Strong Reads for Fitness Fans

Click image above to view the entire set on Flickr.

Click image above to view the entire set on Flickr.

Health and fitness is one of the most blogged-about topics on the Web, with input and expert advice coming in from a myriad of sources. As a fitness enthusiast, I find this to be a great step toward encouraging others to live a healthy lifestyle and get active.

At the same time, however, this overload of information can be confusing and discouraging for many readers, especially those who are new to fitness and just starting to begin a healthy lifestyle. While some blogs will tell you to eat protein bars and lift weights, others swear by cardio and a carb-free lifestyle or a meatless diet supplemented with plenty of core-work. It is no wonder people are clueless when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.

There is no doubt that there are some uneducated health and fitness bloggers out there, but that pales in comparison to some of the great ones. I tracked down two very different health and fitness bloggers who have each made a unique impact in the Boston blogging world.

Rachele Pojednic’s science-backed blog, Strong Process, is one of the most well researched, informative blogs on health and fitness based in Boston. Pojednic uses scientific research to back every post, boiling the information down into layman’s terms, making Strong Process a great read even for fitness novices.

Emily Susen’s blog Sleep, Eat, Gym, Repeat, is an experiential-based fitness blog, where Susen (along with her co-blogger Erica Burnham write about their journeys to living healthy lifestyles. She has blogged about everything from a full-time career switch into fitness to “cheat days” when she skips a workout and enjoys dessert. An emphasis on honesty in blogging is what Susen strives for in every post.

While Pojednic and Susen have different opinions on the best ways to go about living a healthy and active lifestyle, they have a lot more in common than one would think. The two bloggers are great friends, working together at a small indoor cycling studio in the South End, Recycle Studio.

“We trade tips, both in person and back and forth through blog posts,” said Susen. Both bloggers agree that the ultimate goal for each of their blogs is the same: the desire to educate and help people truly enjoy fitness.

Katie Barrett, 21, is a Northeastern student majoring in Health Sciences and a student athlete who takes cycling classes with both Pojednic and Susen. “Their styles of teaching are so different from one and other,” Barrett said, “and unsurprisingly, so are their blogs.”

Barrett reads both blogs on a regular basis and has even been inspired to start her own. Her blog, Spinach and Spandex, is “a work in progress,” she explained. “As a health science major, I am really excited to delve into some nutrition based content. So far I’ve posted a few healthy recipes and people have really enjoyed them.”

Pojednic is currently completing her Ph.D. in exercise physiology and nutrition at Tufts University, working in Tufts’ Nutrition, Exercise, Physiology & Sarcopenia (NEPS) Lab. There she spends time training participants on their cardiovascular and muscular strength and then takes their blood and muscle samples down to the lab to look at the physiological processes that occur and change as an effect of their training.

Before starting at Tufts, Pojednic worked as a personal trainer for many Division I rowing and hockey teams in the Boston area.

“This was where I actually started blogging on Strong Process, almost seven years ago,” she explained. “I starting using the blog as a way for the athletes to track their process, look at team updates and get additional training tips, and that’s when people really started reading. When I started at Tufts, I updated with additional nutrition information and it’s really taken off.”

Strong Process has four categories — Move, Eat, Drink and Rest — and Pojednic updates the blog every two weeks, making sure her posts are well thought out and deeply researched before publishing. “The goal is to hopefully start disseminating some scientifically based information about science and nutrition that way,” she said.

“I blog to share my journey, to show that living a healthy lifestyle isn’t unrealistic,” explained Emily Susen of her blog, Sleep, Eat, Gym, Repeat. While many women in their mid-twenties would rather spend their mornings sleeping-in, Susen has recently made a lifestyle switch into fitness full-time.

About a month ago, Susen went from a career in advertising to becoming a full-time personal trainer and a daily 5 a.m. alarm-clock. When talking about her switch to full-time fitness, Susen explained it simply: “Fitness just makes me feel good. Our bodies were not designed to be sedentary — they’re designed to move!”

And move she does. Susen teamed up with her best friend and workout partner, Erica Burnham, to start their blog in July 2011. “We started following the Paleo Diet, and thought it would be a fun way to keep ourselves in line and to also do research about the diet,” said Susen.

SEGR began to pick up steam, and Susen was contacted by FitFluential, an organization that bring in fitness bloggers from around the country to help promote a fitness culture and encourage everyone to live a healthier lifestyle.

“Through FitFluential I have had the opportunity to work with several fitness brands, like Reebok, to do product and workout reviews,” Susen explained.

These product and workout reviews are the basis of Susen’s blogging. “I’m very honest in my posts- I talk about when I eat bad food, when I slip up in workouts, when I fall off the bandwagon,” she explained. “I think readers appreciate honesty, and I want to inspire others to get in shape or to continue to be healthy and active.”

Both Pojednic and Susen agree on one thing when it comes to encouraging others to start a fitness routine of their own — to find something you love. “There was a really interesting article in the New York Times that found, through research, that people will exercise more if they enjoy what they are doing,” said Pojednic. Susen agreed completely, adding, “Whether you are vegetarian, vegan, Paleo, a yogi, a CrossFitter — whatever, just do things and eat things that make you feel good.”

No Shoes, No Problem?

Barefoot, minimalist, “born to run” running has become a new trend in the running world… but it is not all that it’s cracked up to be. With Vibram 5 Fingers and New Balance Minimus shoes bombarding the market place, it is easy to think that this footwear is a lighter and more viable option to help you run faster and get stronger. While many runners rave that this is the way our ancestors ran, others rebute, finding running barefoot or in minimalist shoes can lead to serious injuries.

The Greatist (an amazing, science-y health and fitness blog) took a look at what these shoes (or no shoes) can do for your feet, referring to doctors who have studied them over the past few years. I loved the post written by Jordan Shakeshaft on the topic of these minimalist running techniques. Shakesaft not only talked with experts, but also went and tried out barefoot running for herself.

Here are a few takeaways from the post:

  • For some runners, going barefoot can be beneficial, encouraging a “biomechanically-efficient forefoot strike” which builds leg muscle.
  • For other runners who have had injuries in the past, more problems can be caused from taking away the support shoes provide.
  • Start slow and build muscle to train in running sans-shoes. Runners need to practice on different terrains for short increments of time and strengthen the muscles around your feet and calves. This will help prevent injury.

Ballet for Grownups

Distributed for Fair Use by KCBalletMedia on Creative Commons (http://www.flickr.com/photos/67555847@N06/6810922860/sizes/m/)

Distributed for Fair Use by KCBalletMedia on Creative Commons (http://www.flickr.com/photos/67555847@N06/6810922860/sizes/m/)

Being a ballerina isn’t just for little kids any more. According to Karen Barrow of the New York Times’ Well Blog, ballet style workouts are popping up all of the New York City area. Barrow visited Pure Yoga, a Upper West Side Manhattan studio where she participated in Figure 4, the studio’s ballet class. The class, Barrow reported, was a slow paced strengthening workout to tone ankles, feet and legs. There is also the benefit of increases flexibility for loyal Figure 4 participants.

Barre studios have been popping up around the country, but it is interesting to see some of these classes start to gear directly towards ballet focused movements. After researching the fitness trend a bit more, I have found a significant ballet-focused barre workouts, including a studio in Mesa, AZ called Ballet Fusion Fitness. Studio BFF, as it is known, offers a variety of ballet-focused barre classes, including Ballerobica, Ballet Boxing and Ballroom Fusion. The studio has even produced a set of workout DVDs called Ballerobica for those who would want to try out a ballet style workout in their own homes.

Really interesting stuff, and great for anyone who has had a background (even from childhood) in ballet or dance. I think this is another great step in encouraging people to find workouts that they love, a main goal of each and all of these studios. We’ll have to wait and see if something like this appears in Boston anytime soon…

 

 

 

Boston Globe Media Lab: More Than Print News

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Our class visit to the Boston Globe media lab was impressive to say the least. There were so many things going on at Boston.com that I had no idea even existed. Having the chance to tour the printing rooms and newsroom was great, but what really surprised me was the media lab that they have instituted over the past few years.

Snap: The Boston Globe’s own Instagram Syndication Program
Snap is an amazing program put together by the Globe to syndicate posts on the photo-sharing site, Instagram, and map them across the Greater Boston area. While at first this didn’t seem to be a newsworthy tool, I was soon proven wrong. They explained that this was a way for Globe writers to discover trend stories directly from their readers and Boston citizens. Features such as sorting by hashtags, geotags and dates were great and really well developed.

Twitter: Project Cascade
The Globe has been adamant about tracking the syndication of it’s reporters’ tweets. They have come up with a syndication and metrics tracker, Project Cascade, which measures the reach of every tweet posted by the Globe. By using bit.ly to host links to stories, Project Cascade, can see when one Retweet (by a celebrity or influencer) reaches a huge group of untapped readers/followers.

Radio BDC
Boston.com’s own internet radio station, Radio BDC, really seemed to be the future of radio. Streaming online only, Radio BDC plays a variety of genres of music and only has one minute of commercials every hour. Radio DJ, Adam Chapman, explained that this is what keeps their listeners involved and tuned-in. TSL (Time Spent Listening) for most radio stations is typically 20-30 minutes, while BDC averages 50 minutes per listener. Unlike Spotify and Pandora, this is an internet radio station that provides an element of humanity, explained Chapman. Having DJs, song requests and discussions all keep the listener involved.

Overall, the experience was great and it was really amazing to see an older print newspaper making huge steps in multimedia journalism.

Supporting Fitness at Northeastern

A quick post for the day:

I think that is so important that Northeastern’s Campus Rec program has recognized the need for more alternative fitness programs on campus. This year, they built a beautiful new fitness studio, Revolutionz, to be used for indoor cycling, kettle ball and yoga. Everyone should have the opportunity to find a workout that they love, and providing more opportunities for alternative fitness efforts is a great way to do so.

In a post on the New York Times’ Well Blog, it has been scientifically proven that individuals who enjoy their workout routine are far more likely to stick to their fitness goals. Finding what you enjoy and stick to is the most important part, and it is great to see Northeastern making steps toward providing students with options for a healthy lifestyle.

Revolutionz Studio in the Marino Center at Northeastern University. Photo taken by Megan Lieberman.

Revolutionz Studio in the Marino Center at Northeastern University. Photo taken by Megan Lieberman.