The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2008 issue 4



Family Fitness

If you're a semi-old guy like me, and you have paid any attention to the decline in the physical education programs at the schools over the years, I hope it irritates you too!  The level of activity for children doesn't even come close to meeting the bare minimum necessary for Good Health. Physical education classes (if they do have them) are at best 30 minutes twice a week and only 25% of North American School high school students participate in them.  Let's review some of the stats again...

  • 60 percent of children do not meet average fitness standards.

  • Children today expend four times less energy than children 40 years ago.

  • 76 percent of elementary school girls and 26 percent of boys cannot do one chin up.

  • Half of all teenage boys and three-quarters of all teenage girls cannot walk up and down stairs for longer than six minutes, without straining their cardiovascular system.

  • Between 1960 and 1980 obesity rates in North American children six to eleven years old increased 54 percent, and Super Obesity rates rose 98 per cent.

  • Twelve year old children drink an average of two and half cans of soda a day and eat on average one out of three meals per day away from the family home.

This is a different generation than when most of us were growing up.  When I was a kid, we had gym class every day, we played outside pretty much any time that we weren't sleeping, eating, or in school.  And most of us played sports on top of all of that!  Now granted, kids nowadays probably have much stronger thumbs from all the video games, but that's about it!


Ok... let me tone it down a little now, and get off my soap box.  The point that I'm trying to make is that if you are a parent, or a responsible young adult, then you can do your part to supplement this big void that the children of this generation are faced with.  Lead by example, eat right, participate in active games as a family, and involve your kids in sports or other forms of exercise.  It is our responsibility to educate and provide healthy guidance to the next generation!


Although we could always do more of it, my family tries to incorporate some sort of exercise into our family outings.  A nice long walk with the dog, family rollerblading, biking, and we'll even take a kayak out at the local state park.  For some reason the outings just seem more satisfying and you get somewhat of a feeling of accomplishment when it's something physical.


Earlier this year I saw an advertisement for The Delaware Rock Gym while surfing the internet and found out that this place was only a few miles from my house.  So one weekend when it was pouring rain outside, my wife and I  took my son and daughter there and it was AWESOME! 


There were various degrees of difficulty and all four of us took turns climbing.  I'll tell ya... I pushed it a little hard on my last climb and boy did I feel it the next day!  If you do it properly, you're working your back, biceps, forearms, hands, and legs.  If your are interested, you can just Google "indoor rock climbing" and look for a place near you.  I found the NJ Rock Gym for my peeps in North Jersey that way.

Now keep in mind that these outings don't necessarily have to involve driving somewhere.  In fact, one of the all time best games that most of us have played at one time or another, can teach kids some great athletic agility that can be incorporated into football, basketball and a variety of other sports.  Remember "Tag"?  Watch the kids playing tag in an open field some time and you'll see bursts of acceleration, footwork, change of direction cuts, these are skills that athletes pay to learn at the higher levels!  The best part about it is they are playing a game and not complaining about how many sprints you're making them do.

Here's another idea for the younger kids... start with "Simon Says" and trick them into an aerobics class!  Start with a jog, touch your toes, jumping jacks, push-ups... you get the picture.  You might have to incent them with a prize or something, to keep going... but it can be a fun way to get some exercise rather than staring at the TV.  Although it's just not in my blood, dancing is a great form of exercise.  Crank up the tunes and dance with your family in the living room.  I don't know about you, but I sure work up a sweat on those rare wedding occasions when I'm forced to take the floor!

You ever notice how many commercials are on TV nowadays?  Take advantage of that!  As a family, schedule something for each commercial.  Run up and down the stairs and do a set of push-ups... run around the house and do a set of bicycle crunches... there's plenty of things that you can do in those precious few minutes when your brain is not getting sucked out of your head through your eyeballs!  If your kids are whining about doing it, strategically place toys or items in far places of the house and tell them to run and get them for you at the commercial. 

Be creative! with the disappointing lack of focus in the schools that we are faced with, and the lack of outdoor activity that is common to the generation, it is our job to do our part to ensure the health of the little ones that we care about.  But be careful... you may find out that this exercise may actually be good for YOU too!  Enjoy!

Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Standing Oblique Crunch


I got this move from Billy Blanks... well, not personally, but I credit the original Tae Bo Advanced tape for really getting me going on my weight loss several years ago.  It doesn't look like much, but I have had people tell me that they really felt their sides after doing them.  The great thing about this abdominal exercise is that you can literally do it anywhere, without even laying on the ground.  If you like that idea... check out the "steam engine" exercise also which is basically a standing bicycle crunch.


Target:  sides and abs (obliques and rectus abdominis)

Count:  2 count

Description:  From standing, keep your right leg firmly planted on the floor, extend your left leg to a toe-touch position, and raise your left arm in the air.  Raise your left knee to the side while at the same time pulling your left arm down so that your elbow touches your knee in a crunch position (or close to it).  Return to starting position and repeat for desired repetitions before switching sides.

Antioxidants and Phytonutrients

Antioxidants prevent free radicals from potentially damaging millions of healthy, functioning cells.  Free radicals produce harmful oxidation that can damage cell membranes, accelerate the aging process, and lead to certain ailments.  Tobacco smoke, alcohol, stress, lack of sleep, a poor diet, pollution, and excessive amounts of sunlight are all contributors to the unwanted formation of free radicals.  Experts have stated that obtaining a variety of antioxidants through diet or supplementation is essential to maintaining your good health.

Phytonutrients are biologically active constituents heavily concentrated in the skins of botanicals
and are responsible for their color, flavor and scent. They are powerful anti-oxidants, but their value extends much beyond free radical protection.  There are dozens of catalogued phytonutrients and hundreds more yet to be identified and catalogued.  These compounds have been reported in some studies to protect man from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, aging, Alzheimer’s, cataracts, macular degeneration, arthritis and more. Maximum health benefits are derived from consuming a variety of botanicals with a full spectrum of colors/pigments.

There is a scientific scoring system to measure the effectiveness of an antioxidant called ORAC.  ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity.  This is basically a scale that states how well and antioxidant protects your body against free radicals. 

Many fruits and vegetables have a high ORAC scores, however the #1 "superfood" is considered to be the brazillian Acai berry with the highest antioxidant content of any food in the world.  In the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, in a comparison of ORAC values, 1 gram of Acai powder had an ORAC rating of 1027 compared to that of the cranberry (the past champion) which was 94!  The brazillian acai berry has an ORAC rating more than 15 times higher than blueberries and more than 20 times higher than raspberries.

Between the poor eating habits of Americans, and the heightened awareness of antioxidents, Mona-Vie is becoming very much a mainstream buzz word.  Oprah talked about it, Matt Lauer on the Today Show talked about it, several FOX News networks did pieces on it... that's enough to get your curiosity going.  I started to read up on the benefits of Mona-Vie about a year ago and recently decided to get some first hand knowledge of the product.

So what is Mona-Vie?  MonaVie is a juice that is designed to provide the antioxidants and phytonutrients needed to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Mona-Vie combines a blend of 19 fruits, starting with the Acai Berry from the Amazon Rainforest, which have centuries-old traditions of being used as medicines by the indigenous people of their respective regions.  Mona-Vie Active includes plant-derived glucosamine for healthy joint support with the original formula. 

4 ounces of Mona-Vie has the antioxidant equivalent of 13 servings of fruits and vegetables.  In addition to the antioxidants and phytonutrients, the significant benefits of Mona-Vie include essential fatty acids (Omega 3), amino acids, vitamins and minerals, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and trace minerals.

In 2005, the USDA Food Guide Pyramid increased the recommended servings of fruits to 2-4 daily and vegetables to 3-5 daily.  These recommendations, along with physical activity, have been made to promote good health.  However, the current food consumption estimates for Americans is not even close.

  • Only 10% eat even 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Average fruit consumption is only 1.4 servings daily.
  • Only 17% eat 2-4 fruits daily.
  • Only 12% have what could be called a "good" diet.
It's not always easy to consume the proper amounts of fruits and vegetables that you are supposed to for good health.  However, you can't argue with the benefits and it's worth the extra effort in the interest of healthy living.  Make smart choices whenever you have the opportunity.

If you are interested in more details about the Mona-Vie product click here for more information.

Endurance Testing

For those that don't know, there's a big difference between strength and endurance.  As a personal trainer, it is important to understand a client's base level of each before prescribing a customized training program.  Muscle strength is the greatest amount of force that muscles can produce in a single maximal effort, whereas muscle endurance refers to the muscle's ability to exert a submaximal force either repeatedly or statically over time.  Adequate muscular strength and endurance are necessary for both optimal health and athletic performance.

Below are a few of the standard tests that are used during fitness assessments.  You can click on the blue links below to get more information regarding how to perform the tests and the charts below are the fitness norms associated with each of the exercises.  It's good to have an understanding of what your fitness levels are.  You should write them in a log, or make record of them somewhere, and then retest yourself in a few months.  Commit yourself to continuous improvement!

     muscle endurance -
push-up test /
curl-up test

     cardio endurance - 3 minute step test

Push-up Norms (female ratings are based upon the novice push-up form)
Age 15 - 19 20 - 29 30 - 39 40 - 49 50 - 59 60 - 69
Gender M F M F M F M F M F M F
Excellent >39 >33 >36 >30 >30 >27 >22 >24 >21 >21 >18 >17
Above Average 29-38 25-32 29-35 21-29 22-29 20-26 17-21 15-23 13-20 11-20 11-17 12-16
Average 23-28 18-24 22-28 15-20 17-21 13-19 13-16 11-14 10-12 7-10 8-10 5-11
Below Average 18-22 12-17 17-21 10-14 12-16 8-12 10-12 5-10 7-9 2-6 5-7 1-4
Poor <17 <11 <16 <9 <11 <7 <9 <4 <6 <1 <4 <1
Curl-up Norms
Age 18 - 25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 >66
Gender M F M F M F M F M F M F
Excellent >72 >64 >58 >50 >57 >48 >57 >44 >53 >42 >44 >33
Good 58-72 58-64 53-58 42-50 46-57 39-48 52-57 37-44 47-53 33-42 36-44 30-33
Above Average 50-57 49-57 42-52 37-41 40-45 33-38 42-51 33-36 40-46 26-32 31-35 26-29
Average 42-49 39-48 37-41 33-36 33-39 29-32 34-41 29-32 33-39 23-25 25-30 21-25
Below Average 36-41 34-38 33-36 27-32 29-32 23-28 26-33 24-28 26-32 16-22 22-24 14-20
Poor 28-35 26-33 22-32 21-26 22-28 17-22 17-25 14-23 21-25 9-15 13-21 10-13
Very Poor <28 <26 <22 <21 <22 <17 <17 <14 <21 <9 <13 <10



Here's an example of where I have to put something in a column of my newsletter, just so they line up nicely.  I regularly have to add sentences or pictures, or lose sentences or pictures just for this reason.  I don't like when I have one column that is significantly longer than the other one... it just doesn't work for me.

Ok... I got it.  Here are some stats that I found on the 2008 Men's health calendar.  Things that make you go hmmm.

  • The average guy's body-fat percentage is 19.7%.  Fitness models average 5-6%.
  • 53% want defined Abs more than any other physical characteristic.
  • 33% of people get derailed from their workouts due to lack of time.
  • After 48 hours following a strenuous workout, icing will have no effect on muscle soreness.
  • There is an 11% gain in arm strength during a bicep curl when you curl the weight in 1 second, versus slower.
  • Your triceps make up 67% of your upper arm muscles.
  • There is a 8% improvement in biceps strength when you regularly train your triceps.
  • You need to add 10 pounds of muscle in order to add an inch to your upper arm circumference.
  • There is a 30% loss in muscle mass through chronically performing 12-ounce arm curls (aka. boozing)

It's Go Time!

Woo hoo... it's April!  The weather should start changing again soon, which means more acceptable climate for outdoor activities.  Even though I recently picked up a new elliptical machine (the Sole E35 rocks by the way), I can't wait to get back out there on my bike!

I don't know about you, but my energy levels definitely spike when the weather breaks.  It just makes you want to get out and do stuff.  Another term for this is motivation.  Motivation is described as the reason (or reasons) for engaging in a particular behavior.  Simple enough, right? 

I bet if you thought about it, you could find all sorts of reasons for exercise, as opposed to making excuses about why you're too busy, or too old, or why you should put it off until the "busy season ends" or the kids get out of school, or the kids go back to school (it always amazed me when people try to use both school excuses in the same year!).  Instead of putting your time into convincing yourself why you have a good reason for not exercising, try to find the motivation you need to do it!  Keep in mind that finding your motivation to start is definitely more challenging than keeping your motivation to continue.  So what's your motivation?

For prior issues of this newsletter go to  

Good Luck!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"Continuous improvement is better than
delayed perfection.”
- Mark Twain


youtube video of the month --> the death crawl | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




Get Toned!   Get Fit!   Lose Weight!   Feel Great!


TODAY! Fitness, LLC. , Bear, Delaware