Friday, October 30, 2015

Guest Post: The Beauty of Online Workout Videos

If you have never tried online workout videos, you are missing out on one of the best ways to exercise and make a habit that sticks.

I’ve been using workout videos regularly since rediscovering them in 2010 (I loved my mom’s Jane Fonda tapes when I was a kid). Videos have played a pivotal part in transforming me from a sometimes exerciser into a daily exerciser. Exercise has become my coach, my therapist, my meditation, my friend, and my muse. I dedicate 2 days a week, religiously, to using online workout videos.

Here are the top 6 benefits of using online videos!

1. Online Videos are Incredibly Convenient

When it comes to finding time to work out, truly nothing is more convenient than working out from home with a video. But even if you travel frequently, online workout videos are incredibly accessible. With videos, traffic is never an issue. Neither is parking. Or weather. Or a crazy schedule – after all, the web gives you 24/7 access to online workouts - you can do them whenever you want. You only need a small space. And your shower is RIGHT there when you finish!

So if you have the will, there is a way. Once you stop letting external obstacles get in way of your workouts -- because let’s face it, meetings, sick kids, and better offers will always find a way to derail even the best laid workout plans -- you’ve laid the groundwork for developing a really strong, consistent, and rewarding exercise habit.

2. It's Not All or Nothing - That Day’s Commitment is Up to You

With online workouts, you are not committed to a particular time or effort on any given day. Sometimes it’s great to work out for an hour and pour sweat, but some days not so much. When you depend on getting to a class, it's all or nothing. You may have to psych yourself up to get there, and if you don't make it, you end up with nothing in the way of activity that day. Nothing but guilt and beating yourself up.

With online videos, you have the ultimate flexibility in choosing what to do based on your energy level and your time frame. If you put on a 20-minute video because you don’t have the drive that day to move for an hour, that’s still a success. You’re going to feel so much better after 20 minutes, no matter what. And you may just feel good enough to watch another video, because endorphins are funny like that, once you get going. But it’s your call: no judgment, no slinking out of a class.

And you can have it both ways. When you feel like going to a class and seeing your awesome instructor in the flesh, do it! And when you don’t, a workout video is so easy to substitute. It’s still a win for the day.

3. Online Workouts Offer Tons of Variety when You Want to Mix It Up

The wonderful thing about the Internet is the sheer breadth of variety at your fingertips. Chris Anderson, former WIRED editor, calls this “the long tail.” Brick and mortar places like a physical gym offer a fixed inventory of classes because they have only finite resources like the amount of studio space, and the people available to teach or attend a workout at a given time. The web has no such constraints - it allows for the creation of vast digital archives with very little extra overhead. Digital assets take very little space, and can be accessed whenever, even globally. Fitness video platforms offer on-demand access to a huge variety of pre-recorded workouts, whether from DVDs or live-taped classes, across space and time. Access to the long tail gives the consumer so much more choice.

The Internet gives you access to an incredible diversity of instructors.  The best instructors may live far away from you physically and you would never cross paths in real life, but online, they’re right there in the room with you. You get unprecedented access to literally some of the finest, most sought after instructors in the world.

Two of my favorite growing trends are dance workouts and fusion programs.

·         Dance workouts have been growing like crazy in popularity. Have you tried one yet? Dance tends to feel more like fun than exercise, so it really lends itself perfectly to a home workout format for many people. Zumba may be the one you’ve seen in your gym, but there are many more dance workouts available online, everything from Bollywood workouts, to ballet-inspired videos, jazz, hip hop, you name it.

·         Fusion workouts are a really fun area to explore online. Fusion (or Hybrid) workouts pull together influences from multiple styles of fitness to create a unique blend. Fusion styles are incredibly engaging, mixing the best elements together from different genres, and they offer a great way to get your first exposure to other workout styles. Examples of fusion workouts include yoga & weights, barre & kickboxing, dance mixed with high intensity intervals, pilates combined with yoga, cardio circuits with mixed martial arts, just to name a few. The sky is truly the limit with these combinations. They are fresh and interesting.

4. Online Workouts offer Familiar Comfort Too

Variety is great for those times when you want to do something new, but if you’re like me, most of the time you want to do something familiar: take a class with one of your favorite instructors, revisit your favorite workouts. There’s comfort in a known entity, when you know just where the tough parts of the workout are, just where the fun parts are, just how much you’ve progressed since the first time you did it. For workouts with choreography, like dance videos, once you’ve gotten through the learning curve to get to know the routines, revisiting them is just pure fun. You can work on adding flair and technique once the basic muscle memory is in place.

I personally try not to do any single workout video more than twice a month, except if I’m learning choreography. That way I avoid plateaus, I never get sick of a video, and I get to revisit a lot of my favorites. If you’ve ever heard the term “muscle confusion” -- the idea of continually shifting the muscle groups you target to keep your body constantly adapting and to give you a wide range of functional fitness -- I like to say my muscles have been confused since 2010. That requires both variety and familiarity.

5. Online Workouts are Incredibly Cost Effective Compared to Gyms, Studios, and Trainers

Online workouts are truly the most cost effective workouts out there, short of exercising outside for free (running outside, walking, etc). Considering the quality and variety of the workouts you can get online, this is just practical, economic value.

There are several different membership models available for you to choose from online.
·         Netflix-style memberships: Unlimited streaming for a low monthly subscription fee (typically under $10/month, with the most expensive still under $20). Membership subsidizes the cost of creating and licensing videos, so most sites in this category are completely ad-free. Examples of this include Gaiam, Gigabody, and FitFusion.
·         Freemium services:  In this model, you get access to some content for free - likely with ads, plus there are additional upsell features like premium content you can choose to pay for on a monthly basis. Grokker is an example.
·         Pay per video - rent or buy:  Some sites let you pay per video, either to rent for short term access or to buy your own digital download copy. This is a great option if you really want to own your favorite DVD in digital form, or you want to try before you buy. Many individual instructors offer digital downloads on their personal websites.
·         Free with ads: In the completely free category, Youtube is king. You can get free access to all sorts of content, though it can take some digging to find the good stuff and you’ll have to watch ads as well as see them overlaid on videos. You may have heard the phrase, if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold. There’s always a tradeoff when it comes to free access, but sometimes that price is right.

Across the board, online workouts provide excellent value when compared to
·         studio classes  - which can run $10-$75 per class
·         gyms  - averaging $58/mo per StatisticBrain, not counting setup fees
·         one-on-one personal trainers  - averaging $50/mo, but varying widely

Given the low price of online workouts, you may be able to afford both online workouts and workouts with a studio or trainer. Assuming you make use of a service you pay for, an investment in your health is always a sound investment.

6. Online Workouts Give you Ultimate Privacy

Last but not least, privacy is an under-rated benefit of working out online.

·         You can wear whatever you want. Or not.
·         You can dance like no one’s watching because they’re not. 
·         You don’t have to brush your hair, or your teeth.
·         Whatever jiggles, whatever wiggles, it doesn’t matter.

Your space is yours. There’s no guy in stinky gym clothes on the next bike. You don’t have to worry about bending over and feeling exposed in your yoga class, or wearing clothes that make you feel uncomfortable. There’s no body shaming or embarrassment in the privacy of your own space.

So what are you waiting for?  Let’s workout online!

Valerie Lanard

Guest Blogger: Valerie Lanard is the Founder of online workout service She is an avid skort collector, a lover of wearables, working out, running self experiments, and building things with computers.

Monday, October 26, 2015

This is Health Education: GASOPHE Reminded Me Why I love Health Education

2 days of networking and collaborating with passionate health educators. That is what I was able to expereience at the GASOPHE conference.

Day 1: Health Communication & Social Marketing Workshop
I was really excited to learn that I was already performing many of the strategies used in Health Communcation & Social Marketing. In Social Marketing we apply marketing concepts to promote social ideas and actions. Dr. Jorgensen gave a great overview social marketing principles, planning, and social media. We reviewed the 4 Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. In public health our products are: ideas, health products, services, and behaviors or practices. we have to show value in our product, minimize effort involved to access/use product, and we have to create engaging products.

Here are some of the insights I was able to share with the class and my "Blogging"group.

How Bloggers can help spread your health message:
- they have direct access to your community
- most bloggers have a specific audience/niche (narrow-casting): food, fitness, mothers, etc ; we can help you expand your reach in our specific niche.
- invite a blogger to be a VIP and allow them access to your event for some free marketing and publicity
- help hosting a giveaway
- my highest interactions come from sharing blog posts with my facebook community, promote across all of your channels
- help managing social media accounts; most of us are pretty tech savvy and are managing multiple social media accounts already

Have you ever partnered with a blogger to promote you event or help spread your health message? Bloggers have you ever partnered with a health agency?

Blogging is health promotion. I am excited to use what I learned to package my message in a way that aligns with National Physical Activity, Obesity Prevention, and Diabetes Prevention programming. Collaboration is key for chronic disease prevention!

Day 2: Fall Summit
I started Day 2 just after lunch. I had a few classes I had to teach prior to getting my geek on. I got there just in time for lunch.

During lunch I did some light networking and started mapping out my classes for the day. My goal was to choose classes that covered topics I had less experience in. I got more than I expected, my options were a bit overwhelming, but I gained so many great resources!

Developing Strategies for Evaluating the Impact of Policies on Community Health
Evaluation is so important in determining effectiveness and documenting your process. In my physical activity programs there is always pre and post testing, how else would clients know they have made progress. Why wouldn't the same strategy be applied to programming.

We used a case study to practice our evaluation skills. We reviewed the inputs, outputs, and outcomes in a logic model to help us evaluate our case. We discussed free resources for evaluation, specifically the CDC Framework. What tools do you use for evaluation? I was glad to speak with some professionals who specialize in evaluation, at least I have some contacts if I am ever looking for a good framework.

Using the Community Readiness Model to Activate Communities
This workshop provided plenty of hands on experience and resources. We walked through the process of identifying the issue, defining your community, and choosing key respondents.Then we reviewed sample CRA interview questions. Then we practiced scoring the various dimensions of awareness: community knowledge of efforts, leadership, community climate, knowledge of issue, and resources related to the issue. I have never used the community readiness model but now at least i have a deeper knowledge of the protocol and its application. I love learning!

Chronic Disease Prevention: Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change
This session was a really great example of how collaborations and health policy create change. Ms. Warren discussed current collaborations with American Heart Association, American Planning Association, Women Infant and Children services, Society for Public Health Educators, and Directors of Health Promotion and Education; Partnering4Health. Their goal is to collaborate to educate, support the community, and promote initiatives. Ms. Gibson discussed success with Tobacco Policy in creating smoke free spaces through Savannah. I always thought if I were to go back to school it might be in the area of Health Policy. Policy/laws impact all of our work. It was great to hear collaboration and policy success stories.

Key Takeaways
- Blogging is Health Promotion!
- There are so many FREE resources for programming and evaluation that I could be using
- Collaboration is key  for chronic disease prevention
- We are all learning as we go
- This is my tribe

The participants at the conference were all at different stages in their careers. I have expertise in social marketing, health communication, physical activity, and program implementation. Other people at the conference were experts in evaluation, data assessment, and policy. I was reminded how big the Public Health world is. There is room for everyone. It was refreshing to be around such passionate colleagues. They reminded me why I got into this field and why I love health education. Passion, variety, and ability to make huge changes in peoples lives through programming and policy.

Health and Happiness,


Sunday, October 25, 2015

#UNSTINKABLE Event Athleta: Body Weight Circuit with Atlantic Station

Disclosure: I was invited to host a workout as part of Athleta's #UNSTINKABLE top promotion. I received an Athleta top as part of my participation in the promotion. All opinions are my own.

Athleta hosted company wide workouts to promote their Unstinkable tops with Polygiene. What makes these tops different? "Natural silver salts in the fabric stop odor-causing bacteria from raising a stink. Less laundry for you and more time doing what you love" - Athleta. I sweat so much when I workout and teach, so a top that can hold up to that would be great. So I kept my top on for several hours after I led my my workout still no funk. So far so good. As always the tops are stylish and high quality.

I had a blast leading the Body Blast workout with the Athleta Atlantic Station! We went through an 8 exercise circuit working the entire body using just our body weight, no equipment necessary! Here is the circuit we completed:

1. Squat Thrust "Burpee" (Cardio - Total Body)
  • From standing squat down and place hands on the ground slightly wider than shoulder width apart 
  • Extend the hips and hop or walk the feet back until you are in a plank position
  • Flex the hips and hop or walk the feet to the hands
  • Extend the hips and stand or hop up to standing position

2. Speed Skate (Cardio - Total Body)
  • From standing neutral position, lead foot takes a lateral side step or leap, other foot crosses behind
  • Front arm swings across the body
  • As opposing limbs move the obliques activate during rotation

3. Lateral Squat w Hip Abduction to Calf Raise (Lower Body)
  • From standing neutral position, lateral side step and lower into a wide stance squat
  • At the top of the squat abduct leg lifting laterally and away from the body
  • Adduct leg bringing it back to the center, plantar flex lifting the heels off the ground into a calf raise
  • Drop heels and return to neutral standing position
  • Repeat on the other leg

4. Rear Lunge w Hip Extension (Lower Body and Core)
  • From standing neutral position, extend one leg back, keep other foot planted on the ground
  • Bend both legs, flexing at the knees
  • Lift back foot off of the ground extending at the hip
  • Extend arms forward and extend at hip until arms and leg form a straight line from fingertips to ankle and chest is parallel to the floor (advanced progression)
  • Engage core and slowly bring leg back to the ground, bring arms down to the side, return to standing neutral position

5. Inchworm to Side Plank (Core and Upper Body)
  • From standing neutral position flex at the hips and bring hands to the ground in front of or to the outside of the feet
  • Walk the hand forward until the hips are extended into plank position and hand are directly under the shoulders
  • From plank position rotate through the hips, opening the chest, and extending 1 arm toward the sky. Forming a straightline from extend arm to supporting arm in side plank

6. Lateral Walking Plank (Core and Upper Body)
  • From plank position abduct shoulder and legs moving laterally across the floor
  • Adduct shoulders back to neutral plank position
  • Repeat left and right covering as much space as you have

7. Triceps Push Up (Core and Upper Body)
  • From neutral plank position or kneeling plank with hands positioned directly under the shoulders
  • Flex at the elbows lowering the chest to the ground
  • As the elbows bend keep them as close to the body as possible to 

8. V-Sit w Knee Lifts (Core)
  • From a seated position, flex the knees, plant feet on the floor, flex a the hips so the body forms a V
  • to prevent roudning of the upper back, roll shoulders back, press the chest forward, to create flat back
  • From the V-sit position lift 1 knee towards the chest while the other foot stays on the ground
  • Alternate knee lifts
  • Bring opposing elbow to knee, alternating knee lifts (advanced progression)
We performed each exercise for 45 seconds with a 15 second rest between each exercise. I included a 10 minute warm up, 2 minute recovery between each round, and 10 minute cool down. Each round was 8 minutes of work and 2 minutes of recovery, for a total of 10 minutes per round. We repeated the circuit 3 times, 30 minutes of conditioning. Total workout time 50 minutes. If you're doing this workout at home you could shorten the warm up and cool down to meet your time limits. In 20 minutes you could get in a total body workout!

Did you participate in an Athleta workout this weekend? Comment below and give a shout out to your local Athleta! Thank you Athleta Atlantic for inviting me to participate in today's event!

Health and Happiness,

Updated 10.25.2015 at 9:45PM