Get More From Your Heart Rate Monitor

After running shoes and an MP3 player, a heart rate monitor is usually the first piece of equipment runners add to their workouts. If you aren’t using one now, you’ve most likely at least played with them in the past, calculating whether you’re working too hard or not hard enough, estimating your total calories burned, and even tracking your mileage or sharing your workouts. Using a heart rate monitor can give you a lot of insight into the quality of your workouts, fitness level, and effective training. So what are the best ways to really get the most out of this popular gadget? Let’s break down the benefits:

Step 1: Get your real max heart rate. While the calculation of 220 minus your age has long been the standard for estimating your max heart rate, there are newer, more accurate methods for fitter individuals. One favored formula is 205 – (.5 x your age) or you can also find your maximum heart rate by completing a workout that is directed at reaching it (such as finishing your 5k at an all-out sprint). This Runners’ World article has another option involving hill repeats with a maximum effort sprint and recording the highest number shown on your heart rate monitor. These workouts assume that you’re in reasonably good shape and that you’re well-rested, since recent training, a lack of sleep, and even dehydration can all affect your heart rate. The biggest take-home is to recognize that your maximum heart rate is very individual and isn’t going to be in complete agreement with any formula. If you see a number on your heart rate monitor that’s higher than you thought your maximum heart rate was, that number is your new maximum heart rate. Use it for planning your training.

Step 2: Calculate your training zones. Once you’ve established your actual maximum heart rate, you can use it to calculate your zones for training based on the amount of effort that you’re shooting for in a given workout. At a minimum you should calculate your easy zone, at 65% of your max (not above 70% of your max), and your work zone, at about 85% of your max. Knowing these numbers allows you to design your workouts intelligently depending on your training goals on a given day. You should include easy days that are directed at increasing your endurance and providing active recovery, during which your heart rate stays below 70% of your maximum. While this may leave you working at a significantly lower effort than you’re used to, perhaps even walking, you will find that your fitness improves in time as you’re able to work more efficiently on your hard training days. You can make your recovery days even easier on your body by using your Vision Fitness equipment for the lower impact workout it provides.  For a simple overview of alternating between the two training zones, check out this blog.

Step 3: Alternate your training zones throughout your week. If you’re choosing cardiovascular workouts every day, make sure you’re building in active recovery days that keep your heart rate below 70% of your maximum at least twice a week, more frequently if you feel that your age or the demands of your training make that a necessity. Alternate recovery workouts with higher intensity days of at least 80% of your max effort. This level of effort will feel like a tempo run or similar to your 10K pace and will provide a higher calorie burn and challenge to your fitness. To really improve speed and power, work in very high intensity days that challenge your anaerobic threshold, with peaks of 90-95% of your maximum heart rate, alternated with recovery periods. These efforts also increase your metabolic demands, resulting in a higher post workout calorie burn. Since this type of training is tough, it’s important to alternate with recovery or rest days so that you can fully benefit from your hard training days, keeping the quality of your workouts high.

Heart rate monitor training is a great way to keep your efforts consistent between your treadmill sessions and time training on the road. You can also make the most of your monitor by integrating it with the workouts offered on your Vision treadmill, elliptical, or indoor cycle. For more on Heart Rate Monitor training, John Parker’s Heart Rate Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot gets consistently good reviews and includes programs that will both challenge you and improve your recovery. Polar’s website is also full of tips directed at helping you get the most from your hear rate monitor.

Transitioning from Indoor to Outdoor Running

Outdoor Running VisionFitnessTreadmills are a great tool to have in every runner’s arsenal. They make sticking to your workouts possible during the winter months, spring rain, and summer heat. They can also make it safer to stick to your running plan when your schedule and family demands leave you training during off hours. That said, if you want to run a good road race or enjoy a few long runs during your next vacation, you’d better start planning some time on the road. Here are a few common pitfalls encountered transitioning from indoor to outdoor running – and a few ways you can train smart to prevent them.

Ow!  My Legs!  I hear this complaint a lot. Runners who thought they were in good shape from regular treadmill and indoor workouts can’t believe how much their legs hurt when they start running outside in the spring. Hamstrings and hip flexors seem to be the two areas that take the worst beating. When you run on a treadmill, the movement of the belt assists you in lifting your foot off of the ground as it comes behind your body.  When you run on pavement your hip flexors and your hamstrings have to take over that action. If you’ve been exclusively running on a treadmill for some time, your quads are probably strong enough to set a pace that your hamstrings and hips have a tough time keeping up with, resulting in a lot more soreness than you’d expect when you start running outside again in the spring. The trick? Throw in some strength training for those areas of your body in the weeks and months before you head outdoors. I like to use bodyweight, functional movements for this sort of training, since it better mimics the demands you will be placing on your body during that transition. If you have access to a staircase (and we all do), adding some step-ups and jumps will strengthen your hamstrings. Swiss Ball curls and bridgework with or without leg lifts are also great ways to bring in your core while strengthening these areas. Work up to three sets of ten every other day during the four weeks before you begin outdoor running.

I can’t believe I tripped!  Whether you’re hitting the trails or simply dodging other runners on wet pavement, outdoor running and racing demand increased agility over your home treadmill. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Creating new movement patterns and muscular demands, not only makes you more fit, it can also make you smarter as your brain works to develop the neuro-muscular coordination to meet these new demands. The trick is to start doing this training safely in a controlled environment so that you’re ready to use it when the road gets bumpy. As you add in jumps for your hamstrings, you might as well focus on your ankle strength and agility by including some hops and multi-directional movements.

Why am I so slow? From unpredictable weather (especially wind!) and roads that are seldom completely flat, your indoor pace can definitely take a beating when you head outdoors. To head this off, increase the incline on your treadmill every time you use it.  Placing your treadmill at a 1% or higher incline better mimics the demands of running outside. This is the most common trick used by outdoor runners who want to keep the demand of their workouts high during indoor workouts. This technique allows you to benefit from the greater cushioning, stability, and climate control of your treadmill, while creating enough cardiovascular demand to mimic your outdoor workout. For most of us, keeping some treadmill runs in our rotation is a good idea. This lets us reduce the stress of running on a hard surface every day, accommodates fluctuations in weather and schedule and can even be used as a training tool if you’re struggling with the timing of food and drink for longer races. Doing some longer runs on your treadmill allows you to have these items nearby so that you don’t need to stash them on your running route before you head out. The best programs will include quality time outdoors, letting you take advantage of good weather, running partners, and the motivation of races and beautiful running locations, while also including treadmills for their predictability, convenience, and joint cushioning forgiveness.

To read more of Joli’s fitness, nutrition and goal setting tips, check out her article archives.

Fitness Nutrition: Eating Right for Your Best Workout

It’s no secret that what you eat highly affects the quality of your home workouts. Without the right fuel, you lose performance and motivation, making you sluggish. Need help planning your nutrition strategy? Here are a few common nutritional challenges and a little advice on how to make them work for you.

Challenge 1: You’re working to lose weight and battling a tight schedule with work and family. You’ll be hitting the elliptical at 5 a.m. and really don’t have the time or appetite for breakfast. Besides, you’ve heard that working out on an empty stomach can help you burn fat.

Making it work: Although working out in a fasted state forces your body to burn fat as fuel, you won’t train as hard or burn as many calories, so you’ll lose ground by the time you eat breakfast. A better bet is an easily digested carbohydrate immediately prior to or during your workout. Great morning pre-workout snacks include juice, a sports drink or a banana smoothie. You may end up taking in a few more calories ahead of time, but you’ll burn them off with better performance during your workout and improved recovery following. Within an hour post-workout, top off with breakfast, including carbs and protein, for the most effective recovery and your best use of nutrients. Eggs and toast or a smoothie containing fruit and milk are both great options. On the go, try a nutrition bar containing both carbs and protein in a 4:1 ratio.

Challenge 2: You and your treadmill are meeting up for a 75-minute distance run after work as part of your half marathon training plan. You don’t want to run out of steam, but the afternoon snack you tried before your last workout left you with a side ache for your entire run.

Making it work: Your last snack probably didn’t work for you because of the timing or the content. If your workout is more than four hours from your lunch, you’re going to need a carbohydrate-heavy snack before you run. If you are one hour out from your workout, think simple carbs like those given above. Two to three hours out, you can probably tolerate something that has a little more fiber and even some protein to give you better nutrition and staying power. Stay low fat, since fat is likely to lead to digestion issues and stomach upset during your run. You might want to start by trying some low fat yogurt and a piece of fruit or some whole grain toast and jam about three hours before your run. Since your run is more than an hour, you’ll also want to experiment with adding in some easily digested carbs, such as a watered down sports drink, during your run.

Challenge 3: Building activity into your daily life has you looking forward to a laid back ride tonight with your favorite playlist and your indoor cycle after the kids are in bed. You don’t want to skip dinner with your family, but you know that a big meal makes for an uncomfortable workout. You also know that proper refueling is important, but you don’t want to overdo it before bed.

Making it work: Since your workout is low impact, you have a little more flexibility on eating beforehand, but you’re still better off keeping your meal light and low fat. Try reducing your portions by a third to half and skip the butter on your bread and veggies (great steps for losing weight, anyway!). You’re right that post workout you’ll need a little something before bed. Once again, concentrate on getting in some carbs and protein for the best recovery, although a little fat at this point won’t hurt you and might keep you satisfied through the night. You could try some pretzels and hummus, apples and peanut butter, or toast and a boiled egg.

The keys to fueling your home workout are to use your pre-workout window to emphasize carbohydrates that are easily digested with a bit of protein and fiber if you’re at least 2 hours out from your workout. For long workouts (more than an hour), you’ll need to add in a little something during the workout to keep you going. This should be easily digested and primarily a carbohydrate, such as sports drink, energy gel, or a banana and water. Post workout, concentrate on getting a meal within the next hour or two or a snack that contains both carbs and protein to help you protect the muscle you’re building and to help your body access its fat stores for better results. Following these few basic steps will make a big difference in the results you see from your workouts.

 

The Benefits of Using Stationary Bikes

Although new exercise routines and regimens seem to appear on a daily basis, and treadmills and ellipticals continue to be the most popular cardio pieces in the gym, don’t overlook the original piece of stationary exercise equipment, the bike. The benefits of using an exercise bike are numerous and diversified. It is a great workout for beginning exercisers, elite athletes, those returning from injuries, or someone doesn’t have the space or budget for a high-end treadmill or elliptical.

Other than training your cardiovascular system and burning calories, the single most significant benefit to using a stationary bike is that it allows you to do those things without the pounding and impact of weight bearing exercises. An exercise bike allows you to train while giving your skeletal system and joints a break. So physiologically, you can see how it is useful to every type of exerciser.

Although there are dual action bikes (with upper body arms) available, most bikes in use today are lower body upright and recumbent bikes. Don’t fall into the trap believing that because you are not using your upper body, you are not getting a good workout. The largest muscles in the body are in your legs and when you put them in motion against resistance, you will get a great workout.

Stationary bikes are a great way for first time exercisers, overweight users looking to lose weight and those needing a low-impact workout to begin an exercise program. They are fixed motion pieces that require very little coordination and are relatively easy to use. You can elevate your heart rate and burn calories and fat without the stress of a weight bearing exercise.

For elite athletes, the bike provides a great complementary cross training workout, while reducing the risk of developing overuse injuries. You can get off your feet and give your joints a break from impact activities, yet you can continue to train your cardiovascular system. Each activity you do works your muscles differently. The bike can also add variety to you workout routines.

Finally, if you are recovering from an injury or joint replacement, the bike can be an integral part of your recovery and help get you back on your feet doing what you love to do.

Finally, cost and space. These are two of the biggest factors or hurdles people encounter when trying to decide on a piece of fitness equipment for the home. If you can’t commit to at least $1,500 for a quality treadmill or a $1,000 for a quality elliptical, a stationary bike may be the better option for you. There are many quality choices for under a $1,000. Or, if you are tight on space, the bikes take up less room and are portable. Just wheel it out in front of the TV and you are on your way to a healthier future.

Summary of Benefits

  • Trains cardiovascular system
  • Burns calories
  • Low impact
  • Easy to use
  • Low risk of injury
  • Helps develop leg strength
  • Excellent form of cross training
  • Can add variety to weight bearing exercise routines
  • Bikes take up less space
  • Are typically more affordable
  • Are portable

So if you’re in the market for a new piece of cardio equipment, consider an exercise bike for a great low impact workout that you can easily fit in your home.

Why Running is Good for Your Health

The jury still seems to be out on whether running is really good for you, but I’m here to make the case that it is. With a well-balanced workout plan, running can provide tremendous health and emotional benefits for years (and years) to come.Vision Fitness running lifestyle image

Improve Cardio Health

Running is a fantastic way to improve your heart strength. As you run, your need for oxygen and blood flow increases, therefore making your heart pump harder and more frequently to supply the muscles with the energy they need to keep you moving. As you continue a running program, your heart, much like your other muscles, get stronger and more efficient. Also, running improves your immunity, which means less sick days.

Improve Muscle Tone

It’s a misconception among non-runners and beginners that running only works your legs and your heart. In reality, a proper running form engages a variety of muscles, helping you create tone and definition. Endurance running is great for achieving a lean look overall, but if you want to focus on different areas, you should try different workouts. Shorter intervals and sprint workouts can really help target more fast-twitch muscles, which are different from the slow-twitch muscles used in slow and steady long runs. Incorporating hill sprints will also target additional muscles you might otherwise miss. By its very nature, running also helps engage your core – how else would you stay upright? Pumping your arms triggers your back and shoulder muscles. So, focus on using everything you’ve got with every stride you take.

Lose Weight and Increase Bone Mass

Common sense tells you that in order to lose weight your calorie intake has to be less than your calories burned. If you naturally burn 2,000 calories per day, you have a lot more leeway than someone who only burns 1,200. Running is a powerhouse when it comes to calorie expenditure, even when walking the same distance.

“When you walk, you keep your legs mostly straight, and your center of gravity rides along fairly smoothly on top of your legs. In running, we actually jump from one foot to the other. Each jump raises our center of gravity when we take off, and lowers it when we land, since we bend the knee to absorb the shock. This continual rise and fall of our weight requires a tremendous amount of Newtonian force (fighting gravity) on both takeoff and landing,” says Runner’s World Editor Amby Burfoot.

It’s also worth mentioning that running, a weight bearing activity, is also great for increasing bone density, helping to decrease your risk of osteoporosis. As you run, your muscles pull on your bones to withstand the stress of the activity, thereby also making your bones stronger.

Improve Your Emotional Health                                                         

Being part of a social group may help decrease risk for depression. There is an enormous community centered on those who enjoy running. You may benefit from seeking out a run buddy, but even if you choose to run solo, you can be active socially with online and in-person running groups. Share your triumphs and tribulations with those who can relate.

Another positive aspect of running is the fund-raising sector. Train for and run in a community race that raises money for a cause you support. Running for a charitable event is a great way to feel a sense of worth and accomplishment. Plus, you may meet some new friends.

Running is also great for helping you sleep better at night, therefore giving you more energy during the day. It also increases endorphins, which are what prompts the runner’s high you may have heard of.

How to Prevent Injury

Running is an incredibly healthy sport, but as with all activities, there is always a risk for injury. Mitigate that risk with a few quick tips.

Follow a diet filled with lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Of course running is a great way to lose weight, but incorporating a healthy diet can also help get you to a manageable weight, reducing strain on your back, knees, hips and ankles.

Stay relaxed. While you run, try to focus on any tense areas, in your shoulders for example, and work on letting it go. Drop your shoulders, unclench your hands and relax your facial muscles.

Strengthen your running muscles. If you find you have achy knees, it may be an issue of hip strength. Try squeezing in a few sets of walking lunges, wall sits and planks into your non-running days. Increase foot stability and strength by spending some time barefoot and including some balance work. Also, try cross-training, like biking, which is a fantastic way to get stronger and faster.

Stretch and recover. What you do after and in between runs is just as important as your running and strength workouts. Warm up for a run with a fast walk, not by stretching cold muscles. You increase your risk for injury. Instead, save your static and dynamic stretching for after your run, when you’re warm and your muscles have loosened.

Also, use a foam roller – every day if you can – it will help you recover faster by getting at those really tight spots and reducing inflammation. Make no mistake; it will be painful – at first. But if you continue rolling every day, you’ll find the trouble areas will begin to melt a bit, and you will start to look forward to self-myofascial release.

If you feel a nagging pain, take time off from your workout. As always, prior to starting a new training program, check with your health care professional to make sure you are in good enough health.

So there you have it. If you have always wanted to try running, but have been afraid of the hype, fear not. Follow these tips for a healthy, happy running habit.

Sources:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/health-benefits-of-running

http://www.runnersworld.com/weight-loss/how-many-calories-are-you-really-burning?page=single

http://www.livestrong.com/article/368647-running-your-bone-density/

http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/rehabilitation-exercises/lower-leg-ankle-exercises/strengthening-exercises-foot

http://beta.active.com/running/articles/10-selfmyofascial-release-exercises-for-runners

Overtraining Symptoms, Causes and Recovery

Have you ever set a goal, created what seemed like a great plan and then proceeded not only to follow that plan but to do even more? Chances are you were highly motivated and wanted to cross the finish line in the least amount of time possible. Suddenly, you hit a road block, you burned out, you got tired, you lost motivation or maybe you even started to lose some of your early results though you continued working hard. If all of this sounds familiar, you may have experienced overtraining.

Although the “more is better” approach may work for a short period of time, it will often lead to unwanted consequences and setbacks. Below is information that will help you identify whether your burnout may actually be the result of overtraining, the causes and what you need to do in order to recover from overtraining.

10 Symptoms of Overtraining

  1. Fatigue or lack of energy
  2. Loss of strength
  3. Poor sleep
  4. Irritability and moodiness
  5. Loss of enthusiasm
  6. Elevated heart rate while resting
  7. Decreased immunity or getting sick more frequently than normal
  8. Decrease in performance
  9. Unwanted weight loss
  10. Persistent soreness in joints and muscles

What Leads to Overtraining?

Lack of rest and sleep will lead to fatigue, irritability and decreases in performance and increased resting heart rates. The harder your work, or the more intense your routine, the more rest you will require.

Poor nutrition – Not eating enough or eating foods lacking in nutrients that fuel your body’s recovery from the stresses of intense exercise. Without the right nutrients and calories, your body can not repair the damage done. The ultimate goal is to give your body enough good food to overcompensate for the increased loads of stress you are applying to it, and thereby becoming more fit.

Lack of variety in your training methods or regimen can lead to overtraining of specific muscles or joints resulting in soreness that does not go away with regular rest between workouts.

Recovering from Overtraining

Take time off. How long you should take off will depend on how long you have been overtraining. Three to five days off may be enough for most people, but if you have been overtraining for an extended period of time, you may need more time off.

Eat a healthy-balanced diet including lean protein, which is used to rebuild muscles. Carbohydrates are essential for replenishing your energy stores. Healthy fats are needed for energy and joint protection and the absorption of some vitamins and minerals.

Stay active but stay out of the gym. Great active recovery options include walking or recreational swimming. Movement increases blood flow, which is important for supplying nutrients throughout your body.

Get plenty of sleep. There’s a reason research continues to show six to eight hours of sleep is best.

The next time you begin to experience these symptoms as a result of your overzealous workouts, remember to incorporate some active rest and review your rest and nutrition needs. It will help prevent overtraining and help lead you to increased results in the long run.

References and Links to more information:

http://www.livestrong.com/search/?mode=standard&search=overtraining

http://www.acefitness.org/blog/493/what-does-overtraining-mean/

http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/overtraining.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/350412-signs-symptoms-of-overtraining/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/504336-how-to-combat-overtraining/

 

Interval Training on Elegant and Touch Treadmill Consoles

Looking to improve your race times, increase your running speeds, burn more calories in less time or simply break up the monotony of your regular or steady pace treadmill workouts? Try the Interval program on a Vision Fitness treadmill equipped with the Elegant or Touch console. The treadmill Interval program included on these consoles is a speed-based program.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

When training for your next 5K, 10K or 1-mile race against yourself, it is important that you break through your comfort zone in a way that challenges your body’s desire to achieve homeostasis. Homeostasis is your body’s natural need to achieve balance, to stay the same and to only expend as much energy as is needed to accomplish what it is asked to accomplish. Quite simply, if you don’t force or trick your body into trying something it isn’t used to doing, you will never know if you are even capable.

We humans are programmed to seek out comfort, which is why so many people hop on the treadmill, press go, select their favorite speed and incline and do the same workout they have done any number of times before. This bad habit will not make you more fit – It will not make you faster, decrease your run time or burn any more calories than it did last time. In order to accomplish any of these things, you need to get past your comfort zone. Enter – the Interval program.

What is the Interval Program

This program will give you segments of alternating speeds (adjusted in length according to the total workout time you have selected). The speeds will vary from a “challenge” speed to an “active recovery” speed. As you progress through the program and get warmed up, the “challenge” speeds will increase until the final two segments, which are where the program has already pushed you past your comfort zone and gets you ready to cool down.

A few common questions come up, which left unanswered seem to become excuses for individuals to not try a new program. So, to help you gather up the courage to try something a little more challenging, here are some answers to a few of those questions:

Q: How long should I go for?

A: One option is to base your exercise time on how much time you have available, some exercise is better than none. If you don’t have a lot of time, this is a perfect program because it is higher in intensity than your regular steady workout. Plus, there are a multitude of studies that show a short higher intensity workout is as effective, and sometimes more effective, than a longer workout at a lower intensity. Or base your workout time on how quickly you would like to be able to complete your next race.

Q: What level should I use/how fast should I go?

A: Look up the program chart in the owner’s manual and choose a level where the “challenge” speeds are 1 mph faster than you would choose to go if you were just doing a steady or “comfortable” time-based workout. Or, figure out how fast you need to go to achieve your next race time and pick a level that “challenges” you at a speed just higher than that. Remember, the “challenge” speed is always followed by an “active recovery” speed.

Q: How far should I go?

A: You don’t really need to go any further than the distance you are training for and will even benefit with shorter training sessions. One of the reasons to participate in speed intervals is to get your body used to moving faster and taking longer strides. These adaptations will carry over to your race distances.

There you go! Don’t you feel better already? Next time you’re looking to throw yourself a fitness curveball and take your workout to a new level of intensity, start an Interval program.

Sources

http://www.livestrong.com/article/386878-the-best-treadmill-interval-workout/

http://runners-resource.com/training/intervals/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/interval-training/SM00110

 

Use Goal Programs to Spice Up Your Workouts

Want to add a little variety to a stale workout routine? Maybe you need a little extra motivation?  Try a Goal Program! Having a fitness goal can increase accountability and make workouts more fun. By using a goal program, you’ll finish your workout and reach those fitness aspirations more quickly. Thankfully, there are four different Goal Programs available on the Vision Elegant and Touch consoles for you to try.

5K and 10K Goal programs are distance-based workouts with 10 available levels of intensity.

  • The elevation/resistance adjusts automatically throughout the workout. The height of each hill is based on the level of intensity you choose. Speed is controlled by      you, the user.
  • The Touch console offers you a Stage Meter, which helps you monitor your progress through the different elevation/resistance changes in the program. This can mentally prepare you for the elevation changes ahead. The Stage Meter has a percentage completed number that changes as you progress through the stage as well as a meter visual. vision touch console stage meterWhen the meter is almost full and your percentage completed hits 95 percent you know it won’t be long before your hill is over. The Elegant console offers a more traditional profile view which will fill in as you move through the program.
  • Did you choose a level that was too hard? Don’t worry, the level of intensity can be adjusted during the workout to make sure you don’t have to stop and restart. Press the “Workout” tab at the top of the screen and use the arrows to change your goal.
  • Another motivating feature of the 5K and 10K programs is the Time Remaining feedback window. This window will constantly readjust based on how fast you      are moving. Want to finish in 30 minutes? The Time Remaining window will tell you exactly how long each workout will take you. Vision touch console time remaining window

Calorie Goal is a program that allows you to select a desired number of calories you would like to burn.

  • Set your calorie goal and the console will estimate your total time based on the starting speed, elevation and user weight prior to the workout.
  • During the workout, the Time Remaining feedback window will constantly readjust based on your intensity level. Want to burn those 300 calories in 20 minutes? The Time Remaining window shows you if you are on track. Going faster or increasing your intensity level allows you to reduce the remaining time of the workout.
  • Feeling good and not ready to stop? You can readjust your calorie goal right on the fly. No need to start over. Simply press the “Workout” tab at the top of the screen and use the arrows to change your goal.Vision touch console change calorie goal

Distance Goal is a program allows you to set your goal based on distance and not time.

  • The Time Remaining feedback window constantly adjusts based on your speed. That way you don’t need to wonder how long those 5 miles are going to take you.
  • Feeling strong today or maybe you bit off a little more than you can handle? You can add or subtract distance mid workout.

Try one or all of these Goal Programs available on Vision Fitness Elegant and Touch consoles and take your workouts to a whole new level.

Travel to Different Destinations without Leaving Home

Keep your workouts fresh and exciting. Exercising with Passport Media Player can transform your static workout­ routine into a dynamic adventure, filled with intensity, excitement and education. While en route, scrolling text appears on-screen to inform the user about locations along the way.

Compatible with all Vision Fitness Classic, Touch and Elegant consoles, Passport Media Player with Virtual Active (available for purchase as an accessory) allows users to travel to exotic locations from all over the world.  Below are two of my favorite locations destinations, though that may change as more destinations will become available in the future.

Chicago destination on Virtual Active

While traveling through Chicago, you’ll notice thousands of tulips along Michigan Avenue, also known as ‘The Magnificent Mile.’ These tulips typically bloom in late April, just north of the Chicago River. The historic Water Tower is the largest shopping district in Chicago, with an impressive 3.1 million square feet of retail space. More than 22 million people visit this area annually, where dozens of the world’s leading luxury retailers have a strong presence.

Along your journey you’ll pass through Millennium Park, which is known for its beautiful and interesting public art installations. The infamous ‘Cloud Gate’ (referred to by Chicago residents as ‘The Bean’) is a three-story, 110-ton sculpture that distorts objects with its curved mirror/reflective surface.

From there, you’ll travel along the Chicago River through the heart of downtown. There are 38 movable bridges that span across this river. In a feat of engineering, the flow of the river was reversed for sanitation purposes in the early 1900s. The river is famously dyed green each year in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. In1992, the river broke into an underground freight tunnel network, flooding the lover levels of many buildings.

Italy

The journey to Northern Italy takes you though areas where early adventurers in the Bronze Age were attracted to due to the prevalence of copper ore. Marble, semiprecious stones and oil shales have also been found in this region. Travel along the historic road to Timmelsjoch, which was built in 1959 to accommodate tourists while seamlessly blending into the landscape. Back in 2007, this infamous city had an average of 50,000 tourists a day. On the border of Austria in Italy’s Otztal Alps, Timmelsjoch is often referred to as the ‘secret passage’ because it is used less heavily than other mountain passes in the area.

The transition from Timmelsjoch to Venice is quite noticeable as Venice has no roads and is only navigable on foot or by boat. Known for its canals, gondolas, and beautiful architecture, Venice is also recognized for its film festival. Founded in 1934, the Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world. Another site worth noting along your voyage is Piazza San Marco, or ‘The drawing room of Europe.’ This is one of the few great urban spaces left in the area that’s not polluted by the sound of motorized traffic.

Try either of these destinations on your Vision Fitness treadmill, elliptical or exercise for an entirely different, interactive workout experience.

Choosing the Perfect Workout Playlist

By Bryce Faddis via eReplacementParts

All of us have our own unique workout routine. For many, this means spending your lunches at the gym, working specific muscle groups or listening to your favorite songs. Music has become a necessary workout companion for most fitness nuts. And believe it or not, there are good reasons behind this phenomenon. Scientists have discovered a direct correlation between fast-paced music and a successful workout. The science can be broken down to explain that a song’s BPM (beats per minute) is directly correlated with your heart rate and overall workout performance. Take some time to create the perfect workout playlist and improve your workouts.

Choose Your Workout

The key to putting together a perfect workout playlist lies in the type of exercise with which you intend to use it. You will want to do your best to match up your heart rate with the beat of the song. So, if you must use your favorite Janet Jackson song, make sure the BPM is appropriate for your specific workout.

I’ve listed the BPM range you’ll want to use for the most common workouts below:

Running:

  • 5k: 130-140 BPM
  • 10k: 120-130 BPM
  • Marathon: 100-130 BPM

Weight Training: 80-130 BPM

Yoga/Pilates: 60-90 BPM

Calculating BPM

There are several different ways to calculate the BPM of a song. The simplest being to just count manually. However, for less rhythm-savvy people such as myself, there are several programs available for download on your media player’s app store and on the Internet that will automate the process for you. No matter the route you choose to find BPM of songs for your playlist, the end result should be the same.

If you do find that a song seems to be out of place, it probably is. Keep track of these songs, so you can remove them from your playlist when your workout is complete.

Before you attempt to build your own specialized workout playlist, I recommend using a sample playlist that can be found for free on the Internet. Using a pre-made playlist will give you a greater understanding of how the BPM of music can affect your workout. You’ll know what to include and what to leave out based on your personal preferences.

Putting Together Your Playlist

Once you have made the decision to make your own specialized playlist, you will need to consider the order in which you place each song. Once again, this varies depending on the type of workout you would like to achieve. For the sake of simplicity, you can plan on putting the highest-tempo (BPM) songs in areas of your workout where you need a lift. This is especially important for those tough minutes near the end of your routine. These power songs will help raise your heart rate and give you the energy to push past fatigue to complete your workout.

There is no single playlist that will work for everyone. You are bound to use a lot of trial and error to find what songs work best for you in your playlist. Do not get frustrated! The hard work will pay off with a greater drive and heightened energy to complete your workouts and achieve your ultimate goals.

Reaping the Rewards

Exercising is not intended to be easy. If you’re finding that it is, you’re either doing it wrong or not pushing yourself. However, by creating a personalized workout playlist focused on BPM, you are opening the possibility of achieving a better overall workout experience. And who knows, you might actually start enjoying the hardest part of your exercise routine.

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