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We have a wide range of articles about fitness, health and events at Active.

Read one of our many articles below by clicking on the title and after you have finished, let us know what you think by submitting a comment. What fitness techniques have you tried that have worked or failed? Is there a new kind of fitness class that we don't currently provide? What more could we do to help you achieve a healthy lifestyle?

We will be uploading more articles regularly so please keep an eye on this page, and we hope to hear from you soon!

Be sharp in the gym

We all know the scenario. You arrive at the gym, pushed for time and raring to get your workout over and done with. Warming up takes time and after all you did just walk all the way from the car park!!! So how can we convince you of

the importance of always including the warm-up and show you the risks if you just throw yourself straight into the gym without any preparation.

The Benefits

• Raising Core Body temperature - Muscles will be much more responsive due to the increase in blood supply and oxygen to the working muscles. REMEMBER warmed up muscles are able to exert greater power - a definite plus!

• Improved Flexibility and Mobility - Due to the increase in blood supply the muscles become more pliable and the joints secrete synovial fluid which acts as a lubricant - think of oiling your bike to keep all the parts working efficiently. 

• Mental preparation - A warm-up gives you time to focus on the exercise ahead and leave the stresses of the day behind. You wouldn't ask an Olympic diver to throw himself off a height without some sort of mental preparation - now would you? 

The Risks

Injury - Decreasing your risk of injury is the MAIN reason to warm-up. Cold muscles are more susceptible to injury due to lack of elasticity. Imagine your muscles as a piece of chewing gum. If you tried to stretch it when it was cold and just out the wrapper, it would snap. But if you chew it for a few minutes and allow it to warm-up, then you can stretch it to your hearts content. 

The Process

Mobilise joints - include movements that take your joints through their full range e.g. shoulder circles. This increases synovial fluid production. Lower body mobilisation can be done on the cardio equipment. 

A 10 minute pulse-raiser - helps raise body temperature and should leave you 'mildly' sweating. In the gym this can be done on the cross trainer, bike etc.

Powerplate - warms-up the muscle fibres super fast and offers an alternative warm-up for weights equipment. 1 minute for lower body (e.g. mid-squat) and 1 minute for upper body (e.g. press-up position).

Specific Warm-up - concentrates on the body part about to be used through rehearsal e.g. performing the first couple of sets of an exercise using light weights. 

The Big Question - Pre-workout stretching? It's been shrouded in controversy for some time. Should we stretch before a workout, or should we simply not bother and get on with our routine?

According to Robin Redgrave, Director of YMCAfit, exercise sessions where joints remain within a controlled range of movement (as in a resistance machine session or a group indoor cycling session) may not need a stretching component during the warm-up. However given that the jury is currently out on this issue, it wouldn't hurt to spend a couple of minutes stretching the muscles about to be used in your workout. However spending ten minutes static stretching after the warm-up, where the body temperature is allowed to drop completely defeats the aim of the warm-up and may actually increase your risk of injury! Don't waste time - get on with the workout!

Remember

From a weight training point, warm muscles are able to exert greater power, contract more efficiently and for longer before fatigue.

With regards to cardio training, research shows that an effective warm-up can increase exercise time and enable you to continue for longer.

So start your workout with a big bang and prep yourself properly!

Now that we've got you hot and bothered and raring to go, you'll have to wait until the next issue to check out more top tips to get the most out of your workout.

Written by Craig Masefield, Mandy Bonhomme at 00:00

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Head to head with your excuses

Personal Trainer's Top Tips

"As an Active personal trainer I hear plenty of excuses for not exercising, yet for many it is the highlight of their day. There is a broad range of activities and it is important that in order to achieve your health and fitness goals that you find something you enjoy. This could be a structured program at Active Gym or an activity in your own home. Unleash the power and see the positive changes in your body and lifestyle."

How many excuses?

EXCUSE - I haven't enough time.

Create the wheel of time and find out how much time you really have.

Shade in the hours you sleep, work, and activities throughout your day. See how much time is left to exercise. If your wheel is full try to combine exercise within your normal day. For example walking to work, park at the far side of the car park, use the stairs instead of the lift. 

EXCUSE - I'm too tired after work.

Commit to something - a friend, a class or an Active personal trainer. Consider the possible reasons "Why you are tired".

Have a healthy snack in the afternoon and some fruit before you leave work, to combat tiredness.

Change your habits & routines after work; don't go straight home but exercise on the way. Get organised pack your gym kit the night before. Don't get that after work feeling. Don't slouch, get out and get active - walk to a friends house, go to the park, take the dogs or the kids, remember this should be enjoyable! 

If after work doesn't suit - try other times of the day, morning or lunchtime could be a better alternative. Research has been suggested that early morning training is more beneficial to you than other times of the day, your body is working harder due to the lack of blood sugar in your body, forcing your body to burn fat. What better reason to get up early!!! Also the gyms are quieter.

Buddy training at lunchtime - Team up with a friend from work motivating each other as you train. Make sure you leave enough time to cool down, stretch & eat after your work out.

EXCUSE - I haven't exercised for years.

What is stopping you from exercising? Write down a list of possible reasons and try to and give yourself a solution. Try to address the reason why you stopped exercising, as this demotivator is likely to reoccur.

EXCUSE - I don't want to bulk out.

Fat weighs less than muscle but takes up more space. Therefore by using weights to convert excess body fat to muscle you will achieve a slimmer physic. Resistance training (Weights) is your quickest and most effective route to the body you want. The major advantage of resistance training is the after-burn it provides.  This lasts up to 48 hours as the body repairs the muscles worked. When carrying more muscle you will be burning more calories whilst at rest.

Women generally find it difficult to gain muscle due to the lack of testosterone in their body (testosterone stimulates muscle growth).

Research time & time again proves that any exercise is better than none. So don't get too technical about it. Find something you enjoy, put your trainers on and 'JUST DO IT'.

BARRIERS    

Too embarrassed to go to the gym 

Weak knees & back problems

I don't know how to use the machines

Lack of motivation

SOLUTION

Go to a single sex class

Go when the gyms are quiet

Go with a friend

Book a session with an Active Personal Trainer

Exercise at home with or without a Personal Trainer

Obtain advice from your doctor

Book an assessment with Exercise Referral

Book a session with an Active Personal Trainer

Book an induction with an instructor

Book a session with Active Personal Trainer

Book a session with an Active Personal Trainer

Book a class

Arrange to meet a friend

Join a Club

Book a session with an Active Personal Trainer

Written by Active at 10:00

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