It’s never too late to change, and here is what Park and a new, old-school wave of experts are advising. Keep it simple. Make it fun. And watch what happens.
At Park’s Platinum Fitness center, clients master five or six exercises: the squat, the dead lift, the lunge, planks, chin-ups, and pushups. No standing on exercise balls. No hanging upside down in boots. They pay strict attention to the details of each exercise, and they make those details perfect. They build slowly — flawless form first, then add weight — on this handful of perfectly executed exercises. And they watch their strength, power, and flexibility go places they never thought possible.
“There are so many gimmicks, it’s ridiculous. The simplest thing is always the best thing. It’s not always the most exciting thing,” Park nearly smiles, “but you’ll get results.”Park is not alone in his back-to-basics approach.
A cadre of experts is quietly going about the business of promoting rational, proven fitness and health strategies while gamely combating the latest infomercial that promises you a miracle you can buy.
Sports nutrition is rife with miracle wonders — Vitamin B17! Kelp tablets! Açai berries! — and so, too, substantial confusion.
Here’s what you need to know:
“A lot of people trying to sell you something will tell you otherwise, but good sports nutrition has always been pretty simple,” says Ellen Coleman, a Riverside, California, registered dietician, exercise physiologist, and author (Coleman’s book, Eating for Endurance, may be the clearest, most common-sense sports-nutrition book ever written). “You want a varied diet heavy on unprocessed plant foods — whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans — and short on fats and sugars. And the athlete’s two most critical needs are carbohydrates and water.”
Sadly, given the profit motive, there are plenty of stumbling blocks, like carbohydrate energy bars stuffed with calories (just read the label) and energy drinks with enough sugar to launch a kindergarten class into apoplexy (just read the label; sports drinks like Gatorade don’t fall into this category).
Instead, how about broccoli, wild rice, an apple, or orange juice (fluid and carbohydrate)? And don’t forget just plain water — acute dehydration is a problem for many athletes, says Coleman. Weigh yourself before you exercise and after, then drink 24 ounces of water for every pound you lost. Want a miracle supplement? Eat a sweet potato; it’s chock- full of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and slow-burning sugars. Want guaranteed weight loss? Move more and stuff less in your mouth. Want the latest sane advice? Coleman recommends the American Institute for Cancer Research’s “The New American Plate” (aicr.org). They’re not selling anything other than good health.