Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cardio Kickboxing - Versatile and Effective Calorie-Burning Workout

By Robert Vecchioni

Cardio Kickboxing is truly a full body workout. The class involves both upper and lower body work, combining punches, kicks, simulated rope skipping and a variety of other drills designed to increase your cardiovascular fitness, as well as your overall strength and fitness.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), a leading organization and certifying body in the field of fitness, notes that during a one hour kickboxing class, an individual can burn up to 800 calories!

At Electra Health Club and Spa, our own cardio boxing/kickboxing class “takes it up another notch” by utilizing free-standing punching bags. The addition of actual contact with a bag adds a great deal of intensity to the class, and by using strikes such as punches, kicks, elbows and knees with both power and speed, it is very possible to not only burn a large amount of calories but also to sculpt, build and tone muscle.

Another element of this class is that it provides a tremendous stress relief. Of course, any class that raises heart rate and releases endorphins is a natural stress reliever, but there is something about punching and kicking an object (and not hurting anyone!) that absolutely relieves stress in human beings. Sort of like a high energy pillow fight that goes on for an hour; who doesn’t feel great after that?!

A caveat is that this class is a high impact, intense class, so in the classic textbook definition, may not be for everyone. However, by making appropriate modifications both for your fitness level and your body limitations, it is a class that should be suitable for just about everyone.
Lastly, while this class does involve using a combination of kicks, punches and other strikes, it is not a class in which a person will necessarily develop self-defense skills. It is an aerobic based class, in which you will have fun burning calories and building muscle!

Electra does have a martial arts program onsite that is specific to the skills and techniques of self defense, and we encourage anyone who is interested in such to come in and visit our martial arts offerings.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Want Fast Results? Stabilize Your Cardio Workout

By Paul Boisvert

When thinking about losing body fat, most people automatically turn to aerobic exercise. Aerobic acivity occurs when a large muscle group is involved in a rhythmic movement for an extended period of time. In most cases, the hip and thigh muscles are the main muscle groups involved. Taking cycling, step, and kickboxing classes, as well as exercising on treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical trainers are all considered aerobic exercises. The heart and lungs work together to supply the oxygen needed to sustain the exercise. The body also turns to its fuel stores of glycogen and fat to process energy for the activity.

All of these factors make sure that regular aerobic activity conditions your heart, lungs and muscles for more strength and endurance. It will also evict some of those body fat stores in the process. These facts are widely accepted by the general public.

However, one important factor is consistently overlooked. It is most noticeable when you look over to the treadmills and elliptical trainers and see their users slumped over the display board or leaning into the front handles.

This shows a lack of core strength and can cause workout results to drag at a snail’s pace. It may also put your lower back out of commission. The core muscles make up the body’s trunk and hips. Their job is to maintain a strong base while other muscle groups are involved in movement. These core muscles keep the base strong by enforcing proper body alignment or posture. For treadmills and elliptical trainers, it is more effective to let go of the handles and remain upright with your shoulders down and back. You will notice an increase in the intensity level as you include your core muscles in the workout.

All of Electra’s group fitness classes rely on core strength for effective workouts. One example is our indoor cycling class which depends heavily on the stabilizer muscles of the trunk for effectiveness. Without them, the legs would do more work than they need to. It’s better to start all classes at your own pace as you progressively learn how to use your core muscles more efficiently.

Consider this new factor as positive addition to your aerobic workout. Your metabolism will get a boost as new muscles develop and strengthen, the added intensity level will burn more calories, and maintaining proper alignment will help you gain more control of your body for better workouts.

Please Remember This:
Regular aerobic training, regular weight training, and a healthy meal plan are all needed to bring on the results.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Martial Arts Program at Electra

We are proud to be partnering with Ancient Ways Martial Arts, the premier martial arts school in Manatee County. Ancient Ways will start offering martial arts classes at Electra on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Nov. 4. Follow this link to view the class schedule and fees.

Want to meet the instructors and learn more? Come to the club this Saturday, Nov. 1, 1 pm -3 pm to preview Ancient Ways' teaching style.

Here's what Master Boon Brown, founder of Ancient Ways, had to say about his school's method of teaching:
"Ancient Ways was founded with the idea of teaching martial arts techniques that will work, and the best way to do that is to teach each student as an individual. This is the core fundamental ideal behind the Celtic Martial Arts and Ancient Ways. We won’t teach you what we are great at doing, we are going to teach you what you can be great at doing. We believe what helps any art to grow is its exposure to the expressive difference in the artists. Martial Arts are no different. We have many students that have trained in other systems and found them to be impractical, too easy, or the instructor was too dogmatic. They now are our biggest advocates."

About The Instructors:
Master Boon Brown, founder of Ancient Ways, was raised learning the Celtic Martial arts from his family and is currently the only Professional Instructor in the country that teaches in this method. He was a World Champion in Tae Kwon Do earning a 4th Degree Black Belt in that discipline. He also earned a Black Belt in Hapkido. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Recreational Therapy. He worked for 2 years as a Recreational Therapist in a psych hospital where he had hundreds of real life self defense encounters. He learned in that environment which techniques his instructors had taught him were worthy and the ones that weren’t.

Sensei Phil Penticost has been a student of Master Brown’s for many years and an assistant instructor for two years now. He is a certified Ancient Ways Instructor and has completed all the course work for the Professional Martial Arts Teachers College as well as the American Top Team Instructor Training Course. Before training with Master Brown he trained for ten years in Tae Kwon Do and Jujitsu in Ireland. His presentation and presence is always uplifting, motivating and inspiring.

For more information, call Electra Health Club & Spa at 729-6900 or you can call Ancient Ways directly at 756-0800 or visit their website at

Friday, September 12, 2008

Free weight vs exercise machines

By Robert Vecchioni

First of all, what does the term free weights even mean?

In the American Heritage dictionary, the definition of free weights is a weight, such as a barbell or dumbbell, that is not attached to another structural device and is raised and lowered by use of the hands and arms in weightlifting.
Basically, in everyday lingo, free weights are barbells, dumbbells and other weights that are not machine driven or attached.

Many people who have never used free weights may be intimidated to do so, and that is unfortunate, because free weight workouts add an entirely different dimension to strength training.

One of the major health advantages of lifting free weights is that the muscles have to work harder to stabilize your body because you have to control the weight throughout space. This requires the use of more muscle per movement, which equates to a more challenging workout.
In contrast, when you use a machine, also known as pin loaded or selectorized equipment, the movement throughout space is pre-determined by the design of the machine, and thus your muscles move the weights through a predetermined angle and range of motion. Stabilizing muscles are much less involved.

Another major advantage of free weight training is that the range of motion and angles of the movement can be adapted specifically to a person's anatomy. A machine will have more restrictions, because again the movement/range of motion is determined by the machine itself and not the person's body. In this regards, often times a fuller range of motion is achieved by using free weights, which is also beneficial, as a greater range of motion will involve the use of more muscle fibers and create more flexibility.

Lastly, free weights allow you to more effectively perform compound movements; those exercises that move the body through more than one joint movement, thereby utilizing more muscle. (In contrast, isolation exercises only move the body through a single-joint movement. ). Compound movements use more muscle, including more core and stabilizer muscles, which will in turn burn more calories, to perform the movement. A great example of a compound movement that is easier done with free weights than machinery is a dumbbell squat and press, in which a pair of dumbbells are held at shoulder level, a squat is performed and at the top of the movement, the dumbbells are pressed overhead. This compound movement requires the use of at least 90% of the muscles of your body!

Still, with all of the benefits of free weight training, using strength training machinery does have a few advantages when compared to free weight use.

One of the major benefits of using exercise machinery is safety. When using a machine, since a predetermined angle and range of motion is utilized, the movement is less complex, and therefore there is less possibility for error and injury.

A second major benefit is that when using machinery, all that is typically required is a pull of a few knobs to set up the seat and hand positions, and inserting a steel pin in a slot. There is no loading up of plates required!
Most circuit training involves the use of machinery for exactly these two reasons, ease of set up and use and safety.

Lastly, machines can allow for an easier isolation, which makes it easier to target a specific muscle. This is particularly true for someone who is new to strength training and has not had much experience with isolating muscles during exercise. A great example of this is the seated leg extension. To isolate the quadriceps (frontal thigh muscles), the leg extension is more effective than a compound movement with free weights such as a squat. If you have ever experienced the burn from that last few reps of leg extensions, then you have a pretty good idea of what isolating a muscle can feel like!

The debate of which is better, machines versus free weights is like asking which is better for me, eating broccoli or eating carrots? Both are good for you and each play a role in your diet. One may have more appeal, but if you can manage to get both into you diet, then all the better.

Remember, you owe it to yourself to exercise!

Robert Vecchioni, co-owner of Electra, is a Florida licensed acupuncture physician. He also is a certified personal trainer who has worked in the fitness industry for more than 20 years.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Expanded Fitness Center

Electra has been expanding since March, and we've finally reached the last phases of our expansion/renovation plans. You might have been confused this week to see your favorite machines missing from their usual spots. Don't worry, they've just been moved to the newly opened fitness area downstairs on the 2nd floor.

Starting this week, members can use two workout rooms downstairs (just go towards the salon/spa and turn right into the stairwell. Follow the signs to the new rooms)
In the next two weeks, we also expect to have a variety of new strength training equipment delivered to the club.

If you have any questions about the upcoming machines, please ask one of our friendly staff members.

We appreciate your patience as we reconfigure our fitness center layout. We're almost done! We hope by mid-September, we'll have finished all the last touches to complete the expanded fitness area.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Reach Fitness Goals with Personal Training

Personal Training- An efficient and effective boost to your fitness success
By Robert Vecchioni

Have you ever wondered whether or not you should use a personal trainer? The answer is most often an unequivocal YES!

Here are a few typical scenarios in which a personal trainer can be a great boost to your fitness success:
1. You are just getting started again with an exercise regimen and need some initial guidance
2. You are in a rut and beginning to lose interest in your current routine
3. You are the type of person who continuously starts and stops an exercise program
4. You are just not getting the results that you want from your current routine
5. You have been doing the same routine for several months without changing it up.

A trainer fills many roles in a client's fitness regime; he or she is a coach, a motivator, and a teacher. As a coach, a trainer sets up a specific "gameplan" or exercise program designed to meet the needs and goals of their client, and then holds their client accountable to meeting those goals.
Also, the "coach" will do a baseline assessment, including a body fat analysis, measurements, and take blood pressure and pulse.

As a teacher, a trainer will demonstrate proper exercise technique and form, teaching the client the need for rest and recovery days, and the importance of using the two of these factors to prevent over training and other injuries.

The trainer/teacher is crucial in demonstrating and supervising multi-joint exercises, known as compound movements. These movements include squats, bench press, dead lifts, etc.. and performed incorrectly can be a sure road to injury. However, performed correctly these movements can really make the difference in providing noticeable results.

As a motivator, a trainer will be with you during the workout, pushing you to do that "one last rep" that is so hard to do on your own. Also, the motivator/trainer will be sure that you are adding constant variety to your routine.

If you perform the exact same exercises workout after workout, your body will become very efficient at performing that routine. That may sound good, but it isn't. Your muscles will adapt to the monotony, and stop responding. Varying your program-both the exercises and weight levels-not only keeps you mentally interested, but also ensures that your body keeps progressing.

Robert Vecchioni, co-owner of Electra, is a Florida licensed acupuncture physician. He also is a certified personal trainer who has worked in the fitness industry for more than 20 years.

Myths About Personal Training

Here are three misconceptions about personal training.
By Robert Vecchioni

Misconception- Using a personal trainer is too expensive.
Truth- This is the most common misconception. Hiring a personal trainer does not need to break your bank. In both Sarasota and Los Angeles, I have had clients train with me as many times as five days per week. Obviously, this was a very effective method to get into great shape, but not everyone can financially afford this approach.

I have also had clients who train with me only once per month. Members who have a tight budget can ration their personal training packages by setting appointments once per week, once every two weeks or even once a month.

Another option is partner sessions, in which a member splits the cost of a personal trainer with a friend, and they train together with the trainer. In any of these scenarios, our members can benefit from having the guidance of a personal trainer, regardless of their financial abilities.

Misconception-I already know what to do, and so I don't need a trainer.

Truth- This is a ridiculous myth, because even professional powerlifters and professional body builders use personal trainers. Powerlifters and body builders definitely know what they are doing, they are professionals and make a living out of fitness. They know that having a great personal trainer can make the difference in their success.

Misconception- A personal trainer is merely a luxury.

Truth-Personal training is no longer a luxury for only the "rich and famous" . Most anyone can utilize a personal trainer, it is just a matter of sitting down with a qualified professional and discussing fitness goals and available budget.

A personal trainer is not a luxury, it's a great investment in your health and well-being! At Electra Health Club and Spa, we are very proud to offer some of the best certified personal trainers in the region! Please come in and speak with us if we can answer any questions regarding the benefits of using a personal trainer.

Robert Vecchioni, co-owner of Electra, is a Florida licensed acupuncture physician. He also is a certified personal trainer who has worked in the fitness industry for more than 20 years.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Weight Train Like a Rock Star

By Paul Boisvert

A new class will be added to Electra’s schedule Wednesday, July 23.
It’s not an aerobics class. It’s not pilates or yoga.
It’s Power Play!!

Power Play is one hour of fun, high-energy weight training. Dumbbells and body weight are the primary tools. Power Play promotes strong, lean bodies with emphasis on postural and core strength. All exercises are designed for safety and effectiveness to support everyday functional movements.

The legs, butt, upper back, chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and abdominal muscles are Power Play’s target areas. The exercise movements are classic weight room gems that have been modified for safety and effectiveness.

Each muscle group is represented with a powerful rock or dance track to keep the motivation level high. Throughout each track, participants are challenged with speed and range changes. Recovery and stretching are offered between each track in preparation for the next big calorie burning song. Power Play ends with cool down stretches. This is your reward for a great workout.

Power Play will be here before you know it. Don’t miss this great experience.

What you will need:
-Heart and Soul
-A step with 2 to 3 risers/side (Electra has them in the room for you)
-Towel (You will sweat)

Paul Boisvert is a certified personal trainer at Electra. He will be teaching Power Play starting July 23.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What is Indoor Cycling?

A lot of our members are new to Indoor Group Cycling, the newest aerobics class offered at Electra. And many have been asking what it's all about. We thought we'd share with you this nicely researched piece written by one of our members, DJ Borbidge, who is the editor of the Terra Ceia Island Newsletter.

About “Indoor Cycling”… (published in June in the Terra Ceia Island Newsletter)
Indoor Cycling is a group exercise class done on stationary bikes. During the class, the instructor simulates a ride. Together, you travel on flat roads, climb hills, sprint and race! It is truly a fantastic cardiovascular class.

The beauty of indoor cycling is that you can do it even when it’s raining or too hot outside! You are kept motivated by the instructor, the people around you and by the music! It's lots of fun.
The benefits of indoor cycling, both physical and mental, can be enjoyed by almost anyone, regardless of age or fitness level. Perhaps this is why indoor cycling workouts were the most significant new fitness trend of the 1990s, and continue to gain in popularity today. And, while the many benefits may be enough to convince you to try this form of exercise, another equally enticing quality of indoor cycling is that it’s fun! Participants report that time spent during indoor cycling workouts seem to fly by, as opposed to other forms of cardio, and that they gain a real sense of accomplishment after completing a “ride.”

Saturday, June 7, 2008

North River News Article

Local reporter Charlie Miller of North River News visited our club in early June and wrote about Electra's new emphasis on fitness and wellness education. Through article photos, the paper also featured members as they worked out on some of the new cardio and strength training machines, particularly the video-game inspired Expresso bikes. Thank you North River News for such a wonderful article. We're proud to be a part of the community.