There’s no denying that martial arts practice does wonders for the body physically. Many people who walk into our Los Angeles fitness studio realize this, and they’re eager to take classes to improve their flexibility and muscle tone.
But, some of the new students we get have no idea of the tremendous benefits of practicing martial arts that go well beyond creating a great physical form. They don’t yet know how simply taking a class a week, in one of our martial arts-influenced disciplines, can increase wellbeing holistically.
Martial Arts for Overall Mental and Physical Health
Practicing martial arts is not only a good way to get a fantastic looking body, it’s an ideal form of exercise to strengthen the mind and the body’s internal systems. When you engage in martial arts, you relax, stimulate, challenge, and workout the brain, muscles, skeletal system, and many other parts of your body, which encourages the body to work as one cohesive unit for the benefit of your total health.
People who practice martial arts have seen improvement in mental health conditions, disease, and physical challenges of different scopes and scales. They’ve successfully overcome problems with organ systems and brain chemistry, leading to more enjoyment of life in terms of doing things that were difficult for them before or finally living stress free.
Martial arts practice is a great way to heal the body, and it’s an excellent means to preventing stresses and diseases that are all too common in today’s crazy world.
Choose Any Martial Arts Practice
There are many types of martial arts, including traditional practices and variations of those practices that were born of certain influences but offer new approaches to mind and body wellness. At A4Fitness, we encourage you to explore many kinds of martial arts disciplines and to step into our studio to see how we take the core tenants of martial arts practice to a new and exciting level.
At its most basic, martial arts includes aerobic and/ or strength (stretching) training. Sometimes, martial arts practice is multidimensional and it draws on several influences to benefit the practitioner in a multitude of ways. No matter what martial arts practice you choose, you’re still engaging your body in total mental and physical exercise, which helps prevent disease and promote allover wellness.
Martial Arts to Transform the Body
By practicing martial arts, you give your body the training it needs for many physiological changes to take place – which happen for the better to strengthen all of your body’s systems. Most people start noticing these changes about three weeks into their practice. As you take martial arts classes, you will likely see a profound positive change in blood sugar, circulation, blood pressure, and metabolism, among other health indicators. These changes are noticeable in the body, but they’re also happening in the brain as anxiety is reduced, depression goes away, and chronic fatigue is no longer an issue.
Martial arts does amazing things for the brain first, which translates to positivity throughout the body. While practicing martial arts, concentrations of neurotransmitters that regulate the body’s systems are brought into balance so that the entire body can function in harmony. Many clinical studies prove these emotional and physiological changes that accompany martial arts practice, most of which directly relate to the balancing of neurotransmitters.
In fact, many martial arts practitioners who are in their 70s and 80s credit martial arts for their good mental and physical health, and their avoidance of depression, thyroid disease, respiratory ailments, liver problems, bone fragility, and brain illnesses.
We encourage you to come visit us at A4Fitness to talk about martial arts in Los Angeles and how practicing this ancient form, and variations of it, can help you prevent disease and come to a place of total health and wellness. We look forward to seeing you soon!
It’s always great to see our friends come into our Los Angeles fitness studios to workout with us. We love to enjoy a great Cross Fit or Muay Thai session with those we’ve come to know, and our new friends too. But, we also like hearing that our friends and students are making time in their schedules to get outdoors and move, even if it’s just for a short hike or beach walk.
Did you know that being outside in the sunshine can improve one’s health and keep the body functioning optimally? According to a study conducted at the University of Michigan, walking in nature makes a personal physically and mentally healthier. We talked a bit in our last post about how practicing martial arts can positively affect the brain, which in turn brings about health and healing to the physical body. Getting outside and walking in nature is a similar approach to good health, yet it has the added benefit of exposing the body to vitamin D from the sunshine, which is something every individual needs if they want to stay healthy.
The University of Michigan study showed that moving the body outdoors helped participants ward off depression, improved their outlook on fitness as a whole, focus on what’s really important in their life, and strengthen their immunity.
There are plenty of places around our Los Angeles fitness studios where you can go to walk, hike, bike, in-line skate, or get in other exercise that you might enjoy – in the sunshine and fresh air. The following are some of our favorites:
Ballona Wetlands Trail
You can take the Ballona Wetlands Trail from the freshwater marsh in Playa Del Rey (at the corner of Lincoln and Jefferson) through Playa and Marina Del Rey, and continue on through the Marina to Venice and even Santa Monica if you want. Along with mild temperatures for hiking, this trail offers fresh sea air as well as gorgeous views of water and wildlife.
Malibu Creek State Park
Malibu Creek State Park is a great place to go walking, hiking, or rock climbing. The park features lakes and rivers (seasonal), amazing rock formations, and historical California ranches to observe while you’re adventuring. Many climbers like to take on the Castro Crest ridge in the park.
Griffith Park (Fern Dell Trail)
Griffith Park has 53 miles of trails in 4,310 acres of moderate to rough terrain. A nice trail for beginners and those who want a gentle hike is the trail leading from Fern Dell Drive to the Griffith Park Observatory, the Fern Dell Train gives you the added bonus of enjoying an organic treat or meal before or after your hike, at The Trails café that sits at the trail base on Fern Dell Drive.
In addition to these spots for exercising outdoors, we love Cahuenga Peak (visit the Wisdom Tree), the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, and the Tree People Trails.
Need a bit of inspiration to keep your on track with your fitness goals? How about letting a 17-year-old competitive powerlifter, who just so happens to have diabetes, give you the kick in the pants you need to get up and move your body for physical and mental health.
LeAnn Hewitt is a teen who moved to the United States when she was four years old, graduated at the top of her class in high school, and power lifts competitively. BuzzFeed recently reported that Hewitt “was recruited to join the girls weightlifting team by my current coach and former leadership teacher.” After she completed her second championship at the state level with her school, she decided to take up power lifting outside of the school setting.
Not only is Hewitt powerlifting at a pro level despite her disease, she is breaking records and winning lifting championships. At the Arnold Sports Festival, Hewitt became the strongest woman in bench, squat, and dead lift as well as in total weight (at amazing 1,268 pounds) in her division.
Hewitt admits that she has to check herself between lifts, and during competition, to make sure her blood sugar levels are safe for lifting. She states that she also has to keep a close watch on her diet, so that she maintains appropriate blood sugar levels to power lift.
A Strong Support System
Hewitt has the support of family and friends as she power lifts her way from one competition to another. Right now, she has the Olympics on her mind, even though power lifting is not currently a sport played in the games. Hewitt advises anyone looking to increase fitness and overcome challenges to, “"Remain strong. Dream big, rise above adversity, and believe in yourself even when your goal seems unattainable.” We think this is sound and wise advice for a girl in her teen years.
At A4 Fitness, we want to be your partners and friends in increasing your level of fitness and overcoming adversity as it may pertain to your body or mental challenges. We welcome people of all ages, circumstances, and backgrounds to come into our Los Angeles studios and speck with us about fitness goals so we can discuss ways that we might be able to help.
A4 Fitness Los Angeles offers a range of fitness classes and fitness apparatuses to help you become physically and mentally stronger. Come visit us today and check out our personal training, MMA, Cross Fit, Boxing, and even Kids Boxing in Los Angeles.
One of the best ways to stay healthy and have enough energy for your workouts is by eating a balanced diet. But when you eat only vegetables, you may have some concerns about staying strong, particularly how a Vegan diet might work with cross fit or strength training. But, there are plenty of healthy and strong athletes out there, in many sports, that can vouch for the benefits of a vegan diet.
MMA fighter Nate Diaz and NFL defensive end David Carter are two of them. These athletes, and many others (men and women) are keeping their muscles and their entire body fueled with a vegan diet.
The following is a bit of information that just begins touch on the ways that a body can be fueled by plants. We encourage you to do further research on plant-based proteins, carbs, and other nutrients and see how you can incorporate them into your diet.
Protein and the Vegan Diet
Raw vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds offer an amazing amount of protein for the human body, and when combined, can give an athlete a complete source of protein. Did you know that leafy greens and sprouts are made up of about 50% protein? Seeds and nuts like sesame, chia, and flax are also extremely rich in protein. Superfoods, such as hemp and quinoa are considered “complete proteins,” because they contain all nine essential amino acids. Even vegetables like parsley, cucumber, and artichokes contain amounts of protein that rival the protein content in animal products like milk and flesh.
We do want to point out that the body’s protein requirements are actually much lower than many people realize. By consuming an adequate number of calories from plant-based foods like those we’ve mentioned, the human body receives all of the protein it needs to functional optimally.
Calcium and the Vegan Diet
Many plants are naturally abundant in calcium, especially nuts and leafy greens. As long as a person following a vegan diet consumes an adequate amount of plants, he or she shouldn’t have to worry about getting enough calcium. Plant-based milks are often fortified with calcium, so these are great options to use in cereals and smoothies.
Were you aware that sesame seeds are one of the richest plant source of calcium on the planet? Cabbage, broccoli, almonds, collard greens, and kale are also super sources of this vital mineral. There are so many choices for calcium-rich foods, such as dandelion greens, dulse, and even prunes.
When you approach your workouts at A4 Fitness, in any one of our Los Angeles gyms, we would love for you to look at them as extensions of a healthy lifestyle. Which means, that your diet will also be part of keeping yourself fit. As you fuel yourself for your sessions with us at A4 Fitness, consider foods that energize and uplift, not drag the body down. That goes for meat-eaters and vegans alike.
Wondering what kinds of healthy foods you can keep in your gym bag should you need an energizing snack before or after your workout? There are some great products you can buy online or in your local grocery store, and some goodies you can whip up at home to take with you to your fitness sessions and classes at A4 Fitness in Los Angeles.
When you head to the gym for a workout, it’s important that you plan for your sustenance as well as your fitness training routine. It doesn’t take long, or much work, to stock up on some nutrient-rich snacks (or prep a few on your own) and pack them while you’re packing your workout gear. Take time to make sure you’ll be fueled for a few hours if need be, so that you can have sustained energy throughout your gym sessions, and your stomach, mind, and muscles with thank you.
The following are a few ideas for healthy snacks and energizing drinks that you can keep with you as workout at A4 Fitness.
There are quite a few great granolas out there, but we especially love Nature’s Path Organic Love Crunch Granola. It tastes amazing and has a nice, flavorful, blend of bitter chocolate, fruity berries, and toasty oats. It offers a good balance of energizing carbs, muscle-building protein, and great-for-your-digestive-system fiber. And, it’s made with Omega-3-rich flax seeds for excellent brain and heart health.
Essential Living Foods’s Superberry Symphony organic trail mix is delicious, and it’s packed with vitamins and energy-producing foods like fruits and nuts. We go crazy over the combination of antioxidant-rich goji berries and mulberries in this train mix. The whole food trail mix is one that will fill you up on its own or keep you satisfied until you have time for a larger meal.
For on-the-go energy bars, turn to AmazingGrass Green SuperFood Bars. These bars come in a variety of flavors, but a couple of the best are the Sweet & Savory Almond (it’s like a healthy Snickers bar) and the Café Mocha. AmazingGrass Green SuperFood Bars are loaded with nutritious ingredients like nuts, barley grass, wheat grass, alfalfa, green tea, maca, and more.
Matcha Hydration Drink
To stay hydrated and energized, make a homemade matcha green tea drink at home and keep it with you in a thermos or glass water bottle. It’s easy to blend up a matcha energy drink on the fly. Simply mix 2 cups of pure coconut water with 1 tablespoon of matcha green tea powder. Add a touch of natural sweetener, such as maple syrup, if you like. Matcha green tea powder mixes into liquids best in a high-speed blender.
Water with Lemon
Of course, you should always have fresh water with you during your workouts. Want something to perk up your water (and your body and mind) while you’re at the gym? Throw a slice of lemon into your bottle.
Keep one or more of these energizing snacks and drinks with you at all times during your workouts at A4 Fitness so that you’re tummy (and the rest of your body) is always nourished, which means you can keep your focus on your exercise.
For more tips on staying healthy, keep checking back with us on our A4 Fitness blog and stop into our A4 Fitness studios in Los Angeles.
If you want to get fast results through exercise, then you may be tempted to hit the gym every day and go as hard as possible each time. However, to better maintain your body and prevent injury, it’s actually best to not go every day and instead allow a period of rest and recovery between. For most people, this means that they don’t go to the gym, or they just relax for a day between workouts. However, there is a lot more to rest and recovery than just not working out. Here are the most important elements to help your body rest and recover after exercise.
The most obvious way to rest is to sleep. While asleep, our bodies repair tissue and vital systems that were used during our workout. To maximize sleep’s effect on your recovery, try to make it as natural and comfortable as possible, meaning don’t sleep with lights on and get enough hours to feel refreshed.
Rest and recovery is not just about taking a break. Since we lose a lot of fluid when we sweat, it’s crucial to replace that fluid as much as possible. Water is a perfect way to help our bodies recover, as most of our cells are made of water, and replenishing this vital substance can help our bodies heal faster.
To get the best results from your workout, you need to eat healthily. If you pig out on fast food after going to the gym, then you can be doing more harm than good. Make sure to get all the essential vitamins and nutrients, as these will help your body recover much faster. Protein is also critical for the building of new muscle.
A good rule to follow is to stretch your sore muscles regularly, to prevent cramping and to relieve tension. Proper rest and recovery involves getting your muscles back to normal after a workout, and stretching is a great way to do that.
While most of us cannot afford a personal masseuse to follow us around and massage us after the gym, it can be a good way to help your body rest and recover. Every so often, try to get a massage from a therapist or trained professional who can help relieve your pressure points and tight muscles.
Overall, when it comes to your health and fitness, rest and recovery can be just as important as the exercise itself. Although they say no pain no gain, there’s no reason for your body to suffer so you can get in shape.
If you want to get into shape, come to A4 Fitness. With expert fitness trainers in Santa Monica and West LA, you can get fit and healthy in no time.
When exercising, there are two primary goals you should try to achieve. The first is to burn calories (cardio), and the other is to work out to build muscle (lifting). If you’re looking to build and strengthen your muscles, then presumably you are looking to sculpt your body in the way you want it to look. However, to get that perfect body, there are two methods you can use: toning or strength training. So what’s the difference? Is one better than the other? Let’s break it down and see which one is right for you.
Let’s say you’ve hit your goal weight, and you don’t want to pack on any more pounds, fat or otherwise. In this case, you would want to start both maintaining your weight and toning your physique. Toning is when you develop the muscles you already have and burn the fat around them, resulting in a sharper definition.
How to Tone
If you are looking to show off your physique through toning, the best way to do this is with high sets of reps with low weights (such as 10 pounds). The high amount of reps will help burn the fat, and the little weight will ensure that you don’t build too much extra muscle and look bulky. For example, to tone your arms, you may do 25 or 30 bicep curls with 10 or 15-pound weights.
If you’re looking to bulk up and create solid muscle, then you want to do heavy strength training. This method is when you lift as much as you can for only a few reps. The heavier weight will tear your muscle fibers, causing them to grow thicker and stronger.
How to Build Muscle
If you just want to pack on solid muscle, then you will do the opposite of toning, which will be low reps with heavy weights. For example, if you want to build your biceps, you may do five or six reps at 30 or 35 pounds (to start). As you get stronger, you will need to increase the weight to continue building your muscle fibers and keep up your strength training.
If you’re looking to get ripped or bulk up, come down to A4 Fitness today. At our cross fit gym in West Los Angeles, you can strength train or tone to your heart’s content with our top-quality fitness gear and instructors.
Not too long ago, if you wanted a boost in your cognitive awareness and wanted to stay alert, you drank coffee. For a long time, coffee was pretty much the only way to wake yourself up if you were feeling sluggish and tired. That all changed, however, when Red Bull showed up on the market, with the promise of “giving you wings”. Nowadays, energy drinks are all around us, from Monster to Rockstar to Amp, with newer and bolder flavors coming out all the time. Ever since energy drinks exploded on the market, however, people have been questioning how safe it is to chug that much caffeine. It’s natural that any new phenomenon will have naysayers and alarmists, but are energy drinks really that bad for you? Let’s look at the data and see if we can’t come to a definitive answer to the energy drink question.
Before we can understand if energy drinks are good or bad for you, we first have to look at what’s contained within each can. Unfortunately, there is a broad spectrum of beverages that are classified as “energy drinks”, and there is no standard blend of ingredients, but the top four brands (Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, 5 Hour Energy) all use a variation of the same ingredients, so we can start there.
Effects on the Body
Overall, the ingredient list in energy drinks doesn’t show any significant “red flags”, but experts still warn about the dangers of long-term consumption, as well as ingesting high levels of caffeine. If you need multiple energy drinks throughout the day, it could have adverse effects on you later on, or it could do absolutely nothing. The only real danger is a dependence on energy drinks, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking them.
The biggest danger of energy drinks comes from high sugar content and high levels of caffeine. Everyone processes these differently, but if you want to keep up your energy drink habit, choose sugar-free options and maybe cut down a little bit. The other danger is tolerance and the fact that the wakefulness experienced will cover up other health issues that could affect your level of alertness. Basically, keep everything in moderation, and stop drinking them if you start to notice any adverse side effects, like a fast heartbeat or general jitters.
For more info or advice on health and nutrition, call one of our Los Angeles fitness experts at A4 Fitness today!
For many of us, losing weight is a difficult battle that requires constant work. However, let’s say that you put in the time and lose a significant amount of weight. While that is a tremendous achievement, one of the biggest fears is gaining everything back. In fact, the vast majority of the time, people who lose weight gain back every pound and then some. So what do you do? If you have reached your target goal, you can’t keep dieting, otherwise, you will continue to lose pounds. What’s the best way to ensure weight loss maintenance? Stay tuned, and we’ll tell you how.
Do the Math
While each person responds differently to various diets, the fundamental principle is this: to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you are taking in, and to maintain weight, you need to burn an equal amount of calories that you eat. Of course, things like processed vs. raw food and your metabolism will come into play, but starting with this formula will help you achieve your weight loss maintenance goals. Count the number of calories you are eating per day and subtract the number of calories you burn with exercise. The closer the sum is to zero, the better you will be at maintaining your weight.
Counting calories and tracking your food may not sound appealing, but for your weight loss maintenance, we suggest starting off with exact numbers, then rounding up to the nearest hundred for long term tracking. The better you can be about guessing how many calories are in a meal, the better you will be at keeping your weight loss maintained.
It’s a Journey, Not a Destination
So many of us become so focused on the result that we end up not knowing how to proceed once we reach it. Instead of trying to hit a “goal weight”, instead, focus on making your weight loss efforts a part of your lifestyle. Fad diets or crash diets can be good for shedding pounds quickly, but do nothing to help with weight loss maintenance. As they say, if you fall in love with the method then the goal will be achieved no matter what.
Ultimately, to keep your weight loss maintained, you have to plan on eating healthy and incorporating exercise forever, not just for the short-term. Whatever method you use to lose weight should be easily adaptable for weight loss maintenance. If you can change your mindset to be healthier in general, you will do far better at keeping the weight off.
If you’d like to learn more about weight loss or fitness programs in Los Angeles, call A4 Fitness today to speak to one of our fitness experts.
As more Americans are starting to become more conscious about their food and where it comes from, the term GMO is getting thrown around a lot. While there is a lot of information out there surrounding GMO foods, what is true and what isn’t? Are GMO foods safe to eat? What qualifies as a GMO food? Let’s dive into the world of genetic modification and see if we can’t decipher the difference between hype and facts.
What is a GMO?
The term GMO is an acronym that stands for Genetically Modified Organism. What this means is that the biological entity, which, in our case, is food, has undergone genetic modifications to make it different than what you would find in nature. For example, there is a version of white rice that has been genetically modified to contain high amounts of Vitamin A. The process turns the rice yellow, and it has since been dubbed “Golden Rice”. But there are multiple ways to modify an organism genetically.
How are GMO Foods Made?
Two primary processes go into making a GMO. The first is through selective breeding and crossbreeding. The second method is to change an organism’s genetic makeup in a laboratory setting.
Back in the 16th century, a German Monk named Gregor Mendel discovered (by accident) how to genetically modify flowers. He selected flowers with red petals and ones with white petals, then crossbred them to make pink flowers. His experiments discovered things like recessive genes and active genes and paved the way for modern genetics.
Starting before that, however, mankind has always been in the business of changing plants and animals to suit our needs. The cow, for example, used to be a bulky, aggressive behemoth called an Auroch until humanity domesticated it and made it fatter. Similarly, almonds used to be poisonous until we bred certain varieties to come up with the almonds we know today.
With today’s modern technology, we can insert new genes and remove old ones with relative ease. If we discover the gene that makes tomatoes grow larger, for example, we can insert this gene into new crops and grow even bigger tomatoes. The above example of Golden Rice was an instance of inserting a gene into the rice plant that made it develop Vitamin A at a much higher rate.
Are GMO Foods Safe?
Unfortunately, there is no right answer to the GMO question. While we have been genetically modifying foods for centuries, with the speed and technology of making GMOs becoming faster and more dynamic, it’s hard to say if there will be any downsides. In some cases, unintended consequences of GMO foods can happen, such as having to use more pesticides because the new crops attract parasites. In other situations, however, such as the Golden Rice example, making a GMO will allow poor people in other countries to get their vitamins and minerals without having to change their diet or pay for more expensive food.
For now, it seems like GMO foods are, as a whole, a net positive, but they aren’t without their downsides. As long as we make sure to test our results properly and check for any possible adverse side effect, GMO foods should be as safe as any other thing we put into our bodies.
Have more questions about the right food to eat? Ask one of our nutrition and fitness experts in Los Angeles!
Adam & Amanda
We have spent most of our adult lives training and guiding hundreds of people toward better health & fitness. We have created this A4 Blog in order to better educate our friends & members. We will answer any of your health / fitness / nutrition questions as well as keeping you posted on what's new at A4.