Jack LaLanne the "Father of Fitness"

On Sunday, the fitness community and world at large, mourned the loss of the "father of fitness", Jack LaLanne. 96 years young, Jack, succumbed to complications of pneumonia, leaving behind his legacy as the pioneer of what we know as fitness today. He was truly ahead of his time with his philosophies for moderate resistance training and no sugar dieting, practicing what he preached up to his final days. Jacks philosophy on moderate eating and activity are a true example of how a healthy living can keep one active and vibrant through the lifecycle.

According to a recent article in the New York Times - "Aging: Paying the Physical Price for Longer Life",  "a 20-year-old man today can expect to live about a year longer than a 20-year-old in 1998, but will spend 1.2 years more with a disease, and 2 more years unable to function normally." They analysized recent governement data, and found that life expextancy is going up, not because people are healthier, but because medicine is keeping people with chronic disease and disability, alive longer.  In another article in the New York Times - "Full-Service Gyms Feel a Bit Flabby", data shows only 15% of Americans belong to a gym. Despite knowing exercise has nothing but tremendous health benefits, Americans are still too sedentary. In fact 60% of us are overweight, and 40% of us are obese. I for one, plan to enjoy activity for many years to come. The year is young, make it a healthy one. Let us learn from Jacks legacy that an active lifestyle, will lead to a healthy and disease free one, for many decades to come.

Machines versus Free Weights

I feel machines serve a better purpose attracting members to gyms, but do little for their training. Statistically, more people are injured each year exercising on machines than with free weights. Machines often limit or force a one size fits all range of motion on the user. They also tend to isolate muscles or joint actions that perform better with mutlimuscle multijoint movements. A functional approach to training would involve working the body as one, while mimicking real life, or athletic movement; training movements, not muscles. The exerciser would be better off learning the squat pattern, for example, a fundamental movement, than isolating the various parts of that pattern via a hip abduction/adduction or a knee flexion/extension machine. As the gym culture mentality shifts, you ll be begin to see less gyms full of expensive cardio and resistance machines, and more open space full of free weight and other functional resistance equipment. Next time you re in the gym, take a look at what members are doing with their trainers. Take a look to your left and right, if a trained fitness professional does not have a client on the elliptical next to you, maybe you should be over by the kettllebell rack doing cardio too!! :) Take a look at this article on the oxygen cost of kettlebell swings. Theres alot of science - exercise physiology behind it, but to suffice to say, kettlebells provide a useful conditioning tool for fitness professionals. Performing a two handed kettlebell swings can improve the cardiorespiratory fitness of athletes and amateurs. However, fitness professionals should be aware that HRs achieved during continuous kettlebell exercise are significantly higher than the corresponding exercise V_ O2 demand. This explains, why your heart spikes during compound resistance training movments, but does not always have an aerobic benefit. Furthermore, the relationship between the 2 variables is greater than that noted for circuit weight training but less than that for treadmill exercise. Check out fellow New York City personal trainer, Tom Weaver, performing a Kettlebell swing.