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[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
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
* 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
* 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
* 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
* 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
* 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)
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
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.
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.
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.
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
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams. MA
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:
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
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
Kymberly Wiliams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: Ladies, ladies, no crowding, pushing, shoving, and belly poking. We will get to your Fab-ulous Ab-ulous questions in one bulk package. We love questions that have the word “best” in them because they are so easy to answer. The “best” exercises are the ones you will shoo-be-doo-be-do.
Another way to determine the “best” ab exercises is to know your goal. We know, we know: “look hot.” Let’s pretend that your goal includes working as many ab muscles at once as possible AND enhancing ab function. Then you want to choose exercises that recruit the rectus abdominis (the abs that offer the 6-pack look and flex your spine), the transversus (the abs that remind you of 1980’s cumberbunds that guys wore at weddings–they stabilize and compress you), and the obliques (the diagonal muscles that wrap around your waist like a girdle and rotate, flex, and extend you). It helps to know some ab anatomy, so read this article. Quiz at 11:00. http://askthetrainer.com/best-ab-exercises.html
Therefore I like a pack o’ 3 that includes something that 1) stabilizes, 2) rotates, and 3) focuses on bringing lower fibers into play. Three related questions from our belle-beauties; three suggested ab moves.
1) reverse curl (aka “reverse crunch”): works from the bottom up, requires compression, targets the area most people want to look better (ie, below the navel vs above it), gets lots of oblique and rectus abdominis activity.
2) obliques bicycle rotational maneuver: unless you are kicking your legs around as if doing lying down kickboxing or throwing a temper tantrum, this move involves all ab muscles in a big way and helps define the waist.
3) plank (aka “hover”): requires compression and stabilization and is most like the way we use our abs to help with posture. An American Council on Exercise study has photos and more info on each of these moves. Ok, ok, so the study was done waaaaay back in 2001. Last I checked, our ab anatomy had not changed since then. http://www.acefitness.org/getfit/studies/BestWorstAbExercises.pdf
Alexandra:For me, the most important move for all my abdominals is to eat less and better. And that does not include any chocolate-covered bugs,
although I am a fan of the Supine Dead Bug.
Photo: ACE Fitness
K: Do you notice what is NOT on my top three list? Yeah baby–stoopid crunches. Crunch, crunch, crunch. How much do you need the ability to flex forward? Not much going on with compression or rotation; not a lot of transversus action; not a move usually performed well; not an action needed a lot in daily life. (More on crunches in the upcoming Get Fab Abs: Part 2).
A: Nor is Captain Crunch. Or Crunch Berries. Maybe not Yo-Crunch either. I’ll have to think about it while I finish the one I just opened.
Which I’m sure has a very low number of useless kcals and won’t hide my chiseled (with a pick-axe…or ice cream scooper) abs under a layer of adipose tissue (okay, that means “fat”). Crunch-a-Tize me, Cap’n!
Dear Readers who have Abs: Well, are you actually going to try the 3 exercises above? What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?
Photo credits: Creative Commons
Dear Fun and Fit:
What in a person’s home may or may not make that person engage in a more fit lifestyle? Do you think that the way someone’s house is laid out, how much furniture they have, how it’s arranged, type of flooring, and whether or not they have a dedicated “exercise room” has anything to do with whether or not they embrace fitness and wellness?
Tammy, Oakland Park, FL
Why do I have the image of Austin Powers and his rotating round bed stuck in my head? All that spinning would make me nauseous, not fit! While I contemplate the advantages of a ceiling mirror, let me tell you the one most effective thing you can have in your house when it comes to exercise – did you guess a home gym? If so, you’re wrong. It’s stairs.
Choosing hardwood (or tile/linoleum) over carpet is a good idea too. Sweeping and mopping will burn more kcals than vacuuming, but in our experience you are also more likely to work out or dance on hardwood. (Okay, I just gave away my secret cleaning technique. Yes, I dance with my broom and mop to Led Zeppelin. Doesn’t everyone?)
As to furniture layout, pretend you live in a department store and make it next to impossible to go in a straight line from A to B. Have you ever wondered why department stores set up their floor plan so that you need a compass, hiking boots and a passport to get from lingerie to the Chanel counter? Erm, um, well, they actually do that to make you buy more stuff, but making your home into an obstacle course means you’ll move more (including jumping over the couch).
Regarding exercise rooms – very few people actually use them. Yes, some of the more dedicated people will, but the average consumer will mostly use it for storage and laundry-hanging after a few months. Sometimes having a dedicated fitness space makes people feel even more guilty.
As to embracing fitness, come here and give me a hug!
Readers and homebodies: What in your home enhances or diminishes your plans to be healthy? And what music do you play when you clean?
Photo credits:Creative Commons
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
1) Adults and children spend an average of 70% of their awake time sitting (driving, eating, watching tv, reading, working at a computer, playing video games).
2) Kymberly is sitting now, being sedentary and adding to the dismal stats about sitting and butt parking. Oh, Meow!
3) The average woman adds 10 pounds of fat every decade.
4) Our readers are not average and therefore are bucking the fat gain stats.
5) Sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950; Physically active jobs now make up only about 25% of our workforce. That is 50% less than 1950.
6) Alexandra is way more fit than Kymberly.
7) Eighty percent of midlife women (age 40 to 60) have one or more heart disease risk factors.
You better have said “number 6.” Or else……
Let’s end our time together today boys and girls with a few Fun Fit Facts….or Fiction???!! Can you pick out the Fun Fit Facts that do not belong?
1) Just five minutes of “green exercise” – cycling, gardening, fishing, or other outdoor activities – can enhance your mood and self esteem.
2) Exercise can improve your brainpower .
3) Fun and Fit are brainiacs beyond belief, partly because they work out regularly.
4) Studies show that for every hour of walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours.
Photo Credits: Creative Commons & Photobucket
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
What can we say. Bella has reached nirvana as she salutes the sun and welcomes the asanas ahead. So active; so devoted; so inspiring!
Chloe loves her yoga practice and is getting really good. She was able to hold this pose for half an hour.
To novices this may look a lot like the Down Dog pose, but yoginis and discerning readers can see that Chloe has elevated herself to the “up” level of enlightenment.
Carrot is getting ready to rock it at Puss-in-BootCamp. Just thinking about the exciting workout ahead gets her super fired up!
After an intense hour of kicking, biting, scratching, and clawing his way through his CatBoxing class, Zorro is ready to check his heart rate. He knows he put it all out on the exercise floor.
Max Tracks with TRX
Max knows how to throw his body weight around when he suits up for his TRX workout. Long tail for balance; great alignment and focus; sleek workout gear. He knows what it takes to reach his resistance training goals.
So there you have it: the motivation and inspiration you need to get your tail a’ waggin’ and your fur all fluffed. Now get out there and have some workout fun people!
Legal disclaimer and nod to pet lover advocates: No animals were exercised in the making of this post.
Readers: What exercises and workout classes do your pets love? If you’re going to claim it, better prove it! Oh Meow!
From reader Kathleen: See her comment below. Admire her cat, Bailey right here!
Bailey doing spider curl-ups.
Bailey getting ready for her whirlpool bath.