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How to Avoid a Busted Bracket During March Madness

March Madness is a basketball fan’s favorite time of year. Flair for the dramatic paired with passionate fans and determined underdogs creates an exciting sports atmosphere that is hard to match. Cooper Fitness Center Basketball Pro Coleman Crawford has experienced the ups and downs of March Madness as a coach and offers advice for putting together a winning bracket for the conclusion of college basketball season.

Building a bracket is always more fun when friendly competition is involved. Invite family, friends and coworkers to join a bracket pool and decide on a prize for the eventual winner. Set aside some time to make picks together once the tournament teams are announced.

When it’s time to make your picks, do your research first. Try to learn a little bit about each team in the tournament and recognize their strengths and weaknesses. When observing and evaluating each team, keep an eye on the players’ fundamentals. Ball control, passing and shooting skills, which we begin teaching at a young age in Cooper Fitness Center basketball programs, are just as important at the college level as they are for beginners. No matter each player’s athleticism or advanced skills, success within the game of basketball always goes back to the fundamentals.

Next, take your favorite teams into account. Who do you want to cheer for, and why? If your alma mater or family’s favorite team is in the tournament, don’t be afraid to add them to your bracket and see how far they can make it. You want to make sure to have fun and embrace your favorite team!

Although it’s tempting to pick all of the top seeded teams, Coleman recommends picking one or two teams with a seed of 10 or higher. Everyone loves a Cinderella story during March Madness, so take a risk on an underdog that could cause an upset and bust other brackets.

If you use a website or app to make your bracket, it’s important to understand the scoring system. You earn points for each game won by the teams you pick, and you lose points for each game lost by the teams you pick. Using a website or app to track your bracket makes it easy – the program will add and subtract points automatically at the end of each game. The number of points you have at the end of the tournament determines how well you do within your bracket pool.

Finally, don’t overthink it! Creating a bracket for March Madness is a fun way to follow college basketball, even if you haven’t been keeping up with the entire season. The talent on display is exciting to watch and is a great reminder that college athletes were once kids who worked hard to learn and hone their game, much like the children and teenagers who come to basketball camp at Cooper Fitness Center.

Enjoy the madness this spring, and best of luck to your bracket. Follow along with Coleman’s picks here and don’t forget to let us know how your picks performed.

ColemanMarchMadnessBracket2017

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center Basketball Programs for both youth and adults, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com/ProZone.

How to Prepare for a Tennis Tournament

February 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Tennis is one of the few sports you can start at any age and play competitively. Training with a goal in mind, such as competing in match play or a tournament, can be a great motivating factor to improve your skills on the court and overall fitness.

Tournaments and leagues are separated by age division and/or skill level, which allows people to meet others on their same level of experience. If you’re planning on adding a dose of competition to your tennis routine, signing up to play in a tournament can be an exciting opportunity. Cooper Fitness Center Tennis Pro Corey Noel offers his top 10 tips for preparing to compete in a tennis tournament:

  1. Get a good night’s sleep. Follow your regular bedtime routine, and make sure to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep to be well-rested and at the top of your game.
  2. Eat and hydrate properly 24-48 hours before the tournament. Stick to your healthy diet and use food as fuel for your body. Follow the recommended hydration guidelines and make sure to bring your water bottle to the tournament.
  3. Focus on conditioning and match practice in the week leading up to a tournament. There’s less of a need to focus on technique.
  4. Identify your goals and strategies before the tournament begins.
  5. Have all your necessary equipment in top shape (rackets freshly strung, court shoes broken in, etc.). Make sure to bring the proper clothing and accessories – layers if it’s chilly and a hat and sunglasses if it’s sunny. An extra pair of socks can come in handy, too. Pack sunscreen, water and healthy snacks for fuel.
  6. Stretch before and after each match to keep yourself loose and to help your muscles recover.
  7. Know your limitations. A tournament can test your physical and mental acuity; recognize where your breaking point is and don’t go past it.
  8. Pick the right division for your skill level. If you’re playing with a partner, make sure you work well together and have practiced together before the tournament.
  9. It’s just tennis! Don’t get overwhelmed by the fact that you’re playing in a tournament. Concentrate on using the skills you’ve developed and try to play your best.
  10. Have fun!

Tennis programs at Cooper Fitness Center are open to the public. Visit cooperfitnesscenter.com to learn more.

2016 Cooper Fitness Center Member Awards

Each year, Cooper Fitness Center recognizes members who exemplify the Get Cooperized model and represent Cooper Fitness Center in the best ways possible. This year, we had an incredible pool of nominees as Cooper ambassadors, which made it challenging to select just a few. Congratulations to all of the recipients!

Mr. & Mrs. Aerobics: Scott & Michele Kline, Members Since 2008

scott-klineScott and Michele Kline are dedicated to living an active and healthy lifestyle and are quick to encourage and support each other. The couple actively participates in fitness adherence programs and Activ8 member wellness program activities, and they exemplify “a couple that sweats together, stays together.” Michele trains weekly with Chris Parker and also works with Boxing Pro Derrick James. Scott ran the Boston Marathon when he was 25. When he turned 50 he ran his second marathon. In the past three years, he has run 10 more marathons and has completed more than 40 half marathons. They lead by example and are healthy role models for their children. Scott and Michele have enrolled their son, Andrew, in Cooper’s youth programs since he was a small child, and as a teen he is still involved in basketball and other sports programs. They are committed to demonstrating that being active should be a fun part of daily life. The family lights up Cooper with their smiles, and they’re always up for a challenge together.

Female of the Year: Beth Bond Thomas, Member Since 2012

beth-thomasBeth Bond Thomas has a passion for community and fitness. Beth is an avid tennis player, marathon runner and cyclist, and trains with Christian Mazur. She ran the 2016 New York City Marathon as a member of the Race to Cure MS team and raised more than $7,000. She also chaired the 2016 Girls, Inc. Inspirational Open Tennis Tournament in Dallas, which raised more than $31,000. Beth is an incredible role model for her family and fellow Cooper Fitness Center members. It must run in the family—Beth receives the Female of the Year award a few decades after her father, Bill Bond, won the award for Male of the Year.

Male of the Year: E.N. Simon, Member Since 2013

en-simonE.N. Simon is fully committed to getting healthier through fitness, even as he faces a health condition that would make many others give up. He has changed his life through his dedication to exercise. During the past year, he’s improved from sedentary to fit, and has lost 80 pounds in the process. E.N. credits much of his success to his training at Cooper Fitness Center, and his fellow members have noticed the positive changes. E.N. embodies a Cooperized lifestyle and is the ideal Male of the Year.

Classic of the Year: Fred Hoster, Member Since 1973

fred-hosterFred Hoster embodies what it means to Get Cooperized—other members might even consider him to be the “Mayor” of Cooper Fitness Center thanks to his dedication and leadership. Fred is at Cooper Fitness Center every day, helps lead the Classics programming and encourages his fellow Classics to take control of their health. He lives healthfully by giving back to others, sharing his wisdom as a mentor and friend and embracing each day as a gift. Fred is an example of aging gracefully and is a role model for others to do so as well.

Youth of the Year: Jake Serota, CFC Client Since May 2016

jake-serotaAt the age of 10, Jake Serota has already conquered many challenges. He was diagnosed with a condition at age three, which affected his overall health. With the support of his family, Jake is overcoming his health obstacles daily by focusing on eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Since Jake started training with Shannon Edwards in May 2016, he has lost 25 pounds. Jake also enjoys swimming laps, practicing Brazilian Jiu Jit Su and has joined his school’s running club. Jake is proud of himself and is dedicated to learning and practicing healthy habits throughout his life.

Most Improved: Alan Tallis, Member Since 2004

alan-tallisAlan Tallis has embraced focusing on his health after retirement. After years of travel and late work nights, Alan decided it was time to take care of himself. Even after facing a few health setbacks, Alan has devoted himself to six days a week of aerobic exercise and at least three days a week of functional strength training with Shannon Edwards. He also participates in weekly Pilates sessions with Mary Ellen Elkhay. On top of his dedication to fitness, Alan takes time to give back at Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and The Salvation Army. Alan demonstrates no matter your age or circumstance, you can thrive when you focus on health, fitness and wellness.

Activ8 Champion: Maureen Corcoran, Member Since 2013

mauren-corcoranMaureen Corcoran has a noticeable passion for her health and wellness and lives out Dr. Cooper’s “8 Steps to Get Cooperized” daily. After joining Female Focus four years ago, Maureen became a Cooper Fitness Center member and quickly plugged into various activities, including the Activ8 member wellness program. She is constantly working to improve her Activ8 Score and has seen positive results as the year has passed. Maureen finds joy in learning about her health and embraces Activ8 because of this dedication. Maureen is a role model by the way she lives and interacts with others. Her energy and joy are contagious and her healthy lifestyle is a great example to others.

We are extremely proud of the hard work our members put in to living healthy and active lifestyles, and this year’s award recipients fully embody what it means to Get Cooperized. See the video and photos from the ceremony on the Cooper Fitness Center Facebook page. For more information about Cooper Fitness Center membership, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com/members.

Self-Defense as Prevention for All Ages

Prevention isn’t just about taking care of your health and fitness. It’s also about being aware of your surroundings and keeping yourself safe from harm. When it comes to facing bullies and defending against the elements, self-defense is the number one form of prevention. Cooper Fitness Center Martial Arts Pro Mike Proctor explains the importance of learning self-defense at any age.

Mental and Physical Aspects of Self-Defense

Mike notes that most self-defense is mental and emotional, and includes having a plan and being aware of your surroundings at all times. You should have a plan for everything–a house fire, car breakdown on the highway or just walking to your car from the shopping mall. “I tell my students that martial arts are 90 percent mental and emotional, and 10 percent physical,” says Mike.

According to Mike, the physical techniques of self-defense are relatively simple compared to preparing mentally. “We are taught to never make a scene and to not hurt people,” explains Mike. “That makes it hard to go against your instincts when you’re put in a tough situation where self-defense is needed.” Mentally, it’s key to know when you are the most vulnerable; physically, you must know how to defend yourself against various situations.

Who Needs Self-Defense?

Self-defense can and should be practiced by all ages, both male and female. The self-defense course you take should aim at your particular demographic and your physical abilities. Though self-defense is important for everyone, Mike points out the following populations who could benefit most from learning self-defense:

  • Adults and children with special needs: those with special needs, including hearing loss, vision impairment, Down syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis and others, are more likely to be victims of bullying or physical harm because they are more vulnerable targets.
  • College students: college-age young adults, especially females, are at the most vulnerable time of their lives. Being on campus can create a feeling of security, but this is often an illusion.
  • Females of all ages: Mike notes that situations calling for self-defense most often occur to women, no matter the age.

Bullying

Bullying isn’t just something that happens on the schoolyard anymore, and kids aren’t the only victims. Bullying can occur within romantic relationships, between coworkers, online and in various other situations. “When it comes to bullying, it’s important to focus on your attitude and action–what your response will be,” says Mike. As a society, we have a responsibility to recognize bullying (whether it is happening to us or another person) and act to stop it. Learning self-defense can give children and adults the confidence to stand up to a bully should they encounter one and know when to ask for help from others.

How Martial Arts Can Prepare You

Training in martial arts can give you a sense of empowerment that you can do something to protect yourself or others if you are ever put in a situation when it’s needed. Mike recommends treating self-defense courses the same way you would treat CPR certification–take a course about every two years to stay up-to-date and to practice your skills. The skills should become reflexes in order to be most effective. “Taking courses every two years can remind you that danger can occur at any time,” explains Mike. “You can fall into a false sense of security when you’re not practicing often enough, and self-defense courses are a way to always stay on your toes and be aware of the problems you may face in the world.”

Remember that self-defense isn’t a one-size-fits-all mentality. You must be aware of your own vulnerabilities and understand how to combat them. Keeping yourself safe is of utmost importance, and self-defense is the best preventive tool available.

For more information about martial arts programs at Cooper Fitness Center, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com/ProZone.

Sit Less, Move More – Exercise Guidelines for Diabetes and Prediabetes

November 14, 2016 Leave a comment

By Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services

Many people with diabetes do not exercise despite all of its proven benefits. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, physical activity is more than just a way to lose weight – it can also make it easier to keep your blood glucose (sugar) levels closer to normal.

When you have diabetes, your body’s insulin action is less effective in storing glucose and regulating your blood sugars, but exercise sensitizes insulin. During exercise, stored glucose becomes a source of energy for your muscles and as the stores gets depleted, your blood sugar goes down and can stay down for 24-48 hours.

What types and amounts of physical activity are recommended for diabetes?

  • Aerobic exercise includes brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, aerobics, elliptical, dancing, rowing, tennis and stair climbing. Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity weekly, spread over at least three days per week, with no more than two consecutive days without activity.
  • Resistance training includes exercises with weight machines, free weights, elastic resistance bands, body weight and group strength training classes. Perform these at least two times a week on non-consecutive days.
  • Balance and flexibility training includes yoga and tai chi. Aim for two or three times a week.
  • Light-intensity activities daily (read below under “updates”).

To better fit your schedule, you can break up 30 minutes into 10- or 15-minute segments several times a day. Research has shown the health benefits are similar. Recent studies have also shown that a 15-minute walk after meals can help lower your blood sugar.

What are the updates in the latest exercise guidelines?

People with diabetes are advised to incorporate “light” activities throughout the day, particularly when sedentary for prolonged periods of time (working on the computer, sitting in a meeting or watching TV). Take a light activity break for three minutes for every 30 minutes of sitting. Examples include:

  • Overhead arm stretches
  • Leg extensions
  • Torso twists
  • Walking in place

Exercise Tips:

  • Have a very specific plan. Define what, when, where and for how long you’re going to commit to working out. This will improve your chances of adherence and success.
  • What kind of exercises will you do? Make a list of activities and be creative. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it!
  • When are you going to fit in a workout? Make a schedule of the specific days and times you will exercise. Prioritize them on your calendar as “appointments.”
  • Are you going to exercise at a gym, in a group class, at a park or track or at home using a workout DVD or technology app? Decide what might work best for you.
  • Do you prefer to exercise solo, with a buddy, in a class or with a personal trainer? Participating in supervised training may provide more health benefits for people with diabetes than non-supervised programs. Plus, the accountability to others can be very motivating.
  • How long will you exercise? Be realistic and set achievable goals. If you are brand new to working out, start with 10 minutes and build up to 30 minutes or more.
  • Keep a log of your exercise to stay on track. You can use fitness technology resources like a pedometer, fitness band or exercise watch to track steps, calories and heart rate. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for what you do-every step counts!

When you have diabetes, prioritize exercise as part of your lifestyle to better control your blood sugars. Beyond managing your diabetes, exercise can help you feel better about yourself and improve your overall health.

For more information about preventing and managing diabetes and prediabetes, visit the Cooper Aerobics website.

NBA-Level Experience Drives Coach Coleman Crawford

November 11, 2016 Leave a comment

Coleman Crawford and basketball go way back. He started at a young age and worked his way to the college level (he still holds University of North Alabama career scoring and rebounding averages records). Following college, he put his basketball skills and IQ to work on the sidelines as a coach. He began at the college level – including four NCAA teams – then moved to international opportunities and the NBA Developmental League before settling in as Cooper Fitness Center’s Basketball Pro. His coaching experience eclipses 40 years and continues to this day.

As the NBA season kicks off, we asked Coleman a few questions about his coaching experience and his tips for growing as a basketball player.

Who was your favorite NBA team growing up?

“I didn’t necessarily have a favorite team, but instead had favorite players. I enjoyed following the Milwaukee Bucks because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for them, and I eventually pulled for the Lakers when he moved to L.A. I enjoyed following the careers of my favorite players.”

What did you gain from coaching in the NBA Developmental League?

“Coaching in the D-League was a big change from collegiate coaching. Coaching college athletes involves guiding them with their grades and off-the-court behavior on top of their basketball skills. In the NBA D-League, it was purely coaching and total focus on the game. I was able to build the team needed to win, and the players were solely focused on making it to the next level–the NBA. We won a championship when I coached in the D-League and six of the players went on to play in the NBA, which was exciting and rewarding.”

What is your favorite coaching memory?

“When I coached at Florida State, we beat Duke, who was the number one seed at the time. It was incredible! I also loved being able to coach my son at Tulsa and Florida State.”

What do you like most about coaching youth versus coaching adults?

“My favorite group to coach is, surprisingly, the 5-7 year olds. They are new to the sport, have no bad habits and have no fear. I see so much improvement and growth throughout the time I work with them, and I love introducing them to basketball. Coaching adults is enjoyable because they are usually very focused on improving one or two areas of their game, whether it is shooting, ball control or defense. They are open to learning new things and growing as players.”

Who do you think will win the NBA Finals this year?

“I’m currently a Cleveland Cavaliers fan because Lebron James is my favorite player. So I’m hoping for back-to-back championships!”

What skills do you teach your players that NBA players are always working on, too?

“The best NBA players never stray from the basics of the game. They practice the fundamentals constantly in order to master them. They also get into a routine that works for them, which usually consists of working hard and putting in extra practice time. The best players on NBA teams – Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Lebron James – are often the hardest working players on the team. Hard work distinguishes average players from elite players. Working on the fundamentals early on, as we do in our basketball camps and programs, can help kids grow and develop into solid players. On top of building physical skills, we also work on the mental aspect of the game.”

What are your top tips for any NBA hopefuls out there?

“Work ethic, skill development and mental prowess all tie together in basketball. The best players work tirelessly to master their skills. Try to always play against the best possible competition, because that challenge will bring out the best in you as a player and will give you an idea as to whether or not you’re improving. Keep working hard and never stop trying to improve and grow.”

For more information about Coleman and basketball programs offered at Cooper Fitness Center, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com/ProZone or call 972.233.4832, ext. 4337.

Off the Court with Tennis Pro Corey Noel

October 14, 2016 Leave a comment

corey-noelCatching Cooper Fitness Center Tennis Pro Corey Noel anywhere outside of the courts can be a challenge, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. With more than 15 years of experience coaching tennis and a variety of tournament championships under his belt, Corey brings expertise and focus on the game to adults and children alike through Cooper Fitness Center’s tennis programs. Get to know Corey on a more personal level:

When were you first introduced to tennis?

I started playing tennis when I was 15 years old, which is a little late to begin. I joined my high school team and loved it! It’s never too late to try a new sport, especially a lifelong sport such as tennis.

What is your favorite memory of playing tennis?

I once played a match in college in which my opponent was very unpleasant and bickered quite a bit. The official eventually came out and gave him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. We continued playing, and I won. Immediately after the match ended, my opponent was upset about losing and was issued another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Since our match was over and the rules called for the penalty to be applied to another match, the official gave the penalty to his teammate playing on another court. The teammate then lost his match as well. I like to say I won two matches at once because of the incident!

What is your favorite memory of coaching tennis?

Coaching is challenging. I once had a job of coaching a high school tennis team full of beginners. We had 12 students on the team, and by the time the season ended, eight of them went to the state championship. It was extremely rewarding to see the improvements they made that season as individuals and a team.

Who has been your biggest influence in the world of tennis?

My college coach, Bryan Whitt, helped me develop as a player and later helped me kick off my career as a tennis pro. He has offered me plenty of coaching advice over the years, and still coaches at The University of Texas at Dallas.

Who is your biggest role model?

My dad is my biggest role model, because he is kind and respectful in all circumstances. He fully lives by the rule of treating others as you would want to be treated.

What’s your favorite workout, other than playing tennis?

I love to cycle. I’m usually very competitive when it comes to sports and exercise, but riding a bike is one of the only times I’m able to let go and just enjoy the activity.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment professionally? Personally?

On the personal side, I’m proud of how I paid for my degree myself. I worked all through college and never had to take out a student loan. As a professional, being named Tennis Pro at Cooper has been incredible, and it was also amazing to be selected to sit on the Dallas Professional Tennis Association Board of Directors.

If you could play a match against one tennis celebrity, who would it be?

Andre Agassi. He’s always been my favorite player.

How long have you worked at Cooper?

Three years.

What is your favorite part about working at Cooper?

The people at Cooper are amazing and very friendly. Everyone here is passionate about exercise and self-improvement, which is a culture you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

What would you tell someone who is new to playing tennis and looking to improve their game?

Learning to play tennis is all about commitment and repetition. Get out on the court three or four days a week or as much as possible in order to work on all aspects of the game. It can be tough, but well worth it.

What’s your favorite thing to do in down time when you are not on the courts?

What’s down time?! Just kidding! I like to relax and watch TV or Netflix, and I’ve been traveling more.

If you weren’t coaching tennis, what other profession would you have gotten into?

I actually studied to be a teacher, so I would likely be teaching high school English and coaching tennis at the high school level.

What do you believe you teach/offer besides just technical tennis skills (i.e. confidence, teamwork in doubles play, etc.)?

As a coach, I try to teach problem solving. Tennis is the only major sport in which coaches are not allowed to actually coach during a match, so it’s important to teach my players independence and how to make decisions to improve their game on their own. There’s a lot of psychology that goes behind the game of tennis.

Corey points out that one of the most important things to know about tennis is that it’s a sport anyone can play, no matter of age, gender or experience. This makes it different from most sports, but is what he likes most about it. He says it’s rewarding to see his students grow and pick up new skills quickly, and then enjoy playing tennis as a lifelong sport.

For more information about Corey and the tennis programs at Cooper Fitness Center, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com or call 972.233.4832, ext. 4311.