The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2006 issue 11



Ironman Inspiration

by Frank O'Brien

It was 1982. I was a sophomore in high school and ABCís Wide World of Sports was on television. I watched in amazement as Julie Moss, losing total control of her body, stumbled across the finish line in Hawaii. She had just finished one of the most grueling races ever concocted by man, the Ironman triathlon, an endurance event consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and then a 26.2 mile run. There was no way I could ever finish that race, or so I thought at the time.

Fast forward to July 2006. I crossed the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid in 14 hours, 54 minutes. Not exactly world record time. In fact, I was in the bottom 20% of all finishers that day, but for me finishing was a victory.

Lake Placid Ironman, 2006

Admittedly, I am not a great athlete, but you donít need to be to participate in an activity that keeps you healthy, focuses you on a goal and allows you to achieve things you didnít think you were cable of. All it takes is a little motivation, some planning, persistence, and patience.  Iím not suggesting that Ironman should be your initial goal, start small and see where your fitness takes you. Maybe youíve thought about running a 5K race (3.1 miles), biking 10 miles, or being able to bench press your own weight.  Whatever it is, your first step is to set a realistic goal for yourself. Write it down, tell a family member or friend about it, and stay committed to achieving that goal. You may have doubts initially, but thatís natural.  When I started training for my first triathlon four years ago I couldnít swim more than a few laps without my arms and lungs burning from the exertion. The key to your success is to train consistently and stay focused.

Think about the planning necessary to achieve your goal. Here are some things to consider:

  • Research your event or interest by reading a book on the subject. Use the internet as a reference, just be careful to weed through the ďsounds too good to be trueĒ fitness advice.
  • Discuss the importance of your goal with your spouse or significant other. Youíll need their support, and acceptance of your time commitments to training.
  • Talk to your primary care physician to make sure that you are medically cleared for your fitness program.
  • Talk to a personal trainer about establishing a training program (the staff at Todayís Fitness can assist you).
  • Join a gym, a running club, a biking club, etc. and get advice from other people who share your interest.

Initially you may feel as if youíre in over your head but thatís natural. Everyone taking on something new, be it a job, a class, or something unfamiliar experiences a certain level of anxiety. Stay committed to your training and youíll find that the initial awkwardness goes away. Now get out there and have fun.

Frank O'Brien, Ironman




Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Bicycle Crunch

If I had to pick only one abdominal exercise to do, this would be it!  The bicycle crunch has been around for a long time and I even remember doing it in gym class back when I was a kid (back when they did fitness in gym class!).  It is an overall ab exercise that also works the sides due to the twisting action of your trunk. 
...also a good one for doing during commercials if you find that you have been a real couch potato lately!

Obliques and Midsection (obliques and rectus abdominus)

Count:  4 count

Description:  Starting position lying flat on your back with your legs straight in leg lift position.  With your hands lightly behind your head, alternate crunching up and touching opposite elbow to the opposite leg as it pumps towards your chest.

Pain Hurts

There are two general types of exercise-related muscle soreness.  One is the immediate soreness felt while, or immediately after, exercising.  The other type of soreness is that which persists for one to three days following a session.

Immediate soreness appears to be most directly related to the build-up of lactic acid (and other by-products) in the muscle that have leaked out of the muscle cells and stimulated sensitive nerve endings near them.  This excess lactic acid is removed quite rapidly when the exercise session is completed, generally within 30 to 60 minutes.

The explanation of latent soreness, the soreness unnoticed during exercise, but present from one to three days following exercise, is referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).  Research indicates that DOMS is most likely the result of very small tears in connective tissues that hold individual muscle fibers together within the belly of the muscle, as well as some tearing of the membrane of the muscle cells.  It is also suggested that this latent soreness is closely associated with the eccentric, or negative, muscle contraction (the "down" motion of most exercises). 

Immediate soreness may also involve minor muscle or connective tissue tears, so do no ignore it.  You want to be careful with pain that lasts more than a week which typically signifies some type of injury.  In these cases a physician should be consulted to recommend treatment.

It's Go Time!

Are you ready?  How's your discipline?  We have 2 of the most dangerous months coming up for diet and exercise!  As if it's not bad enough having all kinds of leftover halloween candy lying around just begging to be eaten... now you have that turkey dinner to look forward too... and then you have Christmas dinner, cookies, candy... not to mention the New Year's parties!  I gotta be honest with you... It's gonna be tough!

So what are you going to do?  You should probably think twice before you do that "Tomorrow" plan that you talk about every year... "I'll start working out and watching my diet AFTER the holidays."  Why?  Where's the benefit in that?"  You're just digging the hole that much deeper that you're going to have to climb out of to meet your goals.  Don't set yourself up for failure.  If you mix in the exercise now, and try to practice a little more discipline by making smart choices with your diet, you won't have as much ground to make up!  Getting started is the toughest part.  Decide how important it is to you and make it happen now.  You'll be in much better shape than if you decide to start up again just before summer! 

For prior issues of this newsletter go to  

Good Luck!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

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