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Sanitization is Key, During and After Gym Work Out

September 29th, 2010

(CBS) You go to the gym to get in shape. But if you aren’t careful, that trip to the fitness club could be hazardous to your health.

“Early Show” Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen notes that more than 45 million Americans belong to health clubs.

She said, “That adds up to a lot of dirt and sweat, and as we found out — a lot of germs. They say no pain no gain, but when you go to your local gym you want to get fit not infected.”

And all those weights, bikes and barbells can be loaded with germs.

Shelby Hoff, of Naperville, Ill., knows. She picked up methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at her local gym.

Hoff told CBS News, “I never thought that working out could cause a life-threatening infection. … At one my point my arm got so big, my skin burst and shed like a snake.”

So could a trip to the gym put you at risk? Koeppen and her team wanted to find out what was lurking on gym equipment — so we swabbed surfaces at four major gym chains in New York City.

They sent their samples to Sanipure, a Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture certified lab.

Ron Schnitzer, the lab director, said of the samples, “We had astronomical total bacteria counts in the many millions on just about every surface examined.”

Schnitzer says the tests also found E. coli. The highest numbers came from a mat at one gym and a shower at another.

Schnitzer says at every location, Koeppen’s team found pseudomonas, which can cause a nasty rash. The highest concentration was in a shower.

But Schnitzer says perhaps the most disturbing finding was the staph aureus detected on a locker room bench. He says that’s an indicator some people could be at risk for contracting MRSA.

Schnitzer said, “We don’t want to see staph aureus because that’s an infection.”

The National Athletic Trainers Association just announced new guidelines for preventing skin diseases at gyms, including using new towels for each wipe down and cleaning equipment before and after every use.

And gyms across the country are moving away from the spray bottle with a rag. At a gym in Pittsburgh members are now offered paper towels, and encouraged to use hand sanitizer.

Hoff has healed but still suffers from occasional numbness in her hand.

She says, “There are things out there that you can’t see that can harm you and I want people to be able to prevent anything like that from happening to them.”

The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association told “The Early Show” maintaining a clean facility and protecting members is a top priority, adding, “It is important for clubs to educate their members about simple ways to increase cleanliness.”

To guard against germs, Koeppen added gym patrons should also wash their hands before and after working out with anti-bacterial soap, and also shower with anti-bacterial soap. Additionally, she said people should not only wash their gym clothes, but also their gym bag.

For more information on MRSA, go to MRSA

Source (article): CBS

Germs Could Be Making You Fat?!

September 23rd, 2010

The latest word in weight loss? Germs. A new study that’s getting a lot of buzz points out that germs may play a role in weight gain. Grab your hand sanitizer and read on …

Surprising research news: Scientists from Emory University in Atlanta who published a study in the journal Science, say that certain bacteria could play a role in the obesity epidemic.

Their study of mice found that specific bacteria that may cause gut inflammation may also increase appetite and possibly play a role in weight gain. Put simply, certain germs may make you hungry, the scientists say.

“Previous research has suggested that bacteria can influence how well energy is absorbed from food, but these findings demonstrate that intestinal bacteria can actually influence appetite,” the lead researcher said to Reuters Health.

The average person carries about 5 pounds of bacteria in their gut. A little gross-sounding, yes, but it’s all normal. At the center of this research is the question of whether obese people have greater numbers of unhealthy bacteria living in their gut, and whether antibiotics, even probiotics, could help re-balance the bacteria load.

The researchers aren’t prepared to make a call either way, but some say it’s an interesting first step in possible new treatments for obesity.

Source (article): SHINE.YAHOO

Source (picture): NWSCC

Coffee…A Health Food?

September 17th, 2010

(WFN) Anyone willing to spend $4 for a cup of coffee must be a real fan, but even those of us who gather around the office drip machine, anxiously awaiting the next fresh pot have some concerns about how much we drink and what the long term effects really are.

There is so much information out there (and more comes out every day) that it’s hard to know what is good for you and what is bad for you. Of course, anything ingested in excess is probably not a good idea but there is a lot of evidence that coffee can actually be a beneficial drink and not the evil, addictive beverage choice of the average American workaholic as depicted in so many trendy magazine exposes.

According to an article by Jane Brody, published in the New York Times and widely reprinted on the Internet and in several other print sources, coffee might be a smart drink of choice.

According to studies cited by Brody, one of the big coffee myths is that it acts as a diuretic. Not so according to a study that found that people who consumed up to 550 milligrams of caffeine produced no more urine than when drinking caffeine free beverages. A large coffee from your local coffee shop contains only about 330 milligrams so there is no reason to think that a large cup of Joe is going to send you running to the latrine. In fact, drinking coffee is as hydrating as drinking other beverages and only adds to your daily water requirements.

People with hypertension and other heart ailments are always told to avoid caffeine. But, according to Brody, an analysis of several studies of over 400,000 people found NO INCREASE in heart disease among daily java drinkers. Apparently, there is no substantial evidence that normal doses coffee puts people at risk of heart attack or abnormal heart rhythm.

In fact, according to the Iowa Women’s Health Study, those who drink one to three cups a day reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by 24%. Go figure? And Ms. Brody informs us that here is a higher risk of developing hypertension from drinking colas than from coffee.

A Harvard study linking coffee consumption to pancreatic cancer has apparently been debunked and it seems that drinking coffee can actually be a deterrent to liver cancer. A Swedish study found no connection between coffee and breast cancer. The news just keeps on getting better.

Women concerned about coffee’s effects on calcium in the body should take heart in knowing that the effect on calcium absorption is only slight and can easily be balanced by supplementation or by just adding whole milk to your coffee. Any loss of calcium might be attributed more to the lack of milk based beverages than to coffee intake.

Perhaps the only downside is that caffeine consumption can lead to weight gain because it speeds up your metabolism. For those who want to shed pounds, excessive coffee drinking might prove to be a detriment. For those who wouldn’t mind adding a few pounds, well, enjoy yourself with a nice tasty brew of rich fresh roasted coffee any time you feel the urge strike.

Of course, we all know that caffeine is a mood enhancer and can have a positive effect on mental and physical performance. According to the Times article, consumption of up to 200 milligrams of coffee, the amount in an ordinary 16 ounce cup (just a tad more than I can hold in my oversized thermos cup) can create a sense of happiness, sociability, energy and alertness. But did you also know that it improves memory and the ability to perform complex tasks? WOW! How about that!

Caffeine also aids in the burning of fat cells so make sure you have an espresso on the way to the gym.

A review of 13 studies showed that people who drink coffee have a 30 percent lower risk of Parkinson’s disease and another review shows that there is a 28% lower risk for Type 2 diabetes. This probably can be attributed to the high level of antioxidants in coffee.

So maybe we can look at coffee a little differently now? If you’re drinking organic, fair Trade coffee, grown without the use of pesticides and roasted in small, careful batches, you might actually be imbibing a health drink. So the next time you buy your favorite coffee keep in mind that the world’s best coffees are:

  • Shade grown Arabica coffee beans
  • Roasted in small batches for quality control
  • Grown organically without harmful pesticides
  • Sold by Fair Trade growers and distributors for a better world



Acai Berry Weight Loss Scam Exposed

September 2nd, 2010

For the last five years, the exotic acai berry has been the superstar in the world of diet supplements.  Acai berry weight loss products claim to “boost your metabolism,” thereby making your body burn fat more quickly.

Of course, there’s no proof the acai (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) berry can do anything to help you lose weight, but you’d never know that from the ads.

Using bogus claims, fake testimonials and slick marketing tricks, companies have sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of acai berry supplements. They often use the “free trial offer” to snag customers.

That’s how they got Landria Brattain, who lives near Indianapolis. She saw a pop-up ad for a trial bottle of AcaiPure. All she had to do was pay $4.95 to Central Coast Nutraceuticals (CCN) to cover shipping and handling. The deal was simple: Try it and if you don’t like it, return the bottle and you won’t pay anything. But the package came with a bill for $68 that was already charged to her debit card.

Brattain used the stuff for three days, but it made her very sick with diarrhea, cramps and nausea. She called the company to complain but they would not remove the charge.

“They were very rude and very unfriendly,” she remembers. “They kept saying, ‘It’s your fault because you did not read the fine print.’ ”

Soon there were two more charges of $68 on her account, which caused her to get hit with an overdraft fee.  Afraid the charges would not stop, Brattain closed the account. She complained to the Better Business Bureau and eventually got her money back.

In the last three years, the Better Business Bureau has received nearly 3,000 complaints about Central Coast Nutraceuticals. Most deal with billing and refund issues.

The Feds get the company shut down
Central Coast Nutraceuticals, based in Phoenix, isone of the big players in the acai berry industry. Last month, a federal judge approved the Federal Trade Commission’s request to prohibit deceptive claims, freeze the company’s assets, and turn the firm over to a court-appointed receiver.

The FTC charges CCN with using “deceptive, unfair, and unlawful acts and practices” to sell its acai berry weight loss pills (AcaiPure) and colon cleansing supplement (Colopure) via the Internet.

In its complaint, the FTC says CCN “deceived consumers across the country out of tens of millions of dollars.” Steve Baker, director of the FTC’s Midwest Region, tells me there may be more than a million victims.

I contacted CCN’s lawyer, who tells me neither he nor anyone from the company can comment on the charges because of the pending litigation.

Allegation: Free-trial offer wasn’t free
The FTC makes three major allegations in the case. The first deals with CCN’s “free” or “risk free” trial offer. In order to receive the supposedly free 30-day supply of AcaiPure or Colopure, online shoppers had to pay a small fee (normally $1 to $4.95) to cover the shipping and handling. Unhappy customers say they were shocked to find the full price of the “free sample” charged to their credit or debit card account.

“It was virtually impossible to avoid being charged for at least one bottle of these pills,” says the FTC’s Baker. “That’s because you had to go through an amazing number of hoops to return the product.”

The FTC’s lawsuit says to avoid being charged customers had to return the product within 14 days of the date they placed their order. In many cases, the shipment hadn’t even arrived by then. They also had to get a “return authorization number” from the company – something that was not easy to do – and pay for the return shipping. Plus, there could be a 15 percent restocking fee.

The FTC alleges this information was often hidden in the fine print, or in some cases it wasn’t disclosed before shipment.

And there’s more to what many customers didn’t understand. By ordering the supposedly free sample, they agreed to become a member in the company’s “Lifestyle Program” which would automatically ship them another 30-day supply of the products every month. Those new shipments would be billed at full price to the credit or debit card used to pay for the shipping of the trial sample.

Allegation: False claims
CCN promised AcaiPure would deliver rapid and substantial weight loss – anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds in the first month. The lawsuit cites one of those claims:

“WARNING! AcaiPure Is Fast Weight Loss That Works. It Was Not CreatedFor Those People Who Only Want To Lose A Few Measly Pounds. AcaiPure was created to help you achieve the incredible body you have always wanted … USE WITH CAUTION! Major weight loss in short periods of time may occur.”

CCN’s website said these weight loss claims were backed by “ironclad, double-blind, placebo-controlled weight loss studies from the medical establishment …”

The FTC’s lawsuit says “AcaiPure does not cause rapid and substantial weight loss” and the company does not have any proof it does.

CCN claimed Colopure would prevent cancer because it would “cleanse your entire system” and “detoxify your organs.” The FTC alleges there is no reason to believe Colopure has any role in preventing cancer whatsoever.

In preparing their case, government lawyers had expert scientists examine the ingredients in AcaiPure and Colopure. Those experts said the main ingredients in both products were laxatives.

Allegation: False endorsements
Some CCN products carry endorsements by Oprah Winfrey and Rachel Ray. How can you go wrong with a product endorsed by these trusted celebrities? Well, it turns out those endorsements were bogus.

Rachael Ray provided the FTC with this sworn statement: “I have never approved or agreed to the use of my name or my image in conjunction with the sale and marketing of AcaiPure, or any acai berry-related product.”

In his sworn statement, Douglas Pattison, the Chief Financial Officer of Harpo, Inc. (Oprah’s production company) said Oprah never endorsed or approved AcaiPure or agreed to have her picture or name used to sell or market the product. “Ms. Oprah Winfrey has never endorsed any acai berry supplement or acai berry related product by name,” Pattison said.

The bottom line
My advice is to avoid any free trial offer that requires you to give out your credit or debit card number. The only exception would be an offer from a trusted company you’ve dealt with before. I’ve simply seen too many people burned by “free trial” scams in the last few years.

Once a company has your account number, the business can use it to bill you for other charges. If you use a credit card, you can probably get the charges reversed. With a debit card, stopping the withdrawals could be a real pain. If the charges don’t stop, you may have to close that account and open a new one.

If you feel you’ve been taken by a bogus health supplement or free trial offer that’s not really free, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.

Source (article): MSNBC

Source (picture): ACAIBERRY-UK

Be Wary of Gym Germs

August 4th, 2010

When you go to the gym, do you wash your hands before and after using the equipment? Bring your own regularly cleaned mat for floor exercises? Shower with antibacterial soap and put on clean clothes immediately after your workout? Use only your own towels, razors, bar soap, water bottles?

If you answered “no” to any of the above, you could wind up with one of the many skin infections that can spread like wildfire in athletic settings. In June, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, known as N.A.T.A., issued a position paper on the causes, prevention and treatment of skin diseases in athletes that could just as well apply to anyone who works out in a communal setting, be it a school, commercial gym or Y.

The authors pointed out that “skin infections in athletes are extremely common” and account for more than half the outbreaks of infectious diseases that occur among participants in competitive sports. And if you think skin problems are minor, consider what happened to Kyle Frey, a 21-year-old junior and competitive wrestler at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Mr. Frey noticed a pimple on his arm last winter but thought little of it. He competed in a match on a Saturday, but by the next morning the pimple had grown to the size of his biceps and had become very painful.

His athletic trainer sent him straight to the emergency room, where the lesion was lanced and cultured. Two days later, he learned he had MRSA, the potentially deadly staphylococcus infection that is resistant to most antibiotics.

Mr. Frey spent five days in the hospital, where the lesion was surgically cleaned and stitched and treated with antibiotics that cleared the infection. He said in an interview that he does not know how he acquired MRSA: “The wrestling mat might have been contaminated, or I wrestled with someone who had the infection.”

If it could happen to Mr. Frey, who said he has always been health-conscious in the gym and careful about not sharing his belongings, it could happen to you.

The Risks

Recreational athletes as well as participants in organized sports are prone to fungal, viral and bacterial skin infections. Sweat, abrasion and direct or indirect contact with the lesions and secretions of others combine to make every athlete’s skin vulnerable to a host of problems. While MRSA may be the most serious skin infection, athlete’s foot, jock itch, boils, impetigo, herpes simplex and ringworm, among others, are not exactly fun or attractive.

Athletes who are infected should be kept from competing in matches for a week or more until treatment renders them noninfectious. The authors of the trainers’ study warned against simply covering infections like herpes and active bacterial lesions in order to return to competition.

Likewise, people like you and me who work out at a facility or swim in a public pool should stay away until cleared by a doctor who is well versed in skin diseases.

Steven M. Zinder, a trainer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and chief author of the new paper, said in an interview that these recommendations are not esoteric.

“It’s what we all learned — or should have learned — in sixth-grade health class,” he said. “It’s all common sense. You need to keep yourself and your equipment clean. You never know who last used the equipment in a gym. It can be a great breeding ground for these bugs, some of which are pretty nasty.”

The report, published in the August issue of The Journal of Athletic Training, stated, “Athletes must shower after every practice and game with an antibacterial soap and water over the entire body.”

Dr. Zinder noted that after a workout, women tend not to shower at the facility, while men, who are more likely to shower, often fail to cleanse their entire bodies, including their feet. Well-equipped facilities should provide antibacterial liquid soap.

“You should be showering at the gym and putting on clean clothes that are kept separate from the dirty ones,” he said. In fact, he added, it’s best to have two bags, one only for clean clothes, and to wash the dirty-clothes bag now and then.

Assume Exposure

Jack Foley, athletic trainer and director of sports medicine at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., and co-author of the report, said athletes should always assume they are exposed to skin infections.

At any given time, he said in an interview, one person in three in the United States suffers from a skin disease that can be spread to others, even while in the incubation stage.

The report noted that there had been “an alarming increase in the prevalence of MRSA” in the noses of both healthy children and adults. Thus, sneezing into one’s hand or blowing one’s nose without washing with an antibacterial cleanser afterward may spread these dangerous bacteria to others.

While hand hygiene is most important over all , avoiding fungal infections requires a daily change of athletic socks and underwear; carefully drying the armpits and groin and between toes (perhaps blow-drying the feet on low heat); and using foot powder. Shower shoes can help prevent infection as long as they don’t keep you from soaping your feet.

A viral infection called molluscum contagiosum may not be on the popular tongue, but it is commonly seen in young children and , spread through skin-to-skin contact, is not uncommon among athletes, including swimmers, cross-country runners and wrestlers, the report stated.

Prevention of this highly contagious infection requires “meticulous hygiene” after contact with secretions from other athletes through benches, towels and mats.

If you plan to work out in a gym or use a locker room, Mr. Foley suggested that before choosing a facility, you quiz the management about the cleaning agents used (they should be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency) and daily cleaning schedule for all surfaces and equipment. If exercise mats are not cleaned between classes, he suggested bringing your own. Antibacterial wipes or spray bottles should be provided and used by everyone to clean equipment after a workout.

Source (article): NYTIMES


Pilates: Fad or Here to Stay?

June 8th, 2010

(WFN) It’s 7 AM on a Wednesday and Pat Miles is getting ready for another busy day at the office. But before she butters her toast and kicks her day into high gear she heads into her den and pops a DVD into the player. It’s time for her morning Pilates workout.

Pilates popularity has exploded in the last several years in gyms, YMCA’s, schools and rec rooms across the country. Pilates originated in Germany and was developed by Joseph Pilates who believed that mental and physical health were inseparable elements of wellness. Pilates uses precise movements to stretch, strengthen and stabilize the muscles of the body with an emphasis on breathing and focused movements particularly around the abdomen. Today, millions of men and women work out using these intense exercises and there are thousands of instructors trained in taking them through their paces. The idea is to strengthen the core muscles of the torso and have the energy flow out from them to the extremities.

Pilates demands intense focus – there are no sloppy, uncontrolled movements. Movement is expected to be kept continuous between exercises through the use of fluid transitions. Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina. In this way Pilates closely resembles the movements in Yoga or Tai Chi.

“What I like about Pilates” says Ms. Miles, “is that it helps to focus my mind as well as tone my body. I get an excellent workout to be sure and it helps me stayed toned and strong, but I really like that when I finish my session I feel more alert throughout my entire day.” Although she used to work out at a gym, the demands on her time made the convenience of working out at home almost mandatory. “The pressure at work has only gotten greater in the last couple of years and I need to keep in shape, not just for my physical health but for my own peace of mind. Though I love to go to the gym I find that I can get a great workout at home and save myself a little time, and believe me – that time is precious! I’ve done all sorts of exercise tapes in the past, including Buns of Steel, Jane Fonda’s Workout and Cathy Smith but when I discovered Pilates I felt I was getting a more complete workout experience.”

Pilates usually requires the use of special machines to get the proper stretch and tension but Pilates also developed a series of floor exercises, or matwork, to achieve the desired effect and complement the machine work. Contemporary Pilates instructors use props like balls and bands to intensify the movements of the floor exercises and these are available at most sporting goods stores and on line.

Source (article): WORLDFITNESSNEWS

Source (picture): SWEETSAMBA

Huge Benefits of a Cardio Workout….

March 25th, 2010

(WFN) Yes. OK, now that we’ve made our point you can read on. No matter how you cut it, there is just no substitute for exercise when it comes to losing weight. Diet is, of course, extremely important and there are other factors also weigh in. But for permanent weigh loss – pounds that you keep off – some sort of aerobic exercise is necessary.

America is weight conscious and millions are obsessed with losing unwanted pounds. Of course, everyone wants it to be easy. Well, it’s not; it means you have to do something. There is no secret to weight loss. If you want to lose pounds you must burn more calories than you consume. That means cut down on excessive calories and get some cardio! Too many people are sitting around hoping that the next miracle diet will be the answer. Once they are off the diet, the pounds go back on. Why? Because they haven’t learned to burn calories with a healthy cardio workout program.

Many experts feel that if you truly want to lose weight, you need to be doing a good 45 minute to 1 hour cardio workout 4 to 5 times per week. Less than that will help you to maintain your current weight, but won’t help you to shed those pounds. For example, if you plan to lose 1 pound a week, that’s a total of 3500 calories. Then you should burn at least 500 calories a day doing cardio exercise 5 days a week.

You must commit to some kind of rigorous workout schedule. It really doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you select – running, step aerobics, cycling or spinning, cardio machines at the gym – it only matters that you commit to 4 to 5 hours a week minimum and get you heart rate up into the ‘aerobic zone’ for at least 30 minutes. The benefits are tremendous. It’s great for your heart, to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and will definitely reduce stress. And always move your entire body (arms, legs) when doing any cardio since the more movement means the more calories you will be burning! To determine what you heart rate level is you can use the Target Heart Rate calculator at

Make your cardio workout a priority. Quit scheduling your workouts around everything else you have to do, and instead schedule everything else around your workout. Don’t let anything interfere. If you make it important in your daily routine, then you will find ways to work in everything else you need to do. If you can join a gym get there as often as you can. You will find that working out around like-minded people will help support your goals. And, when the workout is fun chances are you’ll be better able to stick with it. If you cannot get to a gym then there are several ways to get the direction you need at home. Many full cardio workout machines, like elliptical trainers and treadmills, are available at reasonable prices. There are many excellent cardio fitness videos on the market too. And, if you can afford a machine, don’t have a DVD player or live too far from a gym then you can always put on your sneakers, step out the door and go for a run.

Joel Shapiro of Sebastian, Florida did just that. “I was about 20 pounds overweight and it was really starting to bug me. I also had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I had trouble motivating myself to drive to the gym and I wasn’t good at sticking to a diet. One day I was sitting on my couch watching TV and having some ice cream and I realized I was killing myself. I put on a pair of sneakers, went outside and ran down the block. I barely made it to the corner and back but I did it. It was a first step. I went out the next day and the next. Now I run about 2 miles almost every day and I have lost almost 15 pounds. My pressure is down and I feel great. I know I’m going to lose the next 5 pounds and I am going to keep running.”

Remember consistency is the key to losing weight. Sticking with a cardio workout program combined with healthy nutrition are essential. According to an article on, the best 30 minute aerobic exercise routines for fat burning are: Spinning (450 calories), swimming (380 calories), elliptical trainers (265 calories), kickboxing and step aerobics (345 calories) and racquetball (345 calories). The actual amount of calories burned varies by weight, age, and intensity.

Source (article): WORLDFITNESSNEWS

Source (picture): BLOGSPOT

Protect Yourself from Swine at the Gym!

May 6th, 2009

All the scary news flying around about swine flu got us wondering: Are we safe from these germs at the gym? Never fear, an answer is here, courtesy of infectious disease expert, Mark Wilson, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health: “Risk in a gym should be no greater than in any other group context of similar size and interaction,” he says of the influenza virus (aka: H1N1). “Indeed, it might be less in gyms because people who are feeling ill probably won’t want to exercise and will stay home!” Make your session even safer with a few simple strategies:

Four smart steps to stay germ-free at the gym–no mask required!

A Clean off the equipment: The treadmill panel, elliptical handles, strength machine grips, dumbbells, mats, there’s no shortage of surfaces that someone could have unintentionally infected by sneezing or coughing on it. Prevent picking up those germs by wiping off and squirting any area you’ll touch with one of the disinfectant sprays the gym should have handy on the floor.

Wash hands before, and after, your workout: Viruses like H1N1 are introduced into your body when you rub your eyes, nose or mouth, so keep hands as clean as possible to cut your risk of infection. Scrubbing with liquid soap is best–and temperature doesn’t matter, but time does: rub hands under running water for at least 20 seconds (hum “Happy Birthday” twice if you don’t like counting!). To be extra-safe, tote a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer like Purell to the gym along with your water and use liberally.

Don’t skip the shower: “For many infectious diseases, the one hygienic factor that seems most protective is showering,” adds Wilson’s colleague, Professor Jim Koopman. Microbes that get on your skin, in many different ways, can get washed off by showers.” Still fret about athlete’s foot? Get over it says Koopman: “You’re more likely to get organisms off your skin that you have picked up in the gym by showering than you are to pick up an organism in the shower.”

Keep your distance in class: “People can be infectious a day or so before showing symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell if they’re ill,” says Wilson. To keep contamination free, remain far enough away from fellow dancers or bootcampers that droplets from a surprise sneeze or cough that they may let loose can’t hit you.

Source (article): SELFMAGAZINE

Source (picture): BLOGS.REUTERS

Germs…a Gym’s Best Friend

April 8th, 2009

Americans hit the gym in search of bigger arms, massive chests and smaller waists, but many don’t know that gyms are hotbeds for germs.

ABC News conducted a test to find out just how many germs people could encounter when working out.

Dr. Philip Tierno, a microbiologist, said that the large number of people, exposed skin, and sweat present at gyms could be perfect for spreading infections.

“You’re not using that one machine exclusively for yourself,” Tierno said. “You’re leaving that machine, and someone else follows you and your germs that you leave behind. Eighty percent of all infectious disease is transmitted by contact.”

Tierno said that if a sick person used a machine, the person who used it next and then touched their eyes or mouth could get sick.

ABC News staffers took swabs to almost every piece of gym equipment they used and brought the samples to Tierno’s lab at New York University Hospital.

Tierno found the germs staph aureus, klebsiella, enterobacter and E. coli, which can cause various ailments.

Risky Machines

Tierno said the highest risk areas at the gym were machines used by “multiple people in quick sequence, such as dumbbells, seats where people may bike, or where people may sit down to lift weights.”

For example, on a lateral pull-down machine, ABC News found bacillus, which comes from the soil.

It most likely came from someone’s shoes. On an exercise bike, ABC News found sarcinia, candida specie, staphylococcus epi and diptheroids.

The worst place of all was the shower floor.

“Unfortunately, germs do survive in the shower, on walls, and on the floor,” Tierno said. “I found it in hordes — unbelievable quantities. We use the word ‘innumerable.’ Innumerable.”

According to Tierno, E. coli and many of the other germs found by ABC News won’t necessarily make you sick.

“You wear your little slippers, and you’re OK,” Tierno said. “But just as easily as those nonpathogenic germs touch those surfaces, we can have more pathogenic forms touch them. That’s the point.”

Source (article): ABCNEWS

Source (picture): HEALTH-NEWS-BLOG

Gym Etiqutte…How to NOT Be a Gym Diva

April 7th, 2009

Heading to the gym to blow off some steam? Good idea, as long as you don’t take out your stress on everyone around you.

It’s likely that anyone who’s spent time at a health club has seen some bad behavior, including the equipment hogs, the slobs who leave cardio machines dripping with sweat and the muscle men who grunt loudly as they lift oh-so-heavy weights that they have no intention of putting away.

But these are just a few of the ways that exercisers can be rude and obnoxious at the gym, fitness instructors say. Sometimes, things get downright nasty.

“I had to break up a cat fight,” says Peggy Gregor, group exercise director at Healthtrax Fitness and Wellness in Bethel Park, Pa.

It happened after a woman new to an ongoing fitness class took the spot on the floor that another attendee regularly claimed. A verbal argument ensued and quickly turned physical.

A yoga instructor in New York says a participant in her class let loose on the whole group — after she took a call on her cell phone.

‘I can do whatever I want’
She “rummaged for a good two minutes in her bag in the middle of class for her techno-blaring phone, then screamed into her cell phone at her boyfriend not to call her during yoga class, while we were all staring at her from our down dogs,” says Sadie Nardini, owner of the new Fierce Club yoga studio in Manhattan. When she got off the phone, the woman snarkily shouted back to the astonished group, “Sorry, I had to tell him not to call me during class!”

Nardini says that when she took her aside after class to talk about the diva behavior, the woman was offended, saying, “Well, I paid for this class. I can do whatever I want.”

The stress of the times could be one factor fueling this type of bad behavior, says Nancy Lerner, a psychologist in northern New Jersey. “What underlies anger is anxiety and fear,” she says. “There are a lot of angry people out there. The gym is another place for them to be pushy.” While exercise can be a great stress-reliever and mood-booster, some people’s behavior might be worse if sports or other forms of physical activity bring out aggressive tendencies, she says.

Lerner herself is currently involved in a dispute with another woman at her co-op gym who refuses to turn down the volume on the TV. The woman blasts “Frasier” reruns — refusing to let go of the remote control — while Lerner is trying to read on the treadmill.

“I asked her to lower the sound and she told me that I would have to get some noise-canceling earphones,” says Lerner. “I plan to attend the next board meeting and strongly suggest closed captioning on the TVs when others are working out.”

While stress may underlie some bad gym behavior, it’s a poor excuse nonetheless, says Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and the owner of the Protocol School of Texas in San Antonio, which specializes in corporate etiquette training. “Just because you’re more stressed doesn’t give you a free pass to be rude. We’re all stressed.”

Oftentimes, the way people behave at the gym is similar to their behavior outside of the gym, says Gottsman. So the person who’s rude at the gym is likely to be one of the people cutting in line at the coffee shop or screaming at a kid’s soccer coach.

As Nardini, the yoga instructor, puts it, many of the rude participants she sees seem to lack an “etiquette gene.” Others just want to be noticed. “They want the audience,” she says. “They don’t want to be a participant. They want to be the star.”

One bad apple …
Overall, most gym-goers don’t bother other exercisers too much. But even one bad apple can ruin everyone else’s workouts, says Gregor. The trouble-makers are enough of a problem that she recently wrote an advice article for fitness instructors on how to deal with them.

In the article, titled “Pruning the Prima Donna Participant” and published in a trade magazine called the IDEA Fitness Journal, Gregor lists some of the more common diva types in group fitness classes. Among them: “Chatty Cathies,” those who show up late and make a grand — and disruptive — entrance; “spotters,” the ones who insist on having the same place in class each week (so they can look at themselves in the mirror); and “soloists,” those who choose to do their own routine rather than following the program (usually, Gregor says, because they want the attention).

Elsewhere in the gym, Gregor and other fitness professionals note, problems also can include hygiene-challenged people who skip deodorant or wear smelly workout clothes; those who douse themselves in perfume or cologne and strut around trying to make a love connection; and those who don’t just grunt when they lift weights but scream.

If they aren’t causing an all-out ruckus, all of these behaviors can be, at the very least, highly annoying.

Lethal hands, hazardous heels
Nicholus Odem, 43, of Chandler, Ariz., couldn’t believe what he saw another gym member do in the locker room. “He left a stall in the men’s room and headed straight for the gym without washing his hands,” says Odem, noting that this man also tends to wear the same old gym clothes day after day.

“He completed his full workout going from machine to machine,” says Odem. “Since then I have an industrial size bottle of hand sanitizer in my car … I bathe my hands in sanitizer after I leave the gym.” Jay Averill, 32, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is still troubled by something he witnessed at his gym a couple years ago.

“The inappropriate behavior was actually a part of a workout routine of a middle-aged, skinny fellow who used to frequent the gym I go to,” says Averill. “His routine focused on pelvic thrusts. He would do them standing up, lying on his back, on his side, and yes … he’d lie on his stomach and do pelvic thrusts. He’d do them with weights, on benches and on the sit-up mats, all the while not even showing any sign that what he was doing may look a little odd. To top it all off, he would always wear tights.”

The man’s actions were so extreme that Averill just couldn’t focus on his workout. “It’s really hard to do the military press while a grown man is making love to a bench beside you, although I wouldn’t describe it as love so much,” he says. “It’s really hard not to look, and it’s even harder not to laugh out loud.”

Also in the absurd-and-annoying category, Nardini had one participant who came to yoga class in 8-inch stilettos, a skimpy leotard, fishnet stockings, legwarmers and a white fur coat. “She’d come in dressed like an exotic dancer, which I later found out she was.”

Nardini warned her against doing yoga in heels, but the woman insisted on it, saying it was practice for her work. “She poked so many holes in the mat that we had to charge her for it,” says Nardini. “It looked like Swiss cheese when she was done.”

Among other disruptions Nardini has seen in her class, there’s the man who would “breathe like Darth Vader” rather than practicing typical yoga breaths and another guy who plopped himself down in the middle of the room and did headstands and other moves of his own choosing, regardless of what she was teaching.

Dealing with divas, dolts
So how should you deal with these divas and dolts at the gym? If someone is hogging the triceps press, you could politely ask if you could take turns. Or if they’ve left huge weight plates on the leg machine, you could ask the person to please remove them.

But Gregor and other instructors generally recommend speaking to a gym employee about bigger complaints. Taking matters into your own hands can breed animosity among members, sometimes even causing brawls.

They say good fitness professionals stay on top of bad behavior and nip it in the bud when it starts. They talk to the offender, which usually goes a long way. In some cases, they may need to give warnings and even revoke memberships if the behavior doesn’t improve.

One instructor has some unconventional ways of reprimanding naughty exercisers. In what he’s dubbed “flipping the bird,” he throws a stuffed bird at offenders, a sign that they have to go to the corner and do the day’s punishment — such as 30 push-ups or 20 mountain climbers.

“When someone talks too much, slacks off, drops a weight or anything I or the group may deem undesirable, I flip them the bird,” says Bobby Kelly, owner of the Results Only gym in Phoenix.

“The person must immediately perform the bird punishment or I flip them the bird again,” he says. “It makes people laugh and it gets my point across.”

When members are particularly obnoxious, Kelly has another form of punishment: the undesirable T-shirt, which reads “I am the problem child.”

“If they’re really bugging me, they have to wear it for the rest of class,” he says.

Kelly insists it’s all in good humor and “there’s absolutely nothing mean-spirited about it.”

Sometimes he even pokes fun at himself, wearing a T-shirt that reads “EOA”

Source: MSNBC