Sunday, January 22, 2012

the end of exercise?

so i'm in the airport in colorado springs where i'd spent the weekend on a committee that's designing a new certification for the NSCA: CSPS - certified special populations specialist. this is a cert that will test trainers' knowledge of a vast array of special pops needs. if properly marketed, this should be good for one's biz. it was definitely good to hobnob with fellow exercise pros adn learn the process - very detailed and organized - of creating a credible certification test.

anyway, i don't write many blogs of late because i've been pretty busy at work, trying to make things happen. suffice it to say, between the economy and some turmoil in the local fitness business environment, it's been challenging but not anything we haven't managed before. so just do it, as Nike might say.

i just came across this article, hints of which i'd read in other venues on line:

this is the magic bullet - a pill to get fit. what a shame! is it really something we want to create, a pill that will allow folks to remain sedentary, eat what they want, smoke what they want, and still live as if they were healthier by not doing anything to be responsible for thmeselves? most of us would say no, but then the public health aspect of the concept of keeping people healthy with just a pill, reducing overall healthcare costs as a result, is tempting. i leave it to you to consider and determine. for me, tho, i can't help but think that many of our world's problems result from most of us, individually and collectively, behaving irresponsibly.

but what about fitness, and a pill? can it really happen?

the short answer is yes. someday, hormones that impact weight gain and loss will be harnessed; that turn bad body fat into good body fat will be created; that preserve muscle mass and ward off disease-based inflammatory processes that cause other diseases such as cancers will be discovered or created in a lab. there will be side effects that are negative, of course; all drugs have them. only exercise doesn't. but it's how mankind thinks of managing the world around him. until then, if you are exercising you should continue; if you aren't you should start up. there are reasons beyond longevity to exercise. and the basic prescription remains intact after 30 plus years of being in the field: daily cardio of 15-60 mins (more for wt loss, less if intense enough relative to your personal abilities), a touch of strength work for the legs first, mid section second (for low back pain prevention), and something for the upper body just so you can help yourself in daily living activities, and don't smoke. there are a million ways to eat 'right', supplements that may or may not help in the event you don't eat right. but ultimately our bodies are pretty adept at converting what we eat to what we need so long as it gets enough calories. but when it gets too many our bodies have mechanisms that are very efficient at storage. so eating right is really about eating just enough to keep wt up if it's normal, or lose some slowly if it's too much. not hard math. just use the scale. except for those with eating disorders or body image issues, this formula is pretty simple and safe.

so wait for the pill or start enjoying life as you know it now. who knows? this magic bullet may keep you lean and fit but make it impossible to enjoy sex or something we know not what til it comes on the market. isn't it easier to just get off the couch? no.

well, i'm sorry. for you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

whole body vibration and your whole body

linda melone, a fitness reporter, often calls me for guidance and ideas for articles she's writing. this one, in the link above, on whole body vibration (wbv), featured some of my comments on the science and my experiences with wbv. let me add some thoughts, tho.

the science is not quite prescriptive enough to warrant jumping on the bandwagon for certain physiological outcomes. that is, many studies show value for bone building, muscle strengthening, flexibility improving, and power development. few, however, have nailed down the precise number of minutes or the kinds of intensities that physicians or even exercise professionals would like to know to implement a prescription. thus, you may get contradictory studies and counter arguments against the use of wbv for any one or more of the above benefits.

but note this: as far as bones are concerned, since the general prescription is for fairly heavy loads imposed on the spine or hips in closed chain exercises such as squats and lunges, wbv offers the following value: by its very actions, it increases the value of any exercises done on it in closed chain and does not require heavy loading. therefore, simple and light squats with curls or overhead presses, lunges with tubing rows or dumbbell curls, or mini-jumps are enhanced while standing on a wbv machine. to what degree or for how long or how many days/wk - we just do not know. but at STEPS, we have seen nominal benefits at even twice/wk. by nominal i mean reduced rates of bone loss, or for some, some gain, if taking meds, too. in other words, while studies suggest 3/wk x 10-15 mins of vibration, even twice/wk seems to confer some benefits. and you get stronger and more coordinated while doing the exercises - without having to lift heavy.

therefore, the primary benefit is - older, esp more feeble or injured, women can get some benefits from wbv that they can't get from doing the same exercises with the same light wts on the floor.

well worth docs considering that.

Monday, January 2, 2012

happy new year!!!!

happy new year!!!!

here's hoping 2012 is a better year for all - healthier, happier, and more prosperous.....though there are many outside influences that may alter the year's flow. hang onto your hats.....

at this time of year, in the fitness industry, the focus is on weight loss for many prospective clients and trainers and facilities that to neglect to discuss it in a blog would be sinful. on the other hand, to latch onto the basic theme that gets bandied about on how you need to get your butt into the gym to drop those extra pounds you gained these past 6 weeks - or past 52 - or past 20 years!!! - is not my cup of tea. perhaps i've been lax in this regard as so many personal training clients express the desire to lose weight when we meet or even after years of training that maybe i'm missing a market by being so lax. but it's a philosophical decision i made back when i started as a trainer in 1986. i sealed that position at the defense of my dissertation in 1988. after the bullshit discussion with the committee, upon 'approval', we deviated into a conversation on what was next in my life as a doctor of exercise science. i told them i was opening a personal training center - nashville's first. they asked how i was going to 'bring in' a new client, to which, since i was speaking to fellow professionals, i responded with the party line: assess, test, prescribe and implement. that is, i'd test cardiovascular capacity, body composition, muscle strength and joint flexibility, and then create a program for the individual. sounded good at the time...until someone asked "why?"


why test? because i was taught that that's necessary before implementing an exercise program. but what if someone didn't want to know their body fat? hmmmm

and, other than a few individuals over the past 22 years, most DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. furthermore, many who need to lose wt cannot be measured accurately due to skinfold calipers' deficiency as the extremes. so, i never test any more. i offer but few accept. they know that if they lose weight, their clothes will fit differently and the scale will most likely show it. i say most likely because, yes, a few - esp males - may gain enough muscle mass to counter the few fat pounds lost, but this is rare in females, esp post menopausal ones. just basic science - i didn't make this up. inches may be lost but the layer of fat and the total weight may stay the same. why? because as muscle gets more toned, there is some loss of intramuscular fat that decreases its size; and around the middle, as the abdominals tone, they act like a girdle to pull the visceral contents into a tighter package. but the dimples and folds remain so long as the body fat stays high. and that's the rub.

two articles lately have addressed the many issues that confront those who need to lose serious weight. here's one on brain function and obesity that shows that there is more to wt loss than meets the eye:

the other, from this sunday's NY Times magazine, is enlightening because of the simplified description of the role hormones play in keeping fat on the body, esp if you've accumulated lots of it:

bottom line - it's really hard to lose weight. yes, it requires eating less and moving more but it requires a seriouis act of willpower and commitment to get it done. so, if you're trying to lose, start out easy - and aim low for now. i'd call it baby steps. hence the business name: STEPS Fitness.

we're here to help.