April 2, 2021
Incorporating ideas for relaxation in your busy life is simple.
How many times have you heard someone say that they just want to chill out and relax? Why do we crave relaxation? Because, when we are relaxed we feel calm, well, mentally settled, and comfortable. Keep reading to find out how you can be relaxed in your daily life.
The Benefits of Relaxation
The benefits of relaxation go above and beyond just being comfortable. Moments of relaxation in our fast-paced world actually make us healthier humans.
Just to name a few, relaxation has physical and mental benefits for your whole being by:
- Lowering blood pressure & heart rate
- Decreasing anxiety
- Aiding digestion
- Brightening your mood
- Reducing aches and pains
- Improving concentration
- Enhancing sleep
- Reducing negative feelings (anger, frustration)
Let’s move on to find out how to apply ideas for relaxation to your life to get these benefits.
As a matter of fact, you do not have to become an athlete to reap the relaxation benefits of exercise. To begin with, simply moving your body in some way every day will get you in the groove of relaxation. Exercise can be low- or high-impact depending on what creates that feeling of relaxation for you.
Examples of aerobic and anaerobic exercise to reach a state of relaxation are:
- Walking – Preferably outside, but even around your house or up and down stairs works
- Biking – Preferably outside, but a stationary bike gets the job done, too
- Dancing – In your living room, while washing dishes, anywhere, just shake it!
- Yoga – All you need is a mat and an app with follow along guidance
- Tai chi – Google ‘tai chi for beginners’ and choose a video to follow
- Qigong – Google to find a video that calls to you
- Pilates – Start with a mat class or join a Pilates studio to use equipment
- Stretching – Check out theflexibilityguru.com, Hilery Hutchinson and her 10-minute stretching book
If attending a class in person is not your thing right now, have no fear. The web is exploding with fitness classes to fit anyone’s preference.
You can choose a previously recorded program to practice whenever you choose, or a live practice where you interact with instructors and participants in real time. Furthermore, being part of a community online or in person will encourage you to stay consistent in keeping this idea of relaxation in your daily life.
Tense and Release
Another technique to activate your muscles is progressive muscle relaxation. It’s a practice involving tensing muscle groups, and then releasing the tension by relaxing the muscles.
Here is how you can use the tense and release technique:
- Start from your toes, move to your calves, then your thighs, working your way up to your head. Don’t forget your face!
- By focusing on each muscle group individually, it is easier for you to target areas that may be more tense or sore than others.
- Tense for 5 seconds
- Relax for 30 seconds
While this idea for relaxation is easy, in order for any relaxation technique to work fully you must be MINDFUL.
What does being mindful have to do with relaxation?
Being mindful is a mental state of being consciously aware of what is happening in the present moment.
Mindfulness is created by focusing on, calmly acknowledging and accepting:
- How you are feeling
- What you are thinking
- Physical sensations of your body
Focusing on your breath is one way to create mindfulness, because you are paying attention to what is happening to your body as you breathe. This focus makes it easier to notice if you have shallow breathing, if you are holding your breath, or if your breathing is faster than normal.
Yes, breathe to relax your body. It’s that simple. Believe it or not, a lot of us do not breathe fully, especially when stress is present. If we are not mindful of our breathing we tend to hold our breath or take shallow breaths.
Options to release stress, relax muscles and cleanse your body with essential oxygen are:
- Focusing on taking slow, deep breaths for a few minutes, a few times per day. Be it in the car, washing dishes, folding laundry, raking leaves, etc.
- Using a square breathing technique where you inhale to the count of 4 (or whatever # works for you), hold for a count of 4, exhale to the count of 4, hold for a count of 4, and repeat for a few minutes.
- Breathing from your diaphragm by placing your hand on your abdomen and taking slow, deep inhales focusing on your abdomen expanding followed by a longer exhale. This stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system to calm your body and reduce your heart rate and blood pressure.
- Meditating while focusing only on your breath by being mindful of the oxygen entering your body and the carbon dioxide leaving your body. Closing your eyes can help keep the focus on your breath.
Transferring this mindful practice to other things in your life by focusing on one thing at a time will make it easier to be present in the moment instead of allowing your mind to be scattered.
Need a visual to be mindfully present?
Use your imagination. Yes, the game of pretend from when you were young.
Envision calm and serene images. Many people find it helpful to include nature in their visualizations.
Ideas to consider are:
- Sitting in a comfortable lounge chair on the beach with the sun shining and the temperature is perfect. Watch a wave swelling toward the shore as you inhale expanding your abdomen and every time you exhale imagine the wave breaking slowly across the shore.
- Gently swinging in a hammock on a fall day with the leaves floating down around you. With each sway of the hammock your body is sinking deeper into relaxation as you inhale and exhale.
- Hiking on a trail in the woods meandering between the trees, hearing the birds chirping, the squirrels chattering and the sun’s rays peeking through the leaves and branches.
- Choosing your favorite place surrounded by all the things that make you feel calm, happy, and whole. Wherever that may be, how do you feel when you are in your favorite place?
You can have a lot of fun with these ideas for relaxation because you can let your imagination run wild and transport yourself anywhere.
Relaxation made easy
There’s an app for that! Consider choosing from the plethora of apps for download, free and otherwise, that provide ideas for relaxation. They offer everything from listening to music or nature sounds to hearing a voice guiding you by story or through visualization and much more.
A few internet favorites are:
- 10% Happier
- Insight Timer
It is easy to see that these apps take the thinking out of the practice allowing you to just follow along.
Practicing these ideas for relaxation will:
- Keep your mental state balanced
- Keep you physically fit
- Improve your inclination to see the bright side
- Manage your fight-or-flight response in stressful situations
In short, the trick is to choose a relaxation technique that works for you, and not one that will add to your stress by trying to accomplish it in your busy day. Consequently, you may have to try a few to find the one that works easily.
If you enjoyed this article please check out other helpful articles by our coaches here:
Remember…small steps, big results.
Cathy grew up in NH surrounded by a large, loving family, where she learned generosity and hard work. She now models that for her two children. She was inspired to become a fitness coach when searching for ways to become more healthy herself after a life-threatening illness.
March 19, 2021
So, you signed up for a boxing class, but you’ve never thrown a punch before. We cover everything you need in order to prepare you for your first boxing class. You’ll be floatin’ like a butterfly, and stingin’ like a bee in no time!
How Does The Class Work?
There are eight stations total, consisting of various types of punching & kicking bags, as well as a few exercise stations. Let’s take a look at what we have!
This Class is 45 minutes long, and consists of a warm up, rotation around each station, ~2 minute rest period, another rotation through each station, then a quick cool down/stretch to end the class.
Everyone works at their own pace, and nobody is expected to be working as hard as possible the entire time (although you’re more than welcome to). If you need to take a break, please do! There are a ton of benefits to boxing, including increased stamina, endurance, and confidence (larger list below)! Plus it’s always fun to punch stuff after a long day at work!
1-2 Continuous Heavy Bag (Light, continuous punches – only 1’s & 2’s) Good for endurance, and gives you an easier bag/break from the combos & heavy hitting punches.
Wrecking Ball Bag (Uppercut-focused combinations on this bag) Great bag to practice uppercut punches. You can actually get underneath the bag, making it a great addition.
Kickboxing Bag (The only bag we use for kicking combinations) This bag is our kicking bag, and is perfect for adding some leg work into different boxing style combinations.
Reflex Bag (Smaller bag on a spring so it’s one of the only bags that actually fights back!) Great for working on hand-eye coordination, and reflexes. The bag is on a spring, so it moves back and forth, and will come back at you just as hard as you hit it!
Medium Heavy Bag (This is a nice medium density heavy bag with a relatively easy combination) This bag has a combination that is easier, flows really well, and is a good density to build some strength & power into your punches.
Exercise Station (This station always has an exercise that usually incorporates core or legs) There is some form of boxing involved in most of the exercises, but this station focuses on building core stability/strength, or working on legs to give the upper body a break while working around the circuit.
Freestyle/Head Movement Bag (This bag has a rope hanging down in the middle forcing you to practice some head movement) There is a rope hanging right in the middle of the bag so you have to slip underneath and work side to side instead of staying stationary. This is also a freestyle bag you can practice whatever combinations you’d like on!
Hard Heavy Bag (This is a harder heavy bag station) There is typically a tough combination on this bag and the bag is also a harder density so it’s
You’ll spend about 1 and a half minutes working at each station, then have ~20-30 seconds to rest and rotate to the next station.
Each station is numbered, and will have either a combination or exercise (usually core based) posted.
There are 6 main punches that coach Mike will cover with you on your first day and they’ll be used with each combination.
3: (Non-Dominant Hand) Hook
4: (Dominant Hand) Hook
5: (Non-Dominant Hand) Uppercut
6: (Dominant Hand) Uppercut
Why Should You Take Boxing Classes?
- More stamina & endurance
- Increase speed
- Gain confidence
- Improve core stability, and you’ll feel muscles burn that you’ve probably never felt before! Boxing is mostly rotational which is overlooked in exercise routines and not practiced much in day to day life but is incredibly important!
- Cardiovascular benefit, and calorie burning (fat loss!). These classes are high paced but go by incredibly quickly because they’re so much fun!
- Self defense! There aren’t many sports that directly relate to the ability to defend yourself, but this is definitely one of them.
- Improving reflexes & coordination. We actually have a punching bag called a reflex bag because it’s attached to a spring, and moves around which is great for developing your reflexes! This station is most members’ favorite!
- IT’S FUN!!!! But still gonna make you sweat and get a great workout 🙂
Other Equipment to Know!
There are several different weight sizes you should know about.
10oz – very small and typically used by professional boxers in matches. There is minimal padding so they will hurt your wrists more as well as your opponent.
12oz – lighter option for gloves. If your weight is under 120lbs then these are what we recommend. They will also often be used by professional fighters who typically train with heavier gloves. This will give them quicker movement during a match.
14oz – Nice average weighted gloves. Recommended for those who are 120-150lbs. These provide a good amount of padding and are also slightly heavier which professionals will use to train and build strength.
16oz – Recommended for 120-180lb individuals. These provide a lot of padding and are also heavier in weight so are better for training.
18oz & 20oz – Heaviest style of gloves. We recommend these for anyone 150lbs+ and provide a lot of padding. They are heavier and harder to control but more suitable for anyone who wants a lot of padding.
Traditional wraps come in either 120 or 180 inch lengths. 180 is recommended for everyone because it’s better to have too much wrap and do a few more passes around the wrist than to not have enough wrap to properly secure the wrist & hand.
Wrapping thoroughly around the wrist joint, knuckles, and hand will keep everything compressed, therefore reducing the risk of injury. Not only that, but it will help you punch harder, as well!
As you train more and more, your punching power will increase along with the amount of force and impact, so it’s important to learn how to wrap before even attempting something like boxing.
Wrapping your wrists will reduce the risk of hyperextending and injuring your wrists, and adds an extra protective layer to the knuckles as well to help keep them protected.
Boxing gloves should fit snug and not wiggle around too much, so wrapping also helps limit the space inside for a tighter fit. The wrapping process can be daunting where it includes numerous steps, but it’s important to learn early on, and properly, so you don’t injure or limit yourself along the way.
If you found this helpful, please consider subscribing to the Hybrid Fitness YouTube channel, and be sure to check out all the other articles from our coaches.
And remember…Small Steps, Big Results.
Mike grew up as a multi-sport athlete and received his Bachelors in Kinesiology (Exercise Science) and also received his Personal Training Certification from the American Council of Sports Medicine.
Mike has worked with a wide range of ages and abilities and is an expert at working around injuries and helping those individuals reach their health goals.
In his time in college, he also worked with D1 Athletes (specifically the UMASS Amherst Men and Women’s Basketball teams) helping them get stronger, faster, and more athletic.
December 17, 2020
One of my favorite (and very graphic) Greek mythology stories of all time, “Oedipus Rex”, sadly ends with the main character stabbing his own eyes out. After ridding himself of his own vision, Oedipus exiles himself from his kingdom with his sister/daughter as his guide (that’s right, he had a daughter with his mother) to finally die a pitiful death in the city of Colonus.
Health & fitness can also make you want to stab your eyes out (or something like that).
Not that the eyes help at all, because 95% of the people I chat with don’t see a clear path to reach their health and fitness goals.
But fitness doesn’t have to be eyepopping, painful, or confusing…In fact, it can be a bunch of fun when done properly.
Whether you are just getting started toward a fitness goal, or you’ve been at it for some time…by the end of this article you’ll know exactly what you need to do to reach your next goal. This article will serve as your very own Tiresias (you’ll only understand this reference if you read Oedipus Rex”)
Disclaimer: This article is not for hardcore workout peeps who live to be in the gym – this is for every day people looking to be improve their general health.
Your first step…
To begin, find a program and/or coach that teaches you the fundamentals of exercise and nutrition. If the program you find is sound, your exercise will prioritize strength training with focuses on mobility, proper form, and safety. You should regularly be performing squats, lunges, hinges, pushes/presses, rows/pulls, crawls, carries , and planks.
Your nutrition should focus on a balance of eating nutritious foods and not-so-healthy foods in healthy portions. It probably shouldn’t be based around cutting out an entire food group (like protein, carbs, or fats).
In your first 6 months to a year, focus on:
- Proper Exercise Technique
- Eating Nutritious & Not so Nutritious Foods Quantities that match your goals.
In your first 6 months to a year, avoid:
- Comparing your Day 1 to someone else’s Day 500
- Beating yourself up if you miss a workout – just do the next one
- Obsessing about progress – it will come
Follow this for 1-2 years, and you will most likely be in the best shape of your life (unless you were a high-level athlete at some point.)
At Hybrid Fitness, we have members who follow these bullets through our guidance, never add additional steps, and are completely satisfied. If you continue to follow these past that 1-2 year mark, you will begin to stagnate, but that’s okay if you are happy where you are at.
If you’re considering Hybrid Fitness as your training facility, I recommend beginning with our Fit-For-Life or Ultimate Results program. Both of these will accomplish the “first step” bullets.
If you want to push the limits of your body, you need to add a few additions to your program. These additions will make you drop to below average body fat levels, and above average strength.
In your first year of training, you can grow stronger by learning proper technique in the many patterns I mentioned above, as well as adding randomized weights to those exercises. Eventually, your body will adapt, and it will require more “stimulus” to push you forward.
Now is the time you want to keep a journal. Repeat the same two or three strength workouts for a 4-6 week period before switching to new ones. Each time you do the same workout, aim to add more weight or repetitions. Don’t underestimate an increase in 5lbs, or 1 or 2 reps. If you multiply that “small win” over the course of a year, you will make significant improvements. Your physique will transform (your friends and family will start to notice) and your confidence and mental state will improve.
When progressing strength further, focus on:
- Increasing sets, reps and weights
- Repeating your workouts
- Sticking to basic movements (avoid getting too fancy)
When progressing further, avoid:
- Sacrificing form to increase weight
- Doing randomized workouts
- Getting really fancy with exercise selection
If you need guidance in this step, I recommend working 1 on 1 with one of our personal trainers either online or in-person, or joining our Ultimate Results program. Increasing your weights, maintaining proper form under increased load, and writing a sound program will require more coaching and guidance than the previous steps.
Cutting Body Fat
Dropping more pounds of fat will require additional steps as well. Keep a food diary within the phone app MyFitnessPal and weigh all of your food that you input into it.
Maintain a daily weigh-in log, and average your weigh-ins each week to see your “average weight”. Compare your average weight and your daily average calorie intake.
If you aren’t dropping ~1% Body-fat each month, add 60 minutes of walking/cardio into your week, or drop your calories by 100-200 each day. Repeat this process until you’ve found a happy pace of progress.
Make sure that 30-40% of your calorie intake is coming from protein. This will optimize your recovery from your demanding strength workouts, allowing you to maintain and add muscle while burning fat.
Guidance at this step can be found in our 1 on 1 Nutrition & Accountability
You now have a clear path to take you where you want to go in your health and fitness. Your goals will change over time, and if they do, so should your actions.
This article may seem very simple…Maybe too simple. The truth is, the longer I work with people on this, the more simple I find it to be.
I wish you the best of luck on your health & fitness journey, wherever you are, and if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email myself or my team…
…And remember, “Small Steps, Big Results”.