August 2011

Outside Magazine once named Mark Allen, six-time Ironman Triathlon champion world’s fittest athlete.  Now, while Mr. Allen’s accomplishment is admirable, I would hardly consider him the fittest athlete on earth.  Triathlon, while grueling especially at the Ironman level  (and just the slightest bit insane, as I continually tell one of my clients about to do his 2nd), is hardly the true test of an all-around “athlete” , in my humble estimation.  Now before you get the pitch forks and nastiness, hear me out.  I have nothing against triathlon or triathletes in that sense.  I do consider them good athletes.   However, even though triathlon is a combination of 3 different sports, they are all basically testing the same elements of fitness over and over again.  Swimming, cycling and running are all tests of 2 basic elements of what I consider  fitness.  Cardiovascular function (The ability of the body to deliver and utilize Oxygen) and stamina (the ability of the body to continually produce energy over an extended period of time).  Unfortunately, they all test the same things.  They leave out vital characteristics of an overall athlete such as strength, mobility, power, coordination, balance and accuracy.  So let’s look at some of these and see what’s missing.  Their bodies typically lack the ability to apply large amounts of force (strength), lack explosive capabilities (power), and are not optimally capable of putting many complex movements together into fluid movement patterns (coordination and mobility) or controlling force production (accuracy).

So, are triathletes good athletes?  Yes, absolutely.  Are they the fittest all around athletes on earth?  No way.  What about the decathlete?  They have to perform tasks that include all 8 of these facets of fitness, not just 2.  And while the triathlete may out do them in a couple of these to be sure, in the long run the decathlete would prevail.  So, to the editors of Outside Magazine, you may consider re-evaluating your standards.  Just a thought.  And another thought to summarize:

World-Class Fitness in 100 Words:

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.

~Greg Glassman

Well, all I can say is WOW!  Over the last 48 hours, I have had my biggest blog viewing EVER!  Over 450 people viewed “I’m a Runner“.  That is the most amazing thing in the world to me!  You all are awesome.  Well, how do I possibly follow that up?  My go is with the Fittest vs. Fattest cities in the US.  Every year, Men’s Health releases it’s report on America’s fittest vs. fattest cities.  Their statistics are based on a conglomeration of criteria including obesity rates, diabetes rates, fast food visits and amount of TV watched per week.  So here is their list of Fattest cities in the US according to 2010 stats:

  1. Corpus Christi, TX
  2. Charleston, WV
  3. El Paso, TX
  4. Dallas, TX
  5. Memphis, TN
  6. Kansas City, MO
  7. San Antonio, TX
  8. Baltimore, MD
  9. Houston, TX
  10. Birmingham, AL

Notice that 5 of the top ten are Texas cities….hmmmmm.  Well, I guess everything IS bigger in Texas.  OK, so here are the Fittest cities in the US:

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Burlington, VT
  3. Washington, DC
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. Austin, TX
  6. Albuquerque, NM
  7. Portland, OR
  8. Cincinnati, OH
  9. Denver, CO
  10. Aurora, CO

Some surprises here, but not a ton.  Want to know where our fair city of Chicago landed?  22nd…on the fattest side.  That’s right, Chicago has been a little bit up and down the rankings in the last few years, getting as good as middle of the pack and as bad as #2 fattest (it’s been a while for that one, though).  Inching our way back up the wrong end of the ladder, though.  Don’t see your hometown on the list, you can grab a full list here.  Happy training and happy trails.

How silly are marathon runners?  Watch and see…  It really does sound this insane to the rest of us.

PLAY.  It’s one of the simplest words in the English language.  It’s a word that we’ve all known and used since we were toddlers.  It’s a word my 3 year old already used with me this morning.  “Daddy, I don’t want breakfast right now, I just want to play.”  I know, right?  But it is also a very poignant acronym.  Now, as much as I’d love the accolades for coming up with something this clever, I can’t.  It’s someone else’s brain-child and I am just passing it on and sharing it with you.  It stands for Participate in the Lives of America’s Youth (PLAY).  Pretty good, eh?  And very important to think about.  This is the next generation of American adults.  These are our next doctors, lawyers, builders and soldiers.  Have you seen them lately?  It’s no secret that American obesity is on the rise.  According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), there are about 97 million obese Americans.  That’s  about 1 out of 3.  Pretty bad.  But it’s not just the adults that are in this category, it’s kids too.  The CDC says that almost 20% of America’s youth are obese.  Triple what it was in 1980.  Let’s see, what has changed since 1980?  Nintendo, X-Box, Playstation and the internet for starters.  Kids spend more time now in front of screens and less time in front of nature.  It’s amazing.  My 3 year old son, Alex, can go into the office, pick out his Thomas game, load it in the computer and play.  Works the mouse like a pro, and knows what keys to hit in every situation.  I didn’t know this stuff until high school, because computers didn’t exist.  Now it’s rare to find a household with less than 2.  The difference is that in our home, we only allow the boys to play the computer occasionally.  They spend much more time doing puzzles, playing games and riding their bikes and scooters around the driveway.  One of the biggest fun things for them is to take walks after dinner.  They do extra-curriculars like tumbling, soccer and T-ball.  What this ultimately means is that my kids are less likely to be a bad statistic, and yours should, too.  It doesn’t take any parental effort to open the back door and say “go play”.  Or turn off the TV and go outside.  And it starts at the parental level.  Get involved with  your kids and they will learn those good habits.  Our parents did it for us, and now it’s our turn to pay it forward.  Get up, get out and take your kids with you.  Not only will it develop good habits and love of physical activity, but it will create terrific memories for them and they will love you for it.  Go.  Participate.  PLAY!

OK, so when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, right?  Jillian leaves the show. Yeah, no more screaming and yelling and idiocy!  So they replace Jillian with who else, but Anna Kournikova!  Are you kidding me?!?!?!  I am not sure I could think of someone LESS apt to work with the obese than Miss Anna.  So what did NBC do?  They lost a cute minimally qualified brunette trainer and replaced her with an even less qualified blonde.  Way to take it in a whole different direction y’all.  Just because she is pretty and a former professional athlete does not qualify her as a trainer.  Good for her, her father taught and was a former wrestler and her mother was a 400m track star.  That’s like saying that my mother taught the German language for 20 years, so therefore I should be qualified to be a German Ambassador.  I know nothing of their language, culture or politics myself, so what business do I have in that profession?  Just like she has no first-hand knowledge of training (other than what she did to become a mediocre tennis player), so she has no business working with the morbidly obese.  Now, Anna IS certified.  ISSA.  Online.  $400.  Get a wild hair and you, too, could be a trainer in no time.  Good for her.  Way to put in the time and effort.  This was a “Hey Anna, we need you on the next season” move.  Where could you get a pseudo-legit credential real quick?  I’m just flabbergasted and disgusted.  I hope that the biggest loser and everyone involved with it rots.  The end.

So, are you looking for that breakfast that is the perfect combination?  Good for you, simple and will keep you satisfied until lunch time?  Well, try this and see what you think.  This is what we eat in our house multiple days per week and we love it.  Feel free to make variations as you see fit or to your own tastes:

1 egg per person (farm fresh if you have them)

1/2 diced onion or a few chopped green onions (I like these)

Handful of diced peppers of your choice (this morning we had some green bell, jalapeno and one chile pepper, thank you Ms. Malo)

Chopped Meat (optional and leftovers will do)

1/2 cup-ish black beans

Shredded cheese

Salsa or tabasco

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbsp olive or coconut oil

1. Put the oil in a pan and heat it over medium heat until it’s runny

2. Add peppers, onions and meat.  Cook for about 2 minutes.

3. Add eggs, black beans, salt and pepper.  Scramble thoroughly.

4. Turn off heat and add salsa and cheese.  Mix until pink and gooey.  Eat and enjoy.

If you’re in a hurry, wrap it in a tortilla and it’s a breakfast burrito.  Have fun, vary the recipe and enjoy it.  Ciao!

8 Inane & Pointless Pieces of Exercise Equipment

An absurd assortment of exercise machines and devices more likely to provide comic relief than fitness results.

1. Hawaii Chair

Manufacturer Claim: “You don’t have to exercise, the Hawaii Chair does it all for you!”

Reality: The ability to sit cannot make you fit.

Online Comments:
“Is this for real? Only in the USA”
“I am deeply offended”
“I’d like to see this design applied to toilets…no wait, I wouldn’t like to see that at all.”
“I want this.”
“I’iam ttypying wjhile inmn a Haaawwiaii cChair righhgt noqw~!”

Recommended Alternative: Schwinn 431 Elliptical Trainer

2. Slendertone Bottom Toner

Manufacturer Claim:
“Firm your bottom with clinically demonstrated Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) technology.”

Reality: Firm your bottom line by getting your money back.

Online Comments:
“It just made my butt itch.”
“This could affect your intestinal activity.”
“This is not strength training! It’s just too weak to cause any change in musculature.”

Recommended Alternative: Marcy Recumbent Stationary Magnetic Bike

3. Gliding Disk Exercise System


Manufacturer’s Claim: “Incorporates body sculpting, balance, flexibility, core & cardio.”

Reality: Use frisbees for a comparable workout.

Online Comments:
“Finally, I can get throw out all my home gym equipment.”
“At least I’ll save on batteries and electricity.”
“Can I just use paper plates?”

Recommended Alternative: INSANITY with Shaun T. from Beachbody

4. The Treadmill Bike

Manufacturer Claim: “The future or urban transportation.”

Reality: Pointless.

Online Comments:
“I can walk faster on my hands.”
“It feels like exercise just getting through this video”
“If this were only in the X Games…”
“For people who´s dream was to be a guinea pig”

Recommended Alternative: Bowflex TC3000 Treadclimber

5. Vibrating Belt Machine


Manufacturer Claim: “Vibrate fat away.”

Reality: Accept your cellulite.

Online Comments:
“An oldy but not a goody.”
“Whoah..1970′s flashback.”

Recommended Alternative: LifeSpan Fitness TR 3000-HRC Treadmill

6. Leg Magic


Manufacturer Claim: “Get Super Model Legs. Spot reduction in a few 60-second workouts a day.”

Reality: This machine can tone leg muscles but spot reduction is a myth. You’ve got to lose the fat over the muscle, and that means losing fat all over the body.

Online Comments:
“One single repetitive motion is not enough to make you look like a fitness model.”
“Hurts your back and joints more than your muscles.”
“Why does Leg Magic look so much like my daughter’s scooter?”

Recommended Alternative: Pilates Power Gym

7. Power TX Vibro Exercise

powertx1 powertx2
Manufacturer Claim:
“Tone and firm your shape with virtually no effort. The vibrations will do the work for you!”

Reality: Looks like a scale. Measurable results do not come without effort.

Online Comments:
“The next thing I knew I was looking for a place to store it.”

Recommended Alternative: A scale: Omron Body Fat Monitor and Scale HBF-500

8. Red Fitness – XL System


Manufacturer Claim: “Lose up to 4 inches using the power of core-midsection rotation.”

Reality: Lose up to $200 using your credit card.

Recommended Alternatives: RevAbs with Brett Hoebel

Online Comments:
“A barstool with handles.”

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