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Hoops in the West Wing? Obama Considers Basketball Court

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obamaiconic Hoops in the West Wing? Obama Considers Basketball CourtESPN, one of my favorite magazines (part for its slick design, part for the gritty/matte paper stock and on-the-cheap saddle stitch binding) offers some insight into the athleticism of the new U.S. president:

Barack Obama has a tough act to follow (we’re talking about sports here), succeeding a man who once owned a major league baseball team, bench-pressed 185 pounds and ran a marathon. But the skinny newcomer should hold his own. Before the election, candidate Obama championed a college football playoff and lobbied to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago, his hometown. His passion for pickup hoops and his clutch three-point shooting during a summer visit with troops in the Middle East are, in their own way, Jordanesque. And now that he’s moved into the White House, President Obama is looking for a room with a ceiling high enough to hold a basketball court.”

Here’s ESPN Magazine’s overview of Obama’s athletic career.

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Stud in Chief, Rahm Emmanuel

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emanuel0127 Stud in Chief, Rahm Emmanuel

Everyone keeps asking newly anointed White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel if he’s “having fun.”

“Fun is not the first adjective that comes to mind,” he said in a profile appearing in Sunday’s New York Times.  Still, I found his physical fitness regime (detailed in the same article) pretty impressive:

He woke as usual at 5 a.m., swam a mile at the Y, read papers and was in the office at 7 for the senior staff meeting at 7:30. There was a meeting in the Situation Room about Afghanistan; a leadership meeting; a conversation with the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada; a meeting with Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah; budget meetings; several conversations with the president.

Later, in the same article, we get some more specifics about Mr. Emmanuel’s resistance training regimen:

On days he does not swim, he works out, and conducts business, at the House gym: 25 minutes on the bike, 20 minutes on the elliptical, 120 situps, 55 push-ups and many sweaty conversations with his former colleagues.

Whether or not you agree with his politics, it’s good to finally see some physical fitness in the White House.

How Often Should Your Trainer Check His iPhone and Send Text Messages During a Workout Session?

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sam in weight room 1024x640 How Often Should Your Trainer Check His iPhone and Send Text Messages During a Workout Session?

HEY SAM—How often should your trainer check his iPhone and send text messages during a workout session?  I see it so often at Gold’s that it’s funny. People are paying good money for a personal trainer, yet the trainer spends his time checking text messages and email on his Blackberry or iPhone —even sending texts or returning calls. Amazing. —Evan, West Hollywood

I think the guiding principle is that  you ought to have his full (not necessarily undivided) attention.

For a trainer—like all independent contractors—the mobile phone is the lifeline to his business.  I’ll bet that Jack LaLanne would say that a trainer should not bring his cell phone onto the gym floor, lest it becomes a distraction. In the spirit of full disclosure, I always have my cell phone with me in case I receive a cancellation.

I say “not necessarily undivided” attention because my experience as a trainer has taught me to focus on several simultaneous visual and auditory phenomena at once.  For example, while someone exercises under my supervision, I’m also monitoring their breathing, observing how steadily they’re moving the weights, looking for a full range of motion, correcting their form, counting, (and more).  In other words, if your trainer’s attention is divided, it should be divided for a purpose that serves you as a client during your session.

If a trainer is actually Twittering, or sending e-mails and text messages during your session, I think it’s grounds to fire him/her. (I’m not including circumstances such as life or death, or major emergencies, but there’s really no valid reason for your trainer to be texting while on the job). That’s what breaks are for.

Also, keep in mind that a cell phone can be used as a tool during your workout.  I use the iPhone’s stopwatch application with clients while they perform timed exercises—a perfectly legitimate purpose.

How Do I Get Rid of the Fat on Top of My Knees?

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knees How Do I Get Rid of the Fat on Top of My Knees?

Hey Sam: Do you have a good exercise to get rid of fat on top of the knees? —Jennifer, Orlando, Fla.

You can’t really spot reduce the fatty tissue on the top of the knees. I would recommend strengthening the underlying muscle tissue and connective tissue by doing leg extensions once or twice per week with a heavy enough weight that you can manage 3-4 sets and 12-15 repetitions.  This will build stronger, more attractive quadriceps (the muscle directly above the knee).  To reduce fatty tissue, you will need to follow a program of cardiovascular exercise combined with a proper meal plan. More information after the jump.

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