Saturday, August 29, 2009

Strength Training 5x More Effective Against Low Back Pain Than Aerobic Exercise

Are you one of the many people who experience low back pain? If so, you're not alone. It's estimated that approximately 80% of North Americans suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lifetimes, and for 85% of them the pain is chronic.

You're better off using strength training to reduce the pain and improve lower back function rather than aerobic exercise, according to research from the University of Alberta, done in conjunction with the University of Regina.

Study participants were people with chronic back pain. One group took part in a 16-week strength training program and used load-bearing machines, dumbbells, barbells and other resistance equipment. The second group engaged in aerobic exercise such as using an elliptical crosstrainer, walking on a treadmill, jogging, etc.

The strength training group exhibited a 60% improvement in function and pain levels compared to just a 12% improvement for the aerobicizing folks.

Robert Kell, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus says, "Any activity that makes you feel better is something you should pursue, but the research indicates that we get better pain management results from resistance training."

Kell believes that that the difference in results is due to the whole-body approach used with the resistance training group. He said, "We tried to strengthen the entire body and by doing that, we decreased the fatigue people felt throughout the day. They were better able to perform their activities of daily living."

The benefits of resistance training to improve the lives of back pain sufferers are clear from this and other studies. However, please be sure to get proper instruction on the right exercises to use and how to do the exercises correctly.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bootcamp Sounds Scary, I Could Never Do That!

Lately I've had some people tell me that the term "bootcamp" is intimidating.

Before I started No Pink Dumbbells Bootcamp, I went back and forth about using the word. For one, it seemed disrespectful to the military. Second, I, too, thought it might scare some people.

On the other hand, I thought the word bootcamp would indicate that we'd be using a lot of bodyweight exercises and that the workouts would be challenging. And, since bootcamp training is becoming more prevalent, I thought it was more descriptive than calling it small group personal training.

Anyway, whatever the name, don't be scared. If a sedentary 56 year old woman who had a horrible gym experience just one year earlier can do it, so can you. You can read about Becky's "adventure" with Big Box Fitness here ==> Why A Big Box Gym May Not Be Right For You, Part 1

At the end of this blog post you can read what happened when she tried out No Pink Dumbbells.

I always stress to people that participating in bootcamp is not about how much you do in comparison to someone else; it's about how much you challenge yourself that matters. If the fittest person in the room can run rings around others but doesn't push themselves and the out-of-shape person does, the out-of-shape person will get much more benefit from the workouts.

Let me be clear, this type of training is not for everyone. If you're a whiner or if you don't like to work hard, sweat and/or breath heavily, bootcamp is definitely not for you but...

* If you want fast results and are willing to challenge yourself to get them
* If you're ready to dump the excuses and commit to a healthier lifestyle
* If you want the support and accountability of a group

Try bootcamp. Many bootcamps will let you come to one or more free sessions before you sign up.

Becky's No Pink Dumbbells Experience

The story begins here ==> Becky's Big Box Fitness Adventure

A year passed with no real exercise. Then in the beginning of July, 2009, a friend from work said, "come on, you're coming with me to Body Bootcamp". I said ok, Now, one might think I'm nuts, after hearing about my last experience, but, this was the BEST fitness and exercise decision I ever made!!!

Mickey reviewed my history with me, and we discussed my goals. During boot camp, she would tell me "do what you can". She is right there to make sure we are doing the exercises correctly, so we get the maximum benefit, and so we don't injure ourselves.

Mickey pushes us to reach our potential. Within the group, there is support, encouragement, and camaraderie. After completing the circuit, many times one of us will say, "come on, one more time" and Mickey will smile.

I feel so motivated, and amazed at what I have accomplished in such a short time. Oh, there was soreness initially, but I worked through it. I actually look forward to going to Boot Camp, no excuses! I have energy and stamina, long forgotten! Thanks to my husband's support, my friend Vicki's persistence, and Mickey's instruction, I can honestly say I am proud of myself!

If you're in Lancaster, PA and are interested in group training, give me a call at (717) 509-7777.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why A Big Box Gym May Not Be For You, Part 2

On Friday, I had a guest blogger, Becky, write about her experience at a big box gym. If you missed it, you can read it here ==> Why A Big Box Gym May Not Be Right For You

Unfortunately, Becky's experience was not an isolated incident. Obviously there are plenty of good trainers out there but there are bad ones, too. Just like there are lousy doctors, plumbers, lawyers, contractors, accountants, etc.

Contrary to popular misconception, gyms are not filled with superfit people who know all about exercise.

You don't need to be in shape to join a gym.
You don't need color coordinated spandex outfits.
You don't need to know anything about exercise.

You just need to find a gym where a knowledgeable trainer will work with you at your current fitness level.

Obviously, the key word here is knowledgeable. Becky, clearly, didn't have that during her trial workout and it's obvious on so many levels.

* There are differences of opinions about how best to warm up but everyone should warm up before lifting weights. Period. If your trainer says something like, "I/we don't do that", run.

* Personally, I would not have someone who hasn't exercised in 20 years doing 3 sets of 15 repetitions of any one exercise their first day in the gym. Others may disagree but I don't see the point unless your goal is making the person so sore they don't want to return.

* No one should be putting a novice exerciser through a workout using weights that are too heavy for the person to lift. If on your first visit to a health club, you can't lift the weight the trainer has selected, it needs to be reduced. No debate. If the trainer says s/he'll help you lift the weight, run.

If you're a former athlete or someone who's exercised most of their life, the gym you select may not be that big of a deal. However, if you never belonged to a fitness center, haven't exercised in years, have medical issues, or are intimidated by rows of strange looking equipment, you need to find a place where someone will work with you.

At my gym, Body & Soul Fitness Studio, every new member gets an individualized program designed specifically for her based on her specific goals, current fitness level, medical issues, exercise experience, etc. There are places like mine out there, you just need to look for them.

Yes, it will probably cost you a few bucks more than the bargain gym with little or no service. But is it a bargain if you join there and...

* don't get results because you're confused about what to do?
* hurt yourself?
* don't go or stop going because you feel overwhelmed and stupid?

You are an individual and you deserve to be treated like one. Find a gym that will. Just say no to one-size-fits-all exercise programs. :-)

If you're in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area, call me today at (717) 509-7777 so we can discuss your goals and schedule a tour of Body & Soul.

It took a year before Becky ventured back into another gym. Tune in next time to read about that experience.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Why A Big Box Gym May Not Be Right For You

This is the true story of what happened to one of my bootcampers last year at a large, local gym. I asked if she would be willing to write down her experience and let me share it on my blog and this is what she sent me...

Last summer, my husband wanted to purchase a pilates ball, so I accompanied him to a sporting goods store. Outside of the store was an outgoing, very physically fit, young lady, greeting customers and handing out free passes to a (local) national fitness center. I took the passes and decided "this is it, I've got to do something"!

I called, and made an appointment to tour the gym. When I arrived, I was greeted by my "new best friend" who gave me a quick tour, and made an appointment for me to meet with my "personal trainer" so I could get started. I found the facility to be clean, big, and bright!

I was psyched, ready to get started. My NBF called me several times to keep my interest peaked, and told me she picked the best trainer for me. When I arrived to meet with my "personal trainer", I was greeted and introduced to a young man, almost young enough to be my grandson.

We reviewed my medical history, and I told him basically I hadn't exercised in over 20 years, had osteopenia, back problems, including C-Spine surgery, so I had some limitations. His plan of action was weight bearing exercise, (which my doctor also told me I needed to do).

He asked if I wanted to get started, I said sure. He took me to 4 machines, and had me do 3 sets of 15 reps at each machine, with no warm up, he said they don't do that. After the first set, I told him I couldn't do it, but he said he'd help me. After that torture, I was told to do 20 minutes on the treadmill and elliptical for my cool down. He told me I would be sore, but it would get better, and gave me a price list for additional physical trainer services.

At 4 AM the following morning, the pain in my arm woke me, it was very swollen and hot. I made a doctor appointment, and on my way out the door, my NBF called. I told her what happened, and never heard from her again! My doctor said I had a severe muscle strain, not to give up on exercising, but suggested I not go back there.

~Becky R.

Check back next time to read my thoughts about Becky's experience.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Collected Fitness Wisdom #10

The body doesn’t function by isolating one muscle at a time, so why would you exercise differently than you move? Splitting the body up into muscle groups is unnecessary for almost every fitness goal. Using multi-muscle, compound movements is helpful for creating higher intensities (via more muscle involvement). And higher intensities will a) help stimulate muscle growth, as well as b) lead to greater caloric burn and higher resting metabolism.

~Kim Ball

As far as conditioning and cardio goes, you have to realize that the human body wasn't designed for repetitive steady state activity but rather short bursts with a wide variety of different movements. This is exactly what you do when you play most sports. When you pump away on a machine for 30 minutes you are fighting evolution.

~Jason Ferruggia

Diet, training and lifestyle are unquestionably important, but what’s more important than which specific nutrition or training plan you choose is whether you have the ability to put them into action consistently.

The MOTIVATION to ACT is the ultimate key to success.

~Tom Venuto

Our bodies are made in the small daily choices. It’s things like not having pop with the pizza. It’s things like one slice instead of two. And what do you call that? WILL POWER. If you don’t have will power to say no to the things that are keeping you from the body you want then you don’t want that body more than you want pizza. So go enjoy the pizza. It’s not wrong at all, it’s just the choice you made and if you are happy with the consequences of eating it then I say "God bless ya" for knowing what you truly want.

So you can’t ever have pizza? HELL NO!! That’s not what I am saying. What I am saying is that bodies are created when you say "no" to bad things more frequently than "yes". And when you say "yes" to empowering things more than you say "enggg, whatever".

~Ray Burton

Machines are eventually going to be obsolete in major gyms. That’s because while your body is built to use lots of muscles in lots of ways, most machines isolate single muscle groups and work them in a static up-and-down, forward-and-backward regime. They also provide the opportunity to take a load off, preserving precious calories that you might otherwise be burning.

~Patrick Murphy


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dear Mr. Cloud

I read your recent article in Time magazine entitled Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin. Although you made a few valid points, unfortunately, your article was full of incorrect information.

I won't debate specific research studies; Tom Venuto did that far better than I ever could but I will address some of your other comments. (A link to Tom's rebuttal is at the end of the post.)

First of all, I find it incredibly irresponsible of Time magazine to allow someone who believes that exercise turns fat into muscle to write an article on exercise. It is impossible to convert fat to muscle or vice versa. Muscle and fat are two completely different tissues. You can't turn bone into artery, you can't turn wood into metal, you can't turn water into oil, and you can't turn fat into muscle.

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After listing all the exercise you perform weekly, you wrote, "I still have gut fat that hangs over my belt when I sit. Why isn't all the exercise wiping it out?"

You can't out-train a bad diet.

You also wrote, "Friday will bring a 5.5-mile run, the extra half-mile my grueling expiation of any gastronomical indulgences during the week."

Do you realize that extra half-mile will burn just 50-70 calories? How would that in any way make up for overindulging during the week? Was 3/4 of a cheese stick your entire "gastronomical indulgences" for the week? It appears that you are one of the many people who wildly overestimate how many calories they burn during exercise.

Mr. Cloud, you admit to often consuming more on the days you exercise than on the days you don't. What exactly are you eating? Do you reward yourself with things like fried food, ice cream, pizza etc. Do you stop for a few beers on workout days?

Fitness pro, Mike Geary, purposely overate for 6 weeks but limited himself to "unprocessed natural foods." He trained the same as he always does (no longer or harder) and after stuffing himself "with as much healthy food as possible" for 6 weeks, his weight stayed exactly the same. You can read the entire article here ==> The Weird Results Of Mike Geary's 6 Week Overeating Experiment

I realize that most people do not eat as strictly as Mr. Geary but the point remains that the quality of the food you eat makes a huge difference in whether or not you lose weight. If you do feel hungrier on days you exercise, reach for whole, natural, non-processed food. Focus on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean meats and fish. If you eat this way at least 90% of the time you will shed fat.

What kind of exercise are you doing?

You also mention working with a trainer. What type of workouts do you do? Are you spending the majority of your time on machines or using free weights? Do most of your exercises isolate muscles or is your routine focused on compound movements? How many times a week do you strength train? How challenging are the weights you use? Contrary to popular misconception, cardio is not the most important type of exercise for slimming down.

As far as cardio, I think it's a good guess that your 5.5 mile run and 30 minutes on the step mill are done at a steady pace. Steady state cardio is not the most effective way to lose weight. Cardio intervals, metabolic bodyweight circuits, etc. will help you drop pounds better than steady state cardio.

All of this makes a difference. Exercise for the sake of exercising definitely has health benefits but the right exercise done at the right intensity for the right amount of time will be far more beneficial for weight loss.

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Click here to read Tom Venuto's ==> Why Time Magazine Owes the Fitness Industry a Big Fat Apology.

Edited to add another good rebuttal ==> Is Exercise Derailing Your Efforts to Lose Weight by Brad Schoenfeld

Here's one more good one from John Berardi at Precision Nutrition ==> Why Exercise STILL Doesn’t Work


Thursday, August 13, 2009

What's Happening At Body & Soul In August

Check out what's happening at Body & Soul in August...


In the last few months, I've spent hundreds of dollars on advertising that has, so far, resulted in no calls, tours or memberships. Rather than giving money to others, I've decided I'd rather pay my members to help build Body & Soul.

For the month of August, you will receive $29 in Body & Soul bucks for every referral that signs up for the standard membership and $39 for every premium membership referral. Body & Soul bucks can be used for personal training, water, T-shirts, bootcamp, etc.

If you are a blog reader or on my e-mail list but are not yet a Body & Soul member, I will deduct the above amounts from your enrollment fee if you sign up in August.


Space is getting tight upstairs so I'm running a BOGO for the next 2 weeks and probably until the end of August. All proceeds benefit charities and non-profits. Since we opened in 2000, Body & Soul members have generously donated $2500 to various organizations through book donations and sales.

Paperbacks $1, Hardcovers $2.


The next 6 week Zumba sessions begin the week of August 23rd - Monday and/or Thursday 6:00 - 7:00 PM.

If you're undecided, please feel free to try out a class at no charge. Just let me know when you're coming.

Body & Soul Fitness Studio
618 Columbia Avenue
Lancaster, PA
(717) 509-7777

Plenty of free parking.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lose 5 Times More Weight With This Strategy

You've heard it over and over. If you're trying to shed some pounds, you should eat breakfast; breakfast is the most important meal of the day, etc.

Checkout this great article by Joel Marion on recent studies regarding the role of protein at breakfast. And, not just any protein. See what the research reveals about the use of protein drinks.

Interesting stuff.

Read the entire post here ==> Body Transformation Insider

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Master Your Mindset

I often remind people that their attitide, beliefs, and self talk are the key to dropping body fat and getting fit. Regular readers may even notice that I prefer using phrases like "dump fat", "slim down", rather than "lose weight". I don't always do it because I know it sounds awkard to people but there's a reason for it.

We have a negative connotation of the word "lose". Whether it's losing your car keys, a bet, your job, a game, our way- no one wants to lose something. And if we do lose or misplace something tangible, what do we do? We try to find what we lost or we replace it. The exact thing you don't want to do with lost pounds.

So, most of the time, I use other phrases. Fitness pro, Jon Benson, is fond of the term "release fat".

If you have challenges with following a healthy nutrition plan and/or getting your regular workouts in, check out the 3 free resources below. (You don't even need to provide an e-mail address.) Two are articles and one is an audio, which you can either listen to online or download.

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Mindset Teleseminar with Scott Tousignant, Jim Katsoulis and Kevin Gianni

Motivation to Lose Weight -- Using Brain Science for Attaining the Proper Mindset for Success by Tom Venuto

How to Think Like an Exerciser

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pay Attention

How many times did your parents say, "Pay attention to what you're doing?" I don't know about you, but my mom said that all the time.

That's also good advice to follow when you're strength training. Over the years, I can't count the number of times I've seen people mindlessly going through their routine while they daydreamed, replayed a conversation or argument in their head, thought about work, chatted with fellow exercisers, etc.

For maximum benefit you need to concentrate on what you're doing. You need to make sure you're using a weight that's challenging. If you're pumping out rep after rep while you converse with friends, you're not getting the most from your time.

Stop thinking about what you'll have for dinner or what chores you need to do. Focus. It's important to perform each exercise using proper form. Work through a full range of motion and squeeze the muscle you're working.

Make the decision to stay focused during exercise sessions. You'll get a better workout and faster results.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

New 4-Week Bootcamp Session Starting

A new 4-week session of No Pink Dumbbells Bootcamp begins on Monday, August 3rd at 6:30 PM. If you are new to camp, please arrive by 6:15 to complete your health history.

Bootcamp meets Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 6:30 PM at...

Body & Soul Fitness Studio
618 Columbia Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17603
(717) 509-7777

Plenty of free parking

Why bootcamp-style training?

* With No Pink Dumbbells Bootcamp you can get the instructional benefits of personal training along with the accountability, support and camaraderie of a group, at a fraction of the cost of individual personal training.

* The training is designed for women and men who want to get fit but don’t want to spend hours a day exercising.

Do you already have to be in shape?

No. The workouts will be challenging but will be adapted for the fitness level of the participants. However, if you don’t like to sweat, work hard, or breathe heavily, No Pink Dumbbells Bootcamp is not for you. If you’re looking for a magic pill or gadget that will give you a lean, toned body with no effort, please don’t enroll.

Sign up now and save!

Even with a multi-session commitment, the investment for 12 personal training sessions with me in 4 weeks is $350. You have the opportunity right now to become a member No Pink Dumbbells Bootcamp for less than half of that! The regular price for 4 weeks of boot camp training is $188. Sign up now and get the summer rate of just $158. You save almost $200 over the cost of regular personal training!

You CAN lose weight and get fit without doing hours of boring treadmill or elliptical workouts . Try bootcamp for 2 weeks; if it’s not for you, I’ll refund your money. What have you got to lose besides inches?

Don’t miss this opportunity. Whether you take action now or not, in 4 weeks you will be one month older. Will you be a few pounds heavier or 5-10 pounds lighter and closer to your ultimate goal? The choice is yours; call me today at (717) 509-7777 to register or for more information.

Interested in a mid-morning bootcamp? Please let me know.