Exercising out of the Box

Are you getting a little bored with your regular workouts? Hey, I’ve been there plenty of times. Not only is it good to change things up to stay motivated but it’s also an excellent idea to keep your body guessing and therefore losing weight or building more muscle. Below are the top four fitness trends that I think are great for getting you out of that rut into having that awesome butt!

Barre Classes:

I have personally taken these classes and love them. If you are a former dancer or if you have never danced but always wanted to try something that doesn’t make you feel like a fool, Barre classes are for you. Don’t think this is a new craze either. The Barre method has been around for over 50 years! It started in London and was developed by a German dancer named Lotte Berk and was brought over to the U.S. in the last few decades. The classes may seem easy enough since it’s composed of smaller movements for the most part but with lots of pointed toes and standing on your tip toes like a ballet dancer, your muscles fatigue quickly. Depending on your instructor more cardio may be incorporated or the use of yoga mats, balls and light weights. This is definitely a class to not be overlooked or passed up you WILL be sore the next day and depending on your body type, this may be the catalyst to getting those nice long and lean muscles.

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Nike Studio Wrap Shoes ($55)

TRX Training:

Developed by a former Navy Seal to get a great workout even when deployed in the most remote areas, TRX training can be done virtually anywhere you can attach a TRX band. There are classes you can attend to learn good technique and different exercises or if you want to venture out on your own you can purchase the band and subscribe to the TRX site to get workouts. This is a very inexpensive and highly effective workout that can be done in your office, at home or even from a telephone pole or tree if you’re more of an outdoorsy type. With the band, you can get a full body workout and transition from one workout to the next. It will also help you with flexibility. Who knew you could do so much with one band? This has got to be a great workout considering Navy Seals take their workouts very seriously and are some of the most highly trained individuals in the military. To purchase a band and get more information, visit the TRX Website.

Pole Fitness:

Who said swinging from a pole upside down and being able to hold your body weight suspended from a pole was just for exotic dancers? Not the lady’s that came up with Pole Fitness. I have also tried this workout and can say that there was not one time after going that I was not sore. This is great for getting strong arms and legs. I also loved this workout because it makes you leave the rest of the day behind and focus on your body and feeling confident no matter your size or athleticism. This is a huge workout worldwide and there are global competitions that when you see the performances make your jaw drop. This is a great workout that is fun and flirty!

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Be sure to wear a tank top and shorts. You need a lot of skin to grip the pole with. I love this razorback tank from www.bflyactivewear.com.

Body Weight Exercise:

Well this one is a no brainer. It’s going back to the basics and talk about cheap! You would barely need anything to keep up this workout. It’s all about using your own bodyweight to make yourself stronger. Now days there are more than just regular push ups and crunches. There are planks, burpees and mountain climbers. There are tricep pushups, v crunches and criss cross lunges. So many new and different takes on the age old workouts. Add intervals of 60 seconds of nonstop exercise and 10-20 seconds of rest and ramp up the workouts. Try a bootcamp class, HIIT class or there may even bodyweight class that is available in your city. It might be best to try out a class first because the biggest risk with these types of workouts is doing them with bad form or improperly.

No matter what you may be into there is probably a workout out there for you. Try something new and outside of your comfort range, you may be surprised to find a new hobby or passion. This is also a great way to get out there and meet new people.

 

The Evolution of the Pedometer

It seems nowadays the new fitness trend is pedometers. From the Fitbit and Fuel band, to the Jawbone and Pebble not to mention the countless apps that are available for your phone, they are everywhere and do a lot more than just track walking. The idea of the pedometer however is not a new one at all.

One of the greatest minds to have lived, Leonardo da Vinci, sought to track the distance a Roman soldier walked all the way back in the 15th century. He drew plans to develop a device and viola! the first pedometer was recorded.

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Leonardo’s Pedometer http://itsjustlife.com/davinci/inventions/

The next piece of pedometer history is a little more muddled. Some credit Swiss watch makers who made watches that were motion sensitive and self winding with inventing the mechanism that would be used in later pedometers to record steps. Some credit the French with the first timepiece that Thomas Jefferson later tinkered with as having created the first pedometer. No matter what though, it is well known that Thomas Jefferson did show an interest in recording and measuring steps and did indeed create the first pedometer in the U.S.. Whether it happened by adapting a French watch, or by his own creation will remain a mystery since he did not patent any of his inventions.

Below is an excerpt from Padover’s The Complete Jefferson, P. 969-970 and a letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on May 3rd 1788:

“I send your pedometer. To the loop at the bottom of it, you must sew a tape, and at the other end of the tape, a small hook … cut a little hole in the bottom of your left watch pocket, pass the hook and tape through it, and down between the breeches and drawers, and fix the hook on the edge of your knee band, an inch from the knee buckle; then hook the instrument itself by its swivel hook, on the upper edge of the watch pocket. Your tape being well adjusted in length, your double steps will be exactly counted by the instrument, the shortest hand pointing out the thousands, the flat hand the hundreds, and the long hand the tens and units …”

Thomas Jefferson introduced the American public to the pedometer and some even called them “Tomish Meters”. Popularity for the pedometer did not take off in the United States until the 1930′s and even then it was only popular with long distance walkers which eventually gave way to it being marketed as a “Hike-o-meter”. Fast forward thirty years to 1965 in Japan, a man named Y. Hatano put forth a pedometer called the “manpo-kei” which in english translates to 10,000 steps meter. By 1985 research by Hatano himself was widely accepted as to showing that 10,000 steps a day was the proper energy output for a person to balance their caloric intake to maintain a healthy weight.

Pedometers have come a long way from Jefferson and Hatano’s time. In those days the device needed to remain vertical and a tiny pendulum made up of a lead ball swung within the device with each step and then one would multiply that by two (a step for each foot) to obtain a total. However, problems arose with recording when things like a rocky or uneven path was walked or the person bent down and threw off the pendulum. Todays pedometers use what is called an accelerometer that measure movements in three ways. Up/Down, Forwards/Backwards and Left/Right which is constantly checked on every second. A computer evaluates whether the movements captured resemble a step and a calculation is made. There is still room for error with modern pedometers but accuracy is usually within about five percent.

And now a crude, but visual journey of the pedometer:

1860 pedometer

British Mid 1800′s pedometer by Negretti & Zambra

german pedometer

Western Germany 1950′s Ankle Pedometer

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1960′s Pedometer

 

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Fitbit Flex 2014

Sources:

That Ten Letter Word

Motivation: it’s empowering, at times elusive, and requires discipline. However, without it there cannot be success.

Finding my motivation, especially when it comes to working out, has been a constant evolution. Often times I find my motivation is a reward or something I have been deprived of. Some of my motivations require a lot of discipline so I understand if they might not work for you, but perhaps they can inspire you to find something that will motivate you to get out and get active.

1. A good book or magazine. If you’re a fan of walking on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym this is a good one. I find a great read I really enjoy and reserve it for the gym only. The catch is, you CANNOT read it unless you’re on that machine. Suggestions I have would be “The Hunger Games”, “Orange is the new Black”, “The Da Vinci Code” or any other read that keeps you turning pages and therefore moving.

2. New songs you love or a station you adore. Have a jam that you really love? A new CD you just acquired? You can also tie in the above “books” idea by getting a book on your device and listening to it. No matter what it may be save it for the times when you’re moving and being active. This one takes a lot of discipline but even just creating a new playlist that you reserve for working out ONLY can be a great motivator and keep you going longer and stronger.

3. Fun clothes for working out. I love finding great clothes to workout in. They lighten and brighten my mood and once I change into them I am instantly ready to get out there and get going! It does not have to cost an arm and a leg for a decent workout wardrobe. If I am out at a store with active clothes available, I check out and see what is on sale. However, if I reach a specific goal I spoil myself with a splurge.

4. Invest in the right equipment. There is nothing worse than getting going and then having a wrench like an injury thrown into the mix. If you have invested in a gym but have never touched a weight in your life, get a half hour personal training session to curb the fear of weights and show you proper form. Getting into walking and/or running? Great shoes ARE A MUST. They will save your joints and keep you going. Yoga your thing? Get a nice mat, towel and water bottle. These things are imperative but can also a little expensive which is another aspect to their motivation. You paid for it so you better use it, right?

5. The last one I’ll leave you with: a PARTNER. There have been days when I do not want to go for jogs or walks and I know that goes for my partner too. Having another person to hold me accountable and whom I know wants/needs me to be there for them is an excellent motivator. Perhaps you like doing it on your own, but having someone hold you accountable and cheer you on or heck, whip your butt into going, can be the difference between, “I’m not feeling it and I’m not doing it,” to “I’m not feeling it but I’ll do it, if not for me, for them.”

No matter what your motivations may be, keep it relevant and recognize when it stops working. You might need to get a little creative but that’s alright, just as long as you are staying active!

Lost Lake Butte Trail

For our summer vacation this year my fiancé and I went out to a local campground called Lost Lake. The lodge and family friendliness reminded me of the movie “Dirty Dancing” and there was so much to do in and around the lake! Despite getting extremely sunburnt our second day we decided that we wanted to get a hike in. There are many trails to hike in the area but one we had heard really great things about was the “Lost Lake Butte” trail.

We started early right after breakfast since it was going to be hot that day and we wanted to hike while it was still relatively mild. Round trip the trail is 4.6 miles and I would say moderate in difficulty. There are a lot of rocks and tree roots popping up on the trail and it is a steep climb with several switchbacks. At first, once we got to the summit I didn’t see anything too worth while but after walking a little further we were rewarded with this…

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A gorgeous view of the north side of Mt. Hood! It was definitely worth the hike! We spent a good chunk of time up there taking in the view. If you are around Hood River or even the Portland area I highly recommend this hike! If you are nowhere close I ask you, where is a piece of nature nearby that you’ve been meaning to go to? Give yourself time, start early, bring snacks and water and go out for a little adventure one of these weekends. We saw kids literally running up this trail so don’t be deterred to bring your children also!

If you’ve recently gone on a hike, no matter where you are, share them with us! We’d love to hear about them and see your pictures too!

Walk With Purpose

There always seems to be a walk for something. Walk for Breast Cancer, Walk for Alzheimers, Walk for MS and so on. I do not think I know one person who hasn’t been affected by a disease somewhere in their lives. Personally, Alzheimers hit close to home for me with my grandma. These walks are usually short (5k or 3.1 miles) and help you to do a small part to support research and those suffering. Why not challenge yourself to find a walk to participate in for the end of the summer or fall? It’s true that often times these walks ask for a donation, but it is for a great cause and sometimes that money is just the extra bit of motivation needed to follow through. Get a few friends together, maybe find a cause that you and your co-workers would like to walk for. It’s great for families to do together also! Below I have listed some websites that you can click on and see if they have walks in your area.

Walk to End Alzheimers

Race for a Cure (Breast Cancer Awareness)

ZERO cancer (Prostate Cancer)

Relay for Life (American Cancer Society)

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes 

NAMIwalk (Mental Illness)

Light The Night (Leukemia & Lymphoma)

Those of course are just a few suggestions. I am sure that if you search for “insert cause+walk” in a search engine, you’ll more than likely find a walk or run to participate in. Now get out there, get inspired, get fit and make a difference!

7 Steps to Happy Walking Feet

You may have heard this time and time again but I am here to stress it once more, GET GOOD WALKING/RUNNING SHOES! Do you think pro football players use equipment from a second hand shop or helmets that are four years old? Do you think that Lance Armstrong rides a bike that he’s had for years kept in the back of a garage for training? I think not! The point is, they use the right equipment for the sport they are doing.

If you are not wearing the right shoes and you are walking or running several miles per week, it should be no surprise if your knees, shins, lower back, hips and ankles start to bother you. Yes, it is an investment. These shoes will not be cheap but your health and the future of your exercise routines will rely heavily on them. Below I have sifted through various websites and taken the best advice they have to give on how to go about finding the right shoe for you.

1. Go to the professionals. This means, go to a place that specializes in shoe fittings and most likely one that specializes in running and walking shoes. They are trained to find the right shoes for people and are often times runners/walkers themselves and understand the importance of a well fitted shoe.

2. Go get fitted at the end of the day. Your feet will be swollen and at their largest and wear the sort of socks you would normally wear when exercising. This will help with the fit since during a walk your feet swell and the more comfortable they are at this point means the more likely you will keep going.

3. Try on both shoes. The idea of having two different sized feet may seem a little strange, but it does happen. So don’t be alarmed if you find this happens to you, it’s best that you catch it now than trying to cram one of your feet into a small shoe.

4. Know your foot shape. Take a look at one of your barefoot prints. If you see that between your heel and ball/toes that it gets very slender you have high arches. The opposite is true for flat footed folk. It would be hard to distinguish between your heel and ball because it would all be even from back to front almost. There are shoes that cater to different foot shapes and this can help narrow down your shoe choices.

5. If you can, test them out. At the last store I went to they insisted that I run around the block and try the shoes out. It was important to them that I see if even in that small amount of distance a problem occurred. Try walking up stairs, if your heel is slipping this is a bad sign. Try walking down a ramp or stairs, do your toes start to hit the front of the shoe? Again not good. Especially since these shoes will eventually stretch and then your toes will really be ramming into the front. Ouch!!!!

6. If in doubt buy a running shoe. Running shoes translate well into walking shoes. However, the same cannot be said for walking shoes into running shoes. Walking shoes can be a little heavier and have support under the balls of your feet whereas running shoes have support under your heel and are light weight. If you are going to be walking at a fast pace or thinking of running go with a running shoe.

7. Six month rule. You may think that since you dropped a chunk of money on these shoes that they should last forever and wouldn’t that be so nice? But you are putting them through a lot! You’re beating them on pavement or a treadmill three-six times a week so they get pretty beat up pretty fast. The rule the folks at the stores will tell you is to replace your shoes every 350-400 miles or every six months whichever comes first. Don’t ignore this advice because if you keep using them and then something starts to hurt, it takes a long time to rehab what you have hurt and sometimes it never goes away.

So come on, I just gave you 7 reasons to go out and buy another pair of shoes! Who doesn’t love shoes? Remember also, that if these shoes are keeping you active and healthy that means less medical bills in the future and boy oh boy can those be expensive! Now go ahead, spoil yourself with the reward of great shoes that will make you smile when you see them and make your legs and feet happy too!

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Ellen,

Introducing Walker Tracker’s newest addition – Ellen!

Ellen grew up in Central Oregon and has been an active outdoor enthusiast all her life:

“I was spoiled with lots of trails for horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking and cliffs for climbing.  Central Oregon is actually rated the top place to live in Outdoor Magazine. Having all that so close meant that from a young age I started to enjoy and experience being active.”

 

Ellen has lived in Southern California, Southwestern United States, and Austin, TX and enjoyed moving around.  She says that no matter where she’s lived, she has been able to discover the best of each place through walking!

“Walking takes me into the nooks and crannies of a city. Walking helped me discover my favorite bookstores, my favorite houses (mostly in New Orleans) and walking took me to my favorite restaurants.

 

How did Walker Tracker get so lucky to have Ellen join the family?  We knew at first meet that she would fit in well here.  She had read about us through a lead from her college.

“This one was for me! They were looking of for a blogger; well I had just started my own. They were looking for some to help with customer service; well I had so many years of customer service I’d say I could give a seminar on it! And what was this? THEY LOVED WALKING! I will admit, I am a runner most often, but walking is a great alternative and gives me time to enjoy my surroundings. What’s better than working for a company that inspires others to walk? To be active? To just get out and move?! It is also really inspiring working among people that have seen this company through from just an idea to the platform that is Walker Tracker today. Knowing that we are a catalyst for people to get up and get active and that I am a part of that keeps me looking forward to work. “

 

So, how does she do it all?  Ellen has a lot on her plate and still manages to be active, work and take classes!  Here’s a bit about her fitness life:

“I try to walk or run 5-6 times a week. Usually my boyfriend and I run three times a week and I’ll go to the gym the other days and do the elliptical or walk on the treadmill. We really enjoy after dinner walks. It gets the blood pumping to places besides your stomach and gets the food moving too. I really enjoy walking around sunset and looking out to Mt. Hood as the sunset reflects off the snow. There is a park near my neighborhood that we will usually walk/run through and we love to look at the for sale signs of houses trying to make a guess on how much they might be. Here in Portland I enjoy walking the waterfront and crossing the bridges. We also have Forest Park, which is the biggest park within a city in the United States. Yes, bigger than Central Park! I also love hunting for waterfalls and a great area for that is off of the I-84 East Freeway going towards The Dalles.”

 

 

To read more from Ellen, check out her blog.  http://fitnhappycouple.tumblr.com

Welcome to Walker Tracker, we are glad and proud to have you!

 

 

Destination Walking

Now, I know that walking can be redundant and can get old pretty quick especially if you’re walking in a circle around a track or the same ol’ route everyday throughout your neighborhood. These routes can be helpful for you to know the distance you’ve travelled and see if you’re making better time but seeing the same things day in and day out can make you start to detest the idea of strapping those tennis shoes on and getting out there. Why not make your walk an adventure? Why not walk to a place you’ve never been before? I like to call this, “Destination Walking”, sometimes known as hiking. Don’t get overwhelmed with that word HIKING, that is the exact reason why I say “Destination Walking”.

I’m talking one of those places you’ve probably always wanted to go but you just never make time. Well now is the time! Summer is arriving in the Northern Hemisphere and that place you have always wanted to go to is blossoming and calling to you. Take time out of your weekends and pick a place to go and see. Bring your loved ones, water and a camera. Don’t have an idea of somewhere nearby that you might want to go? Check out your local Parks and Recreation website for trails. They’ll give you information on how to get to your destination of choice, history, pictures and current information on whether it’s open and what amenities your trail of choice has to offer.

Seeing as we are based out of Portland, Oregon here is the site for the Parks and Recreation page to seek out a trail/park by area or what you might like to do. My personal favorite is Forest Park that spoils those who wander with the green beauty that the Pacific Northwest is known for.

Forest Park Forrest Park

See what I mean? Your walks can become very rewarding if you just step out of your comfort zone. Get to know your city and state through walking and make the most of it by sharing it will someone else.

Happy Walking!

Tips, Tricks and Benefits to Exercising with a Pal

Partnership is an important aspect not only in the workplace and home but also when it comes to exercise. It is a known fact that 60% of people prefer to workout on their own but there is still that 35-40% who like the idea of collaboration. In a study conducted by Stanford research unveiled that having a person or group that you check in with at least once a week can increase your exercise time by up to 78% over the course of a year! This check in can be either through email, phone, meetings, websites or working out together.

A few tips, tricks and benefits to partnerships are below:

1. Choose someone with a similar fitness goal as yours. If you’re trying to lose 30 lbs and your partner only needs to lose 10, it can be discouraging if they hit their goal before you. You may end up feeling like you’re holding them back or get frustrated that your weight loss or fitness level isn’t being achieved fast enough.

2. Find someone you have something in common with besides just exercise. Perhaps it’ll be your shared love of the outdoors, your kids, a love of sports or travel. These things will keep you looking forward to seeing each other the next time and help develop a sense of comradery.

3. A partnership drastically decreases in excuses not to exercise. It’s hard knowing you’re letting someone down and that means that it will be harder to cancel on a workout.

4. You’ll be more likely to try new things with someone. Never rock climbed before? Pairing up with someone who has or even going in with both of you clueless gives you the advantage of not being so scared. Perhaps even make it a goal that when you get together with someone you try something new or go somewhere new.

5. Group classes are included in the partnership category! If you go to a class several times you’ll likely meet and bond with people from that class. This means that you’ll have already found someone with a common interest, most likely a common fitness level, it’s a chance to try a workout you’ve always wanted and once you get going people will start holding you accountable for showing up and heck, you might even really enjoy showing up!

No matter if you prefer exercising solo, as a duo or in a class, just make sure you have someone to check in with. They can be your inspiration for when you are just not feeling it, you can take pride in being theirs or just the mere thought of uttering the words, “I didn’t get to the gym/run/class this week”, has a great affect on whether you’ll stick with your routine. Even if you do stick with it on your own having someone to share that with will keep you going longer and stronger. So partner up and get moving!

Health and activity grants for Portland-area schools and non-profits

Here’s a great grant opportunity for Portland Metro schools.

Nike is awarding at least $550,000 to Portland-area non-profits and schools. Grants are between $5,000 and $20,000, in the following areas:

  1. Environment: Creating or improving places for play or physical activity; enhancing home and community environments; promoting good stewardship of the earth and sustainable practices.
  2. Education: Educating families about the importance of physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices; improving children’s educational opportunities and experiences; providing education about environmentally sustainable practices.
  3. Inclusion: Supporting underrepresented or disadvantaged populations, with some emphasis on removing obstacles to participation in physical activity.
  4. Healthy Choices: Actively improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities; creating broad, positive behavioral change in communities; increasing use of environmentally sustainable practices that support health.

Kudos, Nike! Schools and Non-profits — we love working with you and have aggressive non-profit discounts. We’re more than happy to help you implement a Walker Tracker walking challenge at your school or non-profit that conforms to the grant guidelines.

View the grant and drop us a line.