april 2010

CONTENT

PT News & Research | Group Exercise, Mind Body News | Nutrition News | Club Corner | Announcements | Book Review

PT news & research

Bone turnover during weight loss not stemmed by exercise
Contrary to previous speculation, a negative side effect of weight loss – increased bone turnover – may not be able to be prevented by weight-bearing exercise.

Weight loss causes the bones in the body to break down and for new bone to form at a faster than usual rate. This ‘remodelling’ causes a reduction in bone density and therefore increased fragility. Researchers have previously found that weight-bearing exercise encourages bone strengthening, a finding which led to the theory that this type of exercise could prevent bone turnover during weight loss. However, researchers from the University of Missouri discovered that weight-bearing exercise did not prevent this increase in bone turnover.

Study author and associate professor from the University of Missouri, Pam Hinton, said, ‘Accelerated bone turnover is not favourable, but the potential negative consequences of increased bone turnover do not outweigh the numerous other health benefits of weight loss. Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D may minimise the reduction in bone density during weight loss.’

Hinton and her research team from the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences studied bone turnover markers in the blood of premenopausal, overweight women. These markers are released by the cells involved in the remodelling, so give a good indication of activity.

Over a six-week period, women who were placed on a diet which resulted in a five per cent loss in body weight and who also took part in weight-bearing exercise (fast walking or running) displayed an increase in bone turnover markers. The same increase in bone turnover was also observed in two other groups of women who had lost five per cent of their body weight, the first through diet only and the second through a combination of diet and non-weight-bearing exercise. The fact that the bone turnover rate remained the same in all of the groups suggests that weight-bearing exercise does not prevent the increase in bone turnover caused by weight loss.

Hinton said, ‘These findings should not affect the prescription for aerobic exercise during weight loss. The rationale for recommending aerobic exercise during weight reduction is to increase energy expenditure and maintain lean body mass.’

Source: ScienceDaily

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Less than third of Americans get enough exercise
A recent survey of health habits released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that 40 per cent of Americans get no exercise at all. This may come as little surprise to fitness professionals, but it is nevertheless a cause for concern, particularly considering how closely the Australian statistics for obesity and overweight have been mirroring those of the US in recent years.

The CDC's National Health Interview Survey showed that thirty-one per cent of Americans do get adequate amounts of exercise – with ‘adequate’ being defined as moderate exercise for 30 minutes, five times a week. This means that 29 per cent get active, but not frequently enough.

The data for the poll was gathered between 2005 and 2007 from 79,000 Americans aged over 18. The results appear to back up what other studies have found, i.e., that the number of overweight Americans is increasing rapidly. The CDC's last survey, released in 1997, found that 35 per cent of adults were overweight. The new survey finds that 68 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women weigh too much.

The rates of physical activity have remained fairly similar to those reported in 1997, i.e., too low. This is despite a plethora of research revealing the numerous health benefits of exercise and the increase in exercise advocacy by health agencies across the US.

Source: IHRSA

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More than half an hour exercise needed for fat loss
Recent research from the US has echoed previous doubts about the efficacy of the often recommended amount of daily physical activity for managing weight issues.

A study by a team at The Harvard Medical School has supported the notion that exercise does improve health and can help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, but that it can only encourage fat loss if done in substantial amounts.

Commenting on the study findings, Professor David Dunstan from Australia’s Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute said that the benchmark for exercise should probably be raised from its current level; ‘People should undertake a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day. Now the intention there is to reduce the risk of various diseases like heart disease and reduce the risk of early death. But we really haven't been able to pinpoint or optimise the amount of exercise required for prevention of weight gain, we haven't really had the research. But what this study appears to indicate is that more than 30 minutes is required, more up towards the 60 minutes of exercise per day.’ Dunstan said.

The study looked at the effects of exercise on weight management in older women, and Dunstan noted, ‘we still don't know whether the same would apply to men. But I think we really have to think about it in terms of overall energy expenditure because for prevention of weight gain we need to make sure that our energy that we're burning is equal to or more than the amount of energy that we're taking into our bodies through food. So in a society where we consume more than what we expend, we possibly need to look at more than that 30 minutes and more up towards that 60 minutes if we want to prevent weight gain’.

He also noted that the findings did not suggest that older women should switch their focus from the amount of exercise they do their dietary habits. A combination of both diet and exercise is the surest way to effectively manage weight.

Dunstan said that the guidelines suggested by many countries may be due to be updated to reflect the findings of more recent research; ‘The US federal guidelines do mention that to achieve weight maintenance more than the 30 minutes a day may be necessary and getting up to the 300 minutes of exercise per week. So it does exist in other international guidelines and I think we will soon see that it will be incorporated into Australian guidelines.’

So is it worth your clients having that pre-dinner stroll? Well, it’s better than not having one, but if they really want to achieve fat-loss then they need to up the ante.

Source: ABC Online

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Group Exercise, Mind Body News

TRAX Music launches PPCA-free Group Ex music
For more than 20 years, TRAX Music has been on the lookout for the best interests of group exercise instructors.

With the final ruling due to be announced on 17 May regarding the PPCA's request for increased fees for playing original artist music in group exercise classes, TRAX Music is covering all eventualities by now offering a wide range of exclusive, high quality, PPCA-free cover music.

TRAX Music can assure you that this music is the highest quality available in the marketplace and is suitable for most class styles. A full catalogue of PPCA-free music catering to various class styles is now available for browsing at www.traxmusic.com.au – and, of course, this is in addition to all our regular original artist music releases.

Check out over 30 PPCA-free CDs at www.traxmusic.com.au or call 02 8424 7200

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Take inspiration from Network’s Online Choreography
Australian Fitness Network now provides all Group Ex members with unlimited access to brand new Online Choreography!

Every quarter we will be releasing at least 6 different clips, encompassing the areas of HiLo, Step, Boxing, Cycling, Bodysculpting, Mind Body and Aqua. Group Ex and Mind Body instructors simply need to log onto the Network website at www.fitnessnetwork.com.au and select ‘Online Choreography’ from the ‘Community’ tab.

The choreography clips include content from leading freestyle names including Rebecca Small and Effe Diamond. Every video includes full teaching and layering instructions too – not just choreo – so you will be able to take it and use it wholesale in your classes, borrow bits here and there, or just use it for inspiration.

Take advantage of this fantastic resource at www.fitnessnetwork.com.au

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Nutrition News

Olive oil may be key to heart health
The Mediterranean diet has long been touted as having numerous health benefits, which have been attributed to its high levels of fresh fish, fruit, legumes and olive oil. According to a new study, however, it may be the olive oil, more than the other ingredients, which is the key to its respected dietary credentials.

Researchers from the University of Cordoba in Spain have suggested that the heart benefits of the diet may be due to phenol compounds in virgin olive oil which repress genes that promote inflammation.

A team led by Francisco Perez-Jimenez of the University of Cordoba researched how diets rich in phenol compounds such as olive oil affected the gene function in 20 study subjects with metabolic syndrome, a combination of medical disorders which put people at risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Commenting on the study, Perez-Jimenez said, ‘These findings strengthen the relationship between inflammation, obesity and diet and provide evidence at the most basic level of healthy effects derived from virgin olive oil consumption in humans’.

Source: BMC Genomics

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Call for junk food prices to match fresh food price hikes
The cost of fresh food was shocking given the amount of agriculture produced in Australia according to a visiting Canadian health expert who said unpopular measures should be considered as part of the battle against obesity.

Commenting on a Queensland study published recently in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health which showed that the prices of fruit and vegetables increased at a much faster rate than those of junk foods, Professor Kim Raine, a professor of health promotion studies at the University of Alberta, said the results were consistent with worldwide trends.

Addressing the Behavioural Research in Cancer Control Conference, hosted by the Cancer Council Western Australia in Fremantle between 14 and 16 April, Raine said it was no wonder that healthy, fresh food choices were less appealing than cheaper, processed food, high in salt, fat and sugar; ‘This study adds weight to my calls for increased taxes on food with low nutritional value along with restrictions on the marketing of junk food to kids. It may not be easy to make these changes but they are necessary’ she said.

Raine expressed her belief that rapid increases in obesity worldwide were ‘socially transmitted’ because of unhealthy, ‘toxic’ social environments that encouraged poor choices. She said rather than blame people for eating too much or not exercising enough, we needed to create environments that made it easier for individuals to make healthier choices; ‘It’s become much easier for us to overeat and become inactive. Slickly marketed food products are available 24/7 and we’ve almost engineered physical activity out of our daily lives’.

The three-day Behavioural Research in Cancer Control Conference brings together international cancer experts and leading Australian researchers and health professionals to examine the issues of social marketing, childhood obesity, cancer screening, skin cancer, quality of life, nutrition and physical activity.

Source: Cancer Council WA

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Seaweed may assist fat loss
A recent study by a team for UK scientists has found that seaweed can reduce fat uptake by up to 75 per cent.

The researchers, led by Dr Iain Brownlee and Professor Jeff Pearson, are now experimenting to see whether the dietary fibre found in a seaweed which is used commercially on a wide scale could potentially be added to edible products such as bread in order to create foods that help people lose weight as they eat them.

It was discovered that alginate, a natural fibre in sea kelp, prevents the body from absorbing fat more efficiently than many existing anti-obesity treatments. The team tested over 60 different natural fibres, with the use of an artificial gut, and measured the level of fat that was absorbed and digested with each one.

Presenting the findings to the American Chemical Society, Brownlee said, ‘The aim of this study was to put these products to the test and our initial findings are that alginates significantly reduce fat digestion. This suggests that if we can add the natural fibre to products commonly eaten daily, such as bread, biscuits and yoghurts, up to three quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body. We have already added the alginate to bread and initial taste tests have been extremely encouraging. Now the next step is to carry out clinical trials to find out how effective they are when eaten as part of a normal diet’.

He continued; ‘There are countless claims about miracle cures for weight loss but only a few cases offer any sound scientific evidence to back up these claims. Obesity is an ever-growing problem and many people find it difficult to stick to diet and exercise plans in order to lose weight. Alginates not only have great potential for weight management – adding them to food also has the added advantage of boosting overall fibre content.’

Source: ScienceDaily

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Club Corner

Service Skills Australia releases sport and fitness ‘scan’
Service Skills Australia, the Industry Skills Council for the Australian service industries (including fitness), has released its 2010 ‘Environmental Scan’ for the sport, fitness, outdoor and community recreation industries.

Giving an overview of service skills and training in these various areas, in relation to fitness it reports the following;

Current impact of training packages
Enrolments in sport, fitness, and community and outdoor recreation qualifications in 2008 were mostly at Certificate II and Certificate III levels. The exceptions are enrolments in sport qualifications, which were 20% each in Certificate III in Sport (Career Oriented Participation), Certificate III in Sport (Athlete Support Services) and Diploma of Sport (Development).


The high number of enrolments at Certificate II and III levels reflects the fact that Certificates II and III are the entry level qualifications for the majority of the workforce. They also reflect participation in VETiS activity. Enrolments in community recreation qualifications and sport (coaching) had compound annual growth rates (CAGR) of 18% and 46% respectively between 2005 and 2008, whereas enrolments in fitness, outdoor recreation and sport and recreation qualifications saw a decline (-1%, -5% and -6% CAGR respectively). The slight decline in fitness enrolment may be in response to an increasingly competitive job market. With outdoor recreation, feedback to SSA indicates that higher costs required to resource this training may lead to training provider reluctance to offer it53.


In addition to nationally recognised training, several sport and fitness institutions have accreditation schemes. As of end of June 2008 there were 127,624 NCAS accredited coaches and 77,564 NOAS accredited officials. This was across 76 sports in coaching and 37 sports in officiating54.It is also possible to undertake sport, fitness, community and outdoor recreation studies at university. However links between the tertiary and VET system, and possible realistic career pathways, are not yet fully developed.


Information publicly available on VET effort is limited to public-funded training and accredited training delivered to international students as part of immigration requirements.SSA is aware that the existing data only provides part of the picture and is looking forward to the implementation of the National VET Data Strategy.

Fitness
As may be seen in Figure 1 below, most fitness qualification enrolments for the last four years were at Certificate III level (69% in 2008), with enrolments at this level constantly growing. This may be driven by insurance requirements, as Certificate III is a prerequisite for qualified registered fitness instructors and Certificate IV for qualified registered fitness trainers. 86.3% of fitness graduates were satisfied with the overall quality of training, this being a slight increase from the 86.2% figure in 2007”

To read or download the Sport, Fitness, Outdoor & Community Recreation 2010 Environmental Scan 2010 go to; www.serviceskills.com.au/index.php?id=847&option=com_content&task=view

Source: Service Skills Australia

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Anytime Fitness Opens 1,300th Club
Anytime Fitness, the world’s leading 24-hour fitness franchise, recently opened its 1,300th gym. The record-setting achievement occurred as Anytime Fitness prepares to open additional clubs in India, Mexico, the UK, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Anytime’s presence in Australia also continues to grow, with clubs open or planned in NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC and WA.

Joe Moore, President and CEO of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) said, ‘The tremendous growth of Anytime Fitness demonstrates that the public will respond if you make it easy for them’.

According to Eric Stites, president and CEO of Franchise Business Review, franchisee satisfaction is a primary indicator of long-term system growth and success; ‘Anytime Fitness has outstanding ratings by their franchisees, and the fact that their franchisee satisfaction has increased during these challenging economic times is evidence of their strong franchise system and recession-resistant business model’ he said.

For the fifth year in a row, Anytime Fitness was recently honoured by Franchise Business Review with a top Franchisee Satisfaction Award. In addition, Anytime Fitness has also been named a top franchise for minorities and military veterans; ‘Our most successful club owners have a genuine concern about the health and well-being of the people in their community,’ said Anytime Fitness CEO and co-founder, Chuck Runyon; ‘We want our franchisees to enjoy what they do, but we don’t want them to spend countless hours on the job. The Anytime Fitness business model is designed to provide our club owners with personal and financial rewards’.

In addition to opening its 1,300th club, Anytime Fitness also recently signed up its 900,000th member. Australian fitness club owners – and those of other nations – should take heed from Runyon’s words; ‘We like to think that we’re the most convenient fitness option in the United States. Someday soon, we’d like to be the most convenient – and well-known – fitness option on the planet’.

Source: Anytime Fitness & Australian Fitness Network

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Fit n Fast joins Australian club market
During its bid for world domination (see feature above) however, Anytime Fitness may find itself with a little more competition on its hands in the form of a new local fitness enterprise.

Fit n Fast Australia, a new chain of health clubs launches into the Australian market with its new approach to fitness. Tony de Leede, former CEO and industry veteran, together with a small consortium of partners have founded what they are calling ‘the new concept in fitness, The Quickie or the 30-minute workout’, which is claimed to be a ‘cheaper, better, faster’ approach to fitness.

Cheaper prices and a faster workout are the focus for the group, with high-end, all new equipment also being a feature of each location. The first club is scheduled to open in Penrith in NSW, and the group plan to open at least 50 clubs in the next five years – and many more after that.

Keep an eye on how this latest addition to the Aussie fitness marketplace progresses at www.fitnfast.com.au.

Source: Fit n Fast

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US fitness industry records solid performance
The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) announced recently that US fitness club performance remained consistent in 2009, despite slow economic conditions and rising unemployment. Total industry revenues increased by two per cent to $19.5 billion in 2009. In the US there were 29,750 health clubs and 45.3 million members in 2009.

Increases in health club usage and non-dues spending helped increase overall industry revenues above 2008. In addition, health club attendance increased to an all-time high average of 102 days in 2009, also a slight increase from 2008.

IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Global Products, Jay Ablondi, said, ‘Increased usage is typically associated with increased spending in non-dues related items, such as personal training, lessons, juice bars, and other services. In spite of the tough economy, consumers visited their health clubs more often, not only to improve their health, but to relieve stress. The 2009 numbers demonstrate, once again, the important role the health club industry plays in society’.

Results from IHRSA’s annual health club membership survey indicate that health club memberships in the US reached 45.3 million in 2009, a 0.4 per cent decrease from the 45.5 million American consumers who belonged to a club in 2008. With a survey margin of error of four per cent, this decrease in membership is statistically insignificant, indicating that membership held steady from 2008 to 2009. Consistent with findings from previous years, membership has remained statistically the same since 2004.

Of the 45.3 million health club members, roughly 23 per cent, or 10.4 million members were new. In addition, 7.2 million consumers also used a health club as non-members in 2009. IHRSA’s research manager, Melissa Rodriguez, said, ‘Consistently attracting new consumers and serving non-members expands the industry’s reach, which contributes to the growing market size and capacity of the industry. Altogether, American members frequented health clubs for a total of 4.6 billion visits’.

According to estimates by InfoUSA and IHRSA, a total of 29,750 health club facilities served American consumers; slightly down from the 30,022 total in 2008. InfoUSA provides data related to the total number of club units using the Industry’s SIC code of 7991. The recession has resulted in consolidation of club locations and the closure of weaker performing clubs, while still allowing for new club locations to emerge in underserved markets. Last year also saw the rise of niche and theme-oriented facilities.

Source: IHRSA

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Announcements

FREE Fitness Expo trade tickets for Network members
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience all that the fitness industry has to offer at the 2010 Australian Fitness & Health Expo, 30 April to 2 May at Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre between 10am and 5pm daily. The Expo runs alongside FILEX, which makes it incredibly easy to visit if you are already attending Network’s annual fitness industry convention. But if you are unable to attend convention, it’s still well worth your while heading down to the harbour to explore the Expo.

The Expo offers a convenient ‘one-stop-shop’ to discover the latest products and fitness trends to build your business and stay ahead of your competitors. With approximately 300 international and local exhibitors, the Expo provides unprecedented access to the latest in fitness and training equipment, nutrition and supplements, apparel, music, training aids, business solutions and much more.

The main stage will include an impressive lineup of fitness program performances, challenges, parades and celebrity interviews. Don’t miss the Technogym Group Cycle Challenge which will feature a Sydney Swans Player vs. a Fitness First Spin Class Instructor and a member of the general public.

Explore your passion at the fitness industry’s number one expo event, the Australian Fitness & Health Expo. Register online now for your FREE trade ticket at www.fitnessexpo.com.au/trade and enter priority code FILEX.

Source: Diversified Exhibitions Australia

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Fitness research arm established to fight obesity
With more Australian’s at risk from obesity related illness, The Australian Institute of Fitness has established its research arm. With funding over three years from the Institute to the University of the Sunshine Coast, the research arm’s purpose is to improve the health of Australians through an improved body of fitness knowledge for dissemination, training and implementation by the fitness industry.

To further develop fitness industry protocols that are safe and effective for the broader community this research will scientifically investigate the following themes:

  • Measuring the long term benefits of popular fitness activities
  • Determining changes in physical characteristics from strength training in children, overweight individuals and older adults
  • Determining reliable and safe training and exercise prescription protocols
  • Providing some long term data on fitness participation and community benefits
  • Providing more definitive protocols for correct exercise techniques and movement patterns
  • Providing more definitive information on sedentary death syndrome (SeDS) and the role of fitness activities in its reduction.

Australian Institute of Fitness Research has appointed Dr Mark McKean and Professor Brendan Burkett from USC as Chief Investigators.

Greg Hurst, CEO of the Australian Institute of Fitness said, ‘This is another first for the Australian Institute of Fitness and we are delighted to be investing in the future of the fitness industry. There is a lot of information out there but too much of it is contradictory. There are many practices and protocols in place but sometimes they are just historical and need to be challenged for efficacy. In partnering with the University of the Sunshine Coast and experts like Mark McKean and Brendan Burkett, we can turn information into intelligence. This three year project will involve new research as well as the analysis of existing research.’

Mark McKean, Chief Investigator, said, ‘Having been involved in the fitness industry at all levels for many years, I saw first-hand the need for a more scientific approach to industry practices. The partnership formed between the Australian Institute of Fitness and the University of the Sunshine Coast to establish the Australian Institute of Fitness Research will allow the development of a research program that is unique to the fitness industry and one that will support the industry in improving the health and wellbeing of all Australians.’

Source: ACTIVE 8 PR

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TRX Suspension Training Pro Pack hits Australia
Some good news for TRX fans – and judging by the popularity of the TRX sessions at the FILEX Fitness Industry Convention there are a lot of you. HF Industries has recently received its first shipment of the new TRX Suspension Training Pro Pack, released by Fitness Anywhere in the USA late last year.

The new model TRX Suspension Trainer includes a host of patented design enhancements to the Fitness Anywhere’s flagship TRX product – the tool that created this innovative method of functional training. The TRX Suspension Trainer is a highly portable performance training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight to enable hundreds of exercises. The TRX Pro Pack includes a broad new array of exercise content to ensure that users at all fitness levels get the most out of their Suspension Training workouts, and new design improvements make the TRX even more durable and easy to use.

‘We want the TRX community to know that we’re always listening to their feedback and are committed to being best-in-class in quality, value and effectiveness’ said Randy Hetrick, founder and president of Fitness Anywhere; ‘We’ve come a long way since the first TRX prototypes I created out of scrap parachute webbing during my time in the Navy SEAL Teams. What we’ve been hearing recently is that our customers want even more education
on how to get the most out of this incredibly versatile but not always intuitive world class training system’.

The TRX Pro Pack now has more than 65 minutes of the company’s cutting-edge exercise programming. Hetrick said, ‘Because our unique method of bodyweight exercise requires people to learn a variety of fundamentally new training techniques, we created the TRX Basic Training DVD and TRX Quickstart & Workout Guide.’ The new DVD is led by Fitness Anywhere’s Head Coach, Fraser Quelch, and provides an introductory clinic of Suspension Training techniques and instruction as well as a 40-minute real-time workout consisting of 36 TRX exercises progressions.

In Fitness Anywhere’s ongoing quest to become one of the greenest operations in the fitness industry, the already small carbon footprint of the company’s products is being reduced even more. All PVC plastic has been eliminated from the packaging. The newly rebranded carton is now completely recyclable and made from 100% post-consumer content.

For more information contact HF Industries on Freecall 1800 633 009, email cbawden@hfindustries.com.au or visit www.trxtraining.com.au

Source: H F Industries

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Australian runner beats own Ultra Marathon goal
Do your clients need a motivational boost when they’re flagging on the treadmill? Try this for inspiration.

Stuart Gibson, 33, has become the first Australian to finish in the top 12 of the famously gruelling Marathon des Sables running across the Sahara Desert. Gibson finished the 250km race in 11th place overall in a time of 25 hours 31 minutes and 45 seconds. He lost 18 per cent of his body weight, dropping from 73kg to 59kg.

Gibson’s initial quest was to finish in the top 50, but he far exceeded this goal and has become the highest placed Australian in the event’s 25 year history. Gibson was provided with sponsorship and running gear by his employer, air conditioning contractor AE Smith.

In preparation for the Marathon des Sables, Gibson trained by running between 150km and 180km a week. The challenging endurance race is held each year in the heart of the Sahara Desert, where daytime highs can reach a searing 50 degrees celsius and night-time lows can plunge to 3 degrees. This year’s field was the largest ever, with 1,031 runners from 43 different countries competing. Competitors ran 250km in just six days. This equates to running a marathon each day in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

Runners have to be completely self sufficient by carrying all of the food and equipment they need to run 250km in six days, with the exception of a limited 9-litre per day ration of race-supplied water.

Gibson also raised money for AE Smith’s nominated charity Ronald McDonald House in his run. Originally from Scotland, Gibson is now an Australian citizen and resides in South Melbourne.

For more information on what is considered to be the ‘toughest foot race on Earth’ go to www.darbaroud.com

Source: Crocmedia

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Book review

Title: Tapering and Peaking for Optimal Performance
Author: Inigo Mujika
Reviewed by: Peter Lawler
Publisher: Human Kinetics (Australia) 2009
Details: Paperback, 210 pages
RRP: $39.95 www.fitnessnetworkcentre.com/products/showproduct.cfm?isbn=0736074848

This is a very important publication for coaches of all sports. Sport has been well served by the numerous publications from Tudor Bompa on periodisation – both theory and practice. His works are well known and relatively aged. The reprint of Zatsiorsky’s classic text Science and Practice of Strength Training in 2006 was ultra disappointing as minimal fresh material was included. This text by a new author is warmly welcomed – his biography is formidable.

Inigo Mujika PhD is a sports physiologist living in the Basque Country, Spain. He has researched, written and presented on tapering and peaking since 1992. Between 2003 and 2004 he was the senior physiologist at the AIS and much material from this hiatus is included in this fabulous book. He has coached several triathletes for the Olympics. For his work as sports scientist and coach he has been bestowed with numerous awards including the National Award for Sports Medicine Research from the University of Oviedo in Spain. He has also found time to master four languages – one impressive boy! And what’s more, the text is endorsed by Miguel Indurain. Who’s he? Five time winner of the Tour de France 1991 to 1995, that’s who. The impression deepens.

Firstly, it must be said this is a challenging text. It is scholarly and ambitious:
‘This book compiles for the first time the available body of scientific data on tapering; its physiological and psychological effects; how these effects relate to athletic performance; and the experience-based practical knowledge of some of the world’s most successful athletes and coaches.’ (Preface, page ix).

The author is aware the complexity of data and diagrams will deter readers, so to appease and comfort, Mujika has ingested each chapter with clear English summaries identified as AT A GLANCE and CHAPTER SUMMARIES. This is a successful blend between science and sports practitioners without condescension towards the latter.

The text has a simple three-part structure. Part I is the ‘Scientific Bases of Tapering’ espoused within four chapters. Part II is also four chapters ‘Tapering and Athletic Performance’. Finally, Part III – you guessed it – four chapters. The author has called upon coaches representing a multitude of sports to present actual tapering programs as they pertain to the specific demands of their sports. Part III is entitled ‘Elite Sports Figures on Tapering and Peaking.’ For the specific audience of track and field there are chapters on the marathon, the triathlon and two on sprinting by a British coach Mike McFarlane which is pretty thin plus a more robust presentation by Gary Winckler called: ‘Producing Extraordinary Sprint Runners.’ For coaches beyond the realm of track and field, there are insertions on swimming, cycling, gymnastics, archery, golf, field hockey, rugby and water polo. What impresses is the calibre of the coach/ authors:

  • Simon Fairweather – Archery, Olympic champion 2000
  • Jose Maria Olazabal – Golf, Spanish legend
  • Rick Charlesworth – Field Hockey, Hockey wonder coach (and insomniac)
  • Greg McFadden and Dragan Matutinovic – Water Polo
  • Vladimir Vatkin – Gymnastics.

Part III has, in fact, assembled a wonderful opportunity for coaches to peruse a cross–sport pollination of how tapering is undertaken in endurance and speed/power sports, individual and team as well as precision sports such as Golf and Archery. Sports rarely compare themselves, they remain incestuous and that is a pity (I found these inserts compelling reading).

A return to Part I is warranted. This is where the hard yakka resides. As mentioned above this text is scholarly. There are more charts here than you would find at an economists’ convention in say, Copenhagen. There are several approaches to tapering. It has been long established that there must be a progressive reduction in work. One new theory is to increase the work in the days immediate to competition for a renewed stimulus. From Chapter 4 the reader may glean the impact tapering has on psychological and motivational factors. Pain, frustration, anger and fatigue incurred during high intensity training usually dissipate during the more relaxed environment of the taper. Is tapering all in the mind?

Part II is the specific functional chapters. What makes coaching so difficult? Coaches want reassurance they are coach-savvy. Coaches want specifics like: how long should a taper be?
The following extract does not solve the mystery:
‘The optimal duration of the taper is unknown. Positive physiological and performance adaptations can be expected as a result of tapers that last from 4 to 28 days, yet the negative effects of complete inactivity are readily apparent in athletes………when we are uncertain 2 weeks seems to be the suit all taper duration.’(Page 86)

Once again, an earlier description of this text was: ‘ambitious’. Chapter 8 has a bash at tapering for team sports, a domain rarely touched by research. The author describes the existing battery of research as ‘scant’. Why is this so? A facile glance at European football will suffice – more than 60 matches in a season which stretches from August to May or June – there is minimal opportunity for either research or tapering.
We have come full circle, back to Part III. End of theory, now to the practical. The first sport visited is Rick Charlesworth’s Field Hockey. The occasion – Sydney 2000. Five weeks before the Games training sessions were reduced from 15 to 6 per week. The hockey team moved into the village for familiarisation then a dramatic exodus to the Blue Mountains where no Hockey was played – instead, novelty events… thence back to the village.

For compassionate reasons the next visitation is to Archery – who cares? The Crawford Report wants to eliminate the unsavoury sports. Simon Fairweather’s insert describes a typical day as seven hours of training to release over 300 arrows each day! Plus 3 to 4 weight sessions a week. Simon competed for Australia for 18 years. In that time, he won two major championships – a lousy two, what kept him going? Who would imagine archers spending seven hours a day firing arrows at the cavalry? This is a substantial case for new respect – well done Simon.

Coaches may derive substantial information regarding tapering from this text. It is an important acquisition for the library of coaching knowledge.

RECOMMENDED WITHOUT RESERVATION.

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