Kymberly just gave a fabulous workshop at Rancho la Puerta about gait, and I thought I’d share some of her tips so that you can figure out if your gait is aging you or supporting your continued youthfulness.
Walk across the room, turning at the wall and repeating the walk for several rounds. How quickly do you go? How comfortable are you, especially at the knees, lower back and neck? How small or big is your stride? Notice whether or not you have to touch the wall to turn, make a wide circle, or pivot quickly. Pay attention to your balance. Be aware of your stride length, especially if it’s small, which means you don’t trust your balance, though you are actually at MORE risk of falling with a shortened stride.
Go watch SpongeBob Squarepants and take a look at how he propels himself forward. See those flapping arms? Nothing going on from shoulder to elbow, but lots of movement from elbow to hands. If this is you, we bet your elbows hurt after a long walk. Same thing if you’re a wrist flapper. Ideally, you want a long arm that reaches out in front of you. And… you want the arm in back to be reaching behind just as far. At the top of your arm swing, you should have a triangle formed from both hands and the shoulder. In other words, what goes on behind you is as important as what’s happening in front.
What do you see when you focus? What do you hear? What is powering your forward movement? It’s possible you favor one side, especially if you’ve had any kind of leg injury. If you can get someone to listen as you walk (without looking at you), a limp or compensation just might reveal itself. So often we are asked why the left leg (for example) hurts when it was the right leg that had the injury. The answer is that the left leg is overtired from being overused due to overcompensation. So get over it!
Use power muscles to power your stride. Are you using your front or back leg to propel? If you want a shapely booty, push from the glutes. As we mention in our post “Why is My Body in Pain After Running and Walking,” running and walking require different muscle emphasis. Pulling from the hamstrings on the front leg will just make them hurt, and might also cause pain behind the knee. Besides, who doesn’t want a shapelier tush?
Slow your walk way down and observe what happens throughout your body. Does your head bob forward or side to side? Maybe your walk improves. Maybe it falls to pieces. Notice if your arms keep moving or freeze in place. Especially note whether you start to move homolaterally (same arm and leg go forward rather than opposing arm and leg). Do you feel less or more stable?
If your head is forward and down, that’s where you are headed (hahaha. so punny). Your head needs to be above your body, not in front of it. Not only does “text neck” increase your risk of migraines and back strain, it also increases your risk of falling. Ever notice those people who are hunched over with their faces actually looking at the ground? See how their elbows are back behind them for balance? They didn’t get that way overnight. To check if that hunchback will be you, do the chin check. Stand in neutral position (read “Finding Neutral Spine” for a full explanation). Put a finger to your chin. Hold your finger in place. Retract head 2-3 times. Mark any gap. A big gap means you are a forward head thruster. A small gap means you win free neutral spine for life!
Remember how we mentioned 5 tips ago that what goes on behind you is as important as what’s in front? Almost everyone knows the posture zip trick for the front, but do you finish that zzzzzzip by going down the back? Once again, you’re in luck, as we wrote a post (with video !!!) about the zip trick as part of our posture series.
Time to zip up this post. We hope you feel giddy about your gait as you trot around the block on Turkey Day.
If you want your very own professional gait assessment, contact us at email@example.com. For $59 U.S. we’ll give you a complete, detailed assessment based on a video you’ll send us. And for free we’ll tell you that good posture makes you look 5 pounds slimmer, more confident, and sexier.
We’ve talked a bit about these topics before. My article “Your Feet, Your Shoes, Your Choices,” is now accessible to consumers (you had to be a member of the professional fitness association to access the piece in IDEA Fitness Journal when it was first published), so give it a read to get advice from the experts on foot care and footwear.
One of numerous posts on the topic of foot and knee pain (They are linked. You know the song) is by my sister. She shares six strategies for avoiding pain while moving.
If you suffer from shin splints (the problem begins in the foot), you’ll want to read this series:
Of course, I am also particular about the shoes I wear, especially for walking and teaching my group exercise classes. Now I can add slippers to the list of protective footwear. At the BlogHer conference a few weeks ago, sis and I were given some Vionic with Orthaheel slippers. Formerly just producers of medical grade footwear, they now offer sandals, shoes and slippers to everyday consumers too. The Orthaheel technology helps reduce over-pronation, (the most common foot issue). That’s a good thing, as correcting over-pronation can improve foot function and relieve plantar fasciitis, as well as knee and back pain. Recommended by both the American Podiatric Medical Association and Dr. Andrew Weil, I am enjoying wearing them around the house. I don’t think I’ll teach in them.
As kids, we had freckles, fair skin, acne, oily faces, and sunburned easily. As adults, we still have to be careful about our skin even though it’s no longer oily, because we exercise a lot, which means sweat. Additionally, we still sunburn easily and have to be cautious to avoid rosacea. Of course, we have wrinkles too, which we earned, though we aren’t racing to get more. No no no.
Water is a fantastic skin care regimen – it helps cleanse, lubricate and hydrate the skin, as well as removing toxins, but as a Boomer I want more. I also want less. More than just water for my skin. Less stuff that is harmful to my body and aligns with my vegetarian, organic, non-GMO values and practices.
As I’ve aged, I’ve also become more receptive to traditional medicine, which I define as anything that has either been around for thousands of years, or is more aligned with intuition and the “unmeasurable.” I win a lot of stuff – most of you know that I seem to win something every week. And I don’t enter a lot of giveaways. I’m just lucky. I believe it’s my positive energy. Our mom is the same – she would will things to occur. Someday I’ll share the story of how she willed herself to have twins even though no-one else believed her until I was actually born (they had to race to get a second bassinet for Kymberly – the doctor was seriously embarrassed).
A few days ago Kymberly and I were given facials using the SkinAgain functional skin care line (they were even gracious enough to give facials to my two boys). Not only are the products vegan, they are also fragrance-, paraben-, gluten- and cruelty-free. And the part that I’m very curious about – they are infused with positive energy (chi, prana, life force – whatever term you use) via a hologram that’s affixed to each product. I asked a lot of questions about this, as I found it fascinating. The owner of SkinAgain refers to it as “collective positive energy infusion,” which to me is about the same thing we get in religion. You may even have participated (or benefited from) intercessory prayer.
My skin can always use positive energy and products, especially on the days when my magic wand is broken.
They sent us home with samples, so my face shall be the test. If only they had sent the estheticians home with us too.
This is not a sponsored post. This is just us sharing info about products that have fused the latest technology and oldest traditions to help deal with our modern, Boomer lives.
By the way, if you’re shopping for back-to-school bags (including gym bags and backpacks), we are affiliates with adidas, and they are offering 30% Off adidas Bags right now. This includes their iconic airline bag. No code is needed, just click on the links here. If you make a purchase, we make a small commission. Good all around.
Glasses and Sunglasses
Also, since we’re flashing our catwomans in this post, we should also provide you with a link to our affiliate partner Warby Parker, makers of all kinds of glasses, including fun retro stuff. And for every pair sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need. Do good; See well.
I’ll add a tip that works for me – pretend you’re a marionette with a string running through the top of your head and down the center of your torso. Now imagine that the puppeteer is pulling the string up. If you’re more technical, just pretend it’s a plumb bob.
Because our Posture Series has made us so famous (hi Mom, hi Dad), we’ve been invited to two super duper events, where we’ll be offering posture assessments (and an energetic, fun Drums Alive class).
This Saturday, January 25, we’ll be at the Sherpa booth (#556) at the L.A. FitExpo doing free posture and gait assessments from 1:30 – 3:30. Please stop by if you’re attending.
And at the Yosemite Healthy Living Retreat at Tenaya Lodge, March 28-30, we’ll present a posture workshop, as well as a Drums Alive class to the attendees. Be part of Tenaya’s inaugural healthy retreat and join us at one of the world’s best wellness resorts (according to USA Today). Their focus is on interactive, fun, take home sessions and activities in a breathtaking setting.
Besides our classes, you will have exclusive access to wellness education on topics ranging from fitness and yoga to nutrition and personal care. Your weekend also includes special treatments in the Double Silver LEED-certified Ascent Spa, products and classes from Kimberly Parry Organics, and a hands-on culinary class and dinner with Executive Chef Frederick Clabaugh.
Why not book the weekend and join us? All kinds of good stuff going on for those with perfect (or imperfect) posture! You can focus on perfecting your gait too, by joining us on a walk right at the gateway to one of our nation’s most revered national parks.
No matter what, dear Posture Pals, do as the Dirty Heads suggest, and
“Stand tall, it gets a little better
I see the wall that we can break down together
Stand strong, it gets a little better now”
When you’re done singing and standing tall, sit down at your computer and book your trip to join us at Tenaya Lodge.
Photos: posture graphics – Dreaming in the deep south; all others – Tenaya Lodge
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: What is good posture anyway? Let’s first establish what it is NOT: a straight back. The biggest mistake people make when trying to correct poor posture is to stand ramrod straight. The back has natural curves designed to absorb impact. And nothing about looking like you have a rod rammed up your spine is attractive! Or good for you.
What it IS: having alignment that creates the least amount of strain on your supporting muscles and ligaments when you stand, sit, move or perform weight-bearing activity. Notice that our list leaves out “sleeping” so feel free to hunch, slouch, curl, or straighten out when conked out!
For starters, standing tall helps you stay young by maintaining your range of motion and staving off age-related skeletal changes that make you shorter with each passing decade. But that’s not all folks!
When you extend into good posture, you:
Alexandra: Just a few days ago, a friend who’s an interior designer asked for posture suggestions because his back has been hurting from prolonged sitting. I recommended to him, and pass along to you, the BackJoy, which sits on your chair while you sit on it! (Disclosure: I was sent one free of charge to test out). Then you do the Hokey Pokey, except it’s more like the Finey Spiney. “You put your tush right on, you tuck your abs right in, your chest lifts up so quickly, and your spine becomes a Win! That’s what it’s all about!”
My older son has drummer’s slouch (I coined that term to describe his crappy posture, which he has when drumming, and well, all day long), so he’s been using the BackJoy during dinner. It has helped him, so I’m a fan. In my ideal world, my son (and everyone with posture issues) would do core and back strengthening moves. In the real world, the BackJoy is a complement to those exercises.
Come back on Thursday for our next post, which will also have some great posture info, plus an invitation to a wellness event where we’ll be doing posture assessments. Hint: the event is in a location that’s consistently rated as one of the top wellness spas. And that’s all I have to say about that! (Watch this video) P.S. Note his perfect posture.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Otm4RusESNU[/youtube]
Motivated to learn more about how to asses and improve your posture? Then take advantage of our Fun and Fit Posture Series, provided in both posts and short videos. Going back to our early days of Fun and Fit, start with a humorous take on the subject,
The Straight Scoop on Super Posture. Then zip your way through the series, starting with
What’s Your Natural and True Posture? From there, proceed to
Want Perfect Posture? Come on, who doesn’t? Next, enjoy knowing what landmarks to look for in
Assessing Posture from the Side. Once you know what you’ve got goin’ on, it’s time to
Seated Posture Pointers will get you squirming out of your chair (and onto a ….). Gotta click and see to know. Lastly – whew! Will this series ever end? Not until you stand up taller! Anyway, lastly, check in with your
Chin Placement. Odds are you are trying to Get Ahead — and have become a dreaded Head Thruster.
What’s that you say? You want to short cut to the videos? Click the following to go right to our YouTube videos.
How to Find Your Natural Posture: Part 1
Quick Tips to Assess Posture Before Correcting It: Part 2
Look Longer and Leaner Once You Assess Posture from the Side, Part 3
Simple Exercises to Help Fix Posture: Part 4
Time to Fix Your Posture: Part 5
Seated Posture and Spinal Alignment: Part 6
Do a Chin Check to Get Proper Posture: Part 7
You’ll love “The Bug” ab exercise whether you’re a baby boomer, older adult, person with neck or head soreness, or simply someone who wants a great option to strengthen your abdominals without rounding forward into spinal flexion. And if you are wondering why you should care about rounding into spinal flexion, read our recent post that has abs training tips for older adults. All will be revealed. Click this <—– link and you’ll see the guy who has the abs (and chest) that Alexandra has admired since the 70s.
This core move is simple to do well, and very effective. The hardest part is remembering to keep your head on the floor or mat. And to bend your knees slightly. And to compress. Speaking of mats, what do you think of our nubbly, no slip beauty? We got it from Stillmotion yoga mats.
Need professional, motivating speakers? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head over (with no neck strain) to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness with maximal impact yet minimal joint issues! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: In our family, we no longer snowboard after my husband’s fall led to shoulder surgery and my spill hurt my back.
Alexandra: I haven’t exactly fallen, but I did a major wipeout playing soccer back in 1998. After a number of knee surgeries, I no longer play soccer.
Fortunately we baby boomers can take action to prevent falls and bolster our balance so we age as actively and confidently as possible. Let’s arm (and leg) ourselves with a few insights.
Kymberly: Recently Alexandra and I attended and spoke at the IDEA Personal Training Institute West conference. One of my favorite presentations (besides our own, of course!) was “Improving Balance and Mobility Skills.” This 6-hour session was offered by Karen Schlieter, MBA, MS whose expertise is in gerokinesiology, a new and specialized area of study that focuses on physical activity and aging. Some of her key points included the following:
One: Did you know that one-third of older adults fall each year? Women tend to break their forearms and wrists; men tend to hit their heads and suffer traumatic brain injury. Hold it right there! That is not the future we baby boomers envision, is it?!
We need to work on our balance by controlling our center of mass, also known as our core. The stronger and more respondent our core is, the more we are able to shift our center of gravity safely, quickly, and comfortably. Midlife and older is no time to ignore the core! So the first order of business is to strengthen our core.
Alexandra: Take advantage of the core exercises we present in our YouTube videos. We offer many, all under two minutes. You’ll find three links here so you can get to work right away!
Rotating Abs/ Core Move Video
Two: When something unexpected threatens to up-end us, we try to maintain balance using several strategies. In order of use, they are:
Ankle strategy: the first place to adjust in order to stay upright is at the ankle joint. Most people send their spine or shoulders into tilt and end up on the ground as a result. Start implementing a small amount of sway or bend at the ankle as a postural, or balance strategy. For example, if you are out walking your energetic dog, who then bangs into your legs at full run, bend at the ankle and knees, not the spine, to protect yourself from going down.
Hip strategy: the bigger muscles around our pelvis help keep our center of gravity actually centered. If an ankle bend is not enough to keep us from a fall, we depend on the larger muscles that surround our hips. Again, keep the spine long and strength train the hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, hip extensors, and abs so they can support with extra oomph when balance surprises come along.
Step out strategy: The final strategy to kick into fall-prevention gear is to step forward, backward, or laterally. If you’ve ever done the panic shuffle when tripped, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Taking a quick salvation step or many depends on our senses, overall strength, and ability to scale our movement to our environment. While we can’t do much to train our eyesight or hearing, for instance, we can be proactive on the latter two functions.
Three: The last big insight we want to share from Karen’s session is that we lose power ahead of strength. For reducing falls, we have to have power. To get back up quickly after a fall we need power. Yes, resistance training is important (twice a week seems to be the sweet spot between reaping benefits and being time/ life/ schedule efficient). However, power training tends to go by the wayside once we say good-bye to our 40s.
A quick definition of the difference between power and strength is that power has a speed and often an explosive element to it. Strength training is generally slow and controlled applied force. Bottom line — add some kind of jump to your life. Jump rope, perform squat jumps, do switch lunges, work in a few box jump ups.
Alexandra: I’ll add a few final comments. Fear of falling can actually contribute to a fall. Even if you haven’t fallen in the past, if you have a fear of falling, you are at more risk. As well, if you find yourself shuffling, you’ll want to work on lengthening your stride and picking up your feet, as a shuffling gait can lead to instability and decreased mobility.
Whether it’s Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall, be in season with a healthy, functional body that does Fall, but doesn’t fall!
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First things first: A Lat Pulldown works the lats, aka latissimi dorsi (Latin for “broad back”). These are large muscles of the thoracic and lumbar areas of the back, and together are shaped like an upside-down triangle. Their job is to move the arm, draw the shoulders back and down, and help pull the body up when climbing. A resistance tube is a hollow, long “rubber band” with handles on each end.
In our many years of teaching, we have found the Lat PullDown to be a great exercise, although it can be challenging to perform with good form. So, henceforth, forsooth, and forthwith, we hereby present a video that shows some of the right and wrongs ways to do this exercise. “Lat” the fun begin! You’re welcome for the pun.
The good news for those of us who are women
already in toward the second half, is that it gives a lift to good ol’ Betty and Veronica, because as the back strengthens, posture improves and the chest lifts up. And if you don’t get the Betty and Veronica reference, you’re too young to care about this benefit anyway!
We “dorsi” you should subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar.
Do you want to wear the same cute compression socks that Alexandra is sporting in the video? Easy, just go to the Zensah website.
Working in a construction zone on TV isn’t the easiest environment to look super cool and totally hot in. My heart says “stilettos!;” my producers say “work boots, Tanya! Fortunately for me and you there are ways to look your fabulous best on camera. During the 12 years hosting “Sell This House” and “Sell This House Extreme” on A&E, I’ve had plenty of time to succeed and fail famously! I know what works and what’s embarrassing in front of a camera! I hope you can gain some fun and good advice from my experience.
Of course the first and most obvious tip is to exercise and eat healthfully, but it goes so much further than that. (Well, that is unless you have the body of a Cirque Du Soleil contortionist who looks SUPER HOT turned upside down and backwards with a toe in the left nostril balancing on one hand all while wearing an anteater costume.)
With that being said, here are my tips!
1) Be truthful to yourself about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Don’t wear tight jeans if you have muffin top. After giving birth, I know what this feels like. My choice is to wear the very cool LuLuLemon elastic waistband, very hip cargo pants. Or lose the muffin top by kicking up the exercise into high gear!
2) Clip in hair extensions. This is my best kept, not so secret anymore. I have nice hair, but on days when my hair looks flat–especially on rainy days–I give my hair a little beauty boost! Extensions come in different lengths and can be matched exactly to any hair texture.
3) Floss and whiten your teeth. Crest Whitening strips are the cheapest and most effective way to get a bright smile. You can’t get away with anything less than clean, healthy, white teeth on TV especially with close up scenes.
4) Apply your make-up correctly. Make-up changes the way you look in general so learn how to apply it. Go to a store with a cosmetics area and get a personal lesson. The biggest mistake you can make is choosing the wrong colors. Your foundation, for example, can make the difference between looking tired, or sexy and totally hot!
5) Lighting is key. You can look and feel like crap (possibly from a hangover from the night before) and great lighting will make you look spectacular! It can take 10 years and 10 pounds off! On my show, I’d say I’m lazier on some days than others when it comes to make-up but with great lighting I can go from Dracula to Diva in the flick of a switch!
6) Even in you’re in a miserable mood, you have to look incredibly happy. Sounds easy, right? In 12 years on the show I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of deaths, disappointments, and a lot of behind-the-scenes drama. Then there were the times I had to run to the toilet from either food poisoning, pregnancy, or post-party debauchery! But no matter what, or how hard it might be, when that red recording light goes on…….SO DO I.
7) Always have great posture or EVERYTHING sags! On TV, everything you do and wear is magnified, so if you’re sagging even just a bit, on screen it looks like you’re sagging a lot! And NEVER sit all the way back on a soft comfy couch when that camera is on…….unless you want to look like a toad. Sit right at the end of any chair or couch, boobs out, back straight, shoulders back, head up and legs crossed at the ankle! Do this and you’ll look like a queen on TV!
9) Clothing and color are critical. The camera hates white and fine or busy patterns. I always wear bold solid colors such as red, blue or purple to my auditions because they’re flattering, aren’t distracting and they pop on camera. Royal colors are perfect! If you want to be a Queen on camera dress to look like one. A queen never wears dull, boring, or drab colors.
10) Never shoot you from an angle lower than your shoulders. This is the difference between looking 15 pounds overweight or 15 pounds slimmer. Always have the camera shoot you from a high angle! The same holds true for the digital camera you use every day. YOU’LL LOVE ME FOR TELLING YOU THIS!
P.S. If you’re lucky enough to have a crew to work with, bring snacks and drinks to the set. This thoughtful gesture puts everyone in a good mood! A happy crew does their best to make you look HOT! Remember – the crew has the power to be naughty or nice, so be good to them and they’ll be good to you. By the time I find out how crappy I looked that day, the show has already aired with millions of people watching. And you know how some people love to let loose on the internet with their opinions about your looks!
Tanya has been entertaining audiences with her quick wit, connection with homeowners and vast knowledge of lifestyle tips for years. She currently resides in the Los Angeles area with her husband, and daughter Ava.
Photo credits: Used by permission from Tanya Memme
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Yet that is what we see from a lot of stairstepper and treadmilling exercisers. Ouch and WTH?! (“What the Heck” – we don’t cuss ‘round these parts much).
At any given moment we can go into the cardio equipment area of a gym and see people working super hard. Yet their form denies them cardio benefits while stressing joints. Don’t let this be you!
Three major no-nos we see involve:
Take a look at our priceless video demo.
Then check your form next time you hit the climber or treadmill. Go for natural arm swing, not death grip on the machine. If you can let go of the side or front bars and stay vertical you are probably doing it right! If your hair looks good when you are done, you are probably doing it light! Ahh ahha. For the record, we shot this footage before Kymberly’s new haircut. You’ll have to return to see the new do. Did “the do” do or didn’t it?
Dear Climber-Stepper buddies: Are you a wrist leaner? Horse reins grabber? Do you even know what Alexandra is talking about relative to “Lost in Translation?”
To find out whether your spinal alignment has (mal)adapted to a desire to get ahead, take the quick chin check we show in our video.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzwJHbOGMuw[/youtube]
Sure, you might not like the momentary double-chin look. Goodness knows I, Kymberly am not so keen on that video side view of my triple chin (what I will for you lovely readers!). But you will like the benefits of that bowling ball known as your head being balanced over its support system instead of awkwardly perched in front of it.
Centering your head over your spine will increase comfort, decrease neck tension, keep you nicely extended, and save the planet. Or at least your posture.
Readers and Viewers: How much space did you have between your finger and chin? “Fess up.