John Kelly's blog


Are Health Clubs Spiritual Communities?

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Researchers from Harvard’s Divinity School are trying to determine what spaces function as spiritual communities. The New York Times article, When Some Turn to Church, Others Go to CrossFit, examines the efforts of researchers to pinpoint what constitutes religiosity in America.

I suppose it depends on how you define spiritual or religiosity. My experience is that is it not spiritual. I think it is as simple as health clubs, for some, constitute the third place people interact. I have worked in gyms for 35 years I find it curious that so many people spend so much time walking on treadmills when it is a perfectly beautiful it’s-great-to-be-alive day.


How to stay limber and avoid aches and pains

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Injuries can happen suddenly such as a pulled muscle or can happen slowly over time such as a repetitive use injury.  Years later these injuries can come back to haunt us as the aches and pains we live with.  You can keep those aches at bay by remaining strong and limber.  The trick is to do exercises that do not aggravate those old injuries.

At Austin Personal Training and  New Orleans Personal Training  we use MedX medical rehab equipment that can be precisely customized with a premium on safety for those who have those haunting injuries. Exercise safely, release those endorphins, and the pains will go away.


Why Hot Dog Flavored Chips? There is a reason.

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I tried some hot dog flavored chips and damn, if they didn’t taste just like hot dogs. There is a wide variety of flavored chips choices to choice from - beet root to ham and cheese and even white chocolate. It is not just chips that have bizarre offerings – it’s fast food outlets and other restaurants with nuggets, French toast sticks, and the like.

The food designers work to create the combination of attributes that will keep us eating their concoctions. From this article Addicted to Junk Food? It’s Not Your Fault this quote:

“There are specialized food-science experts who engineer processed foods to deliver the right amount of salt + fat + sugar and crunch to disrupt the body’s natural controls on overeating to make people feel hungrier and unsatisfied.”


Losing weight and keeping it off - what you are up against

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This New York Times article, The Fat Trap, explores how people lose weight, but almost without exception, gain it right back.

In one study, 50 obese men and women consumed just 500 to 550 calories a day for eight weeks and lost an average of 30 pounds. A year after the study, subjects had regained an average of 11  pounds and reported feeling far more hungry and preoccupied with food than before they lost the weight.

Yeah, I know the diet was too restrictive, but regardless, it is interesting to note what is going on hormonally. A quote from the article:


High intensity interval training increases endurance

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From this article, Scientists Discover Why High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Can Match Endurance Training discussing HIIT:

“Short bursts of just a few minutes of exhausting physical activity can prepare muscles to work harder, boosting the production of new  mitochondria  (powerhouses of the cells, generating the energy that our cells need to do their tasks), which culminates endurance enhancement much like more time consuming endurance training. High-intensity exercise triggers the breakdown of calcium channels as a result of an increased production of free radicals.”


Three different diets, equal in calories, three vastly different results

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This New York Times article, What Really Makes Us Fat, discusses the result of a study that produced surprising results.

The experiment: Three separate groups on three different diets stuck to a diet for a month. All subjects consumed the same amount of calories.

Diet 1: A high-carbohydrate low-fat diet - fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein.

Diet 2: A low glycemic index diet - fewer carbohydrates in total - non-starchy vegetables, beans, and minimally processed sources.

Diet 3: The Atkins diet - high in fat and protein and very low in carbohydrates.

Results: The fewer carbohydrates consumed, the more energy was expended.

A quote from the article:

“On the very low-carbohydrate diet, subjects expended 300 more calories a day than they did on the low-fat diet and 150 calories more than on the low-glycemic-index diet.”

And another:


Caloric restriction and longevity

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A New York Times article, The Calorie-Restriction Experiment, details a study where researchers attempted to find out if eating less increased longevity. 132 men and women reduced their daily calories by 25 percent for two years to see if a Spartan diet affects the aging process and its associated diseases. 

Subjects experienced “astounding drops in cardiovascular risk factors”.

BUT, another quote:

“Ninety-nine percent can’t do it,” John Holloszy, a medical doctor who is the lead investigator at Washington University, told me. “The people in the study are not going to stick with it” after they leave.

Damn.  Two years to figure that out?


Muscle mass a better predictor of longevity

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From this Scientific American article, Muscle Mass Beats BMI as Longevity Predictor:

“Researchers analyzed BMI and muscle mass data from more than 3,600 seniors in a long-term study. And they tracked which seniors had died, a decade later. Turns out BMI wasn't much good at predicting chance of death. 

But muscle mass was: more muscle meant better odds of survival.” 

BMI is a dubious measurement to begin with.  Pictured is Mike Tyson. According to BMI charts he would be classified as clinically obese. He is not fat and has substantial muscle mass.


Adding muscle and losing fat at age 65

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Donna is 65 years old and five feet tall. She does her strength training at our gym once a week and attends a weight loss clinic somewhere else. At the weight loss clinic they have a machine that measures body composition. Donna said it even measures body composition in different parts of the body. 

As a result of their weight loss program people generally lose weight - some of it is fat, and some of it is muscle. Kathy did lose fat, and contrary to normal expectations, they were surprised to find that she actually gained muscle.

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