Fitness News & Views

A Publication of Graham Fitness

July 15, 2015

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20


What Is Up with Our Educational System?


           I use the first page of my newsletter as a title page of sorts. It might contain a little advertising for my services or preview what is actually in the newsletter or promo something coming up. Really, it's a filler page. Today I want to comment on something that has nothing to do with fitness.


         Around July 4th, I watched several videos where someone went to various locations and asked people a few simple questions about the holiday. One report was done by a local television station at a fireworks stand here in Columbia. One was done by a national network on a New York beach, and the other was on Facebook. In all the reports, they asked pretty much the same questions: What are we celebrating on July 4th? Who did we gain our independence from? What year was it? Name one signer of the Declaration of Independence. Pretty simple questions. I learned this stuff in grammar school.


          Most of the people interviewed were in their 20's and 30's, and their answers were shocking. Who did we gain our independence from? California! Canada! These were actual answers. What year? 1954. 1994. What!!! And if you think, the reporters are just showing a few selected answers, try the experiment yourself. You'll be shocked at the answers you get.


          What is going on in our schools today? What are we teaching our kids while we're not teaching them American history? We wonder why this country is in the shape it's in. These are the same people who are voting.





           Eleven years ago in the July 2004 edition of this newsletter, I ranked my top 10 favorite places to run in Columbia. I thought it might be interesting to look at it again and see what might have changed in that length of time. There are some things to keep in mind as we go through this. First off, I was 57 years old then. I'm 68 now. I ran considerably faster then than I do now, and hills were no problem. So obviously, there will be some modifications to the list from then to now.

            My number 10 pick was the Pecan Orchard Track at Fort Jackson. I haven't been on Fort Jackson in years, and I don't even know if this track is still there.

            At number 9 was the University of South Carolina track. I liked it because of the tartan surface and the view. The hours this track is open for the public have changed dramatically, and unless you run very early in the morning, it's off limits anymore. Plus, most high school tracks have tartan surfaces now, so if I want to run on a track which I rarely do, there are far more convenient options available.

            Number 8 was the USC campus. I haven't run there in a long time either. The bricks on the horseshoe are uneven, and the hill up Green Street is to be avoided at all cost.

            I listed the trails of Harbison Forest as my 7th pick. Was I crazy? The hills are like mountains out there and the roots and rocks can twist an ankle with one misstep.

            I named Finlay Park as my 6th favorite place to run, but it's too repetitive and too sunny and let's face it, the atmosphere has changed considerably in 11 years.

            The Harbison trails were next on my list. These trails are not to be confused with the trails of Harbison Forest. These are the neighborhood trails, but even though I live in Harbison, I rarely run them anymore. Too hilly mainly. I do still run around both lakes occasionally however.

            My fourth choice 11 years ago was Shandon. I still run in Shandon two or three times a month, but not as often as I used to.

            My third choice back then was the Riverwalk in Cayce which had just opened at the time. I still run there from time to time still, but not as often as I did years ago.

            For some reason I'm not sure of I picked Sesquicentennial State Park as number 2 in my top 10. I haven't run out there in many years. It's too far to go, you have to pay to get in, and the trails are tough and sandy and hilly.

            My top pick from 2004 was Riverfront Park off Huger Street. I still run there on a regular basis. It's asphalt which I like and it's flat and it's scenic. This would still make my top 10.

           So what are my favorite places to run now? Well, I still run the two lakes in Harbison - Woodcross and Archer Lakes. Of the two, Archer is by far the prettiest. Sometimes I'll run the perimeter of the Columbiana Mall. I have to run this one very early before anything opens and the traffic picks up. As I mentioned, I still run in Shandon once in a while, and I still run at Riverfront Pak quite often, sometimes starting from the causeway and sometimes from the downtown end. In the winter, I like to run at Owens Field, not actually on the tarmac, but on the road that parallels the airstrip. This is entirely in the sunshine though, so it is not a summer run. The Lake Murray Dam is another primarily wintertime run because there is absolutely no shade, but I like to run there. But by far, my favorite place to run now wasn't even on my 2004 list. It's Saluda Shoals. It has scenic flat paved trails that are canopied by trees so there is always shade. I can run there even on the hottest summer days. There are unpaved trails if I get the urge to run them, and there are some hills if I feel really vigorous. You do have to pay to get in at Saluda Shoals, but I just buy an annual pass. I probably run there three or four times a week.

            So there you go. Maybe I'll do this again in 11 years and see how things have changed. What will I be then - 79? Yikes!


         The longest life on record in the non-biblical era is that of Madame Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived a remarkable 122 years, 225 days from 1875 to 1997. Most scientists believe her lifestyle was the primary reason she lived so long

            Madame Calment was from Arles in the south of France. During her lifetime she lived in only three homes. She left the last one, a second-floor apartment with no elevator, at the age of 110 to move into a rest home. She exercised daily. She ran for exercise until she broke her hip at the age of 100, but after that, she continued to ride her bike until she was 115.

            She had an occasional cigarette or cigarillo after a meal, drank a glass of Port every day, and loved chocolates.   She once said, "I have an enormous will to live and a good appetite, especially for sweets."

            Madame Calment was married from 1896 to 1940 when her husband died. She never remarried.



            Which type of exercise is most effective - stable or unstable training? A study which was published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine set out to answer that question.

           The study involved 36 untrained men who were separated into three groups of 12 each. The control group did no exercise.   Another group performed circuits using traditional exercises and the third group did circuits of unstable exercises involving TRX bands and BOSU balls. The exercise groups met three times a week for seven weeks. Before and after the intervention, the men were tested by performing bench presses, squats, squat jumps, and counter movement jumps.

            The results showed significant improvements in all of the exercisers compared to the control group. But which protocol proved most effective? According to the authors of the study, "No significant differences were detected in the post-training variables recorded for the two experimental groups."

            The truth is what I've maintained all along. New programs and techniques come around all the time, and that's good. It keeps things from getting boring. But you don't have to use them to get excellent results. Basic weight lifting techniques using barbells, dumbbells, and machines are still just as effective. The key is doing something on a consistent basis.

         If you walk for exercise, that's great. Walking is one of the best exercises there is, but too many people think they are walking for exercise when in reality all they are doing is taking a leisurely stroll.

         The best way to make sure you are walking fast enough to get a good workout is to get a heart rate monitor, determine your maximum heart rate, and walk fast enough to keep you heart rate between 70 and 80% of maximum.

       Next best is to walk at 4 mph or more. That means you are covering a mile in 15 minutes. That's easy to determine on a treadmill, but a little harder outside. You will have to measure a mile and time it.

      The easiest way to make sure you're walking with enough intensity to get a good workout is to cover 100 steps a minute. You don't have to time every minute of course, but time a couple early in your walk and then check you pace periodically.


         I will be on vacation when you get this newsletter, so I guess that means I'm on vacation now even though I wrote this two weeks ago.

       This year we're going to Surfside Beach for a week. We've rented a house and a golf cart, and the kids, who are not kids anymore, will join Michelle and me for a relaxing week of R&R. We try to vary our vacations each year, but this will be the third time we've stayed at Surfside. Surfside is nice and quiet, but you're only a short ride into Myrtle or Pawley's Island. We spend most of the time on the beach, but we get some other activities in as well.

      In the past, we've taken a helicopter ride and ridden the slingshot. It costs $25 and lasts less than a minute and is worth every dime. We've gone to a water park and played some golf and taken a banana boat ride which is a lot hairier than you might think. And of course, we've eaten a lot of seafood. I usually buy a week-long membership at a fitness center near our house and get in a few workouts there, and of course, I get in my daily runs. Hope you have a good week. I know I will unless I get bitten by a shark. 

              I get a kick out of the fitness industry. The newest trend now is something that's been around since I was in high school, and that was 50 years ago. We used to call them squat-thrusts, but now they are burpees, and they are all the rage. Just a few days ago, I saw where they were named the best exercise of all.  

              The basic burpee is a four step maneuver. Starting from a standing position, you bend over and place your palms flat on the ground, then thrust your feet out behind you until you're in a pushup position. Then you reverse the process by bringing your feet back to your hands and standing up. We used to do a set number of these. Now it's mostly a timed exercise. You see how many you can do in 30 seconds or a minute or whatever.  

            Of course, it's not enough to do just the basic burpee anymore. There are any number of variations. For instance, you can add a pushup while you are down; you can jump in the air as you return to the starting position. You can bring your right knee to your left shoulder while down, then your left knee to your right shoulder. Seriously, the number of variations is limited only by your creativity and your masochism.  

               I have nothing against burpees. They have their place, but be careful. It's a high-impact exercise and your shoulders, wrists, and back will take a beating. I just find it fascinating how in the fitness industry, everything old is new again or someday will be.  

             Overheard on the street: "I didn't make it to the gym today. That makes five years in a row."  

           Hey, all you vegans! If you love animals so much, why do you keep eating their food?

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Harbison Recreation Center
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:

Wolf's Fitness Center
5432 August Road
Lexington, SC 29072
Phone: 356-6400

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.



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