October 04, 2004

Politically Incorrect Fitness

I found this a few weeks ago linked off of some right-wing site - only bookmarked this site. Found it funny and thought I'd share.

It's Politically Incorrect Fitness.

Actually, if you do nothing else, scroll down to the pic of the author doing a one-legged squat. I'll steal the picture. Caption ideas?

(And note that his knee doesn't go over his toe. Good boy, Matt.)

I'll certainly buy a couple of things he says without questioning. I've done only about a quarter of the strength training I usually complete for the last month. There was the week of rest for the MS 150. There was the near week of rest following it. I felt weak and out of sorts with my upper body. I hadn't lifted since Tuesday until today, opting for a short home shoulder and back workout. That travel stuff can get you, especially if the nights aren't down time. Back on track - I'll take soreness over aches and pains ANY time.

And don't forget the cardio. Balance, balance.


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September 23, 2004

Curves, the Visit

I visited Curves on Dorsett in Maryland Heights, MO today. I didn't know what to expect, really - had heard that my friend Sheryl enjoyed the program, and I've certainly noticed that Curves is the new Walgreen's...quite suddenly ubiquitous.

Curves is the women's full-body circuit. There are resistance-powered machines, and in between each machine is a small jogging pad. The idea is to keep your heart rate fairly steady from machine to jogging pad, etc. You stop three or four times (I believe three) to take your pulse for 10 seconds.

You hit the circut twice. For legs, there's a machine that does a resistance squat, another that hits abductors/adductors, a gluteal machine , two that target abs, two for chest, one for shoulders directly, one for traps, and a bicep/tricep contraption. I'm probably missing a couple, but this is a full-body workout, and it's quite quick.

The faster you push the machines, the more resistance they offer. I had trouble striking balance between getting in good effort and not clanging the machine parts. With a weight stack, this is less challenging because you have a visual cue. And with free weights, well, you control everything. After the two circuits, I completed a series of 12 stretches, most of which I'd done before, but a couple of new ones I'll want to throw in with my mix.

The workout passed the sweat test. My pulse during this was around 26 for 10 seconds, about 156 - not really working all that hard for what I'm used to. This is where Curves wants you working, though - it's comfortable, but yet you have to exert yourself. I'm 32. If you go with the max heart rate formula of 220 - age, that puts my max at 188. That put my workload at roughly 83% of max for nearly 30 minutes. Not quite the MS 150, but it passed the sweat test, which, for the uninitiated, is measured by the saturation of the sports bra upon its removal. Very objective, but probably more than you wanted to know.

So, Curves. Do I recommend for women who are going to start an exercise program? Absolutely. Resistance training can be intimidating for women. I looked around Curves - hey, where're the mirrors? Don't need 'em. No free weights - no Stairmasters, no need for mirrors. I know I saw one because I looked funny bouncing on the little jogging pad, but I don't remember seeing more than one. Curves has a social feel to it; the atmosphere is very friendly. Beverly, the manager, took time out of her day to show me around and then answer my question list. She mentioned that there are more than 8000 Curves locations worldwide, about 7600 of which are in the United States.

Curves recommends that you hit the circuit three times a week. Patrons who do are offered a chance to enter a drawing for t-shirts and other prizes. They can also track their progress via the computer, be measured (with a machine less intimidating than those dreaded fat calipers), weighed, and then congratulated for fat and/or poundage loss. Beverly mentioned a 70 year-old member who's lost only a pound in weight but about half of her body fat. As you can imagine, this lady's likely quite a bit more spry.

As with any exercise program that gets your heart rate going for a good period of time, you can expect some endorphins. I left the facility feeling like I'd exercised. Granted, it's no friend Susan (see picture of cycling buddy in this post) workout (the likes of which will leave one understanding the full use of each exercised muscle for at least two days to come), but it's one great start.

Hours for the local Curves were split - 7ish until 1 and then 3:00 until 7:30, I believe. Beverly mentioned that hours are variable by location. Price is also, with the midwest tending to be cheaper per month than the coasts. Still, price is reasonable. If discomfort with body image is an issue, this facility should remove that tension.

So kudos to the Curves people. If you haven't tried it and are not actively exercising, this is not a time, energy, or money drain. I recommend.

(Thanks again, Beverly).


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September 20, 2004

Dance Dance Revolution

I bought Dance Dance Revolution for the PS2 about a month ago, and I played it pretty heavily up until the week before the MS 150 and then picked it up again last week. Good stuff.

If you're not familiar, you purchase something called a Beat Pad that acts as the PS2 controller. You step on directional areas as directed on screen by the program, and it rates how well you do.

I'm somewhat of a klutz (just ask my bike), but I've got enough musical background that I picked this up pretty easily (thank goodness it doesn't rate my arm movements, though). Shape and other Fitness magazines recommended this game because of the workout mode, which is impressive but has a big downside. Basically, songs aren't longer than a minute to a minute and a half at most, meaning you get you heart rate up, and then it dips a bit while you're picking your next song. I read that the next two editions of the series (the 3rd one for PS2 releases in the US tomorrow) have a mode where you can string several songs together with just a short break while they switch from one to another, so this should take care of my concern.

About 6 of the songs are so dastardly difficult I can't do them at all yet, but there's a training mode that lets you decrease the tempo so you can commit crazy step sequences to memory.

All in all, if you like to jump around/dance but don't really like to exercise, this could be a nice gateway into the fitness experience.

On Thursday, I'm going to visit a local Curves to get the lowdown on the popular women-only quick workout facility. Expect a write-up soon after.

P.S. The Curves visit is only to satisfy curiosity. I talked with the manager and told her I just wanted to learn and write about it for others (put something useful on this blog and all). I don't imagine it's for me, either. But I'm betting you I can make myself sore by working intensely. I do shoulders today (Tuesday) and then just cardio on Wednesday so everything's healed and ready for the Curves full body workout. hln

Posted by hln at 06:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 23, 2004

Ironman Triathlon

Ironman is this weekend in Lake Placid, NY. CNN has a very nice article about women ironathletes, who comprise about 1/4 of the field.
The triathlete from Saranac Lake, New York, is raising three kids, teaching part-time and training for Sunday's Lake Placid Ironman triathlon -- a grueling endurance race that combines swimming, cycling and running.

It's not an easy feat. But Lieb, a 45-year-old four-time Ironman competitor, has company. About a fourth of this year's 2,262 competitors are women. That's more than double the number of women who entered five years ago.
What the article doesn't give you is the specs of the event. But I will. Here's the course. 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of cycling, and THEN you get to run the marathon - 26.2 miles of hoofing.

I don't know about you, but my Saturday plans include, oh, 40 - 50 miles of cycling. None of this running and swimming stuff. Tomorrow's weather in Lake Placid is a temperature range of 45 to 68 degrees, and the wind from the North at 9 mph. Not a bad day at all for the nation's fittest.


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December 15, 2003

Watch Your Aorta?

Okay, this was the oddest thing in the health feed I got today.

    WASHINGTON - Bill Linski was lying down watching television when he felt as if something in his chest was being ripped apart. The largest artery in Linski's body, the aorta, was splitting. It took a major operation to keep him together, and his surgeon thinks Linski's weight training triggered his brush with death.

    The pain began in the middle of Linski's chest, went away for a half second, then returned, racing up through his neck and into his jaw, leaving him wheezing.

    Linski was only 21. He had worked out that morning to prepare for competitive bodybuilding, and at first tried to pass it off as muscle pain or heartburn. But his father had died of a massive heart attack at age 38, and "in the back of my mind, I pretty well knew something was going on," he said.
You can read the article - it's basically about this special, strange case. The pic of Mr. Linski shows one heck of an awesome scar (repeat after me: scars are sexy), and it also illustrates the incline press with dumbbells. And, I doubt I need to tell you what that helps you avoid.

Sparing your drinking since I made you all drink this weekend,


Posted by hln at 06:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 14, 2003

BodyFlex and da FTC

I've finally done it - broken up the Health/Fitness/Nutrition category.

In today's news, the FTC says "uh, no" to Bodyflex, according to this snippet from

    Think you can lose weight by simply breathing? Neither does the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has charged the marketers of BodyFlex with false advertising whose website and infomercials claim their 18-minute "workout" of deep breathing and stretching is more effective than a treadmill session and will melt 4-41 inches off in one week. The BodyFlex website has already been taken down, but you can see a cached version here.
And so I visited. It's mildly amusing - not really worth your time. Its crazy claim is in the first paragraph:

    The power of BodyFlex lies in how oxygen helps burn fat. With BodyFlex breathing you will supercharge your blood with fat-burning oxygen and you'll lose inches fast. So fast that BodyFlex guarantees you'll lose 4 to 14 inches across your six target areas in the first 7 days. That's the upper arms, upper abs, lower abs, waist, hips and thighs. Once you've learned the secret of BodyFlex breathing, the exercises are easy to follow and there are no complicated machines to put together. You can even do it all while sitting on your couch.
Uh, okay. Breathe. Psycosomatic addict insane.


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August 22, 2003

Only One Problem...

Go West Virginia, go. Good idea. Walking a mile a day? About fifteen minutes - a good start.

    Gov. Bob Wise and health officials unveiled the West Virginia on the Move campaign Thursday.

    The goal is to encourage people to walk about one more mile every day and eat fewer calories. The campaign is similar to an effort in Colorado.

    West Virginia's campaign will include a Web site, billboards and workplace and school programs.

    In 2001, 25.1 percent of West Virginia adults were obese and 37.9 percent were overweight. The national obesity rate was about 21 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control's 2001 Behavioral Risk Survey.

    People who are obese are more likely to have other health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
The problem?

    West Virginia on the Move will help keep our citizens healthy," Wise said.
I think the problem is the word "keep." That's a whopping 73% of the state's citizens who are overweight.


Posted by hln at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2003

A Fitness Contract

If your kids are parked more than moving, Health - HeathDay recommends that you draw up a fitness contract to unpark them.

This article is barely more than that. One good thing:

    Make two sets of lists: One should detail what each of you plans to do in this program, the other outlines what you expect to gain.
Novel concept - the parent has to contribute to benefit the kid. And, no monetary goals, please. After all, we all know (thanks to snazzy reporting this week) that bored kids with too much money are predisposed to drug use (gag).


Posted by hln at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)