In Fitness, More Is Not Better

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the importance of understanding how to choose exercises that directly apply to specific goals, rather than ones that we simply think are good to do for the sake of doing. We all have favorites that we have found to be effective in the past or that feel like they are targeting what we wish to target. We often are afraid to stop using these exercises, even for a little while, for fear that we will see those benefits disappear. This keeps us locked in an approach to exercise that may actually prevent us from moving forward and improving. Allow me to provide a common example, which I experienced most recently this past week. Continue reading

The Reality of Calorie Burn

NPR (Reality Check: To Burn Off A Soda You’ll Have To Run 50 Minutes) reported last Friday on research that was done at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that I was thrilled to see! The researchers looked at what would happen if, instead of posting calories at restaurants, we posted the amount of physical activity required to burn off a particular item of food. This is a great study and a great strategy in a society that overestimates the role of exercise in weight loss. Continue reading

Juice – Friend or Foe?

This is a topic that I have written about before (nutrition: don’t forget the big picture), but after delivering a webinar on childhood obesity, I found myself reflecting on it once again. Sometimes it can seem very unclear whether or not a certain food is good or bad, should be eaten or avoided. In this particular webinar the questionable item was juice. Should we avoid it, or not??  Continue reading

The National Sleep Deficit

NPR ran an article in August covering a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding teens and sleep habits. The new policy states that teens require eight to ten hours of sleep but, due to early start times at school, are averaging only six to seven. Teens, according to the Academy, have a biological rhythm that shifts to a later time-frame when they enter adolescence. As a result, it is essentially impossible for them to fall asleep at an hour that would allow for the required amount of sleep given the early start times of most schools. In light of this fact, the AAP calls on school districts to move start times back. This is fraught with controversy. I can remember the debate in my own school district. However, with the AAP’s new policy, it has now become a public health debate and as a personal trainer, I can say it is one we need to have across all ages. Continue reading

Expanding the Benefits of Fitness

This is part 4 of Fitness, the Economy, and the Environment.

Over the last few segments we have seen how growth drives our way of life in the developed world. In the last segment we saw the way in which that plays out with the nutrition industry. Now let’s take a look at how we can turn some of the negative consequences around for the benefit of ourselves and, if we want, for the benefit of our communities. Continue reading

Is Nutrition Fueling Us Or The System?

This is part 3 of Fitness, the Economy, and the Environment.

In the last part of this series we looked at how growth affects the way we think about training and what we hope to accomplish in the gym. The concept of input was discussed and the way in which the level of input can quickly become unrealistic when goals go too far. Let’s get into the some specifics about how that can play out to create a multi-layered problem for our own personal bodies, our community, our country, and the greater culture to which we belong. Continue reading

Part 2 – Growing Muscles, Growing Economies

This is part 2 of Fitness, the Economy, and the Environment.

Our economy is based on growth. The idea is that prosperity rises as the economy expands, producing more jobs, creating more products, and supporting a base of consumers with the resources to partake in the system. Historically, the idea of natural limits to economic growth has been considered a non-issue. We have either believed that the planet and its resources are so vast that they are for all practical purposes limitless or we have simply chosen to strike the possibility entirely in order to make our economic theories function on paper. Now in the face of global warming, resource depletion, and rising economic strain, the issue is regaining attention. Currently we spend a lot of time arguing about details while ignoring some of the basic and simple truths that lie right at the surface. Let’s take a look at how this plays out in fitness and see if it can expand our perspective.
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Fitness, the Economy, and the Environment – Part 1

This is part 1 of a multi-part series.

When we talk about nutrition in health and fitness we traditionally focus on its role in losing and gaining weight and improving cardiovascular health. More recently though the power of nutrition in popular culture has expanded. We now look to nutrition to cleanse and detoxify, suppress inflammation, improve cognition, raise energy and libido, and more. This has become a major market and begs the questions, what is it all about and will it help us achieve greater health and wellness? The answer may be a resounding no. The direction that we are taking in nutrition is more likely just a further symptom of an underlying dysfunction in our economic and social systems. To illustrate, let’s begin by comparing two current pressing issues and see how they are similar to one another: obesity and climate change. Continue reading

What’s a Personal Trainer Doing at a Climate Conference?

I attended the New School’s climate change conference entitled “Climate Change Demands We Change Why Aren’t We?” It was an awesome event with incredibly smart panelists and an equally thoughtful and engaged audience. At one point, I was able to stand up and ask a question. Before asking, it was requested that we introduce ourselves briefly. When I stated that I am a personal trainer each member of the panel raised an eyebrow. No one could readily explain what a personal trainer wanted at a climate conference. I happen to believe that there are many, many ways that personal training and fitness overlap with climate change. I want to focus on one for this post.  Continue reading