Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What is a BOSU Ball?

Have you been in a gym or a store and seen those big blue half-balls?  You may have wondered what the heck those are for.  A BOSU Ball is a pretty cool workout tool.  On it's base, it is a more stable version of a exercise ball.  You can sit on it and do various exercises.  You can even stand on it while doing various exercises to incorporate a wide range of what's called "stabilizer" muscles.

Flip the BOSU Ball over and now you have a balance board in which you can stand on for balance training, or again, do various exercises and incorporate those stabilizer muscles.

It's a great way to increase the challenge of your existing workout, introduce balance training and get a great workout.  They are not cheap like an exercise ball.  They run a little over a $100 depending on where you get them.

Road Runner Sports has them as pictured below.  If you'd like one, you can visit the Road Runner's site by clicking on the ball below. Join RR's VIP program and get it for less than $100. By clicking on the ball below to make your purchase, you'll also be helping to support this site.



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Biggest Loser Review by a Certified Personal Trainer

NBC's Biggest Loser sounds like a great idea.  Take some obese individuals, help them lose weight, inspire others...Great concept.  To be honest, I never watched the show until recently and I have to say I'm concerned with the message it is sending and how the whole program is viewed by the general population.

First of all, the contestants work out for 5 to 6 hours per day - Yes, 5 to 6 HOURS.  That's insane!  Pro athletes...sure...but obese individuals with no exercise experience going from zero to 6 hours per day....I'm shocked there aren't dozens of injuries.  Also - I'm not sure the show makes it clear how long the workouts actually are.  The average person - even a stay at home parent - doesn't have 6 hours to spend working out.  It's just unrealisitc.

Secondly, the obsession with weight loss rather than body changes or "body composition".  Read any book, take any certification course and you'll learn that 1-2 lbs per week is a healthy amount of weight loss.  Any more than this and you are likely losing water or muscle or both.  Losing 20 lbs from one week to the next just isn't healthy and it's not a good example for viewers at home.  Again, just unrealistic in what viewers at home can expect to achieve.

I watched last night, and a woman had lost 2 lbs since the last weight in.  The perfect amount to lose.  She seemed so sad that it was only 2 lbs.  This was understandable as people tend to place higher expectations on themselves.  What really ticked me off, was how disappointed the trainers were.  These are the people that are supposed to know this stuff and be supportive no matter what!  One guy lost several pounds since the last weigh in and the trainer - I think it was Jillian, seemed devastated and acted like the guy wasn't trying.

All in all - I have to say I'm a big fan of fitness, but not NBC's The Biggest Loser.

Weight loss is going to take awhile.  People don't gain 20, 30 or even a 100 lbs overnight so there is ZERO reason to think it's going to come off that fast.  1-2 lbs per week is a good, safe, achievable goal.  Exercise 5 days a week - 2 days of strength training and 3 days of cardio is a  great way to start and get results.  For more info on losing weight safely - contact me and I'll be happy to give you a free workout.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Is P90X Good for Beginners?

Switching from my Running Coach hat to my Certified Personal Trainer hat - I often am asked what I think of Tony Horton's P90X program.  I have to say - the infomercials make it sound really good.  I decided to buy a used copy that someone was selling on Craigslist here in Asheville so I could give it a try.

Honestly, I find it all a little funny how everyone acts like "muscle confusion" is something new that Tony Horton invented.   As a certified personal trainer and someone with significant coursework in Kinesiology, I've heard about "adaptation" and the need for variety in a workout for a long time.  Tony just managed to package the concept and make a kick-butt infomercial that is on ALL the time.

Anyway - to the program.  You really need to decide what level of shape you are in.  If you (a guy) can do15 push ups and 3 pull ups, then you can probably handle this, although it will definitely kick your butt!  I did the "Core Synergy" dvd with my wife tonight and it's tough.  What's fun is that there were some variations of exercises that I hadn't tried before.  It really does wake up your body.

My advice - If you can't keep up, just do what you can do.  Hit "pause" if you need to...build up slow.  As Tony says - "Do your best, and forget the rest." Even the manual says it's a serious workout - hence the "X" for extreme!  They recommend Power 90 (the original one) or the newer 10 Minute Trainer.  I think that's good advice personally.  Some of the moves were rather complex and they don't show you the moves until they are doing them in the workout.

PROS: Fun, lot's of variety, challenging, Tony is a riot...very funny and very motivating.

CONS: Difficult at first to follow the moves that are new, possibly too challenging for the type of person the ad really appeals to in my opinion. 

I enjoyed the workout so much, I'm considering becoming a Team Beach Body Coach.  I would certainly recommend P90X and from what I've seen, and my own workouts that I've designed, the 10 Minute Trainer looks great too...much more suited for beginners.

Can I Run a 5K in Vibrams?

Many people ask me about my new Vibram Five Finger KSOs.  What are they like?  Are they comfortable? Can I run a 5K in the Vibrams?

I've had them for several weeks now but had been keeping my training runs short...just a mile or so.  Yesterday, I decided to head down to the Hominy Creek trailhead and run to Carrier Park and back...a total of 3.2 miles.  I had no problem running in them what-so-ever.  This particular run is mostly paved trail, but there was some wood-chip trails too.  That part was heaven. The pavement can still be a little hard, but I'm sort of used to it now.

I went out for a nice easy run since this was going to be the farthest I'd run in them, so when I had to stop and give directions, I wasn't upset at all.  Turns out, I was running a pretty good pace without realizing it.  Despite my minute or so stop to give directions to a lost motorist, I still ran one of my faster times for that route.

All in all - a big "thumbs up" to the Vibrams!

What is it Like to Run a Virtual Half-Marathon?

What is it like to run a virtual half-marathon? Last year, I signed up to run a new half-marathon in my town. The Hot Chocolate Half-Maratho...