Category Archives: Fitness

Punk Rope Rocks Highway to Health

Punk Rope Rocks Highway to Health

We’ve made appearances at countless health fairs and festivals over the years, but you never really know what’s going to happen until the event actually starts. Fortunately, yesterday’s Highway to Health Festival, which was produced by HealthCorps, was one of the best we’ve ever attended.

Thanks to Joe, Liz, Howard, and Shana, the Punk Rope booth was hopping all day. Since the event took place at South Street Seaport, we had the pleasure of teaching rope jumping to a large number of tourists, as well as locals. The broad jump mat (see photo below) was a big hit with kids of all ages including those over 50. People love immediate feedback and it doesn’t get more immediate than looking down to see how far you jumped. One of the highlights of the day was turning the long rope for our friend, Adam, the founder of Just One Wheel. What made it especially cool was that Adam was jumping over the rope while on a unicycle!

The Punk Rope demo on the main stage featured rousing renditions of Olé by the Bouncing Souls and Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones. And the day concluded with a raucous competition under the tent. Events included crossing, double unders, spoons, long rope, “pull it together” (3-person squat), standing broad jump, and push-ups. Four lucky folks received pairs of Ropix rope jumping shoes and we also gave away some jump ropes, T-shirts, and DVDs.

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Yes, we have a rope jumping instructional DVD!

Yes, we have a rope jumping instructional DVD!

Nearly four years in the making at a cost of countless millions, Rope Jumping for Maximum Fitness is finally a reality. Okay, we’re kidding about the countless millions, but there’s no doubt that a lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into the project.

Lovingly directed and shot by Cynthia Malaran, the 74-minute DVD was shot on location at Location One, an art gallery in Soho and stars two time Punk Rope Games champ, Howard Wu, Beastanetics all-star, Heather Wagner, and Tim and Shana. Alfred and Tonka appear courtesy of their agents.

The DVD focuses on rope jumping basics and provides detailed instructions on how to perform more than 20 steps, which improve timing, coordination, agility, speed, endurance, power, strength, and more. Also covered are how to fix common mistakes, proper warm-up and cooldown protocols, and some simple exercises, which help ward off injury.

56 minutes of the video are devoted to instruction and 18 minutes to an actual workout, which is fueled by the sonic boom of New York-based bands Alice Texas, ps xo, The Likely Hoods, and The Shalitas.

The physical DVD is available for $15.00 (and includes the Jump Rope Made Easy PDF Manual) or as a digital download for $6.00.

You can check out the DVD trailer by clicking here.

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When Punk Rope Comes Marching In

When Punk Rope Comes Marching In

Last Wednesday, Shana and I, along with our Dixieland jazz band—comprised of Jeff Wood, Heather Wagner, Matt Maley, and Frank Cohen—were honored to represent Punk Rope at the HealthCorps’ Annual Gala. The event was held at the famed Waldorf-Astoria hotel and approximately 700 guests were in attendance including HealthCorps founder, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and honorees, Diane Sawyer and Matthew Modine.

If you’re not familiar with HealthCorps, it’s a wonderful organization, which places recent college graduates in inner city high schools to help students improve their health, nutrition, and fitness habits. Currently HealthCorps is operating in 53 schools in 12 states. Punk Rope has been pleased to be a partner since 2008.

We presented two Punk Rope demonstrations, in formal attire no less, to provide the guests with a sense of how we put a playful and sometimes “fantastical” spin on exercise, which hopefully captures students’ attention and provides them with a good workout and maybe a few good laughs as well.

volunteersThe demonstrations were set to “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “New Second Line” and featured a “Dixieland jazz band drill,” partner punk-ups, playfighting with foam swords, a rubber chicken relay race, and a Mardi Gras procession. All the activities were performed flawlessly by our volunteers (see photo at left)—Gerlena, Karim, Cosima, and Jennifer—all high school students.

We’ll be partnering again with HealthCorps on Sunday, May 20 at their Highway to Health Festival at South Street Seaport. Stop by between 1 and 2:30pm to compete in a scaled-down version of the Punk Rope Games. You might just win a prize!

Our hope is that next year we’ll have an opportunity to share our philosophy and methodology with the entire HealthCorps staff nationwide.

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Rise & Shine: Tips for Morning Workouts

Rise & Shine: Tips for Morning Workouts

This is an excerpt from a post by Eric Cressey, who writes one of the best fitness blogs in the world.

We are creatures of habit – not only psychologically and socially, but physiologically as well.  It should come as no surprise that changing the time of day when one’s workout routine takes place is a huge deal for everything from mood to performance. Perhaps the most common adjustment that takes place is when someone decides to exercise in the morning.  It may be because a long day at work is too exhausting to be 100% when you hit the gym after it’s over, or you may just not want to wait for equipment access in a crowded gym at 6PM. Or, it could be because a parent is super busy with kids’ afterschool activities, so first thing in the morning before they wake up is the best bet for getting in a strength and conditioning program. Here are five keys to making it a smooth transition:

1. Get to bed earlier.
You’d be surprised at how many people complain that they can’t get results from exercising in the morning without realizing that they’re still going to bed far too late at night. If you’re someone who is accustomed to sleeping 12AM-8AM, then racing to be to work at 9AM, it’s going to be an adjustment if you want to start training at 6AM before you head to work.  You’re only making it tougher if you decide that you’re simply going to sleep 12AM-5AM. It’s also going to crush your productivity for the rest of the day, as you’ll be sleep walking rather than enjoying the post-exercise energy boost most people experience.  If you want to be up at 5AM or 6AM to train, you’ve got to be in bed by 10PM.

2. Stand up for a bit.
Our spines are stiffer first thing in the morning. Simply standing upright and moving around upon waking allows us to move the spine more safely and effectively.  If you’re someone with a history of back pain, you’re probably best off not incorporating exercise in the morning, especially if your workout routine includes a lot of bending and rotating.  If you’re going for a walk or light jog, though, it’s probably not a big deal. If you’re someone who plans to use some of these more challenging compound movements and have to exercise in the morning, I’d encourage you to get up 30 minutes early and just focus on standing up, whether it’s to read the paper, pack your lunch, or take the dog for a walk.

3. Take a hot shower before exercise in the morning.
One of the biggest struggles a lot of folks encounter is getting warmed up in the morning.  Folks usually turn the heat down at night while they’re asleep, and it’s obviously colder outside at nighttime.  You might think I’m nuts, but hopping out of bed and into a hot shower is a great “body temperature transition” strategy that bridges the gap between bed and exercise.  And, since you’ll be standing in the shower, it also helps to accomplish tip #2 from above! It only has to be 25-30 seconds to get your body temperature up a bit, and then you can take your “real” shower after you sweat up a storm.  As an alternative to shower #1, you can always splash some hot water on your face and drink a cup of coffee.

4. Extend the warm-up.
In line with points #2 and #3, it’s a good idea to add a few more dynamic warm-up drills to your pre-exercise routine. It might add five minutes to your dynamic warm-up, but that’s far better than spending far more than five minutes in physical therapy for an injury you got from insufficiently warming up! In line with tip #2 from above, you likely want to focus on more standing variations in your mobility exercise selections.

5. Tinker with various nutrition approaches.
I’ve heard thousands of different nutritional strategies outlined for those who want to exercise in the morning, but the truth is, everyone is different.  I have known folks who will throw up anything solid that they consume prior to exercise, and others (myself included) who could eat a giant breakfast and keep it down just fine.  For most, I think sipping on a shake as you start the training session is a good place to start.  If you handle that fine, you can consider having some solid food before the training session, if you find that you’re hungry in the middle of the training session.

6. Recruit a training partner.
A training partner is almost always a good idea, but this is especially true when you’re up at the crack of dawn and not necessarily in the mindset to really push yourself.  Plus, when you’re awake for exercise before the sun rises, you’re far more likely to hit the snooze button if someone isn’t waiting for you at the gym.

While training first thing in the morning isn’t exactly ideal, it may be your only option for staying consistent with your workout routine – and consistency is the name of the game.  Implement these strategies to get the most out of your early morning training sessions.

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How did this man lose 115 lbs? (Part 2)

How did this man lose 115 lbs? (Part 2)

Sean Reveille, who appears in the photos above, lost 115 pounds in a relatively short period of time. This is part 2 of our interview with him.

4) How did you get into rope jumping and what do you like most about it?
I am a creature of habit, and I wanted a form of cardio I could stick to that I could do whenever, wherever, and without weather being a factor.  Since I often find myself simply jumping up and down in my room while listening to rock or heavy metal music, I figured jumping rope was the natural way to go.  I now own a few ropes, one of which I keep at work so that I can spend 20 minutes of my lunch break jumping rope.  I wasn’t intending on doing it EVERY day at work, but it’s one of those things that gets really fun when you have the right background music to accompany it.  So now I find myself doing it daily.  They know me now as “that guy who works out during lunch.” What I like most about it is the fact that it was totally natural to me.  I had always just found myself pogoing up and down while listening to heavy music, just without the rope. Adding in the rope completed it.

5) I hear you like to squat. What’s your personal best and are you shooting for a specific goal?
My preferred form of resistance training is calisthenics. However, I make an exception for lower body. Squatting is one of my favorite things to do. I normally do 5 sets of 8-10 reps at the gym and for my final set I like to try to increase the weight. Monday this week I hit a new max.  I did my last set with 225 lbs, which is a big milestone for me because it’s an even two 45 lb plates on each side of the barbell! I don’t really have any specific goal.  I don’t like setting goals when it pertains to self-improvement because I see goals as stop signs. It means hitting a point and then saying “okay, I can stop now.”  And that’s just not how I am.  As long as my legs don’t get so massive that I can’t fit into my riding leathers, I’m going to keep working on it.

6) What do you like to listen to when working out?
Well, on top of your typical “gym rat metal” (Disturbed and other similar bands), I like to listen to a lot of film score tracks (typically the background music from epic battle scenes), and remixes of video game tunes.  Yes, nerdy, I know!  I also like listening to ’80s synth-pop bands, hard rock bands such as AC/DC, and Industrial metal such as KMFDM.  My favorite genre of music is a subgenre of metal called Power Metal, but I find that it doesn’t make suitable background music for working out.

7) We hear from the medicine ball police that you like to toss those suckers around. What do you do with them?
Here’s another one that’s going to give away my nerdy background! Haha. I have a set of medicine balls ranging from 2 to 8 pounds that I purchased some time ago for use with a video workout program.  I couldn’t stick to the program, however, so they gathered dust for some time.  Then one day I got into a little argument with my sister about how the foods she is feeding her kids combined with their lack of activity is going to make them just like I was.  I didn’t want to sit by and watch, so I started thinking of ways to get them exercising. I noticed my nephew was really into the show Dragonball Z and liked to pretend he was the characters from the show. So I gave him the lightweight medicine ball and had him imitate the movements characters make with their bodies when they perform their signature energy attacks, and then pushing/launching/throwing the ball into a wall and catching it as it came back to him.  I put together a workout program for him based entirely on imitating his favorite Dragonball Z characters using this approach, just throwing medicine balls instead of firing mystical energy, and it ended up being a full, total body workout. It seemed so fun I figured I would try it myself, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I usually finish the medicine ball workout by doing static holding exercises with the 6 lb ball, holding it at arm’s length, arms fully extended, and slowly turning from side to side.

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The Hunger Games Workout

The Hunger Games Workout

I guess I’m the last person in the country to hear about The Hunger Games. My roommate, Shelly, mentioned the trilogy to me about a week ago and I had no idea what she was talking about. Then, a few days ago, a reporter from MSNBC left a message asking for my opinion about The Hunger Games Workout. My initial reaction was “I don’t like the name.” The words “hunger” and “games” shouldn’t be paired together, ever. But I suppose it’s too late now as the movie is about to break all box office records.

So back to the workout. I did some research and found out that the creator is an ex-Marine whose daughter is a fan of the books. Nice. But I still don’t like how we have a tendency in our culture to exploit what becomes popular. Somebody creates a hit and then somebody else jumps on the bandwagon. You see this in the fitness world all the time. After all, there’s Yogilates, Spinlates, Koga, Piloxing, and even Christ-Centered Yoga. I mean for chrissakes, can’t we leave Jesus out of fitness.

Anyway, my main concern with any new workout is for the safety of the participants. My next concern is whether the workout is effective. Fun ranks up there as well. So hopefully the Hunger Games Workout scores a trifecta. If you try it, let me know. Okay?

Oh, click here if you want to read the MSNBC article and my comments about The Hunger Games Workout.

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Thumbs Up or Down for the Five Fingers?

Thumbs Up or Down for the Five Fingers?

About a year ago I tried on my first pair of Five Fingers (the KSO model). After all, I had to experience firsthand what all the hype was about.

Stupidly, I asked the salesman if I should wear my regular socks. He looked at me as if I had three heads and then I realized my error. You can’t wear traditional socks with the Five Fingers as each toe has a home to rest in. After that gaffe, I proceeded, with caution, to put on the shoes. I had a tough time getting my toes to cooperate, but eventually, they found the right openings and all was right in the world. Next, I bounced around, jogged in place, did a few tuck jumps, and concluded that I would take a pass. I just wasn’t all that impressed.

But several months later it seemed like everybody and their mother, including my partner Shana, was wearing the Five Fingers so I gave them another shot and broke down and bought a pair. I figured what’s the worst that could happen?

The “worst” turned out to be pretty bad. I wore them about a dozen times for rope jumping, but was careful not to wear them for too long at a stretch as I knew my feet had to adapt to them slowly. I also wore them a number of other times for the boot camp class that I teach. So I wasn’t particularly worried when I wore them to do a rope jumping instructional DVD, but I should have been. After a few minutes of hard jumping, I felt a distinct pain on the top of my left foot. This was something I had never experienced before. The ONLY thing different from the thousands of other times that I’ve jumped was that I was wearing the Five Fingers. The pain eventually went away, but it took several weeks.

Well maybe it was me as I hate to blame a pair of shoes, but a few weeks ago the exact same thing happened to Shana, who had wearing the Five Fingers regularly for months. She’s still in pain, although it’s gradually subsiding.

I don’t yet have a scientific explanation, but I suspect that having the toes separated is not necessarily a good thing for all athletes. Imagine that you’re a boxer and you’re given a new glove to try out, which has separate slots for each finger. With your first punch, you’d likely do some serious damage, to your hand, not your opponent.

I still like minimal shoes, but for now I’ll stick with wrestling shoes and racing flats. Maybe one day I’ll give the Five Fingers another shot, but for now I’m content to keep my toes together as one happy family.

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