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Guest Host: Christina Bellantoni
‘Tis the season to make resolutions to get in shape, but our resolve often fades as the holidays pass. Research on the science and psychology of exercise can help us pick a workout that shows results and keeps us moving. We explore the fitness trends sweeping the region — from The Bar Method to CrossFit — and learn why strength training may trump a trot on the treadmill to keep us in shape.
- Vicky Hallett Fitness Columnist for The Washington Post and Editor of the Health and Fitness section of the Express
- Kate Arnold Owner, The Bar Method DC and The Bar Method Bethesda
- Todd Miller Professor of Exercise Science at George Washington University and Director of the Weight Management and Human Performance Laboratory at the university’s Ashburn campus
MS. CHRISTINA BELLANTONIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. I'm Christina Bellantoni, incoming editor-in-chief of roll call sitting in for Kojo. Tis the season to eat a lot of cookies and chocolate and pies, watch a lot of football and snuggle up indoors to avoid the snow and ice. That's how many of us will spend our winter vacation as we take a break from sedentary jobs that keep us chained to a desk for much of the work week.
MS. CHRISTINA BELLANTONIBut the double whammy of too much food and not enough exercise is one that can lead to poor health. Search continues to show that exercise is crucial and that the key to sticking with an exercise regimen is to pick something you enjoy and something where you see results quickly so you're motivated to stick with it. As we draft our New Year's resolutions and vow to get in shape next year, we'll explore the fitness trends in our region and look at what works and why.
MS. CHRISTINA BELLANTONIAnd we're fortunate to do that in studio with three terrific guests today. We have Washington Post's fitness columnist Vicky Hallett. She's editor of the Health and Fitness Section of the Express as well. Thanks so much for being here, Vicky.
MS. VICKY HALLETTThank you for having me.
BELLANTONITodd Miller is a professor of exercise science at George Washington University and director of the Weight Management and Human Performance Laboratory at the university's Ashburn campus. Thanks for being here.
MR. TODD MILLERThank you.
BELLANTONIAnd also here is Kate Arnold. She own the Bart Method DC and in Bethesda. And you are the reason why I was very sore Thanksgiving weekend. So thank you for being here and for that.
MS. KATE ARNOLDThank you.
BELLANTONISo let's talk a little bit starting with Todd Miller. You're a professor of exercise science. So why do we need to exercise at all? What happens to our body when we just sit at a desk all day?
MILLERWell, I think it's pretty obvious it's hard to get anywhere in the world today without hearing about the obesity and overweight issue in the United States. It's a massive public health problem. And right now I think about 68 percent of the U.S. population is overweight or obese. And clearly that's due to a combination of a high-calorie diet and not enough exercise. And it's really those things combined that are leading to those issues.
MILLERAnd it's a massive expense in the country. It's incredibly taxing physically. So we really need to find ways to sort of get the population to increase their physical activity in order to prevent this problem from getting worse.
BELLANTONIEasier said than done perhaps.
BELLANTONISo, Vicky Hallett, you've talked about there being a growing effort to promote activity as opposed to exercise. So talk a little bit about that. Is this just words or is there a distinction?
HALLETTI think there is a distinction. I think you'll see a lot of people moving to standing desks. I've already seen a lot of that happening in my own office and other offices. Both of the other guests -- I feel like my wrist is naked. Both of them are wearing activity monitors right now. Even as active people who are getting a lot of exercise, it's also important to get that other additional activity. And maybe even more important, because activity is something that doesn't scare people in the same way that exercise does. And so it is more accessible and is maybe what we really should be promoting as a society.
BELLANTONIAnd when we talk about activity bracelets, these are a like a fit bit type thing which you guys can hold up. Okay, one's blue, Kate's got a nice blue one. And we've got a nice black one. So we actually did a segment about this on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" earlier this year, just looking at personal fitness technology. But let's talk about that for a moment. Kate Arnold, I'll ask you, what does that measure and why are you wearing it?
ARNOLDIt measures your sleep. It also measure your footsteps throughout the day. I use it personally so that I can better monitor my activity level. Like Vicky was saying, I'm someone who's obviously active both teaching and taking the Bar Method on a regular basis. But what I found was that I wasn't walking and being as active as I would like throughout the day. And this tells me exactly how much I'm walking and has helped me change my walking patterns and other patterns in my life to try to be more fit outside of the couple of hours that I exercise during the day.
BELLANTONIOkay. How about you?
MILLERWell, I think that's -- going back to what Vicky said, I think it's definitely true that non-exercise physical activity has really been sort of engineered out of society. So it's very easy to go throughout your day and move very, very little and still be relatively productive. So even if you exercise regularly, we're getting to the point where exercise in and of itself is not enough to prevent weight gain and prevent problems related to weight gain. So we really do need to increase that non-exercise physical activity. And having these kinds of things, fit bits and ups and other things that are sort of giving you that feedback on your activity, that's very motivating.
MILLERI know I personally -- if I don't see that I'm doing my 10,000 steps at the end of the day, I'll just get up and walk around just for the heck of it to try and get some of them in. And I think that is critically important. It's something that we just don’t think about.
BELLANTONIAnd 10,000 steps is equivalent to what?
MILLERI'm not sure what that -- but that's the -- I'm not sure what the distance is but that's what the sort of recommendation is for health, is to meet that 10,000 step goal.
BELLANTONIAnd probably sounds like more than it actually is, right, as an achievable goal?
MILLERIt does, yeah.
HALLETTI think it's about five miles.
BELLANTONIInteresting. We do that in our daily lives. So back to the standing desk, I saw somebody the other day with a treadmill desk. Is that becoming more of a trend as well? And is this something that corporations should be looking at pulling into their...
HALLETTMaybe. I mean, treadmill desks are pretty expensive so I don't know how feasible they are for most companies. I will say that at the Washington Post, there's a gym in the building that has Wi-Fi And so if I know I have to just go through a lot of emails or read a long story, I can go down to the gym, get on the elliptical or walk basically on the treadmill and do that. Do I do that a lot? No.
ARNOLDWe'll never tell.
HALLETTBut I should. And that's the kind of thing that I think is probably more practical than actual treadmill desks, which are maybe too pricey.
BELLANTONIBut standing desks don't have to be expensive. And there are these very expensive ones. But you can also just get a pile of books and put your computer on top of that -- a crate. So that doesn't have to be an expensive solution.
MILLERCould I interject something here?
BELLANTONIAbsolutely, Todd Miller.
MILLERI actually -- a couple -- about a month ago I moved into a new lab and I needed a standing desk. So I just went on the internet and found plans for one from using pieces of furniture from IKEA. So a table and a shelf that I just bolted together and sat on my existing desk was only 22 bucks. And it fits -- it works perfectly. So there really is no reason -- price certainly is not a reason not to have a standing desk. And sitting all day is one of the most terrible things that you can do for your body. It just atrophies and there's just no physical challenge there at all. So it's a great thing.
BELLANTONIYou can join our conversation. Tell us how you are incorporating activity or not incorporating activity into your work routine? Give us a call at 1-800-433-8850, send a Tweet to @kojoshow or email email@example.com. So, Kate Arnold, you are on the other end of the spectrum. You've got studios that are part of a growing trend in -- not just in this region but all over, where people are doing very personalized types of fitness. You go and you do one activity. Tell us a little bit about the Bar Method, what the idea there is about losing weight, but also getting in shape, right?
ARNOLDExactly. It is about losing weight but it's also about becoming stronger and changing the shape of your body. So we focus less on actual weight loss and more about changing the way you look, the way you feel and the way that your clothes fit. As you mentioned, we only teach the Bar Method. It's the only thing that we do at our studios. It's an hour-long class. It's rather intense, which you may remember.
BELLANTONIYes. Yes, it is.
ARNOLDAnd we focus both on strengthening and stretching throughout the class. It's an interval format where every strengthening section is followed by a stretching section. The strengthening segments increase your muscle tone. They burn a lot of calories. They raise your heart rate. And then during the stretching segments, we elongate your body and increase your flexibility.
BELLANTONIAnd how much are these trends changing? Vicky Hallett, curious what you're seeing in this region. Are we seeing more studios like that opening?
HALLETTWe are seeing a lot more studios like that opening. And not just in Bar Method type fitness, but in other kinds of fitness too. Cycling studios are becoming more and more prevalent. SoulCycle, which is the big New York brand is finally coming to D.C. in 2014. I know a lot of people are excited about that. There're also more homegrown cycling chains that are opening all over the area too. And there are also CrossFit boxes which are essentially persona small group exercise classes too. There's yoga. There's TRX suspension training.
HALLETTCattle Belt (sp?) studios. I'm definitely leaving some out, but, yeah, there's so many of these kinds of places that specialize in one thing, do it well. Really create a community around it. And I think a lot of people are finding that's more appealing than belonging to a big box gym. Or maybe they have a lot of the things but it's so overwhelming to figure out what they should be doing and when, whereas with a place like the Bar Method or other studios, there's a schedule, you know exactly what you're going to get. You maybe know your instructors better, and that's what you do.
HALLETTSo I think -- I mean, different things work for different people. I think the smorgasbord of a big box gym is also great for a lot of people. But I think (unintelligible) there are a lot of people who also want that sort of more individualized attention.
BELLANTONITodd Miller, are we seeing that trend?
MILLERYeah, we're definitely seeing that trend. I think one of the things that's really important to remember is that if -- in order to stick with an exercise program, it has to be something that you really like. And it can't be intimidating. And big box gyms are -- for a lot of people are very intimidating places to be. You walk in there, you think you're going to be bombarded with personal trainers who are trying to sell you packages. A lot of the equipment is intimidating. There's just a lot about it that is sort of really hostile to somebody who's never been in a gym before.
MILLERWhereas if you go into one of these small studios that offer these specific type things, it's often much more friendly, it's more social, there's more support. And it's generally a better environment to start a fitness program. And that kind of environment is much more likely to lead to you being successful than just sort of walking into a big box gym and saying, okay here I go. Let's see what happens.
BELLANTONISo, Kate Arnold, how did it work when you set up Bar Method? I mean, it's a franchise organization, right?
ARNOLDIt is a franchise. I started doing the Bar Method when I lived in Chicago. I was working at a law firm and getting my MBA at the same time. So I had a very hectic and stressful life and started doing the Bar Method. I had heard from friends how effective it is and simply just fell in love with it as a client. I loved it. It changed my outlook on exercise. I had always been into fitness. I was a runner. I was running half marathons. I was working at a big -- working out at a big gym like we've been talking about. But never actually saw the results that I really wanted.
ARNOLDI worked out because I felt like I had to and not because I enjoyed it. And going to the Bar Method and experiencing a type of community and a type of individual attention while still in a group class was something completely foreign and new to me. And although it was extremely challenging for me when I first started, I fell in love with it right away and I never looked back. When my husband and I chose to move back to D.C. after graduating, I was saddened and shocked to find out that there wasn't a Bar Method in D.C. and couldn't imagine my life without one.
ARNOLDSo I contacted Bar Method headquarters and started to pursue what it would take to open a studio in D.C. And it was a very lengthy process. They have a very strict and rigorous audition and interview process showing that you have with the business acumen and the personality and skills to run a successful studio. After that I had to negotiate the franchise agreement, find the studio location, negotiate the lease, train teachers, etcetera, etcetera, which ended up taking about a year-and-a-half. So I had first contacted them in January of 2010 and opened the doors in D.C. in the summer of 2011.
BELLANTONIAnd in general, the training programs for any sort of exercise teacher, they vary depending on where you live and what type of program it is, right, Vicky Hallett?
HALLETTThey do. I mean, it definitely depends on the program. Bar Method is one of -- I don't know how many Bar studios there are nationally and even locally. I would guess there are ten? Vicki would maybe know this better than I would. But, yeah, each of them has their own protocol of how they teach, what training their teachers go through. And this is replicated in almost any other studio setting too. So I think when you are picking which studio you want to go to, it is worth it to look into what kind of training that people are getting, how qualified they are and what they want to do to your body.
BELLANTONIWe're going to take a short break and return to our conversation about fitness. I am Christina Bellantoni sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi. And we will be right back.
BELLANTONIWelcome back. I'm Christina Bellantoni, incoming editor-in-chief of roll call sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi. We're having a conversation about fitness ahead of the New Year. And I am joined in studio by Vicky Hallett of the Washington Post, Todd Miller, a professor of exercise science at George Washington University and Kate Arnold who owns the Bar Method in D.C. and Bethesda. And we've been getting a lot of calls and emails and Tweets. You can definitely join our conversation and tell us your routine or ask questions of our experts here.
BELLANTONII'll start with a Tweet from Nora send to @kojoshow who says, "Drafting tables are often height adjustable and are a great cheap way to give yourself many options for standing while working." Thank you for that tip. And we're going to go to the phones. We've got a lot of different people telling us about their routine. Tony in Rockville, Md., thank you so much for joining us.
TONYHi there. How are you?
TONYYeah, I was just calling. I sit all day long. And I've been working on trying to improve my posture. And I'm interested -- I'm thinking about buying a Pilate ball instead of using a chair for sitting. And I was just going to see what you guys think of that.
MILLERDo you -- do you mean as opposed to sitting in a regular chair?
TONYYeah. Well, the problem is when I sit in my regular chair my habit is to slouch. And so I really -- I kind of scoot up forward to get a little bit more arch in my -- you know, get into a better posture for sitting. And so when I sit on a Pilate ball -- like if I'm at the gym I notice that I automatically sit in a better posture. I guess it's just not -- because of the balance you don't want to be slouching. I was curious if you guys recommend that and know much about it, if you think that's a good idea.
MILLERI personally don't know much about it. I can't really make a recommendation. But I think if you think that your posture is better on the ball and you feel better sitting on the ball, I certainly don't see why it would hurt.
BELLANTONIGood. Vicky Hallett?
HALLETTAnd also I know people who do it and I think the one concern is that if you sit on a Pilates ball for too long, you'll learn how to slouch on it. So I know people who figured that out. So it's maybe dangerous information. And -- but if you think it'll work for you, great, try it. What's the harm?
BELLANTONIWe do adjust, don't we? So we've got a call from Arnold in Potomac, Md. who has some tips of his own. Arnold, go ahead.
BELLANTONIOh sorry, Arnold. I think you should try to call back. We'd love to hear from you. So we actually have a question a little bit about costs. This is Anthony in Rockville, Md. who wants to say something about being a college student and getting exercise in. Hi, Anthony.
ANTHONYHi. Thank you for having me on your show. I'm a college student doing biochemistry and premed at Nuremberg College in Allentown, Penn. Being that I don't have a lot of time and being that I want to stay physically fit, I've learned that a lot of exercises that are dependent mostly upon the body, pull-ups, pushups, situps, crunches and the like, things we all know, tend to be very useful in maintaining aerobic fitness. And this is more directed towards the professor. For my limited knowledge of biochemistry, is this working a lot of the same muscle groups that using these large expensive gyms tend to do as well?
MILLERWell, first of all, let me say it's great to have a call from Nuremberg. I'm actually born and raised in Allentown, P-A, so...
MILLERYeah, it's nice to be talking to you.
ANTHONYOh, my gosh.
MILLERInterestingly enough, I was looking at what the top fitness trends for 2014 are going to be. They're published by the American College of Sports Medicine every year. And number two on the list is actually bodyweight training. So you definitely can get the same effect with bodyweight training as you can using expensive machines. But understand that in order for an exercise to be effective, it has to get progressively more difficult. So while -- when you first start doing an exercise program, you might only be able to do five or ten pushups. And that will be very effective for you.
MILLERBut if you get to the point where you can do 75 or 80, you're going to need to have to start adding some load. And that's really not that difficult. I’m not saying that you need to go to a big box gym in order to do that but most people, if they know what they're doing, can get a very effective workout using bodyweight alone. And I'm sure Kate can sort of chime in on that. Isn't that what you guys do with the Bar Method?
ARNOLDExactly. The vast majority of our classes are without any weight other than your body. And we find it a very effective way to build muscle and burn fat. And the other thing I would just -- the other advice that I would give to you is that alignment and proper form in any of these exercises is really important. And I would suggest, even if you can't attend classes or go to a gym regularly, at least consult with somebody either by taking a couple of classes or maybe getting one session with a personal trainer to make sure that you are doing the exercises properly, both so that they are effective and safe for your body.
BELLANTONIAnd I will have to give a little plug for yoga, which I do regularly, which you can also do anywhere. And part of this maybe is a little bit about variety. Try lots of different things so you don't get bored with your routine either. So we've got a question from Salil (sp?) in Arlington about another method of exercise. Thank you so much for calling.
SALILHi. Hi, Vicky. You knew you were going to get this call, didn't you?
HALLETTI -- hi, Salil. Are you talking about Urban Evolution?
SALILOf course. I just wanted to say thanks, first of all, for covering this guys. This is an awesome topic. And I'm the owner of Urban Evolution. And I just wanted to mention, there is another way -- I was so happy to hear about bodyweight training as the last topic being discussed. We are huge -- so Urban Evolution is a parkour and free-running gym. And we are huge bodyweight fanatics. So to the previous callers point about how to do things, how to do exercises and whether an exercise is a good idea using bodyweight as opposed to machines, you guys should get better benefits of bodyweight training, provided of course you do keep proper form as one of the hosts had mentioned.
SALILAnd then there are other things that you can do that are actually just as awesome as going to the gym. And our philosophy is to be able to just play outside. And if you play well, you're getting as good a workout or a better workout than you can get at any big box gym.
BELLANTONIThank you for your thoughts. Appreciate it. Definitely an interesting point. So we have a question from John who sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org saying, "I've seen a lot of gym members doing kettle bell workouts at my health club. Can you discuss their benefits, Todd Miller?
MILLERWell, kettle bell, if you don't know what it is, it essentially looks like a cannonball with a handle on it. And a lot of kettle bell exercises are things that are done on your feet where the kettle bell is sort of swung around in different directions. And the idea is that it really incorporates the entire body to be able to move the thing around. They're generally very powerful movements. It's very taxing metabolically from cardiovascular effects. So in terms of bang for the buck, kettle bells are actually really good exercises to do.
MILLERThey're also pretty easy to do wrong. So if you do things that are too heavy or you swing a kettle bell and it flies out of your hand, you could have problems very quickly. So make sure that you don't get too ambitious if you've never done them before. But once you've mastered the techniques, it's actually a great exercise in my opinion. I've used them, I own them. I like them a lot.
HALLETTAnd also if you want exercise equipment for your house, as long as you know what you're doing, kettle bells are actually a really great thing to have because they are so versatile and you can do so much with them. And they don't take up a lot of space.
BELLANTONIYou can use them to keep doors open if you're carrying in groceries.
BELLANTONIWe have a Tweet to @kojoshow from Sean who says, "Having a dog ensures you get multiple walks in every day, regardless of the weather." So that's definitely something we see a lot of in Washington, D.C. Then we've had a couple comments about rock climbing. An email from Joe to email@example.com says, "Rockville, Md. is home to the largest indoor rock climbing facility on the east coast, Earth Treks. It also has a fully functioning traditional gym with weights, treadmills, stationary bikes. Rock climbing is a fun and social way to work out and is certainly a full-body workout."
BELLANTONISo we also have someone talking about rock climbing as a good social exercise. So this is Andre in Bethesda. Thanks so much for being here.
ANDREYeah, hi there. I just wanted to put a plug in for rock climbing in general, but also I think the thing that really makes rock climbing in the D.C. area exceptional is there's a really strong community of people there. So it's incredibly social. You meet a lot of people. You sort of befriend them. And it becomes a way to interact with your peers and socialize. In fact, I met my wife rock climbing. Most of my best friends are from rock climbing. So every week I go two or three times, not just to work out but also to socialize.
ANDREAnd then one other little caveat too -- another thing that I think is very good for that is triathlon. And D.C. has an organization called D.C. Tri Club, which is one of the biggest tri clubs I think in the whole U.S.. So they have a lot of coaching. It's very social again. It's competitive. So I just have found that to be -- to really effectively work out a lot if I have an incentive which is social, that really helps me. So I would encourage other people to find types of exercise where they can find a community and make friends.
BELLANTONIThank you, Andre. Well, Kate Arnold, you're on Bar Method DC in Bethesda, it seemed like everybody in that class, when I had a chance to go, knew each other and that it is this sort of collaborative community. Do you see that where people are building friendships in addition to exercising?
ARNOLDWe definitely do. And I have to say that that's been one of the most rewarding things about opening the studio. And a welcome surprise in running the studios is that people come in and they come in not knowing anybody. Or maybe they come in with one friend and we watch a community being built. And we'll see people leave together to go have dinner. And we'll ask them, did you know each other before Bar Method and they didn't.
ARNOLDThe other thing that is really rewarding along the sense of community is how well we get to know the clients as well. So they get to know each other and socialize but we also get to know them very well throughout classes. So I'm consistently getting emails from people from their honeymoons with pictures of them from their wedding, talking about how happy they are that our community supported them, or pictures from their hospital room after giving birth to a baby, thanking us for supporting them throughout their entire pregnancy, or pictures even from their vacation.
ARNOLDAnd so the sense of community and how connected we are with the clients and how connected they are with each other I think helps to keep clients continuing to come, and gives them that social outlet. Like the caller is talking about, so that it's not just about the workout but it's something that they look forward to and enjoy on a social level as well. Because at the end of the day we all have such a limited amount of time to spend outside of work and everything else we do, that it's more rewarding to be able to combine exercise with social activity and make it all in one.
BELLANTONIAnd to the point about running clubs and triathlon clubs, I mean, this is such a running community here in Washington, there's so many, you know, affiliated with the local, you know, exercise shops but also with the local shoe stores where you can buy shoes. So that's a really good thing. Todd Miller, are we more likely to stick with a routine if we have a buddy?
MILLEROh, definitely. Social support has been shown to be tremendously important for sticking with a routine. And interestingly enough, it's often problematic for people who have never exercised before. When they take up a new program, a lot of times their friends will be critical of them. They'll be like, what are you doing or, oh yeah, you're getting on your health kick again. And they're not really intending on hurting your progress, but it can sort of sabotage your progress.
MILLERSo it's very good to find somebody like minded who has the same kind of goals you do. It definitely helps to stick with a program.
BELLANTONIThere's that feta fitness at a zumba dance party one night that I went to actually at the old Howard Theater. And it was -- you know, you get 50 people in a room and you're dancing and they had an open bar. It was kind of an interesting way to exercise. We have some thoughts from Deirdre in Manassas about sways that you can get exercise in. Deirdre, thanks for joining us.
DEIRDREHi. Good afternoon. Thanks so much for taking my call. I just want to give a plug for all of the rec centers in the area. Fairfax County Parks and Rec has excellent programs that offer Pilates. We have Pilate studios. There are TRX studios. All of these classes are offered right there in your community. Not only that, your tax dollars go towards that. And you're very likely to see your neighbors. And, you know, the training for the instructors is very -- it's rigorous. You know, we have to have very highly-trained instructors.
DEIRDREThe (unintelligible) rec center in Prince Williams County has a Pilate studio. So I really encourage people, instead of driving halfway across the world, to go to a gym that's popular or whatever. I mean, I love the studio idea but also look what's right in front of you and what your tax dollars are going towards. And you really find a really good community there.
BELLANTONIDo they have similar hours to the city government or do they have hours more like a traditional gym?
BELLANTONIInteresting. Very good.
BELLANTONIVicky Hallett, is...
DEIRDREAnd also it discounted -- you know, it's discounted prices for some of these higher-end classes. You know, it's not -- you're not going to pay $70 an hour or something like that. But you're also going to be in a class with maybe five people, ten people. Nobody knows each other or they do know each other. And they keep coming because we're building community.
BELLANTONIThanks for the tip, Deirdre. Vicky Hallett, it's a good way to use your community?
HALLETTDefinitely, and I think the closer a place is to you the more likely it is that you'll go to it. So definitely look for places that you can conveniently fit into your day and you'll actually go to. As a D.C. resident, the swimming pools are all free all the time. The (unintelligible) Aquatic Center I know is incredibly popular for people who want to swim year-round. And it's an incredible resource to have.
HALLETTI'm working on a story. The playground initiative in D.C. Play D.C., is putting a lot of adult exercise equipment on playgrounds all over D.C. And I think...
BELLANTONIWhat does that mean, adult exercise equipment?
HALLETTSo one piece is the Weesaw. That's actually (unintelligible) but it's a seesaw that is sized for adults. So adults can really get on the equipment. But there are other sort of playgroundesk (sp?) things that'll help you exercise. And so there's this initiative to get more of it in your local playground. So while you're taking your kid there to play, you can get on equipment and play too and get a bit of a workout while you're there. So I think all of those sorts of things -- definitely find out what's near you, use it, take advantage of it. It's so great to have.
BELLANTONIWe have an email from Mike in Baltimore who has some critiques of Americans saying that, "Americans are fat because of over use of cars and bad urban planning that promotes cars versus pedestrians," which actually gets at our last segment where we talked about transportation planning in the region. And he says, "We eat too much processed food. We eat it too fast and that pills, treadmill desks and hundreds of other fads are meaningless because exercise in the form of long walks to and from work and errands is all you need, as the French seem to have demonstrated by eating high-fat, high-calorie foods." Well, thank you, Mike, for your opinion.
BELLANTONIAnd Todd Miller, I am curious, when you're talking about like weight loss versus just staying healthy. What kind of exercise routine -- I mean, how much exercise should people be doing?
MILLERWell, you know, you could go by the guidelines which says, I think it's 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. But I think the caller's actually right. I think that we live in a world where our day-to-day physical activity has largely been engineered out. And I don't think that we can go to a gym or go to exercise classes and make up for all of the calories that we are not burning by sitting around all day and sitting in cars and driving places.
MILLERSo we call this the built environment. And there's an area of study where we're looking at how can we modify the environment so that we basically engineer activity back into people's lives, essentially force them to do activity without them really knowing they're doing it. For example, I work at the school of public health in GW. And we built a new building downtown on Washington Circle. And the building is designed where when you walk in the building, you can't find the elevators. You know, the elevators are intentionally put in places that are difficult to find, which forces you to use the stairs.
MILLERAnd, you know, those kinds of things are things that I think we have to do because we are simply -- as the society gets progressively more sedentary, you can't just tell people exercise more, you know, because that's what we do and obviously that's not worked if we have 70 percent of the population overweight. So, you know, it's harsh, but the guy's right.
BELLANTONIAnd we should point that, you know, exercise obviously makes you happier, and you have sort of a more fulfilled life. All of the studies, you know, show that for sure. So tell us how much exercise do you get, and do you concentrate on cardio or strength training, or do you worry about being inactive at work? Join our conversation at 1-800-433-8850, send a tweet to @kojoshow, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm Christina Bellantoni sitting in for Kojo. We're going to take a short break and continue our conversation about fitness in a moment.
BELLANTONIWelcome back. I'm Christina Bellantoni, incoming editor-in-chief of Roll Call sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi. We're talking about fitness, and we're joined in studio by Vicky Hallett of the Washington Post, Todd Miller who is a professor of exercise science at George Washington University, Kate Arnold who owns Bar Method DC and Bethesda. So it's about to be the new year. People are going to be inundated with specials from their gym saying come on in, we'll give you few personal training sessions for free, but Todd Miller, there's something that a lot of people don't know about personal trainers if they're considering signing up.
MILLERYeah. One thing I think people need to realize is that there are very few states that actually have any regulation or educational requirement for personal trainers. So we have an assumption that if we go into a gym and we sign up for a training session, that that trainer is going to have some type of education or certification in order to be able to work there, and that simply is not true. So I think that it's really up to the consumer to make sure that their trainers have gone through some type of certification in order to make sure that that trainer is qualified.
MILLERAnd I would recommend -- I'm a little biased to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. I'm a member of their board of directors, and American College of Sports Medicine is another organization that offers certifications that have gone through third-party accreditation. So look for an organization that has been accredited by the NCCA, which is the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. I think there are about 300 different personal training-type certifications on the Internet right now that have not gone through that third-party certification.
MILLERSo it's very easy to just sort of buy a certification and say I'm certified, but again, even that is not required in most states to work as a trainer.
BELLANTONIAnd Kate Arnold, Bar Method, you have a little bit of an unusual policy. You don't have to do this, but what do your trainers go through?
ARNOLDOur trainers train for about six months before we allow them to teach their own classes. Most of our -- the vast majority, in fact, all of our teachers were prior students, so they already came with a lot of knowledge about the Bar Method, and then they undergo a five- to six-month training process which includes a weeklong, 40-hour training, including training on anatomy and physiology so that we know how to modify exercises for people with injuries or people with other physical limitations.
ARNOLDAnd then teach classes with other teachers, so they'll only teach parts of classes for about six months, so that, again, they can correctly identify when clients and students are doing the exercise correctly, so we can modify and correct their form and alignment, because we believe strongly that if the exercise is being done correctly, it will be both effective and safe. And we've all been to classes or been in situations at different gyms where that is not always the case, and it makes me very nervous when I see other situations or hear about other situations where the trainers or the teachers aren't trained adequately, and somebody ends up getting hurt, or they're not seeing the results that they want to see.
BELLANTONISure. We have a few tweets to @kojoshow. Margo tells us that "Ice skating is a great full-body workout that can be social or a more individual meditative activity." That's a very seasonal tip. I like that. And we also have another one that says, "The easiest way to get enough exercise is to live in a neighborhood with sidewalks and use them." Now, Arnold in Potomac, we're gonna try to get him back on the phone. He has some tips for how he does his activity during the work day. Arnold, are you there with us?
BELLANTONIThanks for coming back.
ARNOLDWell, first I want to commend you and thank you very much for this program. I'm a retired veteran, and so I've changed careers, and I've changed places where I work. So now I have an elevator option, but I have very long hallways in a warehouse and many flights of stairs. I've also had surgery a few times, so I've been to quite a few physical therapists and personal trainers, and everything you've said is very accurate.
ARNOLDThe only thing I would add is, as I return back to sports, obviously I'm using muscles I haven't used for a while. So I personally have found a licensed clinical whatever masseuse, and he also helps me with my physical therapy, you know, the way to hold your neck and whatever. So I just want to make that comment that, you know, it's not -- it is what you do, but it's also how often and how easy it is to do it. So thank you very much.
BELLANTONIThanks very much for your perspective.
HALLETTWell, and I think going off of the massage comment, one thing that I'm seeing happening a lot more in gyms is foam rolling. If you have not seen one, you should go find one, and they are these cylinders that are kind of hard, but not too hard, and you work out.
BELLANTONIThey call them noodles, don't they? I've heard that.
HALLETTYeah. And like -- like a pool noodle?
HALLETTYeah. But you can really loosen up tight parts of your body and there are more classes that use them and I know I have one at home, and it feels great. So I recommend it.
MILLERYeah, I would agree. They're called the cheap man's massage. I've actually been in the market for one myself, but I think massage in general is a great thing. I think it's -- obviously it's popular. I think it's probably underutilized. I know that I personally never really got into until about a year or two ago and it's very different in terms of the way I feel even during my workouts, after my workouts, just overall. I think it's a great thing, and foam rolling is a way to do that quickly and inexpensively in your own house just by yourself.
BELLANTONIAnd you can join our conversation. Give us a call at 1-800-433-8850. Sal from Woodbridge has some tips about his own exercise routine. Hi Sal.
SALHi. How is everybody?
SALI create an idea and adopted it for the last three years, living around DC area, and take advantage of the nasty traffic and rush hours. So I adapted my routine around the HOV. Instead in the drive for hour -- hour and a half, just pull aside and start running. I started this about three years ago. I started with half a mile. Now, I run between four to eight miles. It depends on my work day. In the last year I added folding bike to routine, so I have a variety of exercises, instead of, again, sitting on 95 for hour, hour and a half, just wait for the HOV to be open, and I think I'm in the greatest shape in my life now. It works every day and if I don't do it, I just can't make my day.
BELLANTONISo congestion in the region has a positive side effect for Sal.
BELLANTONIThank you very much very much for you call. I appreciate it.
BELLANTONISo we have Dan in Gaithersburg wants to talk about his routine, and thanks for calling us, Dan.
DANHello, how are you?
DANHi. I just wanted to call in. You know, I live in Gaithersburg, and I've found Soldier Fit. I'm a member of Soldier Fit, and they're a small company, but they're growing really fast and their boot camp fitness, as well as their gym, is something I've found unique, to just be a phenomenal way to get intense workouts in, you know, three or four times a week, and kind of get in, do my thing, work hard, and then get back to what I'm doing on my day-to-day basis.
BELLANTONIThanks for the call, appreciate it, Dan. And Vicky Hallett is nodding. I'll add to that a tweet we got from Matt asking about CrossFit and extreme fitness. So Vicky, give us a thought on that.
HALLETTYeah. I think these boot camp programs, people who get into them get very into them, almost addicted to them, and when it comes to exercise, that can be a good thing. And again, you have the social component, particularly Soldier Fit and Go Rock, I think these things that have more a military feel to them. You are feeling you're soldiers together, and people really seem to get into it. So if it works, that's great.
BELLANTONIAnybody else want to weigh in on some of these other techniques?
MILLERI could weigh in CrossFit. I just want to make a comment again about the list of fitness trends for 2014, and high-intensity interval training was actually number one on the list. So...
BELLANTONIWhat does that mean, exactly?
MILLERThat means workouts that are very short, brief, high intensity, so maybe 30 seconds of high intensity activity followed by 30 seconds or a minute of rest. And I think that it really goes sort of against the conventional wisdom of I'm gonna get on a treadmill and run for 45 minutes. So things like CrossFit, for example, is becoming extremely popular, and it's a type of high-intensity interval training. But, again, let me go back to what we were talking about earlier about trainers and certification.
MILLERI think CrossFit is one of those things that kind of gets a bad rap because you hear about people getting injured and things like that. But I don't think that CrossFit itself is a problem, but like anything else there are good CrossFit coaches and there are not so good CrossFit coaches, and CrossFit's the kind of thing that you really have to know what you're doing and you really have to understand your client's capacities if you want to maximize the benefit from that type of exercise. So again, when you're looking for these types of workouts, make sure that the trainers know what they're doing and they're experienced.
BELLANTONIOkay. We have a couple of other messages. We've got Jody tweeted to us @kojoshow saying, "One way to find a fitness community, is to make one online. A friend set up a workout challenge on Facebook that gets us all exercising daily." And then we have an email from Diana to email@example.com asking, "I have yet to find a sport or class that I can do with my 11 year old twins, other than getting on our bikes." Any suggestions from our experts?
MILLERI have twins. They're not 11. I'm trying to remember what we did when they were 11. But I don't. I felt like when I had 11 year old twins, I didn't feel like doing anything else.
HALLETTWell, I'd suggest dancing, you know, right? Like I used to love dancing with my mom, and my mom actually enrolled us in a community college, like, dance course for low credit when I was in high school, and we liked to do it together, and it was kind of a fun activity, especially in the summer.
ARNOLDAnd there are some studios that offer family fitness classes. I know Lil Omm Yoga Studio, which is in Tenleytown, they have family yoga. I think all ages can do it, and I've heard of that happening at other yoga studios. So I think that's an option too.
BELLANTONIThere's also baby yoga I should point out, where people -- you can bring in your baby and do some stretches with them which is really beneficial and you can use them a little bit as resistance training. I've seen that. We also have an email from Theresa in Vienna, Va., actually defending box gyms saying, she's heard a lot of negativity from our panel about big box gyms in support of small studios, but most big box gyms also have studios and classes for cardio, cycle, yoga, Pilates, weight training, dance.
BELLANTONI"My experience is these have been great. They are a sense of community. We celebrate each other with bridal showers, baby showers, acknowledgments of races, etc." So that's a nice point. And then Susan has a question she tweeted to us. "What do you think about the use of supplements for weight loss and muscle gain?" I'll direct that to Todd Miller.
MILLERSupplements for weight loss and muscle gain?
MILLERWell, I think that first and foremost, I think supplements should not be used in the place of real food. That being said, I think that most people who think they have a complete diet and a healthy diet, probably are lacking in something. So I think that there are times when supplements are good. I personally am a supporter of supplement use if it's prudent, but I think that that really is something that a person should discuss with their doctor in terms of which supplement should I use, what should I not use, that kind of thing.
MILLERAnd the supplement industry is another one that doesn't really have a whole lot of regulation, and it's very easy to get supplements that are not really high quality. And again, that's really just up to the person to be able to do their research and find a supplement that meets those standards.
BELLANTONII think we're gonna take one last call from Mary in Centerville, Va. You're a stay-at-home mom and you're got some thoughts on your own exercise routine. Thanks Mary.
MARYYes, thanks. I just wanted to say I've really enjoyed this show. You know, I'm a 40-something mom. I've been home with the kids for 15 years, and I joke around and say in the before time I was extremely active. I'm a runner, I used to play rugby, I've been riding and training horses since I was 12. And I found that staying home, it's just difficult when you have kids and toddlers in the different ages to get them out and get things that you can do where you can carry a baby and a toddler at the same time.
MARYWhat worked for me, particularly when we lived in a very small apartment, and having limited means was that I was able to basically just dress to exercise any time I found the opportunity. So I would take the jogging stroller, and if I dropped my son off at preschool, I measured the laps around the parking lot, and figured it was .1 miles and if I did 10 laps, I got one mile in. And if you compound that throughout the day and just take a little bit here and there combined with portion control, I lost -- after having a tough pregnancy, 65 pounds, and managed to get that baby weight off and sort of maintain it for the past ten years or so.
BELLANTONIWell, congratulations on that. Do you have any tips for our emailer who was wondering about to do with her 11-year-old twins?
MARYYou know, I find that just getting the kids outdoors and hiking and just going for walks on the trails. Get them interested in something when they don't even realize they're exercising. And that's why I appreciate the other caller mentioned our rec centers and our parks and out county. In Fairfax County, it's true, we have wonderful resources right at our fingertips. For those of us with limited means, all you have to do is walk. And finding that personal motivation because it is hard, and you've got to find the one thing that's gonna keep you getting out there and going to it time and time again.
BELLANTONIThank you very much, Mary. We appreciate it. Thanks for calling. And I wanted to thank our terrific panel. We've had just a very interesting conversation today and obviously timely when everyone is thinking about fitness in the new year, but you should think about it all the time. So thanks very much to Vicky Hallett, fitness columnist for the Washington Post, editor of the health and fitness section the Express. Todd Miller, professor of exercise science at George Washington University, director of the Weight Management and Human Performance Lab at the University's Ashburn campus, and Kate Arnold who owns the Bar Method DC and in Bethesda.
BELLANTONII am Christina Bellantoni, the incoming editor-in-chief of Roll Call. Thanks for having me today sitting in for Kojo, which produced by Brendan Sweeney, Michael Martinez, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff, Tayla Burney, Kathy Goldgeier, Elizabeth Weinstein, and Stephannie Stokes. The engineer is Tobey Schreiner, and Jonthan Osmondson (sp?) has been on the phones. Podcasts of all shows and archives, free transcripts are all available at our website.
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