VooDoo Floss Compression Bands : Say bye-bye to aches & pains AND say hello to super-fast workout recovery

Every year, we spend approximately a bazillion dollars on all manner of treatments for pain in our necks, backs, feet, shoulders, etc.

Sadly, most of that pain is due to inactivity, poor posture, sitting too long in front of tvs & computer screens, poor training form, etc.

If only there was a way to quickly and inexpensively eliminate those aches and pains?

VooDoo Floss Bands

Way back in 2011, I saw the following Youtube video (with Dr. Kelly Starrett and uber-strong man Donny Thompson) highlighting the use of DISTRACTION and COMPRESSION to help repair shoulder dysfunction…which I happened to be suffering from at the time.

The very next day, I…

  1. Ordered a pair of compression bands, and
  2. Started rehabbing my bad shoulder with the distraction technique.

After 6 days…

  1. My shoulder felt a LOT more stable and was noticeably less painful. I had also resumed resistance training with my focus on rehab.
  2. The compression bands arrived in the mail.

After 2 days of compression & distraction rehab…I was able to press an 80 lb dumbbell overhead with ZERO pain in my formerly-bad shoulder.

In another week, my shoulder felt better than it had in a long, long, long time.

In the 5 years since then…Crossfit exploded in popularity…helping Dr. Starrett become THE mobility  & athletic performance guru…and compression bands became very popular amongst weightlifters, crossfitters, powerlifters AND physiotherapists.

Fast forward to today…and it’s just about time for compression bands (and associated rehabilitation techniques like Donnie Thompson’s distraction technique) to enter the mainstream.

Instead of spending big bucks on massage, chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, etc, it’s time for “normal” people to take advantage of this amazing rehab technique and…

For $65, you will be getting the knowledge and the gear required to keep your joints healthy, strong and pain-free.

And if you don’t want to drop the extra $$$ on Kelly’s book, I have sourced the best “how-to-use-compression bands-to-fix-my-busted-up-body” videos from the Youtubes. They are organized by joint/bodypart.

Note: If you follow the above links (and make a purchase), Rogue fitness will give me 5% of the purchase price as a finder’s fee. It won’t cost you any extra and the dough will go straight into my daughter’s education fund.

If you have any questions about the rehab techniques, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Facebook

Wrist / Forearms

Elbow

 

Shoulder

 

 

Hip / Thigh

Knee

 

Calves

Ankle

Feet

 

 

pushups @healthhabits

Introducing the 20:20 Workout…The Simplest Get Fit, Get Lean, Get Healthy, Get Strong, Get Awesome Workout of All Time

Introducing the 20:20 Workout…The Simplest Get Fit, Get Lean, Get Healthy, Get Strong, Get Awesome Workout of All Time.

Here’s the general theory:

  • 20 seconds of high intensity exercise
  • 20 seconds of rest
  • Repeat as many times as possible…while maintaining great form & high intensity.

Here’s why this workout is awesome:

  • It’s dead simple. Even the newest of workout newbies can understand “work really hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds”.
  • It improves your energy system fitness…which improves your endurance, strength, power, etc.
  • It makes most trainees stronger very quickly -(experienced trainees who already lift primarily for serious strength won’t see much in the way of strength improvement)
  • It improves the muscular endurance of those people who already lift for serious strength…which will improve their strength training programs
  • It’s great for weight loss
  • It saves time. Most trainees will be gassed after 20 minutes…and it takes a real freak to keep the intensity up over 40 min.
  • As you become more efficient at this program, your power & speed-endurance will improve significantly
  • It can be performed at home, indoors, outdoors, on the playing field & in the gym.
  • It’s fully expandable….from very simple beginner workouts to more complex workouts for advanced trainees or people with physical restrictions
  • It’s 100% free

Workout Examples

Legs + Horizontal Push + Horizontal Pull

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Vertical Push + Vertical Pull

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Horizontal Push + Horizontal Pull + Core

  • Stair Step Ups or Box Jumps or Burpees for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Chest Press or Push-Ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Single Leg Stiff Leg Deadlifts
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Rows or Bodyweight Rows for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Ab Roll-Outs, Front Plank or Dead Bugs for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Vertical Push + Vertical Pull + Rotation

  • Bodyweight Squats or Bulgairan Squats for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Pulldowns, Band Overhead Pull-Aparts or Chin-ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Single Leg Straight Leg Flexions – Front, Side & Rear
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Overhead Press – Band, Bodyweight, DB, BB
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Woodchops, Stir the Pots or Palloff Press for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Horizontal Push + Horizontal Pull + Core + Carry

  • Waiter Walk or some other “Carry” variation for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Stair Step Ups or Box Jumps or Burpees for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Chest Press or Push-Ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Single Leg Stiff Leg Deadlifts
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Rows or Bodyweight Rows for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Ab Roll-Outs, Front Plank or Dead Bugs for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Vertical Push + Vertical Pull + Rotation + Sprint

  • Bodyweight Squats or Bulgairan Squats for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Pulldowns, Band Overhead Pull-Aparts or Chin-ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Single Leg Straight Leg Flexions – Front, Side & Rear
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Overhead Press – Band, Bodyweight, DB, BB
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Woodchops or Palloff Press for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Sprint for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Design Your Own 20:20 Workout

As I said above, the 20:20 Workout is fully expandable and is easily modified to fit your specific needs.

Step #1 : Choose the body movements that you want to work on

  • Push Vertical
  • Push Horizontal
  • Pull Vertical
  • Pull Horizontal
  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Walk
  • Run
  • Sprint

Step #2 : Choose an exercise or exercises for each of the body movements you have selected

Step #3 : Organize the exercises so that you maximize your rest periods. Instead of putting 2 leg exercises back to back, stick an upper body exercise in betweenex. Squat – Horizontal Push – Hip Hinge – Horizontal Pull

Step #4 : Set a timer for a 20 sec work : 20 sec rest interval program. If you don’t have a timer, check out Gymboss. They’re easy to use, inexpensive and will prevent you dropping & cracking your smartphone screen

Step #5 : Fill a bottle of water & get ready to sweat

pushups @healthhabits

Questions? Hit me up on social media – Twitter, Facebook.

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pushups healthhabits

“I Don’t Have Time to Workout” Workout

Around the world, the #1 excuse for not exercising is…”I don’t have enough time”.

As a public service to those uber-busy people, I have put together a template for a 15 minute workout that is simple, effective and works for beginners & elite athletes alike.

  • 15 minutes
  • Great workout
  • Guaranteed results
  • No more excuses

Step #1

Buy a set of very affordable workout bands like these. ($30 from Amazon). You can probably find a set for next to nothing at the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Value Village, etc.

Step #2

Find a place to exercise.

Bands can be attached to a door:

or any immovable object:

Note: The spring link used in the video costs about $2-3 at Home Depot.

Step #3

Get an interval timer – Smartphone (iphone, android) app, Gymboss timer, etc.

gymboss-interval timer

Step #4

Choose 1 exercise / exercise combo from each group:

Group #1 

  • Step-Ups
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Scissor Shuffles
  • Running in Place / Jogging on the Spot
  • Shuttle Runs
  • Skipping Rope
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Burpees
  • Exercise Bike sprints

Group #2

  • Standing Band Chest Press
  • Standing Band Row
  • Standing Band Overhead Press
  • Standing Band Pulldown
  • Standing Band Woodchop
  • Standing Band Pallof Press
  • Standing Band Thrusters

Group #3

  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Bodyweight Hip Thrusts
  • Bodyweight 1-Leg Deadlifts
  • Standing Band Hip Thrusts
  • Bodyweight Jump Squats
  • Standing Band Deadlifts
  • Standing Band Lunges

Step #5

1.  Set your timer for a 4-minute Tabata style interval

  • 20 seconds of exercise
  • 10 seconds of rest
  • Repeat 8 times
  • Total time: 4 minutes (160 seconds of exercise + 80 seconds of rest)

2.  Perform the chosen Group #1 exercise using the 4-min Tabata style interval. Using good form, perform as many reps as possible.

3.  Rest 90 seconds

4.  Perform the chosen Group #2 exercise using the 4-min Tabata style interval. Using good form, perform as many reps as possible.

5.  Rest 90 seconds

6.  Perform the chosen Group #3 exercise using the 4-min Tabata style interval. Using good form, perform as many reps as possible.

7.  Done 🙂

Step #6 – Optional

If you decide that you have more than 15 minutes and want to increase your volume of exercise, add additional exercises from any of the three groups.

Step #7 – Optional

Before you grab a shower, you could choose to add some mobility/flexibility exercises into the mix. Here are some resources:

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oscillation training fitness exercise healthhabits

Oscillation Training – Get Stronger, Get Fitter, Get Healthier

A couple of years ago I wrote an article entitled Increase Your Bench Press…thanks to Koji Murofushi.

In that article, I introduced you to oscillation training and how you can use this training method to:

  • rehab injuries,
  • prevent injuries,
  • improve muscle imbalances,
  • thereby increasing strength,
  • and agility,
  • and speed,
  • and power

Since then, I have read numerous studies looking at the effectiveness of weightlifting with:

  1. Stable loads on unstable surfaces – ie Barbell squats on Bosu, foam mats, Swiss ball, etc
  2. Unstable loads on stable surfaces – ie Dumbbells, kettlebells on floor, benches

My unofficial meta-analysis of these studies shows that:

  • Stable loads on stable surfaces allows for maximum force production of the prime mover muscles.
  • Unstable loads (DBs, KBs) on stable surfaces reduces force production in the prime movers (agonists) by a negligible amount while producing a similarly tiny increase in synergists & core muscles.
  • Unstable loads on unstable surfaces (Bosu, Swiss ball, foam mat) further reduces force production in the prime movers while ever so slightly increasing force production of synergists & core muscles.

There have also been numerous studies which postulate that training with unstable loads on stable & unstable surfaces will eventually lead to increases in muscular strength & power as muscle imbalances are corrected, core strength improves and all muscles involved in athletic movements – agonists, antagonists & synergists – are trained to work together more effectively.

And now for the new research:

In this latest study, researchers tested the effectiveness of oscillation training via a series of parallel back squats with an unstable load (weights suspended from the bar by an elastic band)

oscillation_training_overhead_squat
Couldn’t find a good back squat with hanging bells video to create a gif 😦

The Study:

  • Fifteen resistance-trained males completed ten repetitions of the back squat with 60% of their one repetition maximum in both stable and unstable conditions.
  • Peak vertical ground reaction force and the integrated muscle activity of the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medius, biceps femoris, soleus, rectus abdominis, external oblique, and erector spinae muscles on the right side of the body were determined.

Results

  • The unstable load resulted in a small (3.9%), but significant decrease in peak vertical ground reaction force. This makes sense considering the previous research on unstable loads.
  • The unstable load also produced noticeably greater muscle activation in the rectus abdominus, external oblique, and soleus.

This may turn out to be highly significant – where previous studies on trained individuals found that DBs or KBs or vibration platforms or Bosus or Swiss balls produced small increases in muscle activation in these “helper” muscles, the use of oscillation training was much more powerful.

Oscillation training may actually turn out to be a really useful tool for athletes and wanna-be athletes.

What does this mean to you?

If you are one of the following trainees, systemic use of oscillation training may be just what you need:

  • Someone stuck at a strength/size/power/speed plateau
  • Someone with sore shoulders or knees or back or…
  • Someone who plays a sport
  • Someone who finds their body is feeling “older”
  • Someone who has poor posture
  • Someone who wants the health benefits of yoga and/or pilates bust hates yoga and/or pilates
  • Someone who want to be as fit as they can possibly be
  • Someone who just started doing Crossfit and doesn’t want to destroy their shoulders
  • Someone with a big gut
  • Someone who wants to maximize the health benefits of weightlifting without getting “too big” or spending too much time.

How to incorporate Oscillation Training into your program?

  1. Start small. This is supplemental work, meant to make the rest of your program work better.
  2. Don’t do oscillate before doing big compound lifts using the same muscle groups/movements. You don’t want to wear out your assistance muscles prior to needing their help on a big compound lift.
  3. You can do oscillation work after doing big compound work, or
  4. Do oscillation work on off-days – rest days or days where other movements / muscle groups are being worked.
  5. You don’t “need” a fancy bamboo bar. It’s nice to have, but you can just hang plates off the ends of normal barbells with a good set of Jump-Stretch style bands.

If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up on social media 🙂

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fitbit surge healthhabits review

Fitbit Surge Review : Is this the fitness tracker you’ve been looking for?

When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, steps are just the beginning. Fitbit tracks every part of your day – including activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep – to help find your fit, stay motivated and see how small steps make a big difference.

https://fitbit.com

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Fitbit via Mode Media>. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Fitbit.

As per my policy on review articles, I only post reviews of products & services that I would recommend to my “real world” clients and I only request payment when a company wants time-limited exclusivity, meaning that I won’t review a competing product for a specified period of time. This is one such case.

When a rep from Fitbit called me last fall and asked if I wanted to review Fitbit’s Surge fitness tracker / wearable / watch, my initial reaction was…NO WAY!!!

I have tried out LOTS of fitness trackers over the years…with the end result being that after a few months, all of them found their way into the back of a drawer and were never heard from again.

Don’t get me wrong. The data that I received from most of my previous fitness trackers was useful, but only to a point. Up until now, fitness trackers were great for runners & walkers, but pretty much useless for anything else.

And while I wasn’t surprised that the Fitbit Surge has the latest & greatest technology for runners:

  • Measuring heart rate in real time right from your wrist without having to push any buttons while you run.
  • Using that real-time heart rate data to gauge & adjust training intensity on the fly.
  • A built-in GPS giving you data on pace, distance, elevation, floors climbed, split times, route history, route map and workout summaries to help you adjust your running program as needed.

Even with all this, I still wasn’t interested in doing the review. Like most fitness folk, I do more than go for a run or a walk.

  • I lift weights,
  • I sprint hills.
  • I do yoga.
  • I circuit train.
  • I do a bunch of different stuff.

That’s when the Mr. Fitbit smarty-pants told me that the Surge can be used to track all sorts of different workouts:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Cross-training
  • Hiking
  • Pilates
  • Weight training
  • Spinning
  • Circuit training
  • Yoga
  • and more

By now, I was a little intrigued. But, I still said no because as cool as this thing was sounding, my history with previous fitness trackers told me that:

  • I would still end up putting it on for workouts…
  • Taking it off for the rest of the day…
  • Occasionally forgetting to put it on in the morning…
  • And eventually losing track of it altogether until it popped up at the back of my junk drawer in the kitchen.

What I needed was a good reason to wear this thing. Something more than all the fitness tracking technology.

Here’s my reasoning:

  • Most of us used to wear a watch.
  • But, as soon as we all got mobile phones, a lot of us ditched our watches because our phones had a clock.

Why did we do that?

  • Pulling your phone out of a pocket is much less convenient than a quick glance at your wrist.  
  • Why would we abandon a superior piece of time-telling technology for an inferior one?

Simple.

  • The annoyance of carrying two pieces of technology outweighed the annoyance of having to dig your phone out of your jeans when you wanted to check the time.

Don’t believe me?

  • My clients who self-identify as runners wear their fitness trackers 24 hours a day.
  • My clients who don’t identify as runners wear their fitness trackers for workouts and take them off when they settle in for the night at home.
  • Normal people (who want to be fit) buy fitness trackers and eventually stick them in drawers.

Unless the annoyance of wearing a fitness tracker on your wrist is significantly outweighed by the benefits, it’s gonna end up in the back of your junk drawer in the kitchen. Believe that.

So I asked Mr. Fitbit…what can the Fitbit Surge do to make my life better, in addition to improving my health & physical fitness?

Mr. Fitbit replied that the Surge will allow you to:

  • See who is calling or texting you on your mobile phone without having to pull it out of your pocket
  • Pause or fast forward your phone’s music player QUICKLY and EASILY while you are working out.

Two things that would make my life just a little bit easier, and would get me to wear a watch for the first time in over 5 years.

Here’s my review:

Looking at the technology, the Surge has all the functions I want in a fitness tracker…

fitbit surge review - ultimate fitness super watch fitbit surge review app fitness

  • GPS Tracking & Mapping
  • Continuous heart rate readings. 24 hours a day. No straps. No clips.
  • Continuous activity monitoring
  • Multi-sport functionality
  • Workout intensity monitoring
  • Sleep Monitor – quality & quantity
  • An excellent (IMHO) Computer / Smartphone app interface….very simple & intuitive.

fitbit surge review app fitness

    • It also works with a bunch of third party health & fitness apps. Which is great if you’re already an active member in one of the major online fitness communities.

And if you’re not part of an existing online fitness community or online fitness training advice service or motivation app, Fitbit also allows you to contact/challenge/praise/shame your fitness friends as well as make new friends via the Fitbit community.

Note: Fitbit also offers a “premium” service, providing personal training, nutrition & sleep consulting. I didn’t try this service, so I have no idea how good (or bad) it is.

Moving on to the reason why I decided to review the Surge

I couldn’t be much happier with the Surge, because in addition to all the cool fitness tech, it made my smartphone even smarter.

Call & Text Message Monitoring

      • With the Surge, I can monitor phone calls & text messages during situations when I “can’t” check my phone .i.e. during business meetings,
      • Or when I’m walking, running, working out, etc,
      • Or when it’s charging across the room.

Music Player Control

Not as big a deal as the call/text monitoring, but still pretty useful for me.

When I’m working out at the gym or running, I use my smartphone as a music player. Sometimes, I need to pause the music or skip one of my less favorite songs.

Prior to testing out the Surge, I had to pull out my phone, open the screen-lock, open the player and pause/skip to the next song. I realize this is the very definition of a first world problem, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to just reach over to my wrist and push the pause or FF button

You’re going to appreciate this when someone interrupts your workout at the gym.

Things I would change about the Fitbit Surge

      1. The display is a back lit monochrome LCD display. Considering that competitors like the Microsoft Band and the upcoming Apple Watch both have high definition OLED screens, the Surge LCD touchscreen looks very 2014.
      2. While the phone call/text notifications are FANTASTIC, it would be nice to receive notifications from Facebook, Twitter, etc. Not essential, but nice.
      3. Re music player control, some people prefer to use streaming services rather than playlists stored on their phones. Control of these services would be great for those users.
      4. Style wise, it would be nice if Fitbit had an option that looked less like a sports-watch and more like a watch-watch…something that would look nice with a suit.

NOTE: Online, the Fitbit Surge is getting compared mainly to the Apple Watch. And I have a bit of a problem with that comparison. While the Surge gives you on-board GPS and optical heart rate monitoring, the Apple watch uses less accurate optical heart rate sensors and the watch doesn’t have GPS.

Which kinda sucks if you bought the Apple watch to be your fitness tracker.

It’s like comparing these two pair of shoes.

basketball-shoes

Sure, they both look like basketball shoes, but each was designed with different purposes and for different consumers. One’s a fashion shoe. The other is a fitness shoe.

  • The Apple watch is a smartwatch with fitness features.
  • The Fitbit Surge is a fitness tracker with smartwatch features.

Which one you choose depends on your needs for the product. At least, IMHO.

NOTE: I have no idea if Fitbit is looking into adding more smartwatch-esque features in the Surge 2.0 or if they looked into them already but decided against them due to cost constraints.

I’m pretty sure they could have put in an OLED display and added more connectivity options, but that stuff costs money…which would be reflected in the purchase price.

Maybe Fitbit could offer two different Surge versions…the current version at $250 and a second version with OLED screen & Twitter updates for $350.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the strongest recommendation I can give in support of the Fitbit Surge is that I very seldom take it off and I have no plans to stick it in my kitchen junk drawer.

  • At first, I fiddled around with the watch commands…swiping the touch screen, pushing buttons…trying to get the thing to do what I wanted it to do.
  • After a few days, I was pretty good with it and was developing a habit of using the watch and checking my dashboard daily.
  • After a few weeks, I was really comfortable using the watch and I had developed a dashboard routine that took about 2 minutes per day.
  • As I was already a giant fitness nerd, I didn’t exactly need the Surge to motivate me to exercise.
  • What it did allow me to do what get a better handle on how my training was affecting my overall health.
  • As a result, I have made some minor lifestyle & exercise changes which have paid off nicely. Definitely worth the $250.

At the end of the day, I can heartily endorse the Fitbit Surge.

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A Technological Revolution for Health and Fitness Nerds

Quick post for all you fitness nerds out there.

Today is the day that I finally get my greedy little hands on a Push Strength workout/fitness tracker. As an early indiegogo supporter, I am one of the first people to have one of these bad-boys and because I love y’all so much, I am going to share the wealth.

Starting tonight, I am going to use my Push Strength band to start testing:

  • The real-world effectiveness of different exercise tools – machines vs free weights vs bands vs body-weight
  • The real-world effectiveness of different training routines
  • The real-world effectiveness of different exercises – pistol squats vs bodybuilding squats vs power squats

And because I love all my fitness friends, I will be sharing all that glorious data here at Health Habits.

But that’s not all….

Later this month, I will be meeting with the CEO of Tell Spec to discuss when I can expect to get my grubby paws on one of the beta units as well as organizing a series of amazing tests with all the other beta testers.

For those of who who don’t already know, Tell Spec uses a handheld scanner in concert with a learning algorithm and a cloud-based database to create a tool that will tell you exactly what is in the food you eat…or don’t eat.

At present, the “TellSpec BETA identifies calories, macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates) and a limited number of ingredients all at reasonable concentrations in food”. And while that would be cool enough, it’s going to get way, way cooler.

As us beta-testers start scanning different foods, we are building the database, pushing the algorithm to evolve…and improving the scope & accuracy of the technology. This means that by the time TellSpec is ready for sale to the general public, it will be able to tell you exactly is in those chicken mcnuggets you scarfed down for lunch.

And while that is amazing enough for us health nerds, what it also means is that the entire processed food industry is going to be in for a rude awakening. Instead of having to deal with a small group of health nuts trying to spread the gospel of healthy eating, they are going to have to deal with a LOT of normal Moms & Dads who are going to be pissed off with the crap they are being sold.

pink-slime-jon-stewart-2

And if that wasn’t cool enough, the Tell Spec could be a actual lifesaver for all those kids with serious food allergies. Instead of trusting labels, kids armed with a Tell Spec scanner can make sure that that nut-free cookie is actually nut free.

How cool is that?

Stay tuned…the technological revolution for us health nerds has just begun.

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3 Pieces of Fantastic Fitness Equipment

I am a giant fitness geek. This means that when I see a new piece of fitness equipment…I want to buy it.

  • Unfortunately, a lot of fitness equipment sucks…case in point – the Ab Circle Pro.

Fortunately, there are a few pieces of fantastic fitness equipment that are worth the money. Here are three of them:

1.  The Hammer Head Anchor Gym

In my humble opinion, the Hammer Head anchor gym is a truly fantastic piece of fitness equipment that should be in every home gym.

  • I use it for strength training
  • I use it for flexibility training
  • I use it for mobility training
  • I use it for energy system training
  • It takes up almost zero space
  • It’s cost effective
  • And it’s safe

For years and years and years, I have used a set of high quality resistance bands with all of my clients. They are portable, never break, are versatile and allow me to do just about everything that I can do in a full commercial gym without turning my client’s rec room into a health club. The only requirement that I need from my clients is something solid to attach the bands to…usually a piece of cardio equipment – treadmill, bike, elliptical, etc… It isn’t the perfect set-up for resistance-band strength training, but
it was okay until…

…I got my hands on the Hammer Head anchor gym. The multiple attachment points have allowed me to get way more creative with my selection of exercises. For example, earlier today…

  • I had a client perform a circuit involving a standing two-arm chest press…with the added resistance of a resistance band looped around her waist.
  • In addition to the work being performed by her chest, triceps & front delts, she was also stressing her core muscles as well as stabilizers in her ankles & hips as she resisted being pulled backwards by the band around her waist.
  • As soon as she finished the chest press set, I had her jump immediately into a set of shuffle lunges with the added resistance of the band looped around her waist.

hammerhead h2 home gym strength bands fitness health

For less than $200, they now have a home gym with a lifetime guarantee that takes up zero floor space.

Love it, love it. love it.

Next PageThe Glasstic Water Bottle….

TellSpec answers the question…what is in that food?

Imagine for a second that you are someone who…

  • is trying to lose weight, or
  • is allergic to peanuts, or
  • is lactose intolerant, or
  • doesn’t want to eat foods laced with pesticides, or
  • just wants to know what is in that food that they just picked up at the supermarket.

In 2013…what you would do is take a quick look at the nutritional info on the back of the package, or pull out your smartphone and consult an app that gives you the nutritional info of the average sized apple or serving of pasta salad or the nutritional info claimed by Senor Nacho Grande.

nacho chips label nutrition

In 2014, what you’re going to do is whip out your TellSpec scanner…

  • aim the TellSpec scanner at that bowl of nacho chips,
  • press the button until it beeps
  • firing a low-powered laser at the chips,
  • measuring the reflected light with a nano spectrometer, and
  • sending those measurements up to TellSpec’s cloud servers
tellspec spectrometer
The TellSpec scanner sorts these photons by wavelength and counts them. The resulting numbers, called a spectrum, describe the chemical compounds in the food.

Once in the TellSpec cloud, the data will be analyzed using a proprietary mathematical algorithm. And in less than 20 seconds, TellSpec will send the results of all that number crunching and nanophotonics back down to your smart phone, computer or tablet

tellspec phone1

Letting you know EXACTLY what is in that food you are (or were) about to eat. TellSpec will give you the…

  • Calories
  • Macronutrients
  • Micronutrients
  • Allergens
  • Chemicals
  • Ingredients

tellspec phone2

Letting you make an INFORMED decision about the food you were about to eat…or serve to your child.

  • Which could be kind of a big deal if you have a problem feeding your kid nacho chips laced with Tartrazine – a food dye made from petroleum – known to cause CANCER. (funny how the manufacturer never mentioned the tartrazine in their nutritional info graph)
  • It could also be a big deal if your kid is allergic to peanuts…which is about 99% of all kids nowadays.
  • It could also be a big deal if the reason you keep getting headaches every day is because you are sensitive to gluten or dairy or MSG or any of the chemicals found in processed foods.

tellspec phone3

And because TellSpec can track what you eat, as well as how you feel after eating, it can help identify potential food sensitivities and allow you to make changes to your diet with or without the help of your MD.

It can also track your caloric consumption, your distribution of macronutrients (carbs/fat & protein), which micronutrients are missing from your diet as well as advise you to cut back on the canned tuna sandwiches (Google tuna & mercury levels for more info).

tellspec phone4

How Cool is That?

If you’re anything like me, your mind has just been blown away by the TellSpec scanner.

And it gets even better. TellSpec is developing a software development kit that will provide developers with tools for directly accessing the food analysis data from our servers so that they can create their own amazing applications. The SDK includes source code for iPhone and Android apps, an API for TellSpec’s analysis engine, JSON specifications for data interchange, and access to information about each nutrient, chemical, allergen, and ingredient.

Unlike the fine folks at Apple and most other tech companies, the really fine folks (Isabel & Stephen) want all of the world’s software geeks to push the TellSpec technology even farther to provide even more value for the end user.

Where Can You Get a TellSpec Scanner?

You can’t get one yet 😦 The TellSpec is still in development, and as of October 1, 2013…

  • They have developed the analysis engine, coded it, and tested it, 
  • They have successfully tested three prototype scanners, including one using a nanochip,
  • They have finished the industrial design for the scanner,
  • They are well along with the user interface design;
  • and they have been doing an independent validation of the underlying algorithm.  

Now What?

If you want one of these bad boys, you can get one by supporting their IndieGoGo campaign – hurry up…time is running out.

Open your HTML editor and load the file that has the iframe coded.

2
Type “align=middle” into the HTML iframe code. The code below is an example of a centered iframe:

This code centers the internal page within the iframe.

3
Use a div tag to center the iframe within the web page. The code below encapsulates the iframe and centers it on your web page.

4
Save the page. Use your web browser to test the new settings. Open the page in a web browser and view the iframe location. It’s now centered on the page.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_5825834_center-iframe.html#ixzz2kMJXJiek

Here’s what they need – $650,000

Here’s what they need the money for:

  • Manufacturing the TellSpec scanner and get all the regulatory approvals needed to ship it.
  • Deploying the food analysis engine on servers that reliably provide quick analysis of the spectra.
  • Developing the SDK for Android and iOS platforms so others can build exciting apps.

Personally, I ponied up $420 to become a beta tester of the TellSpec scanner because I can’t wait for the production models and because I am totally geeked by the potential of this technology. I will be meeting with the founders of TellSpec next week to discuss the beta testing procedure as well as potential future applications for the technology.

Conclusion

For $150, you can grab one of 500 Early Bird Specials – You’ll receive one TellSpec scanner and two years of unlimited analysis of your food scans. Once those 500 spots are gone, the price shoots up to $200 for the next 500 people and then up to $250 for the next 3000 people.

I have no idea what they are going to cost once the IndieGoGo campaign is closed and they go on sale to the general public. But I have a feeling they’ll cost more than $250.

tellspec scanner

Plus, wouldn’t it be cool to have one of these bad boys before they go on sale at Amazon and Best Buy?

The Absolute Best Barefoot Running Shoe

Last year, I reviewed the Skora Base running shoe. In that review, I concluded that the Skora Base was an excellent barefoot/minimalist/natural running shoe. Excellent…but not perfect.

  • The soles were very durable, giving the shoe a very long life
  • Great ventilation = reduced stinkfoot
  • I received lots of positive feedback on how the shoes look…not important, but nice
  • Easy to slip on…way easier than Vibrams
  • A little on the heavy side for a barefoot shoe
  • Comfortable as heck
  • Designed to encourage “natural” walking/running gaits
  • A toe box roomier than standard running shoes but not as roomy as some uber-barefoots
  • Zero heel drop
  • Average sole thinkness – not super thin like Sockwa but way better than a lot of “barefoot” shoes. This give them decent ground feel.
  • And the unfortunate feature that when my cross-training workouts got a little hot & sweaty, I found that lateral stability became a significant issue. Not a big deal if you’re running around a track, but if you’re bounding through the woods or playing a little tennis, I found that I was almost sliding sideways out of my shoes.

So….when I heard that Skora has two new models for 2013, I was curious to see if Skora had addressed my personal issues with their kicks. And they have.

With two new models…. The Phase and the Core.

phase x skora

Here are the upgrades…

  • The toe box is roomier in both styles- I can now wiggle my toes while wearing both the Skora Phase and the Skora Core
  • The new for 2013 synthetic upper Phase is lighter than my synthetic upper Base shoes. 7.2 oz v.s. 7.9 oz
  • The new for 2013 leather upper Core is lighter than the previous leather upper Form shoes. 8.1 oz 8.2 oz (not much of a diff here)
  • Both of the new styles are using a new injection blown rubber outsole giving both the Phase and Core a “grippier” feel and an increased ability to feel the ground beneath your shoes. This new sole reminds me of the sole Leming uses.
  • And finally, both shoes have much improved lateral stability. This might be due to the new lamination process used to bond the upper materials and overlays without stitching. Skora claims “this results in a stronger, more durable upper with less seams to let in water or rub against the skin”. All I can tell you is that I am not sliding around in this shoe.

So, all in all, both of these new Skoras – the synthetic Phase and the goatskin leather Core get two great big enthusiastic thumbs-up from yours truly.

SKORA_CORE-M03_medial_34_3

If you want to learn a little more about the specifics of these shoes, please continue reading…

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.
Where my old Skora Base shoes have a 9mm Forefoot/heel stack height (sole 4mm, midsole 5mm), the new Skora Phases and Skora Cores have both been reduced down to 8mm while changing the sole material from a high abrasion rubber to a grippier injection blown rubber. Defintely an upgrade in my mind.
SKORA_CORE-M03_outsole_36_3
  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

I can’t get over how much this shift to injection blown rubber has made on the proprioception capabilities of these new Skoras. As mentioned above, both the Phase and Base are 1 mm thinner. And unless you are the princess from the Princess and the Pea, I doubt you can tell the difference. But there definitely is a difference in ground feel with these new Skoras. It has to be the new rubber.

SKORA_PHASE-M03_top_59_3

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Like the older model Skora Base & Form, this is where I believe Skora really separates itself from the rest of the barefoot/minimalist/natural shoe pack. Unlike some minimalist shoes which basically slap some rubber onto the bottom of a polyester sock, the Skora engineers have created an aysmmetric last shape with a curved bottom profile. And it’s that curved outsole which is supposed to mimic the natural foot shape and encourage a natural medial to lateral rolling motion which makes the Skora truly unique. And with the now wider toe box, there is absolutely nothing to complain about. Unlike any other minimalist shoe that I have ever worn, the Skora Base actually makes you run naturally. No more falling back into old patterns of heel striking.

All 4 models of Skora running shoes (Core, Form, Phase and Base) will have you landing midfoot and absorbing impact as your feet were originally designed. And while that may not be a huge deal for someone (me) who has spent years re-training their neuro-muscular system and suffering though freakishly tight calves and the converted their bodies to a minimalist style of running, it is a gigantic deal for someone who wants to start running ala barefoot put has spent years running heel-toe. For this one feature alone, I can’t say enough good things about Skora.

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

Both of these 2013 models are lighter than their predeccesors – with the Skora Phase weighing 7.2 oz and the Skora Core weighing 8.1 oz. Not the lightest barefoot shoes on the market, but light enough that you probably will never notice the difference. Next page – the review continues…

3 Pieces of Fitness Gear that You Need to Buy Right Now!!!!

Back in the olden days, human beings performed manual labor every day. They walked, ran, lifted, carried, dragged, pulled and pushed. Today, most of us spend our days sitting, typing, reading, talking and googling.

As a result, modern humans are fatter, weaker and sicklier than our ancestors. And while some of us are okay with this side-effect of our modern society, a growing percentage of the population isn’t. After leaving their physically inactive jobs for the day, they head over to the gym and spend a big chunk of their free time trying to get stronger, leaner and healthier.

Unfortunately, most of those people start their fitness journey with no idea how they should go about getting stronger, leaner and healthier…and thus fall prey to the marketing promises of the fitness / weight loss industry….a multi-billion dollar business sector that relies on hype and promises…pumping hundreds of new books, dvds, pills, potions and pieces of fitness gear onto the market every year…promising amazing physical transformations…

fat-to-fitt

…and unfortunately, most of this fitness gear is crap.

Luckily for us, amongst all that health & fitness detrius, there are always a few products that…

  • Do what they promise
  • Are worth much more than their purchase price
  • Deserve all the social media love that we can shower upon them.

Here are three of those products

1.  GLOBE GRIPZ

globe grips grip strength

For my personal training clients, Globe Gripz do two important things.

  1. They makes their hands stronger..which allows them to make the rest of their body stronger.
  2. They magically eliminate shoulder joint impingements…eliminating pain, preventing injury and allowing us to reverse decades-old structural issues.

How?

  1. The increased diameter of the Globe Gripz forces your hands to work harder to hold onto the implement – dumbbell, barbell, kettlebells, band, chin-up bar, etc. The increased workload leads to increased muscular strength in forearm, hand, finger strength.
  2. The baseball shape of the Globe Gripz allows my clients to use a neutral grip (see middle image) which reduces the strain, impingement and chance of injury on their elbow and shoulder joints.

It’s a really simple piece of fitness equipment and for less than the price of a single physical therapy session, I have seen my single pair of Globe Gripz help a whole bunch of clients get rid of sore shoulders while make significant gains in grip and overall upper-body strength. They’re a must-buy.

2. BECOMING A SUPPLE LEOPARD

For the past 27 years, I have lifted heavy things, sprinted up hills, jumped over obstacles and bashed into trees, fences and other human beings. And as a result of my somewhat insane behaviour, I have developed more than a few aches and pains. And up until about two years ago, I spent a fair amount of cash on physical therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc, to help minimize those aches and pains.

But since I discovered Kelly Starrett and his MobilityWOD videos, I spend a lot more time fixing my own aches and pains and a lot less money having someone else to do it for me.

Imagine my surprise when I heard rumours that Kelly was working on a book that would take all that video goodness and re-assemble it into book form…complete with an index chapters dedicated to specific injuries/treatments along with step-by-step pictures showing how to perform all of his painful yet awesome rehabilitation exercises.

I was totally geeked. Unfortunately, those rumours started about a year ago and the book was only released on April 23.

Since April 23, I have read the book at least 10 times. Seriously.

If you have aches and pains..or if you exercise on a regular basis..or if you are aging like the rest of us..or you want to be fitter/healthier..or you know someone who fits this description…

BUY THIS BOOK  and save a TON of money on physio, chiropractic, acupuncture, etc….

3. YOGA TUNE UP

yoga-tune-up

Jill Miller and her Yoga Tune Up program was introduced to me when Kelly Starrett  featured her in a few of his MobilityWOD videos. In particular, it was this video on diaphragm mechanics that really captured my attention.

Such a simple movement…with a truly powerful impact on the type of aches and pains that sitting in a chair inflicts upon all of us.

After seeing this video, I contacted Jill via Twitter and asked if she would be willing to send me a bunch of Yoga Tune Up stuff with the promise that if I loved it, I would write up a review article. She said yes…and sent me a bunch of videos and therapy balls. And for the past month or so, I have been beta-testing the videos.

The verdict?

Everyone who has tried these videos more than three times has raved about them…me included. And this is coming from a guy who hates, hates, hates yoga classes.

        

Jill’s program is a weird and wonderful combination of yoga, calisthenics, corrective exercise, movement techniques and body therapy….designed to repair damaged muscle tissue, increase overall strength, create balance, increase flexibility, improve coordination, reduce stress and bolster the immune system.

And while I can’t comment on the immune system boosting, I sure as heck can confirm that doing Jill’s dvds 3 x per week will loosen up your knots, reduce that pain in your neck/back and have you moving, standing and sitting in weirdly graceful manner. I will continue to use her dvds and therapy balls and have recommended them to all of my clients.

Like Kelly Starrett and the folks at Globe Gripz, Jill has put together a unique program that produces massive results with a minimal time and financial commitment…..unlike all of those D-Bags who sell crappy fitness gear on late-night infomercials.

Jaybird Bluebuds X Wireless Bluetooth Headphones : The BEST Exercise Headphones???

As a “moderately successful” health & fitness blogger, I am constantly getting emails & tweets from companies that want me to plug their products.

After informing them that my policy for product reviews requires that I test their product with a number of my training clients and that I only post reviews of products/services that get an enthusiastic thumbs-up from ALL my guinea-pigs, most of the companies decide to pass on the review.

One of the companies that didn’t disappear was JayBird.

Jaybird makes a line of wireless bluetooth headphones designed for athletes and people who like to get sweaty on a regular basis.

For this experiment, Jaybird sent me a pair of their BlueBuds X to beta-test.

Here are the results of my real-world beta-test…

  • Taking phone calls while driving….PASS
  • Making voice activated phone calls…PASS
  • Stability and sound quality while jogging…PASS
  • Stability and sound quality while playing some shinny…PASS
  • Stability and sound quality while performing a highly-active resistance training workout…PASS

I also made use of the X-Fit clips which get rid of any dangling cord and let the Buds fit snug against the back of your neck. Normally, I won’t use this feature as my business requires me to be available via my cellphone, BUT when I do decide to block out the rest of the world, I will definitely use this feature.[/box]

With the cord snug behind your neck, you don’t feel the headphones at all.

Conclusion?

I can highly recommend the Bluebuds X as a day-to-day bluetooth headphone for hands-free use while driving AND as a seriously BADASS pair of sport/exercise/workout bluetooth headphones.

Reebok Nano 2 Shoe Review

The Reebok Nano 2 isn’t your run of the mill athletic shoe. It’s equal parts…

  • Barefoot/Minimalist shoe
  • Running shoe
  • Gym workout shoe

And unlike most of the hybrid shoes I have beta-tested in the past few years, it does a great job at blending the best parts of these three very different styles of athletic shoe.

reebok-nano-2.0

  • It provides better stability than a pure barefoot shoe. This is important if you’re participating in activities that require rapid changes of direction – soccer, tennis, sprinting, fitness classes, football, Zumba dance fitness, ultimate frisbee, interval training workouts, etc.

Your foot stays in place when you’re moving from side to side or exploding from a dead-start into a full-out sprint.

  • Unlike most running shoes that have a built-up heel and force you into an unhealthy heel-toe running form, the almost completely flat profile of the Nano 2.0 allows you to adopt a natural “barefoot”  running style.

barefoot-running

  • But before you go thinking that the Nano is a true minimalist/barefoot shoe, we need to look at the sole of the shoe. Because, unlike most barefoot shoes, the Nano has a thicker sole & midsole designed to…
  1. Provide more cushioning for runners, and
  2. Provide a flat, stable base for weightlifting

As this shoe was designer for Crossfitters who do all manner of exercise, this was the most necessary design feature of the shoe. And in my humble opinion, Reebok has done a fine job of engineering.

I have been running in barefoot/minimalist shoes for years, and while I did notice the loss of “ground-feel” caused by the thickness of the sole/midsole, I had no problems going for a 30 minute jog prior to hitting the gym for a resistance training workout.

[box type=”note”]This rigid sole would be a drawback for trail runners who want to “feel” the ground conditions and run “naturally”. Due to this, I wouldn’t recommend the Nano 2.0 for trail running or for runners who require high levels of proprioception.[/box]

  • While the Nano doesn’t provide optimal proprioceptive feedback, it does provide one of the most important features of a barefoot shoe – natural foot movement

The wide toe box and “natural” foot shape allows your foot to move as it was designed to move. Unlike most fitness shoes with a narrow toe box and all manner of corrective technology, the Nano 2.0 doesn’t force your foot into any un-natural positions. And this is a very very good thing.

reebok-nano-2.0-top-view

 All in all, I am a big fan of this shoe. I have used them over the past month for a wide variety of workouts and I wasn’t disappointed by them once.

And I don’t think you will be either.

The Best Exercise for a Fit Sexy Body

What if I told you that there was a form of exercise that…

  • Raises low self-esteem
  • Burns a ton of calories
  • Is scientifically proven to repair distorted body images
  • Increases functional fitness
  • Is incredibly effective for OBESE participants
  • Is a great way to make new fit friends
  • Makes you stronger
  • Makes you leaner
  • Makes your fitter
  • Makes you more flexible / mobile
  • Makes you sexier
  • And is incredibly FUN!!!

Fit Sexy Body

And what if I told you that this form of exercise is the biggest fitness trend to come along since spandex & leg warmers.

leg-warmer-spandex-newton-j

In fact, led by the market leader (Zumba), dance fitness classes are spreading around the fitness world at an amazing rate. And as a result, there are a lot of women (and a few men) who are transforming their bodies, getting healthy and having a great time while they’re doing it.

Unfortunately, along with all of this fun, there has also been a spike in ankle & knee injuries caused by people doing dance fitness classes in shoes not made for dancing. My physiotherapy buddies here in Toronto have seen their waiting rooms fill up with Zumba injuries over the past couple of years.

What does this mean to you???

It means that if you want to…

  1. create a fit sexy body with dance fitness
  2. while avoiding sprained knees & ankles

…you need to seriously think about buying a pair of dance specific shoes.

Fit Sexy Body

And I can heartily recommend these two brands of dance fitness shoes by Ryka…

… because over the past 5 months, I have had a group of female clients trying out different pairs of dance fitness shoes and these 2 pairs kept getting the best reviews. It wasn’t even close.

They fit better…they look better…and they perform better as dance fitness shoes.

Fit Sexy Body

The official Ryka sales pitch – Ryka designs all their shoes to fit a woman’s foot shape, muscle movement and skeletal structure. For example, the “Q-angle”(quadricep angle) – the anatomical relationship between the hip and knee – measures 5–7 degrees greater for women than men. As a result, women tend to shift more weight to the outside of their feet which leads to over-pronation, instability at foot strike and higher risk of injury. All Ryka sneakers, are designed and developed taking into account a woman’s unique fit needs.

Their dance fitness shoes are further modified with a low profile compression mid-sole, lateral stability and a pivot point (the pink circle) designed to help the shoe respond correctly to dance fitness movements.

These are not running shoes or tennis shoes. They are dance shoes.

NOTE: There are a growing number of dance fitness shoes on the market. I am recommending these 2 pairs of Ryka shoes because my “guinea-pigs” loved them. I have no financial involvement with these products other than they supplied samples free of charge for my experiment. There were 3 other manufacturers who supplied footwear free of charge. Their shoes didn’t test well…so they’re not in the article.

Reference

Brooks Pure Connect – Barefoot Shoe Review

Alright, I’m back again with another Barefoot / Minimalist shoes review and this time I’m looking at the Brooks Pure Connect running shoes.

Like the Reebok RealFlex, the Brooks Pure Connect is an attempt by one of the major running shoe manufacturers to expand upon it’s standard “heel-toe” style of running shoe and enter the barefoot/minimalist shoe universe (shoeniverse???)

And like the RealFlex, the Brooks Pure Connect attempts to maintain some aspects of their standard runners while adopting the qualities of barefoot running shoes that they feel are most vital.

Let’s see how they did.

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

The Brooks Pure Connect protects your feet more like a traditional running shoe than the much thinner soles of most barefoot shoes. Note that this increased protection from sharp objects will result in a trade-off with respect to proprioception and stiffness.

Unlike their traditional runners, Brooks has attempted to create a more mobile sole by creating a split in starting just to the inside of your big toe and running towards your midsole. You can see how they are trying to straddle the fence by trying to blend the uber-flexibility of a minimalist sole with the protection and performance of a standard Brooks running shoe.
  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

Compared to Lemings or Sockwas, the Brook Pure Connect has horrible proprioception. Compared to Nike Free and the Reebok Real Flex , the Pure Connect is equal if not superior. The split sole does not give the foot mobility that it claims, but all in all, there is more ground-feel than with the Nikes or Reeboks.

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Unlike companies that specialize in barefoot/minimalist shoes, Brooks and other mainstream athletic shoe manufacturers are at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to creating their barefoot shoes. They realize that this market niche is growing very quickly, but there is no way that they are going to abandon the technology of their standard running shoes and go 100% minimalist. Ain’t gonna happen. They sell way too many “standard” running shoes.

What Brooks has done is recognize that different runners like to run…differently. Brooks sees all of these runners as fitting somewhere along the line of their Float vs Feel continuum of running styles & shoes. This video explains the concept.

The Pure Connect is the most extreme example of a Brooks “Feel” shoe.

  •  To that end, Brooks has split the outer sole of the shoe to make it more flexible than their standard runners. And in that regard, they have succeeded. However, compared to shoes created by companies that specialize in barefoot/minimalist shoes, this shoe is much, much stiffer.
  • Brooks is also using an anatomical last that is less restrictive than their standard models. As well, the sock liner is removable…producing an even more natural feel.
  • They have also minimized the size of the heel to help new-to-barefoot runners adapt to a mid-foot strike. This design feature is similar to the one used by Skora.

[box type=”note”]One area of natural foot movement where Brooks really missed the mark is with shoe width.[/box]

This shoe is way too narrow.

  • My wife has a very narrow foot and she loves these shoes. LOVES THEM.
  • Me…wide feet – couldn’t even fit into them.
  • My third guinea pig – normal feet – could squeeze them in, but they were too tight and didn’t allow his feet to spread as he ran.
 Note – Brooks seems to have addressed this concern with their new-for-2013 shoe – the Pure Drift
  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

Mens – 7.2 oz  Womens – 6.5 oz…it’s a light shoe

Next page – the review continues…

3 completely badass fitness products that you’re GONNA buy…or else.

Alright….maybe badass isn’t the appropriate description for these products.

None of them are going to smack you around for being a pair of idiot skinheads starting trouble on a public bus.

But they will help you :

  • make your feet work better
  • reduce associated pain
  • pack on muscle faster than cheap internet steroids

Correct Toes

Dr. Ray McClanahan (podiatric physician) believes that the best way to treat most foot problems is by allowing the foot to function exactly as nature intended. Unfortunately, the shoes you are wearing right probably don’t do that. This realization is why so many people are giving barefoot / minimalist shoes a try. Unfortunately, if you have been wearing “normal” shoes for most of your life, switching to a barefoot shoe isn’t going to fix your feet.

This is where the Correct Toes spacer can help. They are designed to spread your toes into their natural and correct position…improving “proprioception, which then allows the brain to better promote balance and optimal muscle function”.

Paired with a quality pair of barefoot / minimalist shoes, Correct Toes returns your foot to its natural state, treating most foot problems, and by extension, many musculoskeletal problems.

Sidewalk Surfers from Sanuk

There is no point in buying the Correct Toes spacer and fixing your gnarly old feet if you’re going to keep shoving them into a pair of “normal” shoes and scrunching them together like some masochistic Chinese foot binding experiment. What you need to do is buy a pair (or two) of barefoot / minimalist shoes that allow your feet to move as they were originally intended.

And that’s one of the reasons why I have been wearing a pair of Sanuk Chibas all summer long.

Some of the other reasons are…

  1. they are comfortable as heck,
  2. can be worn on the beach AND with casual clothes,
  3. they look pretty darn good
  4. and they come with an antimicrobial additive…meaning they won’t stink after hours and hours of barefoot wear.

SizeOn

skinny exercise weightlifterA few months back, I started working with two different 40+ year old clients who wanted to add some muscle to their “slender” physiques. In addition to a complete restructuring of their diets and an introduction to a truly nasty training program, I put them both on Gaspari Nutrition’s SizeOn product.

Instead of taking a bunch of different products, I wanted one supplement that would service their workout endurance demands as well as help them pack some meat on their hardgainer bodies. And SizeOn turned out to work perfectly.

Both clients had already started gaining muscle with SizeOn, but when we added it into the mix, things really took off.

  • Both gained significant muscle mass
  • Subject #1 gained 14 lbs of muscles while losing 7 lbs of fat
  • Subject #2 gained 11 lbs of muscle while losing 22 lbs of fat.

Pretty significant transformations…especially when you consider that both of these guys were both ectomorphs and lifelong hard-gainers.

I can’t say enough about this product – Great Stuff!!! – Here are the ingredients if you want to check it out.

Skora Base – Barefoot Shoe Review

Alright, I’m back again with another Barefoot / Minimalist shoes review and this time I’m looking at a very different type of minimalist shoe – SKORA

Different in how they look…in how they are designed…in how they work…and in how they’re being marketed. But let’s leave that for the end of the article and get on with the analysis.

Skora has two different models – the Form & the Base. For this review, I chose to test the Skora Base (SB) as I was intrigued by the criss-cross velcro fastener. In a future review, I will be looking at the Skora Form – which has just been introduced for women.

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.
The outer sole of the Skora Base (SB) is 4mm of high abrasion rubber, the midsole is 5mm and the removable Ortholite insole is 4mm thick. This means that the total stack height of the SB is either 9mm or 13 mm depending if you decide to ditch the insole or not.

 

At first glance, this thickness might be enough to put off some minimalist running purists. Sure, it’s thinner than the Reebok Real Flex or a pair of Nike Frees, but for a shoe that promises minimal cushioning and a “natural” feel, the Skora Base is 2-3 x thicker than the ultra-thin Sockwa G2.

Note – before you banish Skora to the land of faux-minimalist sneakers, you need to slap a pair on your feet and go for a jog through the shoe store. Seriously, don’t stress about the thickness – If we’re going to get picky about sole thickness, I know a bunch of true barefoot runners who won’t even put up with the thinnest pair of Vibrams due to the loss in proprioception. 

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

The proprioception is superior to any of the big name manufacturers I have worn (Nike, Reebok, New Balance, etc) but not as good as it’s thinner-soled cousins (Sockwa, Vivo, etc). The high density rubber outsole (and the EVA midsole) are denser than industry standard improving ground feel. In short, the lack of squishiness improves proprioception.

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

This is where Skora really separates itself from the pack.

Unlike some minimalist shoes which basically slap some rubber onto the bottom of a polyester sock, the Skora engineers have created an aysmmetric last shape with a curved bottom profile. And it’s that curved outsole which is supposed to mimic the natural foot shape and encourage a natural medial to lateral rolling motion which makes the Skora truly unique.

Unlike any other minimalist shoe that I have ever worn, the Skora Base actually makes you run naturally. No more falling back into old patterns of heel striking. The SBs will have you landing midfoot and absorbing impact as your feet were originally designed.


And while that may not be a huge deal for someone (me) who has spent months re-training their neuro-muscular system and suffering though freakishly tight calves and the converted their bodies to a minimalist style of running, it is a gigantic deal for someone who wants to start running ala barefoot put has spent years running heel-toe.

For this one feature alone, I can’t say enough good things about Skora.

Note – in addition to the curved outsole, the SBs have a nice wide toe box and larger ball girth volume designed to let my Fred Flintstone-esque feet move as they should.

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

At 9.1 oz, the Skora is on the heavy end of the minimalist shoe market, but as that weight comes mainly from the awesome sole design, I am okay with the extra 2-3 oz of weight.

Next page – the review continues…

VIVOBAREFOOT – Aqua Lite & Lucy Lite – Barefoot Shoe Review

Last summer I started reviewing Barefoot / Minimalist shoes…. and I’m at it again this summer.

First up are the VIVOBAREFOOT Aqua Lite (mens) and Lucy Lite (womens).

Both the Aqua Lite (AL) and Lucy Lite (LL) are designed as a lightweight road running shoe with a thin sole, wide toe box and zero drop profile. However, unlike many other barefoot shoes, the Lites have evolved to look like normal shoes. You get all of the health & performance benefits of minimalist shoes without people thinking you’re weird for wearing multi-colored toe-shoes.

Here’s the review…

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

Both the Aqua Lite & Lucy Lite have a 3mm soft, high abrasion TPU sole, designed to give maximum sensory feedback on hard, flat surfaces. This is the same sole material used by Sockwa and is my personal favorite for “feeling” the ground under my feet.

  • The Aqua (Mens) comes with a removable 3mm insole with hex-flex moisture management system
  • The Lucy (Women) comes with a removable 5mm Pressed EVA Insole for additional thermal protection

Both of my shoe testers / guinea pigs didn’t mind the insoles, but as experienced barefoot runners, they preferred to ditch the insoles. My advice…if you are relatively new to barefoot shoes, leave the insoles in for the first couple of months as you get used to being barefoot.

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

With or without the insole, both pairs provided excellent proprioception. I love that TPU sole.

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Both the Lucy Lite and Aqua Lite are winners when it comes to natural foot movement thanks to their wide toe box and zero drop profile. For maximum barefoot movement, I preferred to remove the insole. But as I mentioned above, a barefoot-newbie should probably start with the insole until their foot muscles get a little stronger.

In regard to the wide toe box, I can’t say how important this is to re-building a pair of healthy feet.  Our feet are supposed to look like the pair on the left, but I bet that almost everybody you know has feet like the ones on the right. Ugly nasty feet that make you think of creepy Chinese foot binding tootsies.

natural and unnatural feet

Also, VIVOBAREFOOT takes into account that the male & female foot aren’t the same and their shoes shouldn’t be either. No unisex shoes here.

Note – If you want to learn more about how your feet are supposed to look & work, click this link.

Next page – the review continues

Leming Ancestral Footwear – Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

There are two main type of barefoot / minimalist shoe wearers.

  1. There are the people who want the benefits of barefoot shoes without looking weird.
  2. And there are the people who thrive on people staring at their feet while they wiggle their Vibram-shod tootsies.

I fall firmly into the first camp.

While I am “unique” enough to be caught jogging outside in shorts during a snowy Canadian winter, I am not a fan of wearing minimalist shoes with street clothes.

They look weird.

Correction – they looked weird.

 

Leming Footwear are the first truly barefoot / minimalist shoe that looks like a conventional “sneaker”.

And boy are me and my wife happy…she was sick and tired of me wearing my barefoot booties out with her in public.

But enough about me and my sartorial quirks….Here’s the review.

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

The Leming sole is different than other barefoot / minimalist shoes.

While the market is moving towards thinner / puncture-proof sole materials, Leming employs a thicker (6 mm) sole made a 6mm thick air infused rubber that is supposed to replicate the elasticity of human skin.

 

The result is a sole that provides unbelieveably good groundfeel, is super flexible, but may not be your best choice if you’re into trail running over rocky surfaces.

 

With that being said, I decided to take them trail running over rocky surfaces….with the end result being a great run with no punctures – shoe or foot.

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

As I mentioned above, Lemings offer amazing groundfeel.

But unlike the sockwa G2s, this barefoot feel is achieved not through the thinnest of soles, but through the consistency of the sole material. It’s completely different from anything else on the market.

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Lemings allows your foot to move, spread, scrunch as nature intended.

They also offer a great explanation of what nature had in mind. Enjoy your foot education.

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

Lemings weighs 6.3 ounces…. or about 1/3 of a pound. Heavier than the Sockwas, lighter than a pair of Nike Frees.

  • The Drop – Most conventional running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. This difference creates a forward leaning slope which changes your posture and leads to a heel-toe gait which leads a bunch of problems. Long story short, a flat shoe is more natural.

Lemings have a 0mm drop.

  • Shape of the Sole – As your foot spreads, does the protective sole continue to protect your foot from physical damage?

Lemings are built with an wide toe box and sole. This allow for a proper foot spread without stretching the fabric of the upper or oozing out beyond the width of the rubber sole.

  • Comfort – Do they feel good on your feet?

Super comfortable, with a barefoot feel equal to the Sockwa and superior to the Reebok.

Unlike most barefoot shoes, Lemings are comfortable whether you wear them with or without socks.

As an aside, due to the wide toe box of the Lemings, I found myself wiggling and scrunching my toes while wearing these shoes. Not sure why. It was kinda weird. Just though I would share.

  • Ease of Use – Are they easy to put on?

Yep – Also, I chose to wear socks with them. Can’t do that with all minimalist shoes.

  • Appearance – Do you look like a freak wearing them? Do you care?

They look like normal “sneakers”. When I showed them off to people, I had to draw attention to the wide toebox.

  • Ventilation – Vibrams are notoriously stinky shoes…what about the Lemings?

So far so good. The Lemings combination of faux-suede and mesh let my sweaty feet breathe during runs & workouts.

  • Durability – Will they stand up to some pounding?

So far, so good. If they wear poorly, I will update this post

  • Price –

$89.99 USD – Same price as the Reeboks, $20 more than the Kigos, $40 more than the Sockwas and $25 less than the Lunas.

  • Application – Is the shoe applicable for everyday use, running, sports, yoga, weight lifting, water sports, beach sports, etc?

Lemings are the most versatile barefoot / minimalist shoes that I have tested. Great for athletics & great for sitting on a patio watching the girls walk by.

Conclusion

Like all barefoot shoes, your decision to buy this shoe should come down to application.

  • Lemings are a true minimalist shoe
  • They are also the most fashion friendly minimalist shoe on the market
  • The price is reasonable

But what about you?

  • What kind of shoe are you looking for?
  • What is the application?
  • Do Lemings fit that application?..

The Luna Equus Sandal – Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

The Luna Equus is different than any of the other barefoot “shoes” I have tested thus far.

For one thing, it’s a sandal, not a shoe.

Secondly, like a lot of my favorite people/stuff, the Equus started out as a giant pain in the butt, but with a little time and effort, I came to appreciate and love them.

Here’s why they annoyed me in the beginning:

  • Straight out of the box, this sandal is very stiff (thanks to the Cordovan leather)
  • The straps kept digging into my feet (especially between my toes)
  • They made a slapping noise as I ran in them (very annoying)
  • I got a wicked blister on my first run

In fact, I would have given up on them, except that I talked with a few people who had already gone through these growing pains. To a person, my new sandal buddies told me that as…

  1. the Equus begins to conform to your feet, and
  2. as your feet conform to wearing huarache sandals

… you will fall in love with these kicks and will never want to wear anything else.

And that’s what happened with me.

The sandals broke in, molded to my feet and my tender tootsies got used to the strap between my toes.

And I fell in love with my Luna Equus sandals.

Unfortunately, I live in Canada…and it’s starting to get cold…and I won’t be wearing sandals in the snow.

But as summer comes around next year, I will definitely be wearing these sandals as often as possible.

Here’s the review.

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

The total thickness of the Luna Equus is about 4mm.

The thickness of the Equus leather varies slightly but it is usually right around 2mm. The Vibram sole is 2 mm thick also. And the last time I checked 2 mm + 2 mm =  4mm total thickness.

While the Equus sole is thicker than the Sockwa G2s, it still feels very “barefoot”. And yet, you can walk/run along rocky paths without feeling every stone jamming into the sole of your foot. It’s a nice compromise in thickness.

One drawback of the sandal is that the top of your foot is open to the elements. And while being topless feels great when you’re walking on the boardwalk on a hot summer’s day, it’s not so fun when a stick gets stuck between the footbed and your foot as you run through a wooded trail.

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

Until you “break in” your Equus sandals, there will be a distinct slapping noise as the stiffness of the sole hits the sidewalk. Over time, my pair of sandals has become much more flexible and that slapping noise has gone away.

Along with the reduction in noise, as the Equus became molded to my feet, I stopped noticing the separation between my feet and my footwear. The Equus became barefoot.

How will you be using your barefoot shoes?

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or  prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

The Equus allows your foot to move, spread, scrunch as nature intended.

This adaptation becomes more natural as the shoe is broken in and becomes more flexible and molds to your foot.

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

The Equus weighs 5 ounces. They’re heavier than the Sockwas, but still incredibly light. 

  • The Drop – Most conventional running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. This difference creates a forward leaning slope which changes your posture and leads to a heel-toe gait which leads a bunch of problems. Long story short, a flat shoe is more natural.

The Equus has a 0 mm drop. perfect.

  • Shape of the Sole – As your foot spreads, does the protective sole continue to protect your foot from physical damage?

The Equus can be ordered custom fitted for no extra charge. This guarantees that the sole will fit your sole perfectly.

  • Comfort – Do they feel good on your feet?

At first, the Equus gave me blisters, killed the spot where the toe strap rubbed and felt really stiff.

After a few weeks of wear, they molded to my feet and felt like I wasn’t wearing anything.

You have to decide if you’re willing to put up with the break-in period.

  • Ease of Use – Are they easy to put on?

Getting the lacing “just right” was another issue with my new pair of Luna sandals. They come laced and ready to wear, but for a better fit, you will need to play with the laces. 

Personally, I like the top part of the lace tighter than the heel. When the heel lace was tight, it jammed my foot forward into the toe lace and caused a bunch of between my toes pain. 

However, after a few attempts, I got the lace tension just right. Since then, I haven’t had to adjust them once. 

Also, the laces stay in place and the sandal is super easy to take on and off.

  • Appearance – Do you look like a freak wearing them? Do you care?

Unlike barefoot shoes, the general public doesn’t react to huarache sandals with stares and finger pointing. Of course, if you have gnarly feet, you may want to consider getting a pedicure before striding out in your Equus’.

  • Ventilation – Vibrams are notoriously stinky shoes…what about the RealFLex?

Tons of ventilation. No stink. No sweat.

  • Durability – Will they stand up to some pounding?

So far, so good. It’s only been a few of months, but I have been running and walking them all over different surfaces – pavement, ashphalt, rock, gravel, dirt trails – and there is very little wear.

Barefoot Ted says that the Equus is made to be a long lasting sandal for everyday wearing and running. He estimates 1000 pavement miles of gentle pavement running for someone accustomed to the lightness of barefoot running. Street scuffing will wear the sole much more quickly.

  • Price –

The Cadillac of huarache sandals retails for $115 USD

Not cheap.

However, as with all Premium Model Luna Sandals, The Equus can be resoled and new laces can be added. This means that the Equus can be the last pair of sandals you ever buy.

  • Application – Is the shoe applicable for everyday use, running, sports, yoga, weight lifting, water sports, beach sports, etc?

The Equus is a great everyday shoe during the summer months. And while lots of other people use the Equus for running as well as everyday use, I prefer the protection of an enclosed shoe.

Conclusion

Like all barefoot shoes, your decision to buy this shoe should come down to application.

  • The Equus is a great sandal
  • And while the initial cost is pretty steep compared to other barefoot / minimalist shoes, the fact that I can re-sole the Equus should drive down the lifetime cost. 
  • However, while lots of other people wear the Equus when they hit the running trail, I prefer the protection of an enclosed shoe.
  • The same goes for my weightlifting workouts and sporting activities. I prefer a shoe to a sandal.

But what about you?

  • What kind of shoe are you looking for?
  • What is the application?
  • Does the Equus fit that application?
  • Do your feet look fugly in sandals?

..

Kigo Edge & Kigo Curv – Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

After wearing barefoot / minimalist shoes for the past few months, I can honestly say that no two brands are the same.

Both the Kigo Edge and the Kigo Curv feel & perform unlike either the Reebok RealFlex or the Sockwa G2.

Kigo Edge

They are closer in both form & function to the Sockwa, but as soon as you put it on, you’ll realize that the Kigo design is completely unique.

Kigo Curv

 

and just what makes the Kigo so different?

Read on:

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

Both pairs of Kigos come with a removable EVA insole, a flexible 1.5 mm midsole, and a 3 mm heel thickness. This combination of elements places the Kigos somewhere between the spongy protection of the Reebok RealFlex and the very thin barrier of the Sockwa G2.

The sole is made from a non-slip rubber with “fingerprint” grooves to provide a moderate level of traction. As well, the Kigos come with a protective toe cap.

Both of these features were tested when I played a game of pick-up football on damp grass one afternoon. 

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

Due to the thicker sole, both pairs of Kigos offer a lower level of proprioception when compared to the Sockwas.

For example, while sprinting up a rocky hill, I was grateful to be wearing my Kigos. However, when I was zipping through wooded trails with tree roots and uneven terrain, I preferred the “ground-feel” I got from the Sockwas.

How will you be using your barefoot shoes?

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or  prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

The design of the Kigo’s upper  and the use of 4-way stretch  fabric  results in an incredibly snug fit. While playing football in my Kigo Edges, I could cut and spin just like Barry Sanders.

Unfortunately, this same design didn’t allow my feet to spread laterally as if I was barefoot. While the sole is flexible and allows for movement front to back, the lateral spread is lost.

As well, the narrow toe box means that your toes will be unable to spread as you walk/run.

And this may be a significant issue for people buying “barefoot” shoes.

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

Both pairs weight 5 ounces. They’re heavier than the Sockwas, but still incredibly light. 

  • The Drop – Most conventional running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. This difference creates a forward leaning slope which changes your posture and leads to a heel-toe gait which leads a bunch of problems. Long story short, a flat shoe is more natural.

There is a 1.5 mm drop from heel to midsole. Much flatter than the Reebok.

  • Shape of the Sole – As your foot spreads, does the protective sole continue to protect your foot from physical damage?

Like a conventional athletic shoe, the rounded toe of the Kigo is narrower than your actual foot. While this design is more aesthetically pleasing, it means that your toes are squished together.

While this may be unnoticeable to a conventional shoe wearer, it’s hard to miss for people who are used to other brands of barefoot shoe.

  • Comfort – Do they feel good on your feet?

The narrow toe box really bothered me. I couldn’t get past it.

  • Ease of Use – Are they easy to put on?

They are super snug, but the webbing loop on the heel made it easy to slip on and off.

  • Appearance – Do you look like a freak wearing them? Do you care?

Like the Sockwas, people (friends/strangers) thought the Kigos looked weird.

The most popular description was “elf slippers”

But after I kicked their collective asses with my elf slippers, most commenters changed their minds and said they loved the Kigos.

The fact is, all barefoot / minimalist shoes are going to look “different”. The Reeboks or Nike Frees are the only ones that are going to look like normal athletic shoes. But those shoes are much less “barefoot” than the Kigos.

And remember, different doesn’t mean bad.

  • Ventilation – Vibrams are notoriously stinky shoes…what about the RealFLex?

The Kigos have an anti-microbal insole. If stinky feet are an issue for you, this is a great selling feature.

  • Durability – Will they stand up to some pounding?

So far, so good. It’s only been a couple of months, but I have been running them all over different surfaces – pavement, ashphalt, rock, gravel, dirt trails – and there is very little wear.

  • Price – Due to my Scottish background, cost is always a factor.

$69.99 USD –  $20 less than the Reebok RealFlex – $20 more than the Sockwas G2s

  • Application – Is the shoe applicable for everyday use, running, sports, yoga, weight lifting, water sports, beach sports, etc?

I will be wearing my Kigos for outdoor sports like soccer & football. My foot doesn’t move around in the shoe, allowing me to make quick changes of direction.

Conclusion

Like both the Reebok RealFlex and Sockwa G2, your decision to buy this shoe should come down to application.

The Sockwa is more barefoot-y, but the thinner sole means you are going to hurt running over rocks.

The Reebok looks more like a normal shoe, so people aren’t going to stare.

The Kigo has more protection than the Sockwa, but looks funnier than the Reebok. The tighter toebox means that I won’t wear it for long stretches of time, but the tight fit is great for athletic performance.

  • What kind of shoe are you looking for?
  • What is the application?

Note – Kigo has two brand-spanking new models coming out in August. 

And both pairs have been designed to make the Kigos more barefoot-y.

  • Lighter
  • Zero drop outer sole
  • The rubber soles have been replaced with PLUSfoam
  • Improved proprioception
  • Wider toe box
  • Smaller toe bumper
  • Reduced “toe spring” – the toes don’t angle up like elf shoes
  • As well, the new lines feature high-performing recycled, post-consumer and non-toxic materials, and are actually recyclable.

It’s as if they read this review before it was even published.

  • The Kigo Flit is a lighter version of the Curv with a zero drop outsole.
  • The Kigo Drive is a lighter version of the Edge with a zero drop outsole and adjustable speed lacing.
My Recommendation
I would wait for August and check out the new models.
..

Sockwa G2 – Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

Unlike the Reebok RealFlex, Sockwa shoes are most definitely not designed for the mainstream athletic shoe customer.

This is a true barefoot / minimalist shoe.

With a freakishly thin 1.2 mm TPU sole bonded to a 2.8 mm neoprene sock, this is as close to barefoot as you can get.

For my review, I tested the G2 model.

Note – Sockwa is going to be unveiling their latest product at the Outdoor Retailer show next month. Unlike the current method of “gluing” the sole to the upper, this new product will utilize over-mold technology. Overmolding is a process where one can join two different plastics during the molding process without the use of adhesives or primers. This process comes from the plastic injection molding industry and will serve to actually bond the upper & the sole together into one piece.  

The product will be fully machine washable, more durable, have fewer non-green materials, weigh even less and have a smaller footprint on society.  

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

The Sockwa G2 doesn’t provide much cushioning for your feet. I found this out while sprinting a hill covered in very pointy stones. It truly felt barefoot.

However, the uber-thin TPU sole was up to the challenge of my 255 lbs pounding up and down that Hill of Pain. 

Conclusion – you will feel it when you run over stuff, but unless it’s a nail, the Sockwa sole will keep your human sole from being punctured.

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

Just like being barefoot…except you can’t grab stuff with your toes.

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or  prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Just like being barefoot. There was absolutely no restriction on the flexing & spreading of my Shrek-like feet.

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

Light as a feather.

  • The Drop – Most conventional running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. This difference creates a forward leaning slope which changes your posture and leads to a heel-toe gait which leads a bunch of problems. Long story short, a flat shoe is more natural.

No drop – 2.8 mm of neoprene cushion on the front and back of the shoe

  • Shape of the Sole – As your foot spreads, does the protective sole continue to protect your foot from physical damage?

Sockwa soles are shaped like a flat-footed, extra wide sock.

Unlike a normal shoe, the Sockwa sole wraps up and around the neoprene upper. This allows for the sole of your foot to remain protected by the TPU sole as your foot naturally spreads & flexes while you walk, run & jump.

  • Comfort – Do they feel good on your feet?

How do you enjoy walking or running with bare feet? 

With these shoes, you will experience essentially the same amount of impact. Less damage (temperature & impact) than bare feet, but the same impact force due to the relative lack of padding.

If you are used to exercising in a mainstream athletic shoe, the difference will be enormous. Like night & day.

However, after a little while, your soft little baby feet will begin to toughen up and your body mechanics will adapt to accommodate for the lack of foam, gel, springs, airbags, etc…

  • Ease of Use – Are they easy to put on?

Just like putting on a pair of your granny’s knitted slippers.

  • Appearance – Do you look like a freak wearing them? Do you care?

I overheard a few comments while wearing the Sockwas.

  • Check out that guy’s shoes
  • Is he wearing socks?
  • Why does he look like a hippo wearing ballet slippers?

The last comment made me wonder if all barefoot / minimalist shoes look better on smaller, less muscley owners. They look a little dainty on us “big guys”.

  • Ventilation – Vibrams are notoriously stinky shoes…what about the RealFLex?

So far so good. 

  • Durability – Will they stand up to some pounding?

So far, so good. It’s only been a couple of months, but I have been running them all over different surfaces – pavement, ashphalt, rock, gravel, dirt trails – and there is little to no wear.

My Sockwa G2s – sorry about the picture quality – trust me, there is almost zero noticeable wear
  • Price – Due to my Scottish background, cost is always a factor.

$49.99 USD –  $40 less than the Reebok RealFlex

  • Application – Is the shoe applicable for everyday use, running, sports, yoga, weight lifting, water sports, beach sports, etc?

I wore them in the lake, on the beach, walking on the boardwalk, walking on the sidewalk, running on the sidewalk, running in the woods, running on gravel & stones, while lifting weights, while stretch & doing yoga poses…and other than having to get used to the higher impact forces, I have absolutely no complaints.

True, I don’t see myself wearing them through a Canadian winter, but…

Conclusion

Like the Reebok RealFlex, your decision to buy this shoe should come down to application.

If you want a true barefoot feel, this is a great shoe.

But, if you don’t want to walk around in sock/shoes & have strangers make comments, then maybe you should opt for a hybrid minimalist shoe like the RealFlex or the Nike Free.

Or, maybe you wear your Sockwas in yoga class or at the beach or sprinting hills…..and then walk the streets in something more mainstream.

Reebok RealFlex – Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

Reebok‘s RealFlex running shoe marks Reebok’s initial foray into barefoot / minimalist footwear.

Evolving out of an earlier concept for “collapsible shoes“, the RealFlex isn’t a pure barefoot shoe.

Reebok RealFlex Running Shoe

Designed for the mainstream market, the RealFlex is being promoted as being a better than barefoot shoe. Their Head of Advanced Innovation says that RealFlex combines the best aspects of barefoot/minimalist footwear with the protection of a modern running shoe.

They claim that you get all of that healthy foot movement & proprioception without all of those nasty impact forces caused by running on concrete sidewalks.

Sounds pretty convincing to me. Which is not surprising when you consider that they’re trying to sell you a pair.

How about an unbiased review?

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

Compared to all of the other barefoot / minimalist shoes I have been beta-testing, these shoes offered the best protection against the stones, glass and small woodland creatures I encounter while trail running. This is thanks to the RealFlex’s thicker sole & foam padding.

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

Compared to every pair of Nike Frees that I ever owned, the RealFlex offers much improved proprioception. Compared to the average running shoe, there’s no comparison. The RealFlex lets you feel the ground better than any other big name athletic shoe that I have ever worn.

However, when we compare to every other barefoot / minimalist shoe that I have been testing, the RealFlex is like walking in Moon Boots. The relatively thick layer of foam padding creates a noticeable barrier between your feet & the ground.

And that’s the big trade-off – Protection for Proprioception

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or  prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

The RealFlex offers no motion control technology. The minimalist upper lets the foot spread out against the fabric with minimal resistance. However, since it is shaped like a standard running shoe, us wide footed runners tend to spread our feet out and over the edge of the sole.

Not exactly like bare feet.

The toe box is average width. You don’t notice your toes being pinched, but compared to some barefoot shoes, there is less room to wiggle.

Regarding shock absorption, the RealFlex’s foam padding is designed to protect the runner from impact on man-made surfaces.

This is most noticeable with the RealFlex’s built up heel design. This is a major design difference between the RealFlex and other barefoot / minimalist shoe makers.

Instead of letting the runner alter their body position and center of gravity  to continue running on his mid-foot while going downhill, the RealFlex provides foam protection and a high-heel stance in order to promote a heel-toe gait. Big difference.

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

The RealFlex is very light. Lighter than some barefoot / minimalist shoes…heavier than others. But, definitely, definitely lighter than just about every athletic shoe you will find on the wall of your neighborhood sporting goods store.

  • The Drop – Most conventional running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. This difference creates a forward leaning slope which changes your posture and leads to a heel-toe gait which leads a bunch of problems. Long story short, a flat shoe is more natural.

As I mentioned above, the raised heel of the RealFlex is a significant difference between it and the other barefoot/minimalist shoes on the market. Barefoot runners adapt to running downhill by shifting their center of gravity and perhaps slowing down. The Reebok RealFlex wants you to shift your gait from a midfoot strike to a heel-toe running gait when you are bombing down hills.

Major difference in philosophy.

  • Shape of the Sole – As your foot spreads, does the protective sole continue to protect your foot from physical damage?

The RealFlex is shaped like a traditional running shoe. As such, runners with wide feet will find their feet spreading out and over the width of the sole

  • Comfort – Do they feel good on your feet?

They are super comfortable. My “normal” running shoes felt like big, clunky shoe-boxes on my feet after wearing the RealFlexes.

  • Ease of Use – Are they easy to put on?

The reduced material in the uppers means that you can’t just shove your feet in a pair of RealFlexes without untying them or using a shoe horn. Deal with it.

  • Appearance – Do you look like a freak wearing them? Do you care?

The RealFlex looks like an ordinary runner. Unlike almost all of the other test shoes, you won’t look weird wearing these shoes.

Major selling point if you want to market to the mainstream.

  • Ventilation – Vibrams are notoriously stinky shoes…what about the RealFLex?

So far so good. But then again, I don’t have stinky feet. My wife is a lucky woman.

  • Durability – Will they stand up to some pounding?

So far, so good. It’s only been a couple of months, but there is little to no wear.

  • Price – Due to my Scottish background, cost is always a factor.

At $90, the RealFlex is cheaper than some barefoot shoes, and more expensive than others. They’re also way cheaper than most pairs of high end “normal” running shoes.

  • Application – Is the shoe applicable for everyday use, running, sports, yoga, weight lifting, water sports, beach sports, etc?

The RealFlex is the most unique barefoot / minimalist shoe that I will be testing.

  • It doesn’t look like other barefoot shoes
  • It looks like a “normal” running shoe
  • It doesn’t work like other barefoot shoes….
  • But, it doesn’t work like a “normal” running shoe either

So, what is it?

What the Heck Is the Reebok RealFlex?

IMHO, the Reebok RealFlex is either:

  1. A transition shoe for runner who want to transition from heel-toe running to barefoot running.
  2. A hybrid shoe that provides the best aspects of barefoot / minimalist shoes with the best aspects of heel-toe running shoes.
  3. An attempt by Reebok to capture the buzz of barefoot / minimalist shoes without scaring away the mainstream buyer who would never buy a pair of shoes with toes.

Conclusion

I highly recommend the Reebok RealFlex to my clients.

I believe that a switch from heel-toe running to barefoot / midfoot running is a great thing to do for your body. However, the switch from a pair of New Balance running shoes to a pair of barefoot / minimalist slippers can be brutally painful.

The RealFlex makes that transition much, much easier.

Whether they transition from a RealFlex to a true barefoot shoe is another question altogether. Perhaps they use the RealFlex on rocky terrain or during a race. Perhaps they graduate from the RealFlex to a pure barefoot shoe. Perhaps they go all the way and ditch running shoes altogether.

Either way, the RealFlex is a good shoe. It’s not for the Barefoot / Minimalist purist. But then again, the purist is the customer Reebok is looking for. Reebok is looking for the millions who want to run without people staring at their feet.

 

Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

About 5 years ago, I was introduced to barefoot / minimalist shoes while shopping for a pair of running shoes.

The salesperson showed me a pair of Nike Frees and explained to me the concept behind this new/old technology.

Since then, I have been a big fan of minimalist shoes. And I’m not the only one. In the past few years, these weird anti-shoe shoes have nudged their way into the mainstream athletic shoe market.

And while the bulk of the market is dominated by Nike Frees and Vibram Five-Fingers, there are a ton of other manufacturers making a wide variety of different minimalist shoes. But since they don’t have big advertising budgets, you have probably never heard of any of them.

That stops now.

A few months back I contacted some of the most interesting manufacturers to see if they would be interested in having their minimalist shoes reviewed by yours truly. And most of them said yes.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting the reviews.

For today’s post, I thought I should outline the criteria I will be using to review the shoes as well as a brief intro to the theories behind barefoot / minimalist shoes & running.

Why should you wear barefoot / minimalist shoes?

Our ancestors covered their feet to protect them from physical damage (puncture) and unpleasant temperatures (Canadian winter). Since that time, shoe manufacturers have “improved” upon our footwear to the point they have more technology in them than your iPad.

As a result of this shoe tech, humans have modified their jogging/running/sprinting gaits to look more like a natural walking – heel-toe – gait. Instead of using the natural shock-absorbers built into our feet, we rely on our shoes to absorb the shock of a longer heel-toe stride. And this has resulted in a whole bunch of aches, pains & injuries.

The makers of minimalist shoes are creating shoes that:

  1. Protect your feet from puncture & cold temperatures
  2. While still allowing your feet to function as originally intended
  3. And hopefully helping you correct all of the postural and impact related damage you have inflicted upon yourself by running in your cool Nike Shox.

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.
  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.
  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or  prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…
  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?
  • The Drop – Most running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. This difference creates a forward leaning slope which changes your posture and leads to a heel-toe gait which leads a bunch of problems. Long story short, a flat shoe is more natural.
  • Shape of the Sole – As your foot spreads, does the protective sole continue to protect your foot from physical damage
  • Comfort – Do they feel good on your feet?
  • Ease of Use – Are they easy to put on?
  • Appearance – Do you look like a freak wearing them? Do you care?
  • Ventilation – Vibrams are notoriously stinky shoes…what about the others?
  • Durability – I only tested the shoes for a few weeks, so this test is pretty inconclusive.
  • Price – Due to my Scottish background, cost is always a factor.
  • Application – Is the shoe applicable for everyday use, running, sports, yoga, weight lifting, water sports, beach sports, etc?

Okay, that’s it for today. I should have the first review online this Friday.

Shoe Reviews

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Reebok ZigTech = Run Faster Longer

Over the past couple of months, I have been beta-testing a pair of Reebok ZigTech running shoes.

And as much as I hate to admit it, I have become a big fan of my wild looking Zigs.

I hate to admit it because I am a big believer in minimalist style training shoes that force the muscles in your feet to do some actual work. I also can’t stand that high-end trunning shoes are sold mainly on hype. They promise a lot but usually deliver very little.

And that’s exactly what I assumed about the ZigTechs when I was contacted by a PR company who represents Reebok.

They wanted to know if I would be interested in reviewing some of their gear for Health Habits.

And while my official policy is to only review products that I like enough to purchase myself as well as recommend to my clients, I decided to give them a try because I was looking to get back into running some real distances and I needed to find a new pair of shoes that would allow my poor surgically reconstructed knees to survive a “run” without swelling up.

And boy am I glad I did.

ZigTech Shoes : The Good

  • Whether it was on an elliptical cardio trainer, a treadmill or outdoors on the frozen Canadian tundra, the Zigs allowed me to increase my mileage while making life much easier on my knees. Also, shin splints were reduced by 84.73%.
  • Comparing apples to apples, my performances on the elliptical & the treadmill improved by around 10% over the past 2 months.
  • Lateral mobility was good during cross-training workouts. I was concerned about this initially.
  • I thought my red & black versions looked pretty snazzy.

ZigTech Shoes : The Bad

  • There was some heel slippage during some of my resistance workouts. I fixed this problem by switching to a “Heel Lock” lacing pattern.

ZigTech Shoes : The Interesting

  • Unlike running shoes equipped with springs, air bags, gel paks etc, the idea behind ZigTech is that the sole absorbs the impact of heel strike and rebounds that energy horizontally along the length of the shoe propelling the athlete forward with each step. That’s the theory. And while I didn’t have some fancy-schmancy lab equipment to test that theory, it did feel like that…like I was being pushed forward. Kinda weird, but pretty cool.

Conclusion

While I am still a big believer in wearing barefoot/minimalist footwear, I like running better in my ZigTechs.

So, here’s my plan:

  • minimalist shoes during the day and during most workouts.
  • Zigtechs when I am running
wii-fit-exercise-nintendo-workout-healthhabits

Wii Fit – A Workout for the Fattest Generation

Being a personal trainer, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have been asked about Nintendo’s Wii Fit.

  • Is it a good workout?
  • Will it help me lose fat?

My answers:

  • It depends
  • Probably not

What is Wii Fit?

For those readers without children, the Wii Fit is a video game developed by Nintendo for the Wii console. The Wii Fit is unique in that it uses the Wii controller and the Wii Balance Board to enable the user to play a variety of “exercise” games.

In an attempt to market this product as a quasi health device, the Wii Fit calculates your BMI and after a few balance and reaction tests, assigns you a Wii Fit Age. The goal of the Wii Fit is that by exercising with the Wii Fit, you will be able to lower your BMI and Wii Fit Age.

Is the Wii Fit a good workout?

As I mentioned above, it depends. If you are even moderately physically fit, the Wii Fit is a waste of time.

In an article published in the National Post, the Wii Fit was tested in the exercise physiology lab at McGill University. Researcher Tania Taivassalo put the Wii Fit through it’s paces to see what sort of workout you can get with it.

The researchers tested the Wii Fit running game and the hula hoop game.

“According to Jean-Philippe Marchand, a kinesiology master’s student who tested the product in the lab, both the running and hula hoop game required the testers to work out at the equivalent of 60% of maximum aerobic power for children. These results classify the games as light physical activity with the potential to improve fitness among those new to exercise, but with little potential to do the same among the fit population”

Even worse than the low level of intensity was the fact that both games offer only short bursts of activity (under five minutes).

Low intensity plus short duration does not equal Olympic marathon champion.

The researchers’ final word on the Wii Fit: “It is definitely meant for sedentary people or for kids to have fun while exercising — as opposed to sitting and moving their thumbs only.” So, if you, or someone you love is a video game junkie and really, really, really needs to get in shape, the Wii Fit may be a good place to start.

It’s not too intense for a beginner, and it addresses most of the aspects of physical fitness:

Will it help me lose fat?

Without changing your eating habits, it is very unlikely that you will lose much body fat with your Wii Fit workout.  Sorry.

So, should I buy the Wii Fit?

Unless you are very desperate, I would hold off on buying the Wii Fit. While it is incredibly popular right now, I have a strong feeling that in a few months, there will be quite a few gently used Wii Fits being offered for sale on Ebay.

2015 Update

Wii Fit is now Wii Fit U and is available on Amazon for around $50.

ab_wheel_roll_out -health-fitness-healthhabits-exercise

The BEST Core Exercise

Okay, technically they are the two best core exercises, but the Roll-out

and the Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In

are, in my opinion, the most complete core exercise combination. Period.

Here’s why

  1. They address the two primary functions of the core musculature unlike any other movement.
  2. They are infinitely scalable. Beginners can modify the movements to protect their lower backs while advanced athletes can perform variations that completely tax their strength, balance and co-ordination.

This is the part of the post where I discuss the science behind the exercise, so if that is not your thing, please skip ahead to the videos.

Core Function and the Roll-Out

The two main functions of the core are:

  1. The stabilization of the spine via abdominal compression
  2. Movement – spinal flexion, extension, rotation, tilting the pelvis

Spinal Stabilization

Physiologists often use the analogy of the human spine being like the mast of a sailing ship.

The core muscles – Transverse abdominus, Rectus abdominus, External and Internal obliques, Multifidus, Quadratus lumborum, Iliopsoas, and the Erector spinae all work together as a group to support your spine from your pelvis to your rib cage. While they all work as a team, the Transverse abdominus is the key player.

While there is great debate about the best way to train the Transverse Abdominis (T.A.), there is a general consensus that any movement where you are forced to tighten you core against the demands of gravity or an outside source WILL be effective to develop the T.A.

One of the most popular T.A. dominant exercises is the bridge or plank.

The Roll-out and the Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In provide the same benefit as the bridge, but with the added benefit of being a dynamic, rather than static movement.

Core/Spinal Movement

Spinal Flexion is controlled mainly by the Rectus abdominus and the Iliopsoas. The most popular Spinal Flexion exercises are the crunch and reverse crunch.

The Roll-out produces the same movement as the crunch with the added benefit of spinal stabilization.

The Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In gives you the same benefits as the reverse crunch with the added stabilization.

Spinal Extension is controlled mainly by the Erector spinae and the Multifidus muscles. Spinal extension training is generally addressed by posterior chain movements like deadlifts, good mornings and bodyweight hip extension movements. As such, this section of the “core” will be omitted from this post.

Lateral Flexion is controlled mainly by the External and Internal obliques. Lateral flexion is usually trained by some form of side bends.

Rotation is controlled mainly by the Obliques, Multifidus and the Erector spinae. Spinal rotation exercises have been the flavor of the month for a little while now. One of the most popular is the wood chop.

You will have to forgive my lack of video (my digital recorder was stolen, hence the youtube videos), but if you can imagine, performing the Roll-out moving at various angles will give you an intense lateral flexion movement combined with forward flexion and stabilization.

With the Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In, you can combine spinal flexion and stabilization with lateral flexion and rotation by rotating and twisting the hips as you move the stability ball back and forth.

Scaleability

As you have seen in the accompanying videos, there are various ways to perform the Roll-out and the Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In.

With the Roll-outs:

  • beginners could start on their knees with a stability balls,
  • increasing the difficulty by moving their arms further away from their body.
  • graduating to the ab wheel,
  • then a loaded barbell.

The variations are as endless as your imagination. For example, stretch tubing can be attached to the ab wheel in order to increase or decrease exercise intensity.

Conclusion

As I said at the outset, the Roll-out and the Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In are the best core exercises. I hope that I may have converted a few of the ab crunchers out there.

Give them a try. And if you don’t own an ab wheel, Amazon sells them at a great price.

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An Affordable Home Gym

During my almost 20 years as a personal trainer, I have been asked numerous times to help clients design & outfit their home gym. Taking into account their fitness goals, the available space and their budget, there are a number of ways to go.

When it comes to the strength training part of their gym, most people are usually looking for some form of multi-gym. They promise the most bang for the buck.

Along those lines, I was reading an article today about a new type of compact home gym called the Murphy Gym. Obviously, taking it’s inspiration from the original Murphy Bed, the Murphy Gym is a dual cable stack weight lifting station that folds away into it’s own custom made cabinet.
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When it comes to multi-gyms, I have to agree, this one is a beauty.

However, there is a drawback. The price.

The Murphy gym sells for $3,495, plus the cost of installation. And that is for the base unit. If you want the fancy-schmancy custom cabinet version, you’re going to pay.

If spending $4000+ for a home gym doesn’t work for your wallet, here’s what you need to do:

1. Buy the Hammer Head Anchor Gym CORE home gym – $150 at Amazon

hammer head home anchor gym-health-fitness-healthhabitsAnchor-Gym-Core--health-fitness-healthhabits

2. Buy a set of these multi-ply style strength-bands. $110 for 4 bands

strength-bands-health-fitness-exercise-healthhabits

 

3.  Or a set of these bands. Not as long-lasting, but the price is right and you can attach multiple bands to the handles

fitness health exercise healthhabits fitness bands strength

4.  Screw the Hammer Head hooks into a stud in the wall.

5.  Cancel your gym membership

6.  Get sweaty