Adult play has been recognized more lately as a legitimate way to maintain or even improve fitness levels.  Old style ” Physical Education” programs have become more mainstream and even gyms are taking on a similar theme to attract new members.  Play is a great way to stay active while on vacation.  Scott Eberle is the Vice President of Play Studies at ” The Strong ” and editor at the American Journal of Play states ” we don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up.”

Many people across the world are runners on the ” treadmill of life.”  There seem to be more outlets draining bodies energy and very few to recharge them.  Below is a short list that many people can relate to:

*  Demanding jobs.

*  Demanding kids.

*  Caring for aging parents.

*  Paying bills.

*  Trying to stay healthy.


These strains on life are daily.  Staying healthy can be viewed by some as a way to recharge and by others as an energy vampire.  It all depends on each individual’s situation and outlook on exercise.  How can a one or even two week vacation provide relief from a year’s worth of these daily strains.   Allowing exercise to be one of the strains is a sin.  It’s a mortal sin on vacation.  Finding ways to stay active while having fun is the best way to exercise.  Leave behind the workout cards or don’t look at the WOD for a week or even two weeks.  Run around with kids, play pickle, play tag play touch football or play foot ball in the water.  Adults should make time to play on a weekly basis at least.  If this isn’t possible then ensuring there is some play time on vacation is a surefire way to enhance the benefits of time away from the usual home and work routine.  The below is a list of benefits adults will experience from regular play from from and article titled ” The Benefits of Play For Adults.”

1.  Stress relief – play releases endorphins in th brain that create a sense of feeling good.

2.  Improve brain function – playing a game of chess, checkers or backgammon challenge your mental cognition and can reduce memory loss.

3.  Stimulate the mind and boost creativity – children learn better when they are having fun.  The same principal applies to adults.  Learning is easier in a relaxed, playful mood.

4.  Improve relationships and connection to others – sharing fun can foster compassion, trust and intimacy with others.

Here are some photos my wife took of me while on vacation just last week.  We visit her family in New Seabury, Ma. every year in August.  It’s also where we got married so we find a lot of appreciation in that.


Below is a picture of me just after I rode a wave in and then got clobbered by another one right behind it.  A lot of fun!

Riding in waves


Here I am with an 11 year old on my back and two more coming at me!  An epic game of keep away, kids vs. adults.  It’s a multi year rivalry that I hope continues for a long time.


That’s myself in the middle of the three youngsters hoping to receive this very nicely arced pass from  my wife’s cousin’s husband Chris.  We played every afternoon for about an hour, and I was exhausted.  The water provided a ton of resistance to say the least.  Chasing and jumping and tackling each other was both some of the best fun and most demanding exercise I’ve had all year.



Lastly here I am early in the morning in Nantucket Sound with my little daughter London Lee.  Getting some vertical pressing work in before most of the Cape awakens.



To conclude, don’t miss the boat while on vacation by logging minute after minute or set after set of exercise.  Get out and enjoy the surrounding for what they have to offer and stay fit by having fun.  The body’s batteries will be re- charged and ready to tackle the daily demands upon arriving home for sure.


1. article titled ” The Benefits of Play For Adults.”  Author Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith M.A. and Jeanne Segal Phd.

2. article titled ” The Importance of Play For Adults.”  By Margarita Takarovsky.








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Here are two similar exercises to the eye, but very different in how they should be used in an exercise routine for fat loss. There are more and more people performing Kettlebell swings in fitness centers as they become more popular to general exercisers. Are they just another fad or do they really produce the results the media claims? And when results are discussed, it is what produces the quickest and best results. The chop exercise currently holds a longer shelf life in the exercise world, but certainly does not get the attention of the Kettlebell swing. How can each exercise be used if an exerciser has a fat loss goal? Is one more efficient than the other?

The medicine ball/dumb bell chop
Muscles worked and movements involved – the chop exercise is no question a total body exercise. Every joint in the body both flexes and extends at opposite parts of the movement making this a very metabolically effective exercise. Making every muscles shorten and lengthen at opposite times in the movement. The down phase (concentric) of the movement = ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, trunk and arm extension occur. The up phase (eccentric) = ankle, knee, hip, trunk, shoulder and arm extension. The joint and muscles actions in this movement make it a sagittal plane movement. Movement performed in the front to back plane of motion. Sagittal plane movements are the movements that will produce the most force and power. Think long jump, sprinting, squatting, olympic lifting, all sagittal plane movements. One could argue tranverse plane (rotational) movements create just as much power. Swinging a bat or a racquet.



Variations – there are a couple of variations of the chop. As far as movement pattern differences there is the anterior chop and the lateral (side) chop. All other differences are related to equipment used. The dumb bell, medicine ball, cable column, kettle bell or resistance band. For comparison purposes, we’ll say the chop is with a dumb bell.

Duration of a typical set performed – it’s hard to perform a chopping exercise for much longer than a minute unless it is made to be that easy. If it is that easy, it is nothing short of a waste of time if body fat reduction and looking better is the goal.  Even when done with a light weight muscle fatigue would limit the set duration to approximately a minute due to the amount of joint and muscle action involved. This is a great exercise that fits right into the higher intense, short burst of exercise for fat loss equation.

Exercise prescription for fat loss – the best way to utilize this exercise for fat loss is to perform it in a tabata interval protocol. 20 seconds of chopping a weight as fast as possible up and down through a full range of motion with a 10 second rest period. Repeat for 8 rounds. It is imperative that each set be performed at the highest intensity possible. The exerciser shouldn’t coast or just try and survive the 4 minutes, he or she should go like gangbusters from the first set. Over a 4 week period the exerciser will improve their anaerobic threshold, decrease body fat if a healthy meal plan is followed and also increase aerobic capacity. This exercise can also be utilized in different protocols other than the Tabata . 30 seconds of chops with 15 seconds rest is effective. Chops can also be supersetted or combined with 2-3 other exercises for a fat mashing metabolic circuit. For example:

Medicine ball chop 30 seconds
30 seconds recovery
Plyo lunge 30 seconds
30 seconds recovery
Lateral hops 30 seconds
30 seconds recovery
Repeat for 3-5 rounds

Kettle-bell swing
Muscles worked and movements involved – a hip hinging exercise that focuses on posterior chain musculatute. Hamstrings, glutes and secondarily the erector spinae (lower back). Different from the chop, the swing only uses hip flexion and extension. There is a slight bend in the knee throughout the movement, but the main joint action is at the hip. This puts the onus on the hamstrings and glutes to do the lifting. This also takes the upper body out of the equation except for some light guiding of the Kettlebell as it goes through the legs and up to sternum height.


Variations – the swing is an exercise that has a lot more room for deviation from the correct form than the chop does. First of all, there is the Russian kettlebell swing and the American kettlebell swing. The Russian swing is superior to the American swing due to it’s stricter form, less time between muscle contractions and lower risk of deviating from proper form and causing injury. During the Russian swing(above video), the kettlebell stops at sternum level at the highest. The American swing, as mentioned in describing the Russian swing, has a higher risk of performing the exercise incorrectly due to the longer stroke of the movement. The weight is lifted from between the legs just like the Russian swing, but unlike the Russian swing the rep isn’t complete until the weight is almost directly over the head of the exerciser. There is more force produced due to the lever arm extending much further out and up than that of the Russian swing, there is also more of a ballistic movement to this lift as well. Especially when the weight gets heavier.


Duration of typical set performed – when it comes to metabolic response the list of literature supporting high intense, shorter bursts of exercises as the more productive modality is long to say the least. (see below for references). The kettlebell swing is designed for endurance and can be performed for minutes on end. Ten, fifteen even twenty minutes can be performed by a well trained kettlebell athlete. How does this fit into the high intensity, short burst for a high metabolic response category?

Exercise prescription for fat loss – the most efficient way to use the Kettlebell swing for fat loss is in conjunction with 2, 3 or 4 other exercises in a metabolic circuit. For example:

1 minute 2 handed Kettlebell swing
30 seconds recovery
1 minute burpee set
30 seconds recovery
1 minute resistance band squat row
Repeat for 3-5 rounds.

In my opinion the chop is superior to the Kettlebell swing due to it’s more explosive nature and the ability to produce a lot more muscular force in a shorter period of time  Therefore recruiting more type 2 muscle fibers and taxing the anaerobic energy system, the two systems that need to be taxed in order to create a metabolic response. It is the more efficient exercise at eliciting a fat loss result. The Kettlebell swing can completely transform an individuals body if done with proper form and done for a long enough period of time to elicit results. Longer sets and more reps are required with this piece of equipment to see similar results to the chop.  In conclusion, when used properly the wood chop exercise will get an exerciser fat loss results faster than the kettle bell swing.


References for short duration high intense bursts of exercise as a superior protocol for fat loss:




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Check out the latest from CORE Boot Camp in Newton, Ma.  This is an example of dynamic torso anti-rotation.  There is also a lot of stability training involved in this exercise.  Doesn’t it look like a ball room dance class?  The further they step away from their partner, the more the torso has to engage to prevent the band from pulling them around.  They are resisting the band and not letting it pull them back toward their partner, with their ” core ” muscles.  Preventing torso rotation.  Partner up and give it a try!  BETTER YET, come on down to one of our workouts and give it a try.


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Combination exercises are the best way to condition your body for fat loss and over all conditioning.  Here is a great example with the sled drag and row.  Greg is back pedaling a few steps, rowing the sled back strengthening upper back muscles and getting anaerobic conditioning as he back pedals and pulls.  Great way to combine both strength and conditioning to enhance the metabolic effect, burn more calories and increase overall work capacity.

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Here are two of our 5:45 am people doing a ground based explosive movement for the lower body.  The goal is to get to a deep squat and explode up to the sky as you launch the medicine ball up into the air.  The desired response is to both boost metabolic rate by using the largest most powerful muscles in the body ( glutes, hamstrings, quads ) This muscle recruitment will enhance performance in exercise modalities such as running or lower body lifting exercises.  Recruiting fast twitch muscle fibers will definitely improve performance with both running and squatting or lunging.  The enhanced performance there will lead to greater body composition changes.  If that is the end goal.


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Here are some pictures of a guy in the fitness boot camp program.  He started to feel some discomfort in his shoulder not too long ago. I asked to have him come by early and assess the situation, so I took some pictures of his posture before we did any exercises and here are two of them below:

Here is an aterior view before exercises.


Here is a posterior view before exercises.

If you look at the picture where he is facing us, he is tilted to the side (right) with his left foot turned out and his weight shifted to the right. Look at the back picture and you see the unevenness of the shoulders. Again, he was having some shoulder pain so all of the deviations are important to note.  One shoulder is higher than the other as well.  We did three different exercises for the pelvis area of his body; approximately 10 minutes or less and here is how he stood after.

Here is the posterior view after the exercises.




Here is the anterior view after the exercises.


A pretty big difference. Look at his feet how they are almost perfectly straight ahead, the shoulders in both pictures are almost perfectly balanced. And the exercises we did were for his pelvis, not his shoulder. The center of gravity is where the deviations originate, throwing off everything above and below it. His shoulder pain has reduced significantly, we are still staying away from things that might cause a problem to the shoulder, but we have it under control now.  If this hadn’t come to light he would’ve kept going and maybe even hurt the shoulder to a greater degree where he needed physical therapy.  Which all they would’ve done was treat the symptoms by working the shoulder area, and not the cause which was the deviated pelvis.  So, now he doesn’t need therapy at all as long as he listens to me and his shoulder area.  A misaligned center of gravity will put additional, undue stress on other parts of the body causing pain and if untreated, injury.

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Finding new and exciting ways to be creative with your exercise and meal plan can be challenging at times.  This can interrupt consistency and halt progress on a health and wellness program.  Wellcoin is designed to encourage users to be creative and try new things.  However, there are many days where finding fast, efficient methods of meal planning and exercising are critical for consistency.  Is it possible to use one of the foods you plan to consume to do just that?

Here is one item that you can use for both earning wellcoins through our ” get moving” and ” eat well ” category. The ever popular pumpkin.  This is a very versatile fruit.  It can be used as a food and as exercise equipment!  Take a look at how it can be used as exercise equipment below.  These videos are from the CORE Boot Camp program in Newton Center and Lower Falls, Ma.


Here is the list of 5 ways to get the pumpkin into your meal plan if you missed it last week.  Now onto how this wonderfully versatile fruit can be used as an exercise tool.  In these videos medium to large sized pumpkins are used.  This allows the exerciser to use whole body, multi joint movements to lift and lower the pumpkin.

1.  Pumpkin squat – Here exercisers are holding the pumpkin in front of their torsos across their chest.  The weight being distributed anterior will elicit more of a stabilizing demand on the anterior torso (core).  The fact that the pumpkins are large round objects will enhance this effect even more.  The key is to stay as vertical as you can with your upper body during the descent of the movement, keep weight back on heels and drive through heels to the top of the movement.  To finish the exercise squeeze the glutes to ensure full hip extension and range of motion.  You can hear the instructor queuing one gentleman to get his chest up and torso vertical.  Depending on how heavy the pumpkin is, 3 sets of 10-20 reps can be performed to elicit a hypertrophy response, as well as muscle endurance.2.  The pumpkin press – Here the exerciser is utilizing the pumpkin to train his upper body, with a vertical pushing motion very familiar to most exercisers, the shoulder press.  If there is a history of shoulder injuries, this isn’t the best exercise to be performing.  Here the exerciser braces his torso(core) as if he was about to get punched in the stomach.  He grabs the pumpkin on the bottom outside edges of the pumpkin, staggers his stance to get more of a balanced position, and presses up over his head and slightly back.  So, the weight won’t be in front of him at the top, it will slightly shift back almost directly over his head.  All the while he is keeping his torso braced.  A braced torso will prevent excessive lumbar extension as the weight goes up and flexion as it comes down.  His second set will be performed with the other leg set forward, if he does three sets then he can either do a square stance or do half of the set with the right leg set forward and half with the left.  Depending on how heavy the pumpkin is, 3 sets of 10-20 reps can be performed to elicit a hypertrophy response, as well as muscle endurance.

3.  Pumpkin squat variation – Here is what can be called (for a lack of a better term) a more functional variation of the squat.  This variation is designed to teach people a good, strong, safe squat pattern whenever they need to pick something heavy up off of the floor.  It doesn’t happen every day for alot of us, but when it does we want to be ready.  Too many tip over at the low back to pick something up due to not knowing a good squat pattern, limitations in their hip mobility or both.   Down with the pumpkin and up without is one rep, 10-20 reps can be performed depending on how heavy the pumpkin is.  The goal is to establish a good safe deep squatting pattern to use for daily activities.

4.  Pumpkin squat to press – Next, we have a total body exercise that can be used for both strength and conditioning purposes.  A lower rep scheme  of 3 x 10-15 can be used to develop hypertropy and muscle endurance; or this can be used with the Tabata protocol for a fat blasting workout designed to boost metabolic rate through the roof.  Tabata = 20 seconds on with a 10 second rest, repeat for 8 sets.  As many reps in each set.  This can also be combined with other exercises in a circuit fashion to create a similar metabolic effect;  Pumpkin squat press 30 seconds then rest 15 seconds, mountain climbers 30 seconds then rest 15, jump squats for 30 seconds then rest 15.  Perform between 2-5 rounds and watch fat melt off your body.

5.  Running with pumpkins -  Increases the metabolic demand dramatically when running with a weighted object of any kind.  Here the pumpkin can be held on one shoulder or in front of your body.  One shoulder is probably the best way to do it, this way you can use one arm to run, switch when coming back or alternate reps.  Perform between 3-5 reps to start and build up to 10-12 reps of 20 – 40 yards of distance.  Moving as fastly as you can with the pumpkin.  Partner up with someone and rest when they run and vice versa, this will keep you honest and won’t let you rest too long between sets.  A great way to burn fat and boost metabolism.

In conclusion, if you are trapped in your house this time of year and happen to have a pumpkin that weighs between 15 -30lbs; just know that you can get a great workout at home if you aren’t able to get to the gym.  Earning wellcoins can be really, really fun as you can see.

The pumpkin; it’s a healthy food additive,  and a piece of exercise equipment!!!  This reminds me of a classic Saturday Night Live episode from way back.

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Here is a great example of not letting anything hold you back.  This woman is 60 years young, she has multiple musculoskeletal concerns which we work around.  But she still comes consistently.  She does not sit on her couch at home feeling bad that she can’t exercise or worse, using her injuries as an excue not to exercise.  We fnd things that she can do and we do them the best we can.  Even if  you can only do 2 or 3 exercises without exasperating an injury, do them and do them to best of your ability.  Progressively overload the exercise and get really strong with it, and move as efficiently as you can with it and you will be more fit.





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It hear it so frequently from my clients, friends, family and everyone in between.  They work long hours, can’t get to workout before work due to time restraints or maybe they frequently get called in early for meetings.  Or they can’t do it after work due to having to stay late for work, traffic or just not having the energy to do so.  So, in this video I have a great way to get some exercise in on those days that you cannot do so outside of the office.  This can be done in your work clothes, right in your office area and you shouldn’t need a shower afterwards.  There will be perspiration of course, but this protocol isn’t long enough to leave someone drenched in a pool of sweat where they need a shower.  It’s the tabata protocol which alot of us are familiar with at this point, using a 5-gallon water jug.  Each exercise is performed for 20 seconds with 10 seconds in between for 8 sets.

Multi joint movements are used to elicit the biggest metabolic response. What does that exactly mean? Well, if fat loss is a goal the exercise selection is crititcal to success. Exercises that uses alot of big muscles at once will have the biggest impact on your resting metabolism. Therefore increasing your resting metabolic rate so your body can burn more calories than it currently is able to do. The more calorie burn the less storage of excess calories, and you will burn more during the day at work, during workouts, and even at night when you rest.  The exercises don’t have to be anything exotic or trendy. Here is a small list of some common multi – joint movements that can be used.

Squat to press
Squat thrust
Rowing machine

You can take 4 minutes at the beginning of the day to do it, the middle, the end of the day, or any combination of the three.  Yes you can do it between 1-3 times per day depending on goals and fitness level. I suggest starting with one and building to three.
Fat loss goal/leaner - I would do a protocol similar to the one in the video.  Multiple joint movements, variety of movements back to back.  This will increase cortisol evels causing the body to draw off of it’s fat stores for recovery.  The fact that multiple muscles are being used will boost serum testosterone levels creating a very anabolic (muscle building) environment in the body.
Muscle gain goals - You can do a great legs and back workout to gain muscle size with squats and 1 arm rows.  In the morning do your 1 arm rows.  4 sets of 20 seconds on each arm for 4 minutes total, 2 minutes on each arm.  Hustle back to your desk to be on time for that conference call.  Then return at the end of the day to do 8 sets of 20 seconds of squats.  This accumulation of reps is sure to spark a hypertrophic response in your body and build your quads, glutes and hamstrings.  You could even do some bent knee dead-lifts with two 5-gallon jugs. 

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Rain date is Saturday July 21st.  We just got done with our May version of the ” Garden City Dash ” in Newton CTR just a short couple of weeks ago.  We are prepping for our next installment on Saturday July 14th.  The stations were challenging, the weather was great and the smiles on people’s faces after were almost impossible to rub off.

Here is one of the stations participants had to negotiate through, the kettlebell/rope pull.  20 reps were required by each person on each team before they could move on to the next station.  One rope had a 45lb weight for males and then there were two 30lbers for females to use.

Here is another one of the more challenging stations.  The sand bag/hill run.  Participants from each team were expected to run up the hill 3 times with the bag on the right shoulder, 3 on the left, and 4 holding it out across your chest for a total of 10 reps.  This was tough.  Again, the team could not move to the next station until everyone on their team finished the station.

One more here to temp your tummies, the wheelbarrow carry.  I did not measure the distance but it was at least 70-75 yards one way, and people were required to carry it down and back for a total of 150 yards.  There was 70lbs on each wheelbarrow.  I wish I was a better cameraman, but I only got the last few steps of this great effort!


There were many more stations teams had to tackle in this great event we held at 69 Tyler Terrace, The Newton CTR Playground.  These event are run through the GS-Fitness / CORE Boot Camp program who works in conjunction with the Newton Recreation Department.  This is our more local version of the Warrior, Spartan or Tough Mudder races; minus the mud, barbed wire and beer.

Check us out at These ” Garden City Dashes ‘ are a great way to prepare for these other events.


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