bike for the first time, you will have plenty to do on the next beautiful day.

If you’re looking for something to ease into, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail is a part of a non-profit effort to repurpose unused railways called “Rails to Trails.” The path used to be a part of a railway system from Portland to Seattle, and is now a 21 mile trail. Cross waterways like Beaver Creek and the Nehalem River, and view the massive trestles used during the heyday of the railroad. Take a look at the trail here.

If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, consider enjoying the wonderful sights of the Gorge by taking a ride paralleling the Columbia Historic Highway. One of my clients, Chris, took this trail by starting at the Eagle Creek Trailhead. She took the trip about 2 years ago, and still talks about it!

Taking this trail will give a great view of Bonneville Dam and passes by a fish hatchery. Stop by the Bridge of the Gods to see the Mural, or support the locals selling smoked salmon. You can find a detailed map of the route here.

Remember – before going out on bike, make sure you bring water and trailmix, plan the trip ahead of time, and always wear a helmet!

Hiking

If you’re looking for a whole-body workout, there is nothing that caters to the human form more than hiking. While you get the work-out in your legs, you’re also going to be working on your core and your balance. You’re also going to be building bone density, lowering blood pressure, and enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Northwest! What’s not to love?

One of my favorite places to go hiking in the Pacific Northwest is the gorge. There are tons of hiking trails that range from easy-going to seriously steep, and all provide a great view.

If you’re starting out, think about going to the Elowah Falls trail, near Dodson. The trail is fairly short, but offers some great viewing opportunities for those looking for a vista.

If you’re looking for something unique, take a look at Beacon Rock on highway 14. The hike is a little steep, but the many switch backs give a beautiful view the entire way up the summit. And when you’re at the top, what a view!

Another one of my favorites is the Multnomah Falls trail. It gives a great opportunity to view the beautiful falls while enduring some moderate steepness on the switchbacks.

Like I said for bikes, remember to bring water and trailmix and plan your trip ahead of time. Remember there’s no shame in turning around if the trail just seems to difficult. It just gives you a reason to come back when your more prepared for the trail!

When you’re out on the trail, be sure to take some pictures and share with Boomer Fitness! We love to stay updated on how you’re getting fit in the outdoors.