Beginners Guide to Getting Fit

The very thought of going from zero fitness and marshmallow softness to full stamina, firmness and energy can seem overwhelming – enough to make you want to lie down. But even against the odds and the tide of excuses and a history of couch-potatoness, you can start. And you can continue.…into a regular routine of exercise. If you’re at this point in your life, you’re the right candidate for transformation. This plan just may be your best bet.

Change is an all-or-nothing proposition. You either do it, or you don’t. You can’t just exercise for 3 times one week, once the next week, take a couple of weeks off, go twice a week, and so on and expect to reap all the benefits.Only a handful of people can get into a regular exercise routine by suddenly beginning to exercise. Something just clicks inside and they workout with energy, and they enjoy it. But for the other 95%, getting into a regular routine with exercise is not so easy.

For these people, beginning an exercise program comes in stages, step by step, many of which happen before you even slip on your workout shoes or enter the gym. The very fact that you’re reading this article means that you’re already in one of the important first stages. And continuing to exercise regularly is also a process of change, a cycle of smooth sailing and bumpy seas.

Fortunately, there are techniques that you can use to help you move to the next level. Just be aware that the stage you are in changes all the time. Of course, once you know where you are, it’s easy to see what’s next. Here’s how to get there….

All Abdominal Exercises are Not Created Equal

by J. R. McNeal, M. S., C.S.C.S. and W.A. Sands, Ph.D.

The fitness industry is replete with exercise devices designed to enhance fitness or sculpt the body. They are marketed to the unsuspecting and often gullible consumer, promising quick fixes and effortless results. Oh, if only it was that easy! Considering the amount of money Americans spend on fitness gadgets, we should be the fittest nation in the world instead of the fattest! One of the most recent trends in the industry is the emergence of the various abdominal conditioning devices, designed to “isolate” the abdominals (as if that were possible!), reduce neck strain, and in general make exercising the abdominal muscles an enjoyable experience. Are all of these devices created equal? How do they compare to a regular crunch, or the “forbidden” situp? The purpose of our investigation was to answer these questions. We decided to compare 6 different commonly performed exercises and devices to see if indeed there are differences in muscle activation and range of motion. By comparing the amount of muscle activation achieved, we can make recommendations regarding the relative value of one exercise over another with respect to force generated by the target muscles (the abs). Range of motion meanwhile, is a variable that has been virtually ignored in the fitness research literature. Watch virtually any throwing activity for example, and you can see that the range of motion of the trunk during such movements is large indeed.

We asked 20 active, college-aged students to participate in this investigation (10 females, 10 males). The exercises selected were 1) a regular crunch from the floor, 2) a regular situp with feet constrained, 3) a situp with the addition of the AbMat™ pad, 4) a crunch performed with an ab-roller type device, according to the recommendations of the manufacturer, 5) a crunch performed with the ab-roller combined with the AbMat™ pad, and finally 6) trunk flexion utilizing the Ab Bench resistive device. The exercises were demonstrated to the subjects, and they were allowed to practice each until they were comfortable with their performance. They were then videotaped with high-speed video while performing 3 trials of each exercise. Various anatomical structures of the subject were marked with reflective tape so that they were evident on the screen. This allowed the videotaped performances to be digitized and analyzed for specific kinematic information; in this case, angular displacement. Electromyography electrodes were placed on the upper and lower abdominals to assess muscle activity.

For the lower trunk angle, the AbMat™ and Ab Bench achieved significantly greater ranges of motion than did the ab-roller exercises, the situp, or the regular crunch, although the traditional situp was significantly better than the ab-roller exercises and the regular crunch. At the hip and upper trunk angles it was again discovered that the AbMat™, Ab Bench, and the traditional situp were better than the ab-roller devices or the regular crunch at moving through a large range of motion. In most cases, the ab-roller exercises and the regular crunch did not differ from eachother, making the purchase of an ab-roller for specifically conditioning the abdominals questionable when compared to the regular crunch, which doesn’t cost anything! However, if the goal is exceptional conditioning of the abdominals through a large (“functional”) range of movement, then devices such as the AbMat™ and Ab Bench, which place the abdominal muscles in a slightly stretched position prior to each repetition, may be a wise equipment investment.

The muscle electrical activity provided even more insight into the efficacy of these particular exercises. It was of particular interest to us that the recordings from the abdominals could be described by different characteristic recordings; the regular crunch, ab-roller exercises, and the AbMat™ were characterized by a continuous activation pattern with a low amplitude (low force output), while the Ab Bench and situp were described by two distinct phases, concentric and eccentric which were of much higher amplitude. We did not feel we could adequately compare the two groups of exercises against each other due to these differences and thus the results basically compare exercises within each group. This is one example of the problems that can influence the results of electromyography studies of the abdominals, and any study not accounting for these differences should be considered with some reservation. Another problem which is inherent in electromyography investigations of the abdominals (but rarely if ever acknowledged by researchers in their results!) is the problem of skin and fat rolling that occurs whenever the trunk flexes. This makes the nature of the muscle electrical activity change as the electrode moves farther from and closer to the muscle. We feel that it is important to be aware of such shortcomings in this type of research so that you can become a more knowledgeable consumer.

The continuous activation exercises were not different in their activation of the upper abdominals. However, for the lower abdominals the AbMat™ elicited significantly more activity than did the ab-roller exercises. The regular crunch was superior only to the ab-roller exercise used simultaneously with the AbMat™. Therefore, the AbMat™ seems to be the superior exercise of this group for eliciting muscle activation, especially when the lower abdominals are considered.

The situp and Ab Bench exercises as stated earlier, were different in their EMG patterns. Because the EMG was greater in these exercises, but occurred over a shorter time period, these exercises may be better choices if large force production is desired, rather than muscular endurance. For both the upper and lower abdominals the situp produced greater activation than the Ab Bench. It is critical to note, however, that due to the limitations of this study and these typical subjects, we were not able to approach any kind of maximal load on the Ab Bench. The Ab Bench allows resistance to be added to the exercise, which would cause an increase in muscle activation to move the increased load. In other words, one should be able to get any level of activation up to a maximum with the Ab Bench. The situp is constrained by the weight of the individual’s upper body. This was likely a major drawback in the ability of this study to properly distinguish between these two exercises. Common sense would tell us that if we were able to increase the resistance provided by the Ab Bench, the muscle activation results would have been different.

In conclusion, it can be recommended that ab-roller devices may not be any better than the regular crunch in conditioning the abdominals. For specificity of movement, equipment such as the AbMat™ and Ab Bench which place the spine in a slightly hyperextended position prior to abdominal contraction may be better choices, especially for sport performance. The situp appears to also be a good choice for both range of motion and activation, although it is limited in the amount of resistance and thus less muscle activation which can be achieved

J. R. McNeal, M. S., C.S.C.S.
W.A. Sands, Ph.D.
Dept. Of Exercise
SLC, UT. 84112

Upper and Lower ABS

by Dr M. C. Siff

Introductory Note
For newcomers, these P&Ps are Propositions, not facts or dogmatic proclamations. They are intended to stimulate interaction among users working in different fields, to re-examine traditional concepts, foster distance education, question our beliefs and suggest new lines of research or approaches to training. We look forward to responses from anyone who has views or relevant information on the topics.

Puzzle & Paradox 92
The debate about whether or not it is possible to separately exercise the upper and lower abdominal erector muscles may not have been definitively settled yet.

There is still considerable debate about whether or not it is possible to exercise separately the upper and lower portions of the recti abdominis muscles, especially since the recti constitute a single band of muscle between origin and insertion. Numerous books and fitness professionals refer to crunches and situps for the ‘upper abs’ (with the pivot being the distal rectus attachment on the pelvis), and pelvic curl or leg pushes into the air for the ‘lower abs’ (with the pivot being the proximal rectus attachment on the lowest ribs and spine).

EMG studies show that both the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ abs show considerable electrical activity during both of these types of exercise, so that some authorities dismiss the idea of separate isolation exercise of the upper and lower abs.

Yet, a TV programme some years ago showed a belly dancer using her highly skilled abdominal musculature to roll a few quarters (US 25c pieces) up, down, diagonally and sideways across the belly. She concluded her unusual display by successfully folding a dollar bill placed on her belly. From this vaudeville display, it would certainly appear that it is possible to activate different parts of the abdominal musculature in skilled sequences. This might then suggest to the skeptic that it may be meaningful to talk about separate exercise of the upper and lower regions of the abs.

Of course, we must note that the effectiveness of most non-explosive exercises depends primarily on the amount of concentrated focus and voluntarily produced goal-directed muscle tension, so that one’s visualization of the exercise would appear to have a profound effect on the pattern of activation of any muscle. This also depends on the patterns of breathing and breath-cessation used during the exercise.

Some authorities state that, since the different regions of the abdominals are separately innervated, one should certainly be able to activate upper and lower regions of the abs separately.

However, in saying that the lower abs are separately innervated we have to be cautious in misapplying this information. All of the rectus abdominis and the obliques are innervated by branches of the thoracic nerves T6 or T7 – T12, as is transversus (by the ventral rami and L1). This would tend to imply that the lower abs and lower obliques(?!) should be activated by stimulation of T6/7 – T8/9 and the upper abs and upper obliques (if these exist!) by the remaining thoracic nerves. In addition, an examination of their nervous innervation would also suggest that there should be separate activation of upper and lower transversus.

This clearly confounds the entire issue of trunk action and situps for the supposedly different parts of the trunk muscles. We can only resolve the issue if we stop talking about upper and lower abs etc and analyze in terms of a graduated activation of all of the trunk muscles progressing from the extreme top to the extreme bottom (as defined by the appropriate nerves) – much in the way that a caterpillar moves.

This would appear to offer a far more accurate and logical biomechanical approach, since the current view of upper vs lower abs would imply that there should be a somewhat jerky discontinuity somewhere during a full crunch. The entire action of trunk flexion is smooth, well-controlled and continuous, so this observation supports my view that there is a smooth continuum of activation of the entire abdominal (and erector spinae) group.

If one wishes to simplify, then it would be crudely accurate to talk of upper, mid and lower abs, but this still tends to mask the fact that there is really a continuum of muscle activation involving all of the trunk muscles, each exhibiting a different level of involvement, depending on the type and pattern of movement.

This means that it is highly unlikely that you will be able to totally isolate the ‘lower abs’, since there is always accompanying involvement of many other stabilizing and mobilizing muscles.

This, of course, has not answered the other issue which we raised earlier. If there is differential innervation of the obliques and transversus, must we then conclude that we should recognize upper and lower portions of these muscles, too? We have to bear in mind, even though essentially the same nerves are involved in activating the abdominal musculature, that different

Does this not imply then that one single exercise should be able to exercise all of the trunk muscles? Another point – if one sits up, then both the absand the obliques have to become involved in flexion, as a consequence of basic biomechanics – but what about transversus which is more strongly activated by coughing and forceful expulsion of air from the lungs (or by initiation of walking)?

Give your views on the concept of upper vs lower exercise of the abdominal musculature, including the obliques. Quote any relevant references or personal findings to corroborate your reply.

Dr Mel C Siff
School of Mechanical Engineering
University of the Witwatersrand
WITS 2050 South Africa

Change a Pattern… Lose the Fat

A couple years ago, I put on 23 pounds during the winter months. I love watching college basketball, and I follow my favorite teams during conference play, March Madness and the NCAA championships. At the end of college basketball season, I get caught up in the NBA playoffs. To increase my enjoyment, my habit was to have a beer or two along with my favorite snacks. Also, because of a lingering cold, I got out of my usual routine of working out. So it’s no mystery to me why I gained the weight.

Shocked at what I saw on the bathroom scales, I returned to sensible eating and regular exercise, and 6 months later I had lost all the weight, and then some.

Last year, I vowed not to gain the weight back again. I maintained my regular exercise program, and I stayed away from beer and chips. Unfortunately I substituted red wine and mixed nuts. Yes, these foods are said to have positive health benefits, but they are rich in calories and I managed to gain 11 pounds. As I looked at myself in the mirror, I had to admit that I hadn’t broken my pattern at all.

What’s a habit? Most people don’t know that the behavior patterns we call habits are “hard-wired” in the cerebral cortex of the brain. If you do the same things over and over, dendrites from neurons related to the behavior will grow towards other specific neurons to make the connections needed to execute the behavior. This creates a neuronal pathway that makes the satisfying behavior automatic—a pattern. You no longer have to try to make it happen. It just feels right and you do it.

Habits, then, have a physical basis in the brain. This explains why they are so hard to break.

But people do change habits. They’re successful because they substitute an alternative behavior pattern that also satisfies the need, hopefully without the negative side effects. Repeating this pattern creates a new neuronal pathway. Once the new habit is ingrained, the new behavior pattern also becomes easy and automatic. If you don’t return to your old ways, over time the old pathway, like an unused highway, will eventually deteriorate from lack of use.

Knowing all this, I created a delicious substitute for my usual glass of wine. I simply squeezed a one-quarter segment of lime into a glass of cold club soda (soda water). This drink is healthy and has practically no calories. And it tastes great! For variety I would sometimes jazz it up a little with a fruit drink.

Instead of chips or nuts, I substituted fresh fruit: berries, cherries, grapes, pineapple segments, or orange slices. Occasionally I’d have half a bag of microwave low-fat popcorn or some baked chips with salsa.

This year, I felt the craving for wine and nuts, but I substituted my healthy snacks instead. It worked! By the time I got to March Madness, I automatically poured my lime concoction, which I enjoyed. I only gained a couple pounds, which I quickly lost as I increased my activity during the summer.

Remember: habits ARE hard to break, but you CAN do it. The key is to maintain your fitness habits while sticking with your alternative. The new pattern must be:
1. Nutritious and low in calories
2. Just as satisfying as the unhealthy habit

If an obsessed basketball fan like me can do it, so can you!

Dr. Coates is the author of “Thin from Within: Your Personality Guide to Weight Loss,” a unique personalized weight loss analysis powered by MindFrames, the world’s most accurate brain-based personality test. It’s available on’s Weight Loss Central. GHF Members receive the Thin from Within report FREE of charge (a $14.95 value)!

By Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D

Don’t Hibernate! Some Ideas for Family Winter Outdoor Fun

This winter season don’t let your family hibernate inside. Why not
put all that fresh snow to good use? Bundle everyone up and participate in some
fun activities the whole family will enjoy.

There are all kinds of ways for kids and parents to enjoy the outdoors
together in the winter. Along with the typical winter sports, there are also
games and creative projects that children really enjoy — and the exercise is
good for them too.

Here are some ideas from the experts at Wham-O to help get kids off the couch
and outside for interactive snow play this winter:

* Head for the sledding hill. Now with so many sledding options, the whole
family will have a blast whooshing down snow-covered hills. In fact, kids and
parents can ride together on the huge, double-walled Turbosaucer Snow Saucer. Or
cause a storm of excitement with the 43 inch SnowBoogie Thunder, a super-light,
shock absorbing foam sled with an ultra-fast SpeedSlick bottom, sure to produce
thunderous applause and crowd-pleasing cheers all winter long.

* Don’t leave the little tots in the “snow” dust. A Baby Sled is a
great way for parents to safely introduce their young toddlers to sledding,
while smaller sleds, such as the Sledz Racer Jr. and the Snowboogie Racer Jr.,
let younger kids hit the slopes by featuring lightweight foam designs to absorb
shocks and a Speedslick bottom for maximum fun.

* Build a cutting-edge snowman with a Snowman Kit. Kids can let their
imaginations run wild as they build a snowman sporting a Mohawk, earring, nose
rings and sunglasses. The Snowman Kit, which contains weather-tough plastic
components, also comes in a traditional version with a black top hat and scarf,
for a more classic-looking snowman.

* Build a classic snow fort — all you’ll need is snow. Create a big mound
and pack it down by stepping, jumping and even rolling on it. Once a solid,
round pile has been created, make a doorway and begin tunneling into the mound.
Continue to shovel snow out of the center and pack it on top. Once inside, use a
smaller shovel to make a space inside. You can cover the floor with a straw mat
and poke holes through the ceiling and sides to make skylights and windows. Snow
fort walls should be at least one foot thick.

For more information about WHAM-O’s outdoor products visit

Courtesy of ARA Content

Get the most out of your abdominal workout

There are so many people looking for the secrets to great abs. You see all the hype on TV infomercials. Companies peddling all types of equipment that will help you build rock hard abs and a miraculous mid section. Without spending tons of money or any money at all, I’ll discuss a simple and effective way of building great looking abs. It can be done at home or at your gym.

Now we all want defined, toned abdominal muscles. Mostly to look great. A lot of men strive for a 6 pack or close to it, while most women’s goal is for a tight toned mid section. Let me stress that besides the cosmetic reasons for having great looking adominals, having a firm and toned mid section has many other benefits. You’ll ease any extra stress a belly or extra weight puts on your back, improve your posture, increase your stamina and endurance because you are not carrying any extra weight and improve your self esteem. You’ll feel even better about yourself and what you have accomplished. Anyway, this is pretty basic knowledge, but it is good to reflect on why you want to have solid great looking abs.

To develop solid abs, you need to shed some excess body fat. This is accomplished by eating properly and consuming less calories each day than your body burns.

Secondly, your abdominals must be trained in accordance with proper resistance training. I’ll discuss Ab Crunches as an effective exercise to build your abs.

Ab crunches can be performed anywhere:

Starting Position:
Place your hands crossed on your chest and lie flat on the floor with your knees bent. By bending your knees you’re providing your lower back with support. You can also place your hands behind your head if you prefer, but this position often leads to poor posture and unnecessary strain on your neck. In other words, you also end up cheating by lifting yourself using your arms and neck rather than your abs.

Performing the Exercise:
Slowly raise yourself using your abs, with your lower back always pressed against the floor. Raising your lower back will put unnecessary stress on your back. There are many exercises specifically for your lower back and remember, the abdominals create the exercise. Following the same method, slowly lower yourself.

Try 4 sets of 24 with a short rest in between. The great thing about abs is that they can be exercised every second day or on consecutive days depending on your time and workout schedule.

Try the same procedure by raising your legs or when you want to work on your obliques. Most people forget about working the oblique muscles (your side stomach muscles). Lie on the floor the same way as for regular crunches and cross your legs over to begin the exercise. If this feels uncomfortable or difficult, you may want to try the exercise standing up.With a reasonable weight in one hand, slowly lower one side and then return to the starting position. Repeat the procedure on your other side.

These are just a few of the many ab exercises that you can perform almost anywhere.

The Power of Pilates

An estimated 6 million people across the country are now strengthening their bodies and minds, and losing weight, with the help of pilates exercises, the fastest growing fitness trend in decades. Among the Hollywood celebrities publicly touting its benefits, Goldie Hawn, Candace Bergen, Brad Pitt, Ben Afleck and Matthew Broderick.

Thanks to the Method’s popularity, a growing industry has emerged. More than 11 thousand people in the U.S. now claim to be pilates instructors, but according to the Pilates Method Alliance, (PMA), the international, not–for–profit, professional association that establishes certification and continuing education standards for Pilates professionals, at least 25 percent of them have not been properly trained.

“If you are working with an instructor who doesn’t have adequate training, you run an incredible risk of getting hurt,” says Kevin Bowen, co-founder of the PMA. “Pilates isn’t something you just start doing one day. You have to make sure you have an instructor who understands the Method and how to make the exercises work for you.”

If done correctly, pilates exercises strengthen, tone and stretch the body, encourage proper breathing and facilitate good posture. Here are 10 important questions you should ask an instructor before signing up for their class:

#1 What kind of training did you go through and where?

#2 How much time was spent in your original training?

#3 How long have you been teaching?

#4 Did you only learn the mat work or was your program comprehensive in nature, teaching you pilates exercises on the pilates equipment? #5 Do you understand the body, have basic knowledge of kinesiology and understand fundamental biomechanics?

#6 Do you understand the aging process?

#7 Do you pay close attention to safety and guidelines?

#8 Does the facility where you teach practice safety standards for group classes?

# 9 Do you have a commitment to continuing education?

#10 Are you affiliated with a professional organization like the Pilates Method Alliance?

For help finding a pilates studio or instructor in your area, who is likely to answer these questions to your satisfaction, log onto the Pilates Method Alliance Web site at Click on the link on the left hand side that says “Finding a Teacher.” That will take you to a page with a link to a searchable database.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Strength Training Is For Every Body

A visit to your local health club weight room will reveal a space filled with dazzling steel and chrome machines. Not long ago, these modern-day “torture chambers” were places for dedicated body builders, mostly of the male gender who had very little body fat and a whole lot of rather large, hard-to-miss muscles. There was a distinct aura to that room, a feeling of raw power and intimidation. The moment you entered, something told you to get out quickly – you didn’t belong there.

Not so today. Although the appearance of weight rooms today has remained somewhat the same, the game has changed and so have the players. Where once only getting “bigger muscles” was the goal of strength training and mostly men participated in the routine; today, women and men alike; young and old; thin and fat; healthy and not so healthy are finding their way into weight rooms and realizing the magic of strength training – beyond simply achieving a beautiful body.

Why all the sudden fuss about strength training? It’s really quite simple. Fitness experts have finally realized that there’s more to being “fit” than just cardiovascular strength. Muscle strength is an equally important component to overall health and fitness. According to Dr. Michael Pollock, chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine’s position paper on exercise guidelines, “With society living long and longer, it makes sense to keep people functionally capable and independent.” Strength training is a means to achieving this end.

Although physical appearance is certainly a plus that comes with strength training as well as a motivation factor for a great number of people, “physique perks” are not the primary goal of strength training participants. There are three additional reasons every body can benefit from strength training, regardless of age.

It’s a fact. You will lose 1/2 pound of muscle for every year you age past 20, if you do not incorporate some type of resistance strength training into your exercise routine. Think about that for a moment. That means if you weighed 120 pounds at the age of 20 and you weigh 120 pounds now at the age of 40, you’ve replaced 10 lbs of muscle with 10 lbs of fat, even though your weight is exactly the same. Pretty shocking isn’t it?

We all recognize the health risks associated with excess body fat, but did you know that muscle actually burns more calories than fat? That’s right, one extra pound of muscle will burn 50 more calories a day, just at rest. On the other hand, every pound of muscle you lose will burn 50 less calories a day.

This may explain why you were able to eat more when you were young. And, since muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space (even though you weigh the same), your body doesn’t quite look the same and that size 8 is now a size 12.

Aerobic exercise will help burn the excess fat, but cannot delay the natural diminishing in overall body muscle tissue associated with the aging process. There are no magic pills or treatments…strength training is the only cure.

Skeletal muscles are the major shock absorbers of your body. Some of these muscles work up to 24 hours a day, such as the ones that help maintain your posture as you stand or sit. Muscles help protect your bones and joints every
time you take a step or dance during Jazzercise participation. lt’s easy to see how strengthening your major muscle groups (i.e., the shoulders, arms, legs, back, and abdominals), will diminish the stress of impact forces and lessen the
risk of exercise-related injury.

Strong muscles also help one to perform daily tasks with ease and efficiency. Activities such as climbing stairs, gelling out of bed, lifting groceries and children, cleaning the house and mowing the lawn all become easier to perform.

Although strength training cannot turn back the clock on osteoporosis once you have it, recent research indicates that regular strength training can help to maintain bone mass and reduce a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis.

There you have it – three excellent reasons to start some type of resistance strength training. What does it take to get those muscles in shape? Not as much as you may think. You can choose from a variety of resistance equipment. There
are weight machines, free-weight dumbbells, wrist/ankle weights, bands, balls, or even your own body weight with calisthenics. Naturally, your fitness level and goals will dictate what type of equipment is best for you.

In terms of recommended training routines…if you ask ten different experts, you’re likely to get ten different answers. There are numerous routines for increasing strength depending on your specific goals. Working out “hard” and “long” may elicit greater improvement in strength, but it also increases your risk of injury. So why not take a sensible,
yet effective approach.

After years of research, here’s what the experts have found:

  • Frequency of training: Minimum of two times per week.
  • Number of Repetitions: 8-12 per set
  • Number of Sets: Minimum of one set per muscle group.
  • Number of Exercises: 8-10 exercises which focus on the major muscle groups.
  • Movement Speed: Slow to Moderate
  • Amount of Weight: Enough to fatigue your muscles by the last few reps. (8-12 reps for strength training, 15-20 reps for endurance training.)

Isn’t it great! You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to significantly improve your strength. You can be in and out in as little as 20 minutes. Now, that’s a schedule we all can live with!

Remember, you don’t have to be in perfect shape to work with weights. Strength training is now considered an important component of a weight loss program;  along with diet, aerobic exercise, behavior modification, and is recommended for people suffering from certain types of arthritis and chronic back pain. Once believed dangerous for the elderly, research has confirmed that a low to moderate resistance strength training program is safe for the older population and people with high blood pressure or heart disease. Of course, if you happen to be one of those people in less than perfect shape, be sure to get your doctor’s “OK” before you start lifting away!

What are you waiting for? Now’s the time to turn your body into a strong and efficient, lean and mean calorie-burning machine. Strength training is for every body…start your program today!

Setting and Achieving Milestone Fitness Goals Promotes Healthy Living

Too many people sign up for exercise programs only to quit after a
few sessions. The most popular excuses include, “I don’t have time,” “I’m
too tired,” and “It’s not working for me.”

“Rather than just saying you’ll go to the gym a few days a week and then
breaking that promise, we encourage people to set specific goals for themselves
and build a defined exercise and diet program to achieve them,” says Kendall
Harrell, personal training manager for Life Time Fitness, a national health,
fitness and nutrition company.

Harrell says setting a specific goal allows the individual to focus on
training and drives motivation to exercise. “It’s a lot easier to make it to
the finish line if you have the goal in sight,” adds Harrell.

For this reason, Life Time Fitness produces a series of athletic events,
which serve as milestone challenges for members and non-members alike, who are
seeking to set and achieve their fitness goals. At any point in time, thousands
of amateur athletes from across the country and around the world are in training
for these events.

Perhaps the most significant upcoming event is the 2004 Life Time Fitness
Triathlon. scheduled to take place Saturday, July 17, 2004, in Minneapolis, Minn.
The world-class event will feature same day network television coverage, the
sport’s largest prize purse, and an exciting field of the best professional
triathletes from around the world. What’s more, some 2,300 amateur athletes
participate in the event, competing against each other on the same course as the

Why? Harrell says it’s all about establishing a destination event that
supports your health and fitness goals. “Deciding to compete in an event like
the triathlon really challenges you to get in shape. The first step is to
register. Once you commit to the event, you know the date and, importantly, the
amount of time you have to train until your competition. This can be a key
motivator in terms of establishing and sticking to your defined fitness regimen,”
says Harrell.

Life Time Fitness Triathlon Training Courses, tailored for beginners and
advanced triathletes alike, are offered in the months and weeks leading up to
the race. The weekly courses educate people on training schedules, strength and
pace training, and the use of training equipment. Athletes also receive
instruction in swim, bike, run and transition skills, and benefit from the
opportunity to consult with a triathlon coach.

But, if a triathlon seems a bit too daunting, plenty of other similar goals
are well within your reach. For example, consider running in your first five or
ten kilometer race. Life Time Fitness offers 5k Reindeer Run events in several
markets nationwide. The company also sponsors the Life Time Fitness Desert Dash,
an annual adventure race in Nevada, for those seeking even more thrilling
fitness challenges.

What’s important is less about the specific event, but rather, taking
advantage of an event to help you maintain your health, fitness and nutrition
program. So, take the initiative to find an athletic event that sounds fun and
challenging. Then, set your fitness goals and come up with a plan for achieving
them. It’s never too late to pursue a healthy way of life!

For more information about Life Time Fitness health, fitness and nutrition
programs and services, or Life Time Fitness athletic events, log onto or call (866) 321-7575.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Which Pilates is Which

Authentic Pilates

The Pilates Guild is dedicated to the preservation of Pilates in it’s purest
form the way it was taught by Joseph himself.

Contemporary Pilates

While Pilates was undoubtedly a man ahead of his time, the science of exercise has evolved
throughout subsequent decades. Contemporary adaptations of Pilates’ principles
have emerged, leveraging advances in physical therapy, spinal research,
biomechanical principles and anatomical understanding to ensure each exercise is
performed with optimal safety and results in mind” – quote from Prime Time
for Pilates by Moira Stott-Merrithew with Catherine Komlodi and Alison Hope.
Modern Pilates

Unlike the traditional method, which focuses on constantly holding in the lower abdomen and
on extremely effortful movements, modern Pilates is firmly based on the
functional movement possibilities of the body. The exercises in this book are
influenced by developments in therapeutic massage, osteopathy, and the
Feldenkrais method, Butoh (a Japanese performance art developed in the 1950s),
and ante- and postnatal work. With easy-to-understand diagrams, drawings, and
photos, it provides exercises for maintaining good posture, fitness, strength,
grace, flexibility, and freedom from injury” – quote from the Publishers of
Modern Pilates by Penelope Latey.
The differences:

In the book Return to Life through Contrology, (edited, reformatted and reprinted by Presentation Dynamics Inc): Joseph wrote the following; and in italics modern or contemporary Pilates suggests:

Open Leg Rocker: “Roll” over backward trying to touch mat or floor with toes -roll over only onto the top of the shoulders your head should never touch the mat.

Many exercises suggest that knees should be ‘locked’ – not locked

Double Kick: Thrust chest out with head thrown back as far as possible… – a long neck, centered and held steady

About the spine: “be sure wherever indicated, to keep your back full length always pressed firmly against the mat or floor” – respect the natural curves of your spine.

The Seal: “press soles and heels firmly close together pointed inward”
– heels together, attracting ankles together.

Maybe these examples don’t sound so different, not different enough to matter anyway. But there are differences and that’s something to remember – you decide which you prefer.
Yogalates: A fusion of the ancient discipline of yoga with the modern Pilates techniques, the exercises mix both disciplines to develop core strength, help tone muscles, increase flexibility and reduce
stress. Yogalates is trademarked by Louise Solomon.

“Expand your Self, move gently and celebrate the many possibilities which the union of Yoga and Pilates will reveal. Through the comparison of breath, core strength and inner spirit, discover new sensations through familiar movement. Awaken your self, enliven your lines and brighten your Yoga/Pilates experience. – the

Yogilates: (book) Integrating Yoga and Pilates for Complete Fitness, Strength and Flexibility by Jonathan Urla
The Pilates Method / The Method: a name coined first by The Physical Mind Institute in Santa Fe (they have subsequently moved to New York) to represent the traditional Pilates exercises when the law suit was ongoing and the “P” word couldn’t be used.

Pilates with Chi: (book) combining Pilates with the eastern influences of Chi

PowerHouse Pilates ™: provides a fitness approach to Pilates education, founded by Marci Clark and Christine Romani-Ruby in an effort to make Pilates education easily available for fitness professionals.

Also a book by Lynne Robinson “Body Control 5 – Powerhouse Pilates with Lynne Robinson” and Mari Winsor “The Pilates Powerhouse”