Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Woo !!!!! New (ish) fitness ideas and how to loosen up !

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I just returned from a fitness conference that had me going straight for three and half days and heard way too many WOOO’s !!!! as I tried out new classes and the latest (whether they’re the greatest or not has yet to be determined) techniques for getting the world in shape! Please don’t say WOOO!! to me for at least a few weeks!  One presenter said “WOOO!” is the worst exercise cue you can give, and I agree, but after a particular strenuous interval, it has its place! No wonder they call this conference “Boston Mania”.

So here are some pearls of wisdom from the weekend. For the most part, it reinforces a lot of what we do in classes and in 1:1 sessions, so it was validating to hear much of the information.

1.  Weight machines are going out of favor.  Free weights, bands, stability and pilates balls and tubing are preferable because they use many muscle groups synergistically, the way muscles actually work together in everyday life.

2.  You can train your balance, just as you can train for strength. It’s important to work on dynamic balance, as that’s the balance we use when trying to right ourselves to prevent a fall and reach for something when standing. We also are dynamically balancing when decelerating if we have to stop quickly, which may be needed when crossing a street.

3.  Small group training as opposed to larger group training is getting more popular, as the instructor knows the group members and can correct positions and provide adaptations as needed for injuries or chronic problems.

4.  Body weight training is trending up, both on the floor and suspension training with straps like TRX training. This uses variation of angles and positions to challenge oneself in an easy-to-grade way that avoids injury. – examples are push-ups, pull-ups, shoulder exercises and lower body moves.

5.  Functional exercise, which mimics the actions we use in everyday life are being taught more because people want exercise that mirrors their daily life activities. Examples are lunges with tubing, squats (we know how often we use that position!) and dynamic balance positions.

6.  Focus on wellness, with one’s whole program in mind- nutrition, consistent exercise, stress management, proper sleep and hydration. Prioritizing those activities will keep you healthy, as opposed to a health club membership, where you use weights and machines, but don’t focus on lifestyle habits.

7.  Help from technology, such as using a fit bit, heart rate monitors, or iphone apps such as myfitnesspal to track calories, steps and any movement during the day. There are remote ways to monitor progress, but most people benefit from person-to-person interaction (no big surprise here).

8.  Increase in working out with others, as we are social beings (or pack animals) and we like camaraderie and knowing we’re not going it alone.

9.  Core training as a foundation for all training, not just an additional part of your body that needs trimming down. Back, postural and shoulder retraction and protraction are all important components of core training, best utilized when doing complex movements with upper and lower body.

10. “Fusion” classes that combine cardio, strength training, stretching, relaxation, balance training, or classes that combine yoga and/or tai-chi and pilates, or dance and stretching, etc. Think “chi-lates” (sounds like a nice tea-coffee drink!)

11.  High intensity interval training that involve 20 seconds of “all out” exertion, with intervals of 10 seconds of rest. Tabata, which is was created by a Japanese master, uses these high intensity intervals to evoke an afterburn, where you continue to burn more calories even at rest. The total time of the workout is less, but the intensity used is much more. This needs to be done with intention and an excellent knowledge of body mechanics to prevent injury or strain. I still feel my hip flexors from a high intensity interval class that I I took at 7 AM on Friday morning- yowch!

12.   More types of aquatic classes, as it’s so easy on the joints, muscles and excellent for the back. Gravity is eliminated in the water, so former athletes and weekend warriors can worry less about re-injury, and focus more about getting a full body workout with minimal strain to soft tissue. The down side is that it doesn’t count as resistance training, so there are no real bone density benefits.

13. A focus on certification and licensure to practice various techniques to keep the riff-raff out of our profession! Some “trainers’ just hang out a shingle and begin training people because they were marine sergeants, triathletes or gym rats and feel they know how to work out, so they can teach others. Beware of those without credentials, or those who haven’t had plenty of background in some body work or medical profession. Some of the presenters had been doing personal training for several decades, and they had my respect. They’ve watched the industry morph from Jane Fonda, Jackie Sorenson, jazzercise, and the initial introduction of “aerobics” classes. We’ve come a long way since those classes that in hindsight, had poor transitions and had no focus on body mechanics and/or proper alignment.

14.  Latin and other types of dance classes continue to be popular because they’re fun and social. Many of these dance classes are now using resistance in the form of light weights to enhance upper body endurance.

15.  Last, but most painful, and one of the most impactful series of sessions I attended was about foam rollers. They can play a large role in reducing muscle tension and releasing tight fascia. Fascia is that little known, but very important cellophane-like tissue that wraps around all our muscles. Much of our stiffness can be attributed to tight and gnarled fascia, as opposed to just plain old muscle knots, although both contribute to that tight feeling in our limbs, back, shoulder, pelvic girdle and neck. There are different ways to release fascial tension, ranging from using a tennis ball, to using a segmented rolling pin type roller called “the stick” (how creative!). The more common type of foam rollers are styrofoam in a cylinder form. These should never be used over bones, and must be used extremely carefully on people with osteoporosis. A more intense, denser foam roller has grids and lines that simulate massaging palms, fingers and knuckles.

I found two excellent videos on YouTube on foam roller instruction that I highly recommend. Remember to go easy at the beginning. Go from a softer roller to a harder one if it’s too painful initially. With regular use, you will feel a difference in your muscle tension. 150-1 150 Unknown-1 Unknown-2   Ashley Borden Foam Roller Coach

I’ll be ordering a large quantity of “the stick” (second one pictured above) for my clients and class members because they want to give them as gifts for the holidays. If you’d like to order any, get your total to me within the next 2 days- with my discount, they’ll be around $40 each.

So that’s a very condensed summary of the weekend- look for some new moves, music and changes in upcoming classes, but all in all, we’re already doing most of what was presented as “new and improved” techniques.

Rock and roll on!

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