SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ads for Your Abs

I get up very early in the morning to work out and try to do so 5 days a week. I get up early because at that time I'm in control of my day, and there are very few things than can interrupt me at that time. I am diligent about stretching, riding my spin bike (it's nice and quiet, and there's no danger of waking up anyone else), and then doing a bunch of work with medicine balls, especially core work. Overally, my routine takes about an hour, and, thereafter, I veg on my basement couch and channel surf. It's a fun way to cool down before beginning the day.

When I flip channels, I notice a few things -- evangelists and shows that demonstrate workouts or machines to help you improve your abs, including one that shows that someone lost 7 inches off his waist in about 2 weeks. Do you ever see this stuff? What fun is working out if you don't work? Some of those who give testimonials a) must have had bariatric surger, b) must not eat, c) must be bulimic or d) are nuts because they say they don't want to sweat or be on the floor doing crunches as part of their workout. Remember, whoever said "no pain, no gain," made a very good point.

You see people sitting on a machine that goes side to side (with abs more impressive than my grandmother's old washboard) or standing on a machine where your legs go side to side and where you're told you only need to do ten minutes at a time. I honestly think that people who look that good a) spend at least 2 hours a day in the gym and b) do lots of exercises to make their bodies look as wonderful as they do. It's just not that easy to get a flat stomach, especially if a) you have a commute, b) you sit a lot during the day and c) you eat more than sprouts and drink more than coffee.

I wish that there were statistics on this sort of thing. Who buys this stuff, how much do they use it, and for how long? And how much of it ends up stored under a bed, in the basement or gets used as a towel rack? For those who make the investment in the good machines and then use them, the investments are well worth it. But some of these machines look like gimmicks, and fads usually flame out quickly.

Look, some exercise is better than none, and most Americans need to do more in this area. But if you're going to get started again after a while of not working out, talk to your doctor to see what makes sense. Start slowly, and then avoid getting hooked on it to the point where you work out for 2 hours a more a day at the expense of all else and then, when you suffer your first cold or tweak, fall out of your routine and are reluctant to get back to it because the extra sleep or free time is just too good to pass up. Be the tortoise, not the hare, and vary your routine so that you don't get bored (and stay with it). Walk, run (if your knees still permit you), bike, shoot baskets, lift weights (resistance work is important), do core work (crunches, etc.) and break a good sweat.

You'll be glad you did.

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