physiquality blog: why you should give suspension training a try

One of the companies I work with, Physiquality, has been building an impressive array of wellness partners over the last few years. They’ve added several fitness programs since our launch in 2008, and I’ve often taken the chance to try out these new classes in order to get a sense of the program before I write the copy.

After researching our new partner, Serius Strap from Railyard Fitness, I’m dying to try out this type of fitness. The dancer in me is keen to sample the balance exercises, and (as with most women), I’d always love to chisel off a little bit more of my midsection. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any classes in Hoboken, so I’ll have to settle for writing about suspension training until then.

Why you should give suspension training a try

Suspension training has been a big buzz word lately. Infomercials abound, singing its praises. Military men brag about the added strength they build with it. Celebrities endorse it in the pages of magazines and on TV shows. So what is it?

A suspension training device is essentially a very strong strap with handles on the ends that can be secured to something overhead, like over a door or to a beam. The beauty of the systems is that you can do literally hundreds of different exercises with them.

Whether you’ve seen one before or not, here are some good reasons you should give suspension training a chance.

  1. Suspension training strengthens your core.

Your core, or postural, muscles stabilize your body. While they are a small portion of your entire body, strong muscles around your trunk and pelvis enable balance and stability and make other physical activity much easier.

Suspension trainers effectively make your core muscles turn on and work. By increasing your instability, suspension trainers make you work harder to complete exercises. David Berman, PT, who worked with Railyard Fitness to create the Serius Strap, uses the following example: “It’s like the difference between sitting on a standard chair, where the chair provides all of the stability, and sitting on a fitness ball, where your body has to work a bit to keep you from falling off.”

Read the full entry at physiquality.com!

mizzounyc.com: interview with Ryan MacPherson

Interview with Ryan MacPherson

Since part of our MizzouNYC website is publishing a quarterly newsletter about our events and members, I’m always looking for new people to profile and promote within our group. I had known Ryan in my last year at the University of Missouri — we did West Side Story together (he was Tony, I was a random Jet girl gutter slut) and later worked together at the Gap in Columbia. I’ve followed his career as an opera singer from a distance, and when I’d moved to New York, we’d reconnected a little online as he gave me advice for what to do around town.

He’d disappeared more recently, but when my close friend Andi did a production of La Traviata with him in Tampa, I saw a chance to contact him and profile him for our newsletter. He happily accepted and answered my questions promptly, in between rehearsals in Vienna for another production.

It’s always easy to write when you have plenty of material, and Ryan’s been busy traveling the globe as an opera singer now for 15 years. You can read his profile on the mizzounyc.com website at www.mizzounyc.com/index.php/news/summer_2011_newsletter#ryan.

physiquality blog: exercising safely in the heat of summer

I went away for the weekend for Memorial Day and was accosted by heat worthy of July upon our return. It was fitting, then, that the next subject for the Physiquality blog was how to exercise safely in the summer heat.

Full disclosure: I am not one to exercise outside. Between allergies, susceptibility to heat stroke, and a keen dislike for running, I am much happier taking a class in an air-conditioned studio than I am running several miles in my city. But my sensitivity to heat and the sun definitely increases my awareness of the importance of being safe, especially since I’ve watched my husband over-exert while playing tennis tournaments in temperatures topping 100 degrees. Here, then, are a few ways to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke while exercising outside.

Exercising safely in the heat of summer

After the storms of May, it feels like summer has appeared with a vengeance. Temperatures have soared over the last week, spiking across the Southern and Eastern states and setting records in places like Texas and Maryland.

The warm weather is an instant invitation to exercise outside, particularly if you’ve been hiding from snow and heavy rain for the last several months. However, given the high temperatures and humidity ratings that will continue through the fall, it’s best to keep a few things in mind in order to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Prepare. There are a few things that you can do before you step outside in order to prepare yourself for the heat:

  • Wear appropriate clothing. There are plenty of options now that are lightweight and help you stay cool. Technology like CoolMax or DriFit from Nike absorbs your sweat and makes it easier to evaporate. Be sure to also pick lighter colors in order to minimize the heat you absorb from the sun.
  • Apply sunscreen. Exercise physiologist Elizabeth Quinn points out that getting sunburned “can limit the skin’s ability to cool itself.” In addition, once you get burned, you should stay out of the sun for at least a few days in order to let your skin recuperate.

Read the full entry at physiquality.com!

mizzounyc.com: brochures

Our alumni chapter here in town, MizzouNYC (the New York home of alums from the University of Missouri), has been growing a great deal over the last few years. We’re always looking for new ways to help people new to town and to advertise the great events that we host in the city.

There had been a brochure a while back for MU students that came to the city over the summer for internships, but it was out of date and difficult to print. So with the help of our board, I revised the brochure and posted it for anyone new to the city of New York.

We’d also been bouncing around the idea of yearbook, something that showed people the variety of activities we host in town, from watch parties to picnics to nights at the museum. So I took stories from our quarterly e-newsletter and put them in a print document that we could distribute and post on the site.

I’ve been working on the website for over a year now, and I’m proud of the robust site it’s become. When I started working on it, you couldn’t find it by searching on any of the standard search engines. After a year of properly tagging headers; adding photos, news and events frequently; streamlining its organization; and repeatedly pointing people to our site via social media and eblasts, it now comes up as the first search result for a variety of keywords related to our chapter. It’s proof that content and organization are the key components of any website, and that adding content frequently — and properly — is the best way to improve your search results.

A small bonus? I heard recently from a communications director of our alumni chapter in Dallas that our website is the envy of other alumni chapters across the country. While I know I didn’t design the site, I take pride in the fact that the work I’ve contributed to it is key to its success.

physiquality blog: the dos and don’ts of healthy living

It seems, these days, that the healthcare industry is turning more and more to prevention and placing more responsibility in the hands of those for whom it is caring. Insurance companies offer incentives to consumers to lose weight and live healthier lives. Businesses incorporate wellness programs to boost health, as well as morale.

It’s impossible to completely prevent illness, but there are many ways to decrease your chances of certain diseases. My company, Physiquality, turned to several of their health and wellness partners to get some ideas on how to live better and avoid disease.

The dos and don’ts of healthy living

Living a healthy life can do much more than make you feel better today — it can help you avoid a plethora of health problems as you age. Small, simple changes to your daily life can pay big dividends in the long run.

With this in mind, we turned to several of our Physiquality partners to ask what they thought were the most important things to do and avoid on the pathway to a long and healthy life. Here’s what they had to share:

Do smile. Smiling changes your attitude and can change your outlook on the day. Scientific American even collated some studies that proved smiling can actually make you feel better.

Don’t worry or stress. When you get distracted by what might happen or what others are doing or have done, it’s difficult to focus on what you need to do on any given day. In the long run, stress can even damage the body, having been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and more. It’s healthier to approach each day with a fresh mind (and smile!), creating a list of priorities and approaching it with a clear head. And if you don’t finish your list that day, congratulate yourself for what you have accomplished, rather than berating yourself for what didn’t get finished.

Read the full entry at physiquality.com!

physiquality blog: preventing youth overuse injuries

The company I work for, Physiquality, has made it one of their missions to provide wellness and fitness activities for kids. And this topic has been increasingly popular over the last few years.

That said, this is a personal topic for me. As I mentioned in my last post, my injuries are directly related to the quantity of dance I did as a child and adolescent. My first surgery at 16 was caused by dancing 12 hours a week on a poorly aligned knee. A lack of cross-training and exercise outside of my dancing probably contributed to both my misalignment (dancers have notoriously weird alignments; my knees point straight forward when my feet are turned out in first position) and overuse. By the time the surgeon intervened, my cartilage was already shredded underneath my kneecap. I knew there would be further surgeries down the road.

Would I have followed the advice of these experts? And would it have made a difference? I don’t know. But certainly heeding their advice may have slowed down my problems and perhaps given me more time before my inevitable time under the knife.

Preventing youth overuse injuries

In recent years, a disturbing trend has been seen among younger athletes: Overuse injuries are becoming far more common.

Baseball in particular has been under intense scrutiny. A study of 481 youth pitchers between the ages of 9 and 14, published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (subscription required) in February 2011, noted that 5% of the athletes suffered such a serious injury in the course of the study that they needed surgery, or, even worse, had to retire.

And in an article for the Los Angeles Times in 2008, Dr. E. Lyle Cain noted that at the turn of the millennium, younger athletes (mostly baseball players) were getting the Tommy John procedure, or reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament, at a much higher rate. Only about 12% of Tommy John cases were for patients under the age of 18 between 1991 and 1996; the number of cases had jumped to 30% by 2005.

But it’s not just baseball that’s at the root of the problem. Whether due to increased competition, the hope for college scholarships, or overambitious parents, many children and teens are specializing in sports at younger ages and playing much more than previous generations.

Read the full entry at physiquality.com!

physiquality blog: what happens when we can’t exercise?

One of the reasons my resume stood out when I applied for a job with PTPN years ago was my experience in the healthcare industry. At the time, my work experience was focused on education and media. It was my personal experience in the healthcare world that got me in the door.

As a lifelong dancer (yes, I’m in my 30s and still take dance classes in Manhattan), my knees were doomed from my early teens. By the time I’d applied for the position in California, I’d had two knee surgeries on my right knee, one at 16 and one in the previous year, and had a another surgery while living in Los Angeles. My knowledge of and loyalty to the physical therapy profession was key to taking this job. I am happy to write about the benefits of physical therapy as I’ve seen them first hand — after having to take 4 years off from dancing, I’ve been taking intermediate modern classes for over a year now. I’m well aware that this never would have been possible without the benefits of my rehabilitation and the amazing PTs with whom I worked.

That said, those 4 years were a dark time. Taking time away from your chosen workout or sport — whether for 4 weeks, 4 months or 4 years — is difficult. How do you stay in shape? How do you stay positive? A story in the New York Times on depression after sports injuries inspired me to ask our member PTs about what we can do to avoid that depression and focus instead on rehabilitation and our return to the exercise we love.

What happens when we can’t exercise?

If you exercise regularly, you’ve probably had one of these roadblocks at some point in your life: A sprained ankle that keeps you from running. An illness that keeps you away from the gym. Or a bigger injury that requires rehab or surgery and a rethinking of your entire fitness regime.

When your fitness routine shifts, so does the rest of your day. You may sit more, eat more and possibly gain weight. The lack of endorphins, combined with the changes you see in the mirror, don’t help your situation. It’s not unusual to get depressed when this happens.

So how can you try to take control of your body and continue to stay fit despite that injury or illness? Mitch Kaye, PT, recommends that if you have an injury, the first stop is to see your doctor or a healthcare professional. He warns against self-diagnosis and adds that your physical therapist is the ideal expert to recommend low-impact exercises that can be continued with an injury; a PT’s unique training, along with knowledge of how the injury occurred, is key to prescribing the best recovery exercises.

Read the full entry at physiquality.com!

abbeybell.com has launched!

web design, management, New York City
www.abbeybell.com

I’ve been working with a friend as she prepared to launch her catering business here in Hoboken, NJ. She came to me for web advice and I ended up guiding her through the entire launch. I introduced her to my favorite web designers, Eat Sleep Work; found a design template; wrote her copy; uploaded images; coded her copy; and taught her the basics of how to add blog posts on her own.

Within a month, her site was ready to go, and I have to say I think it turned out very well. Take a look!

Congrats, Abbey!

mizzounyc.com: interview with Trisha Scudder

Interview with Trisha Scudder

As the secretary of the alumni group for my university here in New York, I put together a lot of communication for our members. On our website, I post event details, photos of member gatherings, and try my best to promote both the University of Missouri and local alums to our database in the city. Last fall, we had an event at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, where we had private tours of their Matisse exhibit. I had the opportunity to meet an alum from the 1960s, Trisha Scudder, and found the story of her career absolutely fascinating.

Fast forward 6 months. We’re looking for people to profile for our quarterly newsletter, and she immediately popped into my head. After some research, I was able to find her and, thankfully, she was honored to be interviewed for our website. She sent me 4 pages of information in response to my questions, and we talked for almost an hour about our dogs, living in New York, and about our careers. I’m definitely hoping that our paths cross again — hopefully at a MizzouNYC event.

You can read Trisha’s profile on the mizzounyc.com website at www.mizzounyc.com/index.php/news/spring_2011_newsletter#trisha.

physiquality blog: timeless lessons on living a healthy life

Jack LaLanne’s death in January of this year made me think about my own grandfather. He’s often been mistaken for my father as few people believe he looks too young to be anything else. While I’m sure his amazingly dark hair is part of that (he’s 81 but has only recently started to go salt and pepper), his depth of fitness is also part of the cause.

Grandpa always followed Jack LaLanne’s model of eating right and staying fit. Even in his 70s, he was riding his bike for 10 miles or more at a time, and he was eating egg-white omelettes long before they were popular. The basement at my grandparents’ house contained an impressive home gym, mostly made of hand weights that were far too heavy for me to pick up, even when I’d grown into a young adult. The two men have always been linked in my mind, which was why I suggested writing a tribute to Mr. LaLanne after his passing.

Timeless lessons on living a healthy life

Jack LaLanne had what seemed like a simple mission in life — to help people help themselves through feeling better and living longer. In his own life, before passing away recently at age 96, he tried to live by example through “completing implausible feats of strength and endurance,” as James Fell of the Los Angeles Times put it. Even more improbably, Jack did many of these things at the age of 40 and beyond. To name a few:

  • 1955, 40 years old: Swam the length of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge underwater with 140 pounds of equipment.
  • 1956, 42 years old: Set a world record of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes on the TV show “You Asked for It.”
  • 1959, 45 years old: Completed 1,000 push-ups and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour and 22 minutes.
  • 1975, 61 years old: Swam the length of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge underwater, for a second time, this time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.
  • 1984, 70 years old: Towed 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, a 1½ mile distance, while handcuffed, shackled, and fighting strong winds and currents.

Even more impressive is his list of firsts: He opened the first modern health spa. He was the first fitness trainer to have athletes, and women, working out with weights. The first to combine weight training with nutrition. The first to encourage the physically challenged to exercise. The list goes on and on.

Because Jack was first in the public eye in the 1950s, many people today question what they can learn from him. Many of his LaLanneisms, however, are even more important to follow today, with obesity at an all-time high and the need for fitness and good nutrition vital to our health. Here are just a few to keep in mind:

Read the full entry at physiquality.com!