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Spring into Your Fittest Self

Spring into Your Fittest Self

Spring is in the air and it is time to come out of your winter “hibernation”! This “hibernation” looks a lot like this: Go to work or school, go home right after work or school, stay inside at all costs (preferably under a blanket on the couch), and repeat. If you fell into this routine, now is the time to break it. Spring forward into healthier habits and mindset!

Form Healthy Habits

Between the increased sunshine and warmer weather, Spring ignites motivation. Use this energy to motivate you to form and stay committed to a solid routine. If you begin now, you have several months of established clean and active living practices before next Winter. The hope is that it has become an integral energy-producing part of your life, that it will carry you through the cold, dark winter months.

Build Confidence

Summer is just around the corner and we only have a few more months before we are all hitting the beach in our swimsuits. I am 100% for loving the skin you’re in just as it is. Or, as they say, “every body is a bikini body.” However, when I get into the gym on a regular basis and am nourishing my body with healthy food, my confidence soars. I feel strong and love to see the changes in my body and mind. Your body may not look drastically different after a couple months of healthier habits, but your perspective likely will be. Use this time to build up both your inner assurance and your outer physique if you are feeling dreadful about bathing suit and shorts weather.

One suggestion for the perfect place to implement these long-lasting healthy habits and build your confidence is at CKO Kickboxing. Interested in attending a CKO class? Go to http://www.ckograndrapids.com/class_schedule.html to sign up today!

Stephanie, Health & Fitness Enthusiast

What to Bring Your First Time at CKO!

What to Bring Your First Time at CKO!

You’ve signed up for your first class at CKO and are getting excited to hit the heavy bags. Then, uncertainty hits you. “What do I even pack for a kickboxing class? What do people wear? Am I really prepared to attend this class?” To put your mind at ease, I’ve listed out everything you should bring to your first class, and really every class from there on out, at CKO Kickboxing.

Workout Threads

Bring comfortable clothes to sweat in. Believe me, you WILL break a sweat. This can be anything from Lululemon leggings and a matching top to a basic pair of shorts and t-shirt you’ve had in a drawer for years. No one cares what you look like in class, so wear an outfit in which you will be most comfortable. On the other hand, don’t wear tops which are super-fitted because with gloves on your hands, it’s a challenge to pull it back into place. Conversely with pants, if the waistband is too loose, gravity will take over and they’ll sag as you’re moving and bouncing. There are bathrooms and a changing room but it is easier if you change prior to arriving at class.

Clean Gym Shoes

Leave your outdoor shoes at the front door and then change into your clean gym shoes. Let me say it again, CLEAN gym shoes. Our hands and feet share the mat. No one wants an accidental and unknown step in dog poop or sharp pebble to meet their hands during class. Am I right?

Water Bottle

As mentioned above, you will be breaking a sweat during class. Bring a water bottle to help replenish the water that your body is losing. Stay hydrated, friends! No need to worry if you forgot your water bottle. There is a drinking fountain conveniently located inside the suite.

Gloves & Hand Wraps

We are hitting heavy bags during class and gloves are REQUIRED to keep your hands protected. A glove allows for strike force to be distributed across the fist, which allows you to punch a thousand times in class. The hand wraps you wear under your gloves help protect your hands in a few ways. Wraps offer wrist support, palm compression, prevents knuckle chafing, and sops up sweat in your gloves, making them last longer. Many people start only with the gloves and eventually purchase hand wraps. If you have your own, feel free to bring them. If not, there are gloves available for purchase on-site for only $20 plus tax and hand wraps for $9 plus tax.

Now that you know what to bring, you are ready to attend your first class! If you haven’t already, go to http://www.ckograndrapids.com/class_schedule.html to sign up today.

Stephanie, Health & Fitness Enthusiast

CKO Kickboxing “Swolemates”: Couples Who Sweat Together, Stay Together!

CKO Kickboxing “Swolemates”: Couples Who Sweat Together, Stay Together!

CKO Kickboxing “Swolemates”

What is a swolemate you may ask? Although there are a couple ways to define this term, overall Swolemates are just partners (soul mates) who are on a lifelong health and fitness journey with one another. They workout together and are each other’s motivation to live a healthy lifestyle.

At CKO Kickboxing, there are several couples who come and sweat it out on the bags together on a regular basis. They keep each other accountable, push the other to do their absolute best, and ultimately have a lot of fun! We asked three of our regular CKO swolemates to share about their health and fitness journey as a couple and about working out at CKO together. Here is what they had to say!

Couple #1: Emily and Doug

Exercising / working out has always been a hobby for us. Prior to CKO we found ourselves doing our own routines separately and occasionally together, but never really shared in those experiences. Joining CKO has changed that entirely – we’ve found that going to classes together has become a hobby that we can both thoroughly enjoy, most importantly, together. While we use each other as motivation and tend to push each other to go harder, we also find that we are very light-hearted and laugh with one another before, during, and after classes – we feel that it is important to have a good balance in this aspect. There are no other workout buddies that either of us could ever ask for – even if Doug does drip sweat in my face during partner work. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time at CKO and feel as though it has impacted our lives, our bodies, and our relationship for the better. Having a hobby in common is important in any relationship as it provides something that you both find enjoyable to do together, something to talk about and share together, and we are very happy that we’ve found this with CKO.

Couple #2: Tina and Bobbie

A CKO kickboxing triple play package was given to my wife, Tina, just over a year ago. She encouraged me to join her, but I was hesitant due to my total hip replacement.  Shelby Reno, the owner, assured me I could move at my own pace, adjust the moves, and still reap the benefits of kickboxing.

Finding the motivation to exercise can be challenging especially after working a long, full day.  It’s helpful to have someone you can rely on that knows all your excuses and will convince you to push forward even if it takes tough love. Working out together transcends into other aspects of our lives; our energy levels have increased tremendously while our stress levels have reduced significantly. We enjoy the positive energy of the instructors and getting to know other members. Our transformations over the past year have been immeasurable as we have grown stronger both in health and happiness and having someone to share this amazing experience with makes all the difference.

Couple #3: Tina and John

Big year for John and I – we will be married 30 years July 9 and we will both be 50 this year.  Two girls Ashley is 26 and Niki is 24.  Physical fitness has always been a part of our schedules. Ashley is a GVSU grad in physical education and Niki is a CMU grad in early childhood development and learning. Ashley is the assistant girls varsity basketball coach at Rockford and Niki played college volleyball – starting at GRCC and walked on to CMU team with a full ride.  Growing up the girls we encouraged the girls to participate in sports and they were always busy with one sport or another.  John coached them in t-ball and basketball in the elementary years.  John is all his girls inspiration – he has always worked out from the day I met him he has always belonged to a gym.  After our girls were old enough to drive is when I started getting serious with my fitness as the girls did not need me as much.  We encourage a healthy lifestyle with Whole Foods and exercise. I am a Young Living Essential Oil Distributor and we use oils everyday in our home. From diffusing to topical – it is a lifestyle 😊

These couples and swolemates have found an incredible benefits to sweating it out at the gym together. These testimonials serve as an inspiration to grab your significant other and head to CKO, your home gym, or hit the pavement for a run. Whatever it is, it will be even better with your loved one by your side.

Interested in attending a CKO class? Go to http://www.ckograndrapids.com/class_schedule.html to sign up today!

Stephanie, Health & Fitness Enthusiast

How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this Winter

How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this Winter

How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this Winter

Here we are, amidst winter, with no end in sight. Anyone else already over having temps in the negatives and the sky be consistently gloomy? I know I sure am.

SAD

One thing about winter I find particularly challenging, in addition to driving on slick and icy roads, is dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is “a type of depression related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer,” (Mayo Clinic, 2017). According to Mayo Clinic, this is caused by a change in your biological clock and/or a decrease in serotonin and melatonin levels primarily due to the lack of sunlight. Some of the symptoms include (Mayo Clinic, 2017):

  • Feeling depressed most of the day and nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Experiencing problems with sleeping
  • Noting changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Dealing with difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

 

HOW TO COMBAT SAD

There are many ways to combat SAD. You do not have to suffer through the rest of the season! Experts suggest light therapy (I personally love and use “happy light”), therapy, medication, and exercise. Research shows many people suffering from SAD are able to avoid their symptoms by incorporating 30 to 60 minutes of exercise and 20 minutes of sunlight each day (Summit Medical Group, 2016).

Exercise increases the production and release of serotonin in your brain, which many SAD sufferers are lacking (Ullrich, 2011). You can start to incorporate exercise by walking, running, weight lifting, or taking group classes, just to name a few. In addition to this, don’t forget to take some of your activities outdoors. Bundle up and get outside to sled, ski, snowboard, or just take the dog for a walk.

One suggestion I have for exercise would be kickboxing. CKO Kickboxing classes could be just the solution you need to add to your routine to help combat your SAD. The classes are 45 minutes to an hour of high intensity interval training and you’ll also be surrounded by motivating individuals who will help encourage you to keep coming back.

 

Let’s power through this Michigan winter and SAD!

Health and Fitness Enthusiast,

Stephanie

 

DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to raise awareness on Seasonal Affective Disorder and provides simple suggestions on how to combat it. This post should not be relied on for personal medical advice. Please be sure to consult with your doctor on any concerns to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

 

Sources

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Oct. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20364722.

“Summit Medical Group Web Site.” Regular Exercise Protects Against Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) | Summit Medical Group, www.summitmedicalgroup.com/news/fitness/regular-exercise-protects-against-seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/.

Ullrich, James. “Defeating Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 6 Nov. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-modern-time-crunch/201611/defeating-seasonal-affective-disorder

CKO Member Spotlight: Maureen McCormick!

CKO Member Spotlight: Maureen McCormick!

This month’s member spotlight is Maureen McCormick! Maureen has been a CKO member since August and in that time has lost 35 pounds! Pretty amazing, right? I wish we could all give her a round of applause for taking charge of her health. This did not involve any weird pills or quick fix, crash and burn diets. Maureen is putting in the work and she’s reaping the benefits! How is she doing it? She has cut out fast food entirely and attends kickboxing classes at the new CKO South location.

Maureen shared that in the past she has tried everything from beach body’s 21 day fix program, t-25, buying TRX bands, working out at planet fitness, and also bought an elliptical for her home. This seems to be a familiar situation for a lot of people! She was looking for a magical pill to help her lose weight and she found that in CKO. Maureen says of the CKO classes, “the classes go so fast. You are drenched in sweat and held accountable. It is something I didn’t have before.” Before she would be doing a workout and give up because no one was there to push her to do her best.

Cutting out fast food from her diet has also made a huge difference for her over the last few months. Maureen admitted that she ate a lot of fast food and it quite frankly had become an addiction for her. Now, she has not had any fast food since August and does not plan to ever again! CKO is her new addiction (a much healthier addiction!). Let’s all give it up for Maureen as she continues on her health and fitness journey and continually improves her life!

I asked Maureen for any advice she may have for someone who is in a similar position as her before she started at CKO. She shared before she came to CKO she felt afraid and too overweight to make it through a class. After a lot of encouragement that it was just her and the bag and that no one else was judging, she finally went and fell in love with it. You are never too out of shape or overweight to take steps to make a change and achieve a healthier life.

If you are interested in making a change, just like Maureen has, sign up for a class and discover the amazing effects it can have in your own life! Click here for the GR location and click here for the South location.

Trainer Tony’s 8 Tips on Joining the Morning Crew!

Trainer Tony’s 8 Tips on Joining the Morning Crew!

It can seem impossible to get up early in the morning to workout before the rest of the day begins. However, when you do it is unbelievable rewarding. Not only are you starting your day off with a load of endorphins, you are saving time during the afternoon or evening that can be spent with family or friends, driving your kids from one place to another, or simply guilt-free time on the couch binge watching your favorite show.

Joining the early morning workout crew at CKO Kickboxing GR is a personal goal of mine. Completing my workout early in the morning allows for  more time in the evening to clean around the house, make a nice dinner, or take our dog to the park. This is especially nice for my husband and I as we adjust to life as a newly married couple. Also and admittedly, I love telling people when I attend a boxing class at 5:30am or 6am in the morning. People are instantly impressed (#braggingrights).

I sought out CKO trainer, Tony Deakin, to see how he gets up early in the morning and kills his workouts. He offers us 8 tips on how we can join the morning crew with him:

Tip #1 Set an Alarm
Tip #2 Prepare the Night Before
Tip #3 Do NOT Hit Snooze
Tip #4 Eat Breakfast
Tip #5 Give it your all!
Tip #6 Wake up with a Shower
Tip #7 Stick with it!
Tip #8 Arrive to Class Early

Early morning workouts can be difficult to wake up for, but with the help of Tony’s 8 tips on joining the morning crew, we hopefully all will be attending an early morning class soon! Make sure you are prepared the night before, wake up with a shower and light breakfast, arrive early to class, give it everything you have on the heavy bag, and most importantly, stick with it!

Be Your Own Accountability Buddy!

Be Your Own Accountability Buddy!

Having an accountability buddy is an amazing way to get and keep motivated when pursuing your health and fitness goals. It is truly great to have someone who pushes you to keep going even when you feel like giving up! Bravo to those partnerships that have stood the test of time and keep proving out.

Accountability partners, however, are primarily about motivation, and they help you to establish a habit. The habit itself, partner or not, is what keeps you going. We may go through periods of time where our schedules are crazy, days and times we work out are inconsistent, and we just do not have time to keep in touch with another busy bee consistently. Or, maybe your accountability partner is unable to uphold their end of the encouragement and accountability.

Both scenarios have happened to me multiple times. I have reached the decision point where I need to be my own accountability buddy. I love surrounding myself with people who motivate me, but I know that people’s lives are busy and are constantly changing. The one constant you have in the situation is yourself. Here are tips on how you can be your own accountability partner:

Have a strong “why

Why are you doing this? What are you trying to achieve? What will get you up every single day and say I need to do this? If you don’t have a strong “why”, you won’t have a fervent desire to maintain a fired-up focus or the push to make you someone else’s or your own accountability partner. Find your “why” and write it down. Display it somewhere in your bedroom. Program it in your alarm description.

Create a Fitness Account

Create a fitness account on Instagram and/or Facebook to document your health and fitness journey. Use this as a source of “checking in” on a regular basis. Snap a picture of your meals, take a shameless gym selfie, or share an inspiring quote. I have an Instagram account (@stephleigh_fitness) where I share my health and fitness progress and, of course, human struggles encountered along the way. I’m also able to find encouragement from the numerous health and fitness accounts I follow; we’ll call them silent accountability partners!

Journal

For some people, it helps to keep track of their exercise expedition by journaling about it. There are several ways you can effectively do this. One way is to simply log what you did for your workout and what you ate that day. Another way would be to share snippets about your day and use it in a similar way that you would use a diary. These are just two suggestions of how to use a journal to help keep you accountable, but the beauty of journaling is that you can use it however you want-make it your own!

Get Involved in a Community

This one is important to me. I have found that while I do not currently have an accountability buddy, being involved in a community focused on believing, achieving, and conquering fitness goals has pushed me further than I would ever do alone! CKO Kickboxing Grand Rapids is more than a place I go to exercise on a regular basis; It is a gym filled with encouraging trainers and inspiring fellow kickboxers. Their energy and consistency continually motivate me to attend classes and work even harder to reach my goals.

Having a pal on the heavy bag next to mine can be incredibly motivating and a lot of fun too; However, it doesn’t always work for everyone or all the time—especially when you need an extra push to hustle for that muscle. When you don’t have a pal to keep you accountable, remember: You have yourself and there are things you can do to be your own accountability partner because the way you train should ultimately be the way you live

Stephanie, Health & Fitness Enthusiast

Drink Up!

Drink Up!

Overall, it has been a muggy summer for us Michiganders, with many days seeing humidity above 90 percent. Fortunately this has made for perfect weather when hitting the lakeshore! However, this has also made us more susceptible to dehydration and if you have been working out, you are even more at risk (Team, G.C, 2013).

I myself have fallen victim to dehydration in the past months. I have not been drinking enough water for my body, activity level, and the temperature and nearly fainted during a kickboxing class. You may be experiencing dehydration, as well, if you have noticed any of the following symptoms (Mayo Clinic, 2016): Extreme thirst, less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and/or confusion.

I’ve never truly been worried about proper hydration, but I can assure you it is not something to be taken lightly. Dehydration can lead to severe complications which can even be life threatening. Examples of complications which may occur include heat injury, urinary and kidney problems, seizures, and low blood volume shock (Mayo Clinic, 2016). I believe it’s safe to say we all prefer to avoid any of these complications! So, what are a couple things we can do to prevent dehydration?

  • Fluids, fluids, and more fluids

Continuously consume water-based drinks throughout the entire day with very little to no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. It’s important to note here that the suggested amount of eight eight-ounce glasses per day is not necessarily what your individual body needs. Each person must listen to their body, thirst level and, yes, monitor the color of their urine (Mazziotta, J., 2015).

If you regularly work out, there are several things you can do to prevent becoming dehydrated. One tool provided by Camelbak is their Hydration calculator. You provide information such as your gender, weight, height, age, weather, and temperature, etc., and it provides you with an approximate amount of ounces of water you be drinking per hour. Another way to prevent dehydration is the weight test (The University of Utah, 2017). For this test you need to weigh yourself right before your workout and right after. “If you weigh 150 pounds before exercising, but weigh only 148 pounds after exercising, you have lost two pounds of water weight,” (University of Utah, 2017). It is recommended that to replenish the fluid lost, you should drink 3 cups of water for every pound lost during the workout.

  • Keep track!

There are several creatively cool and easy-to-use apps to keep you on the hydration straight and narrow. The apps can even send you notifications to remind you to drink more water throughout the day. I have used the apps Waterlogged and MyFitnessPal in the past to help track my water intake. If you have a Fitbit or Apple watch, you can also use the apps provided by both companies.

Dehydration is a serious matter and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Leverage simple guidelines and helpful technology to ensure you are properly hydrated for the times you really need it, like river tubing, boating, hiking, and cycling in the warmer months. Stay safe and drink up, my friends!

 

Stephanie, Health & Fitness Enthusiast

DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to raise awareness on dehydration and should not be relied on for personal medical advice. Please be sure to consult with your doctor on any concerns to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

 

Sources

Team, G. C. (2013, March 20). Dehydration and heat: how hot weather could be dangerous. Retrieved from https://gastrolyte.com.au/dehydration/dehydration-and-heat/

The University of Utah (2017). How to Prevent Dehydration. Retrieved from https://healthcare.utah.edu/wellness/news-resources/dehydration.php

Mayo Clinic (2016, October 29). Dehydration. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/dxc-20261072

Mazziotta, J. (2015, September 16). The Amount of Water You Actually Need Per Day. Retrieved from http://www.health.com/nutrition/the-amount-of-water-you-actually-need-per-day

How to Optimize your Health & Fitness Routine this Summer!

How to Optimize your Health & Fitness Routine this Summer!

How to Optimize your Health & Fitness Routine this Summer!

Summer has officially begun and for most, many evenings and weekends are filled with barbeques, laying out by a pool or the beach, attending weddings and open houses, or vacationing with family and friends. It can be easy to get caught up in these fun summertime activities and leave exercise out of the picture. However, summer is one of the best times to optimize your health and fitness routine. The warm weather, fresh produce, and local activities can help you reach new goals and implement new routines and habits which stay with you all year long. Here are four tips on how you can optimize your health and fitness routine this summer:

  1. Schedule your workouts

One suggestion is to pull out your calendar each week and fill in your work hours, planned activities, and when and where you plan to work out. You can schedule these in a regular planner, phone calendar, on a workout scheduler app, or even planners that are designed specifically for workout and nutrition notes. I personally like to use my phone calendar along with mobile apps. I’m able to view my work calendar, social calendar, and CKO class schedule through the mobile app, all on my phone. Choose a method which will work best for you and keep you accountable.

  1. Get outside!

Take advantage of these warmer months by getting active outside! During your lunch break, get some fresh air and take a walk. After dinner, go out for an evening stroll. If you have children in your life, go out in the yard or park and play with them. Ride your bike, run, or rollerblade around your neighborhood or along the 15-mile paved pathways that Kent Trails offers. Go hiking and take in the beautiful sights that Michigan holds. Take a fitness class on the Blue Bridge. Swing dance in downtown Grand Rapids. The options go on and on. Get out there now and enjoy it while you can!

  1. Visit farmer’s markets and local farms

There is a plentiful amount of fresh fruits and vegetables available to us locally in the summer. Fuel your body with these fresh foods and simultaneously help our local community. You can even turn this into a fun summer activity by visiting u-pick farms. Several farms in or near Grand Rapids let you pick your own blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and apples.

Local u-pick farms:

  1. Sign up for a Race

When you sign up for a race, you’re giving yourself a goal to work toward which has a set day and time you need to be prepared. For those days when it’s hard to get yourself moving, you will think about the race you’ve committed to and hopefully be given the motivation to get up and move. For the past few years I have done The Color Run. This race is a high energy 5k and provides me with encouragement throughout the summer to mix up my workouts by incorporating running. Plus, it’s another way I get outside and enjoy the weather (as the second tip suggests)!

Upcoming races:

Michigan summers are wonderful, fun, and full of adventure. You can enjoy it all and still optimize your health and fitness routine at the same time.

Stephanie

Health & Fitness Enthusiast

WHY YOU SHOULD BE #SWEATINGFORTHEWEDDING

WHY YOU SHOULD BE #SWEATINGFORTHEWEDDING

WHY YOU SHOULD BE #SWEATINGFORTHEWEDDING

Are you engaged and preparing for your upcoming wedding? Congratulations! I am also engaged and gearing up for my wedding day, August 19. Wedding planning is all-encompassing: overwhelming, fun, exciting, and emotional. People constantly offer their words of wisdom, refer their favorite vendors, and impart advice relative to what you should and shouldn’t be doing before, during, and after the big day.

One recurring piece of advice I see and hear is to get to the gym prior to the big day. I am 100 percent for #SweatingForTheWedding; however, this is not another article about why you should shed a lot of weight before your wedding. You will be beautiful or handsome, glowing, and vibrant on your wedding day regardless of the number on the scale or what other people try to tell you. Ignore anyone who or anything which asserts differently.

Here are three reasons why you should be #SweatingForTheWedding with me at CKO Kickboxing:

  • Relieve Stress

There is no denying that wedding planning will likely create extra stress in your life. CKO is my favorite place to relieve this built-up stress. I am able to punch away many of my frustrations!

  • Build Confidence

Working out consistently builds confidence, thanks to the mood-boosting chemicals released through high intensity exercise. I know it certainly increases mine! When I get into CKO several times a week I feel strong and healthy. It also fortifies my general confidence to better handle other challenging tasks in my day, such as choosing which wedding dress I want to walk down the aisle in!

  • Improve Overall Health

The last thing you want for your wedding day – even over rain – is to be sick! Exercise improves immunity, so your risk of falling ill in the final days leading up to your nuptials is minimized. One example is a study of 1,000 people, reported by BBC news, which found “staying active nearly halved the odds of catching cold viruses,” (BBC News, 2010).

Congratulations again on your engagement, and I hope to see you #SweatingForTheWedding soon at CKO Kickboxing! I’ll save a bag for you.

Stephanie

Health & Fitness Enthusiast

 

References:

Roberts, Michelle. “Exercise ‘can Prevent a Cold’, a Study Shows.” BBC News. BBC, 02 Nov. 2010. Web. 04 May 2017.

 

Image taken by Kait.Cole Photography & Design