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Tag Archives for " functional fitness "
4

4 More Useless Exercises

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Okay, we took a bit of ribbing about our previous post of useless exercises, as in “Hey, I used to do that one too. Thanks a lot for the reminder!” That encouraged us so much that we moved with no forwarding address. But before we packed up our mats, weights and “no pain, no gain” mantras, we filmed a few more “lovelies” for you. And don’t do these exercises, unless you are auditioning for “Dancing with the Dorks.” If that’s the case, do all four in high heels. Men too!

Donkey kick

Donkey kicks are great exercise - for donkeys!

 

 

 

 

Quick quiz: What works your pecs (the chest) better, a push-up or the standing elbow squeeze? Sadly, we used to believe these might help. I think genetics and push-ups might have had more of an effect on the ol’ bust-a-roos! And nursing the evil spawn children!

This next hip-aching move was probably created by an overzealous instructor who saw a dog pissing on a hydrant. There’s no other explanation. Pain, lack of results and research kind of debunked this one too! And you’ve gotta ask yourself – um, do I ever need this particular move in real life?

Hee-haw hee-haw. Donkey kicks for the ass..inine. There are many other exercises out there that are great for the glutes (booty of perfection), but this ain’t one of ’em! We secretly call this one Donkey Spine Thrasher. Oh, yeah, we kicked some … donkey!

Do you know what ballistic stretching is? Neither did we. Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, snap. You wouldn’t do this type of stretch-release-stretch-release with a rubber band, so why subject your hamstrings (or any muscle) to it? Here’s a quick quote from one of our favorite, extra-clever research colleagues, Dr. Len Kravitz of U of New Mexico, Albuquerque: “Ballistic stretching involves a bouncy approach to reach the target muscle’s motion endpoint. A concern with ballistic stretching is that it is often performed in a jerky, bobbing fashion that may produce undesirable tension or trauma to the stretched muscle and associated connective tissues. It may produce a potent stretch reflex that will oppose the muscle lengthening.”

Okay, admit it, are any of these still in your workout regimen? Can you dump it now? Can you dump it now? How ’bout now?

Call me to share your useless exercises

You're doing WHAT exercise?

Photo credits: Creative Commons (pmarkham)

16

Want Picture Perfect Posture? Part 2

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Posture Assessment

Do you think this outfit matches my posture?

Recently we did a post about finding your natural posture. Well, whaddya know, we got a bunch of requests to show what comes next in assessing posture.

Alexandra: So we asked our friend Cathleen Clarke (the group fitness director at the Spectrum Clubs in Santa Barbara) to film us, after making her do a pinky swear not to publish any video of us fighting.

Yes, it’s about 3:33 long, but worth every second, especially the part where Kymberly moves that messy pile of hair from my neck! And isn’t 333 half of 666? And twins are each half of something! So it’s the perfect number, considering one of us (not naming myself) was recently called a “cheeky devil” in Swedish.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkbDjyHBOtM[/youtube]

 

Kymberly: As long as those cheekies are level and symmetrical, we’ll go with that! So whether you are a trainer, trainee, curious person who wants to understand posture better, or merely a voyeur, we hope you can use our tips to assess posture from the front and back. Of course you also want to assess from both the left and right sides. (Yes, BOTH sides as our bodies don’t always tell the same story left and right, believe it or not. But we want to give you something to look forward to in the video sequel.)

Meantime, we will leave you with this thought: if your nipples are pointing down and your kneecaps are pointing in different directions from one another, your posture just picked a peck of pickled position!

Readers and viewers: Wonder why some people have great posture on one side and everything askew on the other? Part 3 coming if there’s popular demand. And by that we mean lots of comments, gifts, requests, stumbles, applause. You know the drill.

Photo Credits: Creative Commons – leo.jeje

16

Do You Really Have Core Strength?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Blue Hair, Nice Skirt, Strong Abs - He's got it all

Yes, he's weird. Nice abs though!

Kymberly: If you can do 100 crunches, have super abs, or can hold a hover for 3 minutes, does this mean you are core-some and awesome?  For many, a strong core is defined by flaunting a 6-pack (yes, you heard envy in my tone. Sure, I have a 6-pack… under my 12 pack).  How can you know whether a certain look or ability translates into true inner strength?

Alexandra: Wherever your belt touches, that is your core, which means abs and back working together to keep you strong, braced and upright!  Include your entire torso, and you have a good idea of what the “core” defines, besides just “fab-abs.”  Many of our students believe they are very strong in their core, sometimes because they have well-developed chests and shoulders. But…..does the ability to bench press your mama really mean you have a strong core? Maybe it just means you have a big chest and a small mama!

Let’s find out:

K: Did you try the move? Tougher than it looks, right? This exercise really tests whether you initiate movement from the center of your body or depend on your extremities to get you places. (For those of you who like high techy terms, you want to start movement proximally, then have it translate distally, not the other way around). To use a crunch as an example, if you start the move by lifting your head, cranking on your neck, or throwing your arms to get going, you are depending on the ends or extremities of your body to get some action in the core. Such action means you are working from the outside, in. If you can set up your body in a good crunch position and first engage the midsection, which then moves the shoulders and head off the ground, you are working from the inside, out. Movement stars at the center of the body and radiates out to the hands, feet, and head.

A: All I know is that I radiate from all my insides and outsides!. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go roll around on a mat somewhere. Quietly, by myself. In a darkened room with no mirrors or cameras.

Core-licious readers: Do YOU have core strength? What’s your favorite core move?

Photo credits: Creative Commons

15

What’s Your Natural and True Posture?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Posture

Is This Perfect Posture? Where's the Cleavage?

Do you want to improve your posture? Are you keen to enjoy the happy, comfy, confident body that good posture brings? Do you want to instantly look 5 pounds thinner? Ok, so now we have your attention.

To get where you’re going, you need to know where you start. Or something like that. We were tempted to start with “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Perfect Posture,” but you might have thought we were pickled.

Your first step is to know your current posture — unchanged, unmodified, no artificial sticks-up-the-wherever added. But how can you establish your normal stance without already thinking about trying to “correct” it?

Cue the trumpets as Fun and Fit talk you through an easy way to get to your regular, 100% all natural beefcake posture. Once you have that established, you are in the perfect position to make assessments, observations, and improvements. And with enough comments on this post, we might make those video sequels showing you how to assess and progress. For now, don’t mess with what you have going now. Just know what you are dealing with. Us! And You!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtBWUFx9rrA[/youtube]

 

Posture

Posture: Going, Going, Gone

Photo credits: Creative Commons

4

Wrong & Right Way to Do a Squat

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Squats are an excellent way to work the booty…and quads and hamstrings! Lower body magic move alert!

Fitness Squats

Even in French, there's a wrong & right way to perform squats!

The problem is that most people do them wrong, then wonder why their backs or knees hurt. So Kymberly put on her booty boots, Alexandra put on her best “squint into the sun” face, and we decided to show you both the wrong and right way to do a squat. Come on now, do them with us! Even better, practice sideways to the mirror to check your form.

Well, are you and your now-perfect squat form ready for some boot-scootin’ boogie?

Photo credit: Creative Commons-Sanchom

4

Being Fit Makes Me Happy

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Tonight, as I stared (for hours) at the computer, trying to think of the “best” possible post for you all to read, my mind wandered a lot. In my head were lots of topic ideas, yet nothing fun or funny was coming to me.

My mind wanders when I stare at the computer

Stare Stare Stare. Think Think Think.

My head was full of thoughts, yet none of them interesting or suitable for a site about health and exercise. Too distracted, I guess. By the fact that my sister’s beloved father-in-law is living his last few days; that my elder son is leaving town for two weeks and my younger son for 4 or 5 days; that my mom needs a realistic plan for her future as she ages; by the distance or circumstances that can separate us from those we love; that I won’t see my beloved niece for a long time; and by the chores and bills that always seem to be just a bit more than I can keep up with.

Then it came to me that I am good at coping and being responsible. Cranky sometimes and impatient, yet good overall. Just like you! And being healthy and fit helps me stay optimistic and energetic. So here’s my list of things I can do because I have good health and am fit:

* stay up past 1:00 a.m. then wake up at 6:30 to make waffles for my kids

Yummy waffles

My waffles always look & taste perfect ("always" means "If I'm lucky")

* have push-up contests with my teen boys and impress them (I even win sometimes)
* wear the same clothes I’ve owned for years as my size is consistent
* feel attractive and sexy (okay, not every day) even though I’m a mom of teens, not a 30-year-old hottie

The Best Me I Can Be

Sigh. That's All I Got, Folks!

* teach strength training and cardio to university students, then smile to myself when they realize I have way more energy and stamina than they do
* go for long walks with my sister and not worry about making it back to the car
* eat Rocky Road ice cream on occasion and not stress out about it

Rocky Road Ice Cream is My Kind of Treat

Rocky Road? Yes Please!

* volunteer at my place of worship
* clean the kitchen every dang day, even though I’m not always the one who messed it
* meet up with friends I haven’t seen in years and not worry that they’ll be thinking “What happened to her?”
* stick up for myself, because no-one messes with me

Female Martial Artist

Don't Even Think of It

* plan for a really long future (you know – travel, visit my kids and overstay my welcome, watch the grandkids and give them back when they need changing or get fussy, get a call from the President on my 100th birthday – that kind of future)
* be independent (or at least have the illusion, considering I have two barnacles kids)
* feel successful
* run like heck or fight back if someone tries to grab my purse
* wake up every single day ready to do it all over again

What things can you do, thanks to your good health? What can Brown Fitness do for you?

Photo credits: Creative Commons (cultivatechi.com)

12

Off Your Rocker Shoe Review For You

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Welcome to the second in our new Thursday series offering reviews of fitness Products and Services, and inspirational stories of People. Do you have a successful exercise story to share? How about a product you’d like us to comment on (sure, it can be your own, but it better be right for our readers or we’ll get twisted and snarky). Today we look at rocker shoes as this remains one of the most popular questions we get in person in our hither and yon adventures.

A Shoe-in or Shoe-Off?

 

Shape Ups, Rockers, Skechers, Shoes

 

 

Kymberly: Whether you call them rocker shoes, toners, shape-ups, negative heel shoes, the funniest looking shoes you ever saw, or the shoes that saved the workout world, people are wearing them. And we are getting asked often “do they work? Are they worth the money?” “Are they actually helping me get more fit when walking?” We turned to self-appointed experts, ourselves, for a review.

Short answer: if wearing them moves you from “feet in slippers propped on the ottoman” to rocking it in your rockers, then they have value. You believe in them; therefore you walk more; ergo you get more fit. But we have to say that the only research thus far that touts their superpowers is all put out by the shoe manufacturers. Hmmmm. Fun and Fit is having a “suspicious ole’ coot” moment and wants to find out more. If you like lots of detail check out this short article: Shape Up Shoes and Other Negative Heel Wear, If you do not like detail, the general consensus is “the shoes don’t shape you up any more than any shoe or bare feet would.” So save your mega-dollars.

 

Wow. Earth Shoes

Okay, I admit to owning a pair in the 70s

 

Alexandra: I’ll just say right up front that aesthetically I will never, ever, never like any of these shoes because they remind me too much of the Earth shoes I bought in the 70s. I saved my money for a long time, got on a waiting list (demand way outstripped supply) and finally got my shoes. Guess what? I put them on once, decided they looked horrible on me and never wore them again. Now I see the originals on sale for $135. Guess I should have kept my unworn pair.

Hippie shoes for hippies in hippie vans

Wearing Earth Shoes did This to People

 

Looking past my traumatizing “sexy babe with immensely fat-looking feet” teen experience, let me say that professionally I tend to not like them either. I have a lot of fitness students of all ages, and have heard anecdotaly that the toning shoes have caused or exacerbated issues with balance and hip/knee joint pain. I have not had anyone yet vouch for them though. And we know a lot of podiatrists, chiropractors and biomechanic specialists who are not fans either. I wrote an article about choosing shoes and couldn’t get a single expert to comment favorably on any of the toning shoes. Actually, one of them went so far as to call them “nightmares.”

A  direct quote from an unbiased study (meaning the shoe company didn’t fund the study) states: “Across the board, none of the toning shoes showed statistically significant increases in either exercise response or muscle activation during any of the treadmill trials. There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone.”

How does the study above seem so different from the studies touted by the shoe companies that say toning shoes are almost mystical in their ability to transform your body? One, it could be the type of study conducted– clinical versus normal daily activity (although nothing has yet been done long-term, so it’s almost a moot point); two, there is a big ol’ difference between marketing science and real science. If you’re a really invested consumer, read the studies carefully. However, if you’re not into that plan, it might be best if you try on a pair and walk around the store.

K: Then sit down and take the darn things off your feet! If your goal is to be more toned, have shapelier legs, burn more calories, may I politely suggest DO YOUR DARN WEIGHT TRAINING! Ok, so I politely yelled. Why take yourself away from your body’s natural movement patterns? We keep looking for quick fixes. Instead, learn or relearn how to move in the body you have. Our feet are actually designed to help us walk in the best manner possible.

A: I’m trying to have an open mind (but not open toe) so I’ll mention the advantages. If you wear the shoes and start to walk more and stand up straighter, then the shoes are working because you are now moving the body that’s in those shoes. Are the toning shoes actually the key to lifelong buffness, happiness and a firm, lifted butt? Maybe. And maybe you’re just walking more since you feel so fabulous and groovy in your new shoes!

My final recommendation? If you loved Earth Shoes, you might just be a candidate for toning shoes. Otherwise, it’s way more important to move than it is to spend money on toning shoes.

Use your feet. Walk.

Start with your feet. Let them move your body. You'll get toned.

 

K: My final recommendation? When the foot experts, medical community and unbiased research say “oy vay, no way; save your mo-nay,” then I am going with that and lacing up my foot slimming, outfit matching, tried and true walking sneakers. Shoe-off!

Readers: What is your opinion or experience with the toning shoes? Did you know there are more than 25 companies that make them?

Photo credits: PhotoBucket and Creative Commons

2

Stability, Balance and Age

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams. MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Why is it that our balance can get worse as we age? Is there anything I can do to prevent this or at least slow the process down?

Jan, Los Angeles, CA

Keep your balance

Life is a Balancing Act

Alexandra: Wow. Yes. And Sure. Other than that, buckle your seat belt as things may get technical (meaning I’m about to use some very long words). In order to have balance, you rely on information from your body in space and the environment. There are 3 systems that provide this information; I call them See Me, Feel Me, Hear Me:

  • Visual (the most heavily used) – You notice where you are in relation to the terrain and anticipate and adjust accordingly.
Arm yourself with good vision

Armed with Good Eyesight

  • Somatosensory (the feely-meely one) – Let’s say it’s dark; your proprioceptors that are within the joints, muscles, and inner ear give you info about your body’s movement relative to its base of support and the various body parts.
Feel your way through life

Feelings, shmeelings - Damn You, Somatosensory System

  • Vestibular (drinking alcohol really messes with this one) – The inner ear is connected to the head, is connected to the other two systems, is connected to you staying upright! (are you singing the song yet?)
Vestibular system & inner ear & vertigo

Faulty Vestibular System = Vertigo Aaaaaaahhh

If any of these 3 systems give data to the Central Nervous System that are pfffffffftttt, your response will be also pffffffffftttt. Bad data in; bad data out. So if you have weakening eyes, inner ear issues or simply need to improve your strength and endurance, you could be out of balance!

Kymberly: Another reason balance becomes tricky with inactivity has to do with stride length (notice how I am distinguishing between the real culprit, “decreasing activity” and the red herring, “amassed years on the planet”). As people accumulate years of insufficient strength or aerobic activity, they start shortening their gait, taking smaller and smaller steps. Think about it. Every step we take involves a moment of balancing on one leg as the other swings through. As people become less confident or capable, they do what it takes to minimize time on one leg, ie taking shorter strides.  So their base of support gets narrower and narrower. Much easier to tip a narrow base than a wide one. Thus begins the dizzying downward cycle of worsening balance.

A: I edited an interesting article by Evan Osar, DC a few years ago, and he strongly suggests looking at foot, ankle and hip issues, therefore I strongly suggest you read it! I was thinking to make a nice list of all the exercise tools that have the words “balance” or “stability” in them, but was seized by lethargy and decided to give you access to this lovely brochure by the American College of Sports Medicine instead. Guess what it’s about? Balance Training! After your balance training (which you get to do every day–yes, you heard me correctly!), do your resistance training several days a week; (that’ll do).

K: Add to what’s her A’s advice my blah blah of balance, which is to take walks– they can be slow ones–wherein you exaggerate your stride length. Get back into the habit of a bold, daring, aggressive stride. You’ll get your balance juju back!  Walk enough that when Alexandra sings you can neither see her, hear her, nor feel her. Ya’ feel me?

Dear Readers: Are you ever imbalanced or unbalanced? Can you spell somatosensory with your eyes closed?

Photo credits: Creative Commons

3

“New Year=New You: 30 Day Challenge” is Coming

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit Readers, Movers, and (Booty) Shakers:

Pretend this is Kymberly after the Challenge

Do you want to become healthier, more fit, leaner, stronger, happier, more focused and um, where was I? Oh, right – focused…smarter, better-looking and on your way to a healthier lifestyle? All for under $10? Me too. Um, how exactly? Why, through the upcoming New Year=New You: 30 Day Fitness Challenge.

Starting shortly, you and all your friends, relatives, associates, Twitter twerps, workmates, stalkers, gurus, gym pals, neighbors, high school sweethearts and casual acquaintances will have the option to sign up for the Fun and Fit version of gettin’ your get up and go to giddy up! We’re making the gig ridiculously accessible cuz’ that’s how we roll and we want you and everyone you know to take part. Let’s get this 2011 fitness party started!

Our New Year=New You: 30 Day Fitness Challenge will share practical movement tips, motivational quotes, achievable lifestyle small steps, nutrition/diet hints, fitness facts and a lots of Fit-Tastic information that will put you on the road to lasting change. We’re so excited, we’re going to take our own advice and sign up! Okay, Kymberly will actually take Alexandra’s advice–that’s just how it works around here.

The New Year=New You: 30 Day Fitness Challenge is different and better than all those other programs you may have tried because it will offer well-rounded (like my butt-yes, that’s me in the picture above) advice that has already been proven effective for the thousands and thousands of students we’ve worked with over the years: practical, realistic, achievable and long-lasting lifestyle changes that you can use long after the 30 days are over. No gimmicks, no undue suffering, no taunting, no unsafe or short-term results; just new habits you will “sneak” into your lifestyle. Meanwhile, the 30 days are long enough to help you instill great habits with each day’s “challenge” while being short enough to stick with the jump start to 2011 and a new you.

Wanted: 1000 Challenge Participants

We hope to post YOUR photos, feedback, goofy moments, and successes–right next to the blackmail photos of Kymberly as she spends 30 days trying to work off 5 years of (dare I say it?) bad habits!

Old Year=Old Me: Pre-Challenge

The secret to success with the New Year=New You: 30 Day Fitness Challenge? We give you help, not take away things you love (hellooooo sprinkle donuts)! No Burn Out, just Bum Up (that’s British for “butt”). So make a New Year’s resolution you will feel good about throughout the year. Keep your eye on our site and hand on your credit card for sign-up details…as soon as we figure out how to set that up. We did mention that fitness, not tech knowledge, is our strength, right?

Quick Quiz Question (to be answered to Challenge participants): Do you burn more calories in one hour of hard core, full core, super duper exercise or in the other 23 hours of the day (even if those 23 hours are lethargic and mosey paced)? Knowing the correct answer will help guide your training choices.

7

What Have Fun and Fit Been Up To?

Dear READERS of Fun and Fit

Alexandra: While you all have been doing your abdominal workouts, we’ve been hard at work doing……..er, Kymberly, what have we been doing exactly?

Kymberly: Recording our upcoming radio shows for Women’s Radio, compiling two short e-books that are now for sale on Amazon for under two bucks each– hinty, hint, (73 Exercise Quotes to Help you Get and Stay in Shape and 63 Motivational Quotes to Help You Get and Stay in Shape) and getting ready for our New Year=New You: 30-Day Fitness Challenge. Plus trying to become computer-literate, which almost made my head explode!

A: You lost me at “sale.” I got so excited I grabbed my credit card and started rubbing it, just like my magic lamp.

Genie, bring me a free VISA

K: Can your genie bring you a better credit card? One with no payments due…ever?

A: No, but here’s something better–all of you dear readers can go to our home page (Fun and Fit) and sign up to receive email notices of our radio shows & appearances, Fit Facts & news, plus be the first to receive info about any free stuff we might decide to give away! And, ta da ta ta, you can get info about the New Year=New You: 30-Day Fitness Challenge, which starts with the New Year. Bet you figured that out though.

K: A little interjection here. Signing up for the new stuff mentioned above is different from subscribing to our blog. That is a totally separate sign-up. Sure, you can do both, and why wouldn’t you? But they are different.

A: Just like you and me; similar yet different.

Mom always loved Kymberly best, understandably

K: Sort of.  Our Fun and Fit sign-up and subscription are both good, but in the case of us, well, I’ll say no more in case I hurt your feelings (psssst, Alexandra smells of elderberries and her mother was a hamster).

Taunt me a second time, you French person

A: Oh, go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

K: When was the first? Were you talking to me?

Photo credits: Photobucket and Elite Henneson