#225 Fitness Types

Tell a friend

I sit around a lot, I read a lot, and I do watch
television. But I also work out for two hours
every day of my life, even when I'm on the road.

Jack LaLanne

What's Your Fitness Personality?

By Jude Buglewicz

Do you have more trouble choosing a workout program or starting the one you just bought? Are you an early morning exerciser or do you Push Play whenever you can grab a few minutes of uninterrupted time? See which of the six fitness personality types best describes you—then find out what you can do to ensure you get your best results.

The Program Collector

You saw a Slim in 6® infomercial and eagerly ordered the product only to stick it on a shelf unopened once you got it. Same with Power 90®. Ditto Turbo Jam®. Your intentions were good at the time, but now you studiously avoid even looking at the DVD covers, let alone taking the discs out. It's a lot easier to keep watching TV and let time go drifting by.

Most common fitness lament: "I just don't feel like it."

Pitfall: No motivation. Or is it intimidation? Fear? You've never exercised regularly or you're so out of practice, you're overwhelmed by the amount of work you think it will take. You may not have much confidence in your ability to pull it off.

Start with . . . Taking it one day at a time. Break down your overall goal of losing 35, 50, or 100 pounds into smaller, more easily attainable goals; work out for 10 minutes a day, then 15, 20, or whatever you can manage. Start slow and gradually build up to getting through a whole workout. It may take a couple of weeks. Read Success Stories in the meantime or check out the Photo Galleries on the Message Boards to get inspired all over again. If they can do it, so can you. Join a WOWY Workout Group, find some Success Buddies, and set up a support system on the Message Boards. You're not in this alone.

Proof: Koko T. "One night, bloated, tired, and I'd say overweight, I saw an infomercial for Power 90. . . I taped the infomercial so I could watch it again. Knowing myself, and knowing I was a lazy person with limited energy, I forgot about it and tried not to think about exercise and all that nutrition stuff. [Much later] I dug up the Power 90 infomercial, and went to the Beachbody site. I read the stories, saw the products, and wanted this to happen FAST. I ordered Slim in 6 because it was only a 42-day program, but sadly, when it arrived it just sat there for close to a year. Did I mention how lazy and unmotivated I can be? I hadn't even opened the package! . . . One day . . . I did the programs, I stayed with it, I followed the nutrition guidelines and logged on to the Message Boards every chance I got. It wasn't magic. I am now the 'after' photo I always dreamed of."

The Constant Staller

You can't piece together a regular exercise schedule no matter how hard you try. You're forever starting and restarting programs, but the chaos of daily life inevitably intervenes and knocks you off track. It seems like every day someone's birthday celebration, a special event, a personal or work obligation, or a family emergency derails your most sincere fitness intentions. You're constantly postponing or rescheduling workouts, which means you're rarely ever working out at all.

Most common fitness lament: "I just don't have time!"

Pitfall: Distractions. You haven't made fitness a priority in your life, so anything and everything takes precedence over your workout.

Start with . . . Easing into a regular workout schedule. Early mornings might make the most sense for you, since once the day starts unfolding, your chances of escaping the rising momentum of responsibilities are nil. Getting your exercise out of the way first thing means you don't have to suffer the self-loathing a missed workout usually entails. You can sail through the rest of the day guilt free. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to radically change your daily routine immediately, though. Start with just two or three workouts a week, and then add more as you get used to waking up early to exercise. Once you notice how much more energized you feel on those days, you'll be on your way to a regular workout schedule.

Proof: Charline B. "To those of you who say, 'I just can't find the time to do this,' I am here to tell you that if you want this badly enough, you will do whatever it takes. I had to change my schedule and faithfully log in to WOWY (another GREAT Beachbody tool!) at 4:30 AM six days a week to get in my workouts. Trust me, I am NOT a morning person, but this way I KNOW I'll get in my workout. No excuses. The changes in my life have made it worth whatever it takes."

The Valiant Struggler

You exercise four to six times a week, but hardly ever at the same time of day. You grab 20 minutes here, 40 minutes there, fitting in a workout whenever you can. Or maybe you've got a regular workout time, but your fitness "regimen" is all over the place—no rhyme or reason to why you choose a sculpting or cardio routine. You do whatever workout fits your time frame or suits your daily mood—or spills out of the DVD cabinet.

Most common fitness lament: "I'm not seeing results!"

Pitfall: No game plan. Or no intensity.

Start with . . . A specific goal. Do you want to lose a certain number of pounds? Get your waist down to a certain number of inches? Fit into a specific dress or suit size? To sneak a little order into your routine while preserving your need for flexibility, try programs like Power Half Hour®, Slim Series®, and Fast 10®—they all provide different kinds of workouts you can customize to your needs, as well as recommended weekly plans, allowing you to add more cardio or targeted sculpting workouts depending on your goal. To ramp up the intensity, you can try working out with a progress tool like a heart rate monitor. Read Steve Edwards' article on how to use one.

Proof: Anna Eriksson, Beachbody Success Story Manager. "It wasn't until I strapped on my first heart rate monitor that I realized I'd been babying myself for quite a while. Later, I was asked to try a couple of workouts using a particular resistance band, a heavier band than I normally use. And what do you know? When I stopped, my arms felt . . . not sore . . . but worked—just by Pushing Play and ramping up the intensity."

The Intellectual Benchwarmer

You know all about the benefits of exercise and the hazards of obesity. You read fitness columns every day, subscribe to health magazines, and may even spend hours online chatting with other like-minded folks, soliciting advice and tips about fitness and nutrition. You spend so much time thinking or reading about working out that you hardly have the time or desire to actually do it.

Most common fitness lament: "I need more information!" or "I don't know how to do it right!"

Pitfall: You think too much.

Start with . . . Just doing it, to paraphrase the Nike slogan. Stop worrying and studying and start Pushing Play. Because intellectualizing exercise is your forte, it'll probably be easy for you to maintain an exercise journal. Try to keep it simple and use it as a tool to track your progress over time. Make sure you give yourself a chance to experience the process before you rush to analyze every ache and pain and then talk yourself out of doing your program every day. It's great to be interested in fitness and be aware of all its benefits—so long as you get away from your computer or put down the magazines long enough to actually work up a good sweat.

Proof: Ronald M. "As a registered nurse, I'm fully aware of the negative health consequences of obesity and inactivity. Yet, I still did not exercise and my waistline continued to get larger year by year. My eating habits were atrocious, I would eat whatever, whenever (many times after midnight), and as much as I could eat. Every summer for the past 7 years I've told myself, 'This is the year I'm getting in shape!' Power 90 works because Beachbody has laid everything out for you. Follow the workouts and the diet guidelines and you will succeed. After 90 days I lost a total of 25 lbs."

The Socializer

Besides Pushing Play, you're chatting with a program trainer a few times a week and setting up workout times with your WOWY Buddies. You may be a Team Beachbody Coach or a regular at Tony Horton's Fitness Camps. You share advice and maintain connections on the Message Boards. You post your progress photos every few weeks and have a solid support network. After all, it's easier to stay committed if you're accountable to people. And it's worth even more if your experience can make a positive difference in someone's life.

Most common fitness lament: "My Internet connection is too slow!"

Pitfall: There really isn't a downside to this one—unless your fitness routine is solely dependent on others.

Start with . . . Making sure you're self-accountable. It's wonderful that you're sharing your fitness success or offering support to others—we wish there were lots more like you! You probably have what it takes to motivate yourself and Keep Pushing Play, but just in case you found yourself stranded somewhere indefinitely without an Internet connection . . . you'd know what to do, right?

Proof: Tony B. "I have renewed vitality and vigor combined with a whole new outlook on diet and life [after completing Power 90]. Never in my life have I been in this good of shape, not even when I was in boot camp. . . I would like to thank the fitness advisors for their prompt answers to questions and to all the people I have talked to on the Message Boards. Especially, The March Newbies!! I will continue to reside on the boards and will become a coach as soon as possible. I would like to share my experience with as many people as are willing to listen. Because of my cardiac limitations, I feel I can help people who are feeling timid about not being able to keep up or that might have to adjust and modify certain exercises to suit their specific needs."

The Autopilot

You've established the habit of exercising almost every day, at the same time each day. You follow workout programs to a T. Exercise is a priority and you schedule your day around it. You're self-motivated and you manage your time extremely well.

Most common fitness lament: "I'm bored," or "I'm not seeing results anymore."

Pitfall: Plateaus or even injuries. Working out the same muscle groups week after week in the same way may create imbalances or weaknesses in opposing muscle groups that could lead to injuries.

Start with . . . Mixing it up. When you get bored with the same old thing, or you're stuck at a certain weight, or you stop seeing results, you know it's time to make some changes, either in your workout intensity, your diet, or both. Check out Steve Edwards' "How Often Should You Change Your Workout?" Try incorporating new fitness gear into your usual routine—a balance ball, toning band, heart rate monitor, weights, weighted gloves—or else change fitness programs altogether. Switch to a more advanced workout series, try a different trainer, or alternate workouts from different programs. Or turn to others who've been through the same thing to infuse you with inspiration or jump-start your motivation.

Proof: Jimmy F. "Meeting Tony in Hawaii was a really motivating experience. I also met Beachbody's Mike Karpenko, who gave me some awesome tips on the P90X Nutrition Plan and how to make it really work for me this time around. I met Dale C., who got totally fantastic results from Power 90 and P90X, and talking to him really lit a fire under me. So I came back from that trip ready to commit and really BRING IT for a full 90 days!!!! The workouts were new to me all over again."

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Getting to the Core of Your Ab Routine

By Steve Edwards

Core is the new abs.

Translation: Those chiseled six-packs you see adorning magazine covers these days are achieved by working the entire midsection, not just the abdominal muscles. So chuck your Ab Lounge, Ab Roller, and your 30-second ab routine and read on to see what could land you on the cover of Maxim.

This is the part where I confess to a bit of hyperbole. Those six-packs are mainly a function of the individual's body-fat percentage, not how strong their core muscles are. Those gimmicky ab workouts can be okay as part of your program. And hiring a publicist will do far more for your hopes of appearing in Maxim than any amount of time in the gym. Oh, and one more thing: most of those models don't look like that all of the time. As one of them put it to me at a shoot, "I can't wait to eat. You think I look like this all the time? That would be sooooo unhealthy."

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get down to the business of creating a healthy core.

The crunch phenomenon

Isolation training, or training individual muscle groups, was all the rage for a couple of decades. Probably spurred on by Arnold in the iconic bodybuilding movie, Pumping Iron, people were creating exercises to isolate one muscle at a time and blast it into submission. As these exercises trickled away from Muscle Beach and into the mainstream, the one that stuck more than any other was the crunch.

The crunch is a great isolation movement. Plus, it's relatively easy and you can work your abdominal muscles into a state of rigor mortis within minutes. And, actually, it worked pretty well for bodybuilders. After all, they aren't movement-based athletes. And, since they spent so much time in the gym, isolating the abs wasn't so bad because they isolated every muscle group. By skipping that last tidbit, this spawned an entire industry of quick-fix workout gimmicks promising that you, too, could look like Arnold. But instead of dedicating your entire life to body sculpting, these promised similar results in a few minutes of ab isolation.

The rise of functional training

Functional training is basically exercising using movements that you'll encounter in everyday life. It grew out of physical therapy, which makes sense as more and more people were landing in PT units because they'd been injured due to isolation training. What they found was that isolation training was creating muscular imbalances. This is, essentially, where one muscle group becomes stronger than it's supposed to be compared to others. When this happens it's easy to get injured.

It's hard to create a muscular imbalance in your natural life. If you run, for example, your body naturally responds in a way where it uses all the muscles it can to help the movement. This includes what are called your prime mover muscles and your stabilizer muscles. In isolation training, the prime movers would get isolated because those were the muscles that you could see. This would create major imbalances and the stabilizers would often get no attention at all.

Your core and its function

Functional training starts with your core: the middle of your body where virtually all movements begin. A strong core creates a base to work from. If this base is solid, your chances of getting injuries decrease greatly. Because of this, functional training programs spend the majority of their time working on this area.

This might sound like isolation but it's not, because your core is not just your abs but all the muscles that connect to your spine and pelvis. It's essentially all of the prime mover and stabilizer muscles that you use to stay standing. For this reason, core exercises often include balance movements. These include using gadgets like balance balls, boards that wobble, golf balls, soft balls, and foam rollers, but it also includes simple old-school movements like push-ups, squats, and many yoga stances. All of these movements require body awareness (balance) to keep you from falling over. It's exactly the opposite of a Nautilus exercise machine or, say, a crunch.

Is isolation the root of injury and evil?

Some functional trainers like to tell you this but it's not true. There are many reasons why isolation movements still exist. The main one is sports. Sports create a reason for an athlete to attempt to exceed their natural physique's strength ability in certain areas. In order for a muscle to exceed its natural capacity for strength, it must first grow. Isolation exercises are great for this. So, while fine tools, these are only a piece of the athlete's pie. To avoid injury and increase performance, athletes periodize their training, which means they do various cycles of training that target different goals. An athlete may isolate a muscle group for a training cycle but then they must switch their training to functionally train this new muscle to work within the limitations of their body.

Your abs and you

So how does this affect you and how you'll look at the company beach party? First, the bad news: you won't look like Maria Sharapova by watching Oprah on your Ab Lounge. The good news, however, is that you can create a great-looking midsection by training in the way that's most beneficial to your body.

This is the point where I tell you that a true six-pack is a phase. Like I said before, even most fitness models don't walk around looking chiseled all the time. They try and stay fit and thin but the duration of the ultra six-pack is fleeting. It's the same for many athletes, who will often reduce their body fat to below healthy levels for increased sports performance (because reduced weight at the same strength = increase in power output). But they aren't always in this state. For a six-pack to appear, most men need to get below 10 percent body fat and women under about 14 percent—abdominal muscle strength has nothing to do with it. Athletes are better off doing most of their training a little above this and losing the last bit for competition. This is because body fat helps your defense mechanisms. Some fat is needed to avoid injury and illness. Where you are concerned, the state of the six-pack should be something you target for some photos or, perhaps, a beach party. Your daily life goal should be a slim midsection. Tony Horton's Core Cardio workout is ideal for reducing body fat while strengthening your core.

Creating a healthy core

If you will commit to exercising, it's not all that difficult to ensure that your core is sound. Functional trainers love to use the word balance. And not just in regards to standing on a wobbly board. Balance in both your life and how you exercise will help you center yourself in more ways than one. Here are a few tips to ensure you're getting to the core of your workouts.

  • Work your entire body. Whatever your workout program is, make sure it works on everything. Not just your core but your arms, legs, hands, and feet. Everything is connected to your core, like branches of a tree. Whatever workout program you choose should, at least a little bit, stress every muscle in your body. No one with an overweight body has ripped abs. It can't happen.

  • Periodize your training. No matter how great your routine is, change it sometimes. Using various programs helps you work different muscles and create new engrams (neuromuscular brain patterns), which results in keeping your body balanced.

  • Do some yoga or Pilates. Even if you hate it. Yoga, particularly, is the oldest functional training program there is. You don't need to do Shiva the destroyer's Power Yoga program. The basic old-school movements will be plenty to round out your workouts. Or for a fun yoga workout, try Yoga Booty Ballet® Master Series Yoga Core.

  • Do some balance work. These workouts can be hard, mentally taxing, and kind of boring. But you don't need to spend 45 minutes balancing on one leg under a skateboard on top of a golf ball to see results. Just sitting on a balance ball at your desk is very helpful. Any balance work is better than none.

  • Alter your crunch. You can still crunch and, of course, you still need to work all of your midsection muscles. A simple balance element, like lifting your legs as you crunch, turns an isolation ab movement into a core movement. Keeping your legs off the ground, and straight, contracts something called your transversus abdominis (TVA). This is the muscle responsible for holding your gut in (Another good TVA exercise is simply sucking your belly button in as far as you can). You'll start recognizing variations of these movements by staying present, aware, and observing life, which is another good exercise. Or you can do crunches with a Squishy Ball, as in the Yoga Booty Ballet programs.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter.

Check out Steve's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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