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Fitness – It’s all in the game

14 Dec

My avatar

Having spent weeks playing Gears of War 3 on the Xbox I thought I would look into the world of exercise gaming.

While Nintendo lead the way with this type of gaming with their Wii Fit, Playstation and Xbox have now caught up offering their own get-fit-at-home games. I would even argue that Xbox has gone one better with their Kinect, which leaves your hands free from controllers so that you can use apparatus during the game.

Having seen EA Active 2 on Xbox being sold for just £10 (bargain), I decided to give it a go.  Luckily I already had a Kinect, but if you don’t, you’ll need one.

It’s simple enough to set up and by using the Kinect sensor you get a pretty realistic avatar straight off, so no faffing around trying to find the right pair of eyes, hair or nose. Although its a little creepy. At first, I got the niggling feeling that ‘the Matrix starts here…’, but don’t let my over active imagination put you off.

Once you have your avatar in place you have to enter in a lot of data, which takes a bit of time, but that’s only the set up, so do it once and then let the Xbox work its magic. The only thing I would say about this part is that it could be a little more constructive. Having updated that I hadn’t eaten any healthy food or done any exercise the day before, I was told that I was making good lifestyle choices. As it only took the day before into consideration, I would have to disagree.

Once I was set up I picked my personal trainer. There are two options, cardio and tone or flexibility (yoga, pilates, etc). I went for cardio and tone and picked the hardest setting, which I came to regret once I’d started…

Before I did start however, I had to put in my work out routine for my programme, with a minimum of three days a week – so no slacking there. There are also options on where you want to work e.g. Legs, abs, etc and for how long.

Now there are a couple of pieces of apparatus you need to use when you start, the first is the heart rate monitor (impressive, I know) and the second is a resistance band. The former is easy to set up and pretty high tech, the latter is not… I would suggest going back to the menu screen and opting to use dumbells if you have them.

The exercises were all very simple and explained well. While the majority are done in a one on one format with your personal trainer, there are also foot and bike races against computer adversaries. The bike races are quite fun as they combine running on the spot to go up hill, with squats to gain speed going down hill. You can also perform tricks by jumping at the right moment when hitting a ramp. All of which is a nice distraction from the effort you are putting in.

I really threw myself into it, so after a 45 minute workout I was worn out completely and have to admit still ached 2 days later, having worked little used muscles, especially in my calves.

On first impressions I rate this game, if you think you can stick to scheduled work outs, get involved as I’m sure you’ll see results. Its also great for supplementing the gym as you can log activity done outside of the game so it really does cover all bases.

Now all I have to do is see how the game progresses and how well it tracks progress.

The not quite naked foot

15 Aug

So the running continues, this time for a 10k run with a difference – I went barefoot. well almost, I tried out my friend’s barefoot running shoes (pictured above).

After a few minutes of fumbling around putting these ‘foot gloves’ on and realising that I had no ideas where my toes were, I was ready to start pounding the pavements.

Ideally you should walk around in barefoot running shoes for a few days to wear them in, but I only had limited access to them, so I went straight into running and no real harm came to me. That being said, I would not suggest anyone do this – make sure you learn how to run barefoot first.

We live in shoes most of the day, they provide us with support, which allows us to develop bad habits. Losing the support of a good shoe can expose these bad habits and cause injury…

…Anyway, back to the run. Having done the 10k,  I can definitely see the appeal of these shoes. For me they helped in understanding my gait and in feeling out how my feet were contacting the ground.

The sensation of feeling the different running paths under my feet was also a revelation and helped me see just how bad my heel striking was. In the long run (no pun intended) I think running with these shoes will help reduce my heel striking – so I may just go out and get my own! Also I can imagine they would be great to take back home for beach running!

I’ll definitely be getting my mits on a pair of minimalist shoes and learning how to use them properly.

There’s a great article on the Runners World website by author of Running for Mortals and Marathon Running for Mortals, Coach Jenny Hadfield, which gives advice on learning how to run with minimalist shoes.

Live long and prosper,

Ni The Supplementer

New trainers… what to look for

30 Jul

 

With so much running going on, I realised it was about time I got a new some new trainers. So off to Runners Needs I went to have a gait analysis done, wallet in hand.

The analysis was very quick, just a few minutes on a treadmill and they had taken a selection of images of my feet and were able to tell me about my running style and advise on which trainers to get.

So what do you need to look out for when buying running shoes?

Over Pronation – Flat foot

This is where the foot rolls too far in, leaving a full footprint without any sign of the arch. In this running style the foot lands on the heel and then follows through more squarely, overworking the big and second toe. The knee and ankle are also put under pressure as they try to keep balance.

To counteract this ask for a trainer that has extra support for the inner arch of the foot. This will reduce the amount of pressure your knees and ankles come under when stabilising the body and stop you overworking your big and second toes.

Under Pronation – High arch

This is, as you may have guessed is the opposite of flat foot. This type of foot placement looks fine to the casual observer, but the key difference is that the arch is too large. With under pronation the foot doesn’t roll in enough, relying too heavily on the smaller toes for stability and relying on the lower leg to deal with shock. Under pronators are susceptible to shock injuries such as stress fractures.

To protect against this you will need extra cushioning to help absorb shock.

Normal gait (Natural pronation)

This is the ideal, the foot lands on the outside of the heel and comes down along the outside of the foot turning inward to incorporate the middle and ball of the foot. The motion finishes with the foot pushing off the ground from the big toe.

For this type of step you’ll need a trainer that supports your natural pronation, often called a stability shoe. This shoe will provide support without working against your step.

So what did I get?..

Thankfully I have a nice normal gait and have since bought a nice new pair of Nike Pegasus 27 trainers in grey and luminous green (I’m not getting run over any time soon!).

RANT ALERT…

I also managed to get them in the sale as they were and I quote “last seasons colours”… I’m sorry, but these are trainers! I am literrally going to run them into the ground… Though I shouldn’t complain, other peoples’ vanity has lead to me getting 20% off my trainers.

RANT OVER

Now I’m off for a run!

Ni The Supplementer