1/9/17


Fitness Just Got Easier
in Westbriar

So you want to shape up? Great!

Westbriar Civic Association Members get 50% off Fee at Crunch Gym, located at nearby Pike 7 Plaza. Pricing for membership in physical fitness facilities differ. Some have no initiation fees, but a rather high monthly rate. Crunch has low monthly rates, but a somewhat high initial sign-up fee..

We visited several facilities in the area and were most impressed with this one, for the convenient location, the cleanliness, the newness of equipment, free group classes, and the staff knowledge and attentivness. After negotiating with Manager Paul Harris, we struck an attractive deal. No excuses now for your fitness resolution in 2017. Just tell Paul you are Westbriar, and get a huge discount.

A worthy and achievable goal

Part 1    by Ken

Hi. Ken Bowman here. I am going to help you take the plunge and follow through on your New Year's Resolution to get physically fit. Once you make the decision, you will be truly amazed at how far you will go.

No, there is no magic pill for fitness, regardless of what comes into your email spam box. There are no shortcuts. The information I will cover is for middle aged people who have a sedentary life style, and are starting to get those little glimpses of what might be coming ahead. You know. The little aches and pain you are starting to experience putting on your socks in the morning. The sudden inability to turn on the dome light without stopping the car. It does not have to be like that. It's all common sense, time-tested, and life changing.

In the simplest words, it is using all your muscles, rather than only the ones you have fallen into the habit of using.

Physical fitness is a matter of taking back our shrinking range.

On average, our great-grandparents were more physically fit than we are today, when corrected for the fact that we have in the last century conquered certain fatal diseases, developed awesome life-saving surgical techniques, now have dental implants, and learned a lot about health in general. They were stronger because they had to be. They spent a lot more time being physical than we do now. Dirty clothes? We just throw them in the machine, press a button and get back to surfing the web. Go into town? We don't have to harness old Dobbin and hitch up the wagon. Just sit in a comfortable seat and make small effortless movements with hands and feet.

The thing about our bodies is that they automatically get stronger or weaker depending exactly on what we expect out of them. It's Use it or Lose it. Anyone who has experienced a broken leg that required a cast for 4 months is shocked on the day the cast is removed. The muscles are gone, and the leg is half the diameter of its partner. But with a few weeks of walking around, things are pretty much back to normal. This is just a simple illustration of the first big truth about muscle power.

Use it, or lose it.

 

Muscles can be made stronger by stressing them. Just walking around, fighting gravity is of course stress. And it keeps you going, of sorts. But it is not considered stress in the context of what is needed for the physical fitness you have in mind when you made your New Year's Resolution. As we age, our range of motion and capabilities follows exactly what we demand of it. But that envelope is progressively closing in if we give it a chance. The secret then, is to stress our muscles to a capability level which is beyond the envelope of our normal routine.
Just a quick example: You can stand on your tip toes because of which muscle? Your calf. Now, you can strengthen your calf muscles by repeatedly going up and down on you tip toes, but that is not going to really help very much. The reason is that it is pretty much the same as walking .... Your normal routine. But instead, if you picked up a ten pound rock and went up and down on tip toes, you calf muscle would start to think, "hey, this guy needs me to be stronger," and it responds by getting stronger. Sooner than you think, you can go to a 15 pound rock with the same effort. And then a 20 pounder. And then, with your new reserve of strength, you can effortlessly get a stack of plates from the top shelf of the cupboard, using tip toes, rather than hauling out a step stool. Your life just got more convenient.

Now, your body has a lot more muscles than just your calf. There are hundreds. Many are in groups that work together to do stuff, But there are still dozens of groups that need to be strengthened, and will strengthen readily if you can get them under stress. Getting all or at least most of them to grow stronger in a balanced way is the secret to overall physical fitness.

Crier: I go out jogging for exercise. Isn't this enough?

Ken: Jogging stresses the leg muscles. The calf propels you forward during sprints, the quadriceps (front of the thigh) allows you to kick your lower leg forward, and your hamstrings are the workhorse in completing the stride. Jogging is obviously good for the legs. It also gets your heart pumping, and your heart is another important muscle. More about cardiovascular exercising later. But you have lots more muscles than just the legs and heart, and jogging does little for these.

In general, to make fast inroads, you will need to introduce weights. This is where the term "pumping iron" comes from. Gravity is always around us, is absolutely reliable, and easy to work with.

Crier: How does one target specific muscles?

Ken: It is a matter of knowing a little anatomy, and visualizing ones body as a bunch of sticks (bones) and joints. There are major muscle groups in the arms and legs that are easy to understand, but some that are not quite so obvious. For example, twisting your wrist, from palm down to palm up brings into play other muscles. If you lift weights by, say, rotating your spine, the muscles of the abdomen come into play. Other abdominal muscles are called in when you rise up from laying on your back.

A quick note on fitness gadgets that are often advertised on TV or on the web, which involve springs or some kind of elastic strap: Stay Away from Them! They are often poorly made, and dangerous. Too many people have lost their eye or teeth when they broke. Use only gravity to build your new you..

As for targeting, a handy person could devise various devices using ropes, pulleys, weights, benches, chairs, and make a home gym. It has been done. But a commercial gym is a much better solution.

A typical gym has dozens of various machines, each one scientifically engineered to target a particular muscle group in your body. The weights are conveniently adjustable to go from near zero all the way up to Godzilla. A typical workout routine will have you spending a few minutes each in perhaps a dozen different machines.

Next: A look at targeted workout equipment.

How are your New Years Resolutions Coming?

Part 2    by Ken

Continued from Front Page

Physical Fitness: The most popular New Year's Resolution, and the one most often forgotten.

Hi. Ken Bowman again. In this segment we are going to talk about muscles, what they do, what you can do to increase muscle power, and what this power can do for you in return. It doesn't matter how old you are. It works for everyone.

The first thing about muscles, is that they only pull. They never push. To make them grow stronger, it's just a matter of making them pull things. As mentioned previously, you cannot hope to achieve fitness without a balanced approach, where you are bringing all your muscles up in a coordinated way. The most practical way to do this is by enrolling at a fitness center. There, you will find at least fifty machines and devices that are scientifically designed to target a single, or small group of muscles. Your routine is a matter of just going down the row.

 

Closest Fitness Centers. Convenience is important.
If your fitness center is too far away, it is easy to make excuses to skip your routine. The closest centers to Westbriar, which provide basic fitness (as opposed to sports training, body building, recreation, and other specialties) are Gold's Gym, and Crunch, both on Route 7.
There are two broad classifications of fitness routines: skeletal muscle, and cardiovascular. Both are important, but this series is concerned with the first. You don't sweat with skeletal muscle. Cardio exercises, treadmills, staircase, rowing, do cause you to sweat, and will be discussed in a future series.

What to expect on the first day: Your membership will come with several sessions of staff attention, to show you how to set up and exercise on the various machines. You will be introduced to a dozen or more machines, and the weights will be set very low and easy. You will be offered personal training at extra cost, which can be valuable in motivation. But if you have reasonable discipline, this is not really needed. Your muscles will respond to the iron weights, not the advice and encouragement of a trainer.

The day after is going to be rough. When you wake up, you will feel like a truck ran over you. You are not injured, but you have woken up muscles that have never been used before. The good news is that this only happens once. Take the day off, and let things calm down. Maybe take a Motrin.

How much exercise is enough? That depends on what you want to accomplish. The more you work, the stronger you get. If you made it your full time occupation, you would start to look like this. But if that was your goal, you wouldn't be reading this. All you really want to do is keep your body working as good as practical. This would mean becoming about four times as strong in all muscles as you are right now, and keeping your range of motion complete. This can be done by exercising about 45 minutes to an hour every other day. About the same amount of time you spend in the bathroom for your morning hygiene.

What is the routine? When you lift a weight and put it back down, that is called a repetition, or "rep" for short. When you start off on a new machine, set your weights low. A series of reps is called a set. A set ends when you "hit the wall," meaning you cannot do another rep. At that point, you have to stop and rest as your blood carries off lactic acid developed by the effort.

How many reps to a set is determined by how much weight your are trying to lift. My advice is to try to make this number about 15. If you aim for less (body builders do), you are putting undue stress on yourself. If you go for a lot more, you are wasting time. You will soon get to know all your machines, exactly how to set them before you even start.

Hint: If you stay on the same machine for all three sets, you are wasting time while your muscles rest up. Just go to a different machine, and work on a different muscle group instead. Never wait on a busy machine; find an empty one. Your time's valuable.
You will rapidly become stronger. When you find that you are hitting the wall at say 25 reps, it is time to add ten more pounds. Aim for about three sets on each machine. This will make a dozen machines fit into a 45 minute routine.

Each machine is designed to target a relatively small group of muscles. This machine targets only the bicep, the muscle on the front of the upper arm that lifts the hand and forearm. A similar machine targets only the tricep, the muscle on the back side up the upper arm. The shoulder muscles are strengthened by still another machine that has you lifting weight by swinging your arms toward each other.

Similarly, there are machines that target major muscle groups of the legs. Just a few examples, but it gives you the idea. You will be using 12 to 15, typically.

I prefer to exercise my arms by free weights, or "dumbbells", since they can eliminate three different machines, while introducing balance into the mix. But that is a matter of personal preference. Dumbbells are inexpensive and handy to have at home.


A little red has been added to show bicep as it is being stressed.

What can I expect in six months?

1. You will usually be about 4 times as strong. If you originally hit the wall
   in 15 reps with 20 pounds, you will now be doing the same with 80 pounds.

2. You will have better posture, and have a sort of youthful bounce in your gait.

3. Your range of motion will be greatly enhanced, and your joints will feel
   "well oiled." It will be like shedding 20 years.

4. You will feel more alive and motivated in other aspects of your life.

5. You will no longer avoid effort, but look forward to it. You will relish taking
   out the trash. You will walk up 3 flights instead of waiting for an elevator. It's
   uncanny.

6. You will almost certainly be motivated to, and will, lose weight if you are
   overweight.

7. Your clothes will fit better.

8. Your friends will notice and compliment the new you.

For Durability ...

Get and Stay Fit.