Creating the Perfect Workout Playlist

Tim McLaughlin - Marketing Intern and Montview Student Union: Member Services

March 16, 2018

As someone who personally uses music with my workout routine, I believe there are many ways to integrate music into a workout. LaHaye Recreation and Fitness Center’s group exercise instructors use music with their cardio dance classes to help achieve a certain level of intensity. These classes boost participants’ energy levels and help them train better.

It’s no surprise that humans like to move to music, but how can you integrate this into your personal workout routine effectively?

Well for starters, when I go running, I generally play music that has a beat that I can clearly hear, and I try to match it with my steps. Every song that has ever been recorded has something called “beats per minute” or BPMs. This is the rate at which the song plays, which you can actually mirror in your workout.

One easy way to do this is by finding your strides per minute. It may sound complicated but its very simple and can be done very quickly. All you have to do is run for a minute, and in that minute you count how many steps you take (at a comfortable rate). Do this several times to get a reasonable average.

After you find your strides per minute, locate songs with the identical beats per minute. So if your stride is 120 steps per minute, then find songs that are 120 beats per minute.

Aside from running, there are other ways to integrate music into your routine. Using music with strong, uplifting melodies and inspirational lyrics will boost your spirits and may even boost your workout. Your choice of music should match your routine, beginning with the same intensity that you begin your workout with, and ending the same way.

One easy way to effectively structure your workout is to integrate songs that will match your momentum. If you begin with H.I.I.T. training, you might want to find songs that are upbeat in tempo, and have a strong bass line. If you begin your workout routine by stretching, find music that will mentally prepare you for the progression of energy you will need throughout your workout. Many people miss this, and instead find that their music seems to be too much or too little for their workout. Doing this will also maximize energy level signals sent to the brain, pushing you to work harder and stronger.

I recently read that listening to music while you work out can boost your mood and make your workout seem easier. According to one study, a good workout playlist may even help motivate moderate gym-goers to workout harder. Essentially, music has the potential to push you harder than you’ve ever gone before. By simply pressing play on your phone, your workout can immediately intensify.

Seems like a no brainer to me.

Making the Most of My Workouts

Elisa Palumbo - Montview Student Union: Member Services

March 2, 2018

Even though I do not work at the LaHaye Recreation and Fitness Center, you will find me there six days of the week. Since college life involves a lot of sitting, whether in class or at the library, I consider the gym a non-negotiable part of my day. Not only do I enjoy the physical benefits, but I also find that working out helps reduce my mental stress by giving me a break from school. Though last semester I struggled with organization in my workouts, this spring I made a few “new semester’s resolutions” that have kept me on track while working out.

Three times of the week I work out first thing in the morning. I don’t like working out on an empty stomach, especially since I wake up with quite an appetite. My research in health and fitness has taught me the importance of starting out with a good breakfast. That being the case, I enjoy making collagen coffee or matcha green tea lattes. I warm-up and froth some nut milk to get my healthy fats, then mix it with the coffee or matcha and top it off with collagen powder. Though minimal, it has all the nutrients needed to give me energy and keep me full until my bigger post-workout breakfast.

One of my biggest “resolutions” this semester was to get rid of uncertainties before walking through LaHaye’s gates. In my own experience, I’ve seen that going to the gym without a plan can lead to a lot of wasted time and minimal results. So back in January I took the time to research and build my own plan (I drew inspiration from Spotebi, Muscle & Fitness and I like to do strength on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, then add cardio and abs on Wednesday and Saturday. This program is personalized to my class schedule, so it works for me, but you can do whatever correlates with your day. I noticed that when I choose my own exercises, I get more excited to hit the gym.

Maintaining a strict time limit has increased my focus and made me much more productive. I used to take my time at the gym, unconsciously letting precious minutes slip away. My mindset changed when I set a boundary to spend no more than one hour at the gym – period. I check my phone right when I walk in and make a mental note to leave in sixty minutes. It’s a fun challenge to have a checklist of exercises I need to perform in a specific time. Some days this will vary, especially if I’m doing a longer cardio workout, but I try not to let the gym take too much out of my day. Research has shown that over-exercising can be counterproductive because muscles weaken through overexertion and the subsequent stress can increase fat storage and cravings. 

I’ve also found the importance of accountability in keeping up with workouts. Because I made my plan while visiting my sister in California, I shared it with her. Knowing that someone else was doing the same exercises really increased my motivation. I am able to wake up for my morning workouts because I drive over with two friends. Going with them keeps me from sleeping in.  Even though we don’t do the same program, having other people there pushes me to work harder and finish in a reasonable time. We top it off by grabbing breakfast, whether a smoothie from Natural or oatmeal and eggs from Fresh Market, then leave by 9 am. Expecting a really good post-work out breakfast gives me more drive to work hard in the morning. It makes everything more satisfying.

On my journey of health and fitness, I’ve realized that working out is about consistency and figuring what does and does not work. Because we live in a culture that revolves around finding the quickest and easiest solutions to problems, long-term workout goals can be daunting. Technology has made us impatient because it has made us addicted to instant gratification. But when it comes to exercise, results take time. Tony Horton, creator of p90x once said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body.” He couldn’t be more right. It takes time but every second counts. Finding what works for you and having a plan will make it a lot more fun, and the results will be a bonus.

Swimming for Fitness

McKayla Dyk - Marketing Employee

February 28, 2018

According to the Better Health Channel, there are multiple benefits to swimming. Whether it be for recreation or competition, swimming can improve your heart health, muscle tone, and mood.

When you swim, you have the opportunity to exercise every part of your body through five main strokes. These main strokes are the backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke, freestyle, and butterfly. The butterfly stroke will give you the most effective workout, using several different muscles at once, but all of them have different health benefits.

1. Backstroke: Great workout for your arms and your core. Can especially benefit runners and weight lifters.

2. Breaststroke: Not the best workout if you’re looking to burn calories, but it’s great for strengthening your heart and lungs while toning your chest.

3. Sidestroke: Not as straining as other strokes, the sidestroke is great for long distance swimming and building endurance.

4. Freestyle: Similar to the sidestroke, the freestyle stroke allows for speed and distance. It is a full body workout that will really tone your back and chest. But unlike the sidestroke, this stroke requires more coordination and effort in breathing properly.

5. Butterfly: Allowing you to burn more calories than the other strokes, this stroke requires coordination of the arms and legs. This is a full-body workout but focuses mostly on shoulder and arm strength.

Along with the muscle toning benefits, swimming can reduce stress. Although swimming improves cardiac health, it is not your typical, dripping-with-sweat, hard-core cardio workout. Swimming can actually be very relaxing. In essence, you are exercising your mind and body by building endurance.

If you are interested in reaping the benefits of swimming, make it a regular part of your exercise routine by visiting the new Natatorium on campus near the intramural fields. Our Rec Swim hours can be found on our website.

Two Mindfulness Tips to Reduce Stress

Amanda Pagán - Marketing Intern 

December 15, 2017

You may have heard of a concept called “mindfulness.” What is it? Mindfulness is the state of being self-aware and fully present in the moment we’re living in. It can be easy to be full of anxiety concerning what may happen in the future. Mindfulness is learning to be in the moment and not overly concerned with future things that are outside of our control. There are a lot of different ways to practice mindfulness, so here are two great ways to get you started.                 

Take a Break from Technology                                             

Technology is everywhere. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and noticed people at the other tables focused more on their phones than the friends they were with? It can be so easy to pick up your phone and scroll through the endless feeds of the different apps you have. Technology isn’t the issue, but when it causes us to be distracted from the people we’re with, we might want to reconsider our technology usage.

We may not always notice the effect technology has on us, but could it be because we’re so used to having technology as a constant companion? Technology definitely isn’t the bane of our existence, but there are a ton of pros of simply taking a step away from technology every once in awhile. Next time you feel like taking a technology break try heading to the game room in Montview and playing some good old-fashioned ping-pong with your squad. It’s like that ping-pong game on your phone, but in real life!

Watch Your Breathing                                                            

Take a second and check how your body is feeling. Are you tense? Have you been holding your breath or taking shallow breaths without realizing it? It may seem obvious, but proper breathing is good for you. Surprisingly, not all of us are breathing properly. Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling anxious you tend to take shorter breaths? Shallow breathing can cause you to feel lightheaded or even tired, because your brain is not getting the oxygen it requires.

Alleviating your anxiety and stress could start with simply taking a couple deep breaths. Getting in the habit of focusing on our breathing can help us relax our minds. Yoga is also a great way to exercise while focusing on your breathing. I’ve noticed that after a yoga session, I feel more relaxed and my breathing is steady. Not getting enough oxygen circulating in your body can be harmful for our health, and may cause us to feel anxious and stressed. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a second to be mindful of your body and just breathe. Try signing up for a yoga group exercise class at the LaHaye Rec and Fitness Center. Our yoga classes are a great way to help you become more in-tune with your breathing.

Mindfulness is a great way to reduce anxiety and help you focus. The next time you find yourself extra distracted, try taking a break from technology, or being aware of something as simple as your breathing.

7 Ways to Get Yourself to the Gym When You Just Don’t Feel Like It

Amanda Pagán - Marketing Intern 

November 8, 2017

Let’s be real, working out isn’t always something we all look forward to. But, what if I told you there were some ways to bring the motivation back into your routine and have you back at the gym in no time?

1. Make a new workout playlist: Be the DJ to your workout and construct your own workout soundtrack. I don’t know about you, but I know I’m running a little faster when Beyonce is reminding me that I’m an “Independent Woman.”

2. Sign up for an exercise class: Rec Centers makes this easy for us, because there are so many classes to choose from. Whether it’s yoga, hip hop or a kettlebells class, you’re bound to find something you’ll enjoy. Plus, the instructors are pretty amazing...just saying!

3. Buy some new workout gear: Have you ever bought a new pair of shoes and wanted to take them out for spin? Buying some new workout gear motivates us to go out and use it. Whatever it takes, right?

4. Schedule a workout with a friend: Having someone hold us accountable allows us to work on our consistency. You’ll be less likely to skip out at the last minute, because you know your friend is depending on you. Plus, things are usually more fun with a friend.

5. Find your reason: It can be easy to give up on something when you don’t know why you’re even doing it. So, remind yourself why you work out in the first place. Remind yourself why you started. We all need a proper motivator or we’ll find ourselves quitting in a snap.

6. Change it up: Stop doing the same boring workout every day and build a new routine. Do some research online for different exercises and switch it up. Get creative! This is your workout and you can make it how you like.

7. Meet with a personal trainer: Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated by yourself. Sign up to meet with one of Rec Centers’ personal trainers, and they will work with you to help you reach your fitness goals. A trainer can help create a personalized workout that provides great results.

Going to the gym doesn’t have to be a chore. Next time you find yourself making excuses not to workout, just remember these simple tips. Don’t forget that that forming good habits also takes time. We won’t always “feel like” working out. Forget about motivation; cultivate discipline. 

October Resolutions  

Lydia Marchesani - Personal Training Manager 

October 20, 2017 

It’s over halfway through the semester. Classes are in full swing, assignments are barely making their due dates, and you’re starting to realize there’s no real hope of “catching up on sleep.” You’re spending so much time stressing about school, work, friendships, and getting that ring by spring that you totally forgot about (or just set aside) your hopeful plans that you made at the beginning of the semester of sticking to a diet and finally hitting the gym every day. Before you completely give up and put off your goals until the Spring semester starts, remember: it’s never too late to get started on those goals and actually be successful!

It’s tempting during the fall months to put off starting something until the new year. But didn’t you do that last year? And maybe even the year before? What makes you think that THIS YEAR, you’re FINALLY going to keep that New Year’s Resolution? Maybe you’ve already given up on New Year’s Resolutions and you scoff at people who still make them, because you know it’s a waste of your hopes and your efforts, and because sticking to something is just so hard that it’s not even worth trying. Sound familiar? Sick of the same cycle? Want to make this year different? Here’s how:

I’m suggesting that you make today your January 1st. Weird to say in the middle of October, I know. Think about how much further ahead you’ll be on your goals come January 1st if you actually started working toward them way back in October? Here’s a simple and easy goal-setting strategy that will get you equipped to start TODAY. This is a modification from self-development legend Jim Rohn’s goal-setting strategy.

Follow these steps and then FOLLOW THROUGH! 

  1. Find a quiet place, a notebook or a few sheets of paper, and about 20 minutes for yourself.
  2. Look back: at the top of the page, write down a list of 5 (or more) things that you’ve accomplished since the beginning of the semester that you’re genuinely proud of yourself for. These don’t have to be things that other people would acknowledge as accomplishments – the only person that matters here is you.
  3. Look forward: Below your list of accomplishments, write down a list of 10 things that you want to accomplish between now and December 31st. These can be health and fitness goals, academic goals, personal development goals, or anything you want to get a little better at. You may find that by the time you get to number 10, you’re running out of “significant” goals. That’s okay! It doesn’t matter if a few of the goals are seemingly “small” or “silly,” just make a list of 10 and try as hard as you can to make them measureable (i.e. instead of saying “lose weight,” put “lose 5lbs”).
  4. Take a look at the list, and next to each one, write the approximate number of weeks that it will take you to achieve that goal. It doesn’t have to be completely exact!
  5. Tally up the number of goals in each category. For example, you might have two 1-week goals, four 5-week goals, four 9-week goals, etc. There’s no specific number that you should have in each category – it’s just good to see the balance of very short-term goals to longer-term goals. This may allow you to go back and adjust a few if you find that you’re way off balance. For example, if a majority of your goals will take 9 or 10 weeks, you may want to add in a few 2-3 week goals to balance things out.
  6. Now you’re ready to start achieving! I strongly suggest using your planner/calendar to write down the goals that you’re supposed to achieve during each week of the rest of the year. Important: as you cross each goal off, you MUST find a way to celebrate. This might just be treating yourself to buying a new shirt or an iced coffee, or going to breakfast with a few friends. Whatever way you choose, big or small, have a celebration. Crossing goals off should feel good. You want to feel accomplished. 

Keep chugging through until the end of the year. You’re a goal-crushing machine now and there is nothing that can stop you. You’ve built up something called motivational momentum, and now January 1st will be a breeze! You’ve been accomplishing things since October and now you can make a list for the Spring semester (a list of 20-50 things) and keep the momentum going. This strategy has stood the test of time for countless successful businessmen/women, athletes, and anyone who is trying to be an all-around better human. Check out some of the resources below to dig deeper into this topic:

Recreation Centers Workshop: Staying Healthy Over the Holidays
  Part 1: Thursday, November 9th 5:30-7:30
  Part 2: Thursday, December 7th 5:30-7:30

Jim Rohn Goal-Setting Guide:

Tony Robbins Goal-Setting Steps:

The Benefits of Martial Arts

McKayla Dyk - Marketing Intern

October 10, 2017

Self-defense is an important skill to have no matter your age, gender, or build. Learning self-defense and martial arts prepares you to encounter physical danger in any situation. Not only does it build confidence, but it improves your overall health as well. Types of martial arts include karate, taekwondo, judo, kung fu, and many more.

Choosing which type of martial arts to learn depends on your personal style and fitness goals. For instance, karate is a great way to build overall strength because it uses many different muscles. Taekwondo focuses on the lower body, strengthening your legs with kicking. Judo is a different type of self-defense that focuses on escaping instead of fighting back, and kung fu combines the skills and techniques of all three, making for a great cardio workout.

Whether you are interested in gaining confidence, increasing your awareness and preparedness, or just looking for a solid workout, martial arts is an excellent option. Through martial arts training, you improve your flexibility, stamina, posture, and even your mental health.

Here at Liberty University Recreation Centers, we strive to create an environment where students can improve physically and mentally. That is why we are offering a Martial Arts/Self-Defense Workshop on October 11th in the LaHaye Rec and Fitness Center Dance Studio from 5:30-7:30pm. If you are interested in learning more about martial arts and how it can improve your well-being, register for this workshop!

Aromatherapy & You

Amanda Pagán - Marketing Intern

September 25, 2017

Isn’t it crazy how certain smells can trigger such strong emotions and memories? That’s because our sense of smell is a powerful sensation that is tied to different parts of our brain. When we smell something, it passes the areas in our brain that store emotions and memories.

Aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years. It’s been used to manage pain, improve sleep quality, reduce stress, improve symptoms of depression, and even soothe sore joints. When inhaled or applied to the skin, essential oils have been shown to help people overcome various health problems and aid in relaxation. 

Some well-known benefits of aromatherapy are:

Improved Sleep Quality - Because essential oils promote relaxation, they can also help you feel sleepier before you head to bed.

Soothed Pain and Inflammation - Studies have shown that essential oils can help manage muscle pain and inflammation. Soothe those sore post-workout muscles with essential oils. 

Raised Alertness - Having trouble focusing? Certain essential oils can boost your energy levels and help you better focus on the task at hand. 

It might sound too good to be true but you’ll never know until you give it a try!
For more information on aromatherapy and its benefits, come to our Wellness Workshop: Aromatherapy and Your Health on September 26 from 5:30-6:30pm in the LaHaye Rec & Fitness Center Mind/Body Studio. Learn how to use natural essential oils for a healthier approach to treating aches, pains, stress and so much more! 

4 Ways to Maximize Your Success This Semester

McKayla Dyk - Marketing Intern

September 21, 2017

We’re a few weeks into the school year, and it’s already busier than ever. If you’re struggling to maintain your health, or even your sanity, check out these tips on maximizing your success this semester.

1. Prioritize – What is important to you? What goals do you have? They can be short-term or long-term. Everyone’s goals will be different. If you’re a freshman, maybe your goal is to make new friends and figure out your major. If you’re a senior, maybe you want to find a job before you graduate. Maybe you want to be in better shape and eat healthier. It doesn’t matter what your goals are, it only matters that you have them and act on them. Go the extra mile and approach that person and make a new friend. Beef up your resume and apply for that dream job. Make an effort to get up early a couple times a week and hit the gym. Find out what you personally need and make those things a priority. You won’t regret it.

2. Exercise – Eating well and exercising is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and will help you avoid that Freshman (or Junior) 15. Exercising also produces endorphins, lifting your mood. It’s a great way to meet new friends in group exercise activities at the LaHaye Rec and Fitness Center, or get some much-needed alone time working out on your own. Even just half an hour of your day spent exercising can improve your mood and overall outlook on life.

3. Socialize – Life gets busy fast when you’re a college student. Make sure you’re taking time out of your schedule to grow your relationships with old friends and even make some new ones. School is important, but in this stage of life you have the opportunity to make lifelong friends. Take advantage of this by getting a group together and participating in events all over campus like bowling at the Montview Bowling Alley, taking a cycling class at the LaHaye Rec and Fitness Center, or going on a hike.

4. Personalize – Hanging out with friends is important, but so is alone time. Invest in others, but also invest in yourself. When life gets crazy, sometimes you just need to take time out of your day and breathe. Here at Liberty University Rec Centers, we care for your health, not just physically, but spiritually too. Grow in your relationship with Christ and take care of yourself because your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Take a breather and participate in one of the many yoga or aerobics classes offered.

Even though college life can be overwhelming, these four tips can improve your health and well-being. If you're using these tips and Liberty’s Recreation Centers facilities, make sure to let us know on social media by using #itstartshere.

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