Tag Archives: strength

GQ – Letter to the Editor

If you’re a GQ reader like me, you probably read the August issue with Mila Kunis on the cover. On page 32, there’s a brief article by Mark Byrne called “Rewriting the Book on Yoga”, with a 15 minute yoga workout as prescribed by a studio owner in NYC. Unfortunately, I cringed when I reviewed the workout that includes three twisting and forward bending poses, the last of which is an advanced pose.

But before I add my two cents, let me state my fitness and yoga qualifications: I’m 48 years old, 5’7″ and weigh 150 pounds. My body fat is less than 9% and most people think I’m 33. I’ve worked out in fitness centers every day for the past 32 years totaling more than 12,000 hours. I’ve practiced yoga every day for the past six years totaling more than 2,000 hours. An accomplished student/athlete through college, I’m also a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Cycling Instructor, and 200-hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I’ve taught more than 15,000 yoga students of all levels in the past five years, from the ages 3 to 93. I’ve created more than 15 hours of instructional yoga videos in the past two years, including a Yoga Survival Guide detailing more than 100 poses.

I currently teach yoga to women and children living in domestic violence shelters, who had zero experience with fitness and yoga before I got there. I have neck, low back, shoulder and wrist issues, and have been injured three times since I started practicing yoga – all from bad teachers. Thus, my very precise teaching style is designed to minimize injury to any body part, especially the neck and low back. Finally, I’ve practiced yoga mostly in New York City and Los Angeles, the yoga meccas of the United States, and have taken classes with the “so-called” best teachers in the world. 90% of which are women.

That said, here’s why I disagree with the Byrne’s claim that GQ “found the best back-saving, workout-improving moves…” When it comes to anything twisting and forward bending while standing, you better move slowly and be super careful. Your stance is critical, which the caption doesn’t clearly emphasize. The caption also says “twist your head to look up”, which you should NEVER attempt without properly warming up the spine and preparing your body for such deep twists. Revolved triangle is a perfect example of this. A good teacher wouldn’t sequence this pose until at least halfway through the yoga class, because coming into this pose is AS IMPORTANT as the pose itself. So is coming back up to stand once you’ve been in the pose for any length of time. Here’s why: once your torso weight and your 10 pound head is down and over your forward leg, you’re balancing this weight over a tight triangular stance, making it quite difficult to manage. And since most men carry their weight in their torso and have tight hamstrings, coming into – or out of – this pose without bending your legs (like the picture shows), and without moving ridiculously slow, could lead to serious injury.

Thus, it’s not back-saving at all. It’s actually quite strenuous on your neck, low back and hamstrings. And requires ample core strength to control your torso as you’re folding forward at a 90 degree angle (if you keep your back straight like the picture – which is also very difficult). And although the directions state “you won’t be able to touch the floor right away – settle for your ankle”, very few men can even get to their ankle. Frankly, this is a very challenging pose for an advanced yogi, let alone anyone who’s never done it before. So take note and be VERY CAREFUL, especially when twisting and forward bending at the same time. And if you really want to experiment with this pose on your own, warm up and strengthen your core and abs first with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #82 – Easy Abs. Enjoy & hope to see you on the FAT BURN TOUR! – Rich Tola

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100 Workouts in 100 Days

When you read this you might think, what’s so special about exercising 5 minutes a day, everyday, for 100 straight days?  I mean, you walk around and climb stairs everyday at work and home, and even work-up a sweat doing the household chores like scrubbing the bath tub.  But are you really embracing a daily fitness program?  One that’s effective, simple and attainable, and most importantly, one that becomes an integral part of your subconscious. Because moving the body around isn’t the same as exercising the body. With exercise there’s a purpose and a goal.  And if you exercise daily, you will see results. You’ll not only benefit from having more strength and flexibility, increased bone mass, better posture, better circulation, and better breathing, but also from the mental clarity and strength you’ll get from succeeding everyday at something quite challenging. All it takes is the belief and the courage to try.  So believe and achieve with today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #100-Bridge Pose II. It’s also the finale of this fat burning series, with details coming soon about my Burn Fat America Tour.  Thanks for tuning in!  – R

Remembering my Uncle Mickey

Every Memorial Day I remember my Uncle Mickey, aka, Dr. Cook.  Uncle Mickey served as a cook in the Army in WWII, thus the nickname, and he was exactly 55 years older than me as we shared the same birthday.  In my 20’s I got to know Uncle Mickey and respected his view of himself and the world.  Because he respected everyone and everything.  He was this charming bachelor who would tell folks he never married because he had to take care of his mother, he had a daily fitness routine he’d do in the spare room, and he wore a suit & tie every single day.  That’s right, every single day until he entered the nursing home when he was 90.  He was the ultimate citizen who respected what it meant to be an American.  Someone to admire for truly loving life.  And what I remember most about Uncle Mickey was our walks at the nursing home when his mind and body would barely cooperate.  He always kept his dignity and his positive attitude, and never felt sorry for himself.  So for everyone remembering loved ones today, enjoy!  And enjoy sculpting your thighs again with today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #96 – Killer Squats II. – R

Happy Memorial Day Everyone!

Benefits of balancing

Balancing poses are great for the mind and body because they help you develop lightness, strength, agility, muscle tone, coordination, concentration, self-confidence and overall control of your body.  And when you add a backbend to your standing balancing pose, like we do with today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #95 – Dancer’s Pose, you’ll also rejuvenate the body, giving you more alertness, openness, flexibility, energy and courage. So add some balancing & backbends to your long holiday weekend.  And enjoy!  – R

 

Don’t Make Assumptions

When was last time your friend called to say someone hasn’t called her back because she thinks “blah-blah-blah”?  And the reason for “blah-blah-blah” is because what your friend thinks doesn’t really matter.  Because if your friend is assuming, which is usually the case when our feelings get hurt, than she’s probably wrong.  We all know what ass-u-me means, right?  Have patience for the truth, it’s much easier to handle. Don’t make Assumptions.  Like, with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workouts.  What the heck can you get done in 5 minutes, right? Well, these bite-size workouts are little gems because if you rarely exercise, than working out a little bit each day is priceless.  If you do workout a few times a week, you’ll empower yourself with a DAILY fitness routine.  A routine that’ll soon eclipse 5 minutes, as well as make you feel better about yourself, give you more energy and awareness, and increase your body image as your subconscious registers these daily workouts as wins.  Or, as I like to call them, small victories in the war.  Not to mention the preservation aspects of strengthening your muscles and bones. Because battling Mother Nature and Father Time is a war. So don’t make assumptions and get off to an easy start with today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #82 – Easy Abs.  – R

Invest in yourself

For the past 75 days, I’ve been posting videos and blogging about the benefits of a daily fitness program.  These short and effective workouts are meant to put a fat burning spark in your day, as well as inspire and empower you to embrace a daily fitness program. Because doing something fitness-related everyday is the epitome of a personal investment. Why? Because time is money, and when you allocate time to a daily fitness program, you invest in yourself.  That’s right.  You invest in your physical and mental well-being, preserving the most important asset in your life – you!  So enjoy investing in yourself with today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #75 – Chest & Shoulders II.   – R

Happy Mother’s Day!

Enjoy your Mother’s Day everyone, and especially remember to respect yourself and others when celebrating.  And don’t forget your daily exercise with today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #74 – Chest & Shoulders.  Happy Mother’s Day! – R