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2727 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, Il 60614

(773) 477 8400

Hit the FitnessTrifecta

When you think about fitness, what do you see? Chances are you envision a buff dude with abs of steel or a gal who runs along the Chicago lakefront three times a week. But do you ever wonder if this guy and girl can touch their toes?

Chances are, if you're like most of us, you think fitness is defined by our body fat percentage or by the number of miles we log each week on the treadmill. But there's a third component of fitness that we often overlook -- flexibility. Most of us simply don't make time for it in our schedule, which means we aren't as fit as we could be. When you talk to most exercise professionals today, they often stress the need for us to hit the "fitness trifecta" -- muscular strength, cardio strength and flexibility -- if we really want to be a well-rounded, fit individuals. 

Scientists find that just as levels of physical activity range from low to high, so does the overall level of physical fitness. If we are focused only on one element, such as muscle strength, we tend to ignore others. This unbalanced approach to fitness can lead to poor performance, injury and an inability to reach our desired goals. 

So what can we do to become more well-rounded in our approach? 

Be specific

Just as we know we have to target all muscle groups in strength training -- doing just chest exercises does nothing for our quads -- we have to understand that flexibility is not just one thing. Just because you can't touch your toes doesn't mean you don't have great hip or shoulder mobility. If you start focusing on your trouble spots, you'll find you can make great progress in a short amount of time.

Don't be intimidated

If you've been inspired to try Spinning but take one look at the sweaty bodies coming out of class and think you can't do it, stop! First of all, they were once new to class. Second, our classes are meant for everyone! You don't have to turn your resistance to the max to get a great cardio workout. Once you get the hang of it, you'll find that you're at the front of the pack before long.

Make it fun

Not everyone loves to lift weights. But that's no reason that you can't improve your muscle strength and endurance. Try a bootcamp class, where you'll use your own body weight to get strong. Check out Dancer's Body, where holding a one-pound weight can feel like a form of torture. If you enjoy your workout, you're much more likely to make it a habit, and good habits make for good results.

Remember the big picture 

Focus on your overall fitness. You don't have to run a six-minute mile to improve your cardio endurance, and you don't have to wrap your leg around your head to be flexible. Even small improvements in your strength, flexibility and cardio endurance add up to big changes in your overall abilities.

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"We know that we should work with weights to build muscular strength and endurance, and we know that we need to spin, row and run to improve cardio endurance, but many of us don't know where to start when it comes to building flexibility," Brent Holten says.