Thursday, August 24, 2006


While running do you worry that you are doing it correctly to achieve the most benefits? Your natural gait is best.

To find your healthiest running style, just forget about it, says running expert John Mercer, PhD, of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In contrast, consciously changing your stride stresses muscles and joints, raising the risk of injury. To find your best stride, Mercer suggests running on a variety of surfaces. "With your focus on changing terrains, there's no time to overthink how you should be running," he says. P.

Fusion--Whether Nuclear or Jazz--means combining different elements to create a new burst of energy. In the same way, exercise fusion blends two or three exercise methods - like yoga, Pilates and strength training - into a single class or regimen, providing a more interesting and invigorating workout.

The basic concept of exercise fusion has been known for a long time as "cross-training." Still, some people have trouble grasping what exercise fusion means since "fusion " is a catchall term that can be applied to virtually any combination of exercise.

The Aquatic & Fitness Center in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., promotes fusion classes that "intergrate Pilates core strengthening and Eastern yoga postures for both stretching and relaxing." At Life Time Fitness in Canton, Mich., fusion exercise means mixing salsa and hip-hop dance. Some gyms blend in activities such as ballet, boxing, cycling, swimming, tai chi and weight training. Some gyms even offer such fusion classes as Cardio Striptease, Disco Yoga and Cycle Karaoke- yes, that's singing while you cycle.

The beauty of fitness now is there are so many ways to work out for different personalities, body types and needs," says Mare Petras, a certified personal trainer in Sarasota, Fla.. "Fusion is a way for someone to get a little bit of everything in one workout."

James D. Chlovechok, MD, medical director of the Ohio Sports Medicine Institute in Cambridge, Ohio, says to be careful that the activities in the "little-bit-of-everything" category don't jar weak joints. If you have arthritis in your ankle or knees, for instance, go for low-impact exercise rather than hip-hop fusion. Before a fusion class, tell the instructor of any physical limitations and ask if he or she will work with you on alternative moves. Even something benign-sounding like yoga can range from soothing stretches to "power poses" that can tax some joints.

"The main thing is to listen to your body," Petras says. "And that also means finding a type of fusion that provides a full range of motion and is fun for you to do." Y.S.F.

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