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misc.fitness FAQ (part 2)

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Archive-name: misc-fitness/part2

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
                     MISC.FITNESS FAQ and a little more..
                             Revision: 1.0.5

     
                                Created By
                     Jeff Gleixner (glex@cray.com)
                     with various contributions from people 
                              on misc.fitness.
     
                     A big thanks to Katie Henry who
                     created the home equipment section, and
                     to Kyle Wilson for HTMLing this.
                     
     

This is the FAQ for misc.fitness.  I'd like to thank everyone on 
misc.fitness for sharing their advice and experiences.  I tried to keep 
names and addresses of articles that I included, but a few were lost.  
I'm sure this will grow over time.  If you notice anything that's incorrect 
or if you'd like to add your point of view, please send some nice e-mail 
to glex@cray.com.  I'll correct, or add it, to this document.

This is available via anonymous ftp from ftp.cray.com in the /pub/misc.fitness
directory.  I have also placed a supplemental document in there which is
a collection of various posts from people on misc.fitness about protein,
carbohydrates, muscle, supplements, etc. called "supplemental.doc" 
(see question #19).  The URL for the HTML version is
ftp://ftp.cray.com/pub/misc.fitness/. 

This document actually consists of 5 parts.

Part 1: The FAQ.
Part 2: Exercise Equipment information.
Part 3: Listing of 2-4 exercises per body part and the areas they work.
part 4: Listing of recommended books and magazines.
Part 5: Glossary of Basic Definitions of fitness terms.

Because of the size they will be posted as

Part 1: FAQ 
Part 2: FAQ continued & Exercise Equipment Information 
Part 3: Exercises, Books & Magazines, Glossary


This is part 2.

- Continuation of Part 1: The Frequently Asked Questions (and answers :) --

35. What's the best exercise to do and when is the best time to workout?

	The best exercise to do is whatever exercise you enjoy.  Most
	people like variety and will run one day and play basketball the
	next day.  Find an activity that you enjoy and stick with it.

	The best time to work out is, again, whatever time of day you
	like.  Some people are morning people and they usually have no
	problem with going to the gym at 0600, others like to workout
	at night.  What time of day you workout isn't important, what's
	important is how you're working out and if you're getting enough
	nutrients and rest.

36. Shin splints: What is it and what to do if you have it?

  From:holtcscs@supercom.win.net (Stephen Holt, CSCS)
  ** Stolen from the rec.running FAQ. **

    ------------ START ---------
  Shin splints (Harry Y Xu hyx1@cunixa.cc.columbia.edu)
             (Doug Poirier os2user@dougp.austin.ibm.com)
             (Rodney Sanders rdsand@ccmail.monsanto.com)

    Excerpts from _The SportsMedicine Book_ by Gabe Mirkin, MD. and
    Marshall Hoffman:

    ``Shin splints is....condition that can result from muscle imbalance.
    They are characterized by generalized pain in front of the lower leg
    and are particularly common in runners and running backs....  The most
    common cause is a muscle imbalance where the calf muscles--which pull
    the forefoot down--overpower the shin muscles--which pull the forefoot
    up.  As the athlete continues to train, the calf muscle usually
    becomes proportionately much stronger than the shin muscles.
    
    The treatment for shin splints is to strengthen the weaker muscles
    (shins) and stretch the stronger muscles (calves).
    
    To strengthen the shins, run up stairs.  To stretch the calves,...(do
    stretching exercises for the calves, et. the wall push-ups)'' *end of
    excerpts.
    
    _________________________________________
    
    In my experience, I have found that stretching is the real key to
    avoiding shin-splints.  I believe there's a book with stretches by Bob
    Anderson that you may want to check.  Also, back issues of running
    magazines sometimes have helpful information.  Basically, I do the
    standard "lean on the wall stretch" and a stretch by standing
    flat-footed on one leg and bending at the knee to stretch the
    achilles.  I then top these off with a few toe raises (no weights!)
    before I head out to run...  If you're having trouble, I'd recommend
    stretching 2-3 times a day until you get over the problem.  Start
    slowly!
    
    Also, you probably should avoid hills and extremely hard surfaces
    until the situation improves. I've known several people who've had
    shin splints and gotten over them by stretching.  (Of course, you
    should be careful in case the shin splints are the result of a more
    severe problem...)
    
    ------------------------

    Help with shin splints.

    1. Try picking up marbles with your toes and holding onto them for a few
       seconds. 
    
    1A. While recovering from shin splints, it may help to use a wedge in
        the heel of your shoes.  By raising the heel, you are reducing the
        pull on the muscles and tendons on the front.
    
    2. Stand on the stairs with your heels out over the edge. Lower your
       heels as far as they will go without undue discomfort, and hold for 15
       seconds.  Slowly raise yourself up on your toes. Repeat 5 million
       times. (Sherwood Botsford sherwood@space.ualberta.ca)
    
    3. If you can, rig something with either surgical tubing or a large 
       rubberband.  For example: put the tubing around one of the back legs 
       of your desk in some sort of a loop. Reach under the tubing with your 
       toes, with your heel as a pivot pull the tubing toward you. This will 
       work the muscle in the front of the shins. Repeat 6 million times. 
       It's easier than the stair exercise
    
    4. Run on different terrain, preferably grass. It'll absorb the shock.
    
    5. This normally affects knees, but it might affect shins.  Don't run on 
       the same side of the road all of the time. It is sloped left or right 
       to let the water run off. Running on the same slope for long periods of
       time will cause adverse effects to the ankles, shins...etc.... If
       you are running on a track, alternate your direction of travel, as the
       lean when you are going around the corners is at least as bad as the
       crown slope of a road.  This is especially true of small indoor
       tracks.
    
    6. For strengthening the front muscles: Make a training weight by tying
       a strip of cloth to a pop bottle.  Sit on the kitchen counter top,
       hang the bottle from your toes, and raise it up and down by flexing
       your ankle. The weight can be adjusted by adding water or sand to the
       bottle. (Sherwood Botsford sherwood@space.ualberta.ca)
    
    7. Scatter a few chunks of 2x4 around the house where you tend to
       stand, say kitchen and bathroom.  Now every time you are at the stove
       or at the bathroom (in front of either fixture) stand on the 2x4 and
       rest your heels on the floor.  One in front of the TV and used during
       every commercial will either stretch you, or stop you from watching
       TV. (Sherwood Botsford sherwood@space.ualberta.ca)
     ----------------------------END-------------------------------------- 

  Also from David Will <david.will@ColumbiaSC.NCR.COM>

    Shin splints - Usually refers to damage of the connective tissue on
    the front of the lower leg (tibialis anterior).

    Shin splints usually are caused by putting weight/stress/shock on
    the ball of the foot.  Causes include poor shoes (not much shock
    absorption), changes in surface, lack of stretching before and after
    exercise, rapid increase in intensity and duration.  When walking
    or running make an effort to do this heel to toe.  Heel comes down
    first, then let the toe come down.  On the steps, you are probably
    flat footed.
    
    Basically do dorsal flexion (toe raises w/heel flat on ground).
    This can be done sitting or standing with or without weight on
    the top of your foot.  This will strengthen the muscle.  To stretch
    this muscle you need to do plantar flexion (point your toes).  This
    should be done before and after the exercise.  I sometimes stand
    with my heel on a step, and point my toes down as far as I can.
    
    There is another disorder called Anterior Compartment Syndrome.
    This is severe persistent pain in the shin area caused by build up
    of pressure in the connective tissue and fascia.  This is probably
    what you've heard referred to as shin splints.  I don't know of any
    exercise that makes shin splints heal faster (but maybe there is).
    I think they just get better with time.
    
    --David

37. Will muscle turn into FAT?

	No!  They are two different things.  Will an apple turn into
	an orange?  The muscle, if not used, will become smaller and
	FAT deposits may appear over and within the muscle, but the
	muscle doesn't change into FAT.


38. What are Plyometrics?

	From: lylemcd@delphi.com

	Well, plyometrics are basically a form of modified  power  train-
	ing. However, generally speaking, only body weight is used due to
	the high impact nature of this technique.  Similar  power  train-
	ing,  plyometrics emphasizes speed of movement over anything else
	(well, perhaps not safety).  The goal is to "teach" your  muscles
	to   respond  quickly  and  powerfully.   Also,  some  feel  that
	plyometrics may improve neural pathways and improve muscle  fiber
	recruitment over time.  This makes it useful as well for athletes
	who don't necessarily need power  but  desire  improved  strength
	(i.e.   power  lifters  and  body-builders).  So, what exactly is
	plyometrics.

	Well, before I get into the actual description of plyometrics and
	how  to  incorporate them into a work out routine, let me bore you
	with some physiology.  Plyometrics relies on  one  of  the  basic
	facts  of  muscular physiology: a pre-stretched muscle is capable
	of generating more force.  Basically, if two conditions  are  met
	during  the  performance of plyometrics, greater force output can
	be realized.  The two conditions are this:
	
  	1. The  muscle must  be pre-stretched  prior to  the concentric 
     	   movement 
  	2. This  pre-stretch  must  occur  immediately   prior  to  the 
     	   concentric movement or nothing happens

	Actually, you've probably all done this if  you've  even  jumped.
	Think about it, when you jump what do you do right before leaving
	the ground?  You take a slight prep by bending your legs so  that
	you  can jump further or higher.  Well, this prep movement satis-
	fies the above two conditions.  This is why  high  jumpers  do  a
	quick  knee  flexion before jumping and basketball players do the
	same thing, so that they can go higher easier.  Ok,  enough  phy-
	siology.
	
	Although plyometrics can be used for essentially any  muscle,  it
	is  probably  most frequently performed for the legs as most ath-
	letes require the majority in  their  legs.   Probably  the  most
	basic  plyometric  exercise  is depth jumps.  Very basically, you
	stand on top of a box, chair or table and jump to the ground  off
	of  it.   You  should  absorb  some of the impact by bending your
	knees (which fulfills requirement 1) and then immediately jump as
	high  as  possible  (which  fulfills requirement 2).  This can be
	performed for several repetitions.  As you can imagine, the limit
	to  plyometric  exercises  is really determined by one's imagina-
	tion.  Plyometric push-ups are very  possible  by  exploding  the
	body off the floor, absorbing the impact with the hands, lowering
	the body slightly and then exploding again in  rapid  succession.
	Also,  there  are  several  books available which outline various
	plyometric exercises for various muscles.
	
	However, understand that there is a high injury potential as this
	type  of  exercise  is  extremely high intensity.  Generally, box
	height on depth jumping should be kept between eight and  sixteen
	inches  (1)  to  minimize risk potential.  Also, due to it's high
	intensity nature, plyometrics should probably only  be  performed
	at  limited  times  during  the year (preferably during the power
	phase if you are following periodization) and no more than once a
	week  to avoid injury.  Also, due to the high stress that will be
	felt on the connecting tissues (ligaments and tendons), at  least
	six  months  or more of basic weight training should be performed
	before incorporating plyometrics into any routine.
	
	For more information, please see  "Explosive  Power:  Plyometrics
	for  Bodybuilders,  martial artists and other athletes" available
	from Health for Life (1-800-874-5339), "Jumping into Plyometrics"
	by  Donald  A. Chu, PhD available from Human Kinetics (1-800-747-
	4457).
	
	For   a   catalog   of   previous   posts   send   requests    to
	lylemcd@delphi.com along with questions/comments.
	
	Lyle
	
	References:  1. M.F. Bobbert et. al. "Drop Jumping II. The influ-
	ence of dropping height on the biomechanics of drop jumping" Med.
	Sci.  Sports Exerc Vol 19(4), 322-346.  1987.


39. I don't want to look like a bodybuilder.  Should I still lift weights?

	YES! For most people, adding muscle is very difficult.  Hard work,
	eating right, and having the right genetics are all needed to
	get the bodybuilder look.  It also takes years, and most often a 
	lot of steroids, to put on the kind of mass that you see in 
	magazines.  If you find yourself getting more muscle than you'd like,
	then you can stop training and they will shrink, due to lack of
	work.  You can use weights, or progressive resistance, to
	make you stronger, faster and more explosive, as well as making
	yourself look the way you want.  If you want bigger arms it's
	possible to train your arms and they'll become larger.  Looking
	like a bodybuilder takes extreme determination and the right 	
	gene pool, it isn't something that "just happens".  It is also
	important to note that most athletes use weights to improve their 
	strength and their performance, and don't end up looking like a 
	bodybuilder, even though they train very hard.

40. If I'm doing both aerobic exercise and weight training, which one 
      should be done first?

	If you want to add muscle and lose FAT during the same workout 
	you should do the weight training first.  Why?  First of all 
	you'll have more energy, which usually results in a more productive
	weight training workout.  Second, there is a time span of about 
	60 minutes, after starting the workout, where Growth Hormone 
	levels are slightly higher than normal.  You want to take advantage 
	of that by making the workout not last more than 60 minutes.  Weight 
	training first may hamper the aerobic exercise because your tired, 
	but you raise your chances of building muscle, which will burn more
	FAT in the long run.  A better way would be to do them on different 
	days and allowing yourself adequate rest between weight training 
	sessions. 

41. Is there a nutritional database available via FTP?

	The USDA Nutrient database is available from info.umd.edu in the 
	directory 
	/inforM/EdRes/Topic/AgrEnv/USDA/USDAFoodCompositionData/Data/SR10         

	It's pretty trivial to add fields to the numbers in the database, which
	is about 4.5MB.

	The following nutrition data files are available from anonymous
	ftp to ftp.cray.com in the /pub/misc.fitness directory:

		ABBREVIATED.DATA.gz Abbreviated database from the above
			site with each field labeled.

		NUTRITION.DATA.gz : Concatenation of the SR files from the
			above site.

		NUTRITION.LABELED.gz : Nutritional database with each field 
			labeled.


42. How does form affect the muscles that are worked?

	From: Tim Mansfield <timbomb@cs.uq.oz.au>
	This is a summary of an interview with John Parillo entitled "Form vs
	Structure" by Greg Zulak, Musclemag International, #136, September
	1993.

	Parillo argues in the interview that what some people take to be
	genetic differences between two trainees, who do the same exercise but
	gain different results, may in fact be the result of differing exercise
	form. Small differences in the execution of the exercise can stress
	entirely different muscles or parts of muscles.
	
	Exercise	variation			muscles exercised
	-----------------------------------------------------------------------
	Bent Row	pinch shoulder blades		rhomboids, trapezius
			shoulders down			lats, teres
			bar to stomach			rear delt, lower lat 
							as well
	
	Chins		lean back			upper lats, teres
			lean forward, knees up		lower lats
	
	Pulldowns	stay vertical, pull elbows
			to bottom, not back, shoulders 
			down at bottom of movement	lower lats
			arched back, elbows behind	upper lats
	
	Bent Lateral	straighten arms at top		rear delt
			leave arms bent, pinch shoulder
			blades				rhomboids
	
	Behind Neck Press	keep shoulders lowered at the top	
	
	Bench Press	sternum arched, shoulders 
			down and back			pecs
			chest flat, shoulders raised	front delt
	
	Flyes		as for bench press
	
	Tricep Extensions
			elbows wide, bar moves 
			straight			tricep belly
			elbows in, bar moves in an
			arc				tricep heads
	
	Bicep curls	supinated (palm down?) at top	outside head
			pronated (palm up?) at top	inside head
	
	Squats		hips forward at start of raise	thighs
			hips back and up at start	lower back, glutes
			narrow stance, toes forward,
			push with balls of feet		front thigh
			wider stance, toes out,
			push with heels			outer thigh
	
	Calf Raises	toes straight, heels turned in 
			at the top			inner head
			toes straight, heels turned out
			at the top			outer head
			seated, feet under body		soleus
	
	Stiff-Legged
	Deadlifts	arched back, pivot from hip	hamstrings
			rounded back, pivot from lower
			back				lower back (dangerous)
			arched back, pivot from hips
			drive hips forward at 2/3 point,
			squeeze glutes			glutes

43. Supplements (Chromium Picolinate, Met-Rx, Vanadyl Sulfate,
	Cybergenics, etc. ), Do they work?

	Supplements don't have any anabolic affect.  They may
	provide extra protein or calories, but they won't build
	muscle for you.  Those ads sure do look nice don't they?
	Look carefully at them.  The before picture is low light,
	gut hanging out, bad pose, and usually no tan.  In the "after"
	picture they're sucking in the gut, doing a descent pose, 
	good light, oiled skin, and are usually very tan.  All of
	that is done to make them appear larger and more defined.
	Supplements may have a psychological affect, which could easily
	make you work harder and gain muscle, but it's not the product
	that's making you gain muscle, it's the extra work you're doing.

	The bodybuilders are getting paid very well for saying that
	a certain product made them who they are.  The fact is that
	they are approached well after they win a few contests and
	after they are already huge.  The only supplement that works
	is anabolic steroids, which won't be discussed in this document.
	
	Use supplements only if you're having trouble eating a well
	balanced diet or are trying to increase your calories or protein
	intake.  Don't buy them with the thought that they will suddenly
	pack 10 pounds of muscle on your body, they won't!  Your money 
	would be better spent on a hiring a good trainer or on buying 
	better food.  If you are going to buy a supplement, Twinlab has 
	a good reputation for high quality products. Don't buy any Weider 
	product.  Many of their products have been tested and found to be 
	very low quality.

	What do some supplements really do?

	Boron: 
		- Research found incidence of impotence & infertility in
			males.
		- Increase absorption of Calcium & Magnesium, which
			stimulates alertness in the brain.
		- No anabolic effect.

	Vanadyl Sulfate:
		- Increase glucose transport into muscles.
		- Muscles will appear larger in approx. 80% of the people
			who use it.  Once it is discontinued, the muscles
			go back to normal.  It should be cycled, and it 
			could be used to give you an advantage for a
			contest.  Order it from Sports Pharma.
		- No anabolic effect.

	Chromium Picolinate:
		- Insulin boosting action.  Will provide energy for 
			people with low blood sugar.
		- No anabolic effect.

	Cybergenics:
		- Good, detailed training program, the supplements provide
			no anabolic effect.

	Met-Rx: 
		- Good when used as a meal replacement.  
		- Expensive.
		- No anabolic effect.

	If you're looking for mail order places here are some recommended
	1-800 numbers.  Most, if not all, offer a catalog and very
	cheap prices.

		Hardbody Enterprises NJ 1-800-378-6787
		Iron Warehouse -Canada 	1-800-561-3856. open 24hrs.
		Power Store  		1-800-382-9611
		Vitamin Wholesalers 	1-800-848-6896
		DPS Nutrition 		1-800-697-4969
		Nutrition Discounters 	1-800-362-3306
		L&H Vitamins NY		1-800 221-1152
		Price Destroyers        1-800-xxx-xxxx (number unknown/changed)
		 (If you know their number please fwd to glex@cray.com)
		Warehouse Sport Sales   1-800-677-4810
		Health Depot            1-800-786-4611
		Nutrition Warehouse     1-800-362-3306
		JBN                     1-800-487-2111
		DSS                     1-800-666-6865
		S&S Enterprises, Inc.   1-800-456-3955


44. How much protein is in an egg?

	The egg is the most complete souce of protein. 

			White	Yolk
	Protein		3g	3g
	Fat		Nil	5g
	Calories	15	60

------------- Part 2: Exercise Equipment information ---------------


   This section consists of responses to the FAQ Exercise Equipment survey,
   plus miscellaneous opinions found in misc.fitness. Thanks to everyone
   who answered the survey. If you would like to share your experiences
   with exercise equipment (good or bad), write to Katie Henry at
   khenry@austin.wireline.slb.com.
   
   Equipment is grouped by category:

   Inline skates
      RollerBlade
      Zetra
   Exercise bikes
      LifeCycle
   Rowing machines
      Concept II
   Cross-country skiing machines
      General information
      Nordic Track Pro
      Nordic Track 900
      Precor
   Treadmills
      General information
      LifeStride
      Jane Fonda's Treadmill
      Precor 905
   Home gyms/weight equipment
      The Hammer
      Parabody EX350
      BMI 9700
   Step machines/stair-climbers
   Slideboards
   Other equipment
      HealthRider
   
   
   VOICES OF EXPERIENCE
   --------------------
   The majority of home exercise equipment is no longer in use within a
   year of purchase. Why? Frankly, it is boring to run on a treadmill,
   ride an exercise bike, ski on a ski machine, etc. Think _very_ carefully
   before spending your money. I like my treadmill because I can train hard
   in the winter for the summer racing season. Without that goal, I doubt 
   I'd use it very often.
   
   ..........
   
   I've now spent $600 for the NordicTrack, $1100 for the Parabody EX350, 
   about $1500 for new CDs of music to work out with, about $3000 on new 
   clothes and alterations to the old, and $300 for a new CD player stereo 
   for my little gym. So, the actual retail cost of losing 65 lbs is 
   just $6500, $100 per pound. Maybe I should have thought of this when 
   I was putting that weight on. Ah well, it was money well spent, I 
   think.
   
   ..........
   
   >What is better for shedding fat? The [x-equipment] or [y-equipment]?
   
   It doesn't make any difference. Any exercise that allows you to maintain 
   a training heart rate (60% to 75% of HR reserve) for 30-60 minutes, 3-5 
   times a week will help you to lower your levels of stored body fat
   (assuming nutritional intake is appropriate). Other than that, you should
   choose a machine (and activity) that you like and that is of good quality
   to keep you motivated.
   
   The idea that one machine or another (or that one intensity of aerobic
   exercise or another) will burn more fat or cause you to lose your stored
   body fat faster is mostly a bunch of marketing crap. Stick with what you 
   like.
   
   
   INLINE SKATES
   -------------
   
   ROLLERBLADE
   
   I own Aeroblades by Rollerblade. They use a three-buckle system that 
   makes it easier to get in/out of. Same w/the Cool Blade, which is a 
   cheaper version and I think may have been discontinued. I've seen a few 
   comments on the Metro, usually complaining that they don't support the foot 
   well and/or convincingly. If you don't get a lot of feedback in this 
   group, I suggest posting to rec.skate.
   
   
   ZETRA
   
   I own a three-year-old pair of Zetras, now called the Zetrablade.
   They've been great for getting me to class on time and for touring
   the regional parks around the Bay Area (again, the moderate recreation/
   exercise motif). And, they have heel brakes on both skates, which is
   nice for beginners who aren't necessarily left- or right-footed.
   
   If I had to buy another pair, I'd definitely get a model with at least
   one ski-boot type bracket on it (there's probably a term for it that
   I don't know) which helps a lot with the fit of the boot. I always
   have to stop after the first 10 minutes and tighten my laces.
   
   
   EXERCISE BIKES
   --------------
   
   LIFECYCLE
   
   IC>I am considering buying a LifeCycle. Could anybody give me
   IC>advice on where and for how much I could expect to buy one?
   
   New ones run anywhere from a $700-$1,500. I highly suggest a used one.
   In Los Angeles, we have a newspaper of classified ads called the Recycler
   and I see used ones listed all the time. Check out the fitness equipment
   section of your local paper as well. (Keep in mind that in the L.A.
   overload of fitness fanatics makes for me used LifeCycles available)
   
   IC>I saw an ad recently from LifeFitness of Irvine CA. Are they
   IC>reputable?
   
   LifeFitness INVENTED the LifeCycle. Can't get any more reputable than
   that!
   
   IC>Finally, if there is another make I should consider, please let
   IC>me know. Primarily I'm interested in a reliable bike that can
   IC>simulate hills (I miss New York!).
   
   Go to your local Fitness store. You live in a big enough city where they
   are going to have a high end fitness equipment store (vs. a sporting
   goods store).
   
   You might also consider calling some of your local health clubs to find
   out who services their LifeCycles. Then call the servicing companies to
   see if they have any units for sale used or who else might in the area
   or who sells them new.
   
   Good luck and happy cycling!
   
   ..........
   
   Best aerobic bike ever built (IMHO). I own a 5500 that I bought
   new four years ago, still runs great. A friend found a 6500 at a
   flea market for $200, cleaned it up--it runs great. I have no 
   reason to mistrust LifeFitness.
   
   ..........
   
   Buy the LifeCycle from LifeFitness. The best model is the recumbent
   5500r. It will run you a little over $2,000, but it's worth every penny
   and LifeFitness offers financing, which makes it relatively painless to
   buy.
   
   ..........

   Tectrix is also very good and Trotter is comming out with a bike soon.
   ..........
   
   ROWING MACHINES
   ---------------
   
   CONCEPT II
   
   >Is the Concept II worth $700?
   
   Yes. you could easily spend $300-$400 on something not even 1/10 as 
   good. If you really think rowing is the thing for you, the Concept 
   II is hard to beat.
   
   
   CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING MACHINES
   -----------------------------
   
   GENERAL ADVICE
   
   X country ski machines are great---IF---that's an activity that you 
   will enjoy and stay with. Don't listen to the marketing BS about 
   "world's best aerobic exercise." That claim is based on arcane 
   scientific distinctions that have no practical worth to the 
   average exerciser. If you like to do it, they will be effective 
   and help you attain goals if done properly (correct intensity,
   frequency, duration).
   
   >From the owner of the Nordic Track PRO, below:
     I have since also used some of the lesser NordicTrack models and would
     suggest that anyone considering purchase should spring the extra bucks
     and get one of the models that allows the front end to be elevated. It's
     not so much that elevating the front is, in and of itself, that great,
     but that the design of these units gives a more stable base.
   
   
   NORDIC TRACK
   
   My experience says, stick with the Nordic Track machines. (Their 
   advertising may be BS but the products are good.) I have tried 
   the "lever arm" type of machine (costing $350.00) and fond it 
   uncomfortable and difficult to achieve a quality workout.
   
   As for price, the best Nordic Track machines are in the $450-600 
   range. For your long-term enjoyment, I strongly advise not settling 
   for anything less in price. IMHO, it is good $$$ after bad. See if 
   you can't try out a Nordic Track in a club or with a friend before 
   you buy. Good luck.
   
   ..........
   
   I bought a NordicTrack PRO from NordicTrack by mail order. When it 
   arrived, I hauled the box upstairs and proceeded to get out my tool box
   figuring that I would now have to spend the next six hours assembling
   the thing. It slid out of the box, unfolded and was operational
   in a matter of minutes without even opening my toolbox. (Oh, I
   do think that I had to get a screwdriver to attach the stupid
   electronics thing that Nordic tried to convince me was worth
   $150, though they threw it in free, which is a good thing since
   it most certainly isn't worth $15 much less $150.)
   
   I decided to begin slowly, so I decided to do just ten minutes.
   After about eight, I fell off exhausted and seriously considered
   calling 911 for myself. However, after about two months of gradually
   working up, I began doing four one-hour runs a week. In seven months, 
   I lost 60 lbs and now weigh 165. I feel great.
   
   The NordicTrack itself is none the worse for wear after all of that
   hard work (and I do go at it rather aggressively). It showed some alarming
   signs of wear early on, but that has now settled in. It seems like it 
   just needed to break in like a new pair of shoes. In the almost nine
   months that I've had it and used it regularly, I've had no problems with
   it at all. It got rather noisy at one point and the neighbors complained.
   I hadn't noticed it since it apparently got noisy gradually. I just cranked
   up the tunes to compensate. ... Anyway, I called the Nordic people and they 
   suggested oiling the idler wheels with light, household oil. The noise 
   disappeared and I was surprised. Now I seem to notice it starts to get 
   that noise back every few months. A quick drop or two of oil and she 
   runs smooth again.
   
   Aside from the expected exhaustion and the initial adjustments of my 
   heretofore idle body at the onset of this regime, I have not felt any
   injury or other adverse effects of "tracking," even as aggressively as I
   do it.
   
   I've now changed to NordicTrack only three hours a week in order to 
   keep from losing any more of what's left of me. The problem is that
   I really have come to enjoy running on my NordicTrack. I'd do it everyday
   if I could.
   
   My major complaint with my Pro is the stupid electronics. All right, the
   clock is accurate and will tell you how long you've been at it, but that's
   about it. Nothing that a $10 stopwatch wouldn't do. The distance run 
   measurement is something I can't comment on, though when I go X-country 
   skiing for real on measured trails, I seem to be able to go about ten miles 
   an hour, but my NordicTrack only seems to indicate about six miles for much
   more constant and intense (or so it seems to me) work. The calories used
   measurement is a joke. It seems simply to integrate your speed over the 
   time that you worked. In this respect, I do use this thing just to 
   judge the relative merit of my workout. A typical one-hour session seems
   to run this number up to 600. If I get off and find this only went up to 
   500, I consider myself to have been dogging it. If I find it at 700, I
   wonder about overworking. 
   
   The pulse monitor is totally worthless. It can almost find a steady pulse 
   if you're standing still and hold your breath and stand perfectly 
   motionless holding your head as some totally unnatural angle. If you want 
   to check your pulse while you're working, don't even try. It will gyrate 
   all over the scale. It's also very uncomfortable to wear. You can't even 
   stop and stand still for a few seconds to take your pulse since it takes 
   it a minute or so to get a valid reading. So, don't let the NordicTrack 
   sales people talk you into paying extra for the fancy upgraded electronics.

   Speaking of talking to the NordicTrack sales people, they actually do
   have some range to bargain with you on the phone. I talked them into 
   giving me $50 off the price, throwing in the $150 electronics upgrade
   free, and paying the shipping.
   
   Anyway, I can enthusiastically recommend the NordicTrack Pro.
   
   
   NORDIC TRACK 900
   
   I used a Nordic 900 at a health club on a recent trip and was surprised
   that it didn't have as smooth an action as my much less expensive PRO 
   does.
   
   
   PRECOR
   
   >From the owner of the Nordic Track PRO:
     I used Precor's new X-country skier at the local fitness
     store the other day and found it not very smooth and, in fact,
     difficult to get a good stride on.
   
   
   TREADMILLS
   ----------
   
   GENERAL INFORMATION
   
   > I'm looking at buying a treadmill. Does anyone have any advice on
   > which ones are better. I'm trying to stay in the moderate range.
   > Is motorized best? Thanks
   
   True, Precor and Trotter are three of the better-known brands for 
   home use. I'm sure there are others that are just as good. A couple 
   of tips:
   
   1. Go to a store that specializes in fitness equipment, rather than 
   a large department store like Sears. Fitness stores usually carry 
   the best equipment, they usually have the best-trained personnel 
   and they usually carry 10-15 different models in different price 
   ranges so that you can compare. (Note the recurring use of the term 
   "usually." I know the good stores in Chicago but you must always 
   exercise consumer caution.)
   
   2. Look for a good motor (at least 2 hp), stable walking bed. 
   Think about the use of the treadmill. If you will use it only 
   for walking, you can save a few $$ by getting one with a shorter 
   length. Sometimes, the higher price models feature only more 
   sophisticated electronics, rather than better hardware. You 
   need to decide what features you want (like a motorized elevation 
   control).
   
   3. As far as I can tell, motorized is still best. I've seen the 
   commercials for Nordic Track and Jane Fonda, but I'm not yet 
   convinced. Usually, non-motorized TMs do not have enough inertia 
   to be comfortable.
   
   4. You probably need to spend $1500 to $2000 for a good TM with 
   what I would consider minimum features. If you can't afford that, 
   you might want to consider another piece of equipment or delay the 
   purchase. It has been my experience that $500-$1000 TMs usually are 
   unsatisfactory in the long run (and you still have spent a lot of $$). 
   
   
   LIFESTRIDE
   
   I have been using a LifeStride treadmill for the past 6 months
   and find it to be an excellent machine for the price. I 
   bought it for $550.00 and it seems to be a durable product that
   will last a lifetime. It had a fitness test, hill climbing,
   random hills, manual settings available. It shows you
   the size of hills to come, current elevation, calories burned,
   calories per hour, miles run, time etc. and literally raises
   and lowers itself up to a 15% grade. A super product! IMHO
   
   
   JANE FONDA'S TREADMILL
   
   I have heard that the quality of these treadmills is quite
   lacking in that they do not provide a consistent "feel" 
   throughout training on them. The best way for you to be
   certain if the look and feel you desire is to take the
   thing for a test drive and scope the quality for yourself.
   This is not something you would want to mail-order.
   
   
   PRECOR 905
   
   Cost: $3,500
   Speeds from 1.0 to 10.0 mph, motorized incline from 0-15%.
   
   This model is about 7 years old and has a ton of mileage on it. I would
   estimate 3000-5000 miles without any breakdowns. It has a heavy duty 
   motor which maintains a constant speed. Treadmills with lower horsepower
   motors have noticeable lurching at high speeds, but the Precor has never
   shown that tendency. Also, in spite of the high mileage on part has
   needed to be replaced. The belt on which you run is in excellent 
   condition.
   
   Compared to many treadmills, it has a long running surface which
   means less opportunity to fall behind and end up off the back of the
   track.
   
   Most retailers of Precor will deliver, assemble and demo the machine
   for you, which is the least you can expect for the price tag.
   
   Every fall I spend $35 to have a service guy come out and perform 
   preventive maintenance. 
    
   It is an excellent value and I would definitely go with Precor again.
   
   
   HOME GYMS/WEIGHT EQUIPMENT
   --------------------------
   
   THE HAMMER
   
   Manufacturer: Vital Form
    
   Where Purchased: Direct
    
   Price: $1130 for complete unit with all options.
          $699 for base unit.
    
   This device is essentially a multi-exercise device based on a T-bar 
   row system. Weights are placed at one end of an arm; the other 
   end is attached to a vertical post which attaches a seat to the base. 
   An adjustable (height, distance from seat) rest is located between 
   the seat and the weights. Lifting attachments are attached to the 
   T-bar arm; load is adjusted by the amount of weight and where the 
   lift attachments are connected to the weight arm. The optional lat 
   tower is fastened behind the seat. The basic unit occupies about 
   48 inches by 24 inches.
    
   I've been able to use the Hammer to perform about 50 different 
   lifts. It seems to provide a very good range of motion. The 
   position of the lift attachment on the weight arm can significantly 
   multiply the effect of the weights loaded on the arm. There are 11 
   lift positions on the arm. With 100# of plates on the arm, the 
   effective load varies from 131# (position 11) to 365# (position 1). 
   Not all positions can be used with all exercises. 
    
   The Hammer seems very durable, with the exception of a distance 
   scale which is used to position the movable rest--it's just tape & 
   wears off. The Lat tower is a great attachment, but it introduces 
   some lateral instability--the tower is about 80 inches high. There 
   is a post to hang excess weights behind the seat. It should be loaded 
   up to prevent the rear of the device from lifting when performing 
   cable curls with heavy weights. 
   
   I have modified the Hammer to serve as a Glute-Ham machine as 
   described by Michael Yessis by adding an adjustable foot platform 
   to the lat tower.
    
   With weights removed, the Hammer is quite movable but since I 
   keep mine in one place I've mounted it to a heavy sheet of 
   plywood to provide additional stability. I've also developed 
   additional lifting devices to extend it. 
    
   PROS--
   
   Very easy to assemble. Little or no maintenance required.
    
   Device is very simple--little can go wrong.
    
   Gives the feeling of free weights. 
    
   Since the weights are never above you, no workout partner is 
   required. 
    
   Extremely flexible. I use it to perform more than 60 different lifts.
    
   Very amenable to creative modification to create new lifts.
    
   CONS--
    
   Maximum plate capacity is about 150# (6x25 regular plates). This 
   should only be a problem for very serious lifters.
    
   Lateral stability with lat tower.
    
   You have to buy plates in addition to the machine--figure on 4x25, 
   2x10, 1x5, 1x2.5.
    
   I find the press bar to be a little difficult to work with.
    
   OVERALL
   Yes, I would buy it again..
   Good value for money.
   
   
   PARABODY EX350
   
   ... I bought a Parabody EX350 from the local dealer. I started with this
   thing three times a week in mid January, so I'm just finishing my sixth 
   week with it.
   
   I'm very glad that I talked the local dealer into delivering and setting
   up this little contraption for free, though, since the assembly drawings 
   are virtually unreadable and the assembly looked rather complex. 
   However, the fellow from the dealer knew exactly what he was doing and
   it all went fine. 
   
   I selected this machine since it seems particularly well built. ...
   I wanted a serious weight machine right out of the starting blocks. 
   So many of the cheap units available just don't seem like they're intended 
   to be seriously used. 
   
   The Parabody EX350 has a very heavy frame (at least as home units go), good
   pulley and cable parts, and good, heavy hardware. All of the mechanisms seem
   to work smoothly and I have not noticed any wear or breaking except as 
   noted below. I'm also pleased with the minimal amount of setup and 
   reconfiguration that is required (as contrasted to comparable home units)
   as you go through a workout. 
    
   After about three weeks with my Parabody EX350, I noticed some rather 
   bad wear abound the leg curl part. The dealer sent Steve back over (a
   house call) and determined that I needed an extra washer. With that
   installed, the mechanism seemed a bit tight for a while but now seems to
   have worn in nicely. 
   
   My one complaint about the Parabody is that it comes with virtually no 
   instructions. If you don't have a good dealer who can show you how to 
   raise and lower the seats, attach the various parts, etc. you'll have a 
   hard time figuring it all out.
   
   After three workouts a week on this thing, alternating with my NordicTrack,
   I've noticed that God has again blessed my efforts with rather nice results. 
   I've also not gained any weight, so I must still be losing fat. 
   
   ...[T]hough I have only had mine for about six weeks, [I can] give a 
   guarded recommendation to the Parabody EX350. [Info about unrelated
   equipment deleted.]
   
   
   BMI 9700
   
   There are several moderately priced but good home gyms on the market. 
   I would recommend the BMI 9700 home gym for strength training. It offers 
   good resistance training up to 330 lbs and has exercises for both upper 
   and lower body. It will run you around $400-500. Good quality at a low 
   price. Of course it can't match more expensive, professional equipment.
   

   STEP MACHINES (STAIR-CLIMBERS)
   ------------------------------
   
   MISCELLANEOUS
   
   Last year, I spent just under a hundred dollars on one of those 
   "cheap" stair climbers at Target. The center linkage broke with just 
   a few weeks of only moderate usage. I repaired it myself and it
   broke again and again and again. Finally, I installed a number
   fifty roller chain and a stainless steel sprocket mechanism of
   my own design. This worked wonderfully until one of the shock
   absorber things broke. I gave up at this point.
   ...
   When it was working, the stair climber gave me sore knees constantly.
   
   
   SLIDE BOARDS
   ------------
   
   The October, 1993 issue of Shape magazine contains an article about 
   the latest fitness craze, slideboarding. I got an e-mail request 
   for more info and thought other folks might like a synopsis, too. 
   Here goes:
   
   Slideboarding looks easy, but isn't, at least at the beginning.
   Several consecutive minutes will leave you huffing and puffing.
   Getting from one side of the board to the other requires just
   about every muscle in your lower body, which is why slideboarding
   is an excellent, and tough, workout. You'll condition your
   heart and lungs, work on your balance and coordination and burn
   a lot of calories.
   
   Slideboarding is used by physical therapists to rehabilitate knee
   injuries, especially tears of the anterior cruciate ligament 
   behind the knee cap. It's effective because it strengthens your 
   quadriceps without having to straighten your knees.
   
   It's important to use proper technique. Improper technique can
   place too much stress on your ankles, knees and lower back.
   
   One reason sliding probably will be tough at first, even if
   you're in good shape, is that it's different movement from most
   everyday movement patterns. This makes sliding great training
   for several sports that require you to constantly shift your
   weight and move from side to side, such as volleyball and tennis
   (and basketball).
   
   Because sliding is so new studies haven't been done to determine
   exactly how many calories it burns, but it seems to burn as many
   as running an eight-minute mile or cycling at a brisk cadence.
   
   Because sliding is so tough, it's not something you can do for
   hours at a time. Start by interspersing short bursts of 30 seconds
   with other aerobic activity and work up to 20 to 30 minute sessions.
   
   A flimsy board will travel halfway across the room with each pushoff
   or buckle in the center and require constant straightening. Others
   make a noise like the tearing of paper, which may make sliding to 
   music difficult. Portable units are available, but some weigh up 
   to 30 lbs. 
   
   Make sure you get one with high enough bumpers so you won't go 
   sailing over the end every time you build up some momentum. Square
   bumpers give a faster, more explosive skate, whereas angled end
   ramps slow things down. The board should be slick, but not so 
   slick that you feel you're skidding across an icy sidewalk.
   
   Wearing slide socks without shoes will give your feet more of a
   workout, but you'll get a smoother ride and more support with your
   shoes on (and booties over your shoes). Booties come in different
   speeds. Goretex or silky fabrics send you flying; rougher material
   will slow you down but make you work harder.
   
   A short list of slideboards Shape magazine has "seen":
   
   Slide Reebok (formerly Kneedspeed) -- Rubberized end ramps curve
   slightly upward to ease stress on ankles, knees, hips and lower
   back. Slide, socks and an instructional video are $99.99.
   Call 1-800-REEBOK-1 or 1-800-843-4444.
   
   Body Slide Club Pro (formerly The Training Camp Slide) --
   The top-of-the-line model for $199, is self-polishing, so it gets
   faster and smoother with use. Other pluses: adjustable stop-block
   to vary the length of the glide and rubber webbing underneath to
   prevent the board from sliding as you do. Call 1-800-238-5241
   
   The Original Slide Board -- Well-crafted, it's the best board around.
   Stop blocks can be set up as either vertical or angled. Hinged in
   middle for easy fold-up and storage. All models under $200.
   Call 1-516-921-2003 (This takes you to an answering machine which may
	or may not have anything to do with the Slide Board.  If anyone 
	knows a better number for the Slide Board please let me know.
		Jeff Gleixner -glex@cray.com- )
   
   Body Slide -- Hawked on late-night TV, is cheap ($50) and slow.
   Collects dust easily and must be polished frequently with a soft
   cloth. Each pushoff sends both you and the slide flying.
   
   The article also includes instructions on how to slide. Topics
   include "The Basics," "What to Do with Your Arms," "How Fast to
   Slide," and "Making Your Workout Tougher" including subtopics 
   "Kicks," "Turns," and "Lunges." Sorry, I don't have time to type 
   in all the instructions (besides, the article is copyrighted).
   You might try checking your library for a copy of the magazine 
   if you want more info.
   
   
   HEALTHRIDER
   -----------
   >>I'm thinking about buying either a Nordic Track Pro or a HealthRider (the 
   >>one endorsed by Covert Bailey). I am currently previewing the NT at home 
   >>(30 day trial) but I find that I feel very unsteady using it...at times I 
   >>feel like I'm off balance. I'm sure that most get more sure-footed with 
   >>practice, but I can't shake this fear of falling. Has this ever happened 
   >>to anyone else? 
   
   I had a choice between Nordic Track and HealthRider and went with the 
   HealthRider mostly because of Covert Bailey. I think I made a mistake.
   The HealthRider seemed better because:
   
   1. It was supposed to include a newsletter that I thought would give me
   more ideas for the HealthRider and keep me motivated.
   
   2. It sounded like the HealthRider would be better for my back. I don't
   have back problems but I have a wheelchair-bound 13 yr. old and I need to
   keep away from back problems.
   
   3. I like x-ctry skiing and I thought the Nordic Track would make me sick
   of it.
   
   Actuality was different.
   
     1. The newsletter never showed. The HealthRider arrived without any 
       documentation of any kind even on how to put it together (which is very
       easy BTW). 
   
     2. The HealthRider can cause back problems. This happens when the seat is
       too far back. An adjustment of the seat fixed this problem but I had to
       learn the hard way. 
   
     3. I didn't go X-ctry skiing at all this winter anyway.
   
   But the real bottom line is the biggest problem of all.
   
     1. I gained 10 lbs. during the first 3 months I had the HealthRider.
   
     2. I don't feel that I am in better shape because of the HealthRider.
   
     3. It is BORING.
   
   OTOH, I don't know if I will try NT next or not. The limited $469 model
   seems interesting but maybe I should try to increase my jogging miles and
   do more weights.

-- 
glex@nitro.cray.com  === "Difficult tasks are never easy..."

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