December 2014 News Archives

On 11 December, 2014

Although it is true that any fitness programme does take time and commitment to achieve noticeable results, there are ways to speed up the process.

Getting fit benefits us greatly in many different ways, increasing muscle tone, weight loss, flexibility and being able to generally do more and enjoy life more to name a few, but the thought of it taking forever to see any results can be disheartening to many people. Although it is true that any fitness programme does take time and commitment to achieve noticeable results, there are ways to speed up the process.

Many people get into a fitness routine of the same exercises every day, but this can actually hinder progress. The best way to start achieving fast results is to shake it up and do exercises which work different muscle groups at once. Although this is generally more tiring and will make the body ache more in the beginning, it will also provide the most efficient workout.

A great and efficient way to incorporate a range of exercises into a fitness routine is to take a class in martial arts. There is a huge range of martial arts disciplines to choose from, with the more high impact side providing a great cardio workout, as well as teaching self-defence. Martial Arts is also a great way to expand your mind and learn about a different culture, while increasing your fitness, agility, muscle tone and coordination.

Because Martial Arts incorporates a range of different exercises, it will help increase all-over fitness very quickly.

High Intensity Interval training, or HIIT, is another way to speed up results and make the body get fit fast. Interval training is a workout that is done at a very high intensity for a few minutes, followed by a period of slow exercise or resting. The American Heart Association has seen significant results in their research that this is one of the best ways to not only beat cardiovascular disease, to also to get fit fast. source.

Cardio is another form of exercise that will produce fast results, though it is advised to start slow and build up, anything that increases heart rate and makes you sweat, though it may be uncomfortable, will very quickly send fitness levels skyrocketing in a very short period of time. Activities like power-walking, running and swimming are all amazing activities that quickly burn fat and work muscles. The added benefit to working out at home is that fitness will become integrated as a lifestyle change, rather than something only done at the gym, or being seen as a chore.

Perhaps the most important part of getting fit fast is setting achievable goals. This will not only increase motivation, but is also beneficial on tracking progress. Even starting small, 10 lengths in the pool or power walking around the park, gives a great sense of achievement and is encouraging because it shows tangible results. It's important to always try to push limits in fitness and this method of charting progress will help greatly when it comes to motivation. Discipline is vital to getting fit, but fitness is a goal that is well within the reach of anyone!

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On 23 December, 2014

With the New Year fast approaching, there's a fantastic wave of excitement in the air, as we all think about our plans and what we hope to achieve.

Part of this is making New Year resolutions that are going to empower us and set us on track for meeting our goals. After the over-eating and booze filled Xmas indulgence, what could be a better time to optimise your health and wellness levels? Here are 10 easy ways to detox, which will transform the way you look and feel, boost your energy levels, and help to ward off the extremely unwelcome effects of aging:

1. Keep well hydrated with mineral or filtered water, and aim to drink around 2 litres a day. H2O is responsible for every single metabolic process in the body, yet so many people omit this most basic part of 'life management' which so wonderful for daily detoxing; and helps maintain the proper balance of vital body salts. The good news is that fruit and vegetables can count towards your natural daily water uptake, so do make sure you're getting enough!

2. Lower your coffee intake to no more than two mugs a day. Caffeine has a number of highly negative effects on the body, especially on our stress levels and digestive system, which can get highly toxic. Long term studies link caffeine with an elevated risk of high cholesterol, and heart disease.

3. Exercise every day: it is so easy to drive around from A to B, and then just sit in front of the TV or computer at home. Just taking a short walk on your lunch breaks or after work is fantastic for the body as it gets the circulation going, and speeds up your metabolism and wards off toxins. Yoga is also recommended, and is getting more popular as celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow show us what it can do!

4. Get yourself a long natural bristle brush and use it dry to brush the skin from the feet upwards towards the heart, before having a bath or shower. This will get the lymphatic system into gear, and help eliminate toxins.

5. Try to substitute unhealthy drinks such as cola, for healthy alternatives such as fruit or herbal tea. It comes in many sumptuous varieties to suit all tastes.

6. Try to give your digestive system a rest by exchanging unhealthy snacks for fresh fruit, a natural yogurt, or a few nuts or an unsweetened oat cake.

7. If you are prone to drinking a lot of alcohol, test out a few non-alcoholic beverages. It will put far less strain on your body, and you will reap very positive rewards.

8. If you're a junk food addict try getting in some unprocessed staples such as spelt bread, whole grain rice, and brown pasta. And experiment with stevia in place of table sugar and artificial sweeteners.

9. There's nothing quite like a steam bath or sauna to effortlessly sweat out the toxins. Look online and find a day centre near you.

10. Check out local martial arts classes or get yourself a DVD. This is a superb discipline that will turn your life around and beginners movements are fun and simple!

In summary, if you follow some of these 10 easy detox steps, whether you practice them every day, or periodically; not only will they help you look great and feel good, they will also keep you on the road of healthy living and help you avoid disease and premature aging, so that you face each and every New Year with happiness and vitality!

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On 23 December, 2014

Being overweight usually leads to lack of energy, mental sluggishness, loss of confidence, and increased risk of health problems.

Fad diets will produce some initial weight loss, but this approach isn’t usually sustainable. Committing to an intensive gym programme can also be effective, but it can be hard to stay committed to this long-term. Martial arts is an effective alternative to these temporary fixes, and it is the best exercise for weight loss because:

Practicing Martial Arts Can Burn a Lot of Calories

The exact number of calories a person burns while practicing martial arts is going to depend on a number of factors including body weight. On average, a one-hour training session can burn around 600 calories. Most martial arts also include some form of strength training so practitioners can expect to gain more muscle. This is good news for weight-loss because muscle consumes more calories than fat tissue - it means martial artists will be burning more calories even when they are not training.

Martial Arts is a Full-Body Workout

One of the great advantages of martial arts is that it can offer a full-body workout that includes increased flexibility, cardiovascular training, muscle training, and increased stamina. Those who wish to progress in arts like karate, Kung-Fu, or Tae kwon Do, are going to need to be able to use almost every part of your body as a weapon. They also need to be fast and have enough strength for the each blow to be effective. If people want to fight in any type of full-contact event, they are going to need to condition their body to be able to withstand a great deal of abuse. You can choose a martial art based on your exact goals (e.g. if you want to be super-fit, choose a more intense practice), and this is what makes it the best exercise for weight loss.

Practicing Martial Arts Can Help Create a Positive Body Image

Practicing a martial art is about learning to master the body. This feeling of being in control can leads to increased confidence and better choices in regards to health. It is usually people who have a poor body image that are most likely to engage in weight-gain behaviours such as comfort eating. This is because they are going to feel less in control of how their body looks, and this can lead to a type of fatalistic attitude.

Martial Arts is a Fun Way to Lose Weight

Martial arts can be enjoyed by people of any age, and it provides a lifelong path to good health and weight stability. The fact that this is a fun thing to do means that it doesn’t feel like any type of sacrifice. It just becomes a way of life, and this makes it the best exercise for weight loss.

Weight loss is just one of the benefits of practicing martial arts. This is an excellent activity for kids and grown-ups because it improves self-esteem, reduces stress levels, improves mental health, and can be used for self-defence

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On 23 December, 2014

Few people can claim to be ignorant about the benefits of physical fitness to their health.

Yet only a few of them regularly have physical exercises. There are many reasons for this. One of them is busy schedule that denies many people enough time to engage in such activities. For many low-income earners, the high cost of gym membership discourages them from actively having a well-organized and quality work outs. This should not be the case as there are many ways you can enjoy quality work outs without spending a lot of money. Here are some of the ways you can achieve this.

Free Training from Websites and Gyms

There are some websites, especially martial arts ones that offer free trial lessons and training for both children and adults.

For example, you can learn a lot of martial arts like judo, boxing and taekwondo by just following the lessons in these websites and the materials provided like videos. Since martial arts involve intensive exercise of almost all body muscles, they are very effective when used to keep fit.

In addition, there are gyms that offer free training on certain days of the week. Making use of such gyms and websites will significantly reduce the amount of money you spent on your physical fitness exercises.

Use Inexpensive Equipment

One of the reasons why exercising is expensive is the high cost of the equipment needed. Apart from the equipment, the clothes, shoes and other accessories might also be beyond reach for many people.

Fortunately there are many ways you can get these equipment and accessories cheaply. One of them is buying used stuff. You will be surprised to find good training equipment at less than half the price of new ones.

In addition, learn to improvise. There are many exercises that you can effectively do using cheap materials. Exercise balls, dumbbells and jump ropes are some of the cheap training equipment that you can use in doing a wide range of exercises.

Compare Costs

Gym prices differ widely even when the gyms are located in the same neighborhood. The amount of membership fees charged depends on a number of factors. Chief among them is the quality and type of the gym equipment. Another factor is the level of training, experience and skills of the instructors. Based on these and other factors, you might find some gyms charging very large membership fees while others charging smaller fees. It is, therefore, very important that you make inquiries about the costs of various gyms before settling on one. There is no need paying highly for services that you can get at another place cheaply.

Ask for Incentives and Discounts

There many gyms that offer discounts for certain type of members. For example, there are gyms that allow students and military personnel to use the gyms at half the amount paid by standard members. If you are among the groups that offer such discounts, look for gyms that have such kind of arrangement then ask for the discount. There are also others that offer members discounts if they convince family and friends to come to the gym. If you join such types of gyms and convince as many of your friends and family to join, you will be able to use the gym cheaply for a long period.

Use Free Exercise Types

There are many types of exercises that you can do without spending any money. Exercises like walking, jogging and push-ups among many others are as effective as they are inexpensive. All you have to do is get information on how to do them correctly. This can easily be found online on youtube, fitness blogs and websites among many other sources.

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On 23 December, 2014

Being fit can improve the overall quality of your life dramatically.

Having well-toned muscles, low body fat, flexible joints and a high aerobic capacity will not only make you look and feel good, but is an excellent way to ward off many common lifestyle diseases. So, what is the best way to get fit?

The first and most important factor you have to take into consideration while trying to get fit is keeping a close eye on what you eat. You need to make adjustments to your calorie intake in particular. Being overweight makes it much harder to get fit. According to Harvard Health, you need to cut your daily calorie intake by 500 for you to lose about 1 pound of body weight per week if you are overweight. If you are looking to be more aggressive with your weight loss programme, then you should aim to consume 500-1000 calories less than what your body need to maintain its current weight. This is a level that medical experts consider to be safe and sustainable over the long-term.

Performing cardiovascular exercise such as rope jumping, running, climbing and martial arts are great at increasing your aerobic capacity and burning calories. Martial arts in particular is effective at achieving fitness goals due to the discipline it inculcates into the individual, which helps the person to maintain optimal fitness levels. What is the best way to get fit through martial arts training?

The Best Martial Arts for Optimum Fitness

Martial arts training give numerous benefits to the practitioner. These include learning self-defence techniques, anger management, keeping fit and of course earning bragging rights that come with knowing a specific martial art. If maintaining body fitness is your primary goal for learning martial arts, then these styles will help you achieve your goal.

Capoeira

Capoeira is a martial art that originated from Brazil and incorporates dance with fighting. Its practitioners participate in an intense dance circle known as roda as well as practicing static postures, gymnastics and various flexibility exercises. In a sense, capoeira is a bit like doing yoga while listening to music. The martial art provides an intense cardio workout that is great for the body. The style can, however, look a bit intimidating especially during the first classes.

MMA

MMA is an acronym that stands for Mixed Martial Arts. MMA involves an intense combination of body weights, free weights, light sparring, calisthenics, and hitting bags or pads. MMA is a highly athletic form of martial arts. You can expect to leave an MMA class feeling drained every evening. MMA is usually more costly than many other martial arts, but the superior workout it provides can give you really good results.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is another high-intensity martial art. A typical BJJ class starts with a demanding warm up where you practice several moves with a partner who ideally should be about your own size. This is followed by several rounds of rolling and light competitive wrestling against your partner. BJJ is pretty common in many towns. The good things about this martial art is that it works out many muscles in your body. For people who have issues with personal space, however, all that grappling that is typical of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu might make them feel uncomfortable.

Judo

Judo is one of the oldest martial arts, and has its roots in Japan where it originated in the 1800s. Judo mainly concentrates on chokes and throws with minimal strikes. Jiu Jitsu and Sambo really are offshoots of Judo. The legendary Fedor Emilianenko used Judo and Sambo moves to overwhelm his opponents. Even though Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has stolen some ground from Judo, this old martial arts is, nevertheless, still very popular especially for people who do it for self- defence as well.

Kickboxing/Muay Thai

Kickboxing is a blanket term that is often applied to anything that involves kicking and punching while Muay Thai has several distinctive features. Muay Thai comes from Thailand and involves both knee and elbow strikes in addition to using fists and feet, as well as a stand-up grappling known as clinch.

Kickboxing was popularised by Jean Claude Van Damme in his famous movie Kickboxer. The first kickboxing classes involve learning how to throw strikes, after which you learn some real sparring. These types of martial arts are great at increasing your flexibility.

Wing Chun Kung Fu

Wing Chun Kung Fu is a close-range martial art that hails from China and focuses strongly on balance. It also involves practicing relaxation techniques that are meant to keep the body in top shape. Its rapid punches make for great on-screen combat. Wing Chun requires the practitioner to do a lot of visualising. The art teaches about a centre line on the human body that is used for balance. This martial art involves performing rapid strikes while moving forward to your opponent. Minimal kicks are used. The stance is quite different from other forms of martial arts. This art form can be a good way to improve your reflexes if there are a bit slow.

Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do has its roots in Korea and is one of the broadest form of martial arts. Tae Kwon Do is the martial art with the largest number of followers, and is even represented at the Olympics. The art involves punches, throws and kicks. Additionally, the art form involves a lot of cardiovascular exercises and practicing relaxation techniques. Many gyms teach Tae Kwon Do and is incorporated in many video games including Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. One of the many variations of this martial art is breaking up boards and bricks using your feet. Make sure you do some research with your gym to check what form of the sport they offer before signing up.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is an Israeli martial art and the name means ‘‘battle contact’’ in Hebrew. This venerable martial art was developed by Israel Defence Forces and is used in real-life combat situations. It involves punches, throws and kicks. Krav Maga focuses on training a person to fight even when they are tired and involves a lot of twisting and striking, as well as a lot of stuff that is not allowed in other forms of martial arts like eye pokes, joint breaks, throat breaks and kicks to the groin. This martial art is good for improving your core and encourages development of strong and flexible joints.

So having highlighted the various types of martial arts, what is the best way to get fit? By and large, the best way to get fit is by mastering one or more of these martial arts to help you stay in shape. The best martial art for you will depend on your taste and preference.

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On 23 December, 2014

The first thing to consider when planning fitness programmes centred on losing weight is keeping it realistic.

While cycling dozens of miles or running 10 kilometres a day may, theoretically, help to create the kind of calorie deficit that people need to lose weight, they are useless if an athlete is never likely to do them.

The key to losing weight is doing manageable exercises on a regular basis. Weight loss exercise works when it is built into routines. Losing weight is a question of burning off energy to create a 'calorie deficit', which is where an athlete burns more calories than they consume.

By far the simplest way of creating a calorie deficit is with cardiovascular exercise. Running, hiking, cycling and swimming are all excellent ways of boosting calorie consumption and losing weight. Incorporating any of these exercises into a training programme and ensuring that they are carried out regularly, will help to burn calories. Ten minutes of running three times a week will soon bring good results.

Interval training is a great form of weight loss exercise, which can be easily incorporated into most training programmes. It can also take a variety of forms, and be done at almost any venue. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great way of giving anyone's metabolism a real boost. Intervals work so well that they actually keep your body burning calories for a significant amount of time after you have finished training, due to the oxygen debt that bursts of intense activity create.

It revolves around alternating short periods of intense activity with intervals of rest. An example would be 30 seconds sprinting followed by 30 seconds of jogging. Using gym equipment such the stationary bike is a good way of effectively and accurately measuring intervals. Another way of structuring it is to run between lampposts, or to run up a hill and then jog or walk back down it.

Playing a team sport can also be a useful way of supplementing fitness work. A game of basketball or 5-a-side soccer once a week is a really good way of burning off extra calories, with the stop-start nature of team sport helping to raise and lower heart rate in a similar way to interval training.

Playing team sport can also be a way of keeping your training fresh and varied. The social side of it can keep you mentally sharper, and can help with maintaining motivation, too. As a complement to other, solitary cardiovascular training it can be a superb form of weight loss exercise, particularly for children and young people.

Obviously, tweaking training programmes will not work as effectively as it should without some attention to diet too. A simple way to make sure that training is effective as possible is to cut down on processed sugars. Drink water rather than pop, and replace sugary snacks like chocolate bars with fruit. It is also a good idea to eat more vegetables and less fried food.

A combination of sensible training adjustments and a sensible diet will soon bring results when it comes to weight loss. It is important to remember that changes must be sustained over a period of time for real progress to be made. Only by sticking with a programme can someone find real success - there are no easy tricks or shortcuts.

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On 23 December, 2014

If we are honest with ourselves, most of us could benefit from losing a few pounds.

However, there is so much conflicting and confusing information on dieting and weight loss that it is sometimes difficult to know what to do to lose weight. Check out these simple weight loss tips for women to help you to lose weight, stay in shape and feel on top form.

Avoid Overeating

Food plays a very important part in weight gain and weight loss, which makes controlling your diet one of the most important weight loss tips for women. Overeating is when we regularly eat more food than our body can burn for energy. The extra food is usually stored as fat in the body, which makes us overweight. It is better to eat small amounts of food regularly throughout the day that can easily be turned into energy and resist binge eating in the evening.

Cut the Carbs

Complex carbohydrates such as white bread, potatoes and white rice are high in starch and are difficult for the body to digest. Reduce intake of these carbohydrates as much as possible and replace them with healthier alternatives such as brown bread, brown rice and organic brown pasta.

Go Raw

Raw food such as fruit and vegetables are much higher in vitamins and minerals than cooked food and are low in fat, helping you to lose weight quickly and simply. In addition to eating salads made from entirely raw vegetables and fruit, you can add extra raw food to your diet by making fruit and vegetable smoothies. Research has shown that eating a liquid diet helps you to stay full for longer, so if you want to lose a lot of weight in a hurry it is a good idea to replace two or your daily meals or even all three with a smoothie made from a blend of raw fruits and vegetables. This is particularly easy if you have a juicer, but if not, most soft vegetables and fruits can be blended easily in a blender. Get creative with your combinations to make things interesting and ensure that you get a good balance of vitamins and minerals.

Try Yoga

Yoga is a great type of exercise for weight loss because it uses all of the muscles in your body. Unlike some other types of exercise where you need special equipment, yoga can be done virtually anywhere, even in your favourite park on a beach. The various yoga poses help the blood to flow more freely around your body, tone muscles and help you lose weight. Many yoga routines are extremely energetic and help you burn fat without losing muscle tone, while other yoga routines are more relaxing and are designed to help you stretch and strengthen your body. If you practice yoga regularly, it is a good idea to opt for a variety of routines to help your body in different ways.

Martial Arts

Practicing martial arts is a great way to lose weight and stay in shape in a fun and interesting way. In martial arts, people use a combination of offensive and defensive moves to win fights and they must be extremely agile while using every part of their body. Martial arts training uses a range of different techniques to help fighters stay in top form and increase their hand-eye coordination. A large number of gyms offer different types of martial arts training such as Muay Thai, kick boxing, karate and taekwondo and practicing these martial arts regularly is the perfect way to have fun and get fit at the same time.

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On 23 December, 2014

With 2015 just around the corner, many of us are already planning to live a happier and healthier life during the New Year.

Of course, this can be easier said than done and while we may indeed be faithful to an exercise programme during the first month, our dedication can soon slip. So, let's look at twelve sure-fire tips which are designed to provide you with the motivation and determination that are required to achieve the body of your dreams.

1. Be Realistic

Rome wasn't built in a day. In the same respect, set realistic goals as opposed to lofty ideals which will inevitably let you down. Meeting these targets will keep you motivated while failing to achieve the nearly impossible can lead to frustration and failure.

2. Set a Time and Stick to It

Consider an exercise routine like a second job. Establish a time each day that you will train. Getting into this routine allows your body (and mind) to become accustomed to this new lifestyle. Soon, this healthy choice will become a habit!

3. Find a Training Buddy

Most of us find it difficult to get out of bed and hit the gym when it is cold and dark outside. The same can be said after a long day at the office. Discovering a workout partner who will help you shake off the fatigue is one of the most important ways to reach your goals. Remember as well that you will be able to offer the same positivity to them.

4. Surprise Yourself

Every four to six weeks, add new exercises into your programme. These can be variants of previous routines, increased (or decreased) repetitions and even new movements that you have discovered online. Mixing it up is a great way to keep your body guessing what may be next.

5. Avoid Burning Out

If you feel that you are "burning the candle" at both ends, don't push yourself. Not only could you risk possible injury, but you are likely to become mentally fatigued. Your enthusiasm will suffer and you could be attempted to abandon the entire endeavour.

6. Forget the Fad Weight Loss Plans

Losing weight overnight is hardly ever a reality. Such fads come and go and the supposed "gurus" are normally anything but experienced. Understand that weight loss and toning both take time and commitment. In fact, a great deal of weight loss within only a few weeks may actually be a signal that something is wrong.

7. Embrace Organics

While diet foods may appear to be the best options, they will not offer your body the same nutrients that organic alternatives provide. So, it is better to rely more upon foods which are not processed while using dietary drinks and protein bars in moderation.

8. Get Your Rest

Sleep allows the body and mind to heal. A lack of downtime can lead to mental exhaustion and once again, the chances of injury are very real. Strive to get at least six hours of quality rest every evening.

9. Set Milestones

Instead of looking at the far-off finish line, set monthly and even weekly goals. These will appear more realistic to achieve and once you pass one milestone, it will be much easier to tackle the next with confidence and determination.

10. The Power of Water

Not only will water help to transport nutrients throughout your body, but it lubricates the joints and is naturally slimming. Drinking between six and eight glasses a day will help you to feel fuller while maintaining proper hydration.

11. All Work and No Play...

Take a break every once in a while and reward yourself. Much like avoiding the risk of burning out, you will need to give your body and mind a chance to unwind. This is often quite understated within a workout routine but is nonetheless extremely important.

12. Mix it Up

While weights and aerobics are indeed effective, other whole-body routines such as martial arts can provide second-to-none results in terms of weight loss and core strength. As there are countless styles to choose from, you will certainly be able to find one which suits your unique tastes.

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On 23 December, 2014

There are as many weight loss and exercise plans as there are opinions; everyone has something that they swear works.

If participating in martial arts and not a huge fan of weight training to improve, there are a ton of alternatives. Although martial arts are great exercise by themselves, for those that only practice casually and wish to improve their body condition by other means as well, there are many great and fun ways to work train. Join a recreational sport and, before you know it, you'll be see improvements in your martial discipline as well as your health. the following are some suggestions of sports that are fun, different and will improve strength and endurance; unquestionably important when practicing martial arts.

If you love martial arts, the thrill of parkour ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkour) might be for you. Parkour, or freerunning, is a style of obstacle course training with the simple goal of getting from point A to point B in the simplest way possible using only your surrounding environment and the human body. Usually the paths are not simple and require strength, speed and agility to complete. Modern free runners typically practice in outdoor environments like playgrounds, streets and urban areas with interesting and difficult terrain. Professional practitioners of parkour are famous for their extreme jumps, lands and creative movement over, up and through seemingly impossible terrain. The range of movement required of this interesting sport makes it great strength training.

Rock climbing, or bouldering, is another exciting sport that invokes a full body work out. Rock climbing is the general term for climbing either natural or artificial climbing apparatus using harness and ropes to assist. Bouldering is the technical term for rock climbing without the use of harness or ropes, though those athletes that participate in this extreme branch of the sport usually use climbing shoes and chalk on their hands to minimize slipping. Less extreme forms of bouldering will see climbers move horizontally instead of vertically, this takes as much skill and strength while removing the danger. Both form a full body workout that strengthens the core, arms and legs, great for martial artists.

Tennis and other racquet sports train reflexes and agility at the same time as being an intense cardio workout. Tennis is less of a strength training exercise as it is cardio workout, and you can plan on burning between 300 and 400 calories in an hour of tennis, depending if you're playing singles or doubles (singles is a more intense workout since you don't have help!)

Kayaking and rowing in general are fantastic upper body workouts. Kayaking has the benefit of more fast paced action, depending on the speed and difficulty of the water you're traversing. Shooting rapids in a kayak will naturally release adrenaline which raise heart rate and will burn more calories than boating on calm water.

Field sports like football, lacrosse, rugby and ultimate Frisbee are more traditional but will get you running and are great social activities requiring teamwork. Although filed sports don't necessarily give as much upper body training, they are wonderful cardio exercises that will elevate heart rate and get you sweating. You could just go running or cycling, but the social aspect of team field sports can not be ignored; there is just something about playing a game with a bunch of mates that builds camaraderie.

Sports are a great way to improve general health by increasing endurance and strength. For a martial artist, each of these sports can be part of a weight loss and exercise plan to help you become a healthier person.

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On 23 December, 2014

We all intend to exercise more, but for most people leading busy lives, finding time for gym exercises and paying for membership or classes can be a burden.

Here, we look at some really effective gym exercises to see what's really worth paying for (and what isn't).

Jump Rope

Jump Rope (or skipping rope, as it's traditionally known) is one of the best gym exercises of all time. Why? It's cheap (a skipping rope can easily be purchased at popular online retailers for less than £5), it doesn't take up much room and you don't even have to be in a gym to do it. It's great intensive exercise for cardiovascular health, and fantastic at burning calories: you'd have to run a mile in 8 minutes to burn off more energy than you would jumping rope for 15-20 minutes. It's perfect for adults and children alike.

Martial Arts

With classes available just about everywhere, and aimed at a whole range of ages and abilities, martial arts are a great choice when it comes to gym exercises. Two of the key areas of focus in many martial arts are discipline and respect, so they make a great experience for kids, as they aim to instil discipline in the mind as well as the body. For adults, martial arts develop the concentration, help to create a stronger body, and improve co-ordination. For women, martial arts have the advantages of improving confidence and allowing you to defend yourself without the use of weapons. Karate is an extremely popular martial arts option nationwide and requires little more than a white robe and good attitude to begin, but for advice on other martial arts, check out this WikiHow guide.

Investing in a Personal Training Session

The Huffington Post advises this for beginners, and it's not a bad a idea. Although it might seem like a waste of money, having a personal training session every six weeks will help your tailor and focus your goals, especially at the beginning. A trainer is also best placed to give you reassurance and advice for your gym exercises.

Plank

Everyone finds this one hard, but it's great at building core strength, so it's often a feature of Pilates classes. Unlike a lot of gym exercises, "the plank" strengthens both the abs and the back, and gets you stronger for push-ups, which require a lot of endurance. Make sure you're doing it properly though or you'll be wasting your time: there's a great how-to guide written by a doctor here.

Pilates

Most gyms will offer a Pilates class. Unlike yoga, a Pilates class will leave you sweating, and lets you get strong as you're working with your own weight. Pilates is beloved by celebrities and for good reason: not only does it improve posture and core strength, but done regularly it improves back pain and gives you great abs. The NHS also recommends it for stress and tension relief, and like martial arts classes, keeping to a regular session has social benefits too.

Whichever gym exercises you decide to pursue for yourself or your children, remember that consistency is key. A great exercise routine will give psychological as well as physical benefits, and a class will allow you to mix with others with similar goals too.

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On 23 December, 2014

For many years martial arts has helped children grow in confidence, improve their physical condition and develop a clear and focused mind.

While some adults might be wary of letting their children get involved, the actual physical and mental benefits are huge and can actually help them to avoid conflict in the real world. For adults too, there is no reason why you should not choose martial arts as a method for development. The following are just a few of the many reasons your child can build confidence with martial arts.

Become more active

The media is frequently reporting on obesity issues among children and adults, with a sedentary lifestyle and bad diet being to blame. Studying martial arts is a great way to become active and getting into a routine of physical fitness. Learning this at a young age is a great way to build positive patterns, but adults and older children can also benefit from them too. Indeed, some reports suggest that regular, light training can add years to your life, so it is never too late to start.

Develop self-esteem

Martial arts can really help a child develop self-esteem and confidence. Growing up can be a difficult time on both a physical and emotional level, but martial arts teaches self-defence within a structure that provides continuous growth. As children work towards their next belt they typically feel inspired and encouraged, with a confidence that comes from knowing they are able to defend themselves whenever necessary.

Improve self-discipline

One of the biggest hurdles for any child is developing a sense of purpose and discipline. This can affect adults too, and often leads to a lack of direction, sloppy work and procrastination. Within the learning structure of martial arts there is a need for discipline of the mind and body, but it is taught in a way that feels positive and encouraging. A person that commits themselves to martial arts should see better behaviour, greater focus and, subsequently, better results at school or work.

Greater social skills

Developing bonds and friendships with your peers is a reliable way of improving your social skills. Learning to communicate, respond and work as a team can help with many areas of life where cooperation is necessary. Many children do not have enough avenues to develop their social skills and then lack the confidence to work on them in later life. Taking lessons in martial arts puts them in a situation where they are encouraged, all working towards a similar goal.

There are many more reasons for learning martial arts, but these should give an insight into the typical results that can be achieved. While there are often certain misapprehensions that stop people sending their children to martial arts, the actual focus of the lessons is always on discipline, positivity, self-defence, respect and conflict resolution. No matter the age of the student, if you choose the right teacher and school you should expect to see a more confident person both internally and externally.

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On 23 December, 2014

Getting in shape and following a regular fitness programme can be tough.

A number of great fitness apps have been created to help you stay on track with your fitness routine and they include a range of easy to use features to help getting fit fun.

Martial Arts Trainer

Get inspired with these easy to follow martial arts videos. Learn new moves from the pros that you can incorporate into your own martial arts training programme. There are lots of demonstrations complete with detailed instructions and this great app was developed by a military grade Jiu Jitsu expert.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mma-mixed-martial-arts-training/id738164...

Jiu Streetsu

Learn how defend yourself from attacks on the street with 68 interested and well-presented techniques. The techniques are presented in step-by-step slideshows and come complete with detailed instructions. Practicing these techniques will help you to get fit and learn new skills that could prove to be very useful.

http://www.jiustreetsu.com/jiu-streetsu-free.html

My MMA Trainer

This is the ultimate app for mixed martial arts training. The Workout Builder feature is very versatile and helps you to design your own workout and include a number of specially selected exercises. The app also includes a library of instructional videos that you can use to learn new skills and develop your style.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hexagon.MMATrainerFree

MyBoxing Trainer

This complete boxing training application is a real gem that anyone who is interested in boxing is sure to love. There are more than 170 videos that cover all the basics of boxing as well as a number of advanced techniques that will help you to take your boxing skills to the next level and beat the best.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/myboxing-pro-trainer/id398709787?mt=8

Nike Training Club

Join one of the world’s largest fitness communities to get fit and stay in shape. The app features a large number of special workouts created by leading fitness instructors that are fun and easy to follow. Special demonstrations and guides make it easy for even people who are new to the world of fitness to get in on the action.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nike+-training-club/id301521403?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nike.ntc&hl=en

Boxing Timer

Despite its name, this handy app can be used for all sorts of workouts including mixed martial arts, wrestling and Muay Thai. The app comes complete with a large number of fully configurable functions to allow you to have your workout any way you want it.

https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/boxing-timer-pro/id423335220?mt=8

Fight Trainer

This is the ultimate training app for mixed martial arts, boxing and Muay Thai. The app is created to represent the experience of a training session with a professional trainer and the large number of features means that there is always something new to learn to keep you on your toes. No special equipment is needed to use this app, which means that you can complete your trainers anywhere and at any time you choose.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fight-trainer/id514819568?mt=8

Simple Round Timer

This easy to use round timer has been created for all types of martial arts training and makes timing your rounds absolutely easy.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simple-round-timer-free/id361495902?mt=8

Cardio Coach Pro

Make cardio workout sessions a breeze with this great app. All you need to do is press the Start Workout button and your session will begin. It couldn’t be easier. There are also plenty of features that you can use if you need to switch things up a little to keep your sessions feeling fresh and engaging.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cardio-coach-pro/id576149297?mt=8&ign-mp...

HIIT Interval Trainer

The countdown timer and stopwatch functions of this simple app have been created for various different types of training programmes. The app allows you to log your training sessions so that you can make sure you stay on target and always get the most out of your workout.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ihunda.android.hiit&hl=en

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