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Does the Ab Wheel Work the Obliques?

If you’re looking for a challenging core exercise, the ab wheel won’t leave you disappointed. The ab wheel is a piece of training equipment that you use to perform the ab roller exercise. Although it’s primarily promoted as an abdominal training piece, it does to some extent work the obliques, as well as a few other muscles in your core.

The Role of the Obliques
Your obliques are located on either side of your torso and they’re responsible for a couple of different movements about the spine. They’re primarily known for their abilities to twist and tilt your torso to the sides. However, they also contribute to spinal flexion, which means they assist your abdominals in bending your spine forward. When you’re performing the ab roller exercise on the ab wheel, your obliques are contributing to spinal flexion.

Ab Rolling Correctly
When you’re using the ab wheel, you place the unit on the floor in front of you and grip the handles on either side while in a kneeling position. Roll the wheel away from you while keeping your arms fully extended. Continue until your hips are straight and your torso is just off the floor. Bend your hips and roll the ab wheel back towards your thighs as you return to a kneeling position.

Stabilizing Duties
Along with the re**us abdominis muscle of your abs, your obliques are contracting isometrically during the ab roller exercise. An isometric contraction is when your muscles are working to hold you in a static position. Your obliques isometrically contract to hold spinal flexion and prevent your spine from hyperextending. Other muscles are also involved in rolling the ab wheel back and forth. Your obliques are busy working alongside your abs to stabilize your spine.

The Major Muscles
You wouldn’t be able to successfully perform the ab roller without the isometric work from your obliques and abs, but there are other muscles that are responsible for controlling the movement of the wheel. Your iliopsoas, which is the largest and strongest of your hip flexor muscles, is the one that takes on most of the load. The latissimus dorsi in your back and the back of your major shoulder muscles are also among the muscles involved as you roll the wheel.


How to Burn 900 Calories

Burning 900 calories is easier than you think. The key is to keep moving. You are more likely to be successful if you change the way you think about exercise. Instead of an isolated period in the day when you get in your commonly-recommended 30 minutes, exercise should be regarded as an all-day activity. Look for ways to move throughout the day and you will be well on your way to burning 900 calories.

Step 1
Determine your current weight. Calculate your weight as well as the number of calories required to maintain it. For example, a 150-pound woman requires a bit more than 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight. If you want to ease the scale a little lower, plan to consume 500 fewer calories than are needed to maintain your current weight. Alternatively, you can burn 500 additional calories. Using that strategy you can expect to lose about a pound a week. For an added weight loss boost, combine lower calorie consumption with higher calorie expenditure. You will lose almost 2 pounds per week whether you burn 900 extra calories per day, or you consume 500 fewer calories and burn 400 additional calories daily.

Step 2
Burn calories as soon as you get out of bed. Start your day with 20 minutes of brisk rope jumping. Assuming you weigh about 150 pounds, you can expect to burn 272 calories. That's almost one-third of the way to your 900-calorie goal.

Step 3
Stand for at least 20 minutes each hour while you work. If you deduct your lunch break that will equal about seven, 20-minute standing periods for the day. At 52 calories for each standing period you can expect to burn 364 calories just by doing your job. There is an added benefit to standing -- it's better for you. Researchers have discovered that prolonged sitting contributes to cardiovascular disease, obesity and even premature death.

Step 4
Play tennis after work. Thirty minutes of singles play on the court will burn 272 calories. If you prefer something easier on the joints, just 30 minutes of vigorous lap swimming will burn 340 calories. Other ideas to get in the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise include a casual game of racquetball to burn 238 calories, or going for a run. At a 12-minute-mile pace you should burn 272 calories by the time you cross the half-hour mark.

Step 5
Perform household chores in the evening for 20 minutes to burn another 68 calories. A good way to use that time would be in the preparation of a healthy meal that includes protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Make enough to take for lunch so you can skip the high-fat fast food.
Wind down your evening with gentle stretching for 20 minutes to burn 57 calories. You will likely promote relaxation, sleep better and may even ward off leg cramps. Using the ideas in the previous steps, your total calories burned for the day will actually exceed 900, so you have a bit of wiggle room.


Sliding Exercises With Towels

By placing folded towels under your hands or feet, you can make basic exercises like squats and pushups more difficult, promoting coordination and balance while increasing the difficulty of your workout. Exercise sliders made from towels are inexpensive and can be made with standard household towels. Towels, unlike other exercise sliders, work best on wooden, linoleum or ceramic floors -- not so much on carpet.

Core Workout
The difficulty of body-weight exercises for your core can be increased with minimal extra equipment, including towel sliders. The sliding pike is an exercise that you can do almost anywhere. Place a folded towel under both feet, making sure your heels hang over the edge of your towel. This positioning allows you to place them on the floor to act as a brake if you lose control. With your arms extended and in plank position, keep your torso straight and your legs together as you bring both your legs in at the same time, pulling them toward your chest. Hold for five seconds before returning to plank position and repeat 10 to 12 times.

Core Workout No. 2
This exercise also places you in plank position, but you need a folded towel under each foot. With your arms extended and your torso straight, place you feet hip-width apart. Bend your right knee, moving it up toward your chest while keeping your left leg extended. As you move your right leg back to straighten it, move your left leg up toward you chest. Repeat this motion for one to three sets of 10 to 12 reps per leg. Once you have mastered the basic exercise, speed up the movement.

Upper Body Workout
The sliding chest fly is a variation on the classic pushup, so it builds muscle in your back, neck, arms, chest and shoulders. With a towel placed under each hand, start in plank position, with your feet together and your hands extended, shoulder-width apart. As you lower your chest to the floor, slide your arms out to the side, bringing your chest as close to the floor as possible. Hold for three counts, then raise yourself off the ground, back to plank position, while sliding your hands back to their original position. Doing this exercise slowly will build more muscle and decrease the risk for injury.

Lower Body Workout
The single leg squat is a variation on the basic squat. This exercise works you glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, lower back and calf muscles. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and a towel under your left foot. With you hands on your hips, sink down over your right leg, bending at the knee and hip as if you are trying to sit down. As you lower your body, keep your torso and left leg straight, letting your left leg slide out to the side. Sink as low as you can, hold the position for three counts, then slowly raise yourself back up. Repeat 10 times before switching legs. To increase the difficulty, repeat the squat for more than one set, or hold dumbbells in your hands to increase overall resistance.


Increasing Butt Size With Spinning

Everyone has different goals when they choose to attend spin class. Some people do it to slim down; others do it to increase the size of their muscles. If you're hoping to use spin class as a way to bulk up your backside, you may need to alter your routine or spend some time working out off the bike to increase your butt size.

What Spinning Does
Spinning is primarily a cardiovascular exercise, causing the heart and lungs to work harder to provide oxygen and fuel for the rapidly-moving muscles of the lower body. The main effect you'll get from it is calorie burn -- about 400 to 500 calories per session, by some estimates. That can help you lose overall body fat, but because spin class also involves increasing the resistance of the pedals, standing on the pedals and high repetitions per minute, or RPM, the workouts will also help you build muscle.

Muscles You'll Use
When it comes to increasing muscle, spin enthusiasts will tend to build muscle in the quadriceps first. The hamstrings and calves get a workout too -- and if you're spending a lot of time standing during your spin class, you'll also work the gluteal muscles enough to build some muscle in that area. When you first start spinning, you might find that you'll lose fat faster than you'll build muscle -- though how and where you build muscle is also a matter of genetics. That means your best friend may enjoy shapelier legs and a bigger butt after a few weeks of spinning, while you're only slimming down and flattening your backside.

Working the Glutes on the Bike
If you're looking to focus more specifically on the glutes during your spin session, spend more time standing. If your spin instructor doesn't call for a lot of standing time, find a class or instructor that does. Also, try lifting your butt off the seat just a little and staying in that elevated position for one minute, sitting for another minute, and then alternating between the two throughout the workout. To keep your muscles guessing and avoid muscle adaptations that can lead to slower gains, mix it up during the next session, raising up and down quickly, as if you're doing a set of rapid squats.

Other Ways to Work the Glutes
If you're serious about building a bigger backside, you need to do more than spin class. More specifically, you have to spend time doing glute-dominant exercises. According to Bret Contreras, a personal trainer and the self-professed "Glute Guy," the most effective exercises for glute activation include weighted hip thrusts, bird dogs, quadruped hip circles, deadlifts and hip external rotation exercises. Squats and walking lunges can also help, but try to use your glutes by focusing on their movements, so as not to focus more on the quads. Two days a week, pick three glute exercises and do two or three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise.


How to Lose Weight by Exercising 5 Minutes at a Time

You may not have many hours available for working out, but what about five minutes? In the 1990s, Dr. Izumi Tabata discovered the effects a few minutes of intense exercise had on the body. The Tabata method of exercise involves alternating intervals of high-intensity cardio with shorter, low-intensity intervals. A four-minute Tabata exercise can burn more than 700 calories. If you add an extra minute, you could burn close to 800 calories. For strength training, make the most out of a mini-workout by squeezing out as many repetitions as you can. Toning muscles will help you burn extra fat.

Step 1
Perform 20 seconds of high-intensity cardio at your top speed. Jumping rope and running in place are two effective forms of high-intensity cardio that you can do at home in a limited amount of space with little equipment.

Step 2
Reduce your exercise intensity for about ten seconds by doing some very light jogging or slowly jumping rope, for example. Do not stay at low intensity for more than 15 seconds.

Step 3
Run or jump rope at max intensity for 20 more seconds. Repeat the intervals of high intensity and low intensity until your five minutes are up. This means you'll be doing between eight to 10 cycles.

Five-Minute Strength Training
Step 1
Perform a clean and press with medium weight dumbbells for one minute. Set two medium dumbbells on the ground in front of you and stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width. Bend your knees to squat and pick up your weights. Straighten your legs and lift your weights over your head. Return to start and complete as many reps as possible in one minute.
Put down one weight and hold a single weight in both hands if you need to lessen the intensity slightly.

Step 2
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand at your sides to perform side lunges with rows. Take a large step to the side with your right leg and simultaneously bend your left elbow to raise your weight. Bend your right knee and keep your left knee straight. Return to start and perform as many repetitions as you can during 30 seconds. Repeat the move for your left leg and right elbow as many times as you can in 30 seconds.

Lose the weights if necessary to complete the exercise for the entire minute.

Step 3
Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart and your toes pointed out while holding a medium dumbbell in each hand to perform a plié squat with a biceps curl. Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle and bend your elbows to lift your weights to your shoulders. Lower your weights and straighten your knees so you are standing again. Repeat this move as many times as you can in one minute. If you need to, set one weight aside and hold the remaining weight in both hands to power through the entire minute.

Step 4
Get into a push-up position to perform one-leg, one-arm push-ups. Lift your right arm and left leg off the mat. Bend your left elbow to a 90-degree angle to perform a push-up. Repeat as many times as you can in one minute. If a one-arm push-up is too intense, use two hands. Place both legs and arms on the floor if necessary to exercise for the full minute.

Step 5
Stand up straight, feet hip-width apart, while holding a medium dumbbell in each hand. Keep your arms at your sides and bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle for a one-leg deadlift with a kickback. Bend 90 degrees at the waist while straightening your arms so that they are next to your hips and parallel to the ground. Lift your left leg as you bend so that your body weight is supported on your right leg. Return to start and repeat for 30 seconds on each leg. Stand on both feet if necessary.

Step 6
Perform as many rounds of deep squats and push-ups as you can in five minutes on the days when you have no equipment and need a simple but effective workout. Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend your knees until your buttocks are just below your knee level. Raise to standing and perform 20 squats. Immediately perform 10 push-ups and repeat this cycle until your five minutes are up.


How Does Exercise Affect Worry?

More than half of the world's workforce reports levels of increasing stress and worry, according to a survey by Regus Consulting. Stress and worry take a physical toll, causing health issues ranging from nausea to coronary artery disease and heart attack. Regular exercise results in diminished levels of stress, anxiety and tension, according to WebMD. A 2008 Appalachian State University study concluded that regular exercisers have lower levels of anxiety than those who do not exercise.

Chipper Chemicals
During physical activity, your body releases chemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins interact with receptors in your brain to reduce your perception of pain and cause a positive feeling similar to that created by morphine. If you've ever had a runner's high -- an energetic, positive outlook after exercise -- thank endorphins. Endorphins have been found to negate feelings of anxiety, worry and unhappiness.

Heat It Up
Every time you engage in cardiovascular exercise, your body temperature skyrockets. A temperature of 98.6 degrees is considered normal body temperature. During an exercise session, your body temperature can fluctuate by as much as three degrees. While high body temperatures can be dangerous, a slightly high body temperature has a calming, soothing effect, according to Well + Good.

Think On It
If one of your worries is related to self-confidence, perk up. Exercise improves self confidence. If you want to feel good about yourself, just commit to a little exercise. While you exercise, chances are you won't be thinking about all the things worrying you. Instead, you'll be focusing on the challenge ahead of you or the calories you're burning. Exercise disrupts your normal thought patterns and distracts you from your worries.

Catch Some Zzzzs
If your worries tend to keep you awake at night, try a little exercise to get some sleep. Exercise may strengthen circadian rhythms, which help your body acclimate to a sleep/wake schedule. Not only does exercise help you get to sleep, a National Sleep Foundation poll discovered that regular exercisers sleep significantly better most nights than those who do not exercise regularly. A 2008 study by German researches, published in "Sleep Medicine," concluded that physical activity during the daytime promoted slow-wave sleep, the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep. Since worries may also make you sleep fitfully or have disturbing dreams, getting a little exercise can promote falling asleep and getting a deeper, higher quality slumber.

How Much to Exercise?
The National Health Service recommends that adults exercise several times a week. Aim for 150 minutes of medium-intensity aerobic exercise. Running, cycling and jumping rope are all effective aerobic exercises.




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