Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Fit Formula with Ron Jones

I've joined forces with some other fitness professionals in the US and UK to put out a new book called "The Fit Formula."  We all brought our best game to the table.  I brought my secrets to kick starting the rest of your life with regular exercise through The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge.  It's my bottom line.  The best that I've got to get people moving.  I know it will help those that are ready to begin but don't know where. 

You'll find my new chapter in the Mindset section under
"Igniting Shifts to Solutions: 30 Minutes for 30 Days!" 

Enjoy--a life of MOVEment.
-Ron Jones, MS, RKC, Corporate Wellcoach

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Barefoot Running Safety & Start Up

After years of working on my own fitness from my feet up, I did my first actual "barefoot" run last week on pavement and concrete.  It did not last long—only 1/4 of a mile which was PLENTY!  I need to share some comments on barefoot running—and running in the VFFs (Vibram Five Fingers) or any other minimalist shoe such as the New Balance Minimus Trail and others out or that will be coming out soon…to keep everyone informed and safe.

I have said for a few years there are many benefits to increasing your "foot fitness" with barefoot walking around the house, barefoot workouts especially with ballistic power activities like kettlebells or martial arts, and just generally increasing the fitness from the ground up.  I have always stopped short of actually recommending "barefoot running" (or running in VFFs) although often report on the developments of this trend regarding injury prevention, shoe design trends, etc.

Please take note—there is a HUGE difference between walking barefoot and actually running barefoot or running with minimalist shoes!  Make no mistake—running barefoot is serious foot fitness!  I've got a friend really into barefoot running.  His recommendation even for me with years of barefoot walking and kettlebell training was to limit my initial barefoot run to just 1/4 of a mile—no more!  While that sounds insignificant, I can tell you it is not.  After only 1/4 of a mile, my feet were sore that evening.

From a safety perspective, there are some serious injuries that can occur if you just go out without a build up process and start running without shoes.  To be honest—the result will not be good.  Actual barefoot running (No VFFs or shoes of any kind) can cause serious burns, abrasions, and other biomechanical issues sometimes in less than ONE MILE.  Bypassing the safety recommendations can likely put you in the hospital or at least in the podiatrist office treating the wounds on your feet.

I've been reading and hearing about some overuse injuries from hitting the pavement unshod without the proper preparation, so again, while I don't actually recommend that people run in bare feet or minimalist shoes, if you do, please limit the exposure and have plenty of practice just walking for MONTHS before you ever actually run.  If you do start running completely barefoot, don't go over 1/4 of a mile to start and never begin on hot pavement!!!  What I do recommend is that people run with a Nike Free shoe or equivalent because this is a "step" in the right direction as these shoes are more flexible.  Even with the Nike Frees, you have to gradually increase your exposure because your feet will be working much harder than with traditional running shoes.  I also like people to walk in the Nike Free shoes because everyone so far that I've had buy these has reported less or no foot pain.  Flexible shoes in general are better for feet.  While there are going to be a few exceptions, I've seen great results when people were more flexible shoes—sometimes the very first day.

If you want to learn about barefoot running from a really knowledgeable source, Michael Sandler, the author of "Barefoot Running" and foot force behind the website, is doing numerous FREE clinics in the SoCal area in June before heading to NorCal in early July.  I will be attending at least one of them—the one at Adventure 16 in West LA or Runnergy in Sherman Oaks.  The clinic links are below: 

I'm also launching a new "Foot Fitness" workshop in June.  While not a specific workshop on barefoot running, I will address the topic, barefoot and shoe trends, and make some recommendations.  My workshop will be focused on the general fitness of the foot and ankle regarding Z-Health mobility drills, how to use some valuable therapy tools for correcting plantar fasciitis, and how to determine "foot-friendly" shoes. 

For more on what I've up to in the world of feet, here's my Foot Fitness section:

Take care of your feet, and when it comes to feet especially, safety first!  If you do want to run with completely bare feet, that's fine and your choice—just understand the potential risk if you are not prepared or exceed your body's capacity for the extra challenges.

In Health, Coach RJ

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Embrace Your Range-Over 40 Female Fitness & Nutrition

I attended the 2011 American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Summit this spring in Anaheim.  I was fortunate to hear Dr. Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition at UC Davis present again on nutrition. She is one of the top sport nutritionist in the country. She had some great updates specifically for women 40+ that I'd like to pass along. She will likely be sharing some more formalized reports on her study with this age group, but this is a nice preview for now. I have followed her work for years. She is an excellent reference--heck of an athlete too! The following is based on a pilot group she worked with in Davis, CA plus decades of experience working with all categories of women.

General Observations & Recommendations: Women are very social and respond better to weight loss when they have a social support structure whether it be routine personal group meetings, blogs, e-mails, or other modes of contact and support. In Western culture, women are dissatistified with body shape as they age. Her position is for the 40+ woman to "embrace her range" meaning that there is not "one" ideal body weight for every woman of a specific height and that "health" should be the focus rather than weight alone. There are natural and genetic shifts with fat distribution as a woman ages--rather than fight--embrace and work to age healthfully. 

Controlling Abdominal Fat: These are researched-based recommendations for controlling fat specifically in the abdominal areas of women over forty.

Exercise & Abdominal Fat: Fat cells have been shown to shrink with about 60 minutes of regular exercise per day. An important exercise message repeated throughout the conference was the benefit of consistency over time when it comes to not only weight management, but also health in general. There are certain types of exercise that have more fat burning effects than others, but I will be getting more into those with future posts as Dr. Applegate's presentation focused more on the nutritional management of abdominal fat. More and more research is pointing towards the benefits of strength training for weight management and optimizing metabolism. Ideally if a woman wants to control abdominal fat after forty efficiently with exercise as one option, she needs to be getting 2-3x strength sessions per week (higher rep and lighter weight fine for beginners), higher heart rate training sessions, and doing about 60-90 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. *There are some interval protocols that can cut down the time to under 60 minutes total workout time, so look for future posts on these updates.

Eating Plan for Controlling Abdominal Fat: In addition to the main four points below, caution was given about alcohol consumption in this age group which can exceed 2-3 servings per day. Alcohol creates specific abdominal fat gain issues as it promotes fat production especially around the waist...just something you should be aware of regarding alcohol.
  1. Protein @ Every Meal: (70-90 gm/day) To optimize weight loss, 20-25% of your calories per day should be from protein. Think about 25% of your plate at every meal--or 15 minutes of a clock.
  2. Eat Whole Grains ALWAYS! At least 3 servings per day. Whole grains are more than just whole wheat! There are many very healthy alternative grains like quinoa, freekeh, amaranth, black rice, and more.
  3. Eat 3 Cups Veggies & 3 Pieces of Fruit DAILY: Fruit consumption (normal not excessive) has been shown to decrease weight gain over time. Beans were really underscored as a very healthy fruit that women should be eating to reduce abdominal fat. Get at least 3 different colors per day of fruit and veggies.
  4. Daily Dairy + Probiotics: Yogurt has been shown to block some calorie absorption. There are some healthier yogurt options like Greek and Kefir. 1 out of 2 women will suffer from osteo/bone problems, and women can lose 2-6" of height over 30 years!
So these were the basic recommendations for women 40+ at this specific presentation. Get some social support for your weight management and exercise. Be careful of excessive alcohol because it directly contributes to belly fat. Pump up your exercise--be regular over time. Be sure to strength train. Get your heart rates up too! Get enough protein, whole grains, fruits/veggies and take care of bone health with dairy and probiotics...and don't forget to "Embrace Your Range" too!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kids & Heat Tolerance

Each year, I put out some information on kids and heat tolerance, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  Below is a great condensed post by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  If you have kids exercising in the heat, you should read it.  I have also attached some links of my own on Hydration Safety for Kids and my podcast on Heat Illness Prevention & Hydration for athletic performance or high-intensity work situations.

Enjoy the spring and summer.  Be safe.  Coach RJ

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bag It Film Documentary-Do Something Reel

I got an interesting message the other day from Whole Foods about the "Do Something Reel" Film Festival happening across the country.  They are showing six films in one month in seventy cities.  The first one on the list for SoCal was this weekend--the "Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?" movie about the horrendous issues we are having on this planet with disposable plastic bags.  It was time to ROLE/ROLL, so I snagged the family, and we headed for Encino this morning.  I've been using less and less plastic bags for years--and rarely use any of them now.  We have been recycling more and more the last five years too.  Our twins are seven and plenty old enough to learn about ecology issues like plastic bags.

I quickly purchased tickets this morning once we decided to attend for sure.  I was worried about getting a seat since Encino is a fairly progressive part of Los Angeles.  We arrived just seven minutes before show time!  We met a friendly management rep from Whole Foods inside the door who gave us a reusable shopping bag and pointed us to the correct theatre door.  We rushed inside--to an EMPTY theatre!  Amazing since there are about TEN MILLION people in Los Angeles County. According to the Bag It website, "In the United States alone, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil is used annually to make the plastic bags that Americans consume. The United States International Trade Commission reported that 102 billion plastic bags were used in the U.S. in 2009." Other sources I found informed me that the bags cost much more to recycle than they can ever be resold for; therefore, the real root cause solution is to STOP USING PLASTIC BAGS. Yet on Sunday, April 3rd, with ten million in LA County, only four people were at the Bag It documentary in Encino. Hopefully there were many more at the other showing site in Santa Monica. Welcome to LA where some of the women probably have more plastic in them than some of the scavenger fish in the oceans!!!

We we learned? We CAN and WILL make a difference. We can and will make changes at home--today--not tomorrow. We can and will do better. There are too many chemicals in our world today--in the air, food, clothes, cars, and just about everywhere we turn in modern society. We have used our fair share too. We will always use plastics now--welcome to modern civilization. The movie was not trying to tell people never to use plastics--but the movie did make us all realize that the irresponsible use of "throw away" singe use plastic bags and single use containers is reckless for the environment. Why the hell do I need a plastic bag for an item that I can carry in my hand and home just so I can throw the bag into the trash perfectly clean and basically unused? It's stupid--and irresponsible to our environment. Shame on myself for being duped so many years! Enough!

Another MAJOR point that was brought to light--if we don't fix this mess, nature will. Nature always wins. We either make it right, or we will simply choke ourselves out over time, then nature will take over the clean up for another few million years without humans around to screw it up more. It reminds me of the Wall-e of the most "serious" social statement films I've ever seen yet thought by most to be a cute animation by most. Ha! 

Get REEL...Do Something Reel...see Bag It or one of the other five films showing across the country.

Make a change--one bag at a time, one body at a time, one breath at a time, and more importantly, ONE CHILD at a time. I hope you see the movie. It will change my life...and already has.  


Monday, March 28, 2011

Adidas Copa Soccer Shoes

In my ongoing quest for Foot Fitness, I was chatting with my neighbor Fernando the other week about soccer shoes.  Fernando grew up with soccer so knows a lot about the game, coaching, and other issues related to potential soccer injuries.  I was telling him about how flexible shoes are better for feet which caused him to mention the Adidas Copa Mundial soccer shoes.  He told me when kids have feet problems, they put them into the Adidas Copa shoes, and nearly always the foot pain goes away! Why? Apparently the Adidas Copa is more flexible than many of the newer soccer shoes available--not only the actual soles but also the upper materials since they are made with kangaroo leather. Additionally, the cleats in the Copa are a bit shorter which is better for us in SoCal or Central California where we have much drier climates with harder grass--apparently, the shorter cleat reduces the force into the bottom of foot from what the players report.  The reviews are interesting. People swear by these shoes in terms of comfort and performance--even some Pros.

I thought the Adidas Copa soccer shoes were a good find for overall foot fitness since I have so many clients with kids that play lots of soccer.  If your child is having problems with feet, ankles, and even knees or more up above, you might consider switching to this old school shoe model that has been around unchanged since 1979. If it's been around that long with the same design, it must be worth wearing!

In Foot Fitness, Coach RJ

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Toning Shoes

Our suspicions on the new “toning” shoe craze has been confirmed! A new scientific study with proper design has been published by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). There is no scientific evidence to support that wearing these shoes will enhance your fitness. The concerns with the shoes for the researchers and myself is that they will alter your walking gait making you walk worse—not better.

It’s a great review with nice graphs. Check it out.

Walk well and walk simply. The answer is not in more technology—but less as in correcting the neurological and biomechanical function in your feet and ankles—fancy shoes can never do what the foot can do alone.

Will Toning Shoes Really Give You A Better Body? (ACE)

*At the end of the article, ACE recommends carrying “hand weights” if you want to rev up your walks or wearing one of the new weight vests. I have not recommended hand weights for years because it can greatly alter your gait in a negative way—creating issues with your “back force transmission” as force travels off the ground and up one leg then across the body into the opposing arm and shoulder. Again—just walk—simply. If you can truly walk well, then yes, think about using a vest if you need more load for an upcoming mountain hike or backpacking trip—or just need more metabolic load for weight loss and fitness, but first, just walk! If you load a poor gait or walking problem with “more weight,” the problem will get worse and not better.
In Foot Fitness, Coach RJ

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


So the story goes I was sitting in Denny's eating my oatmeal while working on the road this week.  The lady next to me was going on and on about the hassles of life and health insurance in her senior years. The guy across the table was asking her how she even got health and life insurance because of her own health status. Apparently she had a heart attack then had to have a coronary artery stint put in to pry open her clogged arteries. Then I look over on my table and see this sign about "Baconalia!" which basically glorifies the same diet and lifestyle that caused the lady's heart attack sitting next to me.

It amazes me what a disconnect people have in America between THEIR health and THEIR OWN behaviors! The best person to take care of your health is YOU--not doctors or drug companies.

I just read a study basically saying that Americans have no clue how to be healthy. I tend to believe it when having an experience like this week at Denny's. I keep going back to simplification. Why? Because far too many people are still clueless about the BASICS of health.

Health Lesson of the Day: Buying into the BS "Baconalia" at Denny's is not good for you.  Not only are you eating way too much fat, but in that fat, there are many stored toxins not to mention all the sodium and other preservatives. Would an occasional serving of bacon kill you? No. Would a life of Baconalia! improve the quality of your health and the increase the strength of America? No.

Next time I eat there, I think I'll take my Sharpie and add this to the sign so it reads: "BEWARE OF THE Baconalia!"

Oh...guess what the woman was eating that had the heart attack, coronary stint, and insurance problems?  Bacon.

Keeping it real--simple, Coach RJ

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes

My hiking friend Susie showed up with some cool new shoes she said her feet loved called New Balance Minimus Trail runners (Also available in road versions, but I'm addressing the trail model only). I went out the very next day to purchase my own pair. Her husband Jim bought some the next day too. Our feet LOVED them on the first step! The shoes cost around $100. They run slightly narrow. Men's come in the charcoal black and neon yellow above plus an orange version. Women's offer a black and baby blue trim model.

The New Balance Minimus "Trail" fits my criteria for foot-friendly shoes. It's a very flexible shoe with minimal heel lift. Less heel lift is important for the "barefoot" mechanics because it allows your foot to function like it does not have a shoe--more "natural" gait pattern. While I love the Nike Free shoes, some of the purist runners are critical of the Free's high heel lift which puts the foot and ankle slightly out of neutral--I get their point, but the Nike Free still works GREAT to eliminate foot pain with my clients, so I will continue recommending them. Alas, now there is another new option with the New Balance Minimus Trail shoes!

The Minimus Trail feels almost just like the Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) but you won't have to worry about wearing the funky "toe shoes" with the Minimus because the toe box is closed. With the Minimus, many people can get away with wearing them in a work environment where the VFFs might be a bit much for certain corporate cultures at this point. Another advantage of the NB Minimus is that you can wear socks. While wearing socks is possible with the VFFs, you have to buy the special "toe socks" and these are a real pain to put on and get into the VFFs. If you don't wear socks with VFFs, you can get some pretty stinky feet. Problem solved with the New Balance Minimus because while they might not be 100% as foot friendly as going barefoot or wearing VFFs, they are pretty darn close, and when you consider the other advantages of a more socially acceptable appearance, ability to wear regular socks, and ease of putting on and taking off, the New Balance Minimus Trail Runners one of my new favorites and top recommendations for "foot-friendly" shoes. They are also very light. 

While called "trail running" shoes, I'm just wearing my Minimus shoes for casual use. I might try to run in them eventually, but I think these are GREAT shoes for everyday use. If you are having foot pain from wearing shoes that are not good neurologically for your feet and brain, take the New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes for a test drive. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Listen to your feet--they will tell you right away!

What's interesting about this particular shoe is that even with all my other "foot fitness" exercises, footwear, etc., for some reason these shoes seem to have reset my "foot posture."  I have become much more aware of my foot/ankle position even when wearing other shoes.  I think part of the reason was the nice "Foot Tripod" video post by Mike Robertson right before I got my Minimus shoes, but most of the postural reset is because of the shoe design I think...I have four good friends now that have all loved the Minimus from the very first step.  One of my good trainer friends Nikki has had some running issues with her knee.  She got a pair of the Minimus and hit the trail with NO knee pain.  She put on some different boots when she got home and the knee pain returned.  She was amazed as well, and this is a woman very knowledgeable about fitness training and corrective exercises, so I hope this share will help some of you reading that might be having foot issues of your own.

For more info on the NB Minimus and finding "Foot-Friendly" shoes, see below:
In Foot Fitness! Coach RJ

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Foot Tripod

Sometimes it's best to take a "step" back and simplify.  We've been talking about foot fitness for years, but I wanted to pass this really short video by Mike Robertson on the "Foot Tripod."  While I've known about the foot needing to sit flat on the ground with the arch lifted for years, I never thought about the foot as a simple tripod.  I've heard yoga instructors talk about points of contact, but this video really made it all come full circle..

If you've been following along and benefiting from the foot fitness stuff, I think you'll get something out of the video.  Mike is one of the top corrective exercise guys around.  I've been following his podcasts and materials for over a year now and am flying back east to work with him in April at a special workshop.  Great guy.  He keeps it simple-and effective. 

From the ground up-with Tripod!
Coach RJ

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Working HARD

My endurance sport promoter friend Chris Kostman of AdventureCORPS used this quote earlier today, and it got me thinking…
"We choose to go to the moon, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." -- John F. Kennedy, Sept. 12, 1962

You have a different gear for fitness? Great. I’m all for it. On that note, sometimes we work and work very hard. There is nothing wrong with hard work in fitness. Sometimes we can all get too carried away with all the corrective exercises, therapy exercises, and in the process, the “work” part gets eroded into some other place.

One thing I really learned while watching the US Marine Corps Volkslauf Mud Run last year was how much people “enjoyed” doing something so hard—brutally hard—with vicious intensity at times required!!! It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t perfect. Technically speaking, many of the people there probably should NOT have done the event, yet most of the people there DID the event and did not get hurt. That was a “real-world” lesson for me…it really made an impression to witness that event. I was pretty happy about it to tell you the truth—and inspired to do more work with folks.

On this note, let’s get to work—and sometimes this should mean HARD WORK. Lots of sweating. Lifting heavy stuff. Pulling heavy stuff. Throwing heavy stuff. Steep dusty trails. Grueling yoga postures. Long leg searing bike rides. Soaring heart rates…yeah…real work…not “foo foo” fitness. Correctives? Sure. We’ll do as much as we can as fast as we can for safety, but remember, the less you work, the less you can work…this reminds me of the Jack LaLanne quote too, “Anyone can die. You have to work at living!”

When people in my business examine movements from days past, some of our best athletes today could not do them. Why? We don’t move as well; we don’t work as hard; we are not as healthy as a society as we were a hundred years ago when it comes to hard core fitness. My college football guys in early season cannot even do a proper push up! Fitness people of yesteryear routinely performed lifts like the windmill, bent press, and many others. It was just what they did. The same guys lifted full lives and stayed in shape to the very end. Today? These lifts are rare because most people cannot to do them anymore.

I’ve been having conversations about this topic with my fitness friends too. It’s time to get to work again! Last night on the news they were saying that 75% of youth cannot pass the Army fitness requirements and that our obesity and lack of fitness is now a national security issue—I heard the same thing from my Army recruiter friend last year and from others in the military I have met over the years. Enough! It takes real work to make big changes. We might as well get started and get over it…you might even like it once you get to the other side. :o)

Light duty work is fine. Will it make significant changes? Probably not. Is light work good? Yes. Is light work great for ramping fitness and dropping significant weight? No. If you want to live a vigorous life—get busy and work hard so it becomes a reality…no time like the present.

For an interesting look into the past so we can hopefully have a future in “strength and vigor” at least remotely close to previous generations, check out some examples on Old Time Strongman’s post about physical training in 1899. Pay careful attention to their focus on “whole body” movements and “strength” with the emphasis upon “vigorous” work—yes—WORK! The photos of old gyms and exercises fascinate me—lots of ropes (not just jumping ropes but “climbing” ropes), Indian Clubs, kettlebells, gymnastic type exercises, rowing machines, bars and old school looking weight plates…and remember…they were VERY fit and stayed fit.

Some of the best minds and bodies today in American fitness are saying that we need to get back to these types of movements—some of them should at least be options for many of you reading this post. We are using some right now—Indian Clubs, kettlebells, ropes, sandbags, and some suspension work with the TRX too plus body weight exercises.  

In Sweat, Coach RJ

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nike Free Shoes Buying Guide

I've had some interesting dialogue the last few years about shoes and especially the Nike "Free" shoes in particular.  You can see all kinds of people wearing them now-especially many of my clients and family members.  We've had some amazing results with these shoes for improving not only the "fitness" of the feet but also the safety regarding how these shoes and others like them help to improve gait, function, and ease or even eliminate foot pain!  With some, they eliminated pain above the feet as well like in knees, hips, and back.

The "problem" with Nike Free shoes has been the general confusion about what they are and where to buy them.  They really started taking off last year-now they are found at many retail stores like Sport Chalet and others, so finding the "running" models are easy.  However, Nike has not made the educational information very user friendly or easy to access.

We discovered that the Nike Free sole design was being used on "non" running shoes-some are like office boots while others are actually being made for military and law enforcement.  No matter which Nike "Free" model you choose, it's still going to offer the same "foot-friendly" design which is more flexible than conventional shoes.  Reviews are typically very good to excellent even for the special forces "military" boots.

I must admit-this has been one of the most confusing handouts I have ever researched!!!  No wonder people had so many questions.  I did not realize the situation until I dug into it the last few days.

Special thanks to Randy Bennett for helping me locate some of the non-running models!

Here's the link to my new "Nike Free Shoes" handout that just went live today.   

Rock your feet!

Enjoy-better safety while walking from enhanced foot fitness,
Coach RJ

Monday, February 14, 2011

Energy Drinks Safety & Kids

I've been ranting about the health and safety issues regarding "energy" drinks for years, but lately they have been in the top stories of major news agencies.  Before any actual research came out, I had communicated with the American Dietary Association urging them to investigate.  I had been getting “field reports” from fellow athletes, coaches, and clients about people having cardiac issues and collapsing from energy drinks within the first 18-24 months of their release.  Sometimes if you wait for the “research,” you are already behind!  When people are passing out from energy drinks, you don’t need studies to demonstrate they are something to avoid.  After a few years though, the research is emerging to validate my previous stance.  I don't recommend them for youth or adults—athletic or not—they are bad news.  Most of the reports talk about the cardiac issues related to them, but my dentistry contacts have also been telling me there are some serious dental issues related to energy drinks because of their high acidity and the negative effects on tooth enamel and overall oral health…bacteria and decay right next to the brain—NOT good.  :o(

The deeper issue beyond physical complications  is the mental attitude that “energy” or a vigorous and mentally sharp existence can be found in a can (or pill).  Unfortunately, we now have a billion dollar “energy” drink industry that has sold our youth up this river of health scam--many are paying with their heart function, dental health, and obesity.  It is hard work to be healthy—let’s get to it.  The alternatives?  Not good—way more pain and expense than staying healthy and exercising daily.

To view a brief review from Pediatrics Journal on the health issues of these drinks for children, see below: 

If you want to view the full research article from the Pediatrics Journal, see below:

Need more?  I've seen enough.  These beverages are bad news from a health perspective.  Beyond general health, being properly hydrated and eating well will do far more to enhance athletic performance than any popular energy drink available.

In Child Safety, Coach RJ

Green Exercise and Ecotherapy

Yet more on the benefits of exercising "outdoors" or what is also called "green" health.

Just five minutes outside exercising can improve your mood! :o)

More on the benefits of green/outdoor exercise:

I usually reference the added "mood" enhancements when discussing outdoor exercise, but another very important point that I will talking more and more about this year is the benefit of outdoor exercise in "natural" environments on your nervous system.  More specifically, your proprioception  and ability to balance so you don't trip and fall.

If you always walk on a perfectly "safe" and level surface such as an office building, parking lots, treadmills, sidewalks, etc., then you won't walk nearly as well on uneven surfaces.  Want to walk better on ALL surfaces?  Get off the artificial surfaces and onto the trail or some other outdoor area.  Grass, dirt, trails, sand, etc. all have extra BENEFITS to increasing your efficiency to stay upright so you don't fall.  Also, our eyes are suffering from all the staring at one focal length and one focal width 9-12+ hours per day.  Our ears (vestibular system) are also decreasing in efficiency with all the sitting!  All of this sitting or walking on "safe" surfaces is decreasing our ability to safely move in natural environments as joints, vision, and vestibular decrease in function.

Bottom Line: Move more and go outside when you do!  When I have the choice between running or walking on pavement/concrete vs. the dirt off the side of the trail, I opt for the dirt because it is UNEVEN and thus better for my proprioceptive system.  Balance training is fall PREVENTION!

All of the above is even more reason to hike in the wilderness!  Think of hiking as both Ecotherapy and proprioception enhancement...for better and safer movement and feeling good while you do them.

In Motion,
Coach RJ

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Martial Arts Kettlebell Connection

I just recorded a new show for The Lean Berets with friend John Spezzano, author of "The Martial Arts / Kettlebell Connection." Check out this informative show that overviews his new book and its relationship between kettlebell training and martial arts/self defense. John's new book is a technical manual for the serious learner from beginner to advanced! Take a listen...You'll learn a lot about training and combatives.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sprint-8 Interval Updates

I've been using Sprint-8 intervals for years with my clients and friends to optimize fitness gains and weight loss.  The "Sprint-8" combines a 30 second "sprint" with a 90 second "rest" period which is then repeated 8 times for one workout.  There is a two-minute warm up and two-minute cool down.

The Sprint-8 interval protocol established by Phil Campbell has been the best protocol I've found for consistent weight-loss results.  The Sprint-8 intervals are extremely reliable and fairly easy to learn in terms of the mechanics of the intervals and how to do them.  Recently, a web follower and friend of mine attended a workshop in Indiana with Sprint-8 creator Phil Campbell/author of "Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness."  My friend sent me the following updates from Phil's workshop which are now also included in the 2nd edition of Ready, Set, GO!  These updates should help us further optimize the efficiency of the Sprint-8 intervals—especially if you are over age 40 and trying to lose weight.  You can read the latest edition of Phil's book for more info, but here's the bottom line:

In Short…think quality NOT quantity.  We are not doing them hard enough!  You should not be doing more than 8 intervals—ever—just do them harder if you truly want to optimize the metabolic effects for weight loss.  The harder the interval, the more you increase HGH for the two hours after the workout—HGH "decreases" in people as they age, so this HGH is thought of as a "youth" hormone for anti-aging.  HGH occurs naturally in the body and can be optimized with proper training, but today many people take short cuts by getting HGH supplementation which are controversial.  You need to adjust your dietary intake to optimize the post-workout HGH production in the synergist window (Human Growth Hormone increase).  If you are middle age and needing to lose weight, avoid carbs two hours after Sprint-8 and ingest 25 grams of protein to maximize HGH production—this opposes the "standard" post-recovery recommendations to ingest a 4/1 carbohydrate/protein ratio. *(I would recommend "natural" protein powder because it is healthier—see protein link below.)  If you are younger and your objective is to refuel for ongoing hard workouts, then using the standard 4/1 carb-to-protein ratio is best.

More Details for Middle Age 40+ populations needing to lose weight with the Sprint-8 Intervals:
  • Sprint hard enough so that by 15 seconds of the 30 second interval you are ready to quit—but don't!
  • Limit sprint length to only 30 seconds.  Go harder—not longer.
  • Limit total intervals to 8.  Use more intensity—not more volume.
  • Do not eat a high-fat meal before Sprint-8.  Eating some "good" carbs to fuel before workout is fine.
  • Take 2 grams of L-Glutamine 60-90 minutes before workout.  *I'm not a person that pushes supplements, but I'm reporting what Phil says will optimize HGH with the Sprint-8.  I have included a WebMD link on L-Glutamine, but basically this is used for muscle wasting in HIV/AIDS patients or cancer patients.  There are those that take it in excess as a supplement, but the 2 gram recommendation is well under the 40 grams per day limit cited by WebMD.  Ultimately, it is the user's choice, but I have provided the documentation so you can make an educated decision.  
  • NO sugar or carbs for 2 hours after workout!!!  Ingesting carbs during post-workout with Sprint-8 will stop HGH production.  The idea is to "increase" HGH production and your metabolism—not decrease!
  • Ingest 20-25 grams of protein soon after workout.  Most sources give a 30 minute to 2 hour window for post-workout recovery fueling.  I would say ingest the protein within a 30 minute window following the workout.
  • Never perform Sprint-8 Intervals more than 2-3 times per week.  Think quality—not quantity!

In reality, you should NOT be able to do any other work of significance after your Sprint-8 workout is complete—you should be DONE.  If you feel like doing a bunch of other stuff—you have not done them hard enough!!!  Oh…for those of you not familiar with the Sprint-8 Interval Protocol…total time from start to finish including warm up and cool down is just 20 minutes!  Yes—you'll get more benefit in 20 minutes than the people next to you grinding out the 45-60 minute workout which likely is not doing much to optimize their metabolism or weight loss.  I've seen people lose 40-60 pounds on the Sprint-8 in well under 12 months.

Mode & Mechanics:  For the general population, there are only two modes I recommend—the elliptical trainer or Concept2 Rowing Machine...a high-quality stationary bike like a Spinner or equivalent can also work but not as well as the first two in my opinion. Treadmills won't work because they will take too much time to adjust for each interval—there is NO TIME to adjust anything—you have go GO when it is time to GO!  You "could" do these running on a track, but most people are not fit enough to do this without getting hurt or straining their hamstrings.  Other machines like stair climbers, etc. are also NOT a good choice because of the time required to adjust them for higher speed and intensity during each interval.  We run the elliptical trainers in manual with NO resistance—we use "speed" to increase heart rate—not resistance.  A Spinning bike will need a slight amount of constant resistance, but again, use SPEED to increase your heart rate rather than heavy resistance.  I have done something close to the Sprint-8 using stairs or hill repeats outside, but again, most people are not fit enough to do this off the machine. The e-trainer and rower will do a great job for you, so get started!

Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA):  Doing really hard sprints or exercise efforts with minimal warm up can cause some EIA for some individuals--and if not actual EIA, other breathing difficulties.  One of my friends that uses the Sprint-8 has EIA.  He must do a longer warm up and cool down to allow the lung tissues to function more normally, so if you have EIA, please consider adjusting the pre and post workout recommendations. The longer warm up and cool down (until HR drops under 120 for my friend) should help you avoid the EIA that can be trigger by sudden sprints without much warm up. Remember--the regular warm up and cool down for the Sprint-8 is only 2:00 for each.

Safety:  If you can't sprint for 30 seconds without killing yourself—then don't!  I've had many people start the Sprint-8 intervals with minimal fitness—just modify.  Do what you can do safely.  If you can only go hard for 5 seconds, then go hard for 5 seconds, and do your best for the remaining 25 to hang on.  But remember—you'll never optimize the HGH production and metabolic effects by going easy or at a moderate pace or by only going hard for a few seconds.  To get the most out of the protocol, you need to go HARD for the full 30 seconds.  For most, this will become quite a challenging goal—just to work hard for 30 seconds straight without giving up.  The 90 second "rest" period is also critical because it has to be a quality "rest" heart rate i.e. not under 65% of your heart rate range—see my Sprint-8 handout or Ready, Set, GO! for more information…Enjoy!

Related Links & Information:

Read my "Interval Training" Web Section complete with Sprint-8 summaries:

Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness (by Phil Campbell creator of Sprint-8 interval protocol):

WebMD Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Link: Do NOT take HGH Supplements!!!  Raise them naturally with the correct exercise intensity.

WebMD L-Glutamine Link:

"Natural" Protein Powder Handout: (The Lean Berets)

In Sweat!

Ron Jones, MS
Corporate Wellcoach
Santa Clarita-SoCal

Monday, January 31, 2011

30X30 Challenge: 2011 Summary

This concludes my fifth year straight of doing The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge starting on New Year's Day.  I have now exercised four years and one month straight for at least 30 minutes per day--that's 1490 days.  NO Excuses!

The hardest parts? Doing this daily blog post!!! Seriously, writing a daily post is a different kind of discipline. It is hard to do this day in and day out, but it is rewarding. Also--the breathing exercises! It's amazing how difficult it is to "just breathe" for five minutes and not think of anything but breathing...this needs much work, but I do think the breathing meditation REALLY helped me and my life. I plan to continue. Also, I'm still needing to ramp my cardio more too. This needs more work. I'm still not drinking enough water on some days. Much work to be done. It's a process as we say in corporate...

What I hope to accomplish with my 30X30 journals each year is for people to see that while it is not always easy to exercise daily--it's very important for overall health and well-being largely because we sit so much these days.  And in terms of "easy" regarding work, I'd much rather exercise than sit in a doctor's office or hospital wasting time and money. I also want people to see that MANY of my exercise sessions are not hard at all--they are actually very easy, but nonetheless, I do SOMETHING each and every day.

People undervalue the daily discipline part of exercise.  Even light exercise performed daily over years can have significant benefits.  The reason the "light" exercise works so well for me though is because I never let myself get out of control with weight gain--I just "maintain" for the most part with a couple of hard days per week and the rest light to moderate.

Results may vary, but DAILY exercise is the real deal and part of the solution for rebuilding our country.  Health--get some!

In MOVEment, Coach RJ

30X30 Challenge: Day 30!!!

This is my 30th day of The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Time: 35 mas...

Exercise: Meditation breathing, HANGTUFF inversion, walking

Comments: As fate would have it, I finished my 30X30 for this year like I started it originally--just doing "something" even if it's walking.  I spent all day this Sunday working my arse off in the office on business was a stressful day...time flew by and then it was dark and I still needed my 30 minutes!  NOT to be defeated at this stage in the game, I went out to Mancave and hung upside down for a few minutes on my HANGTUFF then just went for a slow walk on the Paseos. I was still really tired, but at least I got outside and moved around for a while.

I'll write a summary soon on this year's experience--another year, another 30X30 Challenge in the books!
Learn more about The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Sticking with it...NO Excuses! Coach RJ

30X30 Challenge: Day 29

This is my 29th day of The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Time: 30 minutes

Exercise: Meditation breathing, Indian Clubs, Z, fighting stick, martial arts practice, KB TGU and 1/2 TGU

Comments: Did a lot of correctives tonight before getting after it on some kick bag action plus spent some quality time with my stick fighting techniques. Felt good to kick the #@!# out of my new bag!!! It was a nice day for martial arts as I went downtown tonight into Silverlake for a Filipino cultural event that featured Grandmaster Nene doing Balintawak stick fighting--very close proximity combative work.  I really enjoy the sticks.

Only one more day now for this year's 30X30!

Learn more about The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Sticking with it...NO Excuses! Coach RJ

30X30 Challenge: Day 28

This is my 28th day of The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Time: 30+ minutes

Exercise: Meditation breathing, running

Comments: I took the Turbos with me down to the park through the Paseos.  I ran and they rode their bikes.  It was fun.  Great weather today.  Good to be OUT with my kids and exercising together.
Learn more about The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Sticking with it...NO Excuses! Coach RJ

30X30 Challenge: Day 27

This is my 27th day of The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Time:  30 minutes

Exercise: Meditation breathing, Indian Clubs, walking

Comments: I drove almost 300 miles today and got home late, so all I did was go for a walk, but that is fine, moving for 30 minutes is better than not moving at all.

Learn more about The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Sticking with it...NO Excuses! Coach RJ

30X30 Challenge: Day 26

This is my 26th day of The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Time: 60 minutes
Exercise: Meditation breathing, KBs, Z, Indian Clubs
Comments: MAJOR kettlebell throwdown in Luke's Mancave tonight!  WHEW!!! Swings, VO2 Max protocol, pressing, renegade rows, even some KB "chest pressing" in honor of old school Jack LaLanne.
Learn more about The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Shreading it...NO Excuses! Coach RJ

30X30 Challenge: Day 25

This is my 25th day of The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Time: 30+minutes

Exercise: Meditation breathing, something?!!!

Comments: I can't remember what I did this day because I've been too busy to write my journal for days, but one this is for sure, I did do my 30 minutes or more of something!!!

Learn more about The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Sticking with it...NO Excuses! Coach RJ

Monday, January 24, 2011

30X30 Challenge: Day 24

This is my 24th day of The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Time:  30 minutes

Exercise: Meditation breathing, flat bench with Olympic bar, bicep hammer curls with rotation, pull ups, Z, HANGTUFF inversion, Indian Clubs

Comments: For the most part, I did old school tonight for Jack LaLanne. Just kept it simple because it worked for Jack for over 80 years, so it's good enough for me too!!!

Learn more about The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Sticking with it...NO Excuses! Coach RJ