Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tommy's Exercise Equipment Review

Before I go into the highs and lows
of exercise equipment circa 2012,
I want to start with the yoga mat.
A recent New York Times article
points out "How Yoga Can Wreck
Your Body." The subject of the
article, Glenn Black, almost certainly
knows more about yoga that you do,
and he says, 'the vast majority of
people-- students and teachers-- should
simply give up yoga altogether.'
In a related Huffington Post article,
Black says the Times article got some
people so made that he's received death
threats. Thumbs down on yoga. Yikes!

Speaking of "fit to be tied," what's up
with all the straps, ropes and cords for
sale in the exercise equipment market ?
Are these really for exercise, or do
folks just keep them in the back seat
of the old Honda Fit so they have
something to help pull them out of
the ditch ? Thumbs down on straps.
Why ? Because calisthenics rule.

I suppose kettle bells sound better
than dumb bells; but they're not a lot
smarter. People think the body should
be exercised in linear, hinged motions.
But the body twists and rotates, so
thumbs down on dumbells too.

An emerging trend is to purchase a
"Rack" or sled-type piece of apparatus.
These again work the muscles in
linear, isolating movements. By
isolating the muscles, you shorten
the tendons, and reduce your natural
ability to mobilize the joints across
three planes, or rotationally. Think
about the range of motion of your
shoulder and your hip. How are you
ever going to use a Rack to make
circles with either ? Thumbs down.

Shake Weight ? Come on. This is
the dumbest thing I've seen. Well,
okay, it might TIE for the dumbest
thing with the BodyBlade. What
will people think of next ? I'm just
guessing someone will create a
device that turns masturbation into
a full workout.

Most people don't know that "core
strength" exercise typically overworks
the upper abs and neglects the lower abs.
So many of these kinds of exercises
are damaging to the lower back and
will eventually have to be abandoned.
Ab roller units: thumbs down.

Another really dumb piece of junk
is the breathing exerciser, like
UltraBreathe or BreathBooster.
If you really want to learn how to
breathe, practice Tai Chi. If you
really want to strain your breathe
with a plastic piece of junk, try
to inhale with a grocery bag in
your mouth. That's a joke, son.
Don't do it.

A Swiss Ball or fitness ball does
get high marks in my book. First,
you can sit on it and practice your
posture. Second, it can be used
like a medicine ball to assimilate
whole-body movements. Third,
it is probably one of the top two
balance trainers. When you can
stand on one, you'll have the
balance of a cat.

The other balance trainer I like
is the bongo board. These are not
easy to stand on; so if you practice,
it can really improve your balance,
especially for sports that require
balancing on a moving platform.

I do see some merit in the foam
rollers hitting the market. If you
insist on exercising in traditional
ways like jogging, weight lifting,
or using crap mentioned in this blog,
you will no doubt have super-tight
IT Bands like everyone else. These
foam rollers allow you to stretch.
Once again, Tai Chi stretches the
IT Bands without the paraphernalia.

When they hit the market, a lot of
people went out and bought shoes
like Sketchers ShapeUps. I thought
they were stupid, and asked my
friendly pedorthist what he thought.
To my surprise, he liked the idea.
Now, many moons have passed,
and the lawsuits are piling up sky
high against all the manufacturers
of stupid, round, rocker-bottom shoes.
Thumbs way down.

If you were thinking about buying
P90X, don't. Sure, you might
survive one 90-day torture--
just enough to take pictures of your
body and get them on P90X's next
informercial. But this is too hard,
and you'll quit soon; certainly you
won't stick with it, and your body
will trend back to a healthy level
of fat. Remember people, six-pack
abs are a clear indicator of unhealth
because the body needs more body
fat for energy reserves, immune
function and warmth. If you want
to understand this better, read my
Race Horse Fitness blog.


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