Buses – The Evil On The Streets

Brilliant article from a blog I religiously follow, Pretty Feet, Pop Toe. She articulates our shared opinion on city buses with witty candor and revelry. Enjoy!

Buses – The Evil On The Streets

Interior of the London Transport Museum in 2004.Oh god, they’ve got her surrounded!

If you like taking a bus then there’s something seriously the matter with you because buses are evil and wrong. Fact. Exhibit A, your honour, is the fact that Transport for London have decided to be utterly blatant about what team these four wheeled beasts play for and have painted each one a satanic red. Well, I say “Transport for London” painted them, I actually think that they weren’t created by man, that they were in fact created when Beelzebub had sex with a roller-skate and they then crawled out of some putrid fissure between Hell and Earth to roam free and bring misery and torment to mankind. Be warned, if your buses aren’t red, they’re in disguise. These mechanical atrocities have got cunning over time and evolved.

Let us look further at the many wrongs of the city bus and perhaps when I’m done, we could all club together and hire a team of Samurai style priests to perform exorcisms across the world and send these barbaric behemoths back from whence they came. Firstly, let us look at what you have to go through to get on one of these things.

The area surrounding a bus stop is like a hideous game of human chess with pieces scattered all over the pavement and no clear path to navigate your way through. Each piece is a grotesque sample scraped from the bottom of humanity’s barrel, with an over-representation of school girls dressed like strippers, gaggles of tracksuit-clad mothers pushing prams filled with shopping (and somewhere under there is a screaming brat shedding half mauled Quavers), confused old people, junior gangsters and intoxicated tramps. It’s like the Jerry Springer Show threw up on the street.

The signage at the bus stop clearly states that you can expect a bus every 3-5 minutes (how convenient) but that’s one of the biggest lies ever created, it’s bigger than Tooth Fairygate and you know how deep that runs. Anyway, there you are, waiting at the bus stop. Waiting. Waiting some more. Waiting a liiiiiiittle bit more. Check your watch and it’s now been 10 minutes and still no bus. Tension spreads through your body, rain drips down the back of your neck and you check the bus schedule again just to reassure yourself that the venomous mood is entirely justified… 25 minutes later andstill no sodding bus. Death comes quicker to some people!!!

It’s around this point that you start to weigh up your options. You can stand there in the cold, getting more and more irate at a phantom bus that may never come or you can walk to your destination, which you would probably already have reached if you had just walked there in the first place. Give it another 2 minutes of looking expectantly up the road aaaand ”Sod it, I’m walking!”

At precisely half way between the bus stop you just deserted and the one further down the road is the exact moment that demonic heap of satanic windows on wheels will sail straight past you. Eeevil!

I dare you to run for a bus, I dare you. You won’t make it. The bus was born with an extra large rear view mirror so its minion driver can see you sprinting up the road, jettisoning shopping and children left and right as you make a final desperate dash for those doors – which he will then slam shut just as you draw close enough to smell victory. You can stare at him imploringly through the glass all you want but when he gazes back at you, there’s nothing but hollow pools of darkness where sympathetic eyes should be and the bus will lurch eerily away to seek its next victim. To say you have to “catch” a bus is no coincidence – you practically need to trap the blighters!

So, you’ve managed to board one of these red demons and now you have to get to a seat. Simple enough, right? Don’t be fooled. As with the closing door trick, these vile vehicular villains have another prank to pull. You need to navigate your way past the shrieking prams, under the smelly armpits, past the gang of menacing 12 year olds having a burger throwing match, up the stairs to the top deck into the one seat that isn’t soaked in urine, all before the bus driver can carefully cause the bus to jolt tooth-shakingly into motion, sending you face first into the groin of a tramp. Their accuracy in this practice is alarming and they especially like pulling this trick on doddery little old ladies who can barely walk, let alone balance on a bucking bronco style omnibus!

“Why do they do this?” you may be wondering. That’s a silly question. They do it because they’re evil and they like spreading misery and terror. Why else?

Now you’re on the damn thing and it’s moving (violently), you need to think about getting off, mainly because you have somewhere to be and also because you’re now splattered in burger relish, tramp wee and have a granny crying face down in your lap. If you’re familiar with the route then you have a great advantage as you can prime yourself for a rapid departure. For those who usually take civilised forms of transportation (trains, taxis, private jets), you just have to guess, as there is no way of knowing where the heck you are.

Trains have a nice little map of limited stops, planes just go to one place and turf everyone out and taxis, well, they take you where they’re told (unless it’s south of the river) but buses? There’s no map, there are no handy announcements and the driver is anything but helpful. If you dare venture near his filthy lair at the front of the bus to solicit information, he’ll issue a series of Latin sounding curses that will cause your first born child to be afflicted with Simon Cowell’s smug face.

In order to get off the bus, you must guess which stop might be even vaguely in the same region as your intended destination and press the bell of doom, which lets the driver know that he has another game of door slamming fun ahead of him, if he chooses to stop the bus at all. From the very second you touch that bell, you are in a race against the clock. You have to make your way back down the moving stairs, stagger through the menacing fast food flingers, jump the pile of fallen pensioners, hurdle the screaming brat-filled prams and make it out through the open doors before the driver has a chance to slam them shut and make you a slave to the bus forever.

My advice to you here is tuck and roll. Don’t even bother to wait for the vehicle to stop moving, just leap toward the sanctuary of the pavement and be grateful if you only break a few limbs; you had a lucky escape and should think twice before tangling with a bus again.

If that doesn’t convince you that buses are evil, look to history and the warning signs are there that ever since they appeared on the face of this planet, these double-decker demons have been stalking us. Why else do we have age old phrases such as “you could get hit by a bus tomorrow” or “my mother always told me to wear clean underwear in case I get hit by a bus”. See? If you’re not fighting to get on or off one, they’re out there trying to mow you down!

There is no way something so vile and cruel could ever have been created anywhere but deep within the fetid bowels of Hell. Don’t be taken in by their “cheap” fares or bold claims of helping to reduce CO2 emissions (not as green as walking or staying at home, are they?!), buses are very evil and very wrong. Now, who’s got the number for the Samurai Priest rental service?

via Buses – The Evil On The Streets.

Top 10 Female Strength Training Questions (and Answers)

by Melissa Hinkley
Date Released : 26 Jan 2012

The female body. Why is there so much confusion when it comes to building the ideal female body? Perhaps it is because many fitness professionals are just as confused as their clients. Should you use female specific programs, or just grab a program out of Men’s Health? And where does resistance training come into the picture? Is cardio better than lifting weights when trying to drop a pant size?

As an educated fitness professional, you are in the perfect position to clear up the confusion. It is no surprise that most women are not content with their bodies. They hear celebrities claim that lifting light weights is how they stay thin. Women see advertisements showing thin yogis saying that Pilates and yoga will give them the “long” and “lean” muscles that are so desirable. Then they read magazines stating that cardio is the only way to burn those extra pounds hanging around the mid-section. But what does research say about this dilemma? The solution goes by many names: resistance training, lifting weights, strength training. Whatever you choose to call it, one thing is for sure: it works.

Let’s look at the 10 most common strength training questions asked by female clients, so you’ll be ready to answer them when they inevitably arise.

Question #1 – How much weight should I use?

Oh, the dilemma between light and heavy weights. Some celebrity trainers swear by using only very light weights for a ridiculous number of repetitions. What does research say about this? There are hundreds of studies showing greater strength improvements in men when using heavier loads, but the literature on females is much more scarce. However, there are several studies examining the difference between using light and heavy weights with women. The results are clear: heavier weights increase muscular strength and decrease body fat more then light weights, even in women (Tsourlou, 2003). To explain this to a client, just tell her that the more work she does, the more calories she will burn.

There is a very easy way to help your clients understand this: Have doubtful clients perform a set of step-ups on a box holding a 2 lb. weight in each hand, and then perform another set using 20 lb. weights in each hand. The heavier weight will obviously be harder, meaning it requires more work. More work, more calories burned, equals better results. Does circuit training do the same thing? Yes, if done properly. But studies have shown that performing three sets of each exercise is more beneficial than performing just one set (Schlumberger, 2001).

The real problem with circuits is that many people only perform one set of each exercise.

Question #2 – Won’t I get bulky?

Absolutely not, unless you train specifically for that. Girls were not created to get bulky. Hormones start flowing when puberty begins, and that is the turning point where boys start getting manly and girls become more womanly. Guys develop their muscular physiques because they produce more testosterone and growth hormone, which plays a large role in increasing muscle mass and strength. Females get their curvier physiques because they produce estrogen and limited amounts of testosterone and growth hormone. In fact, women produce less then 10% of the amount of testosterone that men produce (Haff, 2008). Estrogen plays an important, and slightly annoying, role of storing fat.

These hormonal differences are the biggest reason that men are able to hypertrophy to a greater extent then women. Hypertrophy (gaining muscle size) happens when contractile elements enlarge and the extracellular matrix expands in order to support more growth (Schoenfeld, 2010). This happens in both genders, but studies comparing strength gains between men and women on the same resistance training program have shown that men increase strength more then women, especially in the upper body (Kell, 2011). This is mainly due to their higher levels of fat-free mass.

In summary: no, women are not going to get bulky from lifting. An increase in muscle size will occur after 6-8 weeks of resistance training, but this will not lead to bulkiness.

Question #3 – Should I include yoga and Pilates in my training?

Both are fine forms of exercise. However, take a look at the typical female client. Most often, we see female clients who are on a tight schedule and are looking to lose a few pounds. If they have a few hours a day to spend in the gym, then I’d say yoga and Pilates are a great addition to strength training. But if your clients are strapped for time, then those forms of exercises are not optimal. Any type of exercise where you spend more time lying down then standing is not going to cause major weight loss. Have you ever met someone who lost significant amounts of weight doing either yoga or Pilates? Thin people tend to do these forms of exercises, so they stay thin and get slightly stronger, but there are some drawbacks from these types of exercises, the biggest being the lack of axial loading, meaning performing exercise with weight on your back.

As women age, osteoporosis and decreased bone mineral density (BMD) is inevitable, so women must work hard to maintain their BMD. The only way to do so is to perform weight-bearing activities. Walking and jogging are considered weight-bearing activities, but they only increase BMD in certain areas. In order to substantially increase BMD, females must perform things like squatting, lunging and deadlifting with a significant amount of weight.

Question #4 – Won’t I get tight and inflexible if I lift?

No, training with a full range of motion during your lifts will actually increase flexibility (Morton, 2011). Many athletes in the mid-1900s used to stay away from lifting because of the belief that their performance would be hindered from being musclebound. That belief is long gone and has been disproved by research. Just compare pictures of Larry Bird (chicken legs) to LeBron James (tree trunk legs). The point is that resistance training can actually increase flexibility, which is great for typical female clients and also female athletes (Haff, 2006).

Question #5 – How hard do I have to work?

Research has shown that intensity is likely the most important factor to stimulate muscle growth (Schoenfeld, 2010). A repetition range of 1-12 reps has elicited greater muscle hypertrophy then a high repetition range. More specifically, some research has suggested that 6-12 repetitions is the optimal range, when performed at greater than 65% of your 1 repetition maximum (1-RM). This doesn’t mean that you need to train your female clients to failure, though. Training to failure, or the inability to perform another repetition, has been linked with psychological burnout and overtraining (Schoenfeld, 2010).

As a personal trainer, how do you do this practically? Unless you are working with female athletes, it may be impractical to test your client’s 1-RMs in every lift. Experience will allow you to estimate and give your clients the proper weight. If a client easily performs 10 squat and presses, give them more weight the next set.

Question #6 – What if I have been lifting for years but haven’t seen results in months?

The simple answer: periodization. Many clients and trainers make the mistake of performing the same amount of reps with the same amount of weight for weeks and weeks. If your clients perform 3 sets of 12 in every exercise each and every week, then this would be considered a non-periodized program. Research has shown that periodized programs can elicit greater strength gains then non-periodized programs (Kell, 2011). Periodization is planned variation to a program. A periodized program can consist of changing volume and intensity daily or weekly. Don’t miss this part. This is your golden nugget as a personal trainer. You can take your clients stagnant routine and transform it into a program that gives results.

To incorporate this into your client’s routine, first decide if you are going to use linear or non-linear periodization. Linear means that you will gradually decrease training volume and increase intensity over a period of 4-5 weeks, while nonlinear means you will change volume and intensity each week (Prestes, 2009). The table below is a simple example of various programs to help guide your exercise programming with female clients.

Program Non-Periodized Linear Periodized Nonlinear Periodized
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
3×12  M/W/F
3×12  M/W/F
3×12  M/W/F
3×12  M/W/F
3×12  M/W/F
3×10  M/W/F
3×8    M/W/F
3×6    M/W/F
3×12 M – 3×8 W – 3×10 F
3×8   M – 3×6 W – 3×10 F
3×12 M – 3×8 W – 3×10 F
3×8    M – 3×6 W – 3×10 F

Question #7 – Don’t the elliptical and treadmill make me stronger?

To fitness professionals, this question sounds ridiculous, but you would be surprised how often it is asked. It’s amazing how many females chose to tediously watch the calorie counter on the elliptical until it clicks to 1,000 calories.

First of all, do you really think you are burning 1,000 calories in less than an hour? Second, do you really think it is increasing strength? And on a side note, there have to be more enjoyable ways to exercise!

There are cardiovascular benefits to these types of exercises, but research has shown that similar gains can be achieved more quickly through high intensity interval training (HIIT), sometimes called Tabata training (Tanisho, 2011). Essentially, HIIT consists of short intervals of all-out effort, followed by short recovery times. The cool part is the workouts are very short, but very effective. Even better, these shorter workouts could have more cardiovascular benefits then long, slow aerobic exercise (Schoenfeld, 2009).

Tell your clients to forget about the “fat burning zone” because research shows that more calories are burned with HIIT then traditional aerobic exercise. It is true that more fat is burned during traditional aerobic exercise, but studies indicate greater overall fat reduction with HIIT programs (Tremblay, 2004).

Question #8 – What about taking group weight training classes, such as Bodypump?

A group weight training class typically lasts 50-60 minutes and separates muscle groups by tracks lasting approximately 5-6 minutes (Stanforth, 2001). Each track incorporates around 100 repetitions for each muscle group. From strength training literature, it is evident that untrained individuals will see strength and cardiovascular improvements following almost any type of exercise. However, most of these improvements occur in the first 4 weeks and then this is where the dreaded plateau makes its appearance. As discussed before, much of the benefits of strength training come from intensity, periodization, and adequate amount of resistance. None of these factors are seen in a typical group training class. However, participants in this type of class will still expend calories, learn basic weight training form, and could be motivated to stay more active. A group weight training class can be used in conjunction with typical strength training, but it should not replace it.

Question #9 – Why should I want to get stronger?

Building muscle takes work. Work takes energy. And what is energy? Calories. In order to build muscle, our bodies must go through a complex process of sending in hormones, regulating satellite cells, assembling amino acids, and finally synthesizing proteins.

And how about sheer confidence gain? Carry a 100 lb. bag of sand half a mile, do 50 push-ups, and sprint back, then see what happens to your confidence level.

Question #10 – What kind of strength training exercises should I do?

The literature on female strength training programming can be misleading, even for fitness professionals. The limited studies with women use training protocols with exercises such as leg extensions, hamstring curls, and hip extensions. These are not optimal exercises. The typical weight loss client needs to get the most “bang for their buck.” That means full body, compound exercises.

If you are a personal trainer, then this is good news for you because any average Jane can sneak into the gym and do a few bicep curls, tricep extensions, and leg extensions. But very few female clients have the confidence to walk into a weight room full of musclebound, grunting men and claim the squat rack. That’s where you, the personal trainer, come into the picture. If you have an arsenal of full body, calorie-scorching exercises, then you will be the most sought-after trainer in the gym.

Structuring a lifting workout for women is fairly simple. Emphasize the compound lifts, and add in the accessory lifts if there is time.

For example, below are some of your bigger, more important lifts:

  • Single arm snatch
  • Lunges
  • Renegade rows
  • Sumo squats
  • Push-ups
  • Squat and press
  • Rows
  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Pull-ups
Renegade Row Side Lunge
Deadlift Liberty Lunge Front Squat

These are your extras (if you have time):

  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Lateral raises

References

Abe, T, Dehoyos, DV, Pollock, ML, and Garzarella, L. (2000). Time course for strength and muscle thickness changes following upper and lower body resistance training in men and women. European Journal of Applied Physiology 81:174–180.

Haff, G., Jackson, J., Kawamori, N., Carlock, J., Hartman, M., Kilgore, J., Morris, R., Ramsey, M., Sands, W., Stone, M. (2008). Force-time curve characteristics and hormonal alterations during an eleven-week training period in elite women weightlifters. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 22(2): 433-446.

Haff, G. (2006). Roundtable discussion: flexibility training. Strength and Conditioning Journal 28(2): 64-85.

Kell, R. (2011). The influence of periodized resistance training on strength changes in men and women. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(3): 735–744.

Kistler, B., Walsh, M., Horn, T., and Cox, R. (2010). The acute effects of static stretching on the sprint performance of collegiate men in the 60- and 100-M dash after a dynamic warm-up. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24(9): 2280-2284.

Linnamo, V., Pakarinen, A., Komi, P., Kraemer, W., and Kiknen, K. (2005). Acute hormonal responses to submaximal and maximal heavy resistance and explosive exercises in men and women. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 19(3): 566-571.

Morton, S., Whitehead, J., Brinkert, R., and Cane, D. (2011). Resistance training vs. static stretching: effects on flexibility and strength. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(X): 1-8.

Tanisho, K., and Hirakawa, K. (2009). Training effects on endurance capacity in maximal intermittent exercise: comparison between continuous and interval training. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(8): 2405–2410.

Tremblay, A., Simoneau J., and Bouchard, O. (1994). Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism 43: 814–818.

Schoenfeld, B. and Dawes, J. (2009). High-intensity interval training: applications for general fitness training. Strength and Conditioning Journal 31(6): 1-3.

Schoenfeld, B. (2010). The mechanism of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24(10): 2857-2872.

Schlumberger, A., Stec, J., Schmidtbleicher, D. (2001). Single- vs. multiple-set strength training women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 15(3): 284-289.

Scott, C., Leighton, B., Ahearn, K., and McManus, J. (2011). Aerobic, anaerobic and excess post exercise oxygen consumption energy expenditure of muscular endurance and strength: 1-set of bench press to muscular fatigue. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(4): 903–908.

Tsourli, T., Gerodimos, V., Kellis, E., Stavropoulos, M., Kellis, S. (2003). The effects of a calisthenics and a light strength training program on lower limb muscle strength and body composition in mature women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 17(3): 590-598.

Mike Worrall

I recently discovered this talent through a blog I follow, The Illustrated Adventures.

The talent I refer to is Mike Worrall, an artist from Australia.

The enigmatic, dreamlike paintings of Mike Worrall are often inspired by historical themes.  Informed by his work in film, Worrall deals with the sublime in his hyperreal depictions of the mysterious.  As in a dream, the quiet façade and the beauty of the large scale oil paintings masks the intriguing content and enormous energy underpinning the works. 

As mere words to not describe adequately, the following paintings are some of my favorites.

Sculling the Forest, oil on panel, 92x122cm, 1991

Equus, oil on canvas, 60x76cm, 2001

Le Grandfinale La Mer, oil on panel, 60x76cm, 2000

Le Grand Tour La Mer, oil on linen, 122x182cm, 2001

Incident on Platform 6, oil on canvas, 155x182cm, 2003

The Pink Shirt, oil on linen, 115x77cm, 2003

Seduction in the Garden, oil on canvas, 122x182cm, 2004

The Bouquet, oil on linen, 152x182cm, 2006

Forest Terminal, oil on canvas, 82x122cm, 2007

Bridge of Folly, oil on linen, 122x182cm, 2007

Forever Lost, oil on linen, 122x182cm, 2007

Seekers of the Truth, oil on canvas, 122x183cm, 2009

A Period Drama, oil on canvas, 123x183cm, 2010

Enjoy!

Get Hot and Sweat

My latest obsession: Hot Yoga

Where have you been all my life?

Yoga has been a part of me on and off for the past three or four years. Due to constant schedule shifts in my life, I went from attending my gym’s yoga classes three times a week for a few months to once a week or not at all for the next few months, and so forth over the course of those three to four years. As my gym membership has recently expired and I am seeking new fitness goals and interests with more flexible class sessions (cross fit / MMA gym and yoga studio), I attended a free hot yoga open house Saturday the 28th of January at Fire Shaper.

As my first hot yoga experience, I left with mixed feelings. Being a free day, the studio was packed. Mat stacked upon mat with little to no room to stretch. At one point I felt sweat from the man behind me drop onto my foot. Disgusting. It was also a 90 minute session. Being unaccustomed to the heat and the lack of oxygen from the large crowd and being improperly hydrated, by the 70 minute mark I was ready to pass out.

The positions were relatively simple. Nothing too strenuous or complex. As someone who has practiced yoga before, I found them to be a bit dull and quickly found myself counting down the minutes to freedom as the water was pouring off of me. Slowly dripping down the small of my back and across my forehead, even into my eyes during the inverted positions. I left feeling sticky, a tiny bit looser, but mainly dehydrated and tired. Within 30 minutes I developed a splitting headache turned migraine from the dehydration and was forced to lie down for a bit.

Despite the disappointment of the open house, I ended up jumping on their sale price for newcomers of one month unlimited hot yoga for $39. How could I not at that price? My cousin also snagged the deal.

My cousin and I attended our first actual class at 6:15AM today. An ungodly hour. The class was small and consisted of the really intense yogis. With about 10 other pupils, we had all the room we could hope for. The heat was bearable and there was air to be had! This instructor was different from Saturday’s class and pushed us into flow movements and complex balance positions. With the small class size she was also able to provide some individual attention.

I left feeling elongated, open, and read to experience my day.

Vegan Yogurt Experiment

While strolling the aisles of Whole Foods, I spotted a few new additions to the yogurt aisle.

I used to be big into Greek yogurt, consuming a cup of 0% Fage on a daily basis, no fruit, honey, or sweetener required. I loved the thick, almost bitter taste. So good. With my high raw vegan conversion, yogurt is no longer in the picture.

The two products I spotted were SO Delicious Greek Style Coconut Milk yogurt and Amande Cultured Almond Yogurt. Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to try.

So Delicious® Cultured Coconut Milk, Greek

If you’re craving a probiotic fix and making your own coconut probiotics is impractical, this really hits the spot. With a fairly straight forward ingredient list, four live cultures, 8g of dietary fiber, 2g of protein, 30% Calcium, vitamin D, B12, and magnesium, this is a powerhouse little snack.

I purchased the vanilla flavor and found the taste to be pleasant, but a little bit sweet. The yogurt was thick, not quite up to the standards of Fage Greek yogurt, but very satisfying. However, it was not smooth and creamy. I am unsure of how to describe it… not gritty, but a little textural rather than smooth. Not a turn off to the yogurt, just a difference between this and cow’s milk Greek yogurt

amande cultured almond milk peach

Light and smooth with a very clean peachy flavor, not sickly sweet, but fresh, almost like a real peach. A little short on vitamins in comparison to the coconut yogurt, lacking certain vegan fundamentals such as B12. But it does contain six live cultures versus the four of coconut and a decent amount of fiber and protein. Check out the ingredients and nutritional information.

This yogurt was very smooth in comparison to the coconut yogurt. It was not as thick, but more in line with regular yogurt versus Greek. Very tasty and very satisfying. If you’re a fan of the Light and Fit brands, this reminded me of those, but tasted a lot less artificial. Otherwise, similar consistency.

Overall, I prefer the SO Delicious. The thickness and overall nutrient content make it a winner in my book. For a vegan, 30% B12 is a big, big deal. Let me know if your thoughts on any other brands!