FRIDAY FITNESS FLASH – Family togetherness at the gym

FRIDAY FITNESS FLASH – Family togetherness at the gym

With schools on spring break and it being a holiday weekend, this week’s highlight was seeing families exercising together at the gym.

‘Moving families’ is in its own category of how parents can help kids develop regular exercise habits, even when perceived indifference makes it seem they don’t pay attention to what is said or done. The influential power of ‘talk the talk and walk the walk’ is even sharper when the talk occurs while matching strides on side-by-side treadmills.

Other than the style of headphones worn, there was scant difference between the exercise of the kids compared to their parents – I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the kids claim their parent’s ‘Beats’…


A year of healing comes full circle when the Boston Marathon gun goes off Monday. My thoughts and prayers will be with all who were touched by the senseless act, but in gratitude for what you have taught us over the year as well as condolence.

You’ve shown us how to remember and forget at the same time — which couldn’t be better symbolized than in running a marathon. Remembering the exhilaration, sheer joy, sense of accomplishment, appreciation for the process of training, bonding with your 20,000 new best friends; while forgetting the aches and pains.

You’ve also reminded us what is important: finish what you start-with steely determination, pay good fortune forward, and understand that hope is the greatest gift we can give to one another.

We are proud of you Boston, and in you we see how we can be better. If you are not running, throw a hug to the universe and know it will catch someone at just the time they need an extra oomph. If you are running, stop to smell a proverbial rose at least once along the course—but if your pace is cooking it can be at the 26.3 mile mark…


Spice up your cardio workout with a simple circuit routine that doubles as a fitness event. Yep,
cardio sessions that build heart health AND feature competition and novelty to stoke your intensity-pushing and motivation-driving adrenaline.

First, decide how many components you want for your circuit challenge, and then, select the machines. The common choices include treadmills, stationary bikes, rowing machines, hand bikes, elipticals, and stair steppers/stair mills. If you are new to doing this sort of activity, you may want to begin by doing a ‘biathlon’ using the two cardio machines with which you are most familiar. (Add more/different machines to your repertoire to be able to use them for your next circuit challenge AND grow your Iron Footprint!)

Second, set your measurement metrics. Decide between setting the duration of time you will spend on each piece of equipment—and track the distance you cover, OR the distance you will cover—and track the time it takes to cover the distance).

For example, you could spend 10 minutes each on the treadmill and stationary bike and track the distance you cover. Or, you could time yourself for how long it takes you to walk/run 2 miles on the treadmill and then cycle 5 miles.

Keep track of your measurements – as FitBESTS – so you can track your improvement over time.

Keep in mind you can do ‘traditional’ events such as a timed 1-mile run, or ‘nontraditional’ events such as walking backwards for distance at a 20-degree incline. You can also include non-machine cardio exercises such as jumping rope and step-ups.

As your cardio capacity improves (along with your machine repertoire), you can add more components to keep creating unique challenges.

The way I see it, your gym membership allows you to use ALL the equipment, so make the most of your monthly credit card ding – here’s to biathlons, triathlons, quad-athlons, octathlons, heptathlons, decathlons…and any other ‘ons’ you can conjure!


Louisiana lawmakers recently passed a bill that would require chain restaurants to display nutritional information on their menus; net/net, post the calorie count of each menu item.

Hallelujah and yippee!, because knowledge IS power. It’s well documented that most of us are unaware of calorie specifics. It’s also well documented that most of us will make healthful decisions – when we have the appropriate information to do so.

I love a good beignet a much as the next person, but look at like this – if I imbibe in moderation and pay attention to other lifestyle metrics I’d like to think I can stave off my mortality…and thus, have more time to enjoy them.


No doubt, you’ve heard the promise in one form or another: 30 days to a new you, 6 weeks to a new you, 12 week transformation… And, no doubt, after 30 days or, 6 or 12 weeks of sustained exercise you WILL be new, if not transformed in any number of ways.

But the magic of exercise is its power to bring on a new you in ONE day, then more new you each time after that.

Talk about return on investment (and it’s guaranteed). For each ONE day that you exercise, you get a new you. No break in or probationary period, or trial membership, or try-out—1 day to a new you, and a new you each and every time you exercise that includes a shortlist of improved energy, revved metabolism, stronger muscles, increased joint range-of-motion, balanced emotions, and cognitive clarity. Yes, after just ONE day of exercise…which, is especially important to realize for how it sustains our motivation.

To many of us, but mostly to the previously underactive or chronically-disappointed-by-exercise-results crowd, 30 days might just as well be 30 decades. It’s no secret that some doubt they will be able to string together two days much less 30. Realizing that ONE day yields benefit means that doing ONE day of exercise is an achievement worthy of recognition. The result of ONE day – the wellness benefit and the motivation boost from notching the achievement of doing exercise.

So stop focusing on 30 days, or 6 or 12 weeks from now and instead center on the new that you will be after exercising today. After all, why go for one new you in 30-days when you can actually get 30 new yous in 30 days?

FRIDAY FOOTPRINT FLASH – Check out your county’s health metrics

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute team recently released the fifth annual County Health Rankings, a report that uses 29 factors to assess the wellbeing of residents in nearly every US county.

The results reveal physical inactivity is decreasing and rates of obesity are leveling off, trends that deserve a glass-half-full head nod. But other results reveal access to activity engagement and healthy food is wealth-dependent, a persisting, unsurprising correlation since SES influences the built environment that either invites or dissuades activity engagement.

Glass-half-empty? On the one hand, any disparity is unacceptable, but looking at this report through the lens of other reports that also reveal encouraging physical activity and obesity rates brings us back to glass-half-full, especially if we dig into the how’s of the improved trends.

The common citizen CAN initiate built-environment change. Many engagement improvements are the ground swells of one person’s advocacy for programming and policy. Net/net, one person can make a difference—and when there are lots of ‘one persons’ making a difference, WE get healthier.

Need an idea to get started on your one-person mission? Here are two examples of policy change that would make an immediate impact.

One, ensure the quality of your community’s programming by requiring leaders to demonstrate competency, either through an earned degree or comparable acquisition of knowledge (reputable fitness certification). Considering the stakes, we can’t leave our wellbeing in the hands of someone who only might be able to help.

Two, increase accessibility to physical activity by instituting joint-use agreements that eliminate ‘territory’ barriers. Schoolyards are just the safe spaces many communities need to offer programming, but squirrely usage rules lock the gates late afternoon and on weekends. Joint use agreements between school districts and community-based organizations can pathway, literally, regular exercise benefits to residents.

Be a ‘one person’ for your community, and look for the results in next year’s report. Better yet, see it in the eyes of the people whose quality of life YOU have improved.


Motor skill practice is an Iron Footprint Fitness pillar because the better your proficiency the more activity choice you have, and the more activity choice you have the more likely you will engage any given day.

It just makes sense. If limited to doing one thing, that one thing is going to get old fast. Variety appeals to human nature whether for what we eat, or wear, or how we exercise—and more so every day, the opportunity to exercise choice is a feature of modern life.

Our Ipods are filled with music we forget we have, our readers with material that spans all prose, our TVs offer channels many of us have no idea exist—wander around in the 800s if you haven’t—and, of course, the Web enables access to even more music…books…TV shows.

All this exercise of choice; except when it comes to exercise, which usually means going to the gym at the same time for the same class, or out for a walk/run around the same block. Nothing wrong with this, but even the best intended can get tired of the same, when one missed day becomes a string of several until we recover and return to…the same class or the same run.

There is a solution. Increase your exercise choice by adding motor skill practice to your routine. It’s never too late to improve skills, and you will be surprised how quickly you can develop proficiencies that allow you to add new activities to your repertoire.

Have a catch, hit golf balls, shoot baskets, play hopscotch. Then do it again, and before you know it, you will be ready for the recreation league. Most important your motivation will benefit from the choice it affords.

Don’t leave exercise in the prehistoric days of, gasp, 3G!