THE WEEKLY HOWL IS LOWERING THE VOLUME

Green-washing: If you use cardio equipment of any kind, it has probably occurred to you that you’re generating power. Especially, if you use a machine that measures your watts. So it’s not surprising that we are seeing entrepreneurs who want to build gyms and equipment to take advantage of this. The problem is that the amount of energy that we generate during our workouts is miniscule. From Bloomberg:

There is a problem of scale, however. The treadmill’s maximum output is 200 watts an hour. The average American uses about 28,000 watt-hours a day. The maximum treadmill workout, generating 200 watts for an hour, would save 2.4 cents, assuming an electricity cost of $0.12 a kilowatt-hour, plus the power that would have been used by a motorized machine.

The company’s bikes and elliptical trainers can move up to 250 watts. On the treadmill, a 147-pound person running roughly 8-minute, 20-second miles would put out only 24 watts every 30 minutes, or enough for 4 hours of wifi. A 176-pound person lightly jogging for 20 minutes could power a 60-watt lightbulb long enough to light the room while they’re working out. 

Factoring in the electricity-use avoided, SportsArt’s “Eco-Powr” equipment with continual use could save almost $900 a year compared with other brands’ treadmills, according to Mejia. Units cost about $10,000 each, and are sold to gyms, assisted-living centers, universities and beyond. Consumer models are in the works.

              This is not worth it. The costs vastly exceed the benefits. This won’t save anyone any money or solve our energy problems. The other possible angle is motivation. Will people be more motivated to use this equipment if they think it’s environmentally conscious?

Paul Crane owns Eco-Gym, a “sustainable gym” in Brighton, England, that uses SportsArt equipment. In the past, the facility reduced fees based in part on how much power members generate while working out. He said members “definitely feel motivated and committed to improving their own health and that of the planet.” Other clients include boutique gyms that can charge more for amenities like power-generating equipment, where it’s not about saving energy and more about making a statement.

Getting to the gym is difficult enough for busy, working people. Being able to measure one’s own power output may be the added mental incentive, or trigger, people need to get moving, even if it’s “just giving people a sense that they are burning energy and seeing some results,” said Dan Ariely, a psychology and behavioral economics professor at Duke University and an author.

              I doubt it. You can already measure your power output on some pieces of equipment. How often do you hear someone bragging about their watts from their last air bike workout? I think that it’s more demotivating than anything else. Working your ass off to power a couple of light bulbs is not the stuff of dreams.

Buy a watch: I’m not usually the biggest fan of the “workout tips from celebrity trainers” genre but this one caught my eye. The reason that I’m not usually a fan is that they’re usually fluff. Not this time. From Insider:

Ryan told INSIDER that people should leave their phone in the locker room if they want to make their workouts more efficient. Otherwise, they end up mindlessly scrolling through social media, making their rest periods much longer than they should be.

The only time exception to the rule is if your phone is the only way you can track and measure your rest periods, which he says is essential — but there are watches or clocks you can use for this.

"It's very easy to get distracted in the gym and let your minute-long rest turn into three or four minutes which in turn is going to make the intensity of your workout go way down," he said.

"By systematically measuring and tracking your rest time, that creates a much cleaner programme. Knowing that, say, between every set you've had a minute and a half rest, it's really pleasing to the brain."

The brothers believe being regimented about your rest time can "improve your workout exponentially.”

Taking some rest time between sets in the gym is recommended by fitness experts, but how long yours last depends on your goal.

"If you're after maximal strength, longer rest intervals will allow you to optimally achieve higher intensities (the amount lifted)," the brothers explained. "With large muscle compound movements that generate high levels of metabolic disturbance like squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows, the optimal strategy will be to take two to five minutes between sets."

This ensures the muscles have adequate time to regenerate energy before the next set — ideally, you should perform these moves at the beginning of your training session.

"If you are looking to create metabolic stress in order to prioritize fat loss or hypertrophy [the growth of muscles], the strategy should call for shorter rest periods," the brothers explained. "Isolation types of exercises, like biceps curls, tricep extensions, and leg extensions, are not as metabolically taxing and require less recovery time.

"Therefore, to heighten metabolic stress and cellular swelling (the infamous 'pump' where the muscle becomes engorged with blood), it is best to keep rest periods between 15 to 60 seconds."

              You have 3 main variables to play with when you’re strength training: resistance, volume, and recovery. Most people understand the first 2 and never think about the last one. Ask someone about their workout and you’ll usually get the number of sets, the number of repetitions, and the weight: “For squats, I did 3 sets of 5 at 315”. The recovery period is just as important (was it 1 minute or 5 minutes?) but you don’t see many people measuring that. And it can completely change what kind of workout you’re doing. Your recovery period shouldn’t be determined by what’s trending on Twitter. This is the biggest mistake that I see almost everyone at the gym make.

Pump down the jams: Music has always gone hand in hand with fitness but the rising popularity of boutiques has raised the importance of music in the industry. The right playlist is now seen as one of the most significant components of an effective fitness class. Unfortunately, this has led boutique operators to believe that they have to blast that music at decibel levels that can damage people’s hearing. There is a better way. From Men’s Health:

Does volume come into play?

The focus of our playlist is to push people to their limit using the motivational power of music. The perceived emotion of a song and therefore the motivational effect is stronger, if we listen to it at a higher volume. A study by Edworthy and Waring showed a performance increase through louder music in a 5 to 10 minute workouts. However we have not heard of studies examining volume as a boosting parameter over a full workout session at this point.

Volume should be used carefully during workouts though, since it has been shown that our ear is even more sensitive to loud sounds when combined with exercise. We do believe that raising the volume a bit during your last set is a good way of benefitting from the loudness boost effect.

Any boutique that thinks that they have to play music loud enough to damage people’s hearing should read this. Loud music isn’t atmosphere, it’s just loud music. And the thing about loud noise it is that if everything is loud, then it loses its effect. You can get used to anything, I learned this in boot camp. Within a couple of day, I got used to having someone scream in my face, it lost the effect of stressing me out. It became normal. People get used to deafingly loud music as well. It loses its effect and then you have to make it even louder in order to try to get the effect that you’re looking for. That’s how we got to this point. The way to avoid it is by altering the volume levels. Keep the volume at a reasonable level for most of the class and then crank it up for the tough part. Or have the volume slowly rise during the class as everyone is working harder and harder. You’ll get a better effect and you won’t be destroying your members’ hearing in the process.

Training: The same thing is true for training intensity. It’s easy to fall in love with high-intensity work and think that if a little is good, then more must be better but that’s not always true. From Well + Good:

While walking on the treadmill for 45 minutes or pedaling away on a recumbent bike may not feel like the most exciting (or admittedly, most efficient) ways to exercise, they’re still critically important for rounding out your routine. (And a part of this year’s trend toward cortisol-conscious workouts.) “It’s just as important to have steady-pace runs and low-impact workouts as it is to have those higher-threshold workouts. And being able to balance the two not only makes you more versatile, but it really kind of lays the foundation,” says Aaptiv trainer Meghan Takacs. “It’s almost like you don’t want to go into a sprint workout without having an endurance pace, and that low-intensity training is really the foundation for any other workout you might do.”

She suggests introducing slower-paced, lower-impact cardio sessions into your routine twice (maybe even three times) a week in order to change things up for your body and ultimately make your harder-core workouts more effective. “Low-intensity stuff breaks up the training at a certain threshold that brings your body back down to a normal level of operation, so that when you go to do the high-intensity you’re not burned out,” says Takacs.

Your body isn’t made to go balls out all the time. When you try to do that, you end up compromising the high-intensity work. Everything becomes medium-intensity. And you want to build up an aerobic base. Everyone’s been in love with anaerobic workouts lately but you’ll never get really good at the anaerobic stuff without an aerobic base.  

Technology:

The Consumer Electronics Show took place earlier this month and there was a slew of new fitness products introduced. At least one of them seemed intriguing. From Popular Science:

Jaxjox KettlebellConnect

This adjustable kettlebell has weight options from 12 to 42 pounds, which is handy in and of itself since it’ll spare you from keeping a whole rack of bells in your home. Beyond the space saving, however, the kettlebell itself has sensors inside to help track the content, intensity, and duration of your workout.

The hardware is part of a $30 monthly subscription program that provides live workouts via the web kind of like what Peloton does for stationary bike training.

Personally, I think the kettlebell is one of the best training tools you can have in your house. At $350, you’re paying a hefty premium for the connectivity in the hardware, but it may be worth it if the tracking helps keep it from taking residence as a doorstop in your house once you’re bored of the regular workouts

I’m a low-tech fitness guy but even I was intrigued by this smart kettlebell. They had me at “kettlebell that can change its own weight” and then lost me at “only goes up to 42 pounds”. If you’re going to make this product, make it go up to more than 42 pounds! And does everything have to come with a subscription service? I realize that everyone wants to be Peloton for XXXX but Peloton for Kettlebells is not the best idea. Especially at $30/month. It’s stuff like this that hardens my low-tech fitness mindset. This is an interesting idea that ends up being a bunch of bells and whistles and paying too much money for something that only goes to 42 pounds. You’re better off just buying old school kettlebells.  

CrossFit: The 2019 CrossFit season is in full swing already. It’s the first season under the new qualifying system and the initial griping about enacting such a large scale change has died down. Now we’re into the legitimate complaints: isn’t there a conflict of interest in having event programmers double as coaches to athletes competing in the same event? From Boxrox:

3 days ago CrossFit® legend and former Games winner Ben Smith posted an interesting perspective on the programming at the Sectionals Events. We posted his thoughts on BOXROX, but there have been further advances as the debate continues. Here are Ben’s words:

“To all these “Sanctional” event coordinators that are qualifying athletes for the CF Games: This seems like common sense?

… Don’t have people programming the events for the competition. ALSO be the coaches of athletes competing in these events.  What am I missing?

I’m all for this format/changes and think it should work just fine, possibly even better than the last format. But these comps have a responsibility to be un-biased. I love that the events are varied in structure And programming but I see this programming bias potential as an issue that needs to be resolved and should just be common sense. Thoughts? Am I missing something?

(Ps. Don’t say that programming doesn’t matter. It does. And That’s not the point, I’m thinking bigger picture for the “sport” as a whole and just want to start a discussion. Thx.)”

When the new qualifying system was announced, I assumed that Dave Castro was going to have a lot of input into the programming for all these events. This way, there would be some consistency, some common themes of what was being tested that ran through all these different events. Plus, it would keep it fair. The athletes are right to be concerned, there is a conflict of interest here and that programming matters. Every athlete has strengths and weaknesses (except Mat Fraser) and competitions could be designed to take advantage of an athlete’s strengths and minimize their weaknesses. It’s Year 1 and perhaps this is something that was overlooked by CrossFit Inc. But this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Hopefully, the fact that a former Games winner is bringing it up will lead to some action. The solution here is simple too. Dave Castro needs to be involved. That doesn’t mean that he needs to program all these events himself, just that he should have some sort of role in overseeing it all.

Tidbits:

-Working out at the airport

-Being a bicycle messenger is a great way to burn some calories

-A workout a day could keep dementia away

-It’s not about what how you look, it’s about what your body can do

-Patrick Vellner and Tia Clair Toomey win Wodapalooza

-Tennessee has begun to collect a “fitness tax” on studios