When you are first starting out an exercise program, the weight machines look like medivel torture devices, you don’t know a hamstring curl from a cheese curl and the cardio machine buttons might as well be written in assembly language. But stick around a few months and you’ll soon be quite comfortable – well, as comfy as one can be when being folded like a burrito on the butt machine. The problem comes a year or two down the road when one of two things happens: a) you are so comfy in your routine that you never ever do anything different and weep bitter tears when your favorite treadmill breaks down and must be carted out on a dolly or b) you are so bored with your routine that if you have to do one more chest press or fartlek you’ll be forced to join the Active Older Adults classes just get a little variety (they use a chair!).
No matter which camp you fall in (and I think you know where I am – those chairs were padded, baby!), I have got a book for you. Mark Verstegen, owner of the Athlete’s Performance Institute and trainer to luminaries like Mia Hamm (i.e. not the one who took her shirt off), Brett Favre (i.e. the most beloved or most hated football player of all time depending which side of the state line you live on. Me? I just want to know why his name is pronounced “FARV” when it is clearly spelled “FAVOR.” Not that I’ve embarrassed myself by mispronouncing it in public multiple times or anything. Ahem.) and Phil Mickelson (um, who?), has come out with a new book Core Performance Women.
This book is a culmination of Mr. Verstegen’s extensive experience training elite athletes. It covers both nutrition and exercise but since the nutrition section is pretty standard fare – six small meals a day each containing a protein, whole carb and healthy fat – I’m going to skip straight to the workouts. Boy howdy was I excited! So excited, in fact, that I broke out all my favorite exclamations including Good Golly Miss Molly and Gee Whiz Ma! There are pages and pages of exercises that I have not only never tried but have never even seen before. Even better they require very little equipment so every can join in the fun.
Verstegen bases his workout on a novel principle that to increase your performance you need to build up your core. But he means core in so much more than the Pilates sense. It turns out he’s a butt man. After waxing rhapsodic about watching women walk, he explains that since most of us spend so much time planted on our heinies that our glutes have become seriously underdeveloped and our hips have gotten majorly tight causing us to be “quad dependent” to walk and run. Apparently we were meant to be powered by the large gluteal muscles. This emphasis on training for efficient flexibility and form makes for a very different kind of workout.
For instance, check out this little move – the rotational reverse crunch hanging with stability ball – and tell me you have ever done anything like this before.
But now you want to try it, don’t you? So much more fun than crunches!
Not only does he offer a novel workout but it’s founded on some pretty serious science. The book offers a clearly illustrated workout with several levels of intensity that I’m dying to try out (look for it coming up in a future Great Fitness Experiment!). Plus, I had to love the book after Mr. Verstegen points out that the model they used to demo all the poses had just had a baby 7 weeks before the photo shoot! In addition to being a great testimonial for the program – she looks fab! – they kept it honest by not photo-shopping out her bit of tummy and letting her talk about her breast pump in the interview.
I don’t get overly excited about too many fitness books anymore – I’m afraid I’ve become jaded – but Core Performance Women is everything a new fitness book should be: well researched, well written and new. This is not a regurgitation of the same old, same old. Interested in trying it yourself? Leave me a comment telling me how you change up your workout and you’ll be entered to win your own copy! Don’t want to wait for the book (or too cheap to buy it)? Check out the Core Performance website for a wealth of exercise vids, recipes and really solid advice.
PS> Please tell me I am not the only one to call him Brett Favor??