Without Fancy Machinery
Fitness advocate Jhannie Tolbert doesn't
own an expensive elliptical trainer, fancy treadmill or other
big home gym equipment. Tolbert, who sports the physique of a
bodybuilder, says he's never worked out in a gym.
He uses his toolbox as a stepper,
hefts soup cans to tone his shoulders and wraps a bungee cord
around a bench for stretching exercises.
He has always tried to be like
Jack LaLanne the pioneering TV fitness guru who directed
America's housewives from 1951-85 in the proper form for sit-ups
"There's no gimmicks. I really
do believe in being able to stay fit at home without spending
tons of money," said Tolbert, a videographer and musician who
has produced his own fitness show for cable television.
Tolbert's utilitarian vision of
fitness is one that the American Council on Exercise, a not-for-profit
organization that promotes physical activity, expects more Americans
to adopt as obesity rates rise.
"Trainers will provide simple programs
using readily available tools (chairs, steps, even walls) that
overcome the common barriers of time and access," the council
predicted in its 2004 fitness forecast.
Cedric Bryant, its chief exercise
physiologist, said it's simple: Muscles don't really know what's
"They don't have little brains
that tell them I'm using a $2,000 piece of equipment versus
bungee cords or soup cans," he said. "They just respond to the
level of resistance they're exposed to."
Tolbert, 41, has appeared on HGTV's
"TIPical Mary Ellen" show, and on a couple of Twin Cities television
stations. But he's not alone in coming up with routines that don't
rely on often-costly machines.
Lori Dean, a former host of ESPN2's
"Crunch Fitness" show, has demonstrated how to build upper-body
strength by lifting a bag of groceries by the handles 10 or 12
times before putting the groceries away. Jeanne Ernst, who co-starred
in five of Jane Fonda's exercise videos, has demonstrated how
garden clippers can work the arms and stomach and how using a
lawn mower can help shape legs, chest and buttocks.
Other experts show how to use jump
ropes, playground balls, brooms, chairs, even the vacuum cleaner
in simple workouts.
Bryant warned that people need
to know proper exercise technique and form for such workouts to
ACE and the National Association
for Health and Fitness recommend brisk walking as a free and easy
way to get exercise into a busy day. Walk the dog, walk through
art festivals, hike a beautiful gorge, says Philip Haberstro,
the association's president.
"Integrate physical activity into
the kinds of fun things where you don't even feel it as you're
doing it," Haberstro said, noting that moderate physical activity
can reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic
Several experts said motivation
and setting realistic, measurable goals are key to a successful
exercise program. Rather than aiming to lose 20 pounds, people
should try to lose 2 pounds a week so they have a chance to experience
success weekly, Bryant said. The experts recommend about 30 minutes
of daily exercise.
However, exercise is not a one-prescription-fits-all
formula, cautioned Chris Kimber of the Minnesota Department of
Health and a regional director of NAHF.
"There's many ways to fitness,
and a lot of people do these inexpensive things because that's
what they've got available and they're more likely to use it,"
Americans spent about $4.3
billion in exercise equipment in 2002, but Tolbert suggests that
people look hard at what they already have around the house.
For Tolbert, two big orange liquid
Tide containers filled with water become weights. When his toolbox
isn't handy, he uses the stairs in his home as a stepper. There's
also the old hula hoop in the garage, the beach ball, the broom
handle for stretches.
"Look at this," he said as he grabbed
a chunk of wood from the front of the fireplace and sat down in
a recliner. He placed the wood under his heels and rolled his
heels and arches over the wood to demonstrate how to exercise
calves and ankles while watching TV.
"I'm like your typical Joe," Tolbert
said. "I've got to do my gigs. I've got to do work. I've got to
pay for a home. I've got a busy lifestyle, but yet I've stayed
On the Net:
National Association for Physical Activity and Health: https://www.napah.ca
Association for Health and Fitness: https://www.physicalfitness.org
Reference Source 102