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Meet Healthbook: Apple’s First Big Step into Health & Fitness

Healthbook’s user interface is largely inspired by the iPhone’s existing Passbook application. Versions of Healthbook in testing are capable of tracking several different health and fitness data points.

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The Complete Beginners Guide to Buying Good Cross-Training Shoes

HEY SAM:  I am thinking about buying cross-training shoes to use in the gym. Is there anything specific I should look for in cross-training shoes?
~Bob, Los Angeles

As with men, it’s important to know that not every shoe is equipped to handle every need. Knowing the differences between these types shoes will help you get what you need, but moreover — prevent unnecessary injury! In terms of exercise, there are three kinds of shoes to be concerned about: running, walking and cross-training shoes. So what makes a cross-trainer a GOOD cross-trainer?

7 SECRETS ABOUT GOOD CROSS-TRAINERS:

MESH — The shoe needs to have some mesh fabric. Mesh in a cross-training shoe helps the shoe handle variations in temperature, as well as to be moisture-wicking, (pulling moisture away from your skin). Breathability determines whether your foot drowns in a pool of sweat, or glides along comfortably.

Shoe Guy 257x300 The Complete Beginners Guide to Buying Good Cross Training Shoes

FLEXIBILITY— One surefire way to developing unsightly corns is an inflexible shoe (especially in the toes). A good cross-training shoe should feel flexible. Does it bend in different directions easily? Does it allow your foot to move easily for movements like burpees and pushups? If in doubt, do a few in the shoes and see.

SHOCK ABSORPTION — The heavier you are, the more important this is. Shock absorption protects your heels from crashing down too hard and hurting your ankles or knees (or both). Place your fingers on the underside toe area and see if there is a little bit of give in the sole and do the same for the heels— a good cross-training shoe should have both.

LATERAL MOTION — Good cross-training shoes have support not only for forward and backward movement, but also side to side motion. Also, the ankle area should have a bit of give. Do some jumping jacks in the shoes and ask if the shoe is giving you enough support. You should always have the ability to move your ankle without interference, otherwise you will have unnecessary soreness.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS — If you have high arches, consider yourself genetically gifted. Very few shoe companies manufacture shoes with high arch support, because they are catering to the “average” consumer. If you need more arch support, find a good brand and stick to that brand like glue. Not supporting your arches affects how you walk, which can make your body develop symmetrically.

THE HAPPY FACTOR — Buy shoes that you like looking at. Choose a cool color—maybe a bright neon—that makes you smile, or makes you excited to work out. Good cross-training shoes should not only make you look good, but also confident, capable and fully supported.

RESEARCH — Finally, remember to go online and read some of the reviews on technical aspects of the shoes, how long they are expected to last, and how much use you can get out them BEFORE you buy.

Do you have a favorite cross-training shoe?

Shoe Guy

Looking Back at 2013

 

When you’re focused on moving forward, it is ever more important to take a moment to look back to acknowledge and say, “Actually, I did some cool stuff!”

And professionally, I did: from working with a wave of new Sam Page Fitness clients, to fundraising for AIDS Project Los Angeles.

From successfully launching “PocketSAM” my mobile app, to co-leading a new year’s climb up Mount Echo.

From consulting on the $15,000 studio remodel at the Hollywood Production Center, to training to become a certified executive protection agent.I’ve kept pretty busy!

But 2013 wasn’t just about professional milestones.

These past 12 months, I’ve been constantly reminded of the truly impermanent nature of … everything.

We are all in a state of transition, even our relationships.

Nothing is fixed or solid.

Everything is tentative — or as I prefer to think: “just about to become something!”

Really acknowledging this on a soul level — that nothing is static — has helped me become a more open-minded, easygoing human being.

I’ve grown more comfortable with ambiguity, and shifted my thinking to a space where belief (in anything) is not necessary or required for admission.

I’m more flexible, ready, aware & open to see what’s actually unfolding, moment by moment.

I’m a even a better listener.

These awakenings I attribute in part to a growing identification with Buddhism, developing a closer relationship to the nature of my own fear , and my fascination with practical neuroscience.

I’m profoundly grateful for this year, for my practice, and if you’re reading this … for you.  :)

I hope that your happiness is increasing and your suffering is decreasing.

Be well this holiday season.

peace + love + lunges,

sam

Sam Page at Trebek Open Space December 2013

Four Ways to Improve Your Balance

If you, or someone you love, has difficulty with balance, here are a few easy exercises which will help your confidence and prevent falling.  It’s important that you feel safe when you work on balance, so that you don’t fall. If your balance isn’t good enough, stand behind a sturdy chair.

  1. March gently in place, lifting only your heels off the floor. When that becomes easy lift the heels and toes off the floor very slightly as you march in place. As your balance improves, lift your feet higher off the floor.
  2. Raise slowly up on your tip toes, then go back on your heels. The knees are kept straight, but not locked.
  3. Step to the side with your right foot, then bring the left foot next to the right foot. Step to the side with the left foot, then bring the right foot next to it. Repeat several times. As your balance improves, take a larger step to the side.
  4. Stand up tall. Keeping your torso straight up and down, and your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees and hips slightly, sinking downward. Then straighten your hips and knees and stand back up straight. Repeat several times. As your balance and strength improve, bend you knees a little more. (If you have knee pain, stop the exercise.)  ~Sam Page

How to Tighten + Tone Your Inner Thighs

HEY SAM: Wondering if I could get some advice from you on the troubling “inner thigh” — I really want to slim my inner thighs, but they seem to keep bulking up.  I’m getting to the point of wanting lipo. Help me, buddy. ~James, Salt Lake City, Utah

I have found that repetitive motions, using only body weight, to be very effective in toning up the inner thigh. For example, try squeezing a very small rubber ball tightly between your upper thighs, with feet raised off the floor at a 90-degree angle. Perform 25-30 crunches, then drop your arms and neck back, and just pulse the ball with your upper thighs over and over again. You will begin to feel the inside of your thighs burn. Keep going for about 30 seconds past the “burning” point. Don’t use ankle weights. In fact, I recommend using only your own body weight and isometric movements.

Another tool you might like are a series of DVD’s from a fitness studio in Los Angeles called Pop Physique, which is all the rage among ladies here in Hollywood. The principles behind their uber-targeted workouts are to tone the stomach, inner thigh, transform your arms, and lift your butt. My friend Lisa treated me to a month of Pop Physique classes for Christmas. As a dude wearing dance tights, surrounded by 20-30 ladies, I found the PopPhys workouts in the Silverlake studio to be both challenging as hell, and fun. I’m sure the DVD’s capture some of this while offering a great workout targeting these areas!  ~Sam  

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How the Presidential Candidates Stay Fit

2012 10 18 1024x585 How the Presidential Candidates Stay Fit

 If John F. Kennedy Jr’s magazine, GEORGE, has a defining legacy, it’s that modern politicians, like celebrities, understand the iconic power and importance of their physical image more than ever before.

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What Motivates You: Carrot or Stickk?

Guest post by:
Dr. Arshavir Blackwell

Screen shot 2012 10 09 at 1.32.51 PM 96x91 What Motivates You: Carrot or Stickk?Stickk is a web-based motivational tool that describes itself as an online “Commitment Store.” One of its founders, Yale Economics Professor Dean Karlan, developed the system.

Users sign contracts to achieve goals: losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising more, for example. Karlan and his cofounders claim their site is based upon sound psychological principles; in particular, two well-known principles of behavioral economics: 1) people don’t always do what they say that they want to do and 2) incentives work.

Stickk has been available since 2007 and as of this writing Stickk’s website boasts:

  • $11,523,156 “on the line” (more on what that means in a moment)
  • 174,020 commitments created
  • 300,659 workouts completed
  • 2,502,250 cigarettes not smoked

This is not a website that provides motivation via vague exhortations to be a better person. Stickk is quite concrete in its methods and its goals.

How It Works

Say that you want to lose 25 pounds in time for the Hawaiian-themed office Christmas party where everyone wears leis and swimsuits. Go to the Stickk website, create an account, and enter your goal, e.g., weigh 175 pounds by December 20.

Each week, you report your weight (or whatever your goal is—the best one I saw listed was “Have no more John sex”) and Stickk tells you if your week’s loss keeps you on track for your final goal. If you’re trying to lose 25 pounds over 25 weeks, and you lose a pound that week, you have reached your week’s goal.

But Wait There’s More!

So far this is just a normal performance-tracking website. But there are two optional features designed to make it more effective:

First, you can designate a referee. Every week, this person confirms your progress in order to prevent cheating.

Second, you can put money on the line. Let’s say you wager $250. Divide this over the number of weeks that your goal is in play. Every week that you fail to lose a pound, you forfeit ten dollars: $250/25 weeks = $10 (they deduct it automatically from your credit card). Again, a referee can improve effectiveness by keeping you honest.

Where Does the Money Go?

Here is Stickk’s mean little trick: you choose an “anti-charity,” a group whose work you strongly disapprove of. When you lose, they get it.

This small, yet devious, bonus feature makes the punishment that much more burdensome. Did that pizza binge this weekend result in your donating $25 to the Organization for Experimentation on Unwanted Puppies? Better luck next time.

But, Does It Work?

I have used Stickk twice, each time to lose about 25 pounds. Both times I used a wager tied to an anti-charity, and never you mind which.

The first time, it worked. The second time, it did not. From the ashes of my failure, here are observations which might improve Stickk and give you a better chance of succeeding. But first, a bit about behavioral psychology to provide some context.

Punishment Versus Reward

Psychologists have long studied the dynamics of punishment versus reward in motivating behavior.

Punishment is defined as any action which decreases a behavior. Zapping a rat with an electric shock when it goes in to a particular corner of its cage is punishment. Over time (and pretty fast; rats are smart) it will no longer demonstrate the behavior of going into that part of the cage.

Reward is defined as any action which increases a behavior. Giving a rat a yummy treat when it goes into a certain (hopefully different) part of its cage is a reward. Over time, it will tend to demonstrate the behavior of going into that part of the cage.

You and I are no different.

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Are You a Chooser or a Decider?

From Sam Page:  Do you know the difference between making a choice vs. making a decision? I’ve learned that language choices have a big impact on our lives!  I asked Dr. Justin Wyatt, my friend and client, to explore and share his personal discovery.

Coach Sam asked me to contemplate the difference between decisions and choices in light of my failure to workout last Wednesday.  He posed the question as if any functioning human being would immediately understand the distinction between the terms, apply them sensibly to the current situation, and extrapolate to future events in a knowing and enlightened fashion.

To be truthful, I thought they were more or less the same — perhaps with the caveat that decision-making leads to choice (although, I feel really that you could just as easily say that choice-making leads to a decision).

My hunt through the online research archives reveals that there are, in fact, key differences between “decision” and “choice.”  According to one social-science way of thinking, “choice” is a positive framework, where we are actively choosing between various alternatives.  ”Decision” is an end point — there are no longer alternatives facing us, we’ve made and settled on a decision.  So, to recap, when we analyze situations as “choices” to be made, we’re empowering and seeing all the alternatives in front of us.  When we look at a decision, it’s basically “the end of the line.” We have to live with the decision and soldier on.

In reflecting on Sam’s question, I now see that this distinction is helpful, but it’s a little perplexing too.  For instance, consider the classic William Styron novel and Meryl Streep melodrama, Sophie’s Choice.  (spoiler alert: I’m going to talk about her choice)  In the most chilling memory recounted in the story, Sophie recalls her arrival at Auschwitz when she was forced to choose which one of her two children would be gassed and which would go to the labor camp.  I’m kind of thinking that Styron should have called his book, Sophie’s Decision, since her choice, willful and active, hardly seems like it would yield joy and enlightenment.  But, hold on — that’s just a surface reading.  Remembering the full story: if Sophie did not choose one of her children, both would be killed.  So, ultimately, Sophie’s choice, even though it was heart-breaking, saved one of her children. Choice still wins out—even in a very adverse situation.

Back to last Wednesday night. When I arrived at my car and saw my gym bag, I could have chosen to go upstairs to the gym and workout — or go home and enjoy a nourishing meal.  You’re probably saying, ‘Couldn’t you have worked out, and then had dinner?’  That’s probably true.  So, a more accurate assessment of the situation is really: “workout” or “no workout.”

As you might have guessed from the start of this story, I didn’t choose to workout.  Does this matter?  Does my choice have an impact?  I think the answer must be separated into the short run vs. long run.  In the short run, I was perfectly happy to veg out watching reality TV, eat a delicious dinner (hamburger pasta!) and be slothful.  This has been my comfort zone for most of my adult life.  It’s definitely generational: I had watched my own father come home and rest after work, with activity at a virtual standstill.  While I’m not a clone of my dad, I certainly realize that I see non-work hours as a reward for working, and a reward that has slid into laziness and bad habits.

I’m learning that the long term consequences of these actions may be huge. As Dr. Brett Dolezal commented on Rosie’s O’Donnell’s recent heart attack, “Poor lifestyle choices and habits increase ones risk of these cardiac events. Like she stated, she’s lucky to have survived this.”

Am I chained by poor lifestyle choices: inadequate exercise, indulgent diet, unchecked stress/anxiety?  I certainly have been, but with guidance and effort, I’ve been able to make some positive changes. Last Wednesday night reminded me that the struggle is ongoing.  And that the comfortable choice is not always the best choice — especially in the long run.  My goal is to keep the long run firmly in focus and not be tempted by the pleasures of short term relaxation and non-exercise.  I’m hoping that through my training and nutrition changes, I’ll be able to create a road ahead for many years that truly reflects my joy and enthusiasm for the gifts that every day gives me.  Now that’s a choice for change I can embrace!

Dr. Justin Wyatt is Vice President, Primary Research for NBCUniversal. He is a specialist in qualitative and quantitative media research, and has worked on the client side (ABC TV Network) and supplier side (Frank N. Magid Associates, Hypothesis Group) of the media research business. Prior to 2001, Wyatt was a tenured professor of Media Arts at the University of Arizona. He is the author of High Concept: Movies and Marketing in Hollywood and co-editor of American Independent Cinema: From the Margins to the Mainstream.

BOSU Squat w/Front Raise

Seven Health Shortcuts That Work

Doing the “right thing” can seem impossible when it comes to health and nutrition. If you’re pressed for time, here are a few ideas that work.

You’re supposed to do 30 minutes of cardio, five times per week.

The shortcut: Take three 10-minute walks every day. Little bursts of exercise will do the same job. You could climb the stairs of your office building, walk to your favorite lunch destination (each way, 10 minutes = 20 minutes of activity) or take a co-workers dog for a walk.

You’re supposed to eat breakfast every morning.

The shortcut is to have a quick, but healthy “fast” —yet balanced—breakfast. A protein bar is a good choice. I like KIND bars (the all-nut ones are a great morning breakfast on-the-go), and they don’t contain any gluten. I also love the High Protein Almond Brownie by Balance Bar. Unlike competing bars, it has a sweet, chocolately bite with a nutty aftertaste. And it doesn’t taste like chemicals or preservatives, while packing in an impressive 14 grams of protein and only 6 grams of fat.

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