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Archive-Name: misc-fitness/aerobic-faq
Posting-Frequency: Monthly
Last-Modified: December 30, 1998

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge FAQ, was formed in June 1995 for those interested in 
discussing or questioning various aspects of a total aerobic fitness 
program. Topics welcome for discussion include any aerobic activity 
such as aerobic dance, step training, use of aerobic machines (e.g. 
stairclimbers, NordicTrak, rowing machines, etc.), jazzercise, walking, 
jogging, running or any other activity pursued for the purpose of 
increasing aerobic fitness.  

The questions addressed in this FAQ are, in fact, the most frequently 
asked questions in  It may seem that is focused on fat/weight loss based on the 
questions contained here.   However, readers of the faq must recognize 
that the authors of the faq do not have control over the most often
asked questions.  We make no judgements on why a person is
aerobically exercising or not.  Because questions are about fat/weight 
loss are asked over and over again, this faq will address those
questions and how aerobic exercise pertains to them or does not
pertain to them.

The group will also address topics related to aerobic program such as 
nutrition, muscle training, aerobic exercise for weight loss, 
flexibility, aerobic exercise videos, tapes, literature and aerobic 
instructor certification procedures and certifying organizations.

This FAQ is under sporadic revision. If you are reading a version which 
has a Last-Modified date showing it to be more than a few month old 
then you should try to get a more up-to-date copy. New versions of the 
FAQ are posted every month to,, 
and misc.answers.

The text version is also available via anonymous ftp from:
In theory, this version is as current at the one below, but sometimes
I forget to update this one.

The text version is also available via the world wide web at:
This copy is the latest version.


    4.1  What is aerobic exercise?
    4.2  What are some examples of aerobic activity?
    5.1  What factors affect aerobic training?
    5.2  How often should I train ? How hard?  For how      
    6.1  How do I determine my target heartrate?
    6.2  What are some other methods for determining my    
      workout intensity?
    7.1  I do lots of outer thigh (tummy, buns, etc.) work.  Will that 
         part of my body slim down first?
    8.1  How do I know when I'm exercising hard enough to  
         burn fat?
    8.2  How long do I have to work out before I burn fat? and
         If I workout before eating, will I burn 100% fat?
    8.3  Will I burn only carbohydrates (and inhibit fat-burning) 
         if I work out too hard? 
    8.4  What exercise should I do to burn the most fat?
    9.1  Is it better to break my exercise sessions or       
     exercise for a longer period?
    10.1  How much should I weigh?
    10.2  What's the best way to determine bodyfat          
    11.1  Should I train my muscles as well as do aerobic   
    11.2  Which is better for muscle training - weights 
      or ExerTube (Dynaband)? 
    12.1  What is a warm-up, and how important is it to    
      aerobic activity?
    12.2  What is a cool-down, and how important is it to 
      aerobic activity? 
    13.1  Should I use a steam, sauna or hot tub right      
      after a workout?
    14.1  I never exercised before.  Where do I begin?
    15.1  What is step aerobics?
    15.2  What is proper stepping technique?
    15.3  How high should my step be?
    15.4  How can I increase intensity? 
    15.5. How fast should the music be?
    16.1 How good is (insert your favorite exer-gadget shown on TV)?
    17.1 What should I do for an acute injury?
    17.2 What should I do for a chronic injury?
    17.3 What are some common exercise injuries?
    17.4 What are some common exercise reactions?
    17.5 What are some common environment concerns?
    18.1 How long should I wait after eating to start exercising?
    18.2 What should I eat before an aerobic workout?
    18.3 What should I eat as after and aerobic workout?
    19.1 What is the best time of day to exercise?
    21.1 What are some aerobic-related phone numbers I should know?
    22.1 What are some of the best workout videos?
    23.1 How do I get certified in the United States?
    23.2 How do I get certified in the UK?  



   The FAQ has been formulated by
   using the most frequently asked questions from the people
   who read Any suggestions or revisions
   should be sent to
   The questions and answers below represent our best
   effort to provide general information.  They are not to be
   read as gospel.  Individual people have different needs and
   abilities, and all exercise routines suggested should be
   adjusted to suit the specific situation.  It is best to
   consult a doctor before beginning any lifestyle change
   involving exercise, particularly if you have been sedentary,
   are very overweight or overfat, or have or suspect any sort
   of medical condition which might be exacerbated by exercise.
   Stretching and Flexibility FAQ
   The Abdominal Training FAQ
   The High Intensity Training (HIT) FAQ---
   The Hardgainer FAQ---
   The Training-Nutrition FAQ---
   The Powerlifting Competition FAQ---
   The Anabolic Steriod FAQ---
   Fitness Pointers  

4.1  What is aerobic exercise?
   The word aerobic literally means "with oxygen" or "in the
   presence of oxygen."  Aerobic exercise is any activity that
   uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously for
   a long period of time and is rhythmic in nature.  Aerobic activity
   trains the heart, lungs and cardiovascular system to process and
   deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently to every part of the
   body.  As the heart muscle becomes stronger and more efficient, a 
   larger amount of blood can be pumped with each stroke. 
   Fewer strokes are then required to rapidly transport oxygen
   to all parts of the body.  An aerobically fit individual can
   work longer, more vigorously and achieve a quicker recovery
   at the end of the aerobic session. 
4.2  What are some examples of aerobic activity? (Some    
        of these activities can be anaerobic if you are not   
        moving continuously)
        (from Ron Hogan <>)
   Aerobic dance, aerobic machines, backpacking, ballroom
   dance, basketball, belly dancing, boxing, broomball,
   calisthenics, canoeing, cycling, fencing, Frisbee, golf,
   gymnastics, handball, hiking, hockey, ice skating,
   jazzercise, jogging, judo, jumping rope, karate,
   kayaking, mountaineering, racquetball, rock climbing, 
   roller skating, rope climbing, rowing, running,
   skateboarding, skiing, skin diving, spelunking, square
   dancing, squash, step aerobics, swimming, walking, water
   skiing or any other activity that meets the criteria in 
   section 4.1.
5.1  What factors affect aerobic training?
   Frequency, duration and intensity.  Frequency refers to
   how often you perform aerobic activity, duration refers to
   the time spent at each session, and intensity refers to the 
   percentage of your maximum heartrate or heartate reserve at
   which you work.
5.2  How often should I train?  How hard?  For how long?
   Most experts believe that 3-5 times per week for a
   duration of 20-60 minutes at 60-90% of age-specific maximal
   heartrate or 50-85% of VO2max (heart rate reserve). 
6.1  How do I determine my target heartrate?
   The general formula for the average person is 220-age X 60%
   and X 90% of HRmax. For example, a 30-year old would calculate
   his target zone using the above formula: 220-30=190. 
   190x.60=114 and 190x.90=171. This individual would try to
   keep his heartrate between 114 (low end) and 171 (high end) 
   beats per minute. 
         (from Evelyn Mitchell <>)
   The Karvonen Formula calculates your heartrate reserve
   range. To calculate it, take your pulse for one minute on
   three successive mornings upon waking up. (We will be using
   the case of a 30-year old male whose resting pulse was 69,70
   and 71 for an average of 70 over the 3 days.)

   Calculate target heartrate by subtracting your age from 220 
   Subtract your average resting heart rate from target heartrate 
   The lower boundary of the percentage range is 50% of this
   plus your resting heart rate [(120 x .5) + 70 = 130]. The
   higher boundary is 85% plus your RHR [(120 x .85) + 70
   =172].  Using the Karvonen Formula for percentage of heartrate
   reserve, this 30-year old man should be working between 130
   and 172 BPM.  
   Like the maximum heartrate formula, the Karvonen formula
   can vary from individual to individual.  Not every
   individual is "average", and there can be large differences
   among people.  Therefore heartrate alone may not be the best 
   indicator of how hard or how well you are working.
   It is important to note that the deviation in both the
   age-specific formula and the Karvonen formula is due to the
   estimation of HRmax. If you have an actual HRmax from a
   graded exercise test, it will be more accurate. ACSM lists
   two formulas for estimating HRmax, each one with
   a standard deviation of +/- 10-12 BPM:
   HRmax = 220 - age     (low estimate)
   HRmax = 210 - (0.5 * age) (high estimate)
   HR = exercise intensity * HRmax * 1.15
   Source, ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and
   Prescription, 5th Edition, p. 274, Williams and Wilkins
6.2  What are some other methods for judging my workout intensity?
   The Borg scale of perceived exertion is another way of
   determining how hard you are working.  Using your own
   subjective Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) on a scale of
   6-20 or a scale of 0-10, you determine how hard you *feel*
   you are working.  A rating of 12-16 ("somewhat hard" to
   "hard" on the 12-20 scale) or a rating of 4-6 ("somewhat
   strong" to "very strong") on the 0-10 scale
   reflects a heartrate of 60-90% of maximum and should be the
   target area for which to strive.   
   Original Scale           Revised Scale
   6                        0    Nothing at all
   7   Very, very light     0.5  Very, very weak
   8                        1    Very weak
   9   Very light           2    Weak
   10                       3    Moderate
   11  Fairly light         4    Somewhat strong
   12                       5    Strong
   13  Somewhat hard        6
   14                       7    Very strong
   15  Hard                 8
   16                       9
   17  Very hard            10   Very, very strong
   18                       *    Maximal
   19  Very, very hard
   Source:  ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and
   Prescription, 5th Edition, p. 68, Williams and Wilkins
   The talk test is another measure of intensity. You
   should be able to talk without gasping for air
   while working at optimal intensity.  If you cannot, you
   should scale down.  On the other hand, if you can sing an
   aria from Madame Butterfly, then you need to work harder.
7.1  I do lots of outer thigh (tummy, buns, etc.) work.  Will that 
         part of my body slim down first?
   No.  When we're working a muscle or group of muscles to 
   burn fat, we have no control over what part of the body we 
   burn fat from.  There is no such thing as "spot reducing".  
   Fat generally is used up in pretty much the reverse order 
   it was put on, (LIFO - Last In  First Out).  When you are 
   exercising, the blood is carrying fat from all over the body 
   to provide the energy.  The muscles which are being worked 
   will improve, of course, so when the layers of fat finally 
   do get worked off, you'll have some nice lean tissue to show 
   for all your efforts. 
    (from Michael G. Kurilla <>)
   Another aspect to this question is the fact that muscle 
   growth underneath a fat deposit can give the appearance of 
   spot reduction.  This is because the overlying fat is stretched 
   over a greater surface and appears thinner, although the total 
   amount of fat is the same. A good analogy is with a balloon.
   As the air is increased, the skin on the balloon gets thinner, 
   but the amount of balloon material stays the same. I think that 
   this may be how the spot reduction myth originated.  By working 
   the muscles below the fat, people think they are actually making 
   the fat go away.
8.1  How do I know when I'm exercising hard enough to burn fat?
   Actually, you're *almost* always burning fat at one rate 
   or another, but you burn most when your body is in its aerobic 
   range. A good rule of thumb is that after 20 minutes in your 
   aerobic zone, you will be burning more fat than carbos. Covert 
   Bailey, in "Smart Exercise", states that you will be burning 
   fat after only twelve minutes of aerobic exercise.  If you
   can increase your aerobic activity to 30 minutes or longer, 
   you will be burning a larger percentage of calories from fat.  
   There is still some disagreement as to which is better - longer 
   duration at lower intensity, or shorter duration at  higher 
   intensity.  If you are limited in time, then the higher intensity 
   will maximize your aerobic benefits in a shorter amount of time.  
   If you can work for a longer duration at a lower intensity, you 
   will decrease your chance of injury.  If you are interested
   in decreasing the amount of fat on your body, the idea is to 
   use more calories than you take in.  Your muscles will continue 
   to burn fat after both aerobic and anaerobic (muscle training) 
     (from Michael G. Kurilla [mgk2r@uva.pcmail.])
   This is perhaps the most common question raised by individuals 
   exercising for the purpose of either weight loss or simply 
   weight control. This stems from the recognition that aerobic 
   exercise is a significant adjunct to any weight loss program, 
   that is diet plus aerobic exercise produces more weight loss 
   than diet alone. In addition, the weight lost with exercise 
   tends to be a higher percentage of fat.
   Exercise can be grouped into three broad levels of intensity, 
   mild, moderate, and high. Mild intensity is a comfortable walking 
   pace and can be sustained almost indefinitely, moderate intensity 
   is equal to an average cardiovascular conditioning workout (able 
   to talk, but not sing) and can be sustained (in a trained individual)
   for upwards of 3 - 4 hours, and high intensity is not
   able to talk and can only be sustained for 30 - 45 minutes. 
   Based on recent and very detailed research studies, in terms of 
   absolute fat burning, a moderate intensity workout burns the most 
   fat. At a heart rate equal to about 75% of max, fat burning will 
   approach 0.5 grams - 1.0 grams of fat per minute. There is a weight 
   dependence with the lower end referring to a 100 pound individual 
   and the upper end to a 200 pound person. As the duration continues 
   (greater than 1 hour), fat burning can increase slightly (another 
   At a mild intensity, the majority of calories expended (85 - 90%) 
   are fat calories, but the absolute level is only about 60% of the 
   moderate intensity. At high intensity levels, fat burning declines 
   to a level of about 65% of the moderate pace, as sugar burning 
   supplies the rest. The high rate of sugar burning exhausts the 
   limited sugar supply in muscles and causes muscular failure.
   The only caveats for the above burn rates are that these numbers 
   are derived from individuals who were already aerobically trained 
   and were conducted in the AM before breakfast. Less fit individuals 
   are known to burn less fat and more sugar (part of aerobic 
   conditioning  is greater reliance on fat burning for energy). 
   Exercising after a meal will tend to promote more sugar burning. 
   Consumption of sugar during an exercise session will also tend to 
   retard fat burning in favor of the sugar. These numbers were derived 
   from cycling and so the absolute numbers can be increased if 
   exercises that involve more muscle groups are utilized (running, 
   rowing, etc.). From peak energy production rates for various 
   exercises, rowers might reach about 40% higher.
8.2  How long do I have to work out before I burn fat? and
     If I workout before eating, will I burn 100% fat?

   You are _always_ burning fat.  There is no magic on/off switch for
   "fat burning", or any other system in the body.  Your body gets its 
   energy from several sources all the time; the proportions change 
   depending on the intensity and duration of the activity, but stored 
   body fat is always one of them.
   Stored body fat is utilized more for low- to moderate-intensity,
   long-duration activity; this could be where the confusion about
   needing to exercise for x number of minutes arises.  During the 
   first several minutes of exercise your body gets started by 
   tapping primarily (not exclusively!) its more immediate energy 
   sources, like glycogen in your muscles.  These sources cannot keep 
   up with the continued demand for energy, so your body gradually 
   taps into stored body fat as well to continue at that intensity.
   As an analogy, think of your body as always carrying around a cord
   of firewood and a small bottle of jet fuel.  The firewood is your
   stored body fat, the jet fuel is the glycogen in your muscles.  When 
   you need to suddenly dash for the bus, you use the jet fuel.  It 
   won't get you far because you don't have much, but you can get 
   there very fast.  When you need to go on a long day hike, you use 
   the firewood--a long, slow burn that can last for hours, and you 
   have plenty of it.  But you always have to use a few drops of jet 
   fuel to get going while you kindle the firewood, and to keep the 
   flame bright.  And you always have to use the firewood, even if 
   only as a pilot light.
   From this analogy it should be easy to see that it's not possible
   to work out ensuring that 100% of your energy is coming from fat--
   you couldn't get started, or once started couldn't perform at more
   than a "slow smolder" intensity.  In fact, many people report 
   feeling very sluggish if they try to work out in the morning on an 
   empty stomach, while simply eating a simple high-carbohydrate snack 
   an hour before yields a much better performance.  It takes energy 
   to make energy!
   It may at first come as a surprise to learn that the time when your 
   body is getting its highest _percentage_ of energy from fat is when
   you're asleep!  But consider that when you're asleep, your body has 
   no need for bursts of high intensity activity, so those energy 
   systems are quiet.  Obviously, sleeping is not a good activity for 
   losing weight, because your total energy requirements are quite low 
   then.  This should show you that the _rate_ at which you burn 
   fat/calories is not as important as the _total_ that you burn on a 
   daily basis.  In other words, the minute-to-minute fluctuations in 
   the proportions of fat vs.  carbohydrate used by your body are not 
   linked to long-term weight managment.

8.3  Will I burn only carbohydrates (and inhibit fat-burning) 
         if I work out too hard? 

   While the body's reliance on carbohydrates increases during
   high-intensity activity, it's not that fat burning is in any
   way inhibited.  It's just that the rate of increase in the amount
   of fat burned is slower than the rate of increase in the amount of
   carbohydrate used.  So the percentages change, but the aerobic 
   metabolism (fat burning) isn't really inhibited.  Again, those 
   minute-to-minute fluctuations are insignificant in the grand 
   fat-loss scheme.

8.4  What exercise should I do to burn the most fat?

   If your goal is fat loss, then try to achieve a maximal
   _calorie_ burn, and don't worry about a maximal _fat_ burn.  As 
   long as you are expending more calories than you are consuming
   -- on a regular and consistent basis -- then the fat/weight will 
   come off.  Any aerobic activity which you enjoy doing enough to 
   do 3-5 times a week at a moderate intensity for at least 20 
   continuous minutes at a time will help you burn lots of calories;
   dance/step aerobics, bicycling, swimming, basketball, soccer,
   running, skating, hiking, and walking are all good examples.

9.1  Is it better to break my exercise sessions up, or exercise for a 
     longer period?
   In general, for the average aerobicizer, it doesn't matter
   whether you exercise for 2 shorter sessions or 1 longer
   session.  Keep in mind that your body requires a "warm-up"
   period of 5 to 10 minutes and a "cool-down" period of similar
   length (cf. section 12).  So if you exercise for one 60
   minutes period, 40 to 50 minutes of that time would be for
   aerobic training with the remainder for warm-up and
   cool-down.  If you exercise for two 30 minute periods, 10 to
   20 minutes of each period or 20 to 40 minutes total, would be
   aerobic training.

    So if you break up your workout but using the same amount of
    time, you might be training aerobically for a shorter amount
    of time.  Does this really matter?  It depends on why you
    are aerobically training.  If you are interested in training
    for an activity like soccar/football or water polo, where
    you are actively working aerobically for extended periods of
    time, then, yes, it will make a difference.  The duration of
    the training periods very directly affect the aerobic
    capacity of an athlete.  For example, if you don't have the
    aerobic capacity for swim constantly for the duration of a
    water polor game, you aren't going to be able to complete an
    entire game.
    However, if you are exercising for general fitness and health, 
    then other issues are important.  If it works for you to
    exercise in 2 shorter periods, and that is what you are able
    to do ,then that is what is best for you.  For most of us,
    it is more practical to exercise in 1 period, be it long or
    short.  A very short period of exercise, like a 10 minute
    session will have limited aerobic benefits for all but the
    most deconditioned because of the warm-up/cool-down
    necessities.  That doesn't mean that it doesn't have
    benefit; it's not aerobic training.

10.1  How much should I weigh?
   What you weigh is not as important as the percentage of bodyfat to 
   lean tissue. You can be overweight without being overfat and vice 
   versa.  Since muscle weighs more than fat, and you want to have firm 
   muscles throughout your body, you may weigh more than you thought 
   was average for your height and build.  There is still much 
   controversy over what is "ideal" bodyweight. While some body fat is 
   essential to sustain life, it is generally thought that a healthy 
   bodyfat percentage for males is 8-20% and for females is 13-25%. 
   Source: ACE Instructor Manual, 1993, p.178
10.2  What's the best way to determine Body Fat         
             (from <chuckg@arnet.comSun>) 
   Weighing in water (hydrostatic) is generally considered
   the best method.  But, the real answer is that a single
   measurement, no matter how accurate, doesn't tell you much. 
   What's really important is, are you gaining or losing fat? 
   The best way to answer this question is to take a reading
   every few weeks and graph the results.  The absolute
   accuracy of these readings isn't really important as long as
   you use consistent technique so that the error is about the
   same every time.     The two methods that work best for
   at-home measurements are skin-fold calipers and biceps IR
   units.  Treat the numbers not as "body fat percentage" but
   as a "body fat index."  It is a general method of tracking your 
   aerobic fitness.  In general, aerobic fitness or aerobic
   capacity increases with decreased levels of bodyfat.  It's like 
   the gas gauge in your car - it doesn't tell you how many gallons 
   you have, but it gives you a relative indication.       
11.1 Should I train my muscles as well as do aerobic activity?
   Definitely.  Muscle training is an integral part of any
   aerobic program because strength will help to protect you from 
   injuries that can occur during your favorite aerobic
   exercise.  When you are strong, it is easier to maintain
   proper form.
11.2  Which is better for muscle training:  Weights or     
      ExerTube (DynaBand)?
   Neither is actually "better".  All exercise accessories
   have their uses.  Weights require more muscles in use to
   maintain proper form, while the bands and tubes are easier
   to use in targeting specific muscles.  Bands and tubes also
   have the advantage of being somewhat adjustable in
   resistance just by changing length.  To change weights in
   dumbbells, you either need another set of dumbbells, or extra 
   plates for those which use plates.  Dumbbells, however, do offer 
   a much greater range of available weights, particularly at the high
   end, making them more useful in strength training.  Bands
   and tubes are generally used in resistance training exercises.
12.1  What is a warm-up, and how important is it in     
      aerobic activity?
   A warm-up helps your body prepare itself for exercise and
   reduces the chance of injury.  The warm-up should be a
   combination of rhythmic exercise which begins to raise the
   heartrate and raise muscle temperature, and static
   stretching through a full range of motion.  The rhythmic
   exercise may be a slower version of the aerobic activity to
   come.  For example, you might want to walk before you jog,
   or do some aerobic dance movements before an aerobic 
   or step class.  The stretches in the warm-up should be
   non-ballistic and cover all of the major muscle groups.
   Always stretch the lower back before doing any lateral
   movement of the upper torso such as side bends.
12.2  What is a cool-down, and how important is it in   
      aerobic activity?
   After any aerobic activity, the blood is pooled in the 
   extremities, and the heartrate is elevated.  The purpose of
   the cool-down is to bring the heartrate down to near-normal
   and to get the blood circulating freely back to the heart. 
   Stopping abruptly could result in fainting or place undue
   stress on the heart.  The cool-down should also include
   stretching to help relax the muscles which worked so hard
   during the activity.  The cool-down stretches also increase
   flexibility, and might help to prevent DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle 
   Soreness) although this has not been proven.   
13.1  Should I use a steam, sauna or hot tub right after   
      a workout?
   Since the blood tends to pool in your extremities after
   a vigorous workout, and steams, saunas, hot tubs and even
   hot showers tend to dilate your blood vessels, it is really
   not the best thing to do as it will be more difficult for
   the blood to reach the heart and brain.  However, if  you've
   done a thorough aerobic cool-down, and you wait a reasonable
   amount of time to return to almost normal, you might go into
   one of these "fun" things.  But if you feel any sign of
   weakness or dizziness, get out immediately.
14.1  I have never exercised before.  Where do I begin?
   It is a good idea to start slowly and build up to a  full
   program.  Walking is the easiest way to begin a program. 
   Start with a stroll for a mile or so and build up to walking
   3-4 miles per hour.  As you become proficient at walking,
   you might want to try another activity such as jogging,
   running or even aerobic or step classes.  The best aerobic
   program is the one you enjoy and will stick to.  Remember,
   the journey of 1000 miles begins with but a single step.
15.1. What is step aerobics?
   Step aerobics is a form of aerobic activity which is 
   performed on a platform that usually ranges from 4" to 10" 
   in height.  Step training was developed to provide a low-impact 
   activity that is both challenging and interesting. People who 
   may not like certain aspects of aerobic dance find that step is 
   a very good alternative.  Each participant works within his or her
   own space.  There is no traveling across a room.  When done properly,
   step training is an efficient means of improving aerobic fitness.
15.2  What is proper stepping technique?
   Your body should remain in good alignment.  This means your head is
   up,  shoulders down and back, chest up, abdominals in.  When 
   stepping up, lean from your ankles and not your waist; this will 
   avoid placing excessive stress on the lumbar spine.  Contact the 
   platform with your entire foot, rather than allowing your heel to 
   hang off the back; this will avoid stress and possible injury to 
   your achilles tendon.  When stepping down, step close to the 
   platform and allow your heels to contact the floor to help absorb 
   the shock. (toe, ball, heel).  

   When doing lunges or repeater steps, the foot that stays on
   the step should support your entire weight.  The foot that
   touches the ground should barely touch down, rather like you are
   dipping your toe into cold water.

   You should not use hand or leg weights when you are stepping, as the
   risk of injury outweighs any added benefit you might get from using
   weights. It is important to note that anyone with a history of knee 
   problems should consult a physician before beginning step training.
15.3  How high should my step be?
   The best step height is the MINIMUM necessary for you to get
   a good workout.  Maintaining range of motion and adding
   propulsion to your moves can increase the intensity of your
   workout much more than adding a riser.                       
   Keeping the above in mind, step height depends on several things - 
   fitness level, current stepping skill, and the degree of knee 
   flexion when the knee is fully loaded while stepping up.  At no 
   time should the knee joint of the first leg to step up flex beyond 
   a 90% angle. Reebok is now saying that 60% is even better.   
   Deconditioned individuals or beginners should begin on a 4" 
   platform.  As you improve, you may add risers to increase the step 
   height making sure not to exceed the 90 degrees of knee flexion.  
   The most popular step heights are 6" and 8".
15.4  How can I increase intensity.
   There are several ways to increase intensity.  Increase your step 
   height, use longer lever arms or add propulsion moves (where both 
   feet are off the step at the same time).  If you are going to add 
   propulsion, or power as it is known today, make sure not to do these 
   moves for more than one minute at a time as these moves result in 
   higher vertical impact.  All power moves should be done as you go 
   up onto the platform.  Always step down without power. Power moves 
   are considered advanced, and should not be attempted by beginners.
15.5  How fast should the music be?
   According to Step Reebok guidelines, music should be played at 
   a speed of 118-128 BPM.  At higher tempos, technique and safety are
   SERIOUSLY compromised.  It is impossible to get the full range of 
   motion that can be achieved at slower tempos.  Because of this, 
   unlike in traditional floor aerobics, faster tempos do not 
   necessarily yield tougher workouts.

16.1  How good is (insert your favorite exer-gadget shown on TV)?
   The fitness industry changes all the time, and along with these      
   changes come trends and fads in the types of exercise people prefer 
   to do and the machines and equipment they use to do it.  Some of 
   these items are good, and some are junk.
   As pointed out by Ken <, nobody 
   is able to test every piece of equipment on the market. Before
   you buy any new gadget, ask the experienced fitness folks in the newsgroup for their opinions, and also ask 
   yourself the following questions.
        - What does the device claim to do? 
        - How will it accomplish the goal?
        - If the device claims to train specific muscles,
          does it use motions similar to those I might use without
          the device such as gravity or other less expensive forms
          of resistance.
        - Does the device encourage me to train my other muscles as
          well?  Does the device provide a balanced program for
          training my other muscles?
        - Is this device putting other parts of me at risk (such as my
          low back or joints)?        
        - Does the device make claims that it can produce seemingly
          impossible results in very short periods of time?
   If you are still convinced that the device is for you, and you 
   buy it, please write a review in so others can 
   learn from your experience.
17.0.0  Introduction

   The following section describes a number of injuries
   and syndromes that can befall the exerciser.  While
   this information can be useful in determining appropriate
   first aid or symptomatic relief methods, it is important
   to be aware of the distinction between first aid and
   relief of symptoms vs. diagnosis and treatment.
   As will become evident in the sections ahead, a single
   symptom (such as knee pain) can have a variety of causes,
   many of which are not immediately obvious and require
   the diagnosis of a physician, who can prescribe treatment.
   Individuals are strongly encouraged not to use the information
   below to "self-diagnose", but merely as guidelines for
   appropriate first aid/symptomatic relief and when to see
   a physician.
17.0.1 Legal Issues for the Exercise Professional
   Exercise professionals are *strongly* encouraged to refrain
   from the process of diagnosis and/or prescription of treatment
   or rehabilitative exercise.  Our scope of practice is limited
   to encouraging rest, RICE, and a visit to the doctor.  
   Statements such as "that sounds like chondromalacia - why don't 
   you try and strengthen the medial quad to help out" or "you've got
   low back syndrome" involve a judgment by the exercise professional
   that can be construed in a court of law as a diagnosis and/or
   prescription of rehabilitative exercise.  
   If such advice causes the individual to sue at a later date, 
   the charges can be much more serious than mere negligence - the
   exercise professional can find themselves in the position of
   being charged with practicing medicine without a license.
   Exercise professionals are best advised to speak in general 
   terms without reference to an individual's condition, to focus
   on general preventive behavior, and to refer individuals
   to a physician when a diagnosis needs to be made or an
   injury does not respond to first aid/symptomatic relief (such as 
   An appropriate example: "well, there are a number of causes
   for the shin pain you're experiencing.  You can apply RICE
   to relieve the symptoms, but if it doesn't feel better within
   a day or two you should consult with your physician."  Here we
   sidestep the issue of diagnosis, stress symptomatic relief, and
   incorporate a physician referral in one sentence.
    Or: "Now we're going to do some exercises for the back.  It is 
   believed that strengthening the low back can help prevent low back
   pain."  In this case, only a general discussion on preventive
   (not rehabilitative) exercise is provided.
17.1  What should I do for an acute injury?
   If you feel that you have "pulled a muscle" or have an
   inexplicable pain after exercising, the *immediate*
   treatment is RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation). 
   Icing for 48 hours, every 2 hours for about 10-15 minutes,
   *should* help the injured area.  However, if you've got an
   injury that doesn't respond to RICE in a 
   couple of days, you should see your physician.
17.2  What should I do for a chronic injury?
   It is important to remember that the people here on have varied backgrounds, but are
   primarily fitness professionals.  As such, we're really not
   qualified to give out rehabilitative exercise.  You must see
   your physician or other qualified person to find out what
   you should do if an injury persists.
17.3  What are some common exercise injuries?
17.3.1 Overuse Injuries
   The heading of overuse injuries is a broad one, into which 
   the vast majority of exercise-related injuries fall.  Generally 
   overuse injuries are chronic ones, meaning that no single event 
   causes them (as with a sprained ankle or a broken leg), but a long 
   series of events over weeks, months, or years of training gradually 
   weaken or irritate the area in question until exercise
   becomes difficult or impossible, or other symptoms appear.
   The vast majority of overuse injuries can be avoided by proper 
   attention to form and technique, appropriate rest, proper equipment 
   (especially footwear), and gradual increase of exercise frequency, 
   intensity, or duration.
   The best cures for an overuse injury are rest followed by a 
   gradual return to activity coupled with an awareness of the problem 
   activity, and appropriate corrective measures (be they more gradual 
   return to exercise, appropriate strengthening, or avoidance of 
   certain forms of activity).
17.3.2 Patellofemoral Syndrome ("Runner's Knee") / Chondromalacia
   Chondromalacia literally refers to the wearing away of the 
   cartilage on the back surface of the kneecap, which might be 
   first exhibited as a "clicking" or "grating" sound, and knee 
   pain under the patella (kneecap).
   Chondromalacia refers to the condition, and not a specific 
   disease state, as a great many possible causes exists for 
   damage to the cartilage.
   Patellofemoral syndrome, likewise, refers to generalized 
   knee pain, often associated with runners, but not limited to 
   runners alone.  In this context, the cause is usually improper 
   running mechanics over a period of time, though in many cases 
   the cause is unknown.
   Once chondromalacia has occurred, the process is irreversible, 
   and attention is paid to achieving the maximal amount of pain-free 
   activity, and avoiding activities which will cause further damage 
   to the joint.
   Note that patellofemoral pain is of a more general nature, 
   and may or may not be due to the pathological condition of 
   It is best to consult a physician or a physical therapist 
   when any sort of knee pain is encountered.
17.3.3 Plantar Fasciitis and Neuromas
   Plantar fasciitis is literally an inflammation of the 
   plantar fascia, a web of tough, fibrous connective tissue on 
   the bottom of the foot.  Neuromas are irritated nerve endings, 
   but can cause pain in the foot (or other places, depending on 
   the nerve in question).
   Either condition should be examined by a physician.  While 
   both are commonly caused by overuse, the question of whether  
   the condition is due to poor technique, simple overuse, or an 
   orthopedic problem should be explored.
   In the case of the latter, orthotics (inserts for shoes designed 
   to help maintain proper impact cushioning and support for the foot) 
   can play a major role in the prevention of future episodes.
17.3.4 Lateral Epicondylitis ("Tennis elbow") and the
       More general Tendonitis/Arthritis/Bursitis
   Any "-itis" condition refers to inflammation or irritation.  
   In the cases of tendonitis, arthritis, and bursitis, the sites of 
   inflammation are the tendons, joints, and bursae (fluid-filled 
   sacs provided cushioning between tendons and bones), respectively.
   Again, any of these conditions should involve a physician
   referral.  Tendonitis and bursitis are common overuse injuries, 
   and rehabilitation will generally involve rest, and enhancing 
   flexibility and strength of all muscles surrounding the joints 
   near the area in question.
   Arthritis can be caused by two distinct disease processes - 
   osteoarthritis is essentially "wear and tear" on joints, in which
   the cartilage covering the articulating surfaces of the bones 
   becomes worn, and the joint reacts, often by swelling and 
   filling with fluid.  It can become quite tender, and
   motion can become difficult.
   Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the 
   body launches an attack on its own joint tissues.  While much 
   less common than osteoarthritis, it can be severely debilitating.
   Rehabilitation for arthritis generally involves activities 
   that are low-impact in nature, and strengthening exercises.  
   Activities are carried out through a "pain-free range of motion" 
   (ROM limited by the onset of discomfort), and no activity is 
   recommended during periods of active inflammation.
17.3.5 Shin Splints and Compartment Syndromes
   Shin splints are a common name for pain felt in the anterior 
   portion of the calf, which can be due to a variety of causes, from 
   muscle imbalances to something as serious as a compartment syndrome.
   Generally, treatment for shin splints involves RICE, strengthening 
   exercises for all of the muscles surrounding the ankle joint, and
   flexibility exercises.
   Compartment syndromes are a much less common, but more serious 
   problem, where one of the compartments between muscles which 
   contains blood vessels and/or nerves becomes swollen, compressing 
   the blood vessels and/or nerves.  This can lead to pain, swelling, 
   and discomfort, and in severe situations can be an emergency 
   situation requiring surgical intervention.
17.4  What are some common exercise reactions?
   Some number of people experience reactions to exercise, 
   ranging from uticaria, a harmless red blotchiness on the neck, 
   face, or arms, to exercise induced asthma or bronchospasm, 
   to anaphylaxis.
   Exercise-induced asthma (EIA) is most likely to strike 
   individuals exercising in cold, dusty, or excessively humid 
   environments, and can range in severity from mild coughing to 
   severe discomfort.  Individuals who suspect that they
   have exercise-induced asthma are encouraged to seek medical 
   attention to rule out other possibilities, and to ensure the 
   best possible treatment for their condition.
   General recommendations for persons with EIA include an extended 
   warm-up, avoidance of cold, dusty, or extremely humid environments 
   for exercise, pursed-lip breathing, and keeping an inhaler handy 
   for use during exercise (if recommended by physician).  
   While very rare, it is possible for someone to have an allergic 
   reaction to exercise, called exercise-induced anaphylaxis.  This is 
   a life-threatening situation, and requires immediate medical 
   attention.  People prone to EIA can, at the advice of their 
   physician, carry a bee-sting kit to use in such situations.  
   Any person suspecting that they are prone to EIA should consult 
   with their physician before resuming exercise.
17.5  What are some common environmental concerns?
   Extremes of temperature and humidity pose special problems 
   for the exerciser.  In hot weather, care must be taken to wear 
   clothing that is light, breathes well, and allows for the 
   evaporation of sweat.
   "Sauna suits", "tummy wraps", and other products designed 
   to encourage quick weight loss through sweat are particularly 
   dangerous - the body can reach dangerous (or even fatal) core 
   temperatures in very short periods of time.  Weight lost by 
   these methods will be regained as soon as water is ingested 
   again, and so the risk outweighs any "benefit".
   On extremely humid days care must be taken to exercise at 
   an appropriately lowered intensity, out of the high heat/humidity, 
   or even to postpone exercise until the heat/humidity diminish.  
   As exercise intensity increases and more heat must be dissipated, 
   evaporation of sweat becomes the principal means by which cooling 
   occurs.  In a high-humidity environment, evaporation
   becomes less effective at cooling, and the risk of heat-related 
   injury is greater.
   Adequate hydration is also key to safe exercise in the heat, 
   as the body will produce large quantities of sweat.  1-2 cups 
   of water before exercise and 1/2-1 cup of water during exercise 
   are recommended, though more can be ingested.
   It is important to remember that the thirst mechanism lags 
   behind the body's need for fluid - by the time one is thirsty 
   one is already substantially dehydrated.  Even small amounts of 
   dehydration can affect performance, and severe dehydration can be 
   Contrary to popular belief, water consumed during exercise will 
   not contribute to cramping, so "swish and spit" should be avoided in 
   favor of consuming small amounts of water steadily during the 
   exercise session, especially during periods of prolonged exercise.
   In the cold, care must be taken as well.  It is best to dress in 
   layers that will wick sweat away from the body - many of the 
   "high-tech" fabrics that are now available will do this admirably.  
   Outer layers can be used to keep the body warm during warm-up, and 
   removed as exercise progresses to allow the body to cool itself, 
   and then be replaced during the cool-down to avoid an excessive 
   Garments made of fabrics like wool, which will insulate even 
   when wet, are superior to garments made of materials like cotton, 
   which will contain sweat and can contribute to heat lost by 
   evaporation and conduction as the activity level decreases.
17.5.1 Heat-Related Problems and Injuries
    (from Jennifer Robles (Neefer) <>)  Who is at risk for heat-related illness?
   People at risk for heat-related illnesses include those who
   work or exercise outdoors, elderly people, young children, and
   people with health problems.  Also at risk are those who have
   had a heat-related illness in the past, those with medical
   conditions that cause poor blood circulation, and those who take 
   medications to get rid of water (diuretics).
   People usually try to get out of extreme heat before they begin 
   to feel ill.  However, some people do not or cannot.  Athletes
   and those who work outdoors often keep working even after they begin
   to feel ill.  Those living in poorly ventilated or poorly insulated
   or poorly heated buildings are at risk of heat emergencies  Many
   times, they might not even recognize that they are in danger of 
   becoming ill. What are heat related illnesses?
   Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are conditions caused 
   by overexposure to heat.  Heat cramps are the least severe, and
   often are the first signals that the body is having trouble with the
   heat.  Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms.  The usually occur in
   the legs and abdomen.  Think of them as a warning of a possible heat-
   related emergency.
   HEAT EXHAUSTION is a more severe condition than heat cramps.  It 
   often affects athletes, fire fighters, construction workers, and 
   factory workers, as well as those who  wear heavy clothing in hot, 
   humid environments. Its signals include cool, moist, pale or flushed 
   skin, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and exhaustion.
   HEAT STROKE is the least common but most severe heat emergency. It 
   most often occurs when people ignore the signals of heat exhaustion.
   HEAT STROKE develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat
   and begin to stop functioning.  HEAT STROKE is a SERIOUS medical 
   emergency.  The signals of heat stroke include red, hot, dry skin;
   changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow
   breathing. How do you treat heat cramps?
   To care for HEAT CRAMPS, have the victim rest in a cool place.  
   Give them cool water or a commercial sports drink.  Usually, rest and
   fluids are all the person needs to recover.  Lightly stretch and 
   gently massage the area.  The victim should NOT take salt tablets 
   or salt water.  The can make the situation worse.
   When the cramps stop, the person can usually start activity again 
   if there are no other signals of illness.  She should keep drinking 
   plenty of fluids.  Watch the victim carefully for further signals of 
   heat-related illness.  How do you treat other heat-related illnesses ?
   When you recognize heat-related illness in its early stages,
   you can usually reverse it.  Get the victim out of the heat.  Loosen
   any tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths.  If the victim is
   conscious, give cool water to drink.
   Do NOT let the conscious victim drink too quickly.  Give about one 
   glass (4 ounces) of water every 15 minutes.  Let the victim rest in a
   comfortable position and watch carefully for changes in her 
   condition.  The victim should not resume normal activities the same 
   day.  When do you call 911?
   Refusing water, vomiting, and changes in consciousness mean that the
   victim's condition is getting worse.  Call 911 (or emergency 
   services).  If the victim vomits, stop giving fluids and position 
   the victim on the side.  Watch for signals of breathing problems.  
   Keep the victim lying down and continue to cool the body any way you 
   can.  If you have ice packs or cold packs, place them on each of the 
   victim's wrists, ankles, groin, armpit, and neck (a.k.a. pulse 
   points).  Do NOT apply rubbing (isopropyl alcohol). At what temperatures and humidity are heat-related illnesses 
   These curves approximate the figure in the 1993 American Red Cross 
   Standard First Aid manual.
   HOT: {93F (34 C), 20% humidity}, {87 F(31 C), 50%}, {82 F(28 C),100%}
   Sunstroke, heat cramps, or heat exhaustion possible with prolonged
   VERY HOT: {105F(41C), 20%}, {92F(34C), 60%}, {87F(31C), 100%}
   Heat cramps or heat exhaustion likely
   EXTREMELY HOT: {120F (49C), 20%}, {108F(43C), 40%}, {91F(33C), 100%}
   Heat Stroke or sun stroke imminent
     Reference, 1993 American Red Cross Standard First Aid Manual
17.5.2 Specific Cold-Related Injuries - Hypothermia and Frostbite
   Frostbite involves the freezing of tissue, and can range from 
   mild to fairly severe.  The skin will generally look yellowish, and 
   will be cold to the touch.  First aid generally involves warming the 
   affected area using moderately warm water - remember that sensation 
   will be reduced in the area, and the temperature of the water 
   should be verified by running it on unaffected skin!  Do *not* 
   rub the area, as this can cause further tissue damage.
   Frostbite should be examined by a physician to assess the extent 
   of the damage.  It is best prevented by proper clothing and limited 
   exposure to cold.
   Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition wherein the core body 
   temperature has become dangerously low.  Many of the same symptoms 
   as heat exhaustion, including dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, 
   vision problems, etc., may be present.  In the case of hypothermia 
   it is important to call 911 immediately, and use any means present 
   to warm the victim, such as removing excess clothing and putting 
   them in a sleeping bag with an unaffected person who
   can provide body warmth until help arrives.
18.1 How long should I wait after eating to start exercising?
   If you ate something fairly light, you probably don't
   need to wait  very long.  However, since people are
   different, it is difficult to say what the optimum waiting
   period is for everyone.
18.2  What should I eat as my meal before an aerobic workout?  
   Consider that you will probably burn between 300 and 450
   kCal in an aerobics class.  Keep the caloric content of the
   meal below that if you're intending to lose weight.  That
   pretty much lets out any sort of "heavy" meal.  The average
   American's diet is very high in protein, and relatively low
   in complex carbohydrates, so complex carbs before an aerobic
   workout are probably better.  Keep the total calories from fat to
   25% or lower, in general.
18.3  How soon and how much should I eat after an aerobic  
   If you feel like eating immediately after a workout, be
   sure that it's high in carbohydrates, lower in protein, and
   either very low or no fat content.  The carbs should be
   mostly complex.  Durum or semolina pasta, fat-free granola
   bars, and some of the lower-sugar fig or other fruit bars are fine. 
   Try to take in as few kCals as you can - just take the "edge" off. 
   Munching out on broccoli or cauliflower florets with just a touch
   of fat-free Ranch is good.
   If  the workout was pretty intense, I'd recommend about an
   hour's wait afterward before eating a full meal.  Most
   people aren't really ready to eat when they're majorly
   sweaty and still breathing heavily, anyhow.  Cool down, then grab a
   nice refreshing shower, and mellow out with a big glass of ice water.
   Next, find some candles, and sit down to a nice plate of rigatoni 
   with tomato sauce with basil, green peppers, and little bits of 
   chopped mushroom.  Brush your whole wheat toast with a film of 
   olive oil, sprinkle on some freshly-chopped garlic, get the 
19.1  What is the best time of day to exercise?
   As a general rule, if your habits are diurnal, exercise
   in the early evening, when your metabolism is at its peak,
   is more efficient. This varies widely, however, and you
   really need to exercise at the time which "feels" best for
   you.  The best time to work out is when you *want* to, so
   pick a time of day at which you find exercise enjoyable.
20.  Major contributors, unless otherwise noted, are:

   Larry DeLuca    <>
   Denice Howard   <>
   Bobbie Rivere   <>
   Jennifer Robles <>
   Bill Whedon     <>
21.1  What are some aerobic-related phone numbers I should know?
        (from Liesl Kolbe <>)    
    Power Productions      1-800-771-BEAT (2328)
    MusicFlex              1-800-MUFX (6839)
    PROMotion Music        1-800-3804PRO overseas 1-214-219-7410 
            (free demo tape)
    Muscle Mixes           1-800-52mixes (free catalog)
    Ken Alan Associates    1-800-536-6060 (free catalog)
    Aerobics Music Service 1-800-430-3539 (free sample and catalog)
    Body Rhythms           203-489-3526 (custom tapes, drumming & percussion)
    Custom Sounds EuroTrax 1-800-mix-trix
    SpinMaster Vin         1-800-540-7381 (custom tapes free catalog)
    Complete Guide to Exercise Videos (Collage) 1-800-433-6769 
         (free catalog)
    The Firm 1-800-THE FIRM                        
   Sound Systems:
    Audio Visual Now   1-800-491-6874
    Supreme Audio      1-800-445-7398 (free catalog)
    Hydrophonics       1-800-794-6626 (aqua mikes and sound)
    Wireless           315-343-2857 (mike systems)
    JoShel Engineering 315-343-2857 
   Equipment, clothes, books:
    Ground Control  1-800-476-8631  (air bench pro)
    Lady Foot Locker     1-800-877-5239 (for nearest location)
    Body Wrappers   1-800-323-0786 (clothing)
    California ID 1-800-804-2243 (clothing)
    Schwinn 1-303-473-9609 (info on cardio bikes)
    Human Kinetics 1-800-747-4457 Canada 800-465-7301 
         (free brochure, books)
    Fitness Wholesale 1-800-537-5512 (free catalog apparel & equipment)
    Sportjock 1-800-634-4556 (clothes)
    Workout Warehouse 1-800-942-8436 
         (free catalog equipment & educational)
    Eurotard Bodywear 1-800-747-0875
    OPTP 1-800-367-7393 (exercise balls)
    FitBALL 1-800-890-2255 (exercise balls)
    Training Camp 1-800-238-5241 (slides)
    Forza +44(0)171 488 9488 (fitness equipment in Europe)
    R&J Sports 1-800-842-9738 (free catalog discount shoes)
    All That Glitters 1-800-771-4fun (free catalog clothes)
    Fitness Products 1-800-421-1791 (free catalog)
    Road Runner Sports 1-800-551-5558 (Running and Fitness source)
    IDEA    1-800-999-4332 ext 7 (membership info)
    FitClub 1-800-653-club (coach and club packages for kid's fitness)
    SFA Senior Fitness Association 1-800-243-1478 (courses)
    NSCA National Strength & Conditioning Association 402-476-6669
    AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) 1-800-446-2322
    ACE  (American Council on Exercise) 1-800-825-3636
   22.  EXERCISE VIDEOS                      
   22.1  What are some of the best workout videos?
   Here is the list of top workout videos, compiled from news group 
          (from Casey Scalzi <>
   Title             Instructor      Time              Level
  Super Stomachs    Joanie Greggains   15 min
  Phenomenal        Joanie Greggains   30 min
  Weight Watchers                      30 min X 3 tapes
  2000 series Steel Tamilee Webb       50 min X 5 tapes
2 The Firm 1                           60 min  aerob/weight varying
2 The Firm 2                           60 min  aerob/weight varying
  The Firm 3                           60 min  aerob/weight varying
  The Firm 4                           45 min  aerob/weight varying
  The Firm 6                           48 min               varying
  The Firm Tortoise                    60 min               varying
3 Buns and Thighs    Kathy Smith       60 min  Step         varying
2 Step Aerobics      Kathy Smith       60 min  Step         varying
  Sweat Express      Kari Anderson     60 min  Dance Aerob. Intermed
  Step Right Up      Charlene Prickett 60 min  Basic Step   Intermed
  Buns of Steel I    Greg Smith       
  Energy Sprint      Karen Voight's    80 min  Step/toning  advanced
  Power Step Reebok                    40 min  Step workout advanced
  Circuit Training   Keli Robert's     60 min  Circuit step
2 Step Reebok        Gin Miller        40 min  Step         intermed
  Step Ahead         Candace Copeland  45 min  Step         int/adv 
  Serious Curves     Charlene Prickett
  Arms of Steel for Men
  Abs of Steel    Tamilee Webb
  Energy Sprint   Karen Voight         80 min  Step         Mixed/adv
  Two the Max     Kari Anderson        40 min  Hi-lo/step   Advanced
   **I received 7 responses to this query.  The entries with 2 
   in the far left were voted for twice.
   Comments on Tapes:
   Step Right Up - very basic step moves, but constant & 
   challenging, varying.
   Sweat Express - very "dancey" and you need lots of space!
   The Firm - low-impact aerobics using free weights for 
   about one half of the tape.  Volume 6 and the Tortoise 
   also use a barbell and include step aerobics segments, 
   although the stepping sections aren't very long or very
   challenging. The second half of the tape includes floor 
   exercises for legs, Abs, butt and arms, and a stretching 
   section followed by a cool down.  The Firm routines can 
   be customized for any level exerciser by varying the amount 
   of weight used. Beginners are instructed not to use any
   weights at all.  Weights increase as fitness level increases. 
   The Firm - They all have in common the use of hand-weights 
   for combined cardio and strength training.  All of these 
   videos can be tailored to individual levels by decreasing/increasing 
   the amount of the hand-weight used.  The music is not top-40 
   anything, I  think the scores might have been written for 
   the FIRM videos-- the music therefore never gets dull.
   Vol #1:  Simple moves, heaviest weights required, very much 
   strength-oriented, but it gives a great cardio workout too.  
   The Abs are killers!
   Vol #2:  Much more "dancey", but still a good strength workout.  
   The Abs are also very hard!
   Vol #3:  Step. Somewhat complicated at times, but still a 
   good workout. 
   Vol #4:  Step and Strength.  This a great overall workout.  
   I find that I use it a lot just because it is slightly shorter 
   and I have a million things to do.
   Kathy Smith - divided into sections.  Beginning exercisers do 
   the warm up, cool down, and just one stepping section.  Advanced 
   exercisers do more or all stepping sections.
   Kathy Smith - Buns and Thighs is VERY intense using standing 
   strengthening exercises that really tax the glutes, hams and 
   quads. To me it was so difficult it was a little anaerobic. But 
   that can be a good way to increase your anaerobic threshold.
   Buns of Steel I - with Greg Smith is good, but I prefer a cardio 
   workout to the body toning.  Although I do this tape more than 
   the other "toning" tapes I have.  I have "Buns of Steel III" with 
   Tamilee Webb (I think that's how to spell her name) and I don't 
   like it as much.  I find the squats are harder to do at the pace 
   she sets.
   Energy Sprint - I have NEVER found a tape that has done as much 
   for me as this tape.  It starts with lower body toning then 
   proceeds to about 40 min. of aerobics and high-intensity (and 
   sometimes high impact) aerobic sections called energy sprints.  
   The sprints REALLY get your heart going, pushing your aerobic
   threshold then you recover in a short, lower-intensity segment.  
   The end of the tape has thorough upper body and ab toning. The 
   music is motivating, too.  I noticed several things about this 
   tape right away:  1) it made me sweat like no other I've tried; 
   2) it works a lot of additional muscle groups that most step
   tapes ignore; 3) My cardiovascular endurance increased dramatically 
   in less than a month of doing this tape 2x/week, thanks to the 
   interval training.  I wouldn't call the tape "dancey", but rather 
   dance inspired-- the movements are graceful and controlled, use 
   lots of large limb movements and balances.
   Two the Max - A ton of fun for those of us who like a very fast 
   paced, highly choreographed, "dancey" workout.  I've done this video
   at least once a week for over a year and it still makes me smile.
   Step Reebok - Less "dancey".  Very good cueing.  The power step tape 
   is very intense and all moves can be done without the hop.  I do 
   find that these tapes can become boring even though they are 
   intense.  The simple choreography and robot like class can wear on 
   Fitness Background:
   How long have you been exercising to videos?
   All respondents exercised to videos regularly for at least 1.5 
   years.  Some for as many as 8 years.
   How often do you exercise?
   Most respondents use exercise videos as the main form of exercise,
   using the videos around 5 days per week and doing at least one video.
   What is your level of fitness?
   Respondents who answered this question were of intermediate to 
   advanced level.
   What other cross training methods do you use?
   Run approx. 20 mi./wk in good weather
   Occasional long hikes
   3 days at gym for aerobics and two days at gym for weights
   I have gotten great results from Keli Roberts Circuit Video muscle 
   training and Step. Also for those interested in Pilates Keli's 
   Step video has a "Pilates like"l Abdominal section!
   I'd like to vote for Keli Roberts Step (54 minutes) and Keli Roberts
   Circuit Training (56 minutes) Videos
   Both Inter/ Advanced and about
   The Circuit training video uses a band or weights and muscle 
   training is mixed with step aerobics.
   I used to belong to a club and go to step class and lift weights 
   but I ran out of time.... About 9 months ago I started using tapes 
   and bought a step. I have used a bunch of tapes but these more 
   than any other (I still use the Reebok Step Circuit Challenge a bit)
   I ordered Cathe Friedrich's Mega Step Blast from Collage Video.
   All I can say is AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!  This is the best high
   impact advanced tape I've ever done.  I highly recommend it.  
23.1  How do I get certified in the U.S.?
         (from Larry DeLuca <>)
23.1.1  Who certifies aerobics instructors and personal trainers?

   The two major certifying bodies in the US for Aerobics Instructors 
   and Personal Trainers are the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and 
   the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).  Many other 
   organizations provide certifications as well, including the National 
   Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the American College of
   Sports Medicine (ACSM), and a number of regional organizations.

23.1.2  Are they licensed?

   Currently, there is no license (as in a medical license) required to 
   be an Aerobics Instructor or Personal Trainer.  Periodically 
   legislation is drafted, but the industry has done a remarkably good 
   job of policing itself.
   While most clubs require certifications of their instructors, there 
   is no law against teaching without a certification.
23.1.3  Why get certified then?
   In the time since the dawn of aerobics, when people still exercised 
   in bare feet, drawing from dance classes, and having soaring injury 
   rates the industry has grown up, gotten educated, and as a whole 
   approaches exercise very differently.
   While certification is required to work at the majority of clubs 
   these days, that alone should not be a reason to obtain one.  
   Preparation for any of the major certifying bodies' exams will 
   require the candidate to grasp the fundamentals of the exercise 
   sciences - anatomy, kinesiology, physiology.  In addition, the 
   latest research and trends in exercise testing and programming will 
   be covered, and the standards and guidelines for exercise for 
   different populations will be discussed.
   We know a lot more about group and individual exercise now than we 
   did ten years ago, and a lot more is expected of today's instructors 
   than to look fit and know a bunch of exercises and choreography.
23.1.4  Who should I certify with?
   Either ACE's Aerobic Instructor Certification or AFAA's Primary 
   Certification are excellent starting points for aerobics instructors,
   and either organization's Personal Trainer Certification for Personal

   There may also be other organizations in your area.  In the northeast
   (New Hampshire and Massachusetts) there is an organization called
   Fitness Resources, based in Bow, New Hampshire.  (Not to be confused 
   with Fitness Resources Associates in Needham, MA - another excellent 
   organization). Fitness Resources offers an aerobic instructor 
   certification program specifically targeted at new instructors that 
   is not terribly expensive (see How much does it cost?, below).  There
   may be other such organizations in your area.
   Another consideration is the preferred certification in your area.  
   While both organizations are well-respected in the industry, some 
   clubs (and some geographic regions) prefer one or the other.  If 
   you've got a specific place to teach in mind, find out who most of 
   their instructors are certified by.
   Other organizations offer certifications at the national level.  The
   American College of Sports Medicine offers six different 
   certifications (three on the health and fitness track, three on the 
   clinical track), which range from Group Exercise Leader to Cardiac 
   Rehabilitation Director.  The National Strength and Conditioning 
   Association offers Personal Trainer and Certified Strength and 
   Conditioning Specialist certifications.
23.1.5  What kind of training and preparation do I need?  Do I need a 
   degree in exercise science?
   None of ACE or AFAA's certifications require a degree in a fitness-
   related field, nor does the ACSM Exercise Leader certification.  
   Other ACSM certifications and the NSCA Certifications have different 
   requirements, depending on the depth of knowledge and experience 
   expected.  You should contact those organizations for more 
   If you are an experienced instructor or personal 
   trainer, you may be able to pass AFAA or ACE's exams merely by 
   studying their materials and taking the exam.  If you are 
   inexperienced, it is strongly recommended that you take a training 
   course before attempting any of the exams (except the AFAA Personal 
   Trainer Certification, which is a 3-day workshop complete in itself).
23.1.6  What is the format of the ACE exam?  When is it given?
   The ACE exams are written only, and consist of 175 multiple choice 
   questions. Do not be fooled by this - they require a thorough 
   knowledge of the material, and the ability to not only remember 
   facts but to apply them to specific situations as well.
   ACE offers sample examinations that can give you a good feeling for 
   the types of questions the exam will ask and their level of 
   The ACE exam is given quarterly in many cities across the US, and in
   conjunction with several major fitness conventions.
23.1.7.  What is the format of the AFAA exam?  When is it given?
   The AFAA exams include both written and practical components. The 
   written exam consists of 100 multiple choice and matching questions, 
   and is similar to the ACE exam, though the scope is more limited.  
   The practical exam for the Primary Aerobic Certification includes a 
   group exercise demonstration for appropriate warm-up, aerobic 
   exercise, and muscle strengthening for the major muscle groups. The 
   practical exam for the Personal Trainer Certification includes a 
   demonstration of a fitness-testing protocol and an oral component 
   requiring the candidate to answer questions demonstrating a 
   knowledge of exercise science. 
   The AFAA Primary Aerobic Certification is usually given in 
   conjunction with an AFAA-sponsored Primary Certification Review 
   (1-day) or Primary Certification Workshop (2-day), though it is 
   possible to "Challenge" the exam by paying a reduced fee and just 
   taking the written and practical components without the workshop.
   The Personal Trainer Certification is given as a 3-day workshop.  
   There is an optional course presented during the first day called 
   "Introduction to Exercise Science".  If you do not have a strong 
   background in anatomy and kinesiology, it is recommended that you 
   take this course as well.
   AFAA tours the country, presenting many workshops each month in every
   geographic region.
23.1.8.  What training courses are available to me?
   ACE does not provide training directly, but offers ACE accreditation 
   to independent organizations to provide preparation for its exams.  
   You can obtain more information about these by contacting ACE.
   AFAA provides certification reviews, workshops, and instructor 
   training courses periodically.  Independent providers also offer 
   training to prepare candidates for the AFAA exams.  AFAA clearly 
   states in its literature that the 1-day reviews are intended for 
   experienced instructors who merely need a review of information 
   before taking the exam.  Do not expect to be able to absorb enough 
   material in the one-day review to pass the exam if you are not 
   already an experienced instructor.
23.1.9.  Is it expensive?
   ACE's exam costs $145.  To challenge the AFAA Primary Exam is $99.
   AFAA's one-day review is $229, and the Personal Trainer Workshop is 
   $299.  Intro to Exercise Science is $90.
   Prices on training courses vary widely, but $300-$400 is not at all 
   unheard of.
23.1.10.  What else do I need?
   You'll need to be certified for CPR.  The American Heart Association 
   and the American Red Cross both provide acceptable programs. 
23.1.11.  What sort of study materials are available to me?
   ACE publishes two excellent textbooks, their "Aerobic Instructor 
   Manual" and their "Personal Trainer Manual".  Each is about $40, and 
   an excellent investment.
   AFAA publishes a single textbook, called "Fitness: Theory and 
   Practice".  It's also about $40.
23.1.12.  Who can I contact for more info?
   You can reach ACE at:
     American Council on Exercise
     5820 Oberlin Drive, Suite 102
     San Diego, CA 92121-3787
   You can reach AFAA at:
     Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
     15250 Ventura Blvd., Suite 200
     Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
   Thanks to Bill Whedon and Laura Hoey for their help on the 
   information about ACE.
23.2  How do I get certified in the U.K?
     (From Trevor Burton) <>
23.2.1.  Who certifies aerobics instructors and personal trainers?
   For Aerobic Exercise in the UK, the Royal Society of Arts (RSA)
   offer a "Basic Certificate in Exercise to Music".  Other
   organisations offer their own certificates, but there is currently
   no awarding body established within education and training other
   than the RSA.  The industry is in the middle of re-organising and
   producing National Vocational Qualifications (as have several other
   industries), which will then be certified by any recognised awarding
   body such as City & Guilds, BTEC and RSA. There are many regional
   qualifications, for example, local authorities may run their own
   courses for instructors in their areas. More advanced qualifications
   than the Basic Certificate are available and many are valuable and
   worthwhile.  For some of these (ante- and post-natal exercise and
   over-50s exercise) the YMCA is the only body (AFAIK) offering
   training and certification.
23.2.2.  Are they licensed?
   No license or qualification is required by law in the UK to teach as
   an Aerobics Instructor or Personal Trainer.    
23.2.3.  Why get certified then?
   Larry's answer about clubs requiring certification/getting up to
   date with exercise knowledge/increased expectations of instructors
   applies to the UK too
   Also, the public are becoming more educated and many customers are
   now expecting their instructors to be qualified, and inquiring about
   qualifications.  Some insurance companies are requiring a certain
   number of hours training before they will personally insure aerobics
   instructors - a requirement for hiring some private halls for
23.2.4.  Who should I certify with?
   At national level in the UK, there is the Central YMCA which
   offers the RSA Basic Certificate and several other of its own
   certificates relating to exercise such as weight training, circuit
   training, ante- and post-natal exercise, exercise for seniors, aqua,
   fitness assessment. These are offered by the area offices of the
   Central YMCA throughout the UK. 
   At the regional level in the UK, there are many organisations such
   as commercial companies or colleges of further education which also
   offer the RSA Basic Certificate.  Some organisations such as local
   authorities may offer their own certificates. 
   When choosing who to get certified with, choose carefully.  The same
   certification may cost more with one organisation than another, and
   some organisations have a reputation for high quality.  The 
   Central YMCA has an excellent reputation, although its courses are
   not the cheapest.  You need to decide if you are only interested in
   a certificate or you wish to study on a quality course.  Ask the
   course organiser for recent students who you can contact to find out
   about the course.
23.2.5.  What kind of training and preparation do I need?  Do I need a 
         degree in exercise science?
   Any prior exercise knowledge or experience is an advantage if you
   are taking the RSA Basic Certificate, however, if you are committed,
   you can pass the course with no previous knowledge or experience.
   For more advanced courses, the RSA Basic Certificate is often a
   At the moment, you cannot take the RSA examination without taking
   the course, however, this is set to change in the near future.
23.2.6.  What is the format of the RSA exam?  When is it given?
   The examination consists of 5 parts.  These may be examined on one
   exam day, but one section is sometimes examined by the course tutor
   during the course.  The exam day is several weeks after the course
   has finished.  This gives students time to prepare the 10 week plan
   and fifth week class.
   a. Students must write a class critique of a class they have
   attended. They analyse the class in terms of structure,
   appropriateness for the class participants, appropriateness of the
   music (tempo and beat). They also analyse the teacher's style in
   terms of how (if!) they teach as opposed to lead, clarity of cueing
   and use of voice.  This section may be examined during the course
   rather than on examination day.

   b. A written examination lasting one hour with multiple choice or
   short answer questions on anatomy, physiology, kinesiology,

   c. A written test lasting 15 minutes which consists of case studies
   of individuals who wish to exercise, but who have particular
   preferences or risk factors for exercise.  Students recommend
   exercise programmes appropriate to the individual.

   d.   Students must produce a 10 week plan for a beginners class which
   with weeks 1, 5 and 10 shown in detail.  The plan must show
   progression in terms of time spent on each component, intensity of
   each component and complexity of choreography.  This is examined by
   an interview with an external examiner.

   e.   Students must prepare and teach a 45 minute aerobic class based 
   on the fifth week of their progressive plan.  This is taught to a 
   class of about 8 in the presence of the examiner on examination day. 
   The examiner usually asks the student to demonstrate selected 
   sections from the class and not to teach the whole class from start 
   to finish.
23.2.7.  What training courses are available to me?
   In the UK, the RSA is a certifying body, not a training body, but
   all organisations offering the Basic Certificate must register with
   the RSA.
   For details of course dates and fees, contact your local college of
   further education, or Central YMCA (who may pass you on to their 
   regional centres).
23.2.8.  Is it expensive?
   Prices for the RSA Basic Certificate course vary widely, but
   including the examination, expect to pay between UKP 200 and UKP
23.2.9.  What else do I need?
   In the UK, CPR certification is not compulsory by law, but may be
   required by health clubs and sports centres.  Responsible exercise
   teachers should seek CPR qualification in any case.  The St. John's
   Ambulance Brigade, the British Red Cross or the St. Andrew's
   Ambulance Association all offer cheap CPR courses with widely
   accepted certificates.
23.2.10.  What sort of study materials are available to me?
   Central YMCA publishes "The English YMCA Guide to Exercise to
   Music" by Lesley Mowbray and Rodney Cullum, Pelham Books, ISBN
   0-7207-2021-4.  This is getting a little out of date now, but is an
   acceptable basic text at a price of UKP 10.99
   You could also try "A reference manual for teachers of Dance
   Exercise"  by Jill May, W. Foulsham and Co., ISBN 0-572-01472-4 at
   UKP (about) 10. This is aimed more at practising teachers rather
   than those in training.
23.2.11.  Who can I contact for more info?
   You can reach the RSA at:
   Royal Society of Arts Examinations Board
   Westwood Way
   CV4 8HS
   Telephone 01203 470033
   You can reach Central YMCA at:
   Central YMCA
   Training & Development Department
   112 Great Russell Street
   Telephone 0171 343 1800
             0171 580 2989
   Fax 0171 436 1278

    DATE : December 30, 1998
        Updated URL for this faq
    Section 3
        Updated the URL for the Training Nutrition FAQ

    DATE : July 20, 1998
    Section 8.1
        Modified introduction to "fat burning" section
    Section 20
        Added Denise and my e-mail to the authors list

    DATE : July 18, 1998
    Sections 20
        Changed BR e-mail 

    DATE : June 17, 1998
    Sections 8.2, 8.3, 8.4
        Added information on fat burning

    DATE : May 5, 1998
    Section 15.2:
        Modified foot placement instruction in order to clearly
        indicate risk of injury by improper foot placement on
        step.  Rewrote instructions for repeaters and lunges.
    Section 15.3:
        Added to statement on step height. 
    Section 15.5:
        Changed tempos to reflect current Reebok

    DATE : January 18, 1998
    Section 7.1:
        Corrected the math.

    DATE : September 26, 1997
        Introduction: added paragraph to indicate that many of
        the frequently asked questions are about weight or fat loss.
    Section 7.1:
        Modified the question to indicate that the asker is
        interested in fat loss.
    Section 8.1:
        Removed line about the number of calories in a pound of
    Section 9.1:
        Rewrote section.
    Section 10.2:
        Modified section to more clearly indicate the bodyfat
        index concept.
    Section 11.1:
        Rewrote section.

    DATE: April 1, 1997
        Introduction: modified to more accurately reflect revision 
        TOC: added section 24. CHANGES TO THE FAQ
    Section 1:
        changed Bobbie's e-mail address
    Section 3:
        added FAQs
    Section 4.2:
        changed Ron's e-mail address
    Section 6.2:
        corrected typo
    Section 20:
        changed Bobbie's e-mail address
    Section 23.2:
        changed London Central YMCA to Central YMCA
        added new phone number

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