Home Ex: Working Out with the Pros
The beauty of this program is that Splichal uses standing positions for most of her workout. That’s key, notes Olson, since in daily life “we have to stand up, sit down, and sometimes be on our feet for longer periods. We want our core to be effective in helping us maintain our balance and posture.”
The video opens with “V-Core Basics,” which focuses on balance, strength, and posture. You lift your left leg, straighten it, hold, repeat this over and over, and bring your leg up to the side and behind you. Then you do these postures again with light dumbbells. In the next segment, “V-Core Dynamics,” you repeat these movements at a faster clip, which helps develop better balance, thereby decreasing the risk of falling and fracturing something.
In part three, “Floor Core,” you lie on a mat, performing exercises designed to work your pelvic muscles, abdominals, and gluteals. Dr. Splichal also uses 3- to 5-pound dumbbells, but, says Olson, you can do the workout without them.
Olson herself reprises many of these movements when teaching her own exercise classes. “After about five minutes, you begin to feel how good this is for your back,” she observes, “and how some of your really deep muscles—which you tend not to get to in typical workouts—are really doing a lot. Dr. Splichal’s program has done everything from building up the arches in my feet to strengthening my hips, back, and shoulders.” (63 minutes; $24.94; V-Coreworkout)
A Graphic Demonstration
At the top of Olson’s hit parade for muscle toning is Tracie Long’s Longevity: Defining Shape, a head-to-toe muscle-toning program that works all the major muscle groups—legs, abdominals, arms, and upper body.
A useful feature is an onscreen visual that shows what body parts are being toned at a given moment. “You can see, ‘This is what I’m working on now, and this is where I should be feeling it,’ ” notes Olson. “That motivates you to continue exercising and keeps you certain you’re working the right muscles the right way."
The video focuses on one muscle group at a time. In one set, you do lunges holding a dumbbell. In the next set, you add arms, doing overhead presses and bicep curls. “You end up burning a few more calories,” says Olson, “and you’re also moving more body parts at once, which is good for your coordination.”
Women 50-plus can definitely relate to this instructor because, notes Olson, Tracie Long was one of the early video instructors and is definitely fiftyish—a plus with many older women who, according to a recent article in The New York Times, feel more confident working out with instructors near their own age. (49 minutes; $19.99; Collage Video)
And for the real silver sneakers set—those in their 70s and 80s—there’s an age-appropriate trainer: 83-year-old Ann Smith, whose system of exercise, derived from her classical-dance training, combines ballet-like moves with slow, continuous stretching. Smith has been teaching exercise for some 50 years, and for the past 10 she’s also been conducting guest classes throughout the U.S. as an Ambassador for the 50-Plus Fitness organization of Palo Alto, California, part of a national effort to get people over 50 moving. Her latest video, Music, Movement and Longevity, combines selections from all her earlier DVDs. (107 minutes; $19.95; Ann Smith Videos)
In the “don’t-overdo” department, Olson suggests that, instead of trying to cram in cardio, core, and toning all on one day, you vary your routine on different days. “Cardio and toning workouts should each be done two to three times a week, and core training at least once a week. Exercisers can skip one day a week, maybe Wednesday, and then do both cardio and core workouts, say, on Thursday. And on Sunday”—in the tried-and-true tradition—“you rest.”
Margery Stein, a former editor at The New York Times and at several national magazines, writes about travel, health, business, and lifestyle issues for major consumer publications. She also consults, edits, and provides content for a range of online sites.