Thursday, January 31, 2013

5 Tips to Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions

New Year resolutions are quickly forgotten when the calendar turns to February.  Promises to go to the gym, lose weight and get fit fade as the holiday excitement comes to an end. Why do people give up on their fitness resolutions?   Perhaps it is because the exercise routine has become boring or the results are not seen as quickly as one had hoped.  Whatever the reasons for giving up on those New Year promises, here are 5 Tips for making fitness fun and interesting so that those New Year wishes can come true.
1. Keep it Fresh! Try new exercises, hire a Personal Trainer, or take your training outside for a change of scenery. Changing things up or consulting a Personal Trainer can keep the results coming.
2. Partner Up! Get a friend to join you in your fitness quest. Having a close friend or relative as a workout partner can help keep you on track and hold you accountable.
3. Make it Fun! Don’t be too serious. Take it easy and just try to enjoy your exercising instead of thinking of it as a chore.
4. Set small realistic goals. Setting goals allows you to see your progress. Make your goals small and keep moving forward to the next goal until finally you accomplish your BIG goal.
5. Reward Yourself! If you accomplish smaller goals, it is ok to reward yourself with something you have been wanting.
These 5 tips can help you keep those New Year fitness resolutions. Keep moving forward and you will achieve your goals.  

40 Day Hot Yoga Challenge: Going with the Vinyasa Flow

In my previous post,, I discussed my participation in a 40-Day Hot Yoga Challenge.  I assumed that the 40 days of Hot Yoga would just be a physical challenge, but I have discovered that it has had a profound effect on my mental outlook as well.  As I move into day 25 of the challenge, I am focused on the unexpected benefits of the experience such as self-control; I have learned to just go with the “Vinyasa (the flow from one pose to another)” flow!
This week I experienced several things personally and professionally that were mentally and emotionally challenging.  One of the challenges I faced was to take part in a 3 day fruit only cleanse.  This was much harder than I anticipated and became not only a physical challenge but a huge mental challenge as well.  Due to my yoga practice I was able to meet all of my challenges with equanimity. Equanimity is meeting yourself and the situations you encounter as they arise without reactivity.  Reactivity is anything that takes you out your peace, your truth, your inner calmness, and your joy.  Reactivity comes in many different shapes and forms.  It can look like profanity, avoidance, tightness in the body, illness, daily complaints, and impatience to name a few.  During the 40-Day Hot Yoga Challenge, I became increasingly aware as to what stirred my pot of reactivity.  Now that I have identified the sources of my reactivity, I have been able to move in a new direction towards equanimity. 
As I embrace the physical and mental benefits of the Hot Yoga Challenge, I have been able to grow stronger in my mind and body.  What will you do to challenge yourself?   Explore your options and let yourself go with the flow.
What is available for you if you simply accept the situation for what it is and use it as a lesson for deeper growth?

Television and the Promotion of Dance

Television may be the quickest, most accessible form of communication and promotion known to man and the divot that you have put in your couch over the years will confirm this statement.  Just about every American household owns a television set that is often left on 24/7.  According to the New York Times, the average American watched approximately 34 hours of television per week in the year 2010.  With Americans consumed with watching TV, companies know that the 30-second ads and reality shows are ideal for effectively promoting a product or idea. 

Dance is a great example of the power of television.  Dance was a dying sport until it gained popularity on television.  There are many popular television shows such as So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Best Dance Crew, and Dancing with The Stars just to name a few. 

Though I am not a dancer, I believe these reality shows do a great job of promoting dance to the American population, especially children.  These shows can spark the interest of a young child and possibly jump-start their dance career.  Many talented individuals have become famous due to these shows that otherwise may have not gotten this opportunity.  Though these reality shows are mainly for entertainment and humor, it may likely lead a young person to dance and get fit at the same time.      

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kranking: An Alternative Way to Cardio

Like spinning, kranking is a high intensity exercise class with energizing music where an individual uses a Krankcycle.  The Krankcycle is an innovative piece of equipment that is similar to the Upper Body Ergometer (UBE) used in rehabilitation centers.  The Krankcycle differs from the UBE in that crank arm, “pedals”, are independent of each other which allows for variations in intensity of kranking. The benefits of kranking are numerous and include:

1. Improved Cardiovascular Fitness: Kranking requires constant aerobic effort which improves the      efficiency of your heart and lungs.
2. Improved Core Strength & Stability: Using the Krankcylce requires the activation of the core muscles (for stabilization) during the workout.
3. Improved Upper Body Strength: Just as spinning facilitates lower body muscle growth and definition, Kranking provides the same benefits for the upper body.
4. Alternative Cross Training Option: Do your legs need a rest day? Kranking offers the cardiovascular benefits of biking or running, while giving your legs a rest.
5. Weight Management:  The American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that a 30-minute Kranking class has been shown to burn over 250 calories!
6. Inclusion of Participants: Possibly the most unique benefit of Kranking is that it allows individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the exciting atmosphere of a group exercise class.

Whether you have a lower body injury, a disability or just want a change in your cardio routine, Kranking class may be the class for you!  As of January 2010, 35 fitness clubs around the nation have added this class to their group exercise schedule.  Ask your fitness professional to investigate the Kranking movement.  Get out there and KRANK!


The Hypocrisy of the Baseball Hall of Fame

On January 9, the Baseball Hall of Fame chose not to induct a class for 2013. Three of Major League Baseball’s most notorious suspected steroid abusers (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa) were eligible for the Hall of Fame. While it takes 75% of the votes to be elected, none of the three received more than 38% of the vote. Although none have ever tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED), the class of 2013 will forever be referred to as the “steroid class”.
For the self-righteous baseball writers who vote for the Hall of Fame to really prove their point, even Craig Biggio, who would never be accused of using PED’s, only received 68% of the vote. This guilt by association is the height of hypocrisy. After the 1994 strike, which led to cancellation of the World Series, baseball interest was lagging until the exciting 1996 race by Sosa and Mark McGwire upon Roger Maris’s single season home run mark. Major League Baseball ownership and the sportswriters celebrated the home run as the salvation of the sport. When rumors of performance-enhancing drugs were whispered, everyone looked the other way. After the sport was saved by the long ball, the public as well as those in baseball expressed a negative reaction when an arrogant Barry Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron’s all-time home run total.
Should all players be denied membership in the Hall of Fame because of the widespread drug use that was in some extent encouraged by baseball management and the now holier-than-thou sportswriters? Drug usage has always been a part of baseball. From chewing tobacco and alcohol to the amphetamines that were present in most clubhouses during the 1960s and 1970sand rampant cocaine use in the 1980’s, drugs have been a mainstay .
Issues of character (Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa) have certainly been raised when voting for Hall of Famers, yet the voters have certainly condoned much worse by crowning Hall of Fame status  on violent racists such as Ty Cobb.  And what about the issues of race and cheating? Should athletes who played in the first four decades of the twentieth century have their records questioned because they never had to face black pitchers such as Satchel Paige or hitters like Josh Gibson? Although forms of cheating such as stealing signs and doctoring baseballs have always been part of the game, Hall of Fame pitchers Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry were certainly acknowledged for their skills.
The Hall of Fame hypocrisy will always be present, but after a period in purgatory it is likely that a new generation of sportswriters will elevate the “steroid class” to Cooperstown. But, an asterisk could be attached to each name who played during the PED era.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

College Athletes Play for Tradition or Best Look

In today’s sports world, the way a team looks is big business. ‘Look good, feel good, play good’ is more than a catch-phrase as the brand and style of new uniforms in college football has become a primary focus in the recruitment effort. In the past, the teams with the greatest traditions (Alabama, Texas, and USC) were able to get all of the ‘big time’ recruits. However, a new trend has emerged as teams like Oregon, Maryland, and Rutgers are now able to draw in top recruits because of the popularity their uniforms.

According  to Allan Brettman (, when Oregon first came out with the new uniform combinations it created a lot of buzz about the university. The media and sports fans were focused on the football team and high school kids liked the new uniforms. Although somewhat controversial, the focus on uniforms may seem like a crazy idea but as it relates to recruiting it has leveled the playing field for competing against traditional powerhouse teams.

There are still folks who feel that the combinations of uniforms is a waste of money; especially the smaller schools that do not have the same funding like the bigger universities and cannot compete. The trends in college football may change, but right now the team with the best uniform design has a great shot at landing the big time recruits.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in Athletes

With the increasing awareness of head injuries in sports, athletes are starting to see devastating long-term effects on the human brain. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head (J Neuropathol Exp Neurol, 68(7): 709–735). Notable athletes who have suffered from CTE include football players, Dave Duerson and Junior Seau; both men committed suicide and left notes requesting that their brains be analyzed for CTE. The autopsy results for both of these athletes indicated that they indeed suffered from CTE. At least a dozen other former NFL football players have suffered from CTE. 

What is the sport industry doing to help research and prevent CTE? Since Seau’s death in 2012, the NFL has teamed with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Washington and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to further research this brain disease as well as develop methods of prevention. The NFL has since increased fines on athletes for using helmet-to-helmet hits against other players and has worked to increase the effectiveness of the athlete’s equipment. Will research and safety development prevent CTE? Possibly, but without knowledge, understanding, and the implementation of increased methods of prevention, athletes in collision sports may continue to be at risk for CTE. 

The Brotherly Bond in Super Bowl XLVII

The achievements of the fanatical, intense, and inspirational Harbaugh brothers is somewhat unique to the coaching world. These brothers have lived a coaching life following in their father’s, Coach Jack Harbaugh, footsteps.  Coach Jack Harbaugh would iterate to his sons on a regular basis ‘Who has it better than us?’ For the first time in Super Bowl history, two brothers (Jim and John Harbaugh) will be coaching their divisional championship teams (Baltimore Ravens & San Francisco 49er, respectively) against each other.  The probabilities of reaching the Super Bowl as a player or a coach are far and between.  It is no surprise kids want to grow up and be like their father and live the life that dad instilled into them growing up.

The oldest Harbaugh brother, John, finished his high school career while his father was an assistant coach under Bo Schembechler at the University of Michigan.  John  then went on to play college football at Miami Ohio. Jim, year younger than his brother John, served as a graduate assistant under his father at the University of Western Kentucky from 1994-2001. Jack Harbaugh inspired a work ethic and drive to be a fierce competitor into each of his sons; he taught his sons how to be great leaders! 

One can only imagine the pride that Coach Jack Harbaugh possesses as he watches his two sons coach on the biggest stage of the world --- the Super Bowl.

Track & Field has a Media Presence with Flotrack

Technology has changed the way athletic programs and athletes are publicized and promoted. Most overlooked sports, such as track and field, cross country, swimming, wrestling, and gymnastics have not had the media presence of football, basketball, and baseball. Luckily, the need for media coverage for these sports has been fulfilled. 

In 2006, a couple of track & field junkies from Austin created Flotrack – a website ( that provided meet coverage, results, workouts, and interviews to be available to the masses. Since ESPN provides minimal track & field media coverage, Flotrack was ideal platform allowing full media attention to be given to cross-country and track athletes and enthusiasts.  Flotrack provides coverage from the world championship level, to high school state meets.

 Not only does Flotrack give runners a safe haven to explore and retain useful videos and information, but it also gave the coach and athlete a convenient site for recruiting. Coaches (or anyone) can watch meet coverages from all 50 states and a handful of other countries, thanks to Flotrack. Users can also create a profile and upload videos to promote themselves. 

The creators of Flotrack really nailed this media idea, allowing athletes to be discovered across the world. Since its popularity in 2006, Flotrack has inspired branches for other sports including swimming (, gymnastics (, and cycling ( 


Golf 101: The Short Game

In the game of golf, players are always looking for the next big thing that can help them shave a few strokes off their score. Players might consider spending money on new equipment but the quickest way to success is to practice the short game. The short game consists of chipping and putting and is the key to improving the game.

Some practical ways to improve the short game is to train using two techniques:  blocked and random practice. During a blocked practice, the golfer should focus on the technique of either the chip shot or the putting stroke. Working on the technique provides consistency of club to ball contact and decreases errors. During random practice, the golfer will emphasize ‘touch’ and ball placement on and around the green. Random practice will also better equip a golfer for a game-like situation. During a random chipping practice session, a golfer might place several piles of balls in various areas around the green and hit one shot from each area rotating until all balls have been hit. Similarly, a random putting session would involve the golfer placing a tee in the ground at various distances from the pin (3ft, 6ft, and 9ft) and then alternate putts from those areas.

Combining blocked and random practice will help you shave off those unwanted strokes. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

Friday, January 25, 2013

We Don't Actually Throw Hammers!

 As a track & field coach and former college athlete, I have found that few people know much about the Hammer Throw event. When I tell people that I coach the Hammer Throw, I receive inquisitive looks and questions such as “What is the Hammer Throw?” and “Do people actually throw a hammer?”  So here is a basic history of my favorite track & field event.
 The Hammer Throw originated in Ireland, Scotland, and England it was part of the Tailteann games in 1829 B.C. Local tribes practiced the Hammer Throw at religious festivals in honor of the Norse god Thor. In the beginning of the Tailteann games, men hurled wheels and then later transitioned to throwing boulders attached to the end of a wooden handle. There was no set weight on the boulder but the handle length was approximately 3-3 ½ feet. The men first threw from a standing position after winding the implement over their head a few times; they then threw from a boundary line on the field. In 1875, the English created uniformed implements so as to develop consistency in the sport; the boulder was to weigh 16 lbs. and the handle was to be 3 ½ feet with athletes throwing from a circle that was 7feet in diameter. In 1895, A.J. Flanagan of Ireland created a new technique, which is still used today, in which the athlete completes three jumping rotations on the ball of the left foot (easier said than done). By the early 1900s, the wooden handle was replaced with a metal hand grip with a steel wire connected to the ball. This is still the Hammer that is  thrown today. I would encourage you to visit a collegiate track and field team and check out a local hammer thrower. If you don’t have any close by, here is a clip to watch.

Fitness: A Fresh Start to the New Year

The New Year always brings dreams one step closer to reality for those making resolutions in an annual attempt to get healthier. The two most commonly shared New Year's resolutions are weight loss and better eating habits. These two resolutions can be crucial opportunities for those working in the Personal Training industry.

Personal Trainers anticipate the months of January through March in an attempt to gain new clientele and increase their annual income. However, Personal trainers can't be complacent and wait for clients to knock on their door; rather, they have to aggressively market their services to potential clients. With so many new members eagerly participating in the gym, and trying to keep their New Year resolutions, Personal Trainers need to be proactively marketing their services and maintain solid relationships with current clients.

Fresh beginnings are what the New Year is all about; each individual has the ability to become a new and improved person. Personal Trainers have the opportunity to help others succeed in their fitness or health challenge. And, with a well-developed marketing, recruiting, and retention plan, professional Personal Trainers can increase their net worth.

It's still January, which means there is plenty of time to gain new clientele. So get out there and market your Personal Training skills while people still have a new found desire to be healthier in the New Year.

Hot Yoga: A 40-Day Challenge

What’s the big deal about 40 days of stretching in a hot room?  It doesn’t sound like a big deal right? Wrong!  As a Kinesiology professional, I have always been passionate about my personal health & fitness. I have participated in a variety of workout challenges from boxing, running, kettle bell training and weightlifting. This has been one of the most challenging workouts I have ever done. As a New Year challenge I began a 40-day hot yoga routine. This particular hot yoga is Vinyasa Power Yoga, which is 75 minutes long, in a heated room of 95 degrees, and focuses on continuous flow and movement from one powerful pose to another.  Power yoga is much more challenging than stretching because it combines cardiovascular, flexibility, and strength benefits and staying hydrated is really the only danger that you face.
I have experienced some ups and downs this last week as I reached my 20 day mark.  My body was so sore one morning that I found myself thinking bad thoughts about my instructor as she continuously pushed us through a flow of torturous poses. I walked out of there feeling like I had just maxed out in squat!  As I thought about crawling up the stairs to my apartment, I realized that I felt equally amazing and miserable at the same time.  It was an intoxicating feeling and the positive changes have far outweighed the challenges.  I have lost three pounds and can feel and see my body getting tighter, leaner, and stronger.  My energy has increased dramatically throughout the day and I have also found myself requiring less sleep to feel well rested. I have subconsciously found myself being more aware of what I am eating and making my choices based on nutrition rather than cravings.  I feel much more at ease and relaxed in frustrating situations like deadlines, traffic, and challenging people.  I didn’t expect yoga to physically and mentally change me this fast so I can’t wait to see how the next 20 days turn out.  Please check back February 15th to see if I resort to the evil eye for my instructor or give her a big nice smile instead!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Keeping the Dance Spirit Alive

The Dixie Belles are a drill/dance team, consisting of 50 talented young dancers from Richland High School, who live for dance. Being a Dixie Belle requires athletic ability, proper dance technique, teamwork, and a commitment to community service. In fact, the dancers are expected to participate in various fund raisers, charity events, and other events within the community. For many new members to the Dixie Belle squad, the required time commitment can be overwhelming, so it is important to make time for fun and remind the dancers why they tried out for the team.

As Assistant Director, I am constantly working with the Head Director to keep the girls motivated and excited about being a member of the Dixie Belles. Dancers typically get burnt out between the months of November through January because the squad is transitioning from what is a typically more laid back football season to a faster paced basketball and dance competition season. The practices throughout the spring are longer and can be very stressful due to the amount of work that needs to be completed.

Recently, I have started integrating team building activities into the weekly practices. This has made a huge impact on the morale of the team, as girls are able to take a few minutes to laugh and bond with their teammates. The transition from the team building activities provides a positive transition into the practice session as we focus on the competition routines.

Allowing time for fun, and stress relief is necessary to be successful! Keep an eye out for the Dixie Belles … future dance champions from Richland High School!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fitness Apps: All the Rage in 2013

       Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, so it is not surprising that many Americans resolve to lose weight each year.  In order to combat obesity, mobile health and fitness applications (apps) have been created to be used on tablets and smartphones. These apps have been generated in hopes of making people fitter and healthier. A recent report by MobiHealthNews indicates that over 13,000 health and fitness apps were available to iPhone users in 2012.  These apps include everything from daily workouts to food journals to motivational tools. With thousands of apps available, it might be easy to feel completely overwhelmed.  As a fitness professional, I suggest that you simplify the process and ask yourself, “What am I trying to achieve?”
        · Want to improve your long distance running? Apps such as Nike+ Running or MapMyRun will provide you with GPS tools, total distance, calories burned and average pace. 
        ·Need to spice up your fitness routine? There are a wide variety of apps to choose from --- Tai Chi Fundamentals, P90X, Simply Yoga and Nike Training Club.
        ·Want to manage your weight through a healthy diet?  Apps such as Loseit! And MyFitnessPal are online food databases that provide nutritional and caloric information that allow you to monitor your food intake.
There are thousands of apps that can motivate and provide new incentives for you to continue your journey toward achieving great health and fitness.  Download your app today!

Is Kingsbury’s Hiring a New Trend in College Football?

In December 2012, Texas Tech hired Kliff Kingsbury, age 33, as the new head football coach setting off a firestorm debate about the youth movement in coaching. Why did Texas Tech hire such a young head coach? Has coaching turned into a young man’s game?  Can a young coaching staff be successful?

This was a strategic move by Texas Tech and Kingsbury. While Kingsbury is considerably younger than the average BCS head coach (average age 52), he has already guided one team to the number one offense in the country and the next year coached a freshman quarterback to win the Heisman trophy. As head coach, Kingsbury has hired a staff of young (average age 34) qualified coaches. The new assistants have all coached at other NCAA Division I programs and are highly respected for their high energy coaching and masterful recruiting.
Kingsbury was intentional about surrounding himself with coaches who were former teammates; in fact, six of the coaches have degrees from Texas Tech. These coaches will have a greater sense of tradition and pride for the university, which will translate most into successful recruiting. The new recruits and players will know that the coaches want to be Red Raiders, not just using the university as a place to collect their next check.
Many athletic directors will be watching the Texas Tech football team closely to monitor if this way of thinking can be successful. So for you coaches out there, have your resumes ready to send to your alma mater.

Foam Rolling & the Healthy Athlete

In athletics, foam rolling is an injury prevention tool.  Foam rolling is considered a self-myofacial release technique and is often accompanied by an uncomfortable sensation when performed correctly.  Foam rolling is an effective and inexpensive alternative to spending a fortune at the massage therapist or the chiropractor.  When muscles are repeatedly stretched, contracted, and placed under stress, the stressed muscles are often left with millions of micro-tears and occasionally a knot or two within the muscle fibers itself.  These knots can easily be felt as a lump of tissue underneath the skin and are often times very uncomfortable.  A foam roller works similar to that of a rolling pin ironing out bread dough.  Ironing out these knots allows the muscle fibers to become more pliable, while in turn, improving flexibility and overall tissue quality.  Muscles are encased with a protective coating known as fascia.  Picture saran wrap covering a slab of beef at the grocery store.  That’s fascia!  Fascia is dense connective tissue which needs to be periodically broken up, creating a much more pliable muscle.  So do yourself a favor, stay injury free and foam roll!