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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2012 issue 4



Getting a Handle on Sandbags

I can admit when I'm wrong... well, to a point I can.  When they started coming out with these sandbags with handles, I immediately objected!  I mean, coming from a wrestling background, anything that we could to to improve our grip (along with back, biceps, hips, legs, neck, etc...) was encouraged.  I do love my old basic sandbags.  There's something about just grabbing a handful of canvas and heaving the bags for rows, presses, shouldering, whatever, and feeling the burn in your hands, fingers, and forearms... the same kind of burn that you get after a hard fought match against a strong opponent.  I can remember having trouble operating my water bottle a few times back in the day when I got back to the bench!

So when the "Ultimate Sandbag" advertisements first started coming out in the newsletters I receive, websites, and various other fitness media... I immediately scoffed at them and chalked them up to yet another overpriced fitness gadget. 

Over the past year or two, I started to pay attention a little more to the various exercise videos for the Ultimate Sandbag.  As I previous stated, some of them I have no interest in doing with handles (rows, presses, shouldering, or any load bearing with the sandbag on your neck and shoulders).  However, some of the exercises that I saw in the videos and that I thought to be very functional, really couldn't be done without the handles.

So, my initial impression of these sandbags changed and I decided to pick one up.  I started with the Ultimate Sandbag "strength" package.  Full of sand, this bag is 75 pounds.  Most of these new sandbag packages come with individual "filler" bags of 10, 25, and 40 lb sizes to allow for various weight increments.  However, I decided to pick up a sandbag shell only and use a double set of contractor cleanup bags for the sand instead.  Larger bags allow for more shifting of the sand which is one of the more attractive challenges of sandbags.

Sandbag swings, shouldering, halos, reverse lunges, there are over 300 exercises that can be performed on the Ultimate Sandbag.  I have to say, I'm a big fan of the sandbag clean and squat. 

This exercise combines an explosive sandbag clean with a double front squat before bringing the bag to the floor and going on to your next rep.  Lots of muscles being used means more calories burned (and the more tired you get).  After doing these for a few weeks, I decided to pick up a 40 lb version of the bag so that everyone could enjoy the fun, in addition to adding some larger swinging and overhead rotational exercises to the mix.

So, if you're looking for another change of pace in your workouts, another fitness gadget, or a really functional, no-nonsense home gym... Give it a shot!

Recipes for Health

Keep the recipes coming in gang!  Soups, salads, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks... what are your favorite healthy recipes?  Here's another one that was submitted by Amanda Lewis...

Winter Soup

Chopped carrots, celery, onion, spring onion, sauteed for 5 mins with olive oil & splodge of wholegrain mustard.  Add vegetable stock, peeled plum tomatoes, lentils, basil, bay leaves, parsley, chives, paprika, bring to boil & simmer for an hour or so, add some chopped bacon bits, salt & black pepper to taste, plus a few drops of coconut oil/coconut shavings, & the smallest pinch of sugar if needed.

Some or all of the soup can be blended if a smooth soup is preferred.  Eat with Rye crackerbread (if weight watching) or warm crusty bread.  A bit of cheese is also nice with the crackers/bread/soup...


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. 



USA Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

USA Inverted Row


Besides suspended pushups, inverted rows are one of my favorite exercises on the suspension straps.  And as with the pushups, your angle to the floor will determine the percentage of your bodyweight that you will be lifting.  The closer that you go to horizontal, the more of your bodyweight you will be lifting.  This also makes it easier to get a few more reps, by simply putting your feet down or walking them backwards to make your body more upright.


Target:  back, arms, and core (latismus dorsi, rhomboids, biceps brachi, rectus abdominus, erector spinae)

Description:  Grab the handles of the USA or suspension straps and pick your body angle based upon your feet placement.  No matter what angle you choose, be sure to maintain a straight line through your ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders.  The exercise is performed by pulling your body up as high as you can and then lowering it back to starting position.


My clients and warrior workout partners learn pretty quickly about the attitude that is expected when they workout with me and the language that goes along with that.  Sure, there are things that you might not be able to do on any particular day, or if you are just starting out... that's a fact.  But one thing that I'm not a fan of is giving into failure.  "Can't" is a failure word. It's an acknowledgement that you are done and don't even want to think about it.  Not the attitude that any coach wants to hear.

When you're fatigued and hurting, it's natural to complain about it... but we like to keep that complaining optimistic.  Anytime someone throws a "can't" out there at our workouts... they are corrected with a "yet".  "I can't even do 5 chin-ups"... "yet".  "I can't do a 40lb kettlebell snatch"... "yet".  That little word "yet" tacked on at the end improves the mental outlook on the task and creates optimism about your future effort.  Instead of bailing completely on the thought, make it a goal to work towards!

As with athletics, your mental state of mind can make a big difference in your performance during your workouts.  Getting that extra rep, or pushing for that quicker mile, doesn't come very easily if you have already written it off!  You need to think positive, and even SPEAK positive about all of your effort.  "Can't" ain't gonna get that done!

There are plenty of "trigger words" that trainers use with their clients in order to get them to put forth the extra effort.  "Push".. "You got this".. "Dig Deep".. all meant to remind you to go beyond what you are comfortable with, but capable of doing.  Positive thinking and visualizing the successful effort are important components of motivation.  This is something that you should try to do before each exercise and set.

Remind yourself of why you are putting forth the effort to start with.  That compelling and encouraging component that stirred you to start to begin with. Sometimes simply knowing that you are improving your health and wellbeing can be inspiration enough.  "Just Do It!"

Help Your Child Lose Weight: Set an Example

A study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and The University of Minnesota indicates that a parent's weight change is a key contributor to the success of a child's weight loss in family-based treatment of childhood obesity. The results were just published in the advanced online edition of the journal Obesity.

"We looked at things such as parenting skills and styles, or changing the home food environment, and how they impacted a child's weight," said Kerri N. Boutelle, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at UC San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. "The number one way in which parents can help an obese child lose weight? Lose weight themselves. In this study, it was the most important predictor of child weight loss."

Recent data suggests that 31 percent of children in the United States are overweight or obese, or between four and five million children. Current treatment programs generally require participation by both parents and children in a plan that combines nutrition education and exercise with behavior therapy techniques.

"Parents are the most significant people in a child's environment, serving as the first and most important teachers," said Boutelle "They play a significant role in any weight-loss program for children, and this study confirms the importance of their example in establishing healthy eating and exercise behaviors for their kids."

The researchers looked at eighty parent-child groups with an 8 to 12-year-old overweight or obese child, who participated in a parent-only or parent + child treatment program for five months.

The study focused on evaluating the impact of three types of parenting skills taught in family-based behavioral treatment for childhood obesity, and the impact of each on the child's body weight: the parent modeling behaviors to promote their own weight loss, changes in home food environment, and parenting style and techniques (for example, a parent's ability to help limit the child's eating behavior, encouraging the child and participating in program activities).

Consistent with previously published research, parent BMI change was the only significant predictor of child's weight loss.

The researchers concluded that clinicians should focus on encouraging parents to lose weight to help their overweight or obese child in weight management.

ref. - Mar. 14, 2012

It's Go Time!

Feels like the past month has been an early spring!  I don't know about you, but I took the opportunity to get outside a few times for some runs, bike rides, and other outdoor workouts.  You can just FEEL the energy in the air... it has a way of pulling your butt off the couch, turning off the TV, and getting you doing something productive!

Now is a perfect time to set some goals for the outdoor season!  There are plenty of charity runs and rides that can motivate you to train hard all summer.  So far I'm planning on at least three 5K mud runs and the MS Bike to the Bay this season... and I'm still looking.  It's not about my time or what place I get... it's more about the experience and the motivation that it gives me to train with purpose.  Commit to something now... register for an event today!!!

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"Most of our obstacles would melt away if,
instead of cowering before them, we should
make up our minds to walk boldly
through them."
- Orison Marden

youtube of the month -->
Ultimate Sandbag Exercises
collection of sandbag exercises from the Ultimate Sandbag site | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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