December | 2010 | True Fitness Blog

So what are the benefits of stretching? In short the following:

Stretching increases flexibility

Stretching improves the range of motion of your joints

Stretching improves circulation

Stretching can relieve stress

To see a more detailed explanation of benefits go to http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/HQ01447

The Mayo Clinic always has great information on all health topics but my goal for this blog post is to get you to do it…you must stretch!

The only thing you need to remember with stretching is that it should not be done before activity, the change in length of your muscles can predispose you to injury. You are better off stretching after your activity/sport.  If you want to stretch outside of an activity purely for increasing for flexibility then make sure to warm up for 2-3 minutes before you stretch.  If you are interested in a major increase in flexibility you will need to stretch 3 to 5 times a week.  A good example of this stretching approach is a martial artist trying to become more flexible for higher kicks, a hurdle jumper, gymnast, ballet dancer or sprinter (there is a correlation between flexibility and speed).

Stayed tuned for a comprehensive stretch routine…

Happy Stretching!

Here we are again dealing with the winter workout dilemma, what to do now that it is cold outside.  This is the best time of year to try out new workouts that require studios.  The following suggestions are great for building core strength and flexibility, and, of course, they’re fun.

Pilates

Have you ever considered Pilates?  Pilates is an exercise approach created by Joseph Pilates using the proper body mechanics, movements, truncal and pelvic stabilization, coordinated breathing, and muscle contractions to promote strengthening.  Attention is paid to the entire musculoskeletal system.  (On a side note check out Joseph Pilate’s bio, he was quite an amazing man http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Pilates.)  Pilates can be a hard concept to envision, here is a You Tube clip that may helpful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXyYBCniBL4.  Pilates encompasses many dance and yoga movements, and is great for strength and flexibility.  Some classes will be conducted on machines, and so on mats in the studio.

Yoga

What about Yoga?  According to www.dictionary.com, Yoga is a school of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.  This explanation is a little over my head as is the You Tube video clip http://bigthink.com/ideas/5232, but I can tell you first hand that any Yoga class I have ever taken has completely kicked my butt and also made me realize that it is a life pursuit.  As a martial artist, I can appreciate this and understand that some pursuits take a lifetime, but even a brief moment of exposure will do worlds of good.

Ballet

Everyone has heard of ballet, but what is ballet?  Ballet is a classical dance form demanding grace and precision and employing formalized steps and gestures set in intricate, flowing patterns to create expression through movement.  Of course, if you’ve ever seen a ballerina, you know that ballet will increase your flexibility, but it is also a hard anaerobic workout.  As for many who may read this, my first exposure to the ballet was the Nutcracker.  I didn’t quite understand it, but was fascinated by the physicality.

My understanding of ballet has grown over the years due to my wife being an avid practitioner for most of her life.  Because of this, I have seen numerous ballets now and have witnessed extraordinary physical feats in such a beautiful medium that it inspires awe.  Ballet is the base of all dance movements.  So, as my wife tells me, that once you learn at least some ballet you can understand and perform other dance forms.

These three indoor activities are no joke; if any of them are pursued regularly you will get yourself into great shape and expand your consciousness.  If you are local to the Washington Metropolitan area, I would try Balance Pilates and Yoga http://www.balancestudio.com and for ballet, I would try the Maryland Youth Ballet http://www.marylandyouthballet.org.  They even have beginner adult classes for people with no previous experience.

Have fun trying out these different physical arts; they all will provide you with a lifetime of health and happiness.

Greetings from the slopes of Colorado!  For all of you outdoor exercises this is my second recommendation for exercise this winter.  If you can’t be em’, join em’ – try alpine skiing this winter.

Alpine or downhill skiing is a great full body exercise and has both aerobic and anaerobic health benefits with great challenges to your core and legs.  Meaning that this can help your cardiovascular system, as well as make you stronger.  It is also a great way to burn calories; you can easily burn 250 to 500 plus calories an hour depending upon you weight and intensity. Check out these two website for more exact numbers for yourself:  http://www.fitday.com/WebFit/burned/calories_burned_Skiing_downhill_light_effort.html and http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/SM00109

Personally, having skied for the past 20 years, the best part of skiing is how much fun it is!  However, downhill skiing can be dangerous at times and a little tough for beginners.  Here are few tips to keep your skiing happy and healthy.

Skiing can be an expensive sport; I would try renting gear to start and it would be wise to invest in a few lessons as you get started.  For safety, please make sure you wear a helmet!!! The few hours of lessons at the beginning of one’s ski career are invaluable to your own safety and the safety of others on the slopes  – you learn the basics: turning and STOPPING!

If you catch the fever but are on a budget, check your local area for ski swaps.  They are usually in fall.  Ski swaps are great ways to pick up good equipment for dirt-cheap.  Try this website to help as an equipment guide http://www.skishoppingguide.com

Always remember to warm up before you ski, this clip will give you a few good movements to prepare you for the mountain http://www.livestrong.com/video/1544-warm-up-skiing-snowboarding/

Happy Skiing!!

Many outdoor exercise enthusiasts have trouble finding good winter workouts away from the cold.  One of my favorite indoor workouts is spinning.  It has no impact at all and packs a wallop.

On average, you will burn 400-500 calories for a 45 minute class making this a great bang for your buck.  Classes usually range from 45 minutes to an hour.  I would advise wearing padded cycling shorts.  You will be sore in the area of the SITS bones, but your body will quickly get used to time in the saddle.  I would also recommend cycling shoes so you can clip into the pedals (you will need SPD cleats) and your workout will be more efficient.  Also make sure to bring a water bottle and a towel.

When starting out, make sure to introduce yourself to the instructor and have him/her help you to get properly fitted on the bike.  Let the instructor know that you are new to the game so that he/she can keep an eye on you and help you along when necessary.  Check out www.spinning.com for more FAQs and insights.

Happy Spinning!!

Did anyone read the New York Times article today about weight lifting related injuries?  (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/health/14brody.html?_r=1&ref=jane_e_brody)  The article notes the increase in injury from weight lifting, but you shouldn’t interpret it as a sign that you should just stick to cardio.

In fact, the author was doing exactly what she needed to do to prevent injury – she hired a personal trainer.  Unfortunately, it sounds like she (and some of the individuals interviewed in the article) did not continue with the trainer after she felt she had learned some key exercises to get in shape.  And this is the common misperception that after just a few sessions, one has the knowledge to break off on his/her own.  Without continuing with the trainer, you increase the risk of injury, particularly with the use of free weights.

I’ve been in the personal training business for approximately 15 years, and there is no way I could pass on all that knowledge in just a few sessions.  As you get stronger and are able to lift heavier weights or take on more challenging exercises, it is a good idea to have some one to guide you to insure that you are doing the exercise correctly.  I can’t tell you how many times a day I see people at the gym using a machine incorrectly or doing an exercise with poor positioning and bad form, which of course can lead to injury.

So here are a few tips for choosing a trainer:

  1. Make sure they have a nationally recognized personal training certification and CPR training.
  2. Make sure they have liability insurance.
  3. Make sure they have experience with your population (e.g. post-rehab, general population, pre/post-natal, geriatric, sport-specific, etc.)
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for references.

How does one pick the right diet?  I have tried many over the years, Protein Power, The Atkins diet, The South beach diet, Sugar Busters…the list goes on.  Many times I will try fad diets because I know as personal trainer that my clients will ask me about them.

However as a personal trainer I am actually very limited by the law as to what dietary advice I can give to my clients.  What I have found that actually works best for myself and my clients is taking an individual approach. All of us have different levels of activity, lifestyles, stress levels and sports pursuits. I would recommend registered dietitians  and nutritionists for the best and most efficient results.

If you would like some personal recommendations in the Bethesda, MD area please feel free to email me at eric@jettllc.com

Im sure by now many of you have heard of barefoot running.  It seems to be all the rage in the running world these days. There is actually a big debate in the industry as to whether or not barefoot running is actually as beneficial as people might think.  Check out this link for a interesting view of the pros and cons http://therunningbarefoot.com/ .

As indicated in the you tube clip it ultimately comes down to running style.  You can still be a “barefoot” runner with shoes on, its just called forefoot running. There is a great book – Chi Running by Danny Dreyer http://www.amazon.com/Chi-Running-Revolutionary-Effortless-Injury-Free/dp/074325144X that explains the concept in depth.  Essentially though forefoot running, is running without a heal strike.  The faster and elite runners tend to run this way.  There are several shoes available that are geared towards fore foot running if you are interested. Zoot makes great triathlon shoes that are perfect for forefoot running but do have cushioning on the heal to allow for a heal strike www.zoot.com . New balance has a great minimalist shoe the New Balance 101 http://www.shopnewbalance.com/newbalanceMT101GH.htm . You can also try Evo http://www.terraplana.com/the-evo and if you want no heal strike at all then go with Vibram Five Fingers http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/ or Newtons http://www.newtonrunning.com/. Keep you eyes open there are more “forefoot” and “barefoot” running shoes coming out all the time.

I personally have worn the Vibram five finger shoes, the Newtons, and Zoots; quite frankly I like them all but I mush admit the five fingers are less forgiving.  I have my eye on a new pair of Evos. I will let you know what I think.

Be safe when trying new running shoes and techniques and ease into any new approach with a tempered pace.

Happy Running from JETT Training

www.jettllc.com

It’s that time of year again – the easiest time of year to overindulge.  The holiday season is riddled with opportunities to gain weight.  From Thanksgiving to the first of the year, between office holiday parties and family get togethers, it can be quite easy to pack on a few pounds.

One simple way to combat the weight gain is to understand what it takes to gain a pound.  It takes 3500 calories to gain or lose a pound.  So think input versus output.  To lose a pound, the caloric loss is cumulative; try burning 500 calories and taking calories out of your diet on a more “normal day”.  Depending on your input, over the course of a few days, you could actually lose weight.  Or you could have the freedom to sample some holiday treats without feeling guilty afterwards.

Remember, an average Thanksgiving meal is about 5,000 calories.  Many people participate in local Turkey Trot races on Thanksgiving morning to offset this.  Try applying the same strategy for other overindulgences.

The web is a great resource to help track your caloric intake and expenditure.  Visit www.calorieking.com to gauge what you are taking in.  And try www.prohealth.com to track the number of calories various activities will help you burn.

And for more ideas to stay in shape this holiday season and throughout the entire year, contact a JETT trainer through our website at www.jettllc.biz.