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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.

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.

Create Perfect Parfaits

November 25, 2016 Leave a comment

By Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE and Gillian Gatewood, RDN, LD, CNSC, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services

Building your own tasty snack from scratch doesn’t have to be difficult. Parfaits can be packed with protein, fiber and other nutrients while having few calories and small amounts of saturated fat. Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services shares four tried-and-true parfait recipes perfect for a healthy breakfast or snack.

Peachy Protein Parfait:

  • ½ cup Daisy 2% Cottage Cheese (90 calories, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams fiber, 13 grams protein, 100 mg calcium)
  • 4 oz. Dole Diced Peaches, no sugar added (1 single serving container) – (30 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 1 gram fiber, 0 gram protein, 0 mg calcium)
  • 2 Tbsp. pistachios (24 nuts) – (80 calories, 0.5 gram saturated fat, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, 20 mg calcium)

Layer cottage cheese and peaches and top with pistachios.

Nutrition Information:

  • 200 calories
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 3 g fiber
  • 17 g protein
  • 120 mg calcium

Quark* with Crunch:

  • 6 oz. Elli Vanilla Bean Quark (1 single serving container) – (80 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams fiber, 14 grams protein, 150 mg calcium)
  • ½ cup Kashi Go Lean Crisp (Cinnamon Crumble) – (120 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 6 grams fiber, 7 grams protein, 40 mg calcium)
  • 2 Tbsp. pecans (9 halves, chopped and toasted, if desired) – (98 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram protein, 10 mg calcium)

Mix together Kashi Go Lean Crisp with pecans and layer with Quark.

Nutrition Information:

  • 298 calories
  • 1 g saturated fat
  • 7 g fiber
  • 22 g protein
  • 200 mg calcium

*Quark (or qvark) is a mild and creamy fresh cheese of European origin. It is high in protein and low in fat. Elli Quark is available in a variety of flavors.

Berry Bliss Parfait:

  • 3 oz. (1 single serving container) Oikos Triple Zero Greek Vanilla Yogurt (120 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 6 grams fiber, 15 grams protein, 150mg calcium)
  • 2 Tbsp. almonds (14 almonds, chopped and toasted if desired) – (80 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, 35mg calcium)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed blackberries (96 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 7 grams fiber, 1 grams protein, 0mg calcium)

Mix Greek Yogurt and berries and top with almonds.

Nutrition:

  • 296 calories
  • 1 grams saturated fat
  • 15 grams fiber
  • 20 grams protein
  •   185 mg calcium

Grandma’s Granola-Walnut Parfait:

  • 6 oz. (1 single serving container) Yoplait Original French Vanilla Yogurt (150 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams fiber, 6 grams of protein, 200mg calcium)
  • 2 Tbsp. Nature’s Path Love Crunch Apple Crumble granola (70 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein, 10mg calcium)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts (7 halves, toasted if desired) – (93 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams fiber, 2 grams protein, 0mg calcium)

Layer yogurt and granola, top with walnuts.

Nutrition Information:

  • 313 calories
  • 2 grams saturated fat
  •  1 gram fiber
  •  10 grams protein
  •  210 mg calcium

For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

How to Trim Your Thanksgiving Meal

November 22, 2016 Leave a comment

By Kathy Duran-Thal RDN, LD Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services

One of Dr. Cooper’s 8 Steps to Get Cooperized is to make healthy food choices most of the time. The holiday season is often a time of indulgence – delicious homemade meals and desserts are around every corner. Modification is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and keeping healthy habits intact during the holidays. Take a look at the nutritional information for a traditional Thanksgiving meal versus one with lighter options:

healthy-thanksgiving

A few simple swaps and smaller portions can keep you on track to achieve your health goals while still allowing you to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Learn more about preparing for a healthy and happy Thanksgiving here.

For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

An Ode to Oats

November 17, 2016 Leave a comment

By Gillian Gatewood, RDN, LD, CNSC, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services

A familiar breakfast darling, oats come in many varieties sure to please a range of taste and texture preferences (find your favorites here). As a standout member of the grain family, oats seldom have their bran or germ removed in processing. Therefore the majority of oats used in our food supply are likely to be whole grains. Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services has long promoted the many health benefits of oats supported by credible research:

  • Fiber-rich oats are slow to digest, making you feel fuller longer. This in turn may help control weight.
  • Research has shown the soluble fiber found in oats is associated with helping lower LDL cholesterol and controlling blood sugar levels. Inclusion of oats in a balanced diet may therefore help reduce risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Oats are a source of phytochemicals (numerous polyphenols jointly classified as avenanthramides), which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-itching agents to the body when ingested.
  • The cosmetic industry has been known to harness the anti-itching properties of oats. The botanical name for oats, “avena,” is where the company Aveeno derived its name.
  • Cool temperatures and plentiful rainfall make ideal growing conditions for oats. The world’s top producers of oats are Russia, Canada, the United States, Finland and Poland.
  • Rolled oats, a.k.a. “old fashioned oats,” and instant oats differ from their whole and steel cut siblings in that they have been steamed and rolled flat. This process decreases the cooking time but not significantly the nutritional value.
  • Oats are a gluten-free whole grain but are often cross-contaminated with gluten during processing. Those with diagnosed celiac disease should opt for certified gluten-free oats after confirmation of disease control by their doctor.

Oats are a tried-and-true breakfast staple. Keep your breakfast game strong and check out this scrumptious oat recipe from Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.

To learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

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.