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Subject: Misc.fitness.aerobic FAQ

This article was archived around: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 17:40:06 GMT

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Archive-Name: misc-fitness/aerobic-faq Posting-Frequency: Monthly Last-Modified: December 30, 1998 URL: http://www.oaktrees.org/fitness/misc.fitness.aerobic.faq.txt
misc.fitness.aerobic FAQ Misc.fitness.aerobic, 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 misc.fitness.aerobic. It may seem that misc.fitness.aerobic 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 misc.fitness.aerobic, misc.fitness.misc, and misc.answers. The text version is also available via anonymous ftp from: ftp://ftp.oaktrees.org/pub/misc.fitness.aerobic.faq.txt 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: http://www.oaktrees.org/fitness/misc.fitness.aerobic.faq.txt This copy is the latest version. TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. ORIGIN OF FAQ 2. DISCLAIMER 3. FAQS ON TOPICS OF INTEREST TO READERS OF misc.fitness.aerobic 4. AEROBIC EXERCISE 4.1 What is aerobic exercise? 4.2 What are some examples of aerobic activity? 5. AEROBIC TRAINING 5.1 What factors affect aerobic training? 5.2 How often should I train ? How hard? For how long? 6. WORKOUT INTENSITY 6.1 How do I determine my target heartrate? 6.2 What are some other methods for determining my workout intensity? 7. SPOT REDUCTION 7.1 I do lots of outer thigh (tummy, buns, etc.) work. Will that part of my body slim down first? 8. FAT BURNING 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. EXERCISE DURATION 9.1 Is it better to break my exercise sessions or exercise for a longer period? 10. WEIGHT 10.1 How much should I weigh? 10.2 What's the best way to determine bodyfat percentage? 11. MUSCLE TRAINING 11.1 Should I train my muscles as well as do aerobic activity 11.2 Which is better for muscle training - weights or ExerTube (Dynaband)? 12. WARM-UP AND COOL-DOWN 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. HEAT AFTER WORKOUT 13.1 Should I use a steam, sauna or hot tub right after a workout? 14. HOW TO BEGIN AN EXERCISE PROGRAM 14.1 I never exercised before. Where do I begin? 15. STEP AEROBICS 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. EXERCISE GADGETS 16.1 How good is (insert your favorite exer-gadget shown on TV)? 17. EXERCISE INJURIES, REACTIONS AND ENVIRONMENT 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. EXERCISE AND EATING 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. BEST TIME TO EXERCISE 19.1 What is the best time of day to exercise? 20. MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS 21. PHONE NUMBERS 21.1 What are some aerobic-related phone numbers I should know? 22. EXERCISE VIDEO SURVEY 22.1 What are some of the best workout videos? 23. CERTIFICATION 23.1 How do I get certified in the United States? 23.2 How do I get certified in the UK? 24. CHANGES TO THE FAQ ====================================================================== 1. ORIGIN OF FAQ The misc.fitness.aerobic FAQ has been formulated by using the most frequently asked questions from the people who read misc.fitness.aerobic. Any suggestions or revisions should be sent to oaktree@wipd.com 2. DISCLAIMER 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. 3. FAQS ON TOPICS OF INTEREST TO READERS OF misc.fitness.aerobic alt.food.fat-free FAQ ftp://rtfm.mit.edu alt.food.low-fat FAQ ftp://rtfm.mit.edu alt.support.diet FAQ ftp://rtfm.mit.edu misc.fitness FAQ ftp://ftp.cray.com/pub/misc.fitness/misc.fitness.faq.html misc.fitness.weights FAQ http://www.imp.mtu.edu/~babucher/mfwfaq.html Stretching and Flexibility FAQ http://www.cs.huji.ac.il/papers/rma/stretching_toc.html http://www.physik.uni-muenchen.de/~k2/budo/sfaq/stretching_toc.html ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/misc.fitness.weights/ The Abdominal Training FAQ http://www.dstc.edu.au/TU/staff/timbomb/ab/ The High Intensity Training (HIT) FAQ--- http://www.geocities.com/Athens/2748/hitfaq20.html The Hardgainer FAQ--- http://www.cs.unc.edu/~wilsonk/hardgainer.faq.html ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/misc.fitness.weights/ The Training-Nutrition FAQ--- http://pages.prodigy.net/paolom/Docs/main.html The Powerlifting Competition FAQ--- http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/4000/powerfaq20.html The Anabolic Steriod FAQ--- http://home.earthlink.net/~pssst/as-faq.html http://www.cyberiron.com/asfaq.html Fitness Pointers http://www.imp.mtu.edu/~babucher/weights/pointer.html 4. AEROBIC EXERCISE 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 <ronh@sonic.net>) 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. AEROBIC TRAINING 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. WORKOUT INTENSITY 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 <efm@tummy.com>) 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 (220-30=190). Subtract your average resting heart rate from target heartrate (190-70=120). 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 (publishers) 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 20 Source: ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 5th Edition, p. 68, Williams and Wilkins (publishers). 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. SPOT REDUCTION 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 <mkg2r@uva.pcmail.virginia.edu>) 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. FAT BURNING 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) exercise. (from Michael G. Kurilla [mgk2r@uva.pcmail. virginia.edu]) 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 10%). 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. EXERCISE DURATION 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. WEIGHT AND BODYFAT PERCENTAGE 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 Percentage? (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. MUSCLE TRAINING 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. WARM-UP AND COOL-DOWN 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. HEAT AFTER WORKOUT 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. HOW TO BEGIN AN EXERCISE PROGRAM 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. STEP AEROBICS 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. EXERCISE GADGETS 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 <soulhuntre@pobox.com), 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 misc.fitness.aerobic 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 misc.fitness.aerobic so others can learn from your experience. 17. EXERCISE INJURIES, REACTIONS AND ENVIRONMENT 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 RICE). 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 misc.fitness.aerobic 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 chondromalacia. 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 life-threatening. 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 chill. 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) <oaktree@wipd.com.>) 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 likely? 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 exposure/exercise 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. EXERCISE AND EATING 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 workout? 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, ...you get the picture. 19. BEST TIME TO EXERCISE 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 <henrik@husc.harvard.edu> Denice Howard <deniseh@idiom.com> Bobbie Rivere <bmr1@earthlink.net> Jennifer Robles <oaktree@wipd.com> Bill Whedon <whedon@netcom.com> 21. PHONE NUMBERS 21.1 What are some aerobic-related phone numbers I should know? (from Liesl Kolbe <kolbe@pando.cxo.dec.com>) Music: 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) Videos: 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) Organizations: 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 members: (from Casey Scalzi <cscalzi@kiku.hi.com> Title Instructor Time Level Super Stomachs Joanie Greggains 15 min Phenomenal Joanie Greggains 30 min Abdominal 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 you. 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 Swimming NEW ADDITIONS 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. CERTIFICATION 23.1 How do I get certified in the U.S.? (from Larry DeLuca <henrik@husc.harvard.edu>) 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 Trainers. 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 information. 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 difficulty. 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 1-800-825-3636 You can reach AFAA at: Aerobics and Fitness Association of America 15250 Ventura Blvd., Suite 200 Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 1-800-446-2322 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) <trevor@kobold.demon.co.uk> 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 classes. 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 requirement. 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, nutrition. 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 350. 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 COVENTRY CV4 8HS England Telephone 01203 470033 You can reach Central YMCA at: Central YMCA Training & Development Department 112 Great Russell Street LONDON WC1B 3NQ England Telephone 0171 343 1800 0171 580 2989 Fax 0171 436 1278 24. CHANGES TO THE FAQ DATE : December 30, 1998 Introduction 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 recommendations. DATE : January 18, 1998 Section 7.1: Corrected the math. DATE : September 26, 1997 General: 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 fat. 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 General: Introduction: modified to more accurately reflect revision rate. 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 ##### All comments and criticisms welcome #####