Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Great McDonalds Experiment Part 1

I've heard various stories about things like twinkies and fast food burgers being so laden with preservatives that they simply don't breakdown.  You can only imagine what this food does to our insides when we take it in.  However, I'm a big believer in "seeing is believing" so I decided that I would do my own experiment.  Check out the video for Part 1 of the Great McDonalds Experiment!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When Your Rotator Cuff Goes Kaput!

Getting a good workout even when your rotator cuff is on the injured list.

All is going well when suddenly, there's a pain in your shoulder. After a quick trip to your doctor, you find out it's your rotator cuff. Now what?
You don't have to sit around moaning and groaning. You can take action to rebuild your damaged rotator cuff. All it takes is three easy steps.

First: Think Protection

No matter what else you do, you will need to keep your rotator cuff from further injury by protecting it well. If you're doing something that causes your injured rotator cuff to hurt, stop whatever you're doing. Otherwise, your already injured rotator cuff can suffer an even worse injury that requires more serious medical intervention.
Depending on your life circumstances, this could mean putting an end to a number of activities that you perform on a regular basis. No matter if the pain kicks in when you pick up your child, perform a certain exercise, or sit in a certain position, you'll need to avoid doing these things until your rotator cuff hurts. Because while there is such thing as good pain when you're in the weight room, all pain is bad pain if it is affecting an injured rotator cuff.

Second: Strengthen It

You're not going to be able to baby it forever. Eventually, you'll need to begin strengthening it, and the sooner you get started, the better off you'll be in the long run. To get started, try these exercises. In the event any of them cause you rotator cuff to hurt, take a break and try it again later.
Lie and Lift - Lying on your uninjured side, allow your injured arm to rest on your side, bent at the elbow so your hand is on your belly. Hold a weight in the hand resting on your belly and place a small towel under your injured arm. Slowly lift your forearm until it is pointed straight in the air, careful to keep your bicep on your side. Return slowly to the starting position and repeat.
Stand, Bend, Spin - Standing up beside a table, bend at the waist and place one hand on the table for balance, while your injured arm dangles freely. Slowly draw circles in the air with your injured arm, starting with small, tight circles, and making the circles larger and larger. Repeat this a few times each day.
Grab and Pull - Tie a piece of rubber tubing to a doorknob. Standing near the door, place your injured arm against your side and reach to your side to grab the tubing. Carefully pull the tubing across the front of your body and then return to the starting position for 10 repetitions. As you gain strength, increase the number of repetitions you perform.
Hold and Stretch - Place the hand of your injured arm on your back pocket. Then reach back with your other arm and grab the hand. Slowly pull the hand belonging to your injured rotator cuff up toward your shoulder. At the peak of the stretch, hold for a couple of seconds, return to the starting position, and repeat.

Third: Remember the Rest of Your Body

An injured rotator cuff may keep you from a number of activities, but it shouldn't keep you from visiting the gym. On top of performing appropriate exercises to rehabilitate your rotator cuff, you should continue working out the rest of your body to maintain good health.
Just be careful. If any part of your routine causes pain to your rotator cuff, skip that exercise set and get started on the next thing on your exercise to-do list. And if the pain continues after you're finished with your routine, try a little over-the-counter pain medication. In the event this isn't enough to ease the pain, contact your physician.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Overcome Arthritis at Home

A quick list of arthritis home remedies.

When it rains, it really pours. But for those who have arthritis, when it rains, it really hurts. Arthritis is a painful, often debilitating condition that robs you of your ability to live life like you want. Sometimes, it can become so problematic that the thought of getting dressed and leaving the house seems impossible - even if you need to head to the doctor for arthritis treatment.
If you find yourself crippled and at the mercy of arthritis, try these home remedies to find occasional or long-term relief.
Positivity - It may not seem like it right now, but a positive attitude can go a long way toward warding off arthritis-induced pain. According to research, a good attitude may not reduce the actual symptoms of arthritis, but it can improve how you react to the condition. By understanding your condition and coming to terms with how it makes you feel, you're able to focus on other things and put the pain of arthritis out of your mind.
Dinner - Currently, there is no sure-fire way to eat your way to an arthritis-free life. But researchers are attempting to determine if there will one day be a way to avoid or overcome arthritis with food. Until then, pay attention to what foods seem to cause your arthritis to flare up and avoid these foods at all costs. Some of the most common foods that cause arthritis issues include those high in saturated fats or omega-6 fatty acids. On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acids and moderate alcohol intake may help prevent arthritis.
Rosehip - Considered by alternative health advocates to be one of the most beneficial home remedies for arthritis, rosehip often provides instant pain relief, while healing the body's aching tissues and helping ligaments grow stronger. In order to make use of rosehip, mix it with water until it is a pasty consistency. Then rub it on the affected area and enjoy your newfound mobility.
Exercise - Getting some physical activity is a great way to increase your ability to perform the tasks of daily life and reduce overall pain. A great way to start reducing arthritis-related pain is by stretching muscles for 10 to 30 seconds at a time. Strength training, aerobic exercise, and swimming are other great workout options. However, avoid running, jogging, and lifting heavy weights, as they can result in more arthritis pain.
Lose - Being overweight puts you at increased risk for arthritis in the knees. Therefore, exercising and working to obtain and maintain a healthy weight will help prevent against arthritis from setting in. Already have arthritis? Losing weight can also help reduce your arthritis symptoms.
Talking - When the pains of arthritis seem too much to bear, talk to someone about it. Doing this helps you pinpoint where the pain is most acute, which helps you target your relief methods. It also helps to have someone else understand the extent of your arthritis pains, as you realize you don't have to keep your feelings of frustration and pain to yourself.
No matter what brings on your arthritis, getting it under control is essential to living and loving life. In the event these home remedies aren't enough to help you enjoy the quality of life you desire, contact your physician for additional treatment options.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Pre-Diabetic Diet

On the verge of diabetes? Eat right to keep it at bay.

When type 2 diabetes sets in, you can expect a life full of tedious and exact portion control, medications, blood tests, and injections. But what if you could catch diabetes before it ever set in, and thereby avoid all of these potential problems?
Thanks to a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, you can. If you're willing to change your diet.

Know the Numbers

With pre-diabetes, your fasting blood sugar level (level of sugar in your blood) is between 100 and 125 mg/dl. These measurements butt up right against the 126 mg/dl that indicates you're diabetic, and if you don't make some lifestyle changes, you can easily enter the land of diabetes. By watching what you eat, you can actually lower your blood sugar levels, preventing pre-diabetes from turning into type 2 diabetes.
Ready to sidestep diabetes by what you put in your mouth? Then sit down and take notes on your new diet plan.

Eat Less

If you're overweight and have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, your first step toward a healthier diet that can reduce your risk for diabetes is to lose weight. The best way to do that is to look at how much you eat every day. Spend time eating out of boredom? You can't do that any more. If you're going to fight off diabetes, you're going to have to eat for energy. That means listening to your stomach and only eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full. A few easy tips to help you do this include drinking a glass of water before each meal, going to bed earlier (this will prevent unhealthy late-night snacking), and chewing your food well and slowly.

Eat Better

Now that you're eating less food each day, you'll need to eat the right kinds of foods if you really want to help your blood sugar. Instead of greasy, fatty foods, go for something a little healthier. This means grilled or broiled instead of fried food, more fruits and vegetables, and leaner cuts of meat. It also means saying no on occasion, but there is good news about your sweet tooth.

Choose Wisely

While you don't want to stock up on cookies and cakes, you don't have to mark them off your list altogether either. With pre-diabetes, the secret to success is moderation and being choosy. That means only having a small slice of cake during very special occasions. And instead of going back for seconds, relish in the piece you had and enjoy it so much that you don't need a second piece.

Choose Daily

In addition to choosing which sweets to eat and when, you've got to make other dietary decisions on a daily or even hourly basis. Should you go with chicken or a hamburger? Baked beans or a salad? Find out what is in different dishes and opt for the option that has less sugar, fat, and calories. Low-fat, low-calorie options not look too appetizing? Then go for the hamburger. But only eat half of it and skip the fries. Tomorrow, give the chicken a try. Or better yet, give up meat one day a week and focus on getting more fruits and vegetables.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Suicide by Cigarette R.I.P. Dad

November 16, 1991 5am "David! David! Wake up!  Something's wrong with your father!"
Little did I know that my life would be forever changed that morning 20 years ago to the day. 

I've been going back and forth in my mind for months about doing this post.  Then today came without much pomp and circumstance and I decided that I wasn't going to talk about it.  It's something I've discussed privately or in 1 on 1 conversations in the past and honestly I'm fairly comfortable with it, I've just never really felt compelled to discuss it in a public forum. Then I taught my usual Wednesday night bootcamp class and somehow in the course of conversation it came up that one of my bootcampers lost her mother when she was 13 years old of the same cause.  We ended up having a nice conversation about our experiences.  I will spare you all the details; surely I have enough of a life story to write a full chapter, maybe even a book and if you know me at all, to say i'm long-winded is an understatement!

That fateful day my father passed away at the age of 46.  The Cause?  Acute Myocardial Infarction aka Heart Attack. I'm writing to you today not to seek your sympathy nor to gain any closure for myself, I've long since come to terms with it.  I'm writing in hopes that maybe, just maybe I can get through to one person out there who is living a lifestyle like my father was.  See my dad did just about everything wrong.  He wasn't an incredibly unhealthy looking man on the surface.  6'2 maybe around 280lbs at his heaviest.  If you know me, my dad was built similarly.  Massive calf muscles, big strong legs and massive arms.  My dad was a mechanic and I remember him carrying rear axles of trucks around the yard like it was a tiny barbell!  He definitely had a bit of a belly but far less than many of my others friends dad's had.  He was just a big, strong man.  A big strong man with a cigarette habit that ranged from a pack at it's best (that was rare) to 3 packs a day at it's worst (worst was probably closer to the norm).  A big strong man with high blood pressure.   A big strong man on several medications including nitroglycerin for his Angina.  I remember my dad going to doctors visits when I was a kid and he would come home saying the same thing "Doc says I need to eat better, quit smoking, and exercise"  He never did.  " I have the duCille knees, I can't exercise" he would say referencing the knee replacement that he, my grandmother and his sister (my Auntie Ann) had.  The sad thing is that he never even truly ATTEMPTED to make any changes.  I remember once or twice he came home with nicorette gum and it would just go in the cabinet (I think me and my preteen friends probably stole it and chewed it but thats another story! lol!)  He never even attempted the basic diet programs the doctors recommended.  Before I continue, I want you to stop and understand what a 3 pack a day cigarette habit is:

20 cigarettes in a pack x 3 packs = 60 cigarettes a day.  24 hours a day- 6 hours spent sleeping =18 hours awake  60 cigarettes/18 hours =  3 1/3 cigarettes per hour or 1 cigarette every 18 minutes.  Spend 3 minutes smoking a cigarette, wait 15 minutes.  Do it again.  Continue until death.  Suicide by Cigarette.

In my line of work, I deal with people with all sorts of issues.  I pride myself on looking at EVERY client individually and focusing on their specific needs.  I never try to force my notions of the perfect body or lifestyle on anyone, it's just not feasible.  But please, if you are a cigarette smoker I beg you, STOP.  Plain and simple.  I don't care if you gain 50 lbs as a result of quitting (weight gain is a common and legitimate side effect of quitting); that 50 extra pounds is nowhere near as damaging to your health as those cigarettes.  
It's a nasty habit, it's not easy to do but there is help available.

My father left behind a sister, brother, 2 sons, 2 daughters, and in a cruel twist of fate was set to remarry the very day of his heart attack.  He never saw me graduate high school or college.  He's missed out on 7 awesome grandkids.  He's missed out on opportunities to make amends for his other past failings.  The way I see it, the only thing my dad did quit on was life.  He kinda got the easy way out while others had to live with the harsh realities of his mistakes.
I'm sorry for this very disjointed rough draft of a blog post, just wrote it down off the cuff but I think the message is too important to be left unsaid.  In this media driven age we live in we have unprecedented access to help.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  By my own admission I am TERRIBLE at asking for help.  I had to be independent from a young age and I'm used to getting through things on my own but trust me, whatever you are going through, others have been through it already and no matter how helpless you may feel, there is help out there.

Monday, November 7, 2011

POP! Goes the ACL!

A relatively common athletic injury, a torn ACL can put an abrupt end to your athletic endeavors for this season and possibly the next.

Commonly referred to as the ACL, your anterior cruciate ligament is found inside your knees and connects your thighbone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia). When this tissue is torn, you become the victim of an ACL injury. While they can occur at nearly any time, ACL injuries typically come about while playing sports that require sudden stops, pivots, and direction changes such as soccer, basketball, football, and tennis. Your highest risk for ACL injury is when your foot is firm on the ground as your knee sharply twists to one side or your knee takes a direct hit from someone else's knee, a goal post, or another hard object.
Following an ACL injury, you may be able to perform normal activities, but returning to a sport may require surgery. And after your surgery, it can take up to nine months for your ACL injury to heal completely.
So how do you know if you've torn your ACL, how to you treat it, and can an ACL injury be prevented?

The Painful Pop!

You may hear a loud popping sound in your knee when your ACL tears. The pain and swelling that follows can be just as severe as the sound is loud. You may feel like your knee is giving out when you try to bear any weight on your leg, making it difficult to walk.
If you suspect an ACL injury, an immediate trip to your doctor is recommended.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose your injury with only a physical examination, but you should be prepared for a variety of tests to determine the severity of the injury and to rule out other possible causes for the pain and swelling. An X-ray will show if any nearby bones are fractured; an MRI will determine the extent of the injury and whether any other areas are torn or damaged; and an ultrasound can locate other injuries in the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in your knee. In the event your doctor needs a better look, you may require arthroscopy. With this minimally invasive procedure, a tiny scope is inserted into your knee through a small incision, giving your physician a clear view of the damage and even allowing repair on the spot.
Surgery or No Surgery?
How bad is the tear? Do you really want to play your sport again? Answers to these questions will determine whether surgery is necessary to replace your torn ligament. Initial treatment focuses on reducing pain and swelling and starts with good-old RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Whether or not you undergo surgery, your muscles will need rehabilitation therapy and strength training exercises to regain their normal range of motion and abilities.
Surgery to repair a torn ACL is usually performed arthroscopically, your damaged ligament being completely replaced with an uninjured tendon in your leg. Occasionally, internal bleeding accompanies an ACL injury. To correct this problem, a needle is inserted in the knee and excess fluid is removed.
Stay Away!
Sounds bad, doesn't it? Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of an ACL injury by following some basic tips on conditioning and proper technique. Strength and stability exercises, plyometric exercises, being in good aerobic shape, jump training, and being aware of ACL injury risks will reduce your chance for injury.
If you participate in a sport that requires frequent jumping, learn how to land in a safe manner and don't land with one or both knees pointed inward. And while it may help in other ways, wearing a knee brace won't prevent an ACL injury.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Safe, Spooky Halloween!

When the ghouls and goblins play, here's what you should know to keep your little Casper and Cinderella safe and sound.

The jack-o-lantern is carved and sitting on the front porch in anticipation. The costumes are all picked out and ready to slide on at a moment's notice. The candy is sitting in the bowl beside your front door. And your children are panting like wild dogs, ready to hit the streets and grab all the teeth-rotting goodness they can. But before they head out for a devilish night of trick-or-treating, make sure Halloween is as safe as it is spooky.

In Costume

While getting your kids prepped for a night of friends, fun, and candy, ensure their costumes won't put them in harm's way. Be sure your child's costume isn't so long that it makes it difficult to walk. Also, have your child wear shoes that he or she can move in with ease.
High heels or strange footwear may pose a tripping problem or make it hard to move out of the way of oncoming traffic. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eyeholes are large enough for your child to see out of easily. In addition to the costume hanging on your child's body, it's a good idea to know what accessories your child should carry. One of the most important is a flashlight or glow stick and some reflective taping. This will help your child avoid falling in holes and help cars see your child from far away. For older children not being supervised by an adult, it's a good idea to have them carry cell phones in case of an emergency. Kids should also be discouraged to carry pretend guns, as they can be mistaken for real guns during the dark Halloween night.

On the Search

As you probably know, the most dangerous aspects of Halloween show up during the hunt for candy. Here are some tips to give your kids for a safe and fun Halloween.
  • Don't take candy from strangers.
  • Don't eat unwrapped candy or food.
  • Have an adult look over all candy before eating. (You can also take it to your local fire department for a closer look.)
  • Go trick-or-treating during the day if possible.
  • Older kids who are going out on their own should plan the route, so parents know when the kids will be home.
  • Don't go inside a stranger's car or home.
  • Stick with a group.
  • Walk on sidewalks and driveways and don't run.
  • Cross the street at designated crosswalks.
  • Only go to houses that are well lit.

At Home

While the majority of Halloween safety is centered around trick-or-treaters, candy givers are also responsible for keeping kids safe. If you're going to be handing out treats at your house, keep walkways clear to allow safe passage for trick-or-treaters. Also, be sure that lit candles don't put any visitors at risk for catching fire. Though most costumes are flame resistant, it is still possible for a dangerous accident to occur. With a little caution, you can prevent accidents from occurring on your front porch.

In the Car

In addition to home safety, road safety is also your responsibility if you're driving your children around during Halloween. When driving around to find the biggest and best treasure troves of candy, be very cautious. Any time you're on neighborhood streets, drive particularly slow, and don't expect children to know the rules of the road. This caution will prevent dangerous or even deadly accidents during Halloween.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Bundle up, its a sunny but chilly 49 degrees right now but Bootcamp will be in the park today!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sizing up your child's bicycle

Need to get your son or daughter a new bike? You can get the right size the first time.

Learning to ride a bicycle is a right of passage for children across the world. In order to help your child make the passage as comfortably and safely as possible, you'll need to pick out a bicycle for your child that fits him or her appropriately. To do this, you'll need to follow a few easy steps.

Step 1: Measure Your Child's Inseam

The first step to determine what size bicycle your child needs is to measure his or her inseam. To do this, grab a measuring stick or tape measure, have your child stand up straight, and measure the distance from the crotch of your child's pants down to his or her ankle. Write the measurement down and get moving to your local bike shop.

Step 2: Match Inseam with Bike Size

Now that you have your child's inseam measured, it's time to figure out exactly what size bike you need. Here is a general idea of the size you'll be looking for, based on your child's inseam.
InseamBycicle Size
14-24 inches
35-42 centimeters
12 Inches
16-20 inches
40-50 centimeters
14 inches
18-22 inches
45-55 centimeters
16 Inches
20-24 inches
50-60 centimeters
18 Inches
22-25 inches
55-63 centimeters
20 Inches
24-28 inches
60-72 centimeters
24 Inches

Step 3: Let Your Child Try It Out

As careful as you may be measuring your child's inseam, this is not a perfect measure of what size bike you ought to get for him or her. In order to make sure your child's bike fits just right, you'll need to have him or her take a seat on the bike and take it for a test ride. Then and only then can you determine whether the bike fits well.

Step 4: Watch Your Child Ride

When your child goes on his or her first ride on the new bike, pay careful attention. If your child's knees get close to the handlebars, the bicycle is too small. Also, if he or she can't reach the pedals or easily touch the ground when stopped, the bike is too big. Remedy these problems by getting a bigger or smaller bike as needed. Ideally, your child will be able to stand up while straddling the bicycle (feet not on pedals) and his or her legs will extend almost completely when pedaling downward.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our New Look!

It's been awhile since I've posted an update to the blog.  I've been hard at work overhauling the website and integrating the blog into it.  This should make it so much easier for me to provide you with great health and fitness info including workout tips, recipes as well as a better more streamlined vehicle to answer your questions!  I'd love feedback on what you think of the new site!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

All about Intervals!

This is absolutely one of my favorite topics!  Interval training serves a number of purposes.  I use it to help improve running speed and performance for distance runners as well as a great method to keep new runners mentally interested.  It's a constant change and a great challenge that keeps your mind very focused (some would say have you in fear!).  Basically interval training is strength training for the heart.  Sometimes people forget that the heart is actually a muscle and like all muscles needs to be trained.  We are putting the heart to work harder than it is accustomed to doing for a short period of time, then we bring it down into a recovery mode.  So instead of running for 20 minutes straights at 75% of your HRmax, intervals may have you up at 90% of HRmax for 1 minute and then recovering at 50% of HRmax.  Add to the mix that your body burns more total fat at higher HR% and intervals are great for those who don't care about performance but do care about trimming fat!

In order to perform interval training, there are a couple of things you need to know.  First of all, if you haven't been doing any kind of regular exercise, do NOT start doing intervals.  If your over age 35 or significantly overweight you should go get checked out by your doctor and get the all clear to start exercising.  As I mentioned earlier, your heart is a muscle and like any other muscle if you haven't been using it and then suddenly you go all out, you can injure it.  What kind of injuries do heart muscles get? You guessed it, heart attacks!   If your in the clear to begin working out, focus on just doing 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at about 40-50% of your HRmax 3-5 days per week for the first 3 weeks.  Then you can consider upping your intensity and working up to interval training.

The next thing you need to succesfully begin interval training is to figure out your Target Heart Rate zones.  There is a lot of debate about HR Target zones.  I'm here to tell you that the zones you see on virtually EVERY piece of cardio equipment in gyms today are bogus!  They are NOT based on any modern scientific data.  Every individual has a different HRmax and it is difficult to find unless you are in a laboratory setting.  The erroneous equation that you see on cardio machines use 220-age to establish a HRmax. This is derived from a quasi-scientific study in the 1920's (almost 100 years ago!!!) and not backed up by any modern data and I fail to understand how this myth lives on!  I can tell you personally that I am 33 years old which would mean my HRmax would be 187 according to this outdated calculation.  I ROUTINELY climb large hills on my bike where my HR goes up to 191 and trust me, it's a hard effort but I can sustain it for several minutes which leads me to believe my true HRmax is probably around 200.  I have trained hundreds of clients over age 50 who easily get their heart rates up into the 170's and 180's when exercising. I have another female client in great shape who at age 41 struggles to get her HR above 155bpm when exercising. 
A better starting point would be to use the Karvonen formula which still has it's flaws but actually takes into account your RESTING HEART RATE when coming up with a target heart rate range.  Here is a great calculator that will give you a side by side comparison of the two methods.  Be sure to measure your resting heart rate first thing in the morning after waking up, while sitting down or still lying in bed, preferable after waking up without the aid of an alarm clock and before having any caffeine.
Keep in mind, we are looking at general fitness improvement and weight loss for average people. For someone looking at serious world class level of competition we would absolutely seek lab resources to hone in SPECIFIC Hr numbers.

Polar HR Monitor 
The next piece of the puzzle is being able to measure your HR during exercise.  While most machines in gyms have HR handles on them, you can't use them while your running at high speed and they often don't provide readings for people.  I recommend the use of a POLAR HR Monitor.  It comes with a strap and a watch.  The HR strap will communicate your HR to virtually every modern piece of cardio equipment in the gym as well as to the watch that you wear which means you can do this interval workout outside if you prefer.

Once you have figured out your HRmax the most basic way of doing intervals is to simply work at an effort that takes you up to 85% of your max then bring it back down to 50% of your HRmax.  I do this by setting the treadmill at say 9.0 and running for 1 minute, then bringing it back down to a walking pace of 3.5 for one minute.  This is the most simplest of intervals.  IF you do the math 9.0 +3.5/2 =6.25 mph.  So over the course of 20 minutes of intervals, you will cover the same amount of ground as if you ran steady at 6.25 but the difference is that you challenged your heart above what it is used to and then allowed it recover.  This process strengthens the heart muscle and your cardiovascular capacity.  Over time, you will find that your steady state runs improve.

I could write pages and pages about interval training, this is just to scratch the surface and to get the average person thinking about upping your intensity and not getting caught up in doing the same old thing.  If you find that your working out as consistently as ever but your results are lacking, start throwing some basic intervals into the mix.  As always feel free to comment below or on my Facebook page with your specific questions about interval training.

P.S.  Heres a great clip of Rachel in action doing some intervals last week!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ask a Trainer - Preventing Injury During Marathon Training

The summer is flying by and I'm embarrassed that I haven't posted here in over a month!  My golf handicap has been coming down steadily and I've been logging some serious miles on my bike as well so please forgive me!  Today's post comes from an old college friend, Logan.  Logan is embarking on his first marathon and was experiencing some early symptoms of overuse injuries.  Running is a repetitive, single-plane motion.  When we fail to train in the other 2 planes of motion we set ourselves up for muscular imbalances which can lead to overuse injuries.  Specifically with runners, the IT Band gets tight and pulls the kneecap off line.  Repetitive running (or cycling) with the knee cap off track leads to tendinitis and a lot of pain throughout the knees. Through a few basic strength training exercises and proper recovery techniques, runners like Logan can usually avoid having any major setbacks to their training regimen and make it to race day in top form.  Check out the video below for some great tips on basic cross-training for runners.  

Both the foam rollers and wobble boards can be purchased online from Perform Better.  These are items that aren't usually seen in your regular local sporting goods store (foam rollers have been making their way into some stores).  If you are running a marathon, a foam roller is an absolute must!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ask a Trainer

Hi Dave, 
I was wondering what your take is between going to the gym or exercising at home with one of those fitness programs you can purchase on TV.  I have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes so I need to lose weight.  My wife and I are starting to walk which will get my wife and I out and getting some exercise but I really would like to get back into shape.  When I had turned 40 I was going to the gym 4 times a week and started to look great.  Unfortunately now that I am 51 I really need to get back into that. 
So basically what I was wondering is, should I go to a gym and find a personal trainer or do I purchase an at home exercise program. 
Thanks for helping out!


Great question Chris and I'm quite sure that you aren't the only one who finds himself in this situation.  The most important part of any fitness program is CONSISTENCY.  So with that said, whatever mode of fitness you are most likely to stick with is what you need to do. At 51, you're far from being ready for a rocking chair but there are certain things you need to be more careful about than a 30 year old.  This is where a good trainer will show their value. Many people find success in working with a trainer to get started out and regain a good level of conditioning and then move off to working out on their own and get great results.  Many of the popular at home workout videos such as P90x and Insanity are very high intensity and someone with low initial fitness will have a tough time getting going and sticking with these programs. 
Additionally, you mentioned diabetes.  I STRONGLY recommend going to see a nutritionist as most diabetic issues can be handled through some slight changes to your eating habits, specifically the timing and frequency of meals.  As a trainer, it's not really in my scope of practice (or any trainer's for that matter) to give specific nutrition advice.  Depending on your insurance, a visit with your nutritionist may actually be covered so it would be a no brainer to have a consultation.  

Have a question you'd like answered?  Send them to and I'll be sure to personally get back to you!  Select questions will be chosen to be posted on the blog!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Power Oatmeal

This oatmeal is packing a powerful ingredient – protein. Mix a scoop of your favorite protein powder into your oatmeal to transform it into a quick and healthy breakfast. 
Servings: 1 

Here's what you need...

1/2 cup whole grain oats
1 cup water
dash of salt
1 scoop high quality protein
1 tablespoon chopped macadamia nuts
1 tablespoon golden raisins
Mix the oats, water and salt together in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 to 4 minutes.
Stir in protein, top with nuts and raisins.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 325 calories, 7g fat, 41.7g carbohydrate, 10.2g fiber, and 25.7g protein.

If you enjoy recipes like this, I invite you to sign up for my mailing list.  When you do I'll also give you a free copy of my e-Book "21 Insider Fitness Tips" absolutely free!  Click the link on the right side of this page or become a fan of Central Park Fitness on Facebook!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bike to Work Day!

So today is Bike to Work Day and since I've been biking to work (and everywhere else for that matter) for over a year, I figured I'd offer some on insight on the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of bike commuting.

Who should commute by bike?  Just about anyone can ride a bike but bike commuting isn't for everyone.  It's natural and totally normal to feel a bit nervous riding along major roadways, especially during peak traffic hours.  While it would be great to get to a point where we had so many bikes on the roads that drivers really were more mindful, we are far from that point.  Days like today when so many more cyclists than normal take to the streets do go a long way towards helping as you have people who normally drive getting to see a cyclists point of view along with drivers being forced to interact with a greater number of cyclists for 1 day.  With that said, I still think you need to have a bit of an adventurous side to you.  As for physical condition, you don't need to be Lance Armstrong but you should be in reasonable enough health to be sure you can not only make your commute but also be able to handle yourself should problems arise.

My commuting bike.  27 Speed Touring Frame with front and
rear racks.
What should I ride?  People commute on all sorts of different kinds of bikes.  Here in Manhattan the terrain is mostly flat.  Many people ride single speed bikes that are super easy to maintain and less expensive because they don't require shifters or deraileurs.  If you live in a very hilly area, you may be on a regular road bike with gears.  Other things that determine what kind of bike you should ride is what you need to take to work with you.  If you simply need to get yourself to the job, almost any bike can work.  If you need to carry, lunch, a laptop, clothes to change into, etc than your going to need to figure out a way to do that.  Messenger bags, backpacks, rack & panniers are very common on commuter bikes.      The quality of the roads you ride on also plays a role in what you ride.  I take a lot of bumpy, potholed streets, so I need a frame that can accomodate wider tires than a typical road bike yet a MTB is overkill as it is heavy and knobby tires really aren't necessary for paved streets.
My uniquely coded "Pinhead" key to remove my wheels
Where do I keep my bike?  For many people here in NYC this is a huge issue.  Fortunately, Mayor Bloomberg is taking a lot of initiatives to make New York a more bike friendly city.  Legislation has been passed that requires all new office buildings to provide dedicated areas for bicycle storage.  There are also laws requiring parking garages to offer bicycle parking on a daily and monthly basis.  Granted, it's not incredibly cost effective but $60 a month for a bike parking space that frees up room in your apt or allows you to save on cab and subway fare to work each day is well worth it.  For me, I keep my commuter locked up outside all the time!  Some people think I'm crazy and I have had one bike stolen (ride bikes long enough and everyone does!).  I utilize several features to make my bike secure. My favorite security feature are my Pinhead skewers. is a company that makes special skewers that replace the quick release skewers on your wheels, seat post, saddle, and fork.  You cannot remove those components without the special key.  This also means that when locking the bike up, you simply lock the frame to something sturdy.  Without these skewers most people either have to weave a lock and chain through both wheels and their frame and then remove their seat and carry it with them.  It's time consuming and flat out annoying!  In addition to this I use the Kryptonite brand "New York Fuhgeddaboutit" lock and chain.  This lock and chain combo is the largest made and the lock and 3 foot length of chain weigh 13lbs!  It's important to know that no lock and security system is foolproof but most bike thieves are looking for easy targets.  If my bike is parked in a group of bikes, they are going to see all the security features on it and move on to another easier to steal bike!
Me getting prepped for a cold winter
When do I ride?  One of the fears of bike commuting is riding in traffic.  However many people find that because they get up earlier in the morning to ride to work they are actually on the road well before the bulk of the traffic is. Climate conditions may also play a role.  Most of my commutes are from 1-3 miles tops so I ride year round.  I commuted in 20 degree temps this winter!  Many people are 2 or 3 season commuters commuting in either spring and fall and reserving the extreme heat and cold of summer and winter for their cars and others simply skip winter since it's not only cold but the road conditions are often really bad.
Why commute by bike?  It wasn't long ago that people who commuted by bike were considered crazy, eccentric, or just flat out weird.  That was back when gas was .89 a gallon.  Lately, more and more people have been asking me about commuting by bike for one simple reason; GAS IS NOW $4.50 A GALLON!!!  It's simple math really, if your car gets 20MPG and you have a 20 mile round trip commute to work you can save $5 a day.  Doesn't sound like a huge amount but stick that $5 into a piggy bank each day.  At the end of the month you have a credit card payment, a nice dinner out, a new pair of jeans or whatever you desire.  Obviously the savings go up or down based on how far you commute and how efficient your car is.  A moderately fit cyclist on open roads with limited stopping for traffic lights can easily cover 15 miles in an hour.  Besides the obvious savings on gas what better way to squeeze your workout in by making it part of your commute.  You will not only save money but you will get healthier and more fit.  Then of course there is that thing called the environment, reducing emissions is good for everyone.  Then as a new yorker there is my favorite reason; IT'S FASTER!  I will challenge anyone to a race across manhattan during rush hour.  I will ride my bike and you can take, cab, bus, subway, whatever you want.  I can almost guarantee I will beat you!  (I live 1/2 a block from the East River and have a client that lives right on the Hudson River 15 blocks south, I get to him in 15 minutes or less everytime covering about 3.5 miles in the process)
How do I get started?  Dust off that old bike thats been in the garage, throw some oil on the chain, put some air in the tires, take it for a spin around the block.  You'd be surprised what a little TLC can do for an old bike.  Don't have an old bike kicking around, go down to your local bike shop and have a discussion with an expert.  They'll tell you about different styles of bikes and most importantly discuss getting you fitted properly to the bike of your choice!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's back! Breakneck Ridge Hike 2011

I'm all about showing the masses that fitness is so much more than just going to the gym and lifting weights or running on a treadmill.  Fitness takes so many forms that are truly fun!  It's no surprise that our Breakneck Ridge hiking trip sells out every year because it's not only a tough workout but it's an absolute blast!  Sunday 5/22 we are bringing it back! 

The Views: Spectacular. Rocky crags with no trees allow for unfettered vistas up and down the valley. Hawks fly at eye level. So do planes cruising down the valley. Here you can get a view of just how busy the river can be with barge traffic, cruise boats and jet skis.
Storm King Mountain is directly across the river. West Point to the south and Newburgh Bridge to the north.

History: Granite blasted from the sides of this mountain has been used to build the Brooklyn Bridge, West Point and the front steps of the capitol building in Albany. The scars to the mountain are clearly visible.
The Hike: We will depart from Grand Central for a 75 minute ride north to the Breakneck Ridge Metro North Station.  Taking the "white" trail from the Metro North Station, the trail goes straight up as you climb over rocks. You'll need all four appendages to grasp and pull yourself up the first phase of the mountain. It takes about half an hour to reach the first of several lookout plateaus.  Upon reaching the summit, we will stop for lunch and then continue back down the backside of the mountain and hike back one stop to the Cold Spring Metro North Station in the center of the Historic Town of Cold Spring.  Total hike distance is appx. 5 miles.  We will have plenty of breaks for water and snacks as needed.
What to Bring: Camera, bagged lunch, snacks for the trail, as well as water(about a liter should be plenty) and backpack to carry it all.  A good pair of comfortable athletic shoes (Hiking boots aren't necessary but are a definate plus if you have them).  Dress in layers, it should be pretty warm this time of year but at the top of the ridge it can get windy and cool.  Also, you will definately warm up as we get going on the initial ascent of the ridge.  You may want to bring some spending money for when we arrive in Cold Spring.  There are various shops, bars and restaurants (we've been known to have a post hike pint!)

Cost: $40 before 5/15  $60 after (includes round trip Metro North Ticket)  RAIN DATE 6/5/2011
We will meet at 8:30am at the clock in the middle of Grand Central.  The train to Breakneck Ridge leaves at 8:47am SHARP.  I cannot hold the train if you are late so PLEASE BE ON TIME!  There will be no refunds for missing the train!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Choosing a gym

One of my clients was asking me about recommendations on a gym to join.  She currently has a membership but was looking to save a bit of money.  I figured I would share some of the things that we discussed with all of you.

"Price is what you pay; Value is what you get." Rupert Murdoch
Far too often people are always looking for the CHEAPEST option when it comes to a gym.  I totally understand, not everyone has a lot of disposable income to spend on a gym but keep in mind there is a reason why some gyms are cheap.  NYC is a totally different animal than most suburban gyms so those of you outside of NYC please try not to have a heart attack when I tell you that some of our gyms are $100-$150 a month!  We also have plenty of gyms like Planet Fitness that are $10-$20 a month!  So what's the difference?  Well your typical $100+ gym in nyc has a very robust schedule of classes, typically a minimum of 10 different classes offered a day.  When I worked at New York Sports club, we offered upwards of 20 different classes a day in our location ranging including spinning, yoga, and total body conditioning. 

$100+ gyms all have complimentary towels, are well staffed with trainers to assist you and have tons of both cardio and strength training equipment.  I once had a membership to a Planet Fitness because it was right across the street from my apartment.  They have ZERO classes and I don't think I ever saw a true trainer in there.  They had a decent amount of cardio machines, but almost NO free weights, just strength machines.  For me it served a purpose, when I needed a quick place to do some cardio, or a few light dumbells for shoulder workouts and a place to do abs and stretch, it worked for me but I would never consider it as a serious place for ME to train and get in shape simply because there weren't enough weights.  It may work perfectly well for you!

Money is a motivator While $100 is a lot of money for some people, lets break it down, it's less than $4 a day.  If your serious about getting fit, most people can find places to get that money.  If you smoke a half of a pack of cigarettes a day, quitting smoking will pay for your gym.  If you buy a starbucks coffee everyday, making your own coffee at home each morning will just about cover your gym membership.  Cut down on eating out lunch at the office and bring it from home and you'll not only save a few bucks, you'll probably cut a lot of bad calories out of your diet!  Everybody gets motivated differently but I remember being unemployed when I moved to NYC and I still chose to pay $100 a month for a gym because in my mind, that was way too much money to spend and NOT show up to the gym.  When I had my $10 planet fitness membership, I often blew off going because the perceived value was low.

A la carte My client that asked me about gyms really isn't much into lifting weights on her own (thats what I'm for!) and she lives 1 block from the East River walk and prefers to get cardio out there.  However, she loves doing Yoga.  She pays a premium price for a nice gym with good yoga classes but travels quite a bit for work so some months she may only take a handful of classes.  There are several great Yoga studios here in NYC that offer classes on a pay as you go basis or let you buy a package of classes. There has also been a big boom in recent years of studios dedicated exclusively to spinning and other specialized fitness activities.  Sometimes chain gyms have great classes but they are overcrowded.  These private studios give you a more exclusive service while also allowing you to simply pay for what you are using.

Do it yourself  You don't need a fancy gym to get in shape. Resistance bands are incredibly versatile, portable, and inexpensive.  We use them for all sorts of exercises in bootcamp.  They come in different tensions for a variety of fitness levels.  Again, larger guys like myself will never build huge muscles with them but I do get a great warmup and dynamic stretch with them.  You can use them indoors  by attaching them to doorways as needed or outdoors in a local park.  The options are endless!

Just do it!  Whatever your budget is, a gym or fitness equipment is only good if you use it!      Figure out what your deal breakers are.  For some people, money isn't an issue but cleanliness of the gym is.  Others really want group classes for motivation and a social aspect of training.  If you don't know what you are doing in the gym it's like having a car without a drivers license!  Don't hesitate to ask me or your local fitness professional for help on how to make the most of your gym!  The feeling of accomplishing a significant fitness goal is priceless.  I've had a few clients over the years that have made some amazing transformations to their bodies and all of them will tell you that if they would have paid any sum imaginable if they knew that they would get the bodies of their dreams!  They didn't just shell out money and magically get transformed; they set goals and objectives along the way and worked towards it.  As Bob Harper of The Biggest Loser says "Trust the process" and the results will come!