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Tired of your old exercise routine? Want to get better results in less time? Or perhaps your training program could use some variety? If so, CrossFit is the way to go! Touted as one of the best workouts out there, it shapes your body from head to toe. You’ll not only get leaner but also gain strength, power, and stamina.
CrossFit has emerged as the go-to choice for millions of people worldwide. It appeals to all ages and can be customized according to your needs. With over four million practitioners, it has shown explosive growth on all fronts since its inception. Currently, there are about 13,000 CrossFit studios in 120 countries.
These numbers should be reason enough to give it a try. Getting started is the hardest part. Just like any other workout, CrossFit has its challenges. Let's see how it works and what to expect:
CrossFit at a Glance
CrossFit was introduced to the public in 2000. Since then, it has been marketed as a competitive sport and exercise philosophy. The workouts change daily, and consist of functional movements that build strength, power, and speed. Most exercises incorporate elements from strongman, plyometrics, gymnastics, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Due to its diverse nature, this training method keeps you engaged and wards off boredom. Each day, you can try new exercise routines known as WODs (workout of the day).
The movements are performed at high intensity, which helps increase work capacity and improves overall conditioning. Most gym goers gain strength and explosive power while losing stubborn fat.
CrossFit guarantees a strong, lean body and better health. The exercises are designed to build muscle, burn fat, and boost your metabolism. This training method is the opposite of steady state cardio and endless gym sessions that leave you bored and tired. The heart-pounding workouts ignite your fat-burning engine will building mental and physical strength.
Some exercises require dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, or truck tires. Some are done with your own bodyweight. Others involve distance running, sprinting, or gymnastics. This ensures that a total fitness level is achieved.
Unlike other training methods, CrossFit targets all aspects of fitness, including:
According to its advocates, this approach promotes hormonal and neurological adaptations across all metabolic pathways in the body. Since it consists of functional movements, it can make daily activities easier.
Another factor that differentiates CrossFit from other training method is the camaraderie. Once you begin to practice this sport, you become part of a community. You're no longer on your own in the gym.
Everyone has the goals as you do: to get in the best possible shape. They support and encourage each other, helping you push your boundaries with every workout. The friendly competition, the camaraderie, and the encouragement will keep you on track and boost your motivation.
Is CrossFit Right for You?
However, age isn’t the only factor to consider. Your fitness level matters the most. This training method works best for athletes, experienced lifters, and gym goers who are in a good shape. If you have never entered a gym or lifted weights, take the time to improve your fitness before getting into CrossFit.
This workout method isn't recommended to those who are obese or suffering from certain autoimmune disorders, bone diseases, or cardiovascular problems. Also, if you prefer working out alone, you may not enjoy the social factor. Give it a try anyway - you might get hooked from the first session!
How Safe Is CrossFit, Really?
These rigorous workouts carry a higher risk of injury compared to other training methods. In an interview, the company's founder has actually said that this sport could kill you. Due to its intense nature and the heavy weights, it's not exactly safe.
However, you can stay injury-free by using good lifting form. Start with baby steps and focus on building up your strength. This is particularly important for beginners. Most times, the benefits outweigh the risks. As long as you watch your form and listen to your body, injuries shouldn't be a reason for concern.
What Are the Benefits?
Additionally, it helps build lean muscle, strengthens your bones, and improves your posture. You'll also enjoy greater balance and flexibility, enhanced mental focus, and better overall health.
CrossFit is also a great way to drop those pesky pounds and stay fit year round. Due to its high intensity, it revs up your metabolism and burns fat.
According to a recent study, subjects following a CrossFit program experienced a greater reduction in body fat levels compared to those doing traditional workouts. Moreover, their VO2max, body composition, and physical endurance were significantly improved.
With CrossFit, you'll get better results in less time. On top of that, you'll no longer get bored as it happens when you lift weights or do steady state cardio.
Evidence shows that CrossFit workouts lead to greater enjoyment and adherence to exercise compared to other training methods. Plus, you'll benefit from a solid support system and become part of a community focused on health and well-being.
Tired of your old exercise routine? Want to get leaner and more flexible? Or perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed by stress? Yoga and Pilates might be the answer. They work both your mind and body, leading to better health. Think of them as a natural way to bust stress, keep your joints flexible, and improve overall fitness.
Despite their similarities, Pilates and yoga are not one and the same. Let's see how they differ and why they’re so great for your health:
Yoga vs. Pilates: What's the Difference?
In 2016, more than 36.7 million Americans were practicing yoga. Some do it for stress relief. Some want to improve their health and well-being. Others see it as a way to keep fit. This discipline has been around for over 5,000 years. Yet, it's just as popular today as it was centuries ago.
Yoga emphasizes the mind-body connection. It has evolved over the years into different styles, such as Bikram, Hatha, and Ashtanga. Each type of yoga has unique characteristics. Their end goal is to increase body awareness while improving emotional and spiritual health.
According to science, yoga may relieve back pain, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular health. Moreover, it relieves depression and anxiety. Practitioners also report increased mental clarity and work performance.
Unlike yoga, Pilates is a relatively new discipline. It was developed in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates. Initially, it was used for physical rehab. Today, people practice it to stay strong and flexible, lose weight, and improve their fitness level.
Pilates exercises emphasize core strength. They also stretch and strengthen your muscles while enhancing your balance.
Compared to yoga, this discipline focuses more on building flexibility and strength, and less on the mental aspect. When practiced regularly, it helps develop a strong core, improves your posture, and gives your body more flexibility. Just like any exercise, it wards off stress and calms your mind.
Another difference between the two is how the exercises are performed. Yoga is largely based on standing poses, while Pilates involves mat work. Additionally, Pilates classes are more structured. Each workout consists of specific exercises, with a specific number of reps and sets. Yoga gives you more freedom and can be practiced anywhere.
What Are the Benefits
Who says you have to choose between yoga and Pilates? Both disciplines benefit your mind and body. The key is to be consistent and stick to your routine. Regardless of what you choose, you'll gain strength and endurance, improve your range of motion, and enjoy better health.
These disciplines complement each other. The flexibility you will gain from Yoga will enable you to move better in Pilates. Strengthening your core muscles during Pilates classes will boost your flexibility and balance in yoga. On top of that, both practices promote spiritual well-being and distract you from daily worries.
What if you want to lose weight? At first sight, Pilates might seem a better choice. After all, it provides a full body workout and helps build lean muscle, which in turn, boosts your metabolism. Depending on your weight and fitness level, you'll burn up to 336 calories per hour during a typical Pilates class.
However, yoga is just as beneficial. As we have mentioned earlier, this discipline has many different forms. Some are more intense than others.
Bikram or hot yoga, for instance, will leave you drenched in sweat and get your heart rate through the roof. It involves 26 poses that must be performed in a room heated at 105 degrees. A typical session lasts for 90 minutes and torches up to 716 calories.
Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga are ideal for weight loss too. Due to their intense nature, they raise your heart rate, increase muscle strength, and boost physical endurance. The best part is that you can work out anytime, anywhere. Unlike Pilates, yoga doesn’t require special equipment. You can exercise at home, on the beach, or in hotel rooms.
Furthermore, research shows that yoga improves self-esteem and body image, increases mindfulness, and soothes mental tension. It also boosts functional fitness, making daily activities easier.
In a study conducted on sedentary individuals, those who practiced yoga twice a week for eight weeks experience major improvements in muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. Other studies have found that yoga may lower the risk of heart disease and regulate blood sugar levels.
As you see, both disciplines promote health and well-being. Getting started is the hardest part, especially for newbies. Depending on your budget and preferences, you have several options:
Ideally, start to exercise at home. This way, you can figure out which discipline best suits your needs.
Pilates, for instance, has exercises for beginners, intermediate, and advanced practitioners. There are hundreds of videos online, which you can use to learn good form. Eventually, you can take a class or two at a Pilates studio to develop your skills even further.
Begin with simple exercises to build up your strength and endurance. As you progress, try more advanced workouts. The same goes for yoga. Most asanas (yoga poses) can be easily customized to your fitness level. Some are perfect for beginners, while other involves greater balance and strength. To start, experiment with basic poses, such as:
Don’t worry that you're not flexible or strong enough to practice yoga. You do yoga and then you become strong and flexible. Everyone has to start somewhere. The more you practice, the better you'll be. Just make sure you don’t go overboard. 15-30 minutes of yoga or Pilates are more than enough for beginners.
So, are you ready to give it a try? Combine yoga with Pilates to build a strong mind and body! The benefits are immediate.
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