THE WEEKLY HOWL IS FEELING PATRIOTIC

Stay in shape: The life of a professional athlete is a demanding one.  A big part of those demands are the physical requirements of each sport and the training required to excel in those requirements. After retirement, it is common to see athletes abandon their training and let themselves go. This has always made me a little sad. I hate to see the most physically gifted of us let their bodies fall into ruin. That’s why I was excited to see this article about former NBA player Mike Bibby in GQ:

GQ: Okay, start from retirement and take me to today. How did this happen?
I’m always in the gym. From like 7 A.M. to noon, I’m working out, training others, and playing basketball. After that, I’ll go back home, where I have a training gym. I'll train kids some more, and I can work on my basketball skills at the same time. I always try and learn new things because I want to be a coach, so everything plays into that.

People aren’t used to seeing me like this. I’m not really as big as the picture made it seem. But if I were out of shape and fat, someone would say something about that. People are going to say something about you regardless of how you look, so I try to eat well and take care of my body as much as I can.

In what ways did you change your diet?
After the BIG3 Combine, I started weighing all my food. I eat small portions, and more frequently throughout the day. I’ll have a protein shake in the morning with a protein bar to start off, and work out until about noon. Then I’ll go and have some breakfast food, like egg whites, toast, and turkey bacon, just to keep some protein in me. My lunches and dinners are a lot lighter now, since my food is getting weighed. I keep the carbs low and eat very little sugar. Since the combine, I’ve probably lost 25 pounds. I’m still strong—it’s just less fat. I knocked that off, and I feel good.

What about the lifting? It appears that there is some lifting.
I’ve always had this build, and I’ve always loved lifting weights—it’s just that when I played, teams didn’t want me to lift heavy like that. Every summer when I came back for training camp, teams would always get mad because they said I looked like a linebacker. So it was just always just one set here, one set there—that was all the lifting I did.

Once I retired, I had all the time in the world. Now I can lift heavier. I drop my kids off at school, and I’m at the gym until they have to get picked up. Plus, think about it—no one is really going to want to train with me if I’m 300 pounds and can’t get through a workout. I have to make sure I’m getting right for my next coaching job.

              I love this. I realize professional sports is its own thing but sports is supposed to be about getting people active. Former athletes should be leading the charge in getting people active. Perhaps the fact that they don’t says something about the intensity needed to compete at the highest level and the burnout that follows from it. But then you read something like this and see someone with a true passion for fitness. This guy wanted to work-out more while he was a player, his coaches had to hold him back.  I love the passion!

I also love seeing a coach who wants to lead by example; it drives me crazy how many coaches in professional sports are overweight or obese. These are guys who work in sports, have convenient access to the best equipment, demand that their players subject themselves to grueling work-outs, and they can’t be bothered to stay in shape. We need more Mike Bibby’s in the coaching ranks.

Army Strong: The U.S. Army has been testing a new concept for its Physical Fitness Test (PFT). The old test is a 2 mile run, pushups, and situps. The new test will be deadlifts, standing power throw, hand-release pushups, a 250 meter sprint/drag/carry, leg tuck, and a 2 mile run. If that wasn’t a drastic enough change, the Army has announced it will also do away with age-specific scoring. From Military.com:

If you're an infantry platoon sergeant, it doesn't matter if you're 25 or 55; all will be held to the same fitness standards with the future Army Combat Fitness Test.

The new test does away with age-specific standards and sets requirements based on job demands instead, Army officials said.

The current Army Physical Fitness Test is based on a scoring scale that does not require older soldiers to perform as well as their younger counterparts.

The new ACFT, which is scheduled to replace the APFT in October 2020, will consist of a scoring scale that's based on standards soldiers need to meet to survive in combat, according to Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, who is overseeing the ACFT as commanding general of the U.S. Army Center of Initial Military Training.

"The bottom line is combat does not discriminate, bullets coming at you don't discriminate, the enemy coming at you does not discriminate ... by height, by gender, by age, and, quite frankly, by what uniform you are wearing," Frost said.

              The way that the current system works is that there are different scoring systems for pre-determined age groups. So if you’re in the 42-46 bracket, the standards are easier to meet than if you’re in the 22-25 bracket. Doing away with age-specific scoring will make it harder for older soldiers to meet those standards. This is most interesting at the two extremes: those struggling to meet minimum standards and those trying to ace it. For those on the low end, it’s hard to argue with this decision. The enemy will not care that you’re a 35 year old E-6 and cut you a break. On the high-end, this has the potential to affect people’s careers. Performance on the PFT factors into the evaluation process and strong performers at the more senior levels will have a harder time achieving high scores. You could argue that it will all balance out since most people in any pay-grade are roughly the same age but this will disadvantage anyone who joined the Army later than the average age. Plus, it will still not seem as impressive to not have a perfect score on the PFT. 

Privacy: Another day, another data privacy scandal that has compromised national security. This time, it’s Polar which may have inadvertently doxed a whole bunch of intelligence officers. From ZDNet:

Although the existence of many government installations are widely known, the identities of their employees were not.

But now, an investigation by Dutch news site De Correspondent and Bellingcat found that Polar Flow exposed their fitness tracking data. The company's developer API could be improperly queried to retrieve fitness activities, like each running and cycling session, on any user.

With two pairs of coordinates dropped over any sensitive government location or facility, it was possible to find the names of personnel who track their fitness activities dating as far back as 2014.

The reporters identified more than 6,400 users believed to be exercising at sensitive locations, including the NSA, the White House, MI6 in London, and the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, as well as personnel working on foreign military bases.

Names of officers and agents at foreign intelligence services, like GCHQ in Cheltenham, the French DGSE in Paris, and the Russian GRU in Moscow, were also found.

Staff at nuclear storage facilities, missile silos, and prisons were also spotted.

De Correspondent shared some of the data with ZDNet to examine.

Not only was it possible to see exactly where a user had exercised, it was easy to pinpoint exactly where a user lived, if they started or stopped their fitness tracking as soon as they left their house.

Because there were no limits on how many requests the reporters could make, coupled with easily enumerable user ID numbers, it was possible for anyone -- including malicious actors or foreign intelligence services -- to scrape the fitness activity data on millions of users.

But they also found they could trick the API into retrieving fitness tracking data on private profiles.

              This is bad. Why any security service still allows its officers to use fitness trackers is beyond me. And any civilian who uses one should take a long, hard look at privacy settings. It is interesting to watch society-level attitudes towards privacy change so quickly. People are much more comfortable with having their information out there than they were in years past. Tech optimists would say it’s because they feel that the benefits of technology outweighs the costs. Cynics would say that we’re the frog in the pot and that the water is being heated up so gradually that we won’t realize that we’re being boiled alive.

Freedom isn’t free: Patriotism is in these day yet there is a struggle to properly express that sentiment. Most people just disrespect the American flag and call it a day. What if the best way to be a patriot was to work-out? From the Military Times:

It was the fitness that provided the fuel for our nation’s freedom. More than a century and a half later, the Victory Corps of the 1940s recognized that fitness remained essential for maintaining that freedom. The plan was “Victory through Fitness” at the youth level, and as one general put it, “Young people in high school must be trained specifically to become better warriors.”

And now? We’ve gotten soft. Three out four military-age young adults are physically incapable of serving in the military. And the fitness of those who can and do serve isn’t much more encouraging. Consider:

·       For the amount of money the military spends on treating weight-related diseases every single year, it could buy the Chicago Cubs.

·       While rogue nations and terrorism are in the national security spotlight, our biggest threat is our own culture of idleness and excess.

·       While all this is going on, our grandparents are rolling in their graves, secure in the knowledge that they surely could and would kick our ass.

The time for resting on our laurels is over. Do you consider yourself a “tactical athlete”? Do you consider yourself a patriot? If you are deconditioned and dormant, you are neither.

Instead, you are a liability — a liability in a tactical situation or a liability on a health care system. You have drastically increased the odds that someone or some sickness will be able to kill you. The same sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary habits that will destroy your arteries will also distend your shot groups when it counts.

              This is an underrated concept. Fitness is freedom, in both the larger and smaller sense. Nick Barringer tackles it from the larger sense: in order for a society to remain free, it will have to be able to fight for that freedom and in order to fight for that freedom, its citizens will have to be fit. Fitness is also freedom in the individual sense. The number one thing that elderly people complain about is their loss of mobility. Being dependent on someone or something else to move equals a loss of freedom as well. And the best way to avoid that is by staying active and keeping your musculoskeletal system strong. Fitness can also be freedom from becoming dependent on medication to stay alive. If you want to be free, you need to be able to do stuff on your own. In the individual sense, that’s being able to move and lift heavy things. In the nation-wide sense, that’s being able to defend our own country. In both cases though, fitness = freedom.

Blast from the Past: Workout videos are nothing new. They’ve been around as long as the VCR. And you can still buy them. From Vogue:

And sure enough, a quick Google search brought me back to 1982, when the Oscar-winning actress released a VHS called Jane Fonda’s Workout, which was based on her exercise book that had, by that point, been firmly planted on The New York Times bestseller list for two years. The tape went on to become one of the most popular of all time—selling more than 17 million copies worldwide. “I think we all did it at some point of our lives,” my mother said when I asked her if she was familiar with it. I found it on Amazon Prime Video priced at $9.99, immediately downloaded it on my laptop, threw on my high school workout clothes, and gave it a shot.

Before things get rolling, a contemporary Fonda shows up (in a millennial pink moto jacket) to give the audience a brief intro on her revolutionary video, explaining that many moons ago, “gyms were predominately for men,” and that she mainly started this video for women to be able to have a quality workout on their own terms in the privacy of their own homes.

              I find it very interesting that Amazon has digitized old Jane Fonda workout videos. They must believe that there is demand for them amongst the type of people who would want to digitally download their workout videos. It is a common adage in Hollywood that you’re not only competing with whatever other movies are currently in the theaters, you’re competing with every movie ever made. Because the consumer has access to everything now and they might choose to watch the French Connection instead of heading out to the theaters for Mission Impossible 6. I wonder if we’re going to see a similar attitude take hold in fitness. Everything that has put on film is now at the consumer’s finger-tips. Even old Jane Fonda tapes.

Tidbits:

-Who’s winning the offseason workout video war?

-The CrossFit Games is going to include road cycling this year

-Outside Magazine profiles ultrarunning/climbing wunderkind Killian Jornet

-The Tour de France is too damn hard