Tuesday, July 31, 2012

summer break?

it's always less busy in the gym during the summers so it's a good time to test the waters. that is, to see what else is out there. before i do, let me share my philosophy about fitness, exercise, and related issues.
it is my opinion that anyone who trains their body with physical activity is an athlete, despite the frequency, intensity or duration. that is,, if an athlete is someone who exercises to improve performance, prevent or rehab injuries, or just stay in shape for whatever playing she/he chooses, then what differentiates that athlete from the general fitness enthusiast or participant is simply data, not intent. in other words, just as the best hi school basketball player doesn't hold a candle to lebron james does not make him any less an athlete - he's just not as good an athlete. so, too, are most of my, and most trainers', clients. (in fact, for most of my clients, and myself, exercise - regular or inconsistent - is designed to extend a certain degree of continued function, mobility, pain management, overall health, etc. my athletic days are gone for now and maybe forever but i still think of myself as one.)
so how does this relate to the topic at hand? well, to get myself out of my gym, i decided two months ago to try yoga once a week. having been very flexible in my youth and still significantly more flexible than almost all males other than those in flexibility sports - martial arts, dance, gymnastics, diving - of any age but esp at this age, 59, i thought this might help me both maintain flexibility and get some stress reduction under the control of a yoga instructor away from my usual gym activities. and while i'm happy to report that it is challenging insofar as my bad knee and shoudler are concerned, it is nothing i couldn't do if i had good joints. it's good activity and if done a few times a week, i could see someone improving flexibility and maybe getting some core strengthening but i would not recommend it as a primary form of exercise for overall health, esp for bone or muscle strength.
this past weekend i went to a barre amp class, a fusion class of ballet, callanetics, yoga, and pilates. designed for women - i was the only male in the class of about 20, and was perhaps the second oldest - my friend/client is older and was a former dancer and found this to be a challenging class, so she challenged me to get my opinion of it. it was interesting and i did find some of the exercises potentially beneficial for those who want toning but at some point would no longer yield strength gains. again, flexibility is part of the routine and other than the instructor and my friend, i was substantially able to meet the flexibility demands. i can also tell you that i didn't break  a sweat but i know the others did. and for that alone, it was a great exercise modality. at some point one might be hard pressed to get stronger simply by doing barre amp tho if you did it several times a week, and watched how you ate, other than the fact that your cardio would not be improved, you could clearly get nnice toning from it.
but i want to go back to my philosophy and make it perfectly clear: every form of physical actiivty serves a purpose and for some folks may be all they really need in life. so for some, simple balance exercises may be primary; flexiblity for others; strength for someone else, etc. while a balance of exercise modalities is best for ovearll health and wellness, not everyone needs everything to the same degree. but we ALL need to be doing something, and something more than what most of us on a regular basis are doing. it's the basis for cross training principles, for triathloning, for circuit training, etc. embrace it, enjoy it, just try it. it all counts, esp, most especially if you enjoy it!!!

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Dr.Irv