Thursday, July 25, 2013


I was watching one of the regulars work out at the gym this morning. He did a 10 minute warm-up on the Schwinn AirDyne exercise bicycle, and then went back and did some dumbbell curls and presses.

You could tell he was pretty serious about it. After the dumbbells, he moved to the weight machine circuit. He started with the first one, did a set, rested a bit, and then did another set, and so on, spending about five minutes before moving on to the next machine.

All told, he did thirteen machines, which took him about an hour. When I finally looked in on him, he’d moved on to the Kettlebell rack, and was fiddling around with them. He ended up doing 10 min warm-up on the bike, and a little more than an hour in the weight room.

Yesterday I saw him working out in the cardio room. He rode the exercise bike for 30 minutes. Then he walked 30 minutes on the treadmill. Finally, he finished with another 30 minutes on the Schwinn AirDyne. That’s an hour and a half of cardio! Granted, he doesn’t go all that fast, or push all that hard, but it’s still a lot of exercise.

He does this every day. Some days it’s an hour on the bike and treadmill, and then half an hour on the weight machines. Other days, he’ll do it like he did today.

What makes this even more impressive is that he just had his 90th birthday this week. As he says, he made it into the next decade. You’ve probably guessed that I’m writing about my dad.

He works out like this Mon-Sat, holidays included. In fact, the only time I’ve seen him miss in the last few years, was six months ago when he was in the hospital as a result of some seizures and a subsequent fall.

After a few days of testing, some anti-seizure medicine, and a 6 week rehab at Twin Lakes, the doctors released him back to independent living. That same day I took him back to Brookstone, I also brought him back to the gym. In fact, he did his workout first!

He was pretty shaky the first week, but by the end of the first month, he was pretty much back to what he had been doing before. “I just have to be a little more deliberate in my movements in my old age,” he says.

Whenever someone says hello at the gym, and asks him how he’s doing, he always tells them, “I’m still alive.” I guess when you’re 90, you don’t take this for granted.

Some days I need to remind him what to do, and sometimes, how to do it, because he has some short-term memory issues. But he’s always ready to go. Dad says “I need to do it until the day I die.” We’re hoping he gets another decade of workouts in.

If you’d like more information about health and fitness, or to comment on this or other articles, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


At first glance, routines sound like a good thing, and they can be. They can help us establish new habits. They can even give us comfort at times. But sometimes routines can work against us.

Say your routine is to stop somewhere for a few drinks after work everyday. It might help you wind down, but it might also mean you’re on your way to becoming an alcoholic. It could also get you arrested for DUI.

You may have heard the term emotional overeater. This is someone whose routine is to turn to food for comfort when they’re feeling stressed. Obviously, this can lead to being overweight and obesity. So you can see that routines aren’t always helpful.

But what about a healthy routine, like going to the gym every day, and doing your regular workout? How could this possibly lead to problems?

Actually, I’ve seen it happen several different ways. While running is an awesome activity with tons of great benefits, I’ve know many people, including myself, that ran themselves right into chronic injuries.

Shin splints, inflammation of the plantar (lower) surface of the foot are quite common, especially in newer runners trying to run too many days, or do too many miles. My own issue was with ITB syndrome (inflammation of the side of a tendon on the side of the knee).

Another common problem occurs with someone who’s been exercising for awhile, but just doing the same thing over and over, never changing things up. At first they get pretty decent results, primarily because doing any program is usual better than doing nothing.

But after awhile, their body starts getting used to the routine, and it gets easier because they’re stronger and more efficient at that workout. At that point, they can do the same work, but will burn fewer calories. This is how you can exercise regularly, but still gain weight.

That’s why in Biggest Loser, we always try to ramp things up over the 12 weeks, regularly changing the exercises and the level of intensity. That way the people never get used to the work, and it always continues to be difficult. This burns the most calories and works very well.

Experienced weight lifters and body builders also know they need to change things up if they want to continue stimulating new muscle growth. A good rule of thumb is to do things in 3-4 week cycles, with 5-6 weeks being about the longest you should ever do the same routine.

I like to change things up more often than that, but at 51, my latest goals are simply to stay as lean as possible, and focus on things like explosiveness and endurance, which help me with my grappling and martial arts.

Finally, changing it up keeps things new and interesting. A group of us trained last year for a 12 mile trail run called Tough Mudder, and it was very cool, because we’d never done it before.

A stream that stops moving usually becomes stale and stagnant. Personally, I think it’s much more fun to be around a stream that’s still flowing, unless of course, you have to run through it!

If you’d like more information about health and fitness, or to comment on this or other articles, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!