Beginner Running Tips

Beginner Running Tips

Running is so much more than tennis shoes, pavement, and sweat. It is discipline, focus, and balance.  It is patience and stamina, endurance and strength. It is joy and victory. You see, running is a lot like living. So what are you waiting for? Put aside the weight of doubt, fear, and anxiety–those things that hold you back — and run!

Before you grab your sneakers, here are 5 tips that might help–

Invest in a good running shoe – Getting fitted for your first pair of running shoes from a local running store is a great idea. They definitely know what they’re doing and will find a shoe that will work for you.. You can also research online, read reviews and join online groups with other beginning runners.

Stretch before and after your runs – Actively stretching loosens your body and prepares your mind for running. Stretching may also prevent injuries that become an annoyance and can delay your running routine.

Start Slow – Be patient with yourself. Moderation really is key. Begin with a walk-run-walk-run pattern at first. Be present in the moment. Don’t think about the mile ahead, the 5k, or the 10k. Don’t worry about your time. Just feel your feet striking the pavement. Breathe. Relax your shoulders; let them drop. Know that you are able, capable. Have a “can do” attitude.

Location is everything – Pick a place that works for you. Maybe it’s the treadmill in your living room, so you can keep an eye on your toddler. Maybe it’s the street you live on. It could even be the walking track at the community center or local gym. We love anywhere outside–a nearby neighborhood with large oak trees and landscaped yards, a nature trail.. anywhere that works for you that you ENJOY.

Find a running buddy – Find someone who is disciplined, motivating, and encouraging. Someone who will hold you accountable. You can also look for a group in your area. There are running clubs EVERYWHERE and they include beginning runners to marathoners so you’re sure to find someone who runs at your same level/pace. You can just google “find a running club near me” – Easy. done. 🙂

30 Reasons why YOU Should Strength Train

30 Reasons why YOU Should Strength Train

As we all know, muscle burns fat! Strength training by lifting weights is the best way to build lean muscle mass to burn fat and get that ‘toned’ healthy look. And who doesn’t want that?

Keep in mind, if you’re consistently picking up a light weight for 20+ repetitions you will build muscular endurance, but you will never actually build tight, dense and strong muscles. If you want to look toned, strong and healthy, then eventually you will have to increase the weight and pick up heavy weights to build strength.

When you strength train, you are actually breaking down your muscles by tearing and ripping apart muscles fibers. It sounds bad.. but it’s actually good because following your workout session, your body works hard to rebuild those muscles and recruits more calories and energy to repair them. You experience this when your muscles are sore after a great workout!  During this ‘after-burn’, your metabolism is working at a much higher level.. even long after your workout.

Here are 30 Scientifically-Backed Benefits Why YOU Should Strength Train: 
  1. Reduce Your Risk for Alzheimer’s. Research shows that twice-weekly resistance training, combined with aerobic exercise, can improve cognitive function in the elderly at risk for Alzheimer’s.
  2. Improve Your Mood. Strength training causes the brain to release feel-good endorphins, and researchers believe just 10 weeks of strength training could help fight depression better than counseling!
  3. Get Smarter. Research shows that weekly strength training is associated with higher GPA’s at one large Southern State University.
  4. Decrease Your Risk of Injury. Building strength can decrease your risk for certain injuries, like ACL tears, which women are more prone to than men.
  5. Sleep More Soundly. Research suggests that three days of strength training combined with two days of cardio can result in better sleep.
  6. Decrease Your Risk of Osteoporosis. Studies find that weight-bearing exercises improve bone density, reducing your risk for osteoporosis and preventing fractures in people with the disease.
  7. Relieve Stress. Weight training is better than cardio for reducing stress and feelings of irritability in people diagnosed with anxiety disorders, research suggests.
  8. Burn More Calories. Studies have shown that people who strength train burn more calories in the hours and days after a workout than they do when they haven’t lifted weights because of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
  9. Banish Belly Fat. Research shows that people who strength train burn more deep belly fat than those who just do cardio.
  10. Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes. Doing at least 2.5 hours of strength training per week can help lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes by causing muscles to use more glucose for energy, which can lower blood sugar levels, some research suggests.
  11. Lower Your Blood Pressure. Twelve weeks of strength training can help lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure for people with high blood pressure.
  12. Carry Your Groceries with Ease. One study found that after 16 weeks of total body strength conditioning, the amount of strain put on the biceps when carrying a box of groceries decreased by 36 percent.
  13. Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease. Strength training is important for cardiac health because heart disease risk is lower when the whole body is leaner.
  14. Open Your Own Jars. Experts say improved handgrip strength is a marker of overall strength.
  15. Feel More Confident. Strength training is one of the most empowering things a person can do and increases the way you feel about your ability to complete tasks.
  16. Relieve Lower Back Pain. Regular full-body strength training can help ease chronic lower back pain, the most common musculoskeletal issue, even in people who already exercise, research suggests.
  17. Relieve Neck Pain. Research finds that strengthening the neck and shoulders can reduce neck pain from years spent hunching over a computer keyboard.
  18. Breath Easier. High-intensity strength training has been shown to improve VO2 Max, the maximum capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise.
  19. Improve Your Balance. Research suggests strength training with a light load can improve balance in 10 weeks.
  20. Lower Your Cholesterol. Research shows that just eight weeks of strength training can boost your HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol responsible for removing LDL (bad) cholesterol from the bloodstream.
  21. Run Faster. Studies suggest explosive and heavy weight lifting can help improve your 5K PR (personal record) by almost three percent.
  22. Boost Your Libido. Strength training increases testosterone, a hormone researchers have linked to boosting sex drive in women.
  23. Curb Cravings. Strength training has been found to lower levels of gherkin, a hunger-stimulating hormone found in the gut.
  24. Reduce Your Cancer Risk. Studies suggest strength training protects the body from oxidative stress, which researchers believe could contribute to the development of cancer.
  25. Boost Your Metabolism. Building muscle helps boost metabolism, so you can burn more calories long after your workout.
  26. Look More Toned. Strength training helps to build and preserve lean muscle, which creates that tight and toned look.
  27. Smooth Cellulite. Unlike creams that are all talk, experts say daily cardio combined with two to three strength training sessions can help diminish the appearance of cellulite.
  28. Stand Taller. Experts believe strengthening the core and lower back can improve posture.
  29. Improve Your Body Image. One study found significant improvements in body image after 12 weeks of strength training.
  30. Explore New Parts of the Gym. Strength training will give you a reason to venture out of the cardio room and into the weight room.

Now the question remains, are you incorporating strength training into your fitness program?

Cheers to health in life!

Adapted from a blog post by: Amanda Fitz

Get Your Vitamin D here in St. George!

Get Your Vitamin D here in St. George!

With the freezing temps and winter storms happening across the country currently, we are counting our blessings to be able to enjoy the sunshine and mild temperatures here at Movara!  St. George sees about 255 sunny days per year as opposed to the US average of 200. WE LOVE THE SUN! If you are snowed in and stuck indoors, we encourage you to COME SEE US!  It is so important to get outside and soak in some sunshine & Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is actually not considered a vitamin in the way it functions. It’s really a hormone that sends signals to many parts of your body. It’s not an essential part of your diet and there aren’t too many foods high in vitamin D – dairy products and fish being a fair source… with beef, cheese, and egg yolks coming in behind them. Vitamin D, however, is essential to your health and the best and most effective way to get (or make) Vitamin D is from the sun.

Recent studies suggest that many adults and children are deficient in Vitamin D. Because sunlight is the best source, those living in part of the world where sun exposure is minimal or who have a dark skin tone may be at risk and should consider supplementation. In parts of the world where sun exposure is adequate, it may be a matter of not getting outside! Vitamin D production is at its peak between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. By spending 10-20 minutes outside in direct sunlight within that time frame, without sunscreen (it’s only 10 minutes!) with your neck, arms, chest, and face exposed 3 times a week, you should be able to make the Vitamin D you need. Many individuals are working during those hours and/or don’t venture outside nearly enough. Taking a break to get some fresh air can have a great effect on your stress levels and productivity, not to mention your Vitamin D production!

If you do consider supplementation, we would recommend having your levels tested first given you can get too much Vitamin D. It’s a simple blood test ordered by your doctor that insurance typically covers. From that result, your doctor can help with dosages for supplementation. There are also certain disease states that can cause or be caused by low vitamin D so be sure to seek medical help and treatment. Vitamin D is known to help with:

  • Calcium and magnesium absorption and bone health
  • Better immune function (low vitamin D is highly correlated with autoimmune diseases)
  • Blood glucose control and lower risk of diabetes
  • Cancer prevention
  • Reduced risk for high blood pressure and heart disease
  • Reduced risk for Multiple Sclerosis

We hope we’ve inspired you to escape the cold and come see us here in sunny Southern Utah where you can soak in plenty of Vitamin D to stay healthy and happy!

The Benefits of Stretching & Flexibility

The Benefits of Stretching & Flexibility

Sometimes we get so “worked up” about our workouts, (cardio and strength training,) we forget about stretching!

The American Council on Exercise stresses the three main factors of fitness:

*Cardiovascular Endurance

*Strength Training

*AND Flexibility

Unfortunately, most people do not put enough emphasis on flexibility.  Some of the benefits of stretching are:

  • Greater freedom of movement and improved posture
  • Increased physical and mental relaxation
  • Released muscle tension and soreness
  • Reduced risk of injury

Flexibility is different for all people and is primarily based on one’s genetics, gender, age, body shape, and activity level.  As we age, we tend to lose flexibility.  However, flexibility will improve with regular training. So keep stretching!!!

Flexibility Exercise Tips:

*Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.
*Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.
*Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.
*Static, dynamic, ballistic and PNF stretches are all effective.
*Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warm. Try light aerobic activity or a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.

Merry “Move-Your-Body” Christmas!

Merry “Move-Your-Body” Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!!
We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying this Christmas break! This is the best time of the year, but it can be easy to sneak into some lazy holiday habits since the weather outside is (for the most part) cozy and cold… we encourage you to start new active holiday traditions!  Fun family activities like dodgeball, football and relay races are a great way to bring everyone together for a lot of laughs and (*bonus*) to burn off some of those tasty holiday goodies!

Here are some “Merry Move-Your-Body Christmas” Ideas:

*Play a family game of Twister in your holiday jammies

*Take your dog for a Christmas walk around the neighborhood and take pictures of the best-decorated houses

*Go to a local ice skating rink for the afternoon

*If you live in an area where it snows, have a snowman building contest or build a snow fort with the kids or siblings

*Make a Christmas gift hunt (similar to an Easter egg hunt) but with little gift boxes hidden throughout the house or backyard filled with non-food items such as holiday socks, mini ornaments, etc.

*Set up a Dance Dance Revolution game of your own by playing holiday music and having dance-offs with the family members

*Play a family and friends game of snow football, beach volleyball, indoor dodgeball, street soccer (depending on the weather where you live)

*Take it to the slopes for a day of skiing, snowboarding or even sledding

Enjoy the holiday break and remember to KEEP MOVING!!


Yoga 101

Yoga 101

We meet many dedicated fitness instructors at Movara and Blanca’s especially good at calming and stretching her students as they enjoy her classes. Here Blanca shares some background on Yoga and what you can expect from her class.

Regular exercise – whether it’s a walk or fitness class – along with a healthy diet will change your life. And adding Yoga to your daily activities will yield not only great physical benefits but also mental calmness and control.

Yoga means Union in Sanskrit and its main objective is to achieve awareness of the body, mind and spirit through body movement and breath control. Although yoga is considered low impact exercise, it can be as intense as you desire it to be. Yoga utilizes all muscle groups making it a complete body workout and it beautifully defines and tones all muscles without creating a bulky look.

At the beginning of my Yoga classes, you will experience gentle body movements to get your body warmed up while practicing pranayama breathing or ‘breath control’. From there, I will guide you through a flow of traditional yoga poses which will stretch specific muscle groups and loosen your tight joints gently to achieve better muscle tone and flexibility.

I will help to bring you awareness of your core strength by engaging your bandhas, or ‘body locks,’ and every muscle during class. You will feel challenged even while holding the asanas or ‘poses’ in stillness. Holding longer poses greatly benefits your myofascia, tendons, and joints that aren’t always the focus in regular fitness exercises.

Practicing balancing poses throughout my class will help you develop inner strength and focus. Breath is key to performing these asanas gracefully so I encourage you to use straps and barres to add to the balance experience without missing the true purpose of the learning exercise.

By the end of class we cool down with floor stretches and core awareness. Using blocks and straps will aid us to get deeper into poses and once you get into the desired pose, we breathe and relax. Enjoying a few minutes in Savasana, or ‘Corpse Pose,’ will allow the body to connect with your mind and spirit hopefully obtaining that desired union that will create a sense of happiness and relaxation that will carry you to your next class – or a restful night’s sleep.

Tips for Yoga Class:

  • Mats, water and a small towel are usually the only things you will need to practice yoga. We practice yoga barefoot, no socks or shoes are needed.
  • Yoga classes usually last around an hour from warm-up to cool down.
  • Blocks, straps or belts, barres and bolsters add comfort and make yoga more accessible to every body. If you are uncomfortable, let your instructor know.
  • There’s a lot of bending and stretching, so it’s best to avoid heavy meals a few hours before your class.
  • People often worry that they are not flexible enough to do yoga, but remember that flexibility is not a necessary for beginner classes. Continued practice over time will increase your agility and flexibility. You will see positive results over time as you continue the practice.

The benefits of Yoga are too numerous to list but the main ones include increased flexibility, muscle strength and tone. Regular yoga practice can decrease stiffness and joint pain and improve posture and coordination. It can fix ailments and injuries. It can help control the breath, calm the mind, reduce stress, and improve sleep and self-confidence.

I can also customize private yoga classes to include Yin or Flow classes and add a little flair with Yoga/Pilates fusion or Yoga/Barre to make your experience at Movara unique.

I’m looking forward to meeting you and sharing my passion for Yoga. Please come and enjoy a deep-breathing, body-toning, mind-calming yoga class with me.

See you on the mats.

Blanca Martineau E-RYT 200 YACEP
Movara Yoga Instructor & Owner of YOUniversal Yoga School

Blanca Yoga Poses