2010 Resolutions – Best of 2009 Fitness List

It’s that time of year…or slightly past it!  Time to make resolutions.

I used not to be one of those people who made resolutions.  I wasn’t very goal-oriented.  I was more interested in focusing on the moment.

But sacrificing long-term planning for the moment, I came to find, is as misguided as losing your now-focus for lots of pie-in-the-sky long-term plans.  Both, in equal measure, lead to the best results.

With that said, I’d like to say this – whatever your specific goals for 2010, have the general goal of getting in shape.  And, as far as that’s concerned, do anything!

Don’t lose your “now-focus” for long-term planning about what you want to do fitness-wise.

Here are a few ideas that might help – my review of the “best fitness stuff” of 2009.

Exuberant Animal

Jump for Joy!

While my career with Exuberant Animal and play-based fitness started in 2008 at the first EA conference, I wasn’t certified as an EA trainer till 2009, and didn’t start my foot camp till last summer.

I highly recommend any of Frank Forencich’s books, and incorporating play into your exercise routine and your life. If you want ideas for how to do this, go to any local playground and watch what the kids are doing. Better yet, join them! Alternatively, for you readers out there, you can go to the EA games page.

Vibram FiveFingers

I was introduced to the concept of “minimalist footwear” and barefoot training this year, first, by Barefoot Ted McDonald.  Then, through Chris McDougall’s great book “Born to Run” (which is later on the list).

The FiveFinger shoes offer a fantastic new way to train, with a barefoot feel.  I highly recommend these to anyone.  Ease into their use.  If you haven’t been  barefoot much in the past few years, start off by wearing them for short walks, or during your regular workout, and then going back to your normal footwear.

Injinji Toe-Socks

Monkey Socks, Anyone?

Also, I highly recommend buying the Injini socks.  My first pair of Vibrams got a little stinky (which is why I recommend the KSO’s over the Flow model).  My second pair I ordered with about four pair of Injini toe-socks.  So far so good!

The only thing about the toe-socks is, they don’t keep your feet very warm.  So, if you’re in a cold climate, you might put off till later in the springtime to try these first two suggestions out – unless you’re an indoor exerciser.

Chris McDougall’s Book – Born to Run

Great Book!

While it isn’t necessarily a piece of “fitness equipment,” everyone I’ve known who has read this book has been so inspired by it that they’ve at least tried barefoot walks (if not runs, or workouts in Vibrams).  I highly recommend this book!

Joe DeFranco’s Built Like a Badass Program

Meatheads Unite!

I’ve written about this program several times in the past couple of months.  It is far and away the best “cookie-cutter” weight training program I’ve ever seen or used.  If you’re a moderately-experienced weight trainer, buy the program and use it this year.


Cannonballs with Handles

I had never been a big fan of kettlebells or kettlebell training till I used them for my Highland Games training this year.  Now, I’m a firm believer in the efficacy of this training tool.

While the kettlebells are “just another tool in the toolbox,” or “just another type of load,” they offer such a diverse array of possibilities that few other “stand alone” tools can compare in the diversity of movement (except maybe one, which I’ll be unveiling in another week or so!!).

If you’re interested in kettlebells, find a good instructor to work with.  Someone who is RKC, AKC, Steve Maxwell, or Steve Cotter certified will be able to get you started with great technique, and a kettlebell weight and program that are appropriate for your body.

Is that it?!

Bare-bones and Barefoot

Unless you can make it up to Whidbey Island, WA, to train with the Barefoot Sensei…yeah, that’s it!  I’m not reviewing every exercise program or technique I’ve ever used here, just the ones I found especially good from 2009. If you want other ideas, recommendations, or sources, drop me a line. I’m more than happy to help!

Have fun everyone!!!

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Exuberant Animal East Coast Jam – November 7 and 8


Exuberant Animal is holding its first ever East Coast event on the weekend of November 7th and 8th, at the Gerstung Intersport Center, in Baltimore, MD.

The event is only $150, and includes 2 full days of play and learning, dinner on Saturday night, and a party.

Jump For Joy!

Click this Picture to Download the Event Flyer

For those of you who don’t know, Exuberant Animal is a group founded by Frank Forencich that promotes health, vitality, and happiness, through physical activity – in particular, in play and play-based movement.

EA is built around a concept of fitness that comes from an evolutionary perspective of the human animal.  We advanced through eons of development by being playful – inquisitive, adventurous, daring – by experimenting with new ways of doing things.

This evolutionary perspective is a large part of the EA mission, and includes addressing not just the ills of sedentarism, but also the ills caused by some of our modern “conveniences” – shoes, computers (and other devices leading to repetitive stress syndromes), hard flat surfaces, etc.

Because of this, you find people as diverse as Mick Dodge (the Barefoot Sensei), Barefoot Ted McDonald (barefoot running expert, and one of the cast/characters in Chris McDougall‘s new book “Born to Run“), Kwame Brown (neuroscientist, child-development expert, and board member of the IYCA), Dr. Stuart Brown (head of the National Institute for Play).

As different as we are, we all share a common belief in the benefits of play for all people.

For me, being a part of Exuberant Animal has been a transformative process.

Having been in the fitness industry for 9 years now, and involved in play (in every aspect of life) and physical activity for my whole life, I’d come to a point where the traditional approach of sets, reps, and boring static exercise using machines, dumbbells, and other equipment, just wasn’t making sense anymore.  I could feel the boredom flowing between my clients and myself after their umpteenth set of squats, bench press, or other “traditional” exercise.

Taking the reps/sets out of exercise, and injecting play in its place, brings diversity to movement.  From that diversity, happiness grows.

As anyone knows who ever played competitive sports, you were at your peak when you weren’t focused on how much conditioning you did that day, but on how much you were “in it” – in the flow state.  This is the state of play – where possibilities are open, you are unselfconscious, able to enjoy using your body in the moment to have fun and accomplish your desired goal.

In my experience, what most clients suffer from is a lack of motivation.  Then, they come into the gym and we put them into bizarre circumstances where we’re observing and correcting them, making them even more self-conscious.

EA provides alternatives through fitness “games” that make the process interactive, playful, and most of all FUN.  You still get to work people in all three planes of motion, you still get to use whatever equipment you like the most, but now you also get to engage your client’s spirits in their workouts.

If you’re on the East Coast, and you’re at all interested, go to the EA website, check out the details, and register for this event.  It’s going to be great – and even greater if you’re there!

I’ll see you there!

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