august 2009


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


PT news & research

Intense exercise may reduce cancer risk
A Finnish study has found that a regular dose of relatively intense exercise may halve the risk of developing cancer.

Researchers studied the lifestyles of 2,560 men between the ages of 42 and 61 over the course of a year. During an average follow-up time of 16 years, 181 study subjects died from cancer, although none had a history of the disease at the study’s outset.

The data showed that the men who partook in moderate to high intensity exercise for a minimum of half an hour per day had a 50 per cent lower likelihood of developing cancer than the other study subjects.

An increase of 1.2 metabolic units (oxygen consumption) was found to be related to a decreased risk of cancer death, particularly in lung and gastrointestinal cancers, after factors including age, alcohol consumption, smoking, BMI, and fibre/fat intake had been taken into consideration.

The study authors said, ‘The intensity of leisure-time physical activity should be at least moderate so that beneficial effect of physical activity for reducing overall cancer mortality can be achieved’.

Source: British Journal of Sports Medicine

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Excessive sitting compromises health
A recent Australian study has found that too much sitting down has health repercussions.

After conducting a study, University of Queensland researchers came to the conclusion that excessive inactivity has a negative effect on levels of both blood pressure and blood sugar, which in turn can lead to heart attacks, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

The team of researchers, led by Professor Neville Owen from the university’s Cancer Prevention Research Centre, studied the amount of time that people spend watching television, and pitted it against data pertaining to their blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

The amount of television that people watched was found to be related to blood cholesterol and blood glucose, even after taking into consideration the effect of their physical activity levels and the effect they may have experienced from being overweight or obese. This means that even active people who also spend long periods of time in a sedentary position could suffer health problems as a consequence.

Speaking to the ABC, Owen said ‘Large muscles in the legs and the backside, which are designed to be standing, maintaining posture, moving about in hunter gatherers, when those muscles are just immobilised for long periods of time, it looks like there are mechanisms in the muscle through something called lipoprotein lipase, that seems to push signals up through into the hormones and other systems that control cholesterol in the blood and you end up with what looks like a pretty unhealthy profile, specifically coming out of that flaccid, non-working muscle’.

In an age where an enormous proportion of the workforce spend the majority of their day in a seated position, these findings do not bode well. But, unless we radically and quickly change the way in which most workplaces operate, it seems that the best we can do is be practical and insert small amounts of activity into our working day wherever we can, and to this end Owen recommended have frequent breaks from the desk to take shorts walks.

Source: ABC online

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Words of wisdom: essential books for PT success
I have been travelling a lot recently with my work with the Australian Institute of Sport as things speed up in the journey towards the London 2012. It feels like I haven’t really been home since FILEX back in April!

As part of a deal I have made with myself, each time I fly I have a $50 book allowance – and with the air miles I’m clocking up I’m building a pretty big library! This week I picked up John Buchanan’s book If Better Is Possible and Michael Phelps’ No Limits. Some fascinating gems in both.

A few years ago I sat down with well known presenter and mentor Andrew May and we came up with our top books that every trainer should read outside of their technical development. We had three headings and we could pick nine books in total. The headings were Personal Development; Business Development; and Financial Development. I have read all of the books on our list twice, but must admit that the book that really impacted on me both professionally and personally was Jim Collins’ Good to Great. This to me is a must-read for every personal trainer (alternatively you could get the audio CD read by the author which is also outstanding).

My suggestion is to find the books in the list below (possibly bulk buying them online to get them more cheaply) and aim to read one per month over the next year and see how much your business, and your personal outlook, develop. I think trainers spend close to 100 per cent of their reading and learning time on technical content, leaving little space to develop the other areas that are vital in order to grow as a person, as a trainer and as a small business operator.

Personal Development
1. First Things First by Stephen Covey
2. You Inc by John McGrath
3. Good to Great by Jim Collins

Business Development
4. The E Myth by Michael Gerber
5. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
6. Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith

Financial Development
7. The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason
8. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
9. Million Dollar Consulting by Allan Weiss

Which books have changed the way you do business and interact with clients?

Andrew Verdon, Dip. Ex Sci
Andrew owns a successful personal training studio in Sydney. He combines a business background with over a decade of hands-on experience in the fitness industry. He also held the position of strength and conditioning coordinator for the 2004 and 2008 Australian Olympic sailing teams. For more information, call 02 9908 2499 or visit

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Group Exercise, Mind Body News

Yoga key to mindful eating
New research from the US has found an association between the regular practice of yoga and mindful eating, which is in turn linked to maintenance of a healthy weight.

Following up their own previous study which had found that middle-aged yoga practitioners gained less weight over a 10-year period than their non-yogic counterparts, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that people with awareness of why they ate and who ceased eating when full, weighed less than ‘mindless eaters’ who ate when they weren’t hungry, or in response to anxiety or depression.

Dr Alan Kristal, associate head of the centre’s Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division, said, ‘In our earlier study, we found that middle-age people who practice yoga gained less weight over a 10-year period than those who did not. This was independent of physical activity and dietary patterns. We hypothesized that mindfulness – a skill learned either directly or indirectly through yoga – could affect eating behavior’.

Kristal and his team created a survey that measured factors including disinhibition (eating even when full), food awareness, eating in response to environmental cues, eating in response to emotional impulses, and focusing on other things while eating.

Kristal commented, ‘These findings fit with our hypothesis that yoga increases mindfulness in eating and leads to less weight gain over time, independent of the physical activity aspect of yoga practice’.

Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association

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Train the body to its full potential
Imagine if you or your clients and participants could achieve a superior workout each time you trained, getting an extra 10 or 20 per cent from your body without working any harder.

The Alexander Technique is a centuries old practice of body awareness that enables users to unleash the real power of their body, helping them become fitter, stronger and more graceful – and there are no complicated classes or treatments involved.

Used for generations, and embraced more recently by actors, musicians and savvy sportspeople, the technique provides a grounded understanding of movement that allows users to hone their athletic ability. The Alexander Technique allows the body to be pushed to its full potential, so you can train with increased self-awareness and style.

By achieving correct body alignment and balance you can not only work better at your own training, but develop valuable skills to pass on to clients – and you can take the technique into every training session – whether it’s a Pump, indoor cycle, boxing or aqua class – to create the optimum exercise experience.

The technique also promotes reduced wear and tear on the body and joints, which can decrease the need for massage, physio and chiropractors. The British Medical Journal (2008;337:a884), reports that lessons in the Alexander Technique can offer major reductions in pain even 12 months after the last lesson, and a randomised controlled trial published in August 2008* showed that six lessons could result in an 84 per cent reduction in incidence of back pain in 579 patients (reduced from 21 days per month to 3 days per month).

One of the Alexander Technique’s best regarded teachers Jeremy Chance, is coming to Sydney in August to present two public workshops entitled ‘An Introduction to the Alexander Technique and its Practical Applications to Back Pain and Enhanced Performance’.

For more information and to register, visit, e-mail or call 1300 305 737.

Source: Body Chance Pty Ltd

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G'Day to all Group Ex Instructors!
I trust this month finds you back into your wheels of innovation following last month’s exploration of achieving creativity on demand. This month I’d like to talk about 'good teaching'. I’m sure that, at some point, you have overheard members making statements like 'she’s a good teacher' or 'he is an awesome instructor'. When you hear such remarks, what does it mean to you?

Every fine fitness instructor across the globe differs in character, style and approach. But do you have in mind some criteria of what fundamentally constitutes 'good' teaching in group exercise? We probably share similar concepts, and what follows is my Top Ten of Good Teaching:

  1. Good teaching is about reason and passion. Is it about more than motivation? What you have to offer and how you are able to make a difference provides a reason/teaching with a purpose. A good teacher cares about his/her craft and conveys this passion to his/her students.
  2. Good teaching is about communication skills. How is this different in a group exercise setting as opposed to one-on-one (personal) training?
  3. Good teaching is about substance and keeping yourself updated and at the front of the field with your craft. It is also about bridging the gap between theory and practice, immersing yourself in your subject, as opposed to looking down from an ivory tower.
  4. Good teaching is about being flexible, reacting and adjusting to changing or unexpected circumstances. I am certain many of you reading this point will already have a plethora of experiences to share!
  5. Good teaching is about caring and empathising with your class members. It may mean devoting extra time before or after class, helping participants who are new to group exercise or coaching a certain move to a regular member.
  6. Good teaching is supported by strong leadership, exemplified by a coordinator, manager or even the owner of a fitness facility who continually reinforces the importance of development and professionalism in its team of instructors.
  7. Good teaching is about mentoring and coaching between seasoned and new instructors, perhaps through training and development programs. Does this happen in your work environment?
  8. Good teaching is about style, knowing how to work the room, involve and engage every 'body' moving in your class.
  9. Good teaching is about humour, learning to laugh at yourself and realising that as an instructor you have faults and shortcomings. Believe me, my faults could fill up an entire set of encyclopedia!
  10. Good teaching is about truly enjoying what you teach and knowing why you teach (putting aside experience, talent, knowledge and idiosyncrasies that are all virtues and ingredients of a 'good' instructor).

Whether you instruct Pilates, stretch, step, pre-choreography programs, cycling or yoga, a good teacher teaches with purpose, has something to offer, and has a profound effect on the people he/she is engaged with. Is this YOU?

Until next E-News, stay healthy and happy to ya all Groovy and Inspiring Group Ex Instructors!

Kinnie Ho

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Nutrition News

Why are my clients not losing weight?
As a fitness professional you will, on occasion, ask yourself why clients are not losing the weight you expect them to be. You’re training them regularly and, on paper, the weight loss results should be following. But they’re not. Let’s ask why this may be.

1. Are they eating too much?
It is unlikely to come as a surprise to hear that people in general tend to eat much more than they think they do. A couple of mouthfuls here and there; an extra biscuit or two throughout the day or a few lollies at night and you have the difference between fat loss and not. To gain further insight into key client food behaviours that may be preventing fat loss, encourage your clients to measure their portions and enter their own dietary intake on Facilitating their own awareness of food volumes and intake is likely to be much more effective than simply making them accountable to you via the use of food diaries and other self reporting tools.

2. Are they eating too many carbs?
Simply because they are training does not necessarily mean that they require more food, particularly for those who sit at a desk all day with minimal movement. Check volumes of rice, pasta and bread being consumed and try reducing volumes, particularly during the second half of the day. Choosing smaller slices of bread and measuring portions of rice and pasta at night may be all that is needed to significantly reduce the number of calories consumed throughout the day.

3. Are they eating too little?
A protein shake in the morning, followed by tuna and salad for lunch and steamed vegetables and grilled fish for dinner is too light a calorie load for an active individual. Ensure your clients are consuming at least 1500cal (6000kJ) each day to prevent metabolic compensation long term.

4. Are they eating enough good fat?
For clients who are choosing to follow a low or reduced carbohydrate eating plan, consuming adequate amounts of good fat is imperative to not only keep the carbohydrate ratios in the diet low, but to avoid too few total calories being consumed. Check that your clients are consuming three to four serves of good fat each day, which can include a serve of oily fish, a teaspoon of oil, 10 nuts or ¼ avocado.

5. Have they got hormonal issues that are impacting fat loss?
Clients who appear to be dietary compliant; who carry distinct abdominal fat despite regular training, and who report an inability to lose weight even after following a reduced or low carbohydrate meal plan, may have a degree of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can impede fat loss, cause sugar cravings, fatigue and bloating and is a common explanation for abnormally high body weights despite regular activity and a calorie-controlled meal plan. A GP or endocrinologist will be able to clinically assess whether a client has insulin resistance and develop the appropriate treatment program for them.

Watch out for upcoming information on Matt O’Neill and Susie Burrell’s ‘Psyched Up’ tour for weight loss for fitness professionals, coming to Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast in November/December 2009. Visit for more information.

Susie Burrell
Susie is one of Australia's leading dietitians, with training in both nutrition and psychology. She balances her clinical work in obesity at The Children’s Hospital Westmead with media work for The Sunday Telegraph’s Body & Soul supplement, Channel Nine’s TODAY show and a number of magazines. Susie’s non-work obsessions include her chocolate Burmese cat Charlie, watching tacky American television and following the NRL.

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Organic Vs ‘Conventional’ produce
A recent British review of studies into organic produce suggests that the nutrient content of organic foodstuffs is almost the same as that of non-organic produce.

Study author Alan Dangour, a public health nutritionist with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said, ‘We did not find any important differences in nutrient content between organically and conventionally produced foods’.

The popularity of organic produce grew by 22 per cent in the UK between 2005 and 2007, and by 20 per cent in the US in the same time period.

Connie Diekman, past president of the American Dietetic Association and director of university nutrition at Washington University in St Louis, welcomed the review, saying, ‘As a registered dietitian, it is good to see that a systematic review of the literature supports what has long been believed – that the nutritional content of traditionally grown foods and organic foods are comparable. This report provides confirmation for consumers that if they choose conventionally grown foods or organic foods they will be meeting their nutritional needs’.

The researchers based their review on 55 ‘satisfactory quality’ studies (disregarding another 107 unsatisfactory ones). No notable differences were found between conventional and organic crops’ content of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc or copper. Organic crops did have higher levels of phosphorus, and conventionally produced crops had higher levels of nitrogen. No differences were noted in regards to animal products.

Although this may potentially seem like bad news for organic produce – why pay a premium for foods with no significant nutrient benefits? – it doesn’t tell the whole story. Sheah Rarback, director of nutrition at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that when it comes to organic food, ‘You have to also look at what you're not getting. Maybe it's not a big difference nutritionally, but conventional products may have more pesticides. We know that young children are getting the nutrition, whatever choice they make, but we also have to look at the pesticide issue. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that children eating conventionally grown fruit had pesticide residue in their urine, which decreased after just five days on an organic diet’.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and HealthDay News

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Could beetroot juice be the new energy drink?
It looks as though the Aussie love-affair with the humble beetroot may be able to reap its rewards on the sports field, with a recent UK study showing that beetroot juice may increase stamina and endurance by up to 16 per cent.

Researchers from the University of Exeter found that nitrate in beetroot juice reduced the intake of oxygen by a higher degree than other known methods.

Eight male study participants between the ages of 19 and 38 drank half a litre of organic beetroot juice daily, for six days, after which they completed a selection of tests on an exercise bike. The results were measured against the findings of the same tests when conducted using a daily placebo in place of the beetroot juice.

After consuming beetroot juice, the participants cycled for an average 92 seconds longer (16 per cent) than they did after drinking the placebo beverage, and also displayed a lower resting blood pressure.

Study author Andy Jones, a professor in the University of Exeter's School of Sport and Health Sciences, said ‘Our study is the first to show that nitrate-rich food can increase exercise endurance. We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training. I am sure professional and amateur athletes will be interested in the results of this research. I am also keen to explore the relevance of the findings to those people who suffer from poor fitness and may be able to use dietary supplements to help them go about their daily lives’ Jones added.

Source: University of Exeter

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Club Corner

Budget clubs grow in US
Perhaps because of, rather than in spite of, the economy, budget fitness clubs in the US appear to be doing great business, with the Planet Fitness chain announcing plans for an additional 70 franchised clubs to open across the States.

Discussing the group’s expansions, John Craig of Planet Fitness said, ‘We're expanding because we believe the demand remains strong for our gyms. Another factor, is the softness in the commercial real estate market, is resulting in some of the most attractive terms we've ever seen’.

Planet Fitness clubs focus only on the bare bones basics – a gym floor with regular equipment – no swimming pools, group exercise classes, childcare facilities or frills. The new clubs will be approximately 15,000 to 20,000 square foot (1,400m2 to 1,860m2) in size, with monthly membership costing between just US$10 and $20, with no penalties for stopping membership at any time. The chain has grown from four clubs in 2003 to 280 today, and hopes to be reaching towards the four hundred mark by the end of 2010.

Source: IHRSA

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India puts Fitness First
The UK-based Fitness First health club chain is to invest AUD$31 million (125 crore rupees) to open 11 new clubs in India by 2012.

The chain aims to have a membership in India of 55,000 and become a Rs200 crore (AUD$50million) company by that time.

Fitness First India Managing Director Vikram Aditya Bhatia said, ‘We will be investing around Rs125 crore to add 11 more fitness clubs in Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore by 2012. This will entail a total space of two lakh sq ft (18,580m2)’. At the moment, Fitness First has four Indian clubs, in Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore. Fitness First members in India have an average age of 35 years, and 40 per cent of the membership base is female.

‘With less than 0.4 per cent of the Indian population visiting organised sector fitness clubs, the potential for us is immense. In our four clubs, we have a membership of around 11,000 and we are adding over 800 new members every month. With 15 clubs by 2012, we are hopeful of having a total membership of 55,000 regulars. Our target is to achieve a turnover of Rs 200 crore (AUD$50million) in another three years’ Bhatia said.

Source: IHRSA

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It pays to shop your competitors
Last week I noticed an eye-catching ad for a fitness business in the NZ Herald. What really stood out was the fact that it was in colour and using the best part of my club chain’s usual slogans and headline. The club name wasn’t mentioned in the ad, so I visited the web site which eventually led me to a club name that I shall call ‘Club X’.

I enquired through my colleagues in the Business Round Table as to whether it could be anything to do with the well known ‘Club X’ chain in Australia, which I had heard may be expanding, but it became evident that this was a different company that had just happened to nab the name.

Deciding a club visit was in order, I took a trip to the premises. The club was nicely laid out and the consultant, a nice lady, showed me through and told me that the owner was ‘Club Y’.

I said that I would only be interested in using the club on a casual basis if I was in the area, as I lived fifteen kilometres away. All true.

Before leaving, she explained to me that it would be cheaper to pay for a membership and that I would be able to use ‘ALL’ of the other clubs in the area listed on the ADFIT pass (a system provided by a direct debit processing company which enables subscribing customers to use other clubs under the system, providing they are not in the same town). This list included ten of my own clubs. This appeared to be part of her usual sales patter.

Now, this was news to me – and clearly untrue – so I promptly returned to our group and sent out a memo to train the team to be aware of what this new club was trying to do.

If I hadn’t been curious and committed to shopping this new competitor, I may not have discovered that they were including use of my clubs in their membership sales spiel. I highly recommend you shop your competitors.

Paul Richards
Club Physical, NZ

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Overcome the daily grind the ride way
While Australia is stuck in peak hour traffic, the Ride to Work Day program is encouraging Australian workers to embrace an affordable, hassle and carbon emission-free mode of transport.

Sarah Dalley, Ride to Work Day spokesperson said the free program assists those wanting to try riding to work as an alternative mode of transport which can ease the pressures of modern life; ‘You save money, your health and your peace of mind. You arrive at work energised and arrive home unwound from the day’ she said.

The initiative is proving popular, with an estimated 110,000 Australian workers participating in National Ride to Work Day last year, a 26 per cent increase in registrations on the previous year. The annual event not only gets people thinking about cycling, but encourages them to have a go; ‘It’s the only national day on the calendar where first-timers and regular bike riders can celebrate the act of riding to work together. Once people try riding to work they discover how liberating independent travel is. And it feels good to do something now to help the environment tomorrow’ Dalley said.

Riding to work is also a simple way for many Australians, regardless of age, to meet the recommended 30 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity; ‘Exercise makes you feel good, you have more energy and your overall health improves. When you get all that from riding to work it’s hard to think of reasons not to’ Dalley said.

The Ride to Work program, now in its 3rd year nationally, is run year-round with a focus on Wednesday 14 October 2009, Ride to Work Day. Thousands of people, of all ages across Australia attend community and workplace breakfasts held in capital cities and regional areas celebrating riding to work.

Participants are encouraged to register their ride on the day at no cost, which assists in understanding bike commuter behaviours and campaigning for better riding facilities to councils, local, state and federal governments.

For more information and Ride to Work Day registration details visit

Source: Bicycle Victoria

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Rehab trainer course
An innovative professional development course for personal trainers is making waves across the fitness industry and beyond. The Rehab Trainer course, developed by sports physiotherapist Ulrik Larsen, equips personal trainers to identify, understand, and work with clients’ injuries.

‘Traditionally, the only sound practical response to client injury for trainers has been to refer them to a GP or physiotherapist for treatment, thereby potentially losing valuable training time, and potentially the client altogether’ Larsen said; ‘Rehab Trainer educates and upskills the PT so that now they can become an active force in rehabilitating their injured clients through injury and back to full fitness’.

Graduates from the course can adopt the title ‘Accredited Rehab Trainer’, and many are discovering that there is a genuine need for such services in the community.
Scott Robinson, Fitness First’s Personal Trainer of the Year finalist, did the Rehab Trainer course last year; ‘Business got crazy busy’ he said, ‘I’ve put my price up multiple times since I did the course, and I am still getting phone calls. I am consistently overbooked, doing 50 hour weeks regularly’.

Robinson believes Rehab Trainer is a niche market for successful PTs that has not yet been tapped; ‘I had lots of little ideas of how to promote myself as a ‘Rehab PT’, he said, but demand has been so great I haven’t needed to use any of them.’

The four-day Rehab Trainer courses are running in most capital cities this spring. For more information call 0423 861 342 or visit

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Book review

Classic title review

Book title: Strength Training Anatomy 2nd Edition
Author: Frédéric Delavier
Reviewed by: Peter Lawler
RRP: $36.95. Network member price: $33.30 if purchased online at

This is the second edition of this stunning text and the cover says it all – over 450,000 copies sold of the first edition published in 2001. Frédéric will be pleased that his seductive, sumptuous drawings of skinless, striated humans have been alluring enough to snare a multitude of moths to the light.

For those fickle few unfamiliar with Fred’s classic, seminal work, you are in for a treat. This book will consume you with its beauty, a voyeur’s delight! Written and illustrated by Delavier, common and popular weights exercises are illustrated and described. It is a methodology book of muted colours, glossy paper and stunning drawings that beat Da Vinci and Gray’s Anatomy. Yes, it’s true – beauty is only skin deep!

The exercises chosen are conservative, and the author’s description clear. He advises on technique and pitfalls to be avoided and offers variations where applicable. He is very astute with his advice drawn from decades of experience. The targeted market is bodybuilders – and as the former editor of PowerMag in France and a journalist for Le Monde du Muscle and Men’s Health in Germany, Delavier knows this market intimately.

In truth, there is very little difference between the editions. Most of the drawings are repeated from the earlier edition, whereas others are modifications, a different camera angle so to speak. The exercises remain the same, with a slight expansion noted. What is different is the insertion of yellow pages, a feature that first appeared in Women’s Strength Training Anatomy of 2003. These pages focus on common but not popular training injuries, like pages 30 to 32 on shoulder injuries, and page 51 on pectoralis major tear. The remainder, interspersed throughout, offer: the bench press and elbow pain, biceps and triceps brachii tears, disc herniation, hamstring tears, knee instability, variations in hip mobility and finally the action of the psoas major on the lumbar curve during crunchies. All insertions are helpful and informative – and some are even damn good!

Once again, the author does not venture into programming or sports supplements, but this is a very minor criticism – nay comment – on a fabulous book.

In my review of 2002, the suggestion was made that these pages should be enlarged and laminated and hung until they die on gymnasium walls across this wide brown land. Well, Human Kinetics has done this. Seven laminated posters (51 x 69 cms) are available for hanging or lethal injection for the sum of $158.95 (also available separately for $26.95). They present over 60 exercises from this text for the seven body regions, including back, arms, legs and shoulders.


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