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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2012 issue 3



Do It Yourself:  Slide Board

A slide board is a slick mat with blocks on each side so you can stop and push off with your feet. Cotton booties are placed on your feet or hands to allow movement across the board. Slide boards have been used by hockey players, speed skaters and various athletes for decades.

Physical therapists use it to help patients recovering from ligament injuries or surgeries. 
Slide boards are now, however, part of the mainstream fitness world.

Slide boards are designed to improve strength and stability in the gluteals, inner thighs and shoulder stabilizers.  They can build the quick, explosive power you need for the court, field, or ice.  Slide board lateral training can improve power, change of direction, balance, agility, speed, flexibility and endurance.

It is also a low-impact, high-intensity workout that can help improve bone density. 
They provide a good aerobic workout that increases the heart rate.

To use, simply slip on a pair of nylon booties and start gliding. Your movements will approximate the gliding movements of inline skaters and ice skaters, but with a full lateral motion rather than a forward-propelling motion. 
Slide board lateral exercises are performed by starting in a standing or squatting position, and sliding from one side of the board to the other. The momentum of the movement is dependent on the use of hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteal muscles, along with the core. 
Lateral slide exercise can be intensified with ankle weights, as well as hand weights. Using full arm motions will work pectoral and back muscles.

Aside from the standard, lateral skating motion, that the board is meant for, there are plenty of other exercises that can be performed on the slide board.

  Slide Board Split Squats  can be performed with your bootie covered back foot on the slide board only. 
Your back foot slides backward while the front knee flexes (bends). 
This is
a single-leg exercise that blends unilateral (single) leg strength with general instability. Split squats on a slide board recruit most muscles in the lower extremity. 

Chest Fly Push ups  Line up perpendicular to the slide board with one hand on the floor (off the slideboard) and the other hand on the slide board with a booty on it.  Slide your booty hand out as you go down for a big chest stretch and pull it back in under your shoulder as you come back up.

Slide Board Planks  Planks on a slide board integrate shoulder and core stability with dynamic instability. Place both your hands inside cotton booties. Hands are about shoulder width apart, positioned flat on the slide board. Your arms are straight with the shoulders located directly over the hands.  Perform a circular motion with one hand while the other hand remains stable. Continue these arm movements for 10 seconds, then change arms. The exercise is terminated once you are unable to maintain your spinal stabilization.

Do It Yourself

You will pay anywhere from $175 to over $500 for a store bought slideboard.  However, I made 2 of them for about $50!  You will, however, need a circular saw, a caulk gun, a drill, and some basic knowledge of how to use them.  Here's the materials you will need to make 2 of them (since plywood typically only comes 4' x 8')...
  • 1: 4'x8' sheet of plywood (5/8" to 3/4")
  • 1: 4'x8' sheet of white board (melamine)
  • 1: 2x4x8
  • 2: caulk tubes of liquid nails
  • 8: 3/8 x 3" machine bolts
  • 8: 3/8" wingnuts
  • carpet remnant (optional)

I preferred to make my slideboard 7.5 feet long.  If you do, you will want to first cut 6 inches off the top of the plywood and melamine sheets.

  • Measure and rip both the plywood and the melamine sheets in half (2 feet)
  • Run caulk beads of liquid nails all around, about an inch from the edge of your plywood pieces.  Use up the rest of a liquid nails tube by running about 3 more beads lengthwise.
  • Fit the melamine piece on top of the plywood (non-white side down of course).
  • Walk all over the white board in your socks to ensure that you have a tight fit.
  • Cut your 2x4 into 2 foot lengths
  • Drill 3/8" holes in the end of your 2x4 pieces, 2" from the end and about 1" from the side (see below) This provides more stability on the end blocks once they are mounted.
  • Once the liquid nails have had a few hours to dry, line up one of your end blocks at the edge of the board (1" side closest to the middle) and drill holes all the way through the slideboard, using the holes in the 2x4 as a guide.
  • Thread the machine bolts up from the bottom and secure tightly in place with the wingnuts. 
  • Repeat this step on the other side.
  • In order to make the slide distance adjustable, remove one of your end pieces, measure and drill 2 or 3 sets of holes every 6 inches.  This will allow you to move one of your end blocks and allow people of different levels to use it.
  • You can use a sander to clean up the edges of your slideboard as you see fit.
  • Spray your slideboard with furniture polish or floor wax to make it more slippery.
  • A friend of mine picked me up a pair of paper booties from the hospital, but you can find them on eBay also under "medical shoe covers".  $20 for a pair of booties at a fitness store, or about $25 for a roll of 50 pairs of "medical shoe covers". : )
  • I've considered using some carpet remnants around the 2x4 end blocks for a little bit of cushion, but haven't heard many complaints yet when the booties are put over sneakers.  If you plan to wear socks only, I would definitely reconsider that option.

Start sliding... Enjoy!







USA Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

USA Split Squat


Split squats are a burner, and there are a bunch of ways to do them.  This suspended version creates an unstable surface for your back leg as it rests on the  Universal Strength Apparatus (USA) , similar to one of my other favorite versions with your back foot on a stability ball.  You will feel the burn in your quads and hamstrings and, since it is a unilateral exercise (one leg), you will help to work equal development in both of your legs.  


Target:  legs and butt (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals)

Description:  Start with your down planted firmly on the floor and your back foot on a rung of the suspension strap that will allow your knee to be at about a 90 degree angle.  The movement starts by pushing your back leg backwards until your front knee reaches roughly 90 degrees.  Be sure to try to keep your front knee aligned but behind your toes.

Eli Manning's Toughness

Did I mention that I am a huge Giants fan?  Yes... I bleed BIG BLUE J.  I was programmed at an early age when my father was a police officer that worked security on the Giants sideline at the Meadowlands back in the day... Great memories.  So how could I not take the opportunity to throw a little Giants in the newsletter this month, after such an outstanding finish to a questionable season and another Super Bowl win over the Patriots no less!

Although I was not a big fan when he first came to the Giants... Eli Manning of the is the most durable quarterback in the National Football League right now.  Manning, 31, has started 130 straight games, including the postseason, dating back to 2004 for the Giants and he didn't miss a snap this season. He popped right back up every time he was knocked down in the overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers and didn’t turn the ball over even though he was sacked six times and knocked down 12 times!

The following was an interesting interview with Eli by Men's Health that I thought would be a little more pertinent to my newsletter than my gloating about the Super Bowl Champions J...

"I never had any major injuries because I always focused on mastering the most basic exercises, like pushups and squats," said Eli Manning, star quarterback for the New York Giants. Smart move: Those exercises train big muscles (like your glutes and those in your back) and smaller stabilizers (like the ones in your rotator cuffs). That balance is vital to excel in sports—and avoid injury.


Be patient
When the season ends, Manning doesn’t jump right back into training. "When you recover correctly, it allows you to work that much harder and helps you push yourself to new levels," Manning says. He resumes with conditioning exercises, like light running, 
circuit training, and intervals, and then added weight training with progressively heavier weights. This allows his body to adapt, improving his strength and durability.


Touch your toes
"My father [former NFL star Archie Manning] always stressed stretching when we were younger," said Manning. "It's the main reason I'm able to stay healthy." Manning combines regular stretching with foam rolling to keep his body primed during the season. To build Manning-like durability, grab a foam roller and work your hamstrings, quads, calves, back, and shoulders for 30 to 60 seconds each. For instructions, check out


Envision success
You've heard that athletes visualize plays before they make them—but Manning goes further than that: In the gym, he pictures lifts before he does them. "You have to mentally prepare for everything. The more you focus, the more intense you become; and intensity leads to great results." Do the same and focus on your routine, especially before complex moves, said Mike Robertson, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. Visualizing details leads to better form, he said.


Create your own support team
When Manning is in New York in the off-season, he works out with friends and teammates. When he's on vacation, he grabs anyone he can. Really. He's recruited guys off the street. "Anyone—even if they can't train at your level—can make an activity somewhat competitive and help you push yourself harder," he said. Science agrees: Researchers at the University of Oxford found that men who trained in a group tolerated pain significantly better than those who exercised alone.

ref. Men's Health, February 06, 2012


Recipes for Health

Wow... I got a bunch of submissions for this recipe column.  Thanks for all the great ideas!  For this month, I decided to post a recipe that was sent to me by Michelle Summitt from Tennessee.  She found this smoothie recipe on and I thought that it was interesting. Not sure that I would have considered mixing spinach, bananas, and grapes on my own... but I'll try anything once!  I'll have to say, it was surprisingly tasty!  If you can make it without your kids seeing you, it could be a great way to get them to eat their greens!

Groovy Green Smoothie

Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 1 banana, cut in chunks

  • 1 cup grapes

  • 1 (6 ounce) tub vanilla yogurt

  • 1/2 apple, cored and chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves


Place the banana, grapes, yogurt, apple and spinach into a blender. Cover, and blend until smooth, stopping frequently to push down anything stuck to the sides. Pour into glasses and serve. (estimated 10 minutes)


Send me an email with your favorite healthy recipe with the ingredients, details, nutrition information, whatever and I'll publish a new one each month. 

It's Go Time!

It's still too darn cold for me!  I want to get outside again where the fresh air and sunlight give me energy and tons of motivation to keep at it.  I won't complain too much though... it has been a pretty mild winter so far for us.  I've actually been able to get outside for a few 5k runs (in my Kangoo Jumps) on the warm days... that's not bad for February!  But warm or cold, I still try to stick to my basic game plan.  If it's a cardio day for me, I do cardio... whether it's outside or inside.  No Excuses!

Remember... 48 hours rest between training of any muscle groups... including abdominals.  Plan your week accordingly and figure out what you want to get accomplished ahead of time.  My current split is usually chest/shoulders/tri, back/bi/neck, legs, cardio and I keep rotating through.  I normally don't plan a rest day, because there's always something that pops up that causes me to take one... and this way I don't feel guilty about it :)  Understand your schedule, your motivation, and what you can do to help you to surpass your goals and plan it out.  This will provide you with focus and mental preparation to tackle each week!

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"Do or do not... there is no try." -Yoda

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