Saturday, January 29, 2011


Not everybody loves working out. It’s tough for me to understand, because it’s fun for me—maybe even more than fun. I guess it stems from me not being able to workout as a kid.

Back then, my asthma was so bad, just about anything at all triggered attacks. They didn’t have much in the way of medicine back then, so the doctors were very cautious. Basically, I couldn’t do anything.

A couple years ago, I had a chance to go back to Angola and do a concert at the same church I grew up in. Afterward, they had a little get-together and I had a chance to meet many of the people that came to the event.

Amazingly, I met my old 3rd grade teacher, kindergarten teacher, and of all things—my grade school P.E. teacher! Here it was, 40 years later, and they were telling stories about me.

It really touched me when my P.E. teacher told me she’d really felt badly for me. The principal had called her in and told her not to let me participate, because the doctors said that if I’d had an attack, it could have been really bad, even fatal.

As it was, I had attacks all the time and just had to tough it out. Back then they didn’t have rescue breathers (inhalers). So I spent grade school P.E. sitting on the sidelines. The other kids thought I had a good deal, but they didn’t realize that I’d of given anything to get in there.

My parents steered me toward music lessons, and I filled up my time that way, but even into high school, I always wished I could be more physical. Once I got to college, I started working out and training in martial arts.

Asthma treatment also improved, but I still had quite a few hospital stays in my early 20’s. Still, I was getting in shape, and ended up getting my master’s degree in exercise physiology.

About seven years ago, they finally came up with medicines that prevented attacks and I didn’t need to carry inhalers anymore. So I love working out. It’s not hard for me to get to the gym. Even if I didn’t have a gym, I’d go find one.

But when I run into people that are here, but really don’t want to be, I feel for them. It can be hard work, working out—especially if you need to lose a significant amount of weight. My best advice is to try and find things that they like to do.

For example, I was just talking with a woman who didn’t like the cardio so much, but really liked doing the machines. She said, “I could do those every day.” So I suggested that perhaps she try splitting up the routines.

Typically, people will do the whole circuit three times a week. You need at least 48 hours to repair your muscles after your workouts. More intense workouts can even require as much as a week before the muscles are fully recovered.

But what she could do is do a little bit of cardio, and then split the machines up into Upper Body movements and Lower Body movements, doing those on alternating days. That way she’d have time to recover in between.

Or, she could split it up three ways: Pushing movements (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps), Pulling movements (Back, Biceps), and Lower Body movements. Then, she could do them on alternating days with a day off after two cycles through.

If you don’t like the weights so much but don’t mind the cardio (walking, jogging, elliptical, bikes, etc…), focus more on the cardio machines. Just make sure you hit a few upper body exercises to keep your arms and shoulders toned.

Some people like classes like Zumba, Step, or Kickboxing. That’s great. Whatever you like, you’ll be more likely to do it—and keep doing it. It’s the doing it that takes the weight off, but it’s the keep doing it that keeps the weight off.

Me, I’m pretty grateful and thank God everyday. I love working out and have a job that lets me do it. In fact, I’ve got to run—it’s time for my workout. I mean, I really have to run—on the treadmill. There’s one open now. See you next week.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Have you seen those ads with those new devices that you hold and shake, that are supposed to take the place of all those machines and exercises that you’d do in the gym. Do they work? Well, it depends. Let’s take a look at it.

Of course the model demonstrating the device in the ad is absolutely ripped, and having a great time using it. But do you think they got that way with that particular device? Most likely it was lots of hard work doing all the traditional things in the gym.

But there is actually some science behind those things. When we started sending people into space, they discovered that they came back with smaller, weaker muscles.

Subsequent research revealed it was prolonged exposure to zero gravity that caused the problem. In space, they didn’t have to work as much to maintain posture, or move around, so, their muscles started getting weaker.

When the astronauts got back to earth, they were subject to gravity again, but they had to work to build their muscles back up again. Basically, it’s the same old thing: “Use it or lose it.”

They started experimenting with ways to let the astronauts exercise in space. One thing they did was create machines that actually shook the astronauts. The vigorous shaking forced the muscles to respond to counter the movements, and so they received exercise.

This concept has worked its way into commercial gym equipment research with a vibrating platform that you stand on while doing exercises like squats. The tiny vibrations make the body unstable during the movement which initiates more muscle work to help stabilize the body. That equipment is pretty pricey and places that have it are pretty rare.

So now we can order those devices on T.V. that you hold and shake. They’re much smaller, and much less expensive, but the science behind it is similar. Basically, you’re contracting the muscles on again, and off again, a whole bunch of times to resist and reverse the movements.

So yes, the muscles are getting loaded up, and that means they’re getting exercise. But are you getting as much exercise as you would with traditional equipment and exercises? Let’s go back to the people demonstrating. Did they get that way using that thing? Probably not.

What’s at the core of this latest gimmick is the idea: “You can get results easier if you’ll just buy this product!” This is the reoccurring theme of all of these ads. If you’ll just buy this one thing, you’ll look just like this, without all that nasty hard work.

As a trainer who’s tried just about everything that’s out there, I’ve learned that almost anything will work if you work hard enough, and do it with some consistency. But nothing works as fast as most people want it to. And it’s always inconvenient and messy.

If you’re not sweating and breathing hard, it’s probably not going to be enough to get you what you want. But if it makes you sweat, breath hard, and you feel like you just got a great workout, you’re probably on your way.

If you want real results this year, here’s an idea. Make a commitment to stick. Be consistent in your efforts. Don’t make excuses—make yourself accountable. And just get started. That’s the ticket. That’s what works.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Last week’s column was about taking a look at how things went in 2010 and setting some new fitness goals for this year. This week I want to take a closer look at those new goals.

Hopefully, you had a chance to write a few things down. Remember, things that get written down are much more likely to get done. You can further increase your chances of success by having what we call S.M.A.R.T. goals.

S. is for Specific. These are goals where you know exactly what you want to do. For example, you want to lose 50 lbs. That’s pretty specific. Write it down.

M. is for Motivating. This means you’ll be excited or happy when you achieve them. How would you feel if you lost 50 lbs? You’d be looking pretty good, right? That’s pretty motivating. You can also be motivated by how you’ll continue to feel if you don’t do something about it.

A. is for Achievable. An achievable goal is one that you can actually accomplish. If you want to lose 50 lbs in one month, it’s probably not very realistic for you. Losing 1-2 lbs a week is probably more achievable. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), weight loss of 1-2 lbs a week is both achievable and safe.

R. is for Relevant. The goal has to really mean something or be important to you. If it’s not very important, you’re not likely to keep working toward it. If it’s crucial to you, you’ll do whatever it takes to get it done. Ask yourself why you want to lose the 50 lbs. What will it mean to you? Why now?

T. is for Trackable. This is pretty important, because you need to track and measure your progress as you work toward achieving your goal. Getting on the scale once a week is just about right. More than that will drive you crazy with all the little ups and downs that occur. Weighing once a week will show you the trend—and that’s what’s important. It will let you know if you’re right on track, or if your train has jumped the track.

Once you have your S.M.A.R.T. goals, the main thing is to get moving. We can be more specific about how to exercise, but you just need to get moving. The other thing is to start watching what you eat. Knock out the junk. Write down your calories for awhile until you’re sure you’re eating right.

There are several good websites out there that will help you do that. A friend of mine just told me about a new phone application that will even let you track your calories on your smart phone! Go to and give it a look. Or go to or .

So go set some S.M.A.R.T. goals already. Good luck getting started and I’ll see you in the gym!

Friday, January 07, 2011


Hard to believe, but another whole year has come and gone. It’s time to take stock of how things went for you in 2010 and start planning for 2011.

Even though the focus of this article is usually health and fitness, the same process can apply with other areas, like personal relationships, personal finance, or your work & business. Just follow the same steps.

So let’s talk about your health and fitness. You’ve got to assess the situation. How did you do this past year? How did you feel? What has your doctor said about your health? How are your clothes fitting? The first step to fixing something is to see that something needs to be fixed.

If things went great, and you’re right on track, great! Give yourself a pat on the back. And keep on doing it. If they went the wrong direction, that’s O.K. You can’t change the past—you can only change yourself and try to do better next time.

Once you realize you need to do something about it, it’s time to set some goals for yourself? It’s much more likely you’ll get something done if you write it down, tell people about it, and review your progress from time to time.

That’s why it’s useful to have a “to do list” or goal sheet. It’s a master list of things that are important enough for you to put lots of effort into it. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and not too detailed. Some people carry it in their phone or day planners. Others put it on their refrigerator or the mirror in the bathroom.

Once you have the goals, how are you going to accomplish them? You need a plan of attack. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. If someone’s doing something that’s working, figure out what they’re doing, and do it too.

If you want to be successful at something, it helps to hang around with successful people. Hopefully, some of that success will rub off on you! If nothing else, you’ll be inspired!

After you have a plan, you’ve got to just get started. That’s often the hardest thing to do. It’s easy to keep putting it off. Things will always come up to interfere with your plans.

Getting started might mean calling about information at the YMCA, Curves, or here at Tom’s. It could mean making an appointment to check things out. It’s hard to sign up for something if you can’t even get your butt in the door.

Go with a friend to one of those classes they keep talking about. Or look in the paper for a used treadmill to put in your new fitness room! Or go online and order an exercise ball, some dumbbells and a workout DVD. Start out with trying to walk a mile every day. Then adding some weight machines two or three times a week.

Probably the most important thing is to schedule your training times. Don’t leave it up to chance because things will always come up to frustrate you. Pick a time and stick to it. If you can develop a regular routine, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.

Take some measurements of your arm, chest, waist, hips and thigh. Get your current weight and body fat. You might even take a picture in something skimpy. Put that on your bathroom mirror—it might give you lots of motivation. In 12 weeks do it again. I’ll bet you’ll be pretty excited. Good luck, and have a great New Year and a New You!