Archive | Workouts & Routines

The Truth About Stretching: Why This Ballet Dancer Stopped Stretching

From the ages of twelve to twenty-one, I was a ballet dancer. It was all I did and all I wanted to do. Being extremely disciplined, I stretched for half an hour every night before bed so I could get more flexible. And it worked – I got pretty darn flexible. Even on vacations, I stretched every single night without exception.

I quit dancing at the age of 21 after suffering the second of two terrible back injuries. But after I quit dancing, I kept doing my 30-minute stretching routine every night before bed. Not only did I love the ritual, but I felt like I physically needed it – as though I was addicted to the feeling. My body just didn’t feel right until I had stretched. I also enjoyed taking the time every day to feel connected to my body and having so much awareness of how my body felt.

Seven years later, I happened upon the Somatic Systems Institute web site. I ordered Thomas Hanna’s book Somatics: Reawakening the Mind’s Control of Movement, Flexibility, and Health, and after reading about five pages I felt as if I had found something that I had been looking for my whole life. And yes, after all this time I was still doing my stretching routine every single night!

Less than a year later, I had enrolled in the professional training program to become a Clinical Somatic Educator. I remember sitting in the back of the studio during the first semester of my training while Steve Aronstein described how stretching was ineffective and could even be harmful. I started fuming. What was he talking about? I had been stretching for what felt like my entire life and knew firsthand that it was effective. I got upset to the point that I felt like crying. It was as if he was attacking my religion. I bit my tongue and didn’t speak up, but I refused to believe what he was saying.

I went home at the end of the first semester completely in love with Somatics, understanding and believing everything I had learned so far – except what I had learned about stretching. I went over and over it in my mind and finally decided to give it a shot: I would substitute all my nightly stretching exercises with Somatic movements. But I would just try it for a week or two, and then I would see how I felt. I didn’t want to lose any of my hard-earned flexibility, after all.

While there are tons of standard Somatic exercises that Thomas Hanna created, once you learn the basic principle of how to contract and release your muscles in a certain way, you can turn pretty much any movement into a Somatic movement. So, on the first night I got down on the floor and set about turning all of my ritual stretches into Somatic movements. While I was in pretty much the same positions as my stretches, I was doing a completely different type of movement, and going through an entirely different neurophysiological process as I moved.

After about forty-five minutes I got up off the floor and… WOW. My body felt like jelly. Or like a wet noodle, as my mom would say. I had never felt so loose and relaxed! It was an entirely different sensation than I felt after stretching. I continued this Somatics routine night after night and soon became aware of a wonderful new sensation of being completely comfortable in my body. I didn’t feel that constant sense of tightness and needing to stretch that I used to feel. And even though I had stopped stretching, I hadn’t lost any of my flexibility or range of motion.

Needless to say, I was now a complete Somatics convert. Which unfortunately led to my next challenge: getting other people to understand that stretching is not all it’s cracked up to be. This is a topic that I sometimes shy away from addressing even today when I work with clients, because it is so hard-wired into many people’s belief systems that stretching is the best way to stay loose and prevent injuries.

All of us, including all animals, have a reflex in our nervous systems called the stretch reflex, or myotatic reflex. Never heard of it? Think again. Your stretch reflex has actually been tested by a doctor, though maybe not since you were a bit younger. When your doctor used that little hammer to hit just below your knee, making your foot kick up, he was testing your stretch reflex.

The stretch reflex (myotatic reflex) is a muscle contraction in response to stretching within the muscle. This reflex provides automatic regulation of skeletal muscle length. When a muscle is lengthened, the muscle spindle (a sensory receptor in the muscle) is stretched and its nerve activity increases. This increases alpha motor neuron activity, causing the muscle fibers to contract and thus resist the stretching. The reflex functions to maintain the muscle at a constant length. (Thanks Wikipedia, for that great explanation! )

Why is it so important that we have this reflex? Well, reflexes in general exist to help us stay alive and avoid injury. One important function of the stretch reflex is that it helps us stand upright. Example: A person standing upright begins to lean to the right side. The postural muscles on the left side of the vertebral column will be stretched. When they sense this lengthening, the stretch receptors in the muscles on the left side will automatically send the message to contract in order to correct the person’s posture. (Thanks again, Wikipedia)

The stretch reflex also exists to prevent us from tearing our muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The knee-jerk reflex is a great example. The doctor hits your patellar tendon just below your knee, suddenly stretching the tendon and the quadriceps muscle to which it is attached. The muscle spindle in your quadriceps senses the sudden increase in length and automatically sends the message to contract your quadriceps in order to prevent injury and over-stretching of the muscle and tendon. When your quadriceps contracts, your foot kicks up.

If your foot doesn’t kick up, your doctor knows that could be a sign of a neurological disorder, such as receptor damage or peripheral nerve disease.

Now that you understand the basics of the stretch reflex, let’s get back to the topic of stretching for the purposes of flexibility. When you’re stretching, the conscious and sub-conscious parts of your nervous system are battling against each other, trying to achieve opposite results. The conscious part – the cortex of your brain – is sending the message to manually stretch your muscles by pulling on them. But despite all your efforts, your stretch reflex is automatically kicking in, contracting your muscles to prevent over-stretching, tearing, and injury.

So if our stretch reflex prevents us from lengthening our muscles, why does stretching sometimes work? There are a couple of reasons. One is that when you stretch deeply, past the point that your muscles and tendons are able to lengthen, you begin to stretch your ligaments. With prolonged stretching, ligaments can be permanently stretched, resulting in more flexible (and often less stable) joints.

Another reason is that when we stretch repeatedly, we are building up a tolerance to the sensation of pulling in our muscles. Even though it is by nature an uncomfortable sensation, with repetition it can become tolerable and even enjoyable. I used to love that feeling of pulling in my muscles, and I craved it every day. It provided me with a temporary lengthening and release of my muscles, and as I became more comfortable with the feeling, I was able to pull my muscles even farther. But of course the reason that I craved that feeling every day is that the fix was only temporary. Less than 24 hours after stretching, my muscles had tightened right back up again.

I’ve been practicing Somatics for four and a half years now, and I’m happy to say that I’m still very flexible, and my muscles feel loose and relaxed pretty much all the time. I run 3-4 times per week and have no pain, injuries, or even soreness. I want to tell every athlete in the world about Somatics and what a difference it could make in their lives. I sometimes wonder if I had found Somatics earlier in life, would I have been able to avoid my two back injuries, and would I still be dancing? I’ll never know, but I’m thankful to have found Somatics when I did, and I’m thankful for the freedom of movement it has given me.

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How Many Calories Do You Burn by Running?

How many calories do you burn by running?

The glib answer is 100 or 110 calories per mile for an average 155 pound runner.

But a group from Syracuse University found that 12 men who ran and walked 1600 meters (approximately 1 mile) on a treadmill, burned an average of 124 calories running and 88 walking; while 12 women who did the same workout burned 105 and 74 calories respectively. Typically women burn less because their lighter bodies require less effort to move them.

If you sat at home watching television instead of exercising, your body would still expend calories. In order to accurately determine the calories burned during an exercise session, deduct your resting rate from the calories burned.

The formula for working out net calories burned per mile while running is to multiply your body weight in pounds by.75. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds and run 2.8 miles then the net calories used would be 160 multiplied by.75 multiplied by 2.8 miles, resulting in 336 net calories burned for this workout.

Below are tables which, depending on whether you run for a length of time or at a certain speed, may be useful.

This table sets out calories burned by 140 and 195 pound people who run for one hour:

Running 5.0 miles per hour (12.0 minute mile) 508 708

Running 5.2 miles per hour (11.5 minute mile) 572 797

Running 6.0 miles per hour (10.0 minute mile) 636 885

Running 6.7 miles per hour (9.0 minute mile) 699 974

Running 7.0 miles per hour (8.5 minute mile) 731 1018

Running 7.5 miles per hour (8.0 minute mile) 795 1107

Running 8.0 miles per hour (7.5 minute mile) 858 1195

Running 8.6 miles per hour (7.0 minute mile) 890 1239

Running 9.0 miles per hour (6.5 minute mile) 953 1328

Running 10 miles per hour (6.0 minute mile) 1017 1416

Running 10.9 miles per hour (5.5 minute mile) 1144 1594

Running up stairs 953 1328

Jogging 445 620

Based on this schedule, if you run for a portion of an hour, multiply your calories by the number of minutes you run and divide by 60. For example if you weigh 140 pounds and run 5 miles per hour, after 25 minutes, you burn 508 multiplied by 25 divided by 60, equalling 211 calories. If the same person ran at the same speed for 1 hour 16 minutes (76 minutes) then 508 multiplied by 76 divided by 60 equals 643 calories.

Below is a weight- and speed-adjusted table detailing the calories burned for 10 minutes of running (if the alignment goes awry, I apologise and suggest pasting it into a spreadsheet):

pounds 12 10 9 8 7 6 5:30 minutes per mile

110 66 83 91 103 116 132 149

120 72 90 100 113 127 144 162

130 78 98 108 122 137 156 176

140 85 106 117 133 149 170 191

150 90 113 124 141 158 180 203

160 97 121 133 152 170 194 218

170 102 128 141 160 179 204 230

180 109 136 150 170 191 218 245

190 115 143 157 178 200 230 257

200 121 151 166 189 212 242 272

To convert miles to kilometers, multiply them by 1.609344. For example, 2.8 miles multiplied by 1.609344 equals 4.5 kilometers.

To convert kilometers to miles, multiply them by 0.621371192. For example, 5.7 kilometers multiplied by 0.621371192 equals 3.5 miles.

To convert pounds to kilograms, multiply them by 0.45359237. For example, 150 pounds multiplied by 0.45359237 equals 68 kilograms.

To convert kilograms to pounds, multiply them by 2.20462262. For example, 59 kilograms multiplied by 2.20462262 equals 130 pounds.

Although not reflected in terms of calories burned in these tables, slow running is more exhausting than a natural, flowing stride.

To work out how long it takes to burn 1 pound of body fat, with 1 pound of fat being equal to 3500 calories, divide your weight in pounds by 50, multiply by 4, then divide into 3500. The result tells you for how many minutes you need to run at 6 miles per hour in order to burn 1 pound of body fat.

For example, if you weigh 244 pounds, 244 divided by 50 equals 4.88; 4.88 multiplied by 4 equals 19.52; 3500 divided by 19.52 equals 179 minutes; 179 minutes divided by 7 days per week equals 26. This means if you ran 26 minutes every day of the week, you would lose approximately 1 pound of body fat a week. If you ran every second day, each session needs to be 51 minutes long (179 minutes divided by 3.5 days).

Although the more you run, the more efficient your body becomes and the less calories you burn, running undoubtedly gives you a more intense workout and sheds pounds in less time than for example, walking.

Besides increasing your pulse rate, another benefit of vigorous exercise is your body continues burning calories AFTER your session ends. For example, after a 20 minute high intensity workout, your body burns the same amount of energy at half intensity for an additional 40 minutes and is called the ‘afterburn’.

If your weight loss efforts have reached a plateau or you simply wish to step up the intensity, incorporating interval training (sprinting for a short stretch of time or distance) into your running routine will accelerate results. Burning even more calories in less time, speed work also increases your muscle mass and resting metabolism so you use more calories even when not exercising.

Regardless of what exercise you do, your goal is most likely to boost your metabolism, increase the calories burned and improve your fitness level. After intense exercise your heart rate remains elevated for longer and takes more time to recover than after a sedate stroll. Having said that, a sedate stroll may be more appropriate for an unfit person and is far better than doing no exercise at all.

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How To Get Mad Hops and Seriously Increase Your Vertical

Being a good shooter is just not enough to cut it in today’s fast-paced game. If you want to get noticed then you need to get mad hops and increase your vertical.

Think about it, most of the superstars in the NBA these days have serious athleticism and crazy hops. Likewise, the players who get the attention of the scouts at the high school and college levels are usually the ones who are playing above the rim…heck, who needs to shot the ball over a defender when you can just JUMP over him instead, right?

Increasing your vertical leap can not only fix your permanent position on the highlight reel, but it will help to increase your explosiveness, speed and agility in other areas of your game. At the end of the day, coaches love players who can dominate, and great hops can allow you to dominate and take over a game.

The following are recommendations that you should be incorporating into your workouts in order to increase your vertical and get mad hops.


Plyometrics are some of the best exercises that you can do for getting a better leap, since they are a practical exercise designed to train your entire jump mechanism and especially the fast twitch muscles that are essential to develop explosiveness and a higher vertical. They are a proven vertical training method for all athletes from basketball to volleyball to high jumpers.

Weight Training

While using plyometrics can get you an extra few inches, it’s going to be difficult to really get air time unless you combine it with weight training. Yeah, you may see some guys dunking that are stick-thin but in general, the stronger your muscles are the more power you’ll generate and the higher you’ll leap.

The two best weight training exercises for getting mad hops are:

  • Squats
  • Calf Raises

These will work the major muscle groups of the legs (and lower back in the case of squats) and the most important ones for jumping. Getting some solid all-body weight training in will help your hops, but also make you a much stronger and more explosive player on the court…aka, a nightmare for defenders.

Try wearing some ankle weights or a weighted vest during your training sessions to get used to a heavier weight. Once you take them off you will feel a lot lighter and this alone can add an extra inch or two to your vertical.


Many folks neglect the importance of training your abs to get more inches on your vertical. Your abdominal muscles as well as your back are heavily utilized in jumping, so getting some solid ab work into your workout program is recommended to get mad hops.


Don’t neglect your stretching either. This is a hugely overlooked factor in vertical jump training.

When you stretch, your muscles are temporarily made weaker…at which point they begin to repair themselves and become stronger as well as being more flexible and less prone to injury.

The hip flexors are heavily utilized in the jump mechanism and it is therefore essential to perform regular stretching routines to loosen up and strengthen these muscles for better hops.

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Personal Budget – 7 Guidelines That Will Help You Plan a Working Budget

Setting up your personal budget requires a hands-on approach. The following guidelines will help you plan a working budget to undertake this journey.

1. Gather all your financial details. That will include all of your bank accounts, credit cards and insurances papers – anything to do with your personal finances. These details will be needed to start your budget.

2. List all sources of income. This includes salary, rental income and regular dividends and interest.

3. Categorise your expenses starting with your commitments – list each item under headings such as:

  • Home: mortgage or rent.
  • Association and professional fees.
  • Insurance: health, motor vehicle, home, contents and life
  • Education costs
  • Day care and child care
  • Loans: car loan, student loan, bank fees and interest
  • Land tax or rates.
  • Other payments required as a commitment: motor vehicle licensing.
  • Investment – yes commit to your future and pay yourself!

4. List necessities – again list each item under headings:

  • Food, groceries, gas (petrol), home maintenance, security.
  • Utilities: gas, water, electricity, rubbish disposal, phone costs
  • School lunches, household supplies, car maintenance, internet service, dry cleaning, monthly parking.

5. Other expenses. Personal everyday expenses covering: lunch at work, snacks, coffee, drinks, newspapers, magazines, batteries, postage. Family and personal allowances: parties, entertainment, weekend outings, movies, concerts, other entertainment and events, home improvements and decorating, magazine and other subscriptions, dining out and fast food. Also include: clothing, hobbies, personal recreation, books, CD’s, manicures, hair care, alterations, shoe repair, personal and family gifts, gardening, film processing, video rentals, sports and gym, donations, computer software and other related items.

6. Once you have all your expenses listed add the total expenses and deduct these from your income. You will need to convert everything to monthly or weekly. This means that bills that are paid once a year must be divided by 12 to get the monthly figure. Convert quarterly payments to an annual figure then convert this to monthly. It is important that you include bills that are paid other than monthly to ensure that the money is available when the bill is due. Place the money in an interest bearing account.

7. Do you need to tweak your budget? When you deducted the expenses from your income was there any money left or did you find your expenses were more than your income? If your situation is the latter you will need to do some tweaking. The commitments cannot change. As for necessities you may be able to cut down on food expenses and find cheaper providers of utilities or try to save costs by being conscious of switching off lights etc. But it is the other expenses category that has the most capacity for tweaking as many of them are not needed and can be reduced or cut out. Review your budget regularly to make sure it is still working for you.

The time to start a personal budget is now and these guidelines are designed to make sure that your budget is truly a working budget — one that works for you!

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How Sprints Can Lengthen Your Legs And Increase Your Height

Regular sprinting can have several benefits to your height if added to daily stretching routines and combined with an overall healthy diet. The question at hand is how to perform your sprinting exercises and in what ways sprints can lengthen your legs and increase your height. To begin with, it is vital to understand that adult bones cannot be lengthened in any way. Once fully grown, your bones are of solid mass. However, lengthening your legs is still possible, as you are about to see.

Did you know that professional baseball pitchers usually have a longer throwing arm? Does this mean that to become a great pitcher, you need to be born with one arm longer than the other? No, of course not. It’s exactly the opposite: professional baseball pitcher have spent thousands of hours throwing the ball. The powerful throwing movement caused their throwing arm to become longer over time.

The same underlying principles apply when we talk about using sprints to lengthen your legs. As we’ve already determined above, lengthening the actual leg bones is impossible after the age of puberty. However, there are small gaps between our leg bones which still allow us to lengthen the legs a bit. Sprinting means pushing your body off the ground very hard, taking long strides and pulling your knees up high. This is like a pitcher throwing the baseball very hard. As you can see, the movements are comparable.

As you are hopefully starting to realize, it is this simple process that can lengthen your legs and consequently increase your height. Another leg lengthening exercise is cycling. By adjusting your saddle so that it is just a little bit too high, you will have to stretch your legs with each push on the pedal. Over time, you will see that you can adjust your saddle even higher. At this point, your legs have become longer – otherwise it wouldn’t be possible for you to reach the pedals on a higher saddle.

What are the best sprinting exercises to lengthen your legs? There are many variations to sprinting. However, as long as you can exercise along the guidelines above, you should see improvement over time. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a specific exercise routine, I can make a suggestion: It seems that short sprints of only 40 to 50 yards (or meters) are sufficient for our purposes. See, we want to do the sprints to increase our height and not to lose weight or become a very fast runner. That’s why we should focus on short and intense sprints without getting injured. So when you do the following sprinting routine, never forget why you are exercising. And most importantly, don’t injure yourself and talk to your doctor before attempting any physical exercise.

  1. Jog for 10 minutes to warm up.
  2. Do 3 Sprints of 50 yards (or meters)
  3. Run on the spot for 5 to 10 seconds. Do this 3 times.
  4. Then do 3 more sprints for 50 yards.
  5. Cool down by walking 5 minutes.
  6. Drink lots of water when you get back home.

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Switchwords Can Help You Get Fit

It’s a well established fact that getting and staying fit is best for you. While we live in this body we may as well live in it feeling good and looking good. Not many people will argue with that. There is, however, one problem. Getting fit is not the most exciting thing in the world and so it takes motivation to get fit and even more motivation to stay fit.

Weight issues are not only about food intake,but more about mindset. You could eat hot dogs all day and as long as you stay under your resting caloric metabolic rate, you will lose weight. Since the issues is one of mindset, the only way to get fit is to reprogram the Subconscious mind.

The Subconscious mind is a recorder and collector of all your life experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly. This collection of information is the root of all our habits, every single one of them. This includes our eating habits. As the poor eating habits become entrenched, they get harder to break. It’s for this reason it is often hard to make healthy choices when it comes to our fitness. Although it seems like a bad thing, the subconscious mind is doing this out of convenience. Since we introduced these negative thoughts and constantly reinforced them, the subconscious mind is doing us a favor by making them routine. This routine of course leads to an expanding waistline. These routines can lead to far far worse things such as debilitating addictions. The only way to “reset” the subconscious mind so it doesn’t continue to reinforce these habits is to reprogram it or at least short circuit the habit loop. One way to do this is with Switchwords.

Switchwords are single words and are often found in various and unlimited combinations. They are one-word affirmations. Unlike the traditional affirmations that contain statements that your subconscious does not believe is true, Switchwords, bypass the interpretive aspect of your mind and engages the subconscious mind directly, thus making the desired result a bit more automatic and without resistance.

Switchwords penetrate the subconscious mind in ways that allow them to work synergistically and more effectively than just affirmations alone. They work together to make sure the subconscious mind’s tendency to entrench bad habits is not activated. This means that you can make changes in your fitness level without the subconscious trying to get you back to your baseline. They are, for lack of a better term, powerful.

Here are just a few Switchwords you can say right now to help get you motivated. You can say them in your mind or out loud. Whatever you way you think is best. I will provide a list and what each switchword means.

ADD: This is to increase what you have, no matter what it is.

BE: This is a powerful one, this will help you to achieve good health.

BRING: This is a manifestation Switchword, it helps you unite with your goal, helps you finish what you started.

BUBBLE: This Switchword is really good at helping you expand your perceived limits, will help you push through your workout when you are fatigued.

CANCEL: Use this Switchword to eliminate negative thoughts and conditions. When you feel you are about to give up, this word is great to cancel those thoughts

CHARM: This will help you manifest your heart’s desire.

CRYSTAL: This is a powerful Switchword that will help you clarify any situation or things. It helps you look to the future; both mentally and through clairvoyance. I use this one to clarify intentions when I feel blocked. It keeps me focused on my fitness goals.

DIVINE: This creates miracles of all types. Use it with any of the other Switchwords and you will notice the difference.

HALFWAY: When you are not in the mood to finish your workout, this one is great. It helps time fly.

MOVE: This one is amazingly effective if keeping your energy up during workouts. I use it with UP.

ON: This is a very powerful Switchword to help you get new ideas on how to get fit.

OFF: This one is used quit an unwanted habit AND it helps you go to sleep. This Switchword does help me sleep. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I can rely on “OFF” to help me get back to sleep quickly. I love it.

STRETCH: This will help you prolong a good feeling, event or a sense of well-being you are experiencing. It will also help you grow intellectually, spiritually and physically. By grow I mean become better

TINY: For fitness purposes this is great to reduce size, in other words it will help you lose weight.

TOGETHER: This is considered to be THE Master Switchword to help you master any activity. Get things all together. It is also used to become single-minded when you need to be. It’s the most powerful Switchword in the list.

UP: This one dispels negative moods and gives you extra energy. I use this with MOVE.

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Aero Pilates Performer 295 – The Total Body Workout

For years, I have been a cardio buff. On any given day, I can be seen on my bicycle, in-line skates, or running shoes. However, that is about to change. After 30 some years of chronic cardio abuse through running, I decided that I needed to mix up my training. Mark Sisson, the founder of the Primal Blue Print suggests spending about 6 hours a week doing various cardio work out routines. Doing Pilates is a great way to mix up the work outs and do what fitness expert call shock treatment. I discovered Pilates reformer exercises that I can do at home and I am hooked!

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re almost ready to plunk down a few hundred dollars for a Aero Pilates Reformer Machine. The Stamina Aero Pilates Pro reformer series of machines give you one of the most hard-core workouts that your money can buy. These incredible machines are safe, very efficient, comfortable, and easy-to-use. Most important, they give the results that you are looking for. The machines help you to burn fat, get a cardio workout, and build up your core muscle groups. I bet most people wish they could help control appetite. Sorry, that one is on you!

The reviews for the Aero Pilates are nothing short of rave. Most people admit that using a Pilates reformer machine is an intelligence choice for overall physical fitness. It is an all-encompassing use of the Pilates method. Stamina is the leader and most respected manufacture of reformers in the world. But don’t just take my word on it. Do your own homework and find out why it’s the best workout. Amazon is a great place to find reviews that are written by real people. You will find grammatical errors, spelling errors, and just an overall real excitement that only and and user could write. In my opinion, if the review is written perfectly, then it’s just a staged fake review.

I’m very partial to the Stamina pro performer 295. The big selling point for me is a cardio rebounder. Rebounding is well known among fitness buffs forgiven a great low-impact cardio workout. With the Stamina Aero Pilates performer you will be able to get your heart rate going as effectively as with the treadmill and at the same time work more muscle groups. Additionally, it’s very gentle on your joints, and since your lying on your back, the effect of gravity and the concussion it causes on your legs, spying, and hips is going to be minimized. This machine is really like a mini trampoline or rebounder-both which I’m very fond of.

The Pilates method focuses on using your entire body as a whole unit, not dividing it into separate parts like many bodybuilders do. This machine will work your entire body.

The design of the system is incredible. The performer features 3 heavy duty plastic cords that provide for levels of work of resistance. One of the resistance cords is the power cord for 40% more resistance. It has all true smooth ball bearing rollers that allow the platform to glide gently through the track frame. It has an adjustable padded head rest, adjustable hand and foot ropes and foam shoulder pads.

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‘Daoist Health Preservation Exercises’ By Bian Zhizhong – A Review

Chinese anti-aging and longevity expert Bian Zhizhong looks to natural treatments to restore youthfulness and prolong healthy life in ‘Daoist Health Preservation Exercises’ (1996) from China Today Press. He explains why these are more effective than traditional Western methods before setting out in easy-to-understand detail, practical methods and routines with supplementary drawn illustrations for those interested to follow as part of a relatively short text (144 pp) but one jam-packed with sound practical advice.

Never judge a book by its cover,’ they say. However in this case the aforementioned, showing two Cranes walking to and fro with outstretched necks, should not be ignored. The Crane, a Chinese Longevity symbol, has good habits that help make it long-lived, These include Qigong practice. Safe in their mountainous, forested retreats Cranes walk to and fro with necks outstretched calling out ‘He’ forcibly exhaling stale air after a long day’s flying and feeding many miles away– thus the Crane’s is ‘He’ in Chinese. They are also associated, via 5 Elements Theory, with Water and the kidneys, hence the association between the latter and good health and longevity made by Bian Zhizhong at various points in his text.

The author initially laments the fact that exercise and sport are not, by themselves, conducive to longevity, pointing out that even athletes and manual workers may age quickly and die young. “How can we restore youthfulness?” (p.15) he asks,when medicines, drugs, hormone therapy, organ transplants etc may upset the body’s natural balance and cause illnesses to develop as a consequence (p.19). These disturb the immune system’s natural pattern of hormone production essentially associated with the kidney-the resulting imbalance making us more prone to disease and sickness than before.

The body’s internal and external performance and overall health are, he argues, best improved by Qigong practice combining breath control, exercise and external self-massage focusing on the ‘xiadan’ or lower abdominal area of the body (front and rear). The kidneys, intimately associated with internal and external watery secretions are essential to healthy growth, development and aging. Strong kidney vitality means long life and good health and weak kidneys early, fast aging and a short lifespan the author states (p.17) before presenting details of the preventative and remediative exercises of the Huashan Mountain Daoist Qigong School (to which he belongs) which focus on this area in particular.

Exercises fall into three categories: i. Rhythmic Breathing (e.g. Restoring Spring p.19); ii. Exercise Routines (e.g. Dragon Swimming p.32) and iii. External Self-Massage (e.g. Rubbing the Dragon’s Head p.93). Regular combined practice of these for general health and fitness purposes, as part of a regular exercise routine, should cause noticeable improvements to various bodily functions within a relatively short time (my own experiences indicate that this is so).

The author then proceeds to list commonly occurring chronic conditions and/or areas of ill-health and assigns to each a prescription of routines drawn from i) to iii) above. This is interspersed with ‘vignettes’ taken from case-records of such treatments in action to indicate the potential effects of dedicated application of his methods on the conditions concerned.

A final extensive report (relating to the treatment of impotence) from a grateful ex patient testifies to such practices’ efficacy in treating a range of conditions inflicting untold misery upon many. All this may be achieved without surgery or drugs (and the consequent imbalances to internal bodily functions their use occasions) the book makes clear whilst these exercises also help to maintain and restore the body’s natural hormonal balance at the same time.

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The Secrets of The Tibetan Eye Chart and How It Can Improve Your Vision

If you’ve not heard of the Tibetan eye chart, it is one of the more powerful ways to improve your vision. Here is a look at how you can use this to improve your vision naturally.

In order to improve eyesight we will have many methods that can be used. Out of all, one has managed to gain a lot of attention lately. We are referring to techniques that were used by Tibetan monks. They created a special chart that was used in order to improve vision. It was called the Tibetan eye chart.

The Tibetan eye chart looks a lot like a geometric drawing of squares, triangles and circles. In order to improve eyesight you would need to go through a simple exercise routine. It was believed that if you simply move the eyes over this chart you are going to take them through a good workout. This should improve vision. The Tibetans also thought that the chart was going to help by relieving tension that is found in the area that surrounds the eyes. There were even some that though that the Tibetan eye chart will do wonders in helping by eliminating lipids while bringing in nutrients that were helpful.

The problem is that we have no real proof that this chart will work. It can seem unlikely that something like this would have still been in use if it did not work. Also, specialists agree that eye exercises help to improve eyesight. The Tibetan eye chart is basically just a series of eye exercises so we can say that there is a very strong chance that it can help.

To sum up, it is almost sure that the Tibetan eye chart can help but it will not bring in tremendous results. The main aim is to relieve tension stored in your eyes and to exercises the muscles. Also, you should exercise and rest your eyes regularly. By doing this you basically help the eye to work better.

Practice techniques like palming and distance focusing. These helps the eye relax as well as train the eyes and “push it” to see clearer and better. These are natural techniques you can do from home or the office. Do it regularly and you will see positive effects within weeks.

However, if you have medical problems you should mainly focus on what the doctor is telling you as exercises are definitely not going to help.

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Recreational Softball Leagues – Creating the Perfect Lineup

Everyone can rattle off the criteria needed to build a good baseball line-up, but what about single sex slow-pitch softball line-ups? What you are looking for in a softball line-up is a lot different than in a baseball line-up.

In a traditional baseball line-up, your leadoff hitter is a guy with speed, who takes pitches and can get on base regularly and shake the pitcher up. Generally you have a contact guy batting second, trying to get the leadoff hitter into scoring position… and then the meat of your order. You try and have the guys with the lowest batting averages down in the lineup, so they hit the least number of times per games.

It is pretty straight forward and, besides Tony LaRussa in St Louis, all major league managers stick to the same basic guidelines.

But slow-pitch softball is different and this article will help you create a line-up that will give you the best chance to win, so that when you check your league schedules on your online league management website, your team will be hovering near the top.

The first thing to understand is that, unlike baseball, in single sex (not coed) slow-pitch softball everyone generally has a puncher’s chance of getting a hit. Even the worst guy on your team should be apt enough to have his/her bat meet the ball. Even if it is a slow roller up the line, every once and again they should be able to get a hit. (In traditional fast pitch baseball, these guys would be strikeout victims every time).

You should also have guys on your team that seemingly get a hit every at-bat. These guys can smoke the ball up the middle with ease and grace and their skills should be utilized to the fullest. And if your team is even moderately good, you should have a couple guys you will be able to rely on in key situations.

So, what you should do first is jot down the names of all your players, in no particular order. Next what you should do is put an asterisk next to each guy who is like the first described, the puncher. Next underline the guys who fit the second bill, namely, those who routinely get on base. Last you will want to circle guys who have the power to hit the ball over the fence, or if your league does not allow homeruns, then circle the guys who can usually find a gap and can hit inside the park HRs. Not everyone on your team needs to have a marking.

If you end up with an equal number of each you are fine, if you have more of one than the other, still fine. (However, if you have more than five with asterisks you may want to find another team to play on.)

The next thing you will want to do is break all the like-marked players up. In traditional fast pitch baseball you want your two worst hitters at the bottom of the order, but not so in slow-pitch softball. This is not to say you should bat your less skilled players lead-off or in the cleanup spot, but they shouldn’t always bat back to back. In softball it is all about getting guys on base and scoring runs. Back to back lousy hitters will ruin any inning.

Now that you have separated all your players out, you can start making your lineup.

The assumption, for the sake of this article, will be that you are batting 10 and you have 2 with asterisks, 3 with HR power, 3 that consistently get hits and 2 that didn’t have any designation. If your numbers vary any, adjust this accordingly. Also, it really does not matter which players you select, and in fact you can vary it up game by game, it only matters that they fall into the category you assigned them.

The first thing you will want to do is spread out your power hitters. Unlike baseball, it is actually detrimental to bat them consecutively. Take your 3 with power and put them into the 3, 5 and 7 holes. This will break up the power and give you a shot at hitting one over the fence at virtually any part of your game. This will also keep them close enough that if one doesn’t hit it over the fence on cue, that right around the corner you will have another guy with power.

Second, take your two worst hitters, those with asterisks, and put them in the 8th and 10th spots. This puts them far enough down that they won’t get as many at-bats as the top of the order, but not having them back to back will stop any rally killers.

Next take an underlined name and put it at the top of the order, and, why not, make it the fastest guy on your squad. They may end up at second off an infield grounder, which will help you later.

You should have 2 consistent hitters and 2 without designation left.

Put one of the consistent hitters in the vacant 9 spot. This way, you shouldn’t go 1-2-3 when the bottom of your line-up is due to lead off an inning.

You should have the 2, 4 and 6 holes left. As a confidence booster, you may want to put one of the non-designated guys in the 4 spot, just make it clear that they are not there to smack HRs, as clean-up hitters of the past were assigned to do. The boost in confidence may take their game to that next level and get them a base hit they may not have otherwise gotten.

The 2 spot should go to your last underlined guy and the 6 hole can be filled with your last non-designated player.

Your lineup should now look something like this:

1- Consistent Hitter

2- Consistent Hitter

3- Power Hitter

4- Average Hitter

5- Power Hitter

6- Average Hitter

7- Power Hitter

8- Lower Ability Hitter

9- Consistent Hitter

10- Lower Ability Hitter

Looking over this the weakest part of the lineup may be your 3-6 hitters, if your power guys are not also good hitters. If that is the case, take your biggest power guy, the one who either hits it a mile or not at all, and make him the 7 hitter.

Besides that one adjustment, this should result in a winning line-up, and you should see your team atop your league standings next time you check out your online league management system.

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