CF Reviews

Excruciatingly Honest Opinions About Health and Fitness Products.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cranky Fitness Poetry Contest: Why Bother To Exercise?

Photo: spo0nman

A poetry contest on a health blog?

Well, yeah, we did one before, and readers came through! It was a challenging topic (low-cal snacks) and a "modest" prize (a coupon for low-cal snacks), and yet there were some awesome entries!

So we have another one today, with a better prize, inspired by today's post on the main Cranky Fitness page about the claim that vigorous exercise might make you gain weight.

(Anyone buying that? Anyone?)

Well, whatever you think of that notion, I suspect many of you will keep right on exercising. Either you don't believe the folks at Time Magazine, or you have other reasons for wanting to stay active.

Wanna write a little poem, haiku, or a limerick about why you exercise? Or hell, sing a song, draw a cartoon, pen a novel, produce a 3-act play, film a movie, or write and stage an Opera about it? Whatever!

I'm feeling tired of the boring old Random Number Generator and would rather just pick the "best" creative comment on this theme to win our prize for the week. I may ask the assistance of couple of Anonymous Impartial Judges to help me.

However, be warned that judging will be entirely subjective and probably unfair. Be prepared to write the best entry, and then lose out to one that is obviously not nearly as good! That's how these things generally work.

What's the prize?

Glad you asked! Have you heard of these gizmos? It's a SanDisk slotRadio player.

I will quote from the SanDisk website because I haven't gotten to try one yet:

"Introducing slotRadio™ – the instant load music player bundled with a 1,000 song slotRadio™ Mix card. No downloads, no PCs and no work involved. Simply pop the card in the player and enjoy a near-endless supply of full-length tracks. It’s great music, made effortless."

The player retails for $99.99, and the features include:
· FM tuner;
· Integrated belt clip for hands-free listening;
· 1.3 oz and the size of a matchbook;
· Additional genre-specific cards available for purchase;
· Up to 13 hours of battery life between charges.

How to Enter the Cranky Fitness Poetry Contest:

Write a poem or do something else creative to answer the question: why do you bother exercising? If you can leave it in the comments, please do, if it's something especially weird and unwieldy creative, you can email whatever the hell it is to CrabbyMcslacker @ gmail dot com.

Deadline: Tuesday, August 18th.

Winner announced the next day, Wednesday Aug 19th. Check back by Saturday to claim your prize.

Do You Have to Have a U.S. Address to receive the prize?

Sorry, yes. However, if you enter and are not from the U.S., you can still have the glory of winning, and then you can designate a U.S. friend or favorite blogger or secret crush to receive the prize. They will be very grateful, and you will be revealed to be not only talented, but generous too!


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Friday, August 7, 2009

TRX Review

I'm always happy to disclose when I get a product sent to me for free to review, because I'm hoping it makes me look cool and popular because telling readers I've received goods in exchange for providing a review is the honest and ethical thing to do! So, um, yeah, I didn't pay for this fancy-pants TRX Home Training bundle. The package comes with the "TRX Suspension Trainer Professional," plus a dvd, door anchor, tote bag, and some instructional information.

And what the heck is a TRX Suspension Trainer? Well, it's basically a couple of adjustable straps that you anchor to something solid like a beam or a tree, or (if you get the doorway anchor accessory) to the top of a door in your house.

Like so:

You can tell this is not me because of:
(a) the rugrat and (b) all the

You use this pair of straps to position yourself in a bunch of different ways, so that gravity and your body weight work together to provide resistance when you exercise. By changing the angle you're at, you can make it easy, hard, or totally freakin' impossible.

And it's not just for sissies like Crabby either. Apparently, even tough-ass military types use the TRX.

The TRX folks have figured out exercises designed to target your whole body. They've got presses and squats and dips and crunches and all kinds of stuff. The website has video demonstrations, and they've got lots of suggestions for creative ways to use the contraption to work your upper body, lower body, and your core. Or, if you're so inclined, to make porn videos.

This woman is probably very nice and we swear she is
not even THINKING of making a porn movie.

So I tried it, and what did I think about it? Well, in short, I mostly liked it!

What's Awesome About the TRX:

1. It's really well made. The materials are tough and heavy duty; there's nothing flimsy about it. Yet it's designed to be easily adjustable. It really is no hassle to lengthen or shorten the straps.

2. It's light-weight and portable. If you have a small apartment or do much traveling, the fact that you can get most of the functions of a home gym in a tiny little tote bag is pretty darn appealing.

3. You can do a LOT of different exercises with it. I just tried the first 12 they suggested, but it looked like online there were a lot more.

4. It's adjustable so you can make things harder or easier. And changing the angle you use is much easier than moving a bunch of weight plates around.

5. It recruits many muscles at the same time so you get more "functional" fitness. Because you are using your body weight to supply resistance, often the exercises involve you supporting that body weight with both your core and the specific muscles being targeted. Your core and all kinds of obscure supporting muscles get a workout, not just one isolated set of muscles.

What's Less Awesome About the TRX:

1. A lot of these exercises you could do without the fancy strap. Some of these are familiar floor exercises that have been modified by adding suspension. For many of these moves, you could probably achieve the same thing with a doorframe to hang onto or a stability ball to lean against or whatever.

2. It's an Expensive Fancy Strap. The bundle that includes the door anchor is $169; the basic model in $149. I know "Expensive" depends on your income and frame of reference, so perhaps this doesn't seem expensive to you. If you're financially comfortable and are comparing the TRX system to other home gym alternatives, the price tag is not gonna seem too bad. However, if you're a cheapskate like me or a handy Do It Yourself sort of person, it's going to seem bizarre to pay so much money for a pair of adjustable straps with handles. But then a lot of people will pay more than this for a trendy blouse or a purse, neither of which can give you a full body workout unless your fashion choices are mighty eccentric.

3. Gravity isn't always going in the right direction. On some of the exercises, like the abductors, it seemed like the resistance was not coming from quite the right direction to work the muscles it was supposed to. But what do I know? I'm not an exercise physiologist.

4. The TRX uses functional whole body movements at the expense of isolating individual muscles. While most people think of this as a great thing, I found that I couldn't seem to muster up nearly the same feeling of resistance in the muscles I was targeting when I used the TRX as when I use free weights or a universal-type weight machine. I felt like core muscles and other supporting muscles were the ones getting fatigued and supplying that feeling of "let's stop now, shall we?" But I wonder if once I got used to the movements, my core might strengthen and allow me to work the individual muscles more aggressively? Anyway, if you're used to using machines or free weights that isolate individual muscles, the TRX type resistance might not feel as "satisfying," if that makes any sense.

5. And (surprise!) some of the exercises aren't nearly as easy as they look in the demonstrations. Also, some aren't as challenging as you'd think either. But this may be a "newby" issue; it may just be a function of selecting the right level of difficulty and mastering the form.

Overall: The small size and convenience of this system makes it a great choice for home exercisers, especially for those who don't have a gym membership or a lot of space or money for a full-on home gym. It's great for functional fitness types, because you get a lot of core work, and you can pick up the speed and do the strengthening exercises for cardio too. And it's a particularly handy choice for folks who travel because of how portable it is.

However, if your have access to a real gym, and particularly if you like traditional strength training routines with heavy weights, you might find this more useful as an "on the road" alternative rather than a main source of exercise.

Caution: this product may improve your physique to the point where random strangers try to grab your ass.

Oh, and if you'd like to read a really thorough and enthusiastic review of this product, check out the review posts at The Great Fitness Experiment. (And there's another one here too).


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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance Get Fit: Review & Giveaway

Photo credit: mikebaird

You know how they say you should dance like nobody's watching? The only time I can manage that level of carefree rug-cutting is when nobody in fact is watching. Like when I have the drapes drawn so the neighbors won't see me trying to learn how to dance.

The nice part about dancing along with a DVD is that the people on the television do not snigger at how you dance. Not once. And when I dance, there is much to laugh at. Sadly, my name will never be mentioned in the same sentence as dancers like Fred Astaire, Crabby McSlacker, or Dmitri Chaplin.

These DVDs give you the chance to try something fun and get a workout while you're doing it.

The Cardio Funk DVD features:
- Hip Hop - Lauren
- Contemporary - Travis
- Disco - Courtney (No, a glittery disco ball is not included. Sorry.)
- Cardio Funk Bonus Workout

The Tone and Groove DVD has:
- Hip Hop - Twitch
- Jazz - Katee
- Cha Cha - Dmitry
- Tone and Groove Bonus Workout

I included the names of the dancers/instructors because, if you've been watching the show you recognize the names and if you've been hiding under a rock you need to know what people have been so excited about.

I've been in the Under-the-rock category, so it was educational to try these DVDs out. Obviously your heart rate is not going to be as high if you're stopping to figure out the steps, but once you get going, these DVDs can provide a workout!

Would you like to try these exercise DVDs?
If you'd like to be entered for the giveaway, please leave a comment. Do you like to get out there and dance all night long, or are you looking for a new fun way to get fit?

Finicky fine print stuff:
- 3 Winners, picked by Mr. Random Number Generator on Thursday, August 6th at 11:59 pm Manhattan Time
- USian mailing address
- Winners announced Friday, August 7th.
- If you win, as I really hope you do, 'cause I kinda like you, then we need your name and address by Wednesday, August 12th.

This Contest Is Now Closed. Sorry.


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The authors of Cranky Fitness have opinions about fitness and weight loss products.

And we like Free Stuff!

This Review and Giveaway Page was the temporary home for product reviews, which now appear in full back at the main blog.

While we've randomly included some old posts from Cranky Fitness concerning products in these archives, we weren't all-inclusive. So if you're looking for something particular, you may want to search back at the main blog too.

For more information, check out About CF Product Reviews.