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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2013 issue 8



Smartphone Apps Can Make Workouts More Fun

Latest technology lets you jog along with zombies, bulls and race cars

by HealthDay Reporter Dennis Thompson
FRIDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) --

You're jogging at a steady pace, enjoying your favorite music through your headphones. Your breath is short and your heart is pumping. Your legs feel like they couldn't carry you any faster.  And then you hear the groan of a zombie over your right shoulder. It's sprint or be eaten.  The zombie apocalypse isn't upon you. You're just taking part in the latest fitness craze -- smartphone apps that make a fun and interactive game out of your daily workout. 

Software developers are taking advantage of smartphones' advanced technology -- GPS, accelerometers, MP3 players -- to create "immersive" fitness games that appeal to both avid and reluctant exercisers.

It's part of an overall trend in the fitness industry toward making your daily workout "a fun experience rather than something you have to do," said Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise.

"We are attempting more 'play' opportunities as opposed to working out, basically getting people to move and having fun while they are doing it," Matthews said, noting that fitness instructors are being encouraged to include game play in group and one-on-one exercise as well.

One popular fitness game app, Zombies, Run!, places you in the role of a supplies runner for a walled community trying to survive against the walking dead.
During your run, the game's surprisingly complex story unfolds through your headphones. You "pick up" supplies for the community as you jog along. At certain intervals, you're alerted that zombies are nearby, and if you don't pick up the pace you'll have to pitch some supplies to keep from being caught.

The game doesn't end once your jog is over. After your workout, you can use the supplies you picked up during your run to fortify your community. The GPS statistics from your run are uploaded automatically to the game's website, so you can review your average speed and the estimated calories you burned.

Other fitness game apps place you in different scenarios.  BullDash, for instance, puts you in the middle of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, with immersive audio propelling you forward lest you receive a taste of the horns. Fit Freeway makes you the engine of a race car that you drive while on a treadmill or elliptical machine. The phone's accelerometer picks up the motion of your stride -- the faster you go, the faster your car goes. You tilt the phone left or right to steer.

Fitness apps that take a more social tack also are available. Teemo, Nexercise and Fitocracy all allow you to post your latest workout to share with friends. Some games have you work with friends to reach a common goal -- completing a relay race, for example -- while others encourage competition.

"That's another big area, having that social component," Matthews said. "Having social support of some kind is a critical factor in adhering to an exercise program . For some people, having that friendly competition or the feeling of being on a team can help them stay motivated."

What's more, the apps either are free or available at a minimal price of $2 to $4. Zombies, Run! was currently selling for $3.99 at the time of this article.

Donna Arnett, president of the American Heart Association, said there's good evidence already that gadgets like accelerometers can prompt interest in physical activity.

"I know when my accelerometer says I have 3,000 more steps to go to reach my daily goal, that motivates me," she said. "I would think the apps would work the same way. Anything we can do to motivate people is a good thing."

Dr. Stephen Ponder, an American Diabetes Association spokesman, said it remains to be seen whether these fitness games will have a lasting impact or prove a passing fad.

"If there are ways to use those devices to get people to move, I think that has a lot of potential," said Ponder, a pediatric endocrinologist in Temple, Texas. "The question is, can you see yourself using this indefinitely or would it need to change and morph and you'd need to have different games to keep your interest? For any kind of health technology, it needs to be something that people will put up with and use for an extended period of time."

ref.  WebMD

I was a little skeptical about these programs when I read this article (thanks to my buddy Mike Warner) but I decided to download the Zombies Run! app anyway.  I gotta say, it was actually not a bad change and takes your mind off the run.  I like the way that it integrated a story line in between the songs on your playlist, as well as how it works in some interval training as you periodically kick it up a notch (based upon GPS speed) in order to run away from the zombies.  Hey, whatever works right? J






Sandbag Exercise of the Month!

Clean & Press


I'm a big fan of these combination type exercises where you have a bunch of muscle groups all involved at the same time.  However, when you start cranking out the reps, you begin to realize that more muscle groups = more oxygen consumption = gasping for air!  The clean and press, and other Olympic style lifts like it are great functional exercises that will also get you in great conditioning providing that you keep them part of your weekly diet!  Whether you use a sandbag, weight bar, medicine ball, or dumbbells... I highly recommend them.


Target:  legs, butt, shoulders, triceps (quadriceps, gluteus maximus, deltoids, triceps brachii)

Description:  Feet shoulder width apart or wider (toes can optionally be turned out a bit.  Squat down and grab some canvas in each hand with your butt down and back and head up with a flat back.  Explode up with your legs, giving enough pull with your arms so that you catch the sandbag at your chest.  Press the bag overhead, pause, return it to your chest and then back to starting position.  Repeat for desired repetitions.

How to Time Your Protein Intake For
Maximum Muscle Building Results

Protein is one of the most important nutrients for trainers, especially those who are training hard.
By properly targeting your protein intake, you can greatly improve the results you will get from your training.
The best times to take extra protein are:
First thing in the morning (immediately upon waking): This breaks the fast with an instant shot of amino acids. Your body is in a catabolic (muscle wasting) state upon waking. You can reverse this with a protein drink.
  • Immediately after a workout: At this time your body is starting to rebuild and recover from the workout. Giving it protein will prevent it from breaking down your own muscle to rebuild with.
  • About an hour after a workout: Your body has calmed down from the workout and is ready to rebuild seriously. Give it the building blocks to work with.
  • Right before going to sleep: Sleep is the time when your body rejuvenates itself. Some protein before sleep will give it something to work with.
  • In the middle of the night (if you wake up during the night): Have a premixed protein drink sitting right beside your bed, ready to drink. This will break the fast in half and give your body something to build with instead of muscle tissue. This is especially useful if you sleep for a long time. Don't set your alarm but only have it ready just in case you do wake up.

You can also take protein with meals if you didn't get enough from the food or in between meals just to keep your body supplied.


How to Find Your Predominant Muscle Fiber
Types in All Your Muscle Groups

There are two main types of fibers in your muscles.

  • Slow Twitch: These are also known as Type I muscle fibers. They are responsible for long-duration, low intensity activity such as walking or any other aerobic activity.
  • Fast Twitch: These are known as Type II fibers (divided further into A and B). They are responsible for short-duration, high intensity activity. Type IIB fibers are built for explosive, very short-duration activity such as Olympic lifts. Type IIA fibers are designed for regular high-intensity work.

To find the predominant fiber type in a particular muscle in your body, you can try the following test.

  • Find your one rep max for an isolation exercise for that muscle group.
  • Take 80% of it and do as many reps as possible.
  • If you can do only 4 to 7 reps with it, you have mostly Fast Twitch fibers in that muscle.
  • Around ten reps is the typical mix for a muscle.
  • Doing 15 to 20 or more reps will be mostly Slow Twitch fibers.

By knowing what type of muscle fibers you have, you can tailor your training towards developing them to their maximum potential.


It's Go Time!

Son of a... August already?  The summer is almost over!  Time flies when you're having fun, right?  I have to say though, the sun and heat make for good pool and beach weather, but I do favor the spring and fall for the outdoor boot camps and long bike rides.

For those of us with kids, we got about a month before school is starting again.  If they are playing a fall sport, August is a perfect time to get them ready!  Strength training, speed training, agility training, flexibility training... in addition to boosting their performance, this jump start before the season also helps to get their body ready and reduces the likelihood of injury.  It's not always easy to get them off the couch and moving, but it's certainly worth it if you can motivate them to do so.  Good luck!

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"Go as far as you can see and when you get there, you will always be able to see further. - Zig Ziglar

youtube of the month --> 30+ Ultimate Sandbag Exercises
Great collection of functional sandbag exercises! | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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