Fitness News & Views
A Publication of Graham Fitness
August 15, 2015
1 Corinthians 6: 19-20

A Blast from the Past

From 2003 until 2006, I did a radio show called "Fitness Talk" on a local station. It was an hour long program and I believe it was from 8 am till 9 am. Recently, I was going through the archives of this newsletter and I ran across the following article announcing the end of the program. I'm reprinting it here for nostalgic purposes and to fill up some space.

"Fitness Talk" Ends After 175 Shows

All good things must end eventually, and so on August 26, 2006, we pulled the plug on "Fitness Talk." The show began in March of 2003, and altogether, we did 175 hours of programming. We tried to make "Fitness Talk" entertaining and educational every week. Our guest list included a wide variety of people. A partial list of past guests includes:

Adam Penny ... Appalachian Trail thru-hiker
Del Wilkes
... former USC football player and professional WWF wrestler (The Patriot)
Kay McInnis
... Registered Dietician with the Providence Heart Center
Ruth Marie Milliman
... Marathon des Sables finisher and "Survivor" contestant
Cliff Hollingsworth
... screenwriter of the movie "Cinderella Man"
Darwin Benjamin
... Hollywood stunt man for Chuck Norris and others
Dr. Lewis Maharam
... Medical Director for the New York City Marathon and other major marathons
Brent Weigner
... participant in the North and South Pole Marathons

I also want to thank all of our sponsors over the years who made the show possible: The Extra Mile, Fitness Outfitters, Discount Tire of Irmo, Harbison Recreational Center, Forest Drive Church, Wolf's Fitness Center, 14 Carrot Whole Foods, Outspokin' Bicycles, Rosewood Market & Deli, and Hampton Hill Athletic Club. 

Finally, I want to mention and thank my two co-hosts. First, thanks to Dana Risinger who began the show with me and worked with me for most of a year. And special thanks to Matt Quinton who was my co-host and often times the solo host when I was away. Matt put up with me for over two years.

It was great fun doing the show, and the preparation kept me on my toes. I decided to stop doing the show because my son is running cross country this year for Irmo High School, and most of the meets are on Saturday mornings, and I want to go to them. I also would like to participate in a few more races in Columbia and around the state, and most of them are Saturday mornings.

To all of you who listened to the program on occasion, my sincere thanks. I hope you heard something you enjoyed and learned at least one thing helpful.
          One of the healthiest things you can do for yourself is to laugh. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." And modern science bears this out. Here is just a short list of some of the medically proven benefits of laughter:
  1. It boosts your immune system by increasing immune cells and infection fighting antibodies.
  2. It releases endorphins in the brain which can relieve pain and increase your sense of well-being.
  3. It improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow which help protect against heart and cardiovascular problems.
  4. It eases anxiety and fear and improves your mood, leading to better mental health.
  5. It strengthens relationships and attracts others to you.
           In order to laugh more, seek out funny people, watch a funny movie or television show, share a joke or humorous story, or play games with friends. Some of the best laughs I've ever had were while playing games such as Taboo, Pictionary, Balderdash, or Trivial Pursuit with good friends. But perhaps most important, don't take yourself too seriously. Try to find humor in the ordinary, even the embarrassing situations of life. When you look for humor in your life, you'll find it all around you.

         Every year in the August newsletter, I give you my predictions for Carolina's upcoming football season. I'm not always right, but I'm always willing to pass along my thoughts. Not this year. I have no idea what to expect, and in deference to my ignorance, I'm not even going to attempt to guess. To be honest, I've been so absorbed with the baseball season this year that I haven't read the first article or listened to any local talk radio discussing Carolina.
         I'm a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball fan, and I watch almost every game they play, and this has been a very good year. The only problem is it's been an even better year for the St. Louis Cardinals who lead the NL Central Division that the Pirates are in. The Pirates have the third best record in all of baseball, but still trail the division leaders by 5½ games as I write this. They lead in the Wild Card race, but it would sure be nice to win the division and not have to play that Wild Card game.
         I know most people around here don't care much about Major League Baseball, and most of those who do are Atlanta Braves fans, so I won't bore you with any more baseball talk. Just know that while you're sleeping, most nights I'm up watching the Buccos and living and dying with every pitch while keeping one eye on my phone to see what the Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Cubs are doing.
       As for the Gamecocks, this will be an interesting season. They could win 8 or 9 games, but they could lose about the same number too. Spurrier knows the team best, and he says they are "a pretty danged good team." I'll go with that, and hope for the best.

   According to Men's Health magazine, the number one fitness trend of 2015 is rucking. Rucking is walking with a weighted backpack on your back. The activity gets its name from "ruck sacks," which is military speak for backpacks.
            This is really a good exercise with several advantages over plain old walking. It burns about three times as many calories as walking. It helps prevent back pain by improving your posture. It builds cardiovascular endurance as well as running does, but with less chance of injury, and it builds strength. What's more it gets you out of the gym and into the fresh air.
            To get started, load a backpack with about 10 percent of your body weight. For instance if you weigh 180 pounds, your pack should weigh around 18 pounds. Now go for a walk. As you progress, you can gradually add weight up to about 35 pounds. Most people shouldn't go much above that weight, because at that point the negatives begin to outweigh the positives.
            If you'd like to make rucking an experience instead of just an exercise, try backpacking. My kids and I used to go backpacking on the Appalachian Trail every year, and we had some great times together and burned some serious calories in the process. Thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail are said to burn up to 7000 calories a day.

           If you want to start an argument among personal trainers, ask a group of them how many sets of each exercise they recommend for their clients. Their answers will range from one on the low end to six or even more on the high side.
            In case you're not familiar with the term, a set is a group of successive repetitions (reps) of an exercise performed without a break.   For instance, ten biceps curls might represent one set, although a set could be made up of any number of reps.  
            At one end of the debate is the "one set to failure" group. This faction maintains that doing one set of an exercise to complete exhaustion is all that is needed to get the maximum benefit from that exercise. The primary advantage of this philosophy is that it gets you in and out of the gym much quicker than doing multiple sets. A disadvantage is that it is very difficult to work to complete failure, especially when you're working alone. Inevitably, you will quit with another rep or two left in you. If you want to go the "one set to failure" route, you need a workout partner to push you to do one or two more reps after you've done all you think you can.
            On the other end of the spectrum are the multiple sets advocates. Some competitive body builders do as many as 8 sets of certain exercises in an effort to achieve the maximum stimulation of their muscles. The disadvantage with this approach, of course, is that it takes too long for the average person. Most people have neither the time nor the desire to spend several hours a day in the gym. The advantage, if there is one, is you can rest assured that your muscles have truly been stimulated to their maximum capacity.
            The majority of trainers prefer a program of 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps. This is the consensus view, and it's the position I take for most, though not all, of my clients and for my own workouts. I believe doing three sets of an exercise provides excellent muscle stimulation with fewer risks than working to exhaustion or doing multiple sets. It is also time efficient.   A workout of 10 or 11 exercises which work all the major muscle groups takes less than an hour.
            Interestingly, all the theories work well in practice. Trainers get good results using all three techniques. No studies that I am aware of have ever shown one method to be superior to another. So feel free to go with "one set to failure" if you like or do multiple sets if you've got a lot of time on your hands. You could even mix them up. Do one set on Monday, three sets on Wednesday, and multiple sets on Friday. Find out which one you like the best. The main thing is just to do something.

        Many personal trainers believe the single best strength exercise is the squat. Squats work virtually every muscle in the core and legs. A set of squats will get your heart pumping too. The basic squat is performed with a barbell across the shoulders. It is necessary to do squats with proper form, because they can be hard on the lower back if done improperly. Also if you have knee problems, you should not do squats. If you've been doing basic squats for a while, here are a few variations you can try:
  1. Dumbbell squats. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. You can rest them on your shoulders or hold them down by your side. Then perform the same movement as you would with a barbell.
  2. Plie squats. Grip a dumbbell or kettlebell in both hands and hold it between your legs. Spread your feet wider than you would for a basic squat and point your toes outward at a 45 degree angle. Now squat as low as you can.
  3. Split squat. Using a barbell or dumbbells, place one foot in front of the other one and bring the back knee down until it touches the floor or gets as close as possible. Then stand up. Do a full set on one leg before switching legs. This variation is often called a stationary lunge.
  4. Bulgarian split squats. This is just like the split squat except that you position the back foot on a bench instead of the floor. This requires a little more balance and it's a little harder than the standard split squat.
  5. Jump squats. Do a basic squat without weights, but as you rise from the full squat, reach your arms straight up and jump as high as you can all in one movement.   To add an even greater degree of difficulty, as you land return immediately to the full squat position.

              I know you've heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and especially so if you are trying to lose weight. I've said it in this newsletter and told many of my clients the same thing. The premise is that overnight your metabolism slows down and you need to eat something in order to get it working efficiently again.
            Well, it turns out this may not be true. A study done by Columbia University took three groups of overweight people. One group ate oatmeal for breakfast every morning. A second group ate Frosted Flakes, and the third group skipped breakfast entirely. After four weeks, the only group to lose any weight was the group that skipped breakfast.
            I don't know how many people were involved in this study, nor do I know who sponsored it, but here's what I'm pretty sure of: The science of nutrition is in its infancy. I honestly believe that nutritional science is about where medical science was during the Civil War.
I eat breakfast every day. I'm not telling you to stop eating breakfast, but if you skip breakfast some or even most mornings, don't worry about it.

            Seen on Facebook recently: I don't always go to the gym, but when I do, I make sure Facebook knows about it.
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106 Hillpine Road
Columbia, SC 29212
Phone: 781-2281

The Harbison Rec Center offers more facilities for less money than anywhere else in town These are just some of the features: a new weight room with all new machines, free weights, treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes; a 25 meter junior Olympic size indoor heated swimming pool; sauna; whirlpool; racquet ball and tennis courts; a basketball gym; and miles of traffic-free trails for walking or jogging. There are classes for seniors as well as summer camp and after school programs for kids. Also newly remodeled locker rooms and an all-purpose room for large gatherings. All for only $315 a year for singles or $600 a year for families Check out their website:

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Wolf's is a total fitness facility offering some great amenities. There's a huge weight room featuring free weights and machines. There is a cardio area with treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, stair steppers, and the cardio theater. Other amenities include an indoor walking/running track, sauna, child care facilities with an attendant, tanning beds, clean locker rooms and showers, and sports supplements. Prices are very reasonable and there are no enrollment fees ever. Wolf's also offers a full slate of fitness classes including kickboxing and pilates, as well as spinning classes. Check out their website, for rates and specials.

Graham Fitness | 106 Hillpine Road | Columbia | SC | 29212