Gym essentials

December 5, 2009

So you’re getting a head start on your New Year’s resolution and hitting the gym if first on the list. Before you start comparing different gyms, first you need to suit up.


By far the most popular shoe seen in gyms is the Nike Shox, or really any Nike shoe. Another popular shoe (that I sport) is the Under Armour shoe which comes in three different shoe fits. The shoe fit is by far the most important factor when choosing a shoe because the wrong fit could end up causing you more harm than good. Another tip to keep in mind is the cost. Try not to go below $100 because then you’ll start to sacrifice the quality of the shoe. Now for those interested in cycling, you have two options: You can either use a regular cross trainer or running shoe, or you can splurge and get a cycling shoe that clamps into the shoe stirrups.


You can wear anything to your heart’s desire. While some feel more comfortable in a free t-shirt and shorts, or a Nike jumpsuit, as long as you’re comfortable moving in them and not having to adjust, then whatever goes is fine. Just please don’t go skimpy, I’m talking to the guys too. But, if you’re a cycler, then the shorts above might be the answer for you. Anyone who has taken a cycling class can tell you how uncomfortable those seats can get, but these fantastic shorts will prevent you from ever feeling that because of the added cushion in “that” area.


These babies are only necessary for those into weight lifting. This excludes the assisted weight machines ladies and gentlemen. You can opt out of getting these, but then you’ll risk callouses on your hands that will take forever to go away.


Bags, the things that hold it all together. Aside from school backpacks, I’ve noticed that girls tend to carry totes to gyms, like the silver one above, and guys (when they do bring bags) tend to bring the little bags, like the black Nike. But why not support UT and getting represent with their duffel bag?


The Biggest Loser setting a bad example?

December 5, 2009

NBC’s The Biggest Loser, famous for its participants leaving the show half their body size since when they first stepped into the ranch, is under fire for some of the participants’ controversial weight loss methods.

Take Ryan Benson: The 2005 season winner who shedded 112 pounds off his 330 lb frame, admitted he was urinating blood after fasting and dehydrating himself toward the $250,000 prize. Since then he has returned back to above 300 lbs which is apparently the reason for his absence in The Biggest Loser season finale.

Kai Hibbard, season 3 runner up, wrote on her Myspace blog that she and others would dehydrate before weigh-ins and stack on clothing during workouts when cameras weren’t rolling. She gained 31 pounds in two weeks after the show, mostly by staying hydrated.

That’s Fit asked nutritionist and fitness expert, Jonny Bowden for his take. “I’ve always thought [the show] was ridiculous, ever since the first season when the guy lost 17 pounds in a week and the following week people who didn’t lose that much were considered ‘bad.’ It sets up absolutely ridiculous standards for weight loss, makes a very difficult and personal issue into entertainment,” said Bowden. “Clearly, there are also huge dangers involved as well.”

Even so, viewers have to take into account that the reason why the contestants are losing 10 to 15 pounds a week is because they are working out up to 6 hrs a day, everyday.

“Contestants can get a little too crazy and they can get too thin,” said trainer Jillian Michaels to the “New York Times.” She says Benson and Hibbard are examples of the dark side of the show. Maybe Benson and Hibbard aren’t cashing in on their fame because they’ve been post-finale disqualified. Michaels states contestants are disqualified if they are dehydrated or found to be taking drugs or diuretics. And it’s not exactly a candid environment after the show is over — the “New York Times” found contestants must have permission from NBC before chatting with a reporter.

Winners from the first four seasons regained at least 20 percent of their respective weights after the show, while 50 percent of the  206 contestants so far, have reportedly kept the weight off.

Learn How to Ride like Lance

November 30, 2009

Austin is very unique in many ways–including its friendliness to cyclists. Because cycling culture is so prominent in Austin, it is important that we take tips from experts to ensure safety while riding in the city.

Chris Carmichael and Lance Armstong

Chris Carmichael, cycling coach to Lance Armstrong and head of Carmichael Training Systems, was in town to promote his latest book: The Time Crunched Cyclist.

Through his book, he asserts that athletes can become “fitter faster and more powerful on the bike in just six hours a week.”

As a coach for both the 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic cycling teams, he knows a thing or two about teaching people not only how to advance their cycling skills but the fundamentals. Here are his tips for recreational cyclists:

Look Up: when you just look down on the ground in front of you, you do not have as much control of your bike and you will be more prone to for a bumpy ride.

When you look down as far the road as you can, that smooths you down. If you only look one or two bike lenths ahead, you get squirrelly action.

Hills: Don’t overexert yourself in the beginning of your ride. Take a steady approach when riding on the hillside.

A lot of times when (cyclists) hit short hills, they just want to get it over, so they spring to the top. Save you legs for later on, for hills no. 4, 8, and 16. If you try punching up those early hills, your pedal cadence will drop, you won’t shift and you’ll drag up the hill. You’re dead in the water.

Changing Position/Speed: Once you are on the bike, there are going to be instances where you need to shift your body. Get comfortable with riding in different ways and speeds.

If you spend 99 percent of your time above the brakes, your body doesn’t adapt to the lower position. You have less control (at high speeds) when you ride the brakes. Give your body time to get used to it.

Be careful out there cyclists! Make sure that you try to follow these tips when you are on the road!

Footy/Soccer Tennis

November 30, 2009

Brace yourself for a new generation of sport, America. In combining two different sports the U.S. is already ambivalent to or completely uninterested in, we have discovered one of the greatest, if not the most popular, sports/games around.

In accordance with my English heritage, I will refer to it by its rightfull name, “Football-Tennis”, but you can call it “Soccer-Tennis” if you so desire.  Basically you combine a tennis court, net and rules, with a football (soccer) ball.  Originally, I played this sport/game as a kid growing up in Romania, chalking off the court in the middle of the road and doddging cars as they came by. With the discovery of tennis courts upon my move to America, the game took on a new life between myself, my brother and a few friends we recruited.

But fear not, dear reader, that this silly sport is some creation of my imgination. There is in fact, an organization, developed independatly of my input, which stages some pretty serious competitions between teams and even countries. Yes, dear reader, you could reperesent the United States in a Soccer Tennis competition. It’s not quite Beer Fest, but it’s a start.


“Football” comes first in the name and with good reason, because that is the foundation of the sport (I just lost half my audience). Using your footy skills, you juggle, pass, slide, head or in any way (but no hands!) propel the ball to the other side of the net, in the court, before it bounces twice on your side.

Personally, I’m not too fond of the official rules, which allow for only one touch per player, volleyball style, while I always enjoyed juggling the ball into position. Alas, minor rules disagreements aside, this game is quite awesome. On several occasions, after scaling the fence of the nearby tennis courts, and drawing the ire of a police officer for being in the park after 10 p.m., we drew crowds of perplexed amazed spectators, drawn like a moth to a flame towards our strange creation.

There’s plenty of running, kicking, and if you do it like us, screaming, crying and perhaps some bleeding. All in all, it’s great, so next time you end up near a tennis court, bring the footy ball, strap on the boots, and have a kick about.
I do wish I could show you guys a video of us playing our own way, but I was unable to get the band back together over Thanksgiving for a game, so the above example will have to do. Enjoy.

The Iron Gym

November 30, 2009

During a late night Walgreens run for jelly beans and energy drinks with my roommate, we stopped at the “Seen on TV” section to browse through the plethora of intriguing items that are supposedly available only through TV ads. Next to the Slap Chop and Sham Wow was the Iron Gym, the all-in-one workout machine that promised “BIG” results.

Naturally, the jacked model on the box gave off a glimmer of hope for a simple workout I could do from the comfort of my living room where I could in theory do pull ups, push ups, dips and sit ups with one simple machine. Twenty dollars later, it was out of the box and quickly assembled to begin the vigorous workout and quest for muscular definition. 

I’m gonna need a few more days.


The Pull-up 

Hands down the most valuable part of the Iron Gym. Realistically, I could easily do the other exercises at my house with ease but a quality pull-up bar is not something you can find lying around. You can do wide grip, reverse grip and close grip pull-ups to get that sexy V-shaped torso for beach season. A good series is three sets of as many reps as you can complete. For me it was 10, then seven then five. Rest about a minute between sets and always remember to drink water or some sort of recovery drink. 






The Push-Up

Of course you can easily complete pushups without the Iron Gym but it does provide some extra height to go deeper for more range of motion and it gets your hands off the ground to lessen the strain on your wrists. Do three sets of 15 with a minute rest in-between.







The Dip

Quite possibly the worst part of the Iron Gym. You don’t get any range of motion and it is much better to use two chairs or a chair and the couch to get quality dips. I did three sets of 15 but honestly it didn’t really do much. 





The Sit-Up

Another pointless feature of the Iron Gym for a couple of reasons. First you have to brace it on the door frame and it really doesn’t hold very well and second, you can’t put a lot of pressure on it with your feet. I suggest doing away with it for the abdominal workout and stick to basic crunches. 




In all, the only nice feature of the Iron Gym is the pull-up bar and maybe the push-up feature because it takes strain off your wrists. I’m going to need a few more weeks to diagnose the full worth of it but I do like the pull-up bar. 


Obese students required to take fitness class for diploma

November 29, 2009

Photo by Danlamouette

Yep, you heard me. Lincoln University in Pennsylvania has attempting to battle weight by making students take a fitness class. Those who refuse can sadly say goodbye to their diplomas.

So here’s how it goes: Beginning in Fall 2006, all incoming students have been required to take a Body Mass Index test, a measure based on height and weight. Those who have a BMI of 30 and over have to enroll in a “fitness for life” class for 3 hours a week. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. An obese person will have a BMI of 30 and over.

While there has been some protest among the students, the historically black University says they are only trying to help.  According to AP, they are concerned about the high rates of obesity and diabetes, especially in the African-American community.

To pass the course that includes physical activities as well as information on nutrition, stress, and sleep, students are not required to lose weight, but just need to attend and participate in the classes.

Tiana Lawson, a 21-year-old senior, says while she believes her current BMI would exempt her from the class, she’s going to take it anyway “because I would like to be healthier,” but also states that she feels that the larger students are being singled out.

So what do you guys think? Is this a smart move on the University, or should all students be required to take this class.

Curious about what your BMI is? See for yourself here.

Personal Trainer John Kelly, Owner of Kelly Personal Training

November 29, 2009

Working as a personal trainer for the past 28 years, John Kelly knows his way around a gym. He has trained over 30,000 people of all ages and fitness levels and owns two personal training businesses, including one in Austin. He was kind enough to let interview him, his answers are below.

John Kelly

What started your motivation towards staying fit and keeping healthy?

I think most people exercise to look better, perform better, feel better, and have an overall feeling of well being.  As a young athlete I was more concerned about the first two. Now as an ex-athlete with old injuries I am more concerned about the last two.

What has been your greatest moment as a trainer?

At some point you go from having a client/trainer relationship to having a valued friendship. You attend christenings, family gatherings, and sometimes funerals. Your clients go out of their way to help you, and you do the same. I moved to Austin from New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.  The week before I moved to Austin I met with each of my New Orleans clients and fellow trainers for the last time. Most of my clients were longstanding, some longer than ten years. I realized how dear my clients, co-workers and friends really are.  Everyday of that last week was intensely emotional as we said our final goodbyes; it was one of the more memorable weeks of my life.

What is it that is great about Austin in particular for fitness?

Fitness can be a simple as stepping off your stoop and just start running, walking or biking down the street. That can happen just about any anywhere.  Austin adds to that experience with miles of bike trails, walking trails, and green spaces.  I feel I am truly fortunate to have moved to here because of all Austin has to offer.

A unique aspect that I saw on your web site was your golf program and your focus on back pain relief. How did that start?

Several years ago I suffered with back pain for three years. A doctor told me I should consider surgery. Instead I began exercising with a MedX lumbar exercise machine in another doctor’s office, and I slowly incorporated strength training to my regiment. My pain gradually disappeared. A strong back and a strong body are less likely to suffer pain and injury. We use MedX rehabilitative exercise equipment at both our facilities, Kelly’s Personal Training and New Orleans Ultimate Fitness Training. We have had great success with the program; it is very gratifying to see people who have lived in constant pain become pain free.

Golfers swing in one direction creating potential muscle imbalances and increased risk of injury.  Our program is designed to increase strength and flexible and correct imbalances.  Increased strength and flexibility result in increased club head speed and less injury.

What advice would you give to potential clients about staying fit during holiday temptations?

Enjoy family, friends, and food. Taking a week or two off at the end of the year gives nagging injuries a chance to heal and you’ll recharge your batteries. It is not the one or two weeks that makes the difference; it is sticking to a program for the long term.  Very few people manage to do that year after year. If you reward yourself with a break now and then you’ll more likely stick to a program.

So, you heard it from a professional, it is okay to indulge over the holidays but make sure you get back on the wagon and to your fitness regimen after the break. Thanks so much to John Kelly and if you want to contact him visit his web site or blog.