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Hot Topic Tuesday

Hot Topic Tuesday: Would You Hire A Fitness Concierge?

Written on August 21, 2012 at 6:15 pm , by

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Would you hire someone to schedule your workouts - so you just have to show up? (Photo by Ericka McConnell)

SIN Workouts, a fitness concierge service, launched this month in New York City. The services scored? A personal scheduler who creates a fitness calendar tailored specifically to you, books appointments and even provides an early bird wake-up call to ensure you don’t miss those 6 a.m. sweat sessions.

Founder Vanessa Martin began SIN Workouts (Strength in Numbers) when she realized there was a money-making opportunity in things she was already doing for friends – giving class recommendations and joining them to ditch the gym-skipping tendencies. Under SIN, she finds hard-to-book spots in busy classes (front row at SoulCycle, anyone?), and tags along if you need that extra motivational push to get the most out of your workout.

So do you choose which workouts you want for the week, or does Martin? Well, that’s up to you. If desired, Martin will get to know what workouts you enjoy, evaluate what your goals are and then provide your picture-perfect workout. No thinking (on your part) required.

Right now, the new service is only available here in the Big Apple, but we wouldn’t be surprised if this branch of concierge services started popping up across the country. While the service isn’t cheap – there can be a triple-digit monthly fee, but exact prices are determined on a client-by-client basis – it certainly blows the “I don’t have time” excuse out of the water.

Now you tell us:  Would you hire someone to schedule your entire fitness routine? If not, what keeps you motivated to squeeze in your workouts?

Hot Topic Tuesday: How Far Should Doctors Go To Help Patients Lose Weight?

Written on August 7, 2012 at 11:26 am , by

Do you think doctors should start discussing BMI measurements? (Photo courtesy of IStock)

Written by Laura Cofsky, editorial intern

With so many studies on the consequences of excess fat making the news, it’s no wonder obesity has become a hot button issue. After all, no one wants an increased risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. And to make matters worse, experts predict 42 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030!

To combat what looks like a very gloomy forecast, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has proposed that all adults be examined for obesity during routine checkups. Our height and weight are already taken, but the USPSTF recommends doctors also calculate BMI; then discuss weight loss plans with patients who have a BMI over 30.

The upside? It may help patients realize potential lifestyle changes are needed, and help is available. In fact, the new proposal could lead to reimbursement for weight loss treatments, such as counseling.

However, it seems a bit shortsighted to make the conversation just about weight loss. There are some health problems that contribute to excess weight, and taking such a quick-fix approach may do more harm then good. After all, many of us know people who “look” healthy, but still engage in very unhealthy activities.

Now you tell us: How would you feel if your doctor started taking BMI measurements?

Hot Topic Tuesday: Can Documentaries Help Curb Obesity?

Written on July 31, 2012 at 11:22 am , by

Will a documentary series open people's eyes to serious health issues? (Photo courtesy of HBO)

Written by Laura Cofsky, editorial intern

In America, growing waistlines have become a big problem. With nearly 70 percent of the population being overweight or obese, it seems like it’ll take a village to solve the dilemma — or maybe a country.

The HBO documentary series The Weight of the Nation stresses that, between ads for unhealthy foods, the expense of buying more nutritious options, the lack of workout spaces and a national shortage of produce (according to one of the experts, there’s not enough available for everyone to eat the recommended amount of fruits and veggies), losing excess fat is more than a matter of willpower. But dropping the extra weight is important: the hosts argue that obesity leads to five of the main causes of death —diabetes and kidney disease included— and costs businesses billions of dollars in health care costs each year.

The three-disc DVD set, which hits shelves today, may be a wake up call for some. The creators, in association with Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health, look at the issue from multiple different angles by consulting with various experts, discuss the consequences and possible solutions, and interview people who successfully lost weight and kept it off to give you an arsenal of information.

Now you tell us: What do you know about the obesity epidemic, and do you think documentaries like this can be useful?

Hot Topic Tuesday: OMG! What’s the Wildest Diet You’ve Tried?

Written on July 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm , by

The author of Six Weeks to OMG says carbs from any form—from chips to carrots—are equal. (Photo by Bryan McCay)

Although it was originally released in the UK, the weight-loss book Six Weeks to OMG: Get Skinnier Than All Your Friends is making waves worldwide. That’s most likely due to the “unconventional” diet tips including taking a cool bath and skipping breakfast (something you’d never see happen at the FITNESS offices!) to hypothetically increase metabolism. The author, a celebrity trainer who wrote the book using a pseudonym, also suggests blowing balloons to work your ab muscles in a different way.

Many of us have been found guilty of certain diet crimes while trying to lose weight. But some of the information in this book—like the author’s claim that it doesn’t matter if you get your carbohydrates from broccoli or a can of soda—have us thinking “OMG!” Critics have also slammed the book for targeting teenage girls, potentially putting them at risk for a dangerous weight-loss competition with their pals (see the subtitle).

Some aspects of the plan dietitians might agree with, like the suggestions to watch your sugar intake and drink black coffee, in moderation. Yet many Six Weeks tactics seem to be more of a “quick fix” than a sustainable health program.

Now tell us: What’s the wildest diet you’ve tried? And what does a healthy, sustainable diet look like for you?

More from FITNESS:

Hot Topic Tuesday: Are Morning People Happier?

Written on July 17, 2012 at 11:24 am , by

Could an early bedtime make you happier? (Photo by Sarah Kehoe)

Written by Laura Cofsky, editorial intern

Do you normally feel grouchy and groggy when your alarm sounds in the morning? Or do you wake up energized and ready to start the day? Your answer may say something about how happy you are.

According to a recent University of Toronto study, night owls are actually less happy overall than their early bird counterparts. The reason? Researchers believe that night owls are more likely to experience social jet lag — sleep deprivation caused by a conflict between when we wake up for work during the week versus when our bodies naturally wake up unprompted. So if you wish you could sleep until noon every day, waking up for a nine-to-five job each morning takes a toll, no matter how easy it is to nab a cup of coffee.

On the one hand, it makes sense that going through most of the week in a sleep-deprived haze would result in a gloomier mindset. But then again, couldn’t other factors affect whether or not someone has a sunny disposition?  It seems like night owls would have larger social circles because they’re more likely to hit happy hour after work. Also, are night owls the only ones suffering from social jet lag? Even though most people need to be at work early, many events, work-related or not, don’t end until late at night. In this scenario, morning people would also have to combat sleep-deprivation.

Now you tell us: Do you think early risers are happier than night people?

More from FITNESS:
How to Become a Morning Person
5 Stretches to Sleep Better

Hot Topic Tuesday: Should Gyms Be Allowed to Ban Skinny People?

Written on June 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm , by

Should gyms be allowed to ban fit people? (Photo by Jay Sullivan)

We’ve heard about the latest trends in the fitness world: bachelorette workout parties, obstacle mud runs and CrossFit, among others. But a new craze has popped up and we’re not quite sure how to feel about it: skinny people being banned from certain gyms.

Yes, you heard that right. More gyms are catering to plus-sized people and screening applicants before allowing entry. When do you get turned away? If your weight or BMI doesn’t qualify as “plus-sized.”

On one hand, this tactic makes sense because it creates a safe space for heavier people to work out without being worried about the super-fit person next to them judging their every move. Let’s admit it: many turn treadmill running into a competition with the person next to them. Some call that motivation, but others might feel like the constant sideways glances are discouraging.

But on the other hand, is this fair to those who have worked hard to maintain their fitness? Should they feel the sting of rejection from an establishment just because they’re already at a healthy body weight and want to work to stay that way? We think banning them from the gym may be a little harsh, and a happy medium may be reached if it’s instead marketed in a way that makes it clear that the fitness center caters toward those who struggle with their weight.

Finally, it begs the question of what happens to those who sign up for the gym membership initially overweight, but then drop the weight (hooray!). Do they lose their membership? This, again, may be unfair because a gym environment can foster relationships and friendships between members, and ripping them away from that after reaching a successful milestone may put their journey in jeopardy.

Now tell us: What do you think? Should gyms be allowed to ban skinny people?

Hot Topic Tuesday: Should Unregistered Racers Be Able to Hold Organizers Responsible for Injury?

Written on May 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm , by

If you didn't pay for your bib—or sign the waiver—are others responsible for your actions? (Photo by Laura Doss)

Signing up for a race can be a thrilling adventure: the anticipation of the registration window opening, chatting with all of your friends to see who’s going and then willingly handing over your hard-earned cash to compete in a sweat-filled endurance event that will test your limits. It may all seem like fun and games, but remember, there’s always a ton of paperwork to be completed. Emergency medical contact information, personal information and, of course, signing any disclaimers and liability waivers necessary so that race organizers are not held accountable for any injury. It can get serious if you take the time to read what you’re putting your John Hancock on. After all, some races even require you to sign a death waiver!

Yes, registering for fitness events is usually the motivation we need to kick our training into high-gear. But it’s no secret that some people still sneak in without paying for their spot. Whether it’s taking someone else’s bib (usually they’ve decided to opt out) or hopping in the middle of the race, there are typically way too many people to keep track of who’s legitimately paid and signed a waiver, and who hasn’t.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Robert Fectau II participated in the 2010 Filthy 5K Mud Run as an unregistered racer—and due to a rough spill, ended up partially paralyzed from the chest down. Now he’s suing the race organizers for $30 million, claiming a part of the course was created with “negligence, reckless disregard, and/or gross negligence.”

Reports say that Fectau fell awkwardly in a man-made mud pit close to the finish line, jamming his arms during the fall and allegedly causing the paralysis he lives with today. Because he was unregistered—he used a female friend’s bib—he didn’t sign any liability waivers.

Now tell us: Should Fectau win the case and be awarded the $30 million for his pain and radical lifestyle change? Do you think the race organizers be responsible for someone’s safety when they entered against race policies?

More from FITNESS:

Hot Topic Tuesday: How Medically-Accurate is Pop Culture?

Written on May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm , by

Your doctor may not look like McDreamy, but you should trust him more than the actor! (Photo by Susan Pittard)

“Ten blade—stat!” You’ve likely followed along (or tried to) as the paramedics rush patients in from ambulance to emergency room to operating room, all the while shouting precise medical terms to each other, on intense shows like Grey’s Anatomy and ER. It’s fun to get a peek into the powerful world of life-saving, and medical TV shows, movies and other pop culture references allow us to do just that (minus the real-life pain and blood).

But those of us who aren’t doctors have a tough time distinguishing what could be real and what is just drama. A recent New York Times article called out the new HBO series Girls for disseminating inaccurate information about the sexually transmitted infection HPV. The writer claims that an episode of Girls misinformed viewers about the prevalence of HPV (it is so common that at least 50 percent of  sexually active individuals get it at some point in their lives, according to the CDC), the severity of it and what is involved in testing and treatment for the STI.

Now tell us: Is this taking fictional dramas too seriously? Or do writers on health programs owe it to their viewers to have medical advisors on staff to guarantee the accuracy of their content?

More from FITNESS:

Hot Topic Tuesday: The “Tanning Mom” Controversy

Written on May 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm , by

It takes more than a cute sun hat to protect your skin! (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

From Good Morning America to Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, New Jersey mom Patricia Krentcil has been making waves this week for one hot topic that is literally sizzling. If you don’t know her by name, you likely would know her if you saw her face—she has tan skin that goes beyond any tan you might see on the beach. How/why? Krentcil has an unlimited membership at her tanning salon and goes for the maximum 12 minutes per session, 20 times per month. Yikes! (And yes, she continues, even during National Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month.)

But what really has Krentcil in hot water is the accusation some have made about what made her daughter so tan. School officials asked the girl where her rash came from, and she said she had gone tanning with her mother. Now, Krentcil faces charges of second-degree child endangerment—not to mention growing vitriol from bloggers and other critics across the country. Even the notoriously sunned Snooki has even called Krentcil “crazy” for allegedly taking her daughter to a tanning salon.

It’s an ongoing legal battle, so it will be a bit before we know the truth in this story. We feel for the daughter if her mom did make her use a tanning bed or booth, but there is one good thing that comes from this story: Every time we see Krentcil on the news, we’re inspired to reapply sunscreen!

Now tell us: Do you think that Krentcil is being “bullied” as some have proposed (and should be considered innocent until proven guilty in court) or do you think it’s important to shine a spotlight on her to remind others that this isn’t acceptable?

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Hot Topic Tuesday: Would You Broadcast Your Weight on Social Networks?

Written on April 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm , by

(Photo courtesy of Body Media)

Last week, BodyMedia (the company behind the activity-tracking armbands you may have seen in FITNESS and on Jillian Michaels) launched an interesting new feature that integrates with their products. You can now step on your Withings scale and have your weight automatically sent not only to your BodyMedia account, but also to your Facebook timeline. (Note: This is an optional feature.)

Most health goals, like a fitness bucket list or food log, have been for your eyes only in the past. But in our increasingly connected world, everything from last night’s nutritious dinner (#twye) to triumphant race moments are published on blogs, Twitter and more. So perhaps this wireless, internet-compatible scale is just an extension of that—another way to share your progress or stay accountable.

Now tell us: Would a scale that shares your weights with “friends” inspire you to stay on track with your wellness goals? Or are all of the social media deets just TMI?