Update from 7/3/2000


Core Training (Functional Exercise) 

Metabolism Boosters

There are two issues that I hear coming up repeatedly so I thought it best to give you a heads up on both.  The first is an exercise principle flooding the Personal Training field . . . the introduction of "Functional Exercise," otherwise known as "Core Training."  The second is the widespread use of the new "fat burners" and "metabolism boosters."  I'll cover them here.


Core Training or Functional Exercise

If your health club has Pilates or Ground Zero equipment, you've been exposed to "Functional Exercise."  While it is spreading, conceptually, like wildfire through the Personal Fitness Training field, I believe it's very simply the re-emergence of common sense.  I've heard many definitions.

"training the body beginning with its proximal musculature moving outward toward distal focus . . . "

"training the body from its core center of gravity"

"working the core muscles first utilizing balance and full body awareness"

However it is defined, it can be reduced to something far less complex.  Functional Exercise simply asks us to train our bodies as they were designed to move.  Rather than sticking our arms, legs, and butts, in odd looking machines, we should use movements that keep our bodies free to move through space as we target various movements and muscle groups.  Did it take a genius to come up with that?  Actually, I believe that after things come full circle, they wind up right back where they started.  In the 1940's physical education classes had students moving their bodies through space, working the various muscle groups.  In quest of $$, innovators and product developers came along and took this industry so far over the edge that fitness enthusiasts believed they couldn't get fit without expensive memberships, equipment, or futuristic machines. The fact is, biologically, biochemically, and physiologically, we are made of the same material as humans were 40 and 50 years ago.  Functional Exercise is a much needed concept, but not because it's a new innovation.  It's needed because it brings us back to common sense.  Move the body as it was designed to function and allow it to improve through progression and repetition.  I share this with you because the next wave is bound to happen.  As this concept infiltrates the public eye, product manufacturers will find it to be the new "buzzword," and they'll soon come out with nonsensical products that play off of the "functional" trend.   I want you to realize that if you are doing lunges around your living room, you are training functionally!  Putting one foot in front of the other, working the large muscles of the legs, and moving the body through space.  Don't get caught up in believing, despite what some future infomercial is soon to tell you, that you NEED some new device for effective exercise.  You've had it all along.  You simply need your body and the ability to move, and improvement can be facilitated with nothing more than a pair of dumbbells (or rocks for that matter).

The New Metabolism Boosters

I'll make this simple.  Whether they're sold as fat burners, energy enhancers, or herbal metabolism boosters, most of them are combinations of drugs.  Ephedrine and caffeine.  These drugs both have herbal sources so product manufacturers can create mixtures of guarana (a caffeine source) and ma huang (an ephedrine source) and sell you drugs under the label of "herbal and natural."  These are stimulants.  They can facilitate weight loss by several mechanisms, none of them secrets to long term fat loss.  There is a diuretic effect with these combinations leading to water loss.  There is a suppression of appetite from alteration of brain neurotransmitters.  Caloric burn is increased due to the drugs' stimulant properties.

Here's the bad part.  I can scare you by telling you of ephedrine related deaths and strokes.  They are a reality, but admittedly rare.  If I tried to scare you by telling you of your stroke risk, you could easily find five people you know taking the stuff and still kicking.  I've found something that is far more common.  Addiction.  I meet many fit people, athletes in some cases, who can no longer train without their daily "boost."  I've met police officers who feel as if they can't function, or even stay awake, without their "jolt" three times a day.  Nurses.  Housewives.  Recreational bodybuilders.  School teachers.  Pilots.  I can keep going.  The new drug addiction has found its way into every walk of life.  After all, if you were selling weight loss and energy in a bottle, who would turn it down?  Realize that the value of these products to their manufacturers is in their consumability and addictive properties.  They are over the counter drugs, but drugs just the same, and overuse quickly leads to a tolerance leading to larger and more frequent dosages.  When dosing becomes "regular," the adrenal system tends to back off leaving you weak and tired without the drugs.  It's a product manufacturer's dream!  Addictive drugs that can be manufactured cheap, legally sold with overhyped claims, and can generate a fortune.

Do you need them?  No.  should you take them?  I can only give you my opinion.  No.  I'll leave it at that.

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