Fitness & Wellness

Fitness Ball Reality

You might be inclined to think that the participants in this video have done something devious to magnify their claims- like deflating the ball to make it flatten more than normal- but this is the reality of the fitness ball.  What the fitness ball has become is largely the result of marketing genius.  The claims and accepted uses of today go so far beyond the original intent and purpose for the ball.  Is it okay for core training?  It’s better than the floor, and it could be the difference between someone doing core training and not, so it’s okay, but it is not the best product for core muscle activation.  Beyond the reasons stated in the video, fitness ball core training does not lend itself well to increased weight resistance, and the instability compromises workout intensity.  The AbMat is the more effective core trainer.

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Friday, June 24th, 2011 Fitness & Wellness, Video No Comments

Have a Heart… Rate

If you spend any time at all doing cardio, you will eventually- if not immediately- hear the words “heart rate” as a point of interest or focus.  Anyone would figure that it’s important.  Afterall, if your heart rate is zero, that means you are personally extinct.  It stands to reason then that it should factor heavily in the pursuit of personal health and fitness.  Beyond the reality that zero is very very bad, you might be foggy on how the heart rate figures into the fitness equation.  For instance, your heart monitor might tell you that you achieved an average heart rate of 145 during a 30-minute workout.  Is that good?  The answer is: for some, yes, and others, no. › Continue reading

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Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 Fitness & Wellness No Comments

Should You Embrace Failure?

This may come as a shock to you, but you need to know that some trainers and fellow workout enthusiasts want you to experience failure.  There’s no denying it; it’s true.  They want you to know what it is to be unable to complete that last repetition.  The rest of the story is that this failure principle is part of a workout philosophy intended to maximize muscle growth stimulation.  In this approach, with the help of a spotter (or two or three), you complete repetitions of whatever exercise until you literally cannot do one more repetition.  The argument hinges on the premise that the last rep, whichever number that may be, is always the hardest and most productive.  The question is: is training to failure legit? › Continue reading

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Thursday, June 16th, 2011 Fitness & Wellness No Comments

Getting Fit When Sick

There I was- my body worn out and sweaty, my throat raw, my stomach queasy.  There was not much more I could give.  I felt spent.  The problem was that I hadn’t touched a weight or made the faintest attempt at upping my heart rate.  No, it was just a summer bug come early.  I had a healthy dose of nasal/sinus congestion, sore throat, fatigue, and a heavy chest.  The onset was gradual over a day or two.  I don’t know about you, but that’s usually when my struggle kicks in.  “Should I work out feeling this way?” › Continue reading

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Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 Fitness & Wellness No Comments

Ab Stimulation Belts

If you’ve even semi-regularly watched television over the last few years, you’ve most likely seen the infomercials for the various electric abdominal stimulator belts promising six-pack abs with almost no effort.  You can work out your abs while sitting at your desk, washing the dishes, lying on the couch while watching infomercials about abdominal stimulator belts, etc.  The next thing you know, you’re a camera-ready model.  There have been more than a few different belts offered in a relatively short amount of time.  If they didn’t sell (and well), you would not be seeing the infomercials.  The question is: for all of the units sold, do they actually work?? › Continue reading

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Friday, June 3rd, 2011 Fitness & Wellness No Comments

Be Goal Oriented

The health and fitness industry is absolutely huge.  The differences of opinion and approach are sometimes varied so much that you might be tempted to wonder, “Are we even talking about the same thing…??”  (Maybe not.)  While there certainly are experts and professionals who are very balanced in their approach to physical fitness, there are others who are extremely specialized.  Yoga and Pilates lovers may avoid the weight room like the plague.  Bodybuilders frequently avoid the cardio elements.  Cardio lovers, including endurance athletes, may avoid strength training.  Some dieticians and nutritionists embrace exercise only to the extent of brisk walking.  For some lifelong gym rats, “health” doesn’t even register in their goals- but they’re in the industry. › Continue reading

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Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 Fitness & Wellness No Comments

What a Load of Cramp!

About six months ago, one of my best friends completed his last round of chemo.  He has since gone on to defeat cancer.   Unfortunately, chemotherapy and the barrage of prescription meds are the gifts that keep on giving well beyond the scope of the treatment.  He is cancer-free, but his body took an unimaginable beating.  Not to go into too many details, but one of the things he has to deal with is rampant muscle cramping.  He deals with it every day to varying degrees and often finds himself awakened at night by a pain excruciating enough to make him literally yell out.  His wife and he asked me if I could offer them any advice.  While I could only offer advice in the most generic sense (especially since I have no oncology background), I did find myself inspired to blog about muscle cramps. › Continue reading

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Monday, February 21st, 2011 Fitness & Wellness, Nutrition No Comments

Shake It Off, and Step Up

So much of fitness and health exists in the physical realm.  What are we eating and drinking?  How much and what kind of exercise are we getting?  Are we sleeping enough or pushing ourselves too hard?  The reality, though, is that so much more of true health and fitness exists between the ears.  While knowledge and wisdom are certainly aspects that impact what we do and how we are physically, I’m talking about the mental battles we find ourselves immersed in.

Who has looked in the mirror and hated what they see?  Who has experienced a minor injury and quit working out altogether instead of just backing off of the exercises specific to that injury?  Who has missed two workouts in a week and decided to write off the entire week?  Who has had one horrendous garbage day of eating only to forget what healthy eating looks like?  Who has been so overwhelmed by the heaping helping of life on their plate that they just shut down? › Continue reading

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Friday, November 19th, 2010 Fitness & Wellness No Comments

Sweat the Small Stuff

I’m feeling the need to dispel any myth that might be conjured about me at the mention of “fitness” or “fitness industry” in the same breath as my name.  Why?  Because I imagine I’m not too different from many other 36-year-old married fathers of four who work an unhealthy number of hours (mostly in the seated position).  I cannot bench or squat a Ford F150, and I am probably never going to win (or even enter) a marathon, decathlon, triathlon, or Ironman competition.  I am never going to be on the cover of a fitness magazine.  Chances are, you will never see me in a fitness video- even if we produce it.  My blood pressure is slightly elevated – “prehypertensive” – and I rarely count my carbs.  Shockingly, I have no desire to achieve 3% body fat.  In order to do my workouts, I frequently have to move the laundry out of the way, because I work out in my garage.  My biggest fitness claims to fame are that 1) for my height, I am considered overweight due to my muscle mass, and 2) I still wear the same pants size I wore in high school.  I am much closer to being an everyman than I am to being an elite athlete.  That aside, I usually know what I am doing.   › Continue reading

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Friday, May 7th, 2010 Fitness & Wellness, Random No Comments

'Tis the Season

The spring is my nemesis.  As surely as the weather warms and the windows open to the “fresh” air, I find myself overcome by scratchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, nasal/sinus congestion, occasional sneezing fits, and symptoms that mimic those of the common cold.  After three springs of experiencing what I thought was just a prolonged cold, it finally dawned on me that maybe I had been so fortunate as to pick up some allergies.  Being the smart guy that I am, I instituted a policy of taking over-the-counter allergy meds (Claritin or Zyrtec) automatically at the end of March even before symptoms started, and that seemed to help… in the past.  For whatever reason, despite my best efforts, allergies are kicking my butt again this year.  So the question is: why are allergies so bad in 2010?  Is it just me, or is there something to this? › Continue reading

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Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 Fitness & Wellness 1 Comment