IDEA Reader's Choice: Fitness Find or Fitness Flop?

Fitness Forum:

Your April 2010 issue introduces the fitness world to a new Making News segment titled “IDEA Reader’s Choice: Fitness Find or Fitness Flop?” After reading the comparison of Jamie Oliver’s TV series, Food Revolution, and the new fitness marketing device, Shake Weight, I was a little disheartened. The relationship between these two ideas within the fitness realm is indisputable: certainly encouraging kids and parents to eat more healthfully is a nobler and more productive method of inspiring the world to fitness than is presenting the market with another fad product. But should we, as an industry, bemoan the marketers?

As fitness professionals, we all understand that there are myths and methods running rampant through society that will do little, if anything, for the long-term health of any individual. But, if our true mantra is to Inspire the World to Fitness®, shouldn’t we embrace any means by which individuals make an effort to improve their health—no matter how misguided? As professionals, we also understand that attitude is everything, and if an odd product is able to encourage someone toward a healthy attitude, is that not worth the price of a poorly performing product?

I suppose the true question is this: Does a product, production or movement within the fitness industry actually cause physical or psychological harm to the users such that it deters them from seeking fitness as a means to a better life and happiness? If a product or service, by poor virtue and quality, actually demeans our industry, then we should definitely take the opportunity to shun such tools lest they weaken our image as viable health and fitness professionals. If, on the other hand, a product—any product, no matter how misguided—actually engages and encourages [inactive people] to consider fitness, then it would make sense to embrace that new device and alter the users’ understanding of fitness once they have made the first step toward accepting it into their life.

As an aside, for this particular presentation of the new “Fitness Find or Fitness Flop” article, the Shake Weight portion was obviously written with bias against the likely usefulness of the product. If readers are meant to choose between two competing bodies in this segment, please don’t make up our minds for us.

As a disclaimer, I have no affiliation with Food Revolution or Shake Weight, and I had never encountered either product prior to this publication.

Austin Gregory Johns
Owner/Operator, AGJ Health & Fitness

Editor’s Reply: Thank you for such a thoughtful letter, Austin. Please note that the material we are presenting in this new section is not meant to be “compared.” It is meant to introduce readers to new products, people, services, programs, trends and so on. We leave the vote and commentary up to IDEA Fitness Journal readers to decide. We feel the Shake Weight write-up was straightforward, fact-rich and journalistically intact.

Yoga for Back Health

I read your question of the month [Mind-Body-Spirit News, April 2010] and wanted to share that I regularly offer a course called “Yoga for Healthy Back.” Also, when I have people in my classes with back issues, I integrate a number of important poses to help relieve lower-back discomfort and strengthen the core muscles that support the lower back. >>

In yoga, we have a system of bandhas, commonly called “locks.” These involve areas of the body that form the core and are important muscles to engage in an effort to support the lower back. Many people have an understanding of tightening the transversus abdominis for postural support, and many practitioners remind their clients to keep the chin tucked in a bit in good posture, so the jaw line is parallel to the floor. However, very few exercise instructors and trainers remind people of the importance of contracting the pelvic floor to reduce lower-back discomfort.

Many lower-back pain sufferers rely for torso support on their gluteal muscles instead of the pelvic floor and end up with more stiffness, pain and, often, sciatica from the piriformis muscles in the buttocks putting pressure on the sciatic nerves. I spend time reminding my students to engage these three “locks” every time we change positions and work on releasing tension in the buttocks and hips. Of course, whether the discomfort is from sore muscles or misaligned disks, the yoga practice depends on which poses feel good and which illicit the discomfort. Rule of thumb: listen to your body and back off if there is pain.

Bonnie Berk, RN, MS, ERYT
Yoga Therapy/Holistic Health
Consulting/Wellness at Work
Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Franklin Method® Not as “Revolutionary” as You Might Believe

It was exciting to see the article about the work of Eric Franklin in the March Inner IDEA column [“The Franklin Method®: A Revolutionary Approach to Movement” by Rosalind Gray Davis]. This type of work has been around for years, and it was gratifying to read an article about it in a current journal. It goes without question that Mr. Franklin has brought to public awareness the value of “functional effective movement . . . and the mind-body tools (imagery) used in the process.”

My disappointment was with the title of the article, “A Revolutionary Approach to Movement.” Many practitioners working in the movement fields of dance education and motor learning have been using this approach for more than 80 years. So to describe the Franklin Method as “revolutionary” is to disregard the many years of work of those who preceded him.

I was pleased to see André Bernard acknowledged in the article, but several others are the true pioneers. Mabel Elsworth Todd was perhaps the first to develop this work in kinesthetic education, in the 1920s. Her book, The Thinking Body, published in 1937, explores and explains this unorthodox approach to physical education and fitness, and the application of imagery to the efficient mechanics of movement. Other members of the family tree include Barbara Clark; Lulu Sweigard, author of Human Movement Potential: Its Ideokinetic Facilitation, published in 1974; and the writings of Irene Dowd. I am sure I may have missed a few others who have greatly contributed to this body of knowledge that has become more accessible through Mr. Franklin’s teachings and writings.

It would be truly wonderful if this work became a “revolution” in physical education, fitness and mind-body disciplines.

Emily Bogard
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana

Lymphedema and Strength Training Tips

It was wonderful to see the article “Strength Training Reduces Lymphedema in Breast Cancer Survivors” [Making News, February 2010]. I would like to add a few caveats for safety purposes.

  1. Lymphedema should be stable before beginning weight training to the affected arm.
  2. Fitness professionals should know what to look for and how to respond if there is a change in swelling (lymphedema) and should take continuing education that addresses this issue.
  3. The women in the study wore both a sleeve and a gauntlet (similar to a glove for the hand).
  4. Women should be supervised by fitness professionals who have training in this area and [should] start with very light weights. Resistance should not be increased at the same time as the weight, and weight should be increased only if there is no change in the lymphedema symptoms. Participants should adhere to proper form.
  5. Women in the program should be participating in weight training on a regular basis. This increases the lymphatic system’s ability to adapt to changes in the fluid balance. If strength training is not ongoing, women should start with lighter weights to give the lymphatic system time to acclimate again.
  6. Pilates is a great exercise modality for this population because it emphasizes deep breathing that enhances pumping; starts with abdominal exercises that clear the trunk for fluid to drain into; and uses minimal repetitions and light weights.

Naomi Aaronson, MA OTR/L CHT
Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer
Bayside, New York

Is Recommending Diet Soda a Good IDEA?

On reading the January 2010 issue, I was concerned about [two] references recommending that people drink diet pop/diet soda. As a personal trainer, I encourage my clients to eat and drink real food and to ditch the chemical-laden substitutes. I’m disappointed that IDEA would promote any other message. Diet products are not the healthy road to long-term weight loss and lifestyle change. Learning to view food as fuel and appreciate what nutritional fabulousness each choice offers is a positive way to reinforce wellness. Thank you for the opportunity to sound off!

Leanne Davis
Richmond, British Columbia

Editor’s Reply: Thank you, Leanne, for sharing your opinion about this. While we agree that diet soda is not the best beverage choice to recommend to clients, Len Kravitz, PhD, writing in the Research column in the January issue, suggests that a small-steps approach (switching from sugary soda to sugar-free soda) is a step in the right direction for clients who struggle with such challenges.

Erratum

In the April issue, the name of Ignite column author Lance Breger, MS, was misspelled in the Table of Contents.

In the same issue, in the World Beat column, the arrow indicating Brazil’s location on the world map was incorrectly placed.

We Want to Hear From You!

Send your letters and opinions to Ryan Halvorson, IDEA Fitness Journal Fitness Forum, 10455 Pacific Center Ct., San Diego, CA 92121-4339; fax them to him at (858) 535-8234; or e-mail them to rhalvorson@ideafit.com. You may also leave a voice mail letter in the editorial voice mail box at (858) 535-8979, ext. 239. (For general membership questions or information, however, please e-mail member services at member@ideafit.com.) We reserve the right to edit letters for length or clarity.

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June 2010

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