CrossFit vs TRX vs Fitness Boot Camp: Which Method Of Exercise Is Best For Your Level of Physical Fitness?

It can be intimidating to people who have never exercised to step foot into a gym. And, it can be even more intimidating to do exercises that they’ve never heard – CrossFit, TRX, etc. What is a person to do?

First off, if you want to get healthy and fit, you need to stop being intimidating by what you don’t know and understand. And, this means doing some research into the different exercise programs. It also means you look at the different gyms in your area to find one that understands your frustration and apprehensiveness.

Secondly, you need to realize that everybody has been in your shoes. Even those folks who make exercise look easy had to start somewhere. So, don’t go in it thinking you’re the odd ball out.

There are so many things that you can to ensure your health is in tip-top shape. It’s just all a matter of finding a program that you like and can stick with.

A Glancing History Of and Premise Behind The CrossFit, TRX Suspension Training and Fitness Boot Camps Programs

History Of and Premise Behind CrossFit

Greg Glassman, a former gymnast, founded CrossFit. Glassman wanted to be stronger, like most people. He lifted barbells and dumbbells and would go cycling with his friends. He found people who could best him in one area but not all areas, which is how he came up with the program. CrossFit is regarded as the master of none, but is a jack of all trades. The premise behind CrossFit is to attain specialized abilities and fitness that corresponds to one certain set of movements. In basic terms, it’s to be physically prepared.

And, in 1995, the first gym to associate with the CrossFit program opened in Santa Cruz. The number of gyms incorporating it into their service has skyrocketed significantly – 18 in 2005 to nearly 1,700 in 2010. And, the number is sure to have grown since then.

What is CrossFit? For those that have never heard of it or have heard of it but never really wondered what it was, CrossFit uses a number of different exercises that encourages broad and basic overall physical fitness that’s often seen in gymnastics, sprinting and weightlifting.

CrossFit was designed to meet numerous physical characteristics like accuracy, agility, balance, coordination, endurance, flexibility, power, speed, stamina and strength. Besides all the physical characteristics that make it such a worthwhile fitness regimen, it allows people who train to think outside the box and come up with other creative exercises.

CrossFit’s emphasis is heavy on certain weights, movements and distances over specific times, which leads to a clear measurement of one’s performance.

History Of and Premise Behind Fitness Boot Camps

It’s important to understand that fitness boot camps haven’t been around all that long, but that their popularity has certainly seen a rather significant increase. After all, people, in an effort to get healthy and fit, will join a fitness boot camp, which is often taught by former military personnel, personal trainers and gyms.

Fitness boot camps are based off the military boot camps military personnel must undergo when joining the armed services. It is a rigorous, grueling training program that gets your body into shape quickly. Now, most fitness boot camps tend to take place outside, although not all do.

Fitness boot camps incorporate a number of exercises, starting off with some running and dynamic stretching. This is followed by a wide array of interval training such as pushups/sit-ups, lifting weights, intensive routines, etc. The sessions typically end with a little yoga stretching.

Now, these fitness boot camp exercises are similar to what you see and do in CrossFit routines. The reason is that the goal is the same: decrease body fat, increase strength and cardiovascular efficiency and assist people to get regular exercise.

Fitness boot camps were put together to encourage each other to go the extra distance in their weight loss and fitness efforts. Everybody can work at their own pace and/or work together, encouraging one another to keep going.

Many of the fitness boot camp programs also provide people with nutrition advice.

Fitness boot camps are ideal for people who are bored by the setting of a gym and/or have a hard time staying focus on the exercise habit.

History Of and Premise Behind TRX

Relatively new to the exercise scene, TRX was created by Randy Hetrick, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, who looked for ways to stay in the best physical condition with very limited access to space or training tools. What began as parachute webbing has grown to a full-fledged, on -the-go training system that’s both user friendly and cost–effective. You can look at it has a gym in a bag with a harness system you can take with you everywhere. That’s right!

If you’re on vacation and want to work out, you don’t have to partake in the hotel’s gym center or go running the block. Just start the TRX suspension training exercises to get in your workout time. You can do the hundreds of exercises that will strengthen and stabilize your body.

The harness system will use your body weight in strength training. With each body adjustment, you can increase or decrease the difficulty level of exercises. Therefore, any person, regardless of their fitness level, can use TRX suspension training.

How Feasible Is It To Recreate A Home Gym: Is It Cost-Effective Or Is A Gym Membership Better?

When it comes to exercising, the gym isn’t for everybody. They can be a little intimidating – okay, very intimidating, especially if you’ve never stepped into the gym before. If you’ve decided that you wanted to try the CrossFit, Fitness Boot Camp or TRX program, you may be wondering if these programs are better in a gym or if they can be done in your home.

What’s Better: CrossFit In The Home Or Gym

When you’re talking about CrossFit exercise, you need to understand that it takes equipment “you” must purchase to carry out this type of training. Yes, you can do it with very little equipment but the diversity is going to be limited. Diversity of an at-home CrossFit program is going to be based on the amount of money you have to spend as well as the available space in the home.

There are four general angles in CrossFit:

  • Aerobic/Endurance through rowing, swimming or running
  • Gymnastic movements
  • Olympic lifting
  • Random conditioning and strength element

Keep in mind that you need specific equipment to carry out CrossFit exercises, and while your local gym makes it look inexpensive, the purchase of kettlebells, dumbbells and barbells is extremely costly.

There is a drawback to doing CrossFit in the home compared to the gym. At the gym, you’re motivated to do the workouts – people encouraging you on to get the job done and you’re timed to get the workouts in. Plus, you get guidance on how to properly do each exercise.

At home, however, it can be tough to go through the different movements, and you may even make excuses on why you cannot do certain ones or increase the intensity, etc. You may lack the motivation necessary to do the exercise program. On top of that, you won’t get the help you need to properly do each exercise, which can increase your chances for injury.

Yes, it’s more cost-effective to have an at-home gym should you have the space. However, if you’re really serious about getting into shape and healthy, you don’t want to skimp out. Be sure you carefully weigh the positive and negative aspects. If you know you’re not very motivated, suck it up and pony the cash for a gym to get the instruction and motivation you need.

What’s Better: TRX In The Home Or Gym?

Believe it or not, TRX Suspension doesn’t have to be done in a gym. In fact, it’s got everything you need for a home gym. It will work your arms, back, core and legs and is the best option if you want to work out at home instead of the gym. If you’re looking for affordability, TRX Suspension has it.

The TRX Suspension program involved squats, lunges, upper body movements, push-ups, pull-ups and more. Basically, it’s everything you could do in a gym without the price you pay to go to the gym.

If you’re worried about costs, TRX is advantageous because you don’t always need to change weights after each exercise, meaning you don’t need to purchase heavier dumbbells or plates to get the increase in strength training.

It literally incorporates hundreds of different exercises, which you can do in your own home or on vacation.

What’s Better: Fitness Boot Camps In The Home Or Gym?

As you see TRX is something that can easily be done in your home. Therefore, you don’t have to spend money for a gym membership. But, what about Fitness Boot Camps? Is it the kind of exercise that you can easily do at home?

Well, that really depends on you! The style of Fitness Boot Camps will depend largely on the teacher. If you do it at home, you can choose when to do the boot camp and what kind – interval training, obstacle course, hiking, running, etc. – as well as strength training of some type – dumbbells, resistance bands, exercise bands, etc.

Of course, you’ll need to purchase some of the equipment and be self-motivated to do the program. Keep in mind that there’s not a lot of equipment you need to buy but you will have to if you decide to go it alone…without a group.

However, fitness boot camps that involve other people and a trainer tend to be better for a number of reasons:

  • It’s often offered at least two to three times a week all year long
  • They often offered for certain periods of time
  • Payment can be done on a workout basis, monthly, weekly or whatever
  • They can challenge the body and mind

People who participate in group fitness boot camps tend to be helped in other areas of their lives.

Now, you may be wondering should you join a fitness boot camp. Here’s a little helpful advice: if you have never exercised, haven’t been exercising very long or have health problems, it may be a good idea to hold off. You may want to jump into it head-on but you’d open yourself up to injuries that way. Build up to joining the program and go from there.

Hopefully this summary helps you choose the best program for you. Fortunately, you really can’t go wrong as all three programs have a track record of proven success. It’s mostly a matter of which style you will enjoy the most and will have the motivation to continue. Go here for more great health and fitness articles.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is like the Tom Jones of the food world – it’s been around for ages, it’s under appreciated and not everyone knows how truly fantastic it is!

Coconut oil is a fatty substance that is extracted from the flesh of coconuts. Not to be confused with coconut milk or coconut cream, the oil is often white and hard and has a pleasant “coconutty” odor. You should be able to find it at your local health store but don’t be alarmed if it’s not white and solid because in warmer weather, it can also be clear and liquidy.

The type of fat present in coconut oil is known as saturated fat. Saturated fats have for many decades been seen as “bad” fats by the medical world. But new research on saturated fats from coconut oil is making doctors take a second look.

What makes the fat in coconut oil unusual is that most often, saturated fats (also found in butter, cheese and cream) are derived from animal sources. Coconut, palm fruit and cacao are among the few plant-based sources of saturated fat.

The main advantage of saturated fats is that they are less likely to oxidize or turn rancid and require less processing than unsaturated fats, obtained from nuts and seeds. During oxidization and processing, oils and fats can be altered or damaged and have less than desirable health effects.

Virgin, cold pressed coconut oil is a more versatile fat and better to cook with than other oils because it has a mild taste, is a solid at room temperature (but still spreadable), it has a low melting point (melts quickly if you need it) and is heat stable (high temperatures don’t damage the oil) for frying/ sauteing.

Coconut oil, as part of a healthy diet, is also said to have numerous health benefits – a claim that scientists and researchers are eager to explore.

Heart health

Comparative studies show that coconut-eating cultures in the tropical island chains have much healthier cholesterol levels compared to western cultures elsewhere in the world. Follow-up studies which tracked the health of these coconut-eating groups, found when these native cultures relocated to New Zealand, began eating less coconut oil and adopted a more western diet, they experienced detrimental changes in their cholesterol levels and within a short time had the same risk of heart disease as fellow westerners.

Research regarding the effect of coconut oil on cholesterol levels is mixed. Some sources say that coconut has a neutral effect on cholesterol levels and others say it noticeably lowers cholesterol levels.

One study done on rats, to observe the effects of coconut oil added to their diet, found a definite decrease in the levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides (blood fats), LDL and VLDL (the bad cholesterol) and an increase in levels of HDL (the good cholesterol). Another study done in people with hypercholesterolaemia (high cholesterol due to genetic reasons) found that supplementing with coconut oil did in fact reduce serum cholesterol levels found in the blood.

It is believed that because coconut oil has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties it may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Atherosclerosis is a process in which the blood vessels of the body become hard due to a build-up of fatty plaque. This condition can be triggered by a viral infection which is why coconut oil is thought to be beneficial by preventing this viral activation. In those with existing atherosclerosis the condition can be worsen when the fatty material of the plaque becomes oxidized as it can cause bigger plaques to form or result in clot formation. Again due to the antioxidant properties coconut oil can reduce this oxidation and has even been found to help in dissolving blood clots.

Glowing skin

Whether you are using coconut oil internally or applying it externally, coconut oil is excellent for a healthy skin. By eating coconut oil as part of your diet, it provides the body with healthy fats that have anti-aging and antioxidant effects to slow the aging process and keep the skin looking young. The oil can be used as is, straight out the jar for external use as well.

Applied topically, it moisturizes the skin by adding oils and creates a protective barrier that locks in moisture – great for the whole body. Coconut oil is naturally antimicrobial and aids healing, which makes it ideal for applying to cuts and scrapes. It also has antihistamine-like effects so it is useful for skin irritations with itching and redness. Coconut oil also provides the skin with some protection from damaging UV rays. It has a natural SPF of 4 – perfect, if you are just going to be in the sun for a short amount of time.

Toned and Trim

Coconut oil is being accessed for its potential as a weight loss agent. People report that it stimulates the metabolism and gives an energy boost by supporting thyroid health. Coconut oil can also help reduce sweet cravings and if taken 30 minutes before a meal can help you to eat less by giving a feeling of fullness.

Unlike other saturated fats which contain long chain triglycerides, coconut oil contains short chain and medium chain triglycerides. This means that the fat is broken down much quicker by the body to be used for energy and is much less likely to be stored.

Happy Hormones

It has been found that coconut oil can also help balance hormones. Not only can it help with symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and menopause because of its supportive effect on the thyroid gland but also because it has a role to play in the assisting the ovaries to produce progesterone.

Coconut oil has also been found to have beneficial effects in stabilizing the blood sugar levels in people with diabetes as it is thought that the oil regulates the production and action of insulin.

Stellar Immune Function

Coconut oil is being investigated as an immune booster that can increase your resistance to infection and kill a whole host of pathogens known to cause disease. Coconut oil has found to be active in fighting viruses, bacteria (e.coli), fungi and yeasts (candida).

In cases of cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex and even HIV infection, there is a hope that coconut oil can help fight these infections and improve the patients’ outcome by boosting immune function. There also studies which have seen that coconut oil might have anti-cancer effects specifically in cases of colon and breast cancer. It is theorized that this is because coconut oil improves immune function and contains antioxidants.

Scientists are also keen to discover if coconut oil would also have a positive effect on autoimmune diseases like Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Medical miracle?

Coconut oil is also useful in medical conditions that cannot handle large amounts of food but rather require small amounts of energy-dense food. In cases such as short bowel syndrome, after bypass surgery or in premature babies, coconut oil is a solution to provide high nutrient volume without the bulk that may cause other health concerns.

Coconut oil is also rich in phospholipids which the body can use to make choline – food for the brain (which is mostly made up of fat) to improve cognitive function and help in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

It is also been found that in cases of poisoning with aluminum phosphide, coconut oil was able to negate the toxic effects of the poison. Perhaps suggesting that coconut oil may also help the liver in detoxifying harmful substances.

A little here, there and everywhere

There are also a multitude of other uses for coconut oil.

It can be used as a make-up remover, a hair mask and defrizzer. If mixed with bicarbonate of soda you can use the combination as a deodorant and toothpaste. Also use it as a moisturizer or eye-cream, as a pre and after-shave. It is also safe on baby’s skin for diaper rash or cradle cap. Even consider using coconut oil for a massage oil or as a lubricant (but note, it is not condom compatible). And the list does not stop there!

What and how much?

The best kind of coconut oil to look for and especially if it is for internal use is an organic, virgin and cold-pressed coconut oil that is food grade. This is important as coconut oil that is not organic and virgin pressed with not have has many health promoting effects and if it is a toxic and highly processed form of coconut oil, it may even be harmful to your health.

Recommendations for how much coconut oil should be consumed vary from source to source. But aim for at least 1 to 2 tablespoons of good quality coconut oil a day, in your food. Replace other types of fat you use for cooking with coconut oil as they finish and try experiment with recipes that incorporate coconut oil and you may just find it to be the next best thing!
References:
1. http://www.sarahwilson.com/2011/11/19-very-clever-things-to-do-with-coconut-oil/
2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009912004001201
3. http://het.sagepub.com/content/24/4/215.short
4. http://www.coconutoil.co.nz/PDF/A_New_Look_At_Coconut_Oil.pdf
5. http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=PH2007000658 ???
6. http://www.cocoscience.com/pdf/health_benefits_of_coconut_oil_raymond_peat.pdf
7. http://www.pcrdf.org/artimages/VCO.doc
8. http://fabulously40.com/blog/id/80-uses-for-coconut-oil-22089

Health and Other Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice and contains mostly acetic acid. Acetic acid is highly acidic so if using apple cider vinegar it is advised to always dilute it before use.

It is as old as the hills and our great-grandmothers probably used it in their day. There are many claims as to what old world creation can treat and cure. Most of this information however is anecdotal and has not been scrutinized. But surprisingly some of these claims have been researched and the results are promising.

Numerous studies have conclusively shown that apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be useful in lower blood glucose levels. In a study following diabetic, pre-diabetic and healthy people who were taking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in water daily, all participants had better blood sugar readings by the end of the study. Another trial in noticed a drop in blood sugar levels by as much as 4% compared to those not taking the apple cider vinegar. The exact mechanism is not known but apple cider vinegar does contain chromium, a mineral that helps stabilize blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.

Weight loss is a hot topic around the world. And there are multiple claims that sipping ACV and water throughout the day for a number of days, can improve strength and stamina, boost your metabolism and have an energizing effect. People also reported that ACV makes you “feel fuller” and reduces your appetite. This combination is ideal for weight loss by helping people to eat less and move more.

Apple cider vinegar was also found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels in rats. But it has not been tested to verify if it has a similar effect in humans. However a study did show that people who had a vinegar based dressing over their salad for a period of 5-6 weeks had lower rates of heart disease.

Although ACV is acidic, like lemon juice, it somehow has an alkalinizing effect as is thought to help the body release toxins faster. For this reason many people use it in water to reduce symptoms of arthritis, gout and joint stiffness.

Apple cider vinegar can also be used for many skin complaints. But use with caution as some people have reported that apple cider vinegar can burn the skin. Claims abound! It is said to cure warts by killing the virus and to treat acne by killing bacteria, absorbing excess oil and correcting the skin’s pH. It reportedly helps improve the appearance of cellulite with daily massage, can cure athlete’s foot, fade age spots, clean wounds and reduce the painful sting of sunburn.

The digestive system is apparently also an area where apple cider can help. Some people use it to clean their teeth but other sources say that the acidity can damage tooth enamel – to be safe – stick to what you know.

ACV is also said to improve digestion and regulate bowel function. Because it contains pectin, a type of fibre, it may be helpful in cases of both constipation and diarrhea. Possibly due to the effect of normalizing digestion, apple cider might also improve bad breath and heartburn by correcting the pH in the stomach.

Other claims include that applying rubbing apple cider on after a long day at the office, works wonders for tired hands and feet. It is well known that a vinegar hair rinse can make your hair sleek and shiny but some sources report that ACV diluted with water and sprayed onto the scalp and left for a few hours can help prevent dandruff.

ACV is also claimed to be effective in treating bladder and sinus infections as well as a remedy for coughs, colds and allergies. If you wish to reduce body odor, dab some ACV and water under your armpits or soak your feet in the mixture to reduce sweating and the bacteria in those areas.

Although there are many claims surrounding apple cider vinegar, one thing is consistent – it is ideal to take it regularly. Whether you prefer it with lemon juice and honey first thing in the morning, sipping on it throughout the day or over your salads – 2 tablespoons a day seems to be the recipe for success.

It can also be added to sauces or marinades, used to make pickles, or in water to wash pesticides off fruits and vegetables. It is also an alternative base instead of alcohol with which to make herbal extractions like tinctures. It is best to use a raw, organic and unfiltered as well as an unpasteurized form.

It is also famous as a pleasant smelling and chemical free household cleaning agent – use it to clean everything from windows to floors. Added to water in a spray bottle you could make your own apple scented room freshener or spray on pets to chase away fleas and ticks. Additionally apple cider vinegar can also be used to clean and remove stains from the toilet bowl.

Apple cider vinegar is an all-rounder when it comes to a healthy body and a clean home. With so many uses for apple cider vinegar, surely everyone can find a use for it.

References:
1. http://www.webmd.com/diet/apple-cider-vinegar
2. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5875/15-Reasons-to-Use-Apple-Cider-Vinegar-Every-Day.html
3. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/applecidervinegardiet/a/applecidervineg.htm
4. http://www.md-health.com/Health-Benefits-Of-Apple-Cider-Vinegar.html
5. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/06/02/apple-cider-vinegar-hype.aspx

The Wonderful Benefits of the Vitamin D Supplement

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a vitamin and a hormone that our body can make when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Due to a host of factors however we often don’t get enough vitamin D and supplementation may be required to correct a state of deficiency and the conditions associated with such a state.

It is perhaps best known that Vitamin D helps build strong, healthy bones by improving calcium absorption from the food we eat. But vitamin D has a much bigger role to play in our well being than was once thought.

Are you vitamin D deficient?

A vitamin D deficiency is linked to a number of diseases and conditions that could be preventable were the levels of the vitamin within a normal range.

Certain groups of people are more susceptible to having a vitamin D deficiency and they should have blood tests to check their levels and assess whether supplementation is needed.

Children tend to spend less time outdoors and are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than children 40 years ago. The elderly are also at risk due to lower absorption rates, poor dietary intake and because the body produces less vitamin D as we age. Overweight individuals are also found to commonly have lower than normal levels of vitamin D making them more prone to vitamin d deficiency as it seems the vitamin d they do produce often gets stored in the fat cells. Naturally dark-skinned individuals also tend to have lower than normal levels because the melanin pigment in their skin blocks the sun’s rays from reaching the areas where vitamin D is made.

Increased body acidity due to a diet high in protein, fizzy drinks and sugar can cause calcium to be drawn out of the bones and tissues in an attempt to neutralize the acidity. This in turn would increase your vitamin D requirements and if not corrected could result in a calcium and vitamin D deficiency.

Some common signs of vitamin D deficiency include poor bone health, muscle fatigue, recurrent respiratory infections, high blood pressure and severe gum disease.

For what conditions is vitamin D useful?

Vitamin D can boost mood and help in certain cases of depression. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition characterized by low mood and is common in the winter months when there is little sunshine. Supplementing with vitamin D during these months can help alleviate SAD.

Vitamin D may also be important in the prevention and treatment of auto-immune diseases in which the body’s immune system begins to attack itself. It was found that vitamin D has a regulatory effect on the part of the immune system responsible for the immune dysfunction and also reduces the inflammatory reaction often associated with auto-immune conditions.

Exciting research is showing how vitamin D can prevent and improve the health of those with diabetes. If levels of the vitamin are ideal, it is supposed that vitamin D may improve glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity as well as the functioning of the pancreas and may have a protective effect in reducing the risk of developing type 1 diabetes (an auto-immune condition). In pre-diabetic patients vitamin D was found to reduce the rate of progression to full-blown type 2 diabetes.

Because vitamin D improves the absorption of calcium it supports bone health and is helpful in bone disease such as osteoporosis, osteomalacia as well as rickets and it improves dental health by encouraging mineralization of the teeth, especially in children. It also is needed by the body for proper muscle contraction and supplementing with vitamin D can increase muscle strength and recovery.
Vitamin D has been found to regulate the differentiation and growth rate of the skin cells. Ideal for healthy skin and beneficial in cases of psoriasis where the skin cells grow too quickly and cause silvery plaques on the skin.

There is also a great deal of research investigating how vitamin D might be able to prevent and treat certain forms of cancer, specifically colorectal, breast and prostate cancer.

More research is underway to explore the role of vitamin D in heart disease and conditions like epilepsy, autism and Parkinson’s disease.

Vitamin D where art thou?

The best way to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D is to spend 10-15 minutes in the sun, during peak times (11am-3pm) every day. Try to expose as much of your skin as possible but be careful not to overdo it – the UV rays of the sun can be damaging.

It is not wise to rely on dietary intake for healthy vitamin D levels. Very few foods have miniscule amounts of vitamin D in a form that is difficult for your body to use. Mushrooms (that were exposed to UV light while growing), oily fish, fortified cereals and egg yolks contain some vitamin D.

When supplementing with vitamin is best to use a good quality brand in the D3 form (for better absorption) and that provides between 400 – 1000iu’s per tablet. Daily requirements vary with your age and state of health. It is also recommended to get a blood test to confirm the need for supplementation and the dose required.

References:

1. www.sciencedaily.com
2. www.naturalnews.com
3. www.ncib.nlm.nih.gov
4. www.webmd.com
5. www.diabetesspecialist.com
6. www.jyi.org/issue/vitamin-d-and-its-importance
7. www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/
8. www.lef.org/magazine/mag2010/sep2010_Michael-Holick-The-Pioneer-of-Vitamin-D-Research_01.htm