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The Fit Expo 2004
Sunday, February 22 - An Exercise in Endurance

MaDonna Grimes and her dancers work it

11:30 a.m. This time I do park in the Center's garage, but I get just as much of a workout, wandering around and trying to figure out how to get to the Expo from the parking lot. My upper body is sore today, the result of a few too many Chaturangas yesterday (I added up the time I spent in the Yoga workshops and I did something like two and a half hours' worth of Yoga). I'm glad that my one exercise workshop today is aerobic dance, and it's with an instructor I've been looking forward to meeting for a long time. For inspiration, I stop by the Exhibition Hall and watch a performance by MaDonna Grimes and her troupe before heading for my first seminar of the day.

(Article continued below.)

12:00 p.m. Richard Diaz is a serious fitness guy who has been around for over two decades. He's director of operations for USA Sports Centers. The class - Heart Rate Specific Training for Endurance and Performance - is geared toward people who really want to improve their running time or enhance other cardio activities. Much of the class is quite technical, but it boils down to something very simple - to really improve your endurance you need to train on a schedule that pays attention to your heart rate. The mistake most people make is that they constantly go all-out when they're running, which doesn't make optimal use of their muscle fibers. To improve, one needs to pay attention to the Aerobic Threshold (AT). To figure out your AT heart rate, subtract your age from 180, and that's it for most people. You start off by doing Aerobic Threshold Training for 80% of your sessions, and Lactic Acid Tolerance Training (basically intensive interval training) for 20% of your sessions. After 8 to 12 weeks, you do a bit more LATT and so on and eventually you raise your AT, optimizing your endurance level so you can go harder for a longer period of time. So if any of you out there are wondering just why you reach a peak with your cardio activities and can't progress any farther, check out your heart rate.

polar heart rate monitors

1:00 p.m. After Diaz's talk, of course I go back to the Exhibition Booth and gaze longingly at the brand new Polar heart rate monitors. While my own Polar is several years old and doesn't look anywhere near as cool as the ones on display, I can't justify getting a new one - the old one is still going strong (Polar does make durable products). Next up is my long-awaited aerobics class, so I fuel up on energy drinks. I'm still aching for real food, but the only actual meals I see are under plastic at the Sunfare booth. Sunfare creates yummy, nutritious meals according to your diet and delivers them to your home (at least if you live in the Southern California area). The food they have on display really does look good, especially after three days of protein bars. I wonder if they'll miss that salmon and broccoli plate, but I restrain myself and go to the Eggology booth instead. I've actually been dining at the Eggology booth every day - they have egg white samples. If you think egg whites are something less than thrilling, you haven't had Eggology's! They're pure, fresh, organic egg whites with no additives whatsoever. All this really does make a difference because these are absolutely the best egg whites I've ever tasted (and this comes from someone who really couldn't have cared less about egg whites). If I were stranded on a desert island and only allowed to have two types of food with me, I think I'd pick the Eggology egg whites and the CarbWatchers chocolates. Admittedly, it wouldn't be the most balanced diet ever, but I'd enjoy every bite and it wouldn't be fattening.

sunfare real food
the eggology girl

2:00 p.m. If, like me, you love to dance and you like to sweat, then you can do no better than get a groove on with Patrick Goudeau. While I have several videos featuring Goudeau (he has more than a dozen), this is the first time I've had a chance to attend a class of his. It's called "Aerobic Dance Workout," a plain wrap title that is a massive understatement. What you get from Goudeau is a lot of choreography that's extremely stylish but not as hard as it looks (well, sometimes it does take a while to learn), loads of fun and just really satisfying for those of us who want to feel like dancers for a little while. The girl to the left of me, I gather, is a dancer for real who teaches aerobics herself - she's right there with Goudeau's every move. I am envious! According to his bio online, Goudeau was a cheerleader in college, and with his good-natured enthusiasm, that's easy to picture. From there he went on to become a United States Aerobic Champion, trained a number of celebrities, performed at the White House and, most recently, won "Best Choreography" and "Best Male Presenter" at the 2003 ECA OBOW awards - to name just a few of his accomplishments! So you can see why I was so happy to be able to meet him in person. Goudeau's class is the highlight of my day (along with the Eggology egg whites).

the hany mikhaiel better body maker display 3:00 p.m. I have some time before going off to my next seminar, so after I dry off the sweat earned in Goudeau's class, I stop by the Center's Little Theater room to check out Hany Mikhaiel. I've seen Mikhaiel's over-the-top display in the Exhibition Hall. He's known as the "Better Body Maker" and has a talk show on Southern California's 97.1 radio station. He is also a complete maniac, stalking up and down the stage of the Little Theater mainly because he has too much energy to stand still for more than a moment. More than once he makes us repeat his "5 Steps to Fitness" (which is also the title of his seminar): "Food Intake, Cardio, Supplements, Resistance Training and Changing Your Routine!!!" He also makes us laugh while making a point - after complaining about how he sees so many people improperly doing lat pull downs, he yells, "It's a lat pull down, not a rotator-cuff-injury pull down!!!" Then he surprises me completely by giving us a visualization exercise and pointing out that to achieve fitness you have to picture yourself fit. (This goes for any goal in life, actually.) This macho guy in camouflage pants understands the mind-body connection as well as any Yoga teacher. This is definitely the message of the whole Fit Expo.

3:30 p.m. Dr. Rick Morris is as contained as Mikhaiel was manic, but his talk is no less fascinating. His lecture is called "8 Rules You Must Know to Stop Low Back Pain." A small handful of attendees are there because they train people with low back pain; the majority are there because they have low back pain themselves. Everyone learns new information from Dr. Morris's talk. As important as knowing what to do is knowing what not to do. For example, people generally believe that people with an aching back might benefit from cobras (back extensions while lying on your stomach). This is definitely not always the case - if someone has extension pain, they should avoid them (they should also avoid standing squats). Abdominal strengthening is a much better choice for these people, as are knee-to-chest stretches. Meanwhile, those who have back pain when they bend over should avoid full sit-ups, lifting heavy weights and, naturally, standing flexion. They should also be careful about sitting, which can irritate the problem. Cat-cow postures and back extensions may be helpful for them. (All this is providing your doctor gives the go-ahead.) Back pain can also be caused by hamstrings that are stiff or out of balance, or if one leg is shorter than the other. Dr. Morris goes over stretches for several different conditions, using a volunteer from the audience. She's a dancer who is studying to be a personal trainer, and she has a few of her own back problems - it's clear that some of the stretches are making her feel better, which probably makes up for having to lay on a table in front of a room full of people. When the lecture is finished Dr. Morris is surrounded by middle-aged men asking about their backs. I slip out the door and head for the last part of the Expo.

3:30 p.m. The Fit Expo is winding down. Many of the booths in the Exhibition Hall are already being broken down. The Labrada booth is out of chocolates. The musclemen are packing up. I head for Cregg Weinmann's talk on Choosing the Right Running Shoe. Wellman has been running for more years than many of the attendees have been alive, and he is definitely a man who knows from running shoes. I learn a new way to find out if the arch of your foot is high, medium or low. You need a dime, a penny, a nickel, and a friend. Stand barefoot on a firm surface, bend your knees just a bit and have your friend find out which coin (standing on its edge) fits best in the arch. If it's the dime your arches are lower than average, the nickel and your arches are high. The penny means you're medium. Your foot stride is also important - if your foot rolls in, you need a sturdier shoe. Wellman points out that are over 100 new models of running shoes come out every year, and it's always a good idea for runners to find a store that specializes in running shoes. The sales people at these stores really know about fitting the shoe for your own particular foot, stride and running habits. He also reminds those who have orthotics to bring them when they're shoe shopping. Since the class is small, Wellman checks out the feet of anyone who wants it. I find out that I my ankles are stable (I guess all that balance training has paid off), and that my stride is average - not rolling too much one way or another. Unfortunately none of this makes up for the fact that I'm the slowest runner on earth. (I've often said that I could grapevine a 5K faster than if I ran it. Maybe I should try Richard Diaz's program.) The class ends all too soon and the Expo is over. It was a huge success for all involved and will be back in February, 2005 - I'm already planning on being there!

Back to Start >> Intro to the Fit Expo >> Page 2, 3, 4

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