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Evolution of Sport – Gymnastics

From Ancient Greece to the modern-day Olympics, gymnastics has been holding onto the hearts of the masses for millennia. This high-energy sport focuses on both the body and the mind, and is, in today’s world, considered a serious spectator sport. As time has gone by, gymnastics has evolved and experienced many changes in style, equipment, and even fashion. Let’s take a look at some of those changes:

The Evolution of Gymnastics

Ancient Greece

Gymnastics was originally created to aid Greek soldiers in their preparations for war. It was held as a mandatory part of Greek education, and eventually found its way to the United States where it was adopted for military training in the early 19th century.

19th Century

In the late 18th and early 19th century, the “grandfather of gymnastics”, Johann Friedrich Guts Muth and the “father of gymnastics”, Freidrich Ludwig Jahn of Germany were credited respectively for developing the defining principles of natural and artistic gymnastics. They also designed some of the more notable styles and apparatuses for the sport, including: the parallel bars, the rings, the balance beam, the horse, and the horizontal bar.

In 1891, the International Gymnastics Federation was formed to supervise international competition, and was followed shortly after by inclusion of gymnastics in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

20th Century

During the 20th century, gymnastics fell to the wayside in military training in lieu of weapons and technology training. It was during this time that the sport began to stand alone and build up additional notoriety as an “everyman’s sport.”

Women joined the ranks in the Olympic Games and first competed in the Olympics in 1928, and floor exercises were added to routines in 1932. In 1954, the sport was standardized and given clear definition for women and men. In 1972, Olga Korbut helped elevate women’s gymnastics from a focus on grace to include strength and power in competition scoring. Soon after, in 1976, Nadia Comaneci earned the first perfect 10.

In the 1990s, the International Federation of Gymnastics overhauled the scoring system, making a score of 10 more difficult, and therefore assisting in the differentiation between a good score, and a great one.

21st Century

In the 2000s, scoring changed again amidst Olympic controversy, and the scoring system was replaced with a more accurate and complex judging procedure. In modern gymnastics competitions, there are six men’s events and four women’s events scored. Men perform a floor routine, the pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars, and the horizontal bar, while women tackle the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and a floor routine.  Ever competitive and engaging, these events remain some of the most popular attractions of the Summer Olympic Games.

gymnastics timeline

The Evolution of Gymnastics Style in the United States

Back in the days of Nadia Comaneci, the gymnastics leotard was a fairly plain garb. During the days of Kerri Strug in 1996, the more common ponytail was replaced with short hairdos. Between 1992 and 1996, scrunchies were adopted by the USA team, setting them apart from their competitors. In 2004, leotards began to evolve into more eye-catching fashions, to include changes in fabrics and colors, and added sparkle. In 2008, the leotards reverted to a more conventional single color with a modest sprinkle of crystals. In 2012, the United States presented a gymnastics team with a leotard fashion that broke ground. Made out of a material called Mystique, these outfits generated quite a buzz with their shine and sparkle. We can only surmise that future leotards will follow this trend and the 2016 games will be more brilliant than ever.

The Evolution of Gymnastics Equipment

Gymnastics equipment has become more advanced the as time has passed, evolving from inflexible wood and narrow beams to bouncier and more forgiving materials.

  • Pommel Horse – The pommel horse was originally used to practice — you guessed it — mounting and dismounting horses. Originally invented by the Romans for this purpose, it has evolved over time from a simple wooden block to a metal, rounded mount covered with foam and leather.
  • Vaulting Table – The vaulting table has experienced a dramatic change in recent years. Sprung from a number of accidents between 1980 and 1990, the original vaulting horse was exchanged for a new vaulting table, which is now the standard for both men and women’s gymnastics.
  • Rings – Rings were invented in the early 1800s, and have experienced a number of changes in their construction, including renditions in iron, rubber, and wood. In today’s competitions, rings are typically made of wood.
  • Bars – Bars were originally fixed wooden rails. Today’s bars look much different, evolving into flexible, adjustable rails that offer more shock absorbing qualities, along with bounce that helps gymnasts achieve higher heights.
  • Balance Beam – The balance beam was late on the scene, not arriving to the Word Championships until 1934. Originally narrower and measuring only 8 cm wide, it was eventually widened to 10 cm. As somersaults and handsprings began to be incorporated into routines, the balance beam was reconstructed to increase elasticity and ensure safety and stability. Today’s beam is also padded and cushioned to help prevent injury.
  • Floors – Floor routines have more bounce these days thanks to improved flooring materials, with springier springs, and cushier landings.

New Technologies and Their Impact

Along with enhancements to the standard equipment, today’s coaches and athletes have the benefit of modern computer technology and other devices that can help athletes take an objective view of their performance.

With motion sensors and apps like Blast Athletic Performance that allow athletes to review and sort their routine video highlight reels, they can learn and improve by watching and re-watching their performance at regular speed or in slow motion for even greater detail. State-of-the-art software and wearable tech can also identify actions and review metrics such as height, acceleration, rotation, and more, giving users a never-before-seen inside look at their every motion.

New medical equipment such as MRI machines can also help coaches and athletes detect injury faster; and braces and medications lead to faster healing times and less chance of re-injury.

Gymnastics has come a long way from its Greek roots, but the essentials remain the same. Each routine requires an exceptional amount of balance, flexibility, style, strength, and control. With an origin that greatly differs from the well-known and popular spectator sport of today, gymnastics has benefitted over the years from advancements in adaptive technology, evolving fashions, equipment updates, and a sustained enthusiasm.

For more information about how technology can be used to enhance your athletics, take a look at our Wearing and Sharing Infographic.

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Trick-Or-Tracking? Fitness Trackers Versus Motion Sensors [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why simple fitness trackers may not be your best option for fitness improvement.

wearable versus motion sensor infographic

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Fitness Trackers & Wearable Tech Are On the Rise:

Fitness trackers are all the rage — especially amongst 16 to 24 year-olds — and the wearable technology trend is only increasing.

  • 41% of active Americans own, and use, one or more wearable devices.
  • By 2016, worldwide spending on wearable tech will climb to $1.4 billion.
  • 69% of U.S. adults track their exercise, diet, weight, blood pressure, or sleep patterns using a variety of different methods.
  • 75% of NYC Triathlon survey respondents said they planned on using wearable tech to track their speed and distance during the race.

Do fitness trackers work?
You may have surpassed the benefits of your simple fitness tracker. Could it be time to look into a more accurate, higher-capability device?

  • Fitness trackers can make it easier for you to track your overall fitness progress.
  • They’re not designed to push you to workout — they only make it easier to monitor your accomplishments.
  • Fitness trackers can also be linked to social networking accounts. This allows you to share your fitness accomplishments online, which can have a positive impact on your perception of fitness and health.
  • Fitness trackers are becoming more accurate. One study focused on the accuracy of the top five fitness trackers. The study noted that all five were able to track within 10% accuracy the total number of steps that were taken during the study. The study noted though, that the devices weren’t as accurate when tracking agility movements, and they were not as accurate when tracking total calorie burn.
  • What does that mean? Fitness trackers are great for tracking specific movement-related or time-related goals — like steps taken or total time spent exercising. They also work more efficiently for certain activities, like running or walking, as opposed to agility-based exercises, like using the elliptical machine or participating in sports.

Want more than a simple fitness tracker? Here’s what you need, and how to use it.

If you are serious about fitness improvement, as opposed to simple progress logging, then you should learn about motion sensor technology – used for performance enhancement and sport-specific goals. Motion capture technology (like the Blast Motion products) gives you a wide range of metrics.

  • Set a goal: If you’re looking to increase your hang-time, speed, height, jump acceleration and more, then a simple fitness tracker won’t cut it. These types of goals call for motion sensor wearable technology that records your movements and gives you incredibly accurate, complex results.
  • Attach it: If you are playing basketball or doing gymnastics, place the sensor on your clothing; if you are playing golf or baseball, attach the sensor to your club or bat. This strategic placement allows the precision motion sensor to get the most accurate reading.
  • Sync it up! Pair your sensor with iPhone and grab a friend to record you in action. The app creates a slow-mo video with overlaid metrics. You control the speed at which the video is replayed to gain deeper performance insight.
  • Share your metrics: Also, share your video clips via social media directly from the app. Friends, family, and fans can join in in watching your progress and accomplishments.
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How to Take Your Fitness Performance to the Next Level

The pursuit of any achievement in life takes more than dreaming. Goal setting with measurable outcomes should be a part of anything you really want to accomplish. For athletes, knowing how to set realistic goals while pushing personal limits is the key to consistently improving.

baseball

Take a look at these suggestions for aiming high, being real, and working hard to achieve any physical performance goal:

Start where you are, right now.

If you’ve been out of a workout routine for a while, or are starting something completely new, take a realistic look at where you are at physically. If you have not run more than a mile in a year, don’t go out and try to run three miles on your first workout. Overloading yourself upfront leads to a greater chance that you will burn out before you even have a real chance at working towards your goal.

Work backwards.

What is your end goal? Is it a new skateboarding trick you want to master? Is it to nail your upcoming volleyball game? Find a short-term (within 6 months) goal, and then work backwards. If it is to accomplish a new trick, sign up for a contest and make that date your end goal, then figure out how much you’ll need to train or practice until then. You might be surprised how much progress you can make on your fitness and athletic goals when there is a foreseeable deadline.

Go beyond measurable outcomes.

It’s important to put a number or benchmark on your athletic goals, but it’s also important to remember that in addition to physical performance, self-determination, mental fortitude, and pushing yourself beyond what you think you can accomplish are all part of the improvement and skill development process. You should always set behavioral goals meant to improve your attitude and commitment to athletic performance.

If you’re a basketball player having trouble with free throw consistency, make it a goal to practice your free throws for at least 30 minutes every day, and then set up scrimmages to simulate the pressure that will be placed on you during a game. Maybe you’re a BMX rider and can’t quite get the feel down for a seamless 360, make it a goal to head to the foam pit for several hours a day, four days a week, and track your metrics with a motion sensor combined with a slow-motion video replay. Having this data and video footage during practice can really help you perfect your rotation technique, making it easier to nail on the real jumps. Dream big, but also pick a goal that’s attainable and one that you’re willing to work for.

Recognize what is out of your control.

There are a lot of things that could happen to push your goal off track. This is especially true if you participate in team sports. You can only control your own performance – and even then, there will be times that life gets in the way. If you have a day where you just can’t meet your goals, despite the best efforts on your part, don’t get frustrated. Start again tomorrow. Remember that as long as you don’t give up, you haven’t failed.

Find accountability partners.

Perhaps you like the solitude that a good workout brings. Not everyone enjoys socialization and fitness combined, and that’s okay. It’s still important to find people who can keep you accountable for your fitness goals. You can find this in online groups, through fitness coaches, on fitness websites, at your gym, or just in your circle of friends and loved ones. For all you techies, incorporating a motion sensor into your routine cannot only help you track, monitor, and improve your performance, but you can now record yourself and automatically create highlight reels.  Share your fitness goals and accomplishments with them and ask them to keep you accountable.

Reward yourself.

Give yourself short-term and long-term rewards for your accomplishments. Maybe you’d like to spend some money on new clothes when you reach a certain weight, or you want to treat yourself to your favorite drink after a week of hard workouts. It’s okay to allow yourself to celebrate in small, fun ways that don’t take you completely off your athletic performance track.

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Active-ly Avoid Sports Injuries E-Book

Even if you’re an experienced athlete, you are not immune to sports injuries. While you may feel as though you’re invincible when you’re hitting a big slam dunk or scoring a hole-in-one, everyone can be vulnerable to immediate or long-term damage to muscles, tendons, and joints.

The human body is capable of fantastic feats of athleticism, but over time it wears down, causing numerous issues for active individuals and athletes. Muscle tears, sprains, and strains are unfortunately common, and if you push yourself beyond your limits, you could cause irreparable harm to vital limbs. You wouldn’t want to forsake your athletic prowess because of an easily avoided injury. The key is to know how to identify where things could go wrong, and correct improper movements before it’s too late.

In this e-book, we examine four popular sports to see where the root of their most common athletic injuries lie, how to treat them, and what can be done to help prevent them.

Click the image below to view the e-book.actively ebook

Download the e-book by clicking on the image above.

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Sculpting the Spike: How to Improve Your Volleyball Performance

Ready, set, spike. You have the basics down, but when you’re passionate about your game, a basic understanding of the fundamentals isn’t going to cut it. You want to be quick. You want to be strong. And with the right practice techniques, your team can improve their serves and master their spikes. Get started with these tips for improving your volleyball game.

volleyball performance

Hit the Weight Room

Most volleyball teams do a lot of running, and they diligently practice their techniques, but few make it to the weight room. While practicing your serves and your spikes will definitely help you improve your technique, it’s also vital that you build up your strength to get more power. Many of the moves in volleyball involve the arms and shoulders, so don’t ignore the importance of a strong and flexible upper body.

Need a workout plan? Stack.com shares a regimen that will get your body in shape for better serves.

Engage in Team Building Exercises

Your team members may be some of the strongest, quickest volleyball players around, but if they don’t work effectively as a whole, your performance on the court is going to suffer. Where many teams focus on the physical aspects of the game, you can improve your overall team performance by spending a bit of time on the mental elements. Not only should team members feel comfortable around each other, but they should know each other well enough to work as one during the game.

You can start with team-building and communication games, but there are other, sometimes better ways to build a cohesive team. Some suggestions include:

  1. Switch up the players’ positions during practice. Not only will teammates get more experience in different roles, but they will learn to develop better communication skills, having played the game from a new point of view.
  2. Meet up outside of practice in a non-competitive environment, such as a get-together at a teammate’s house.
  3. Take time to encourage team members to share their feelings when the team experiences conflict and negativity.

Turn to Technology

When you and your team are in shape and devoted to practice, yet still missing something in your technique, turn to technology. Use your iPhone camera to videotape your practices and games to help you see where you and your teammates can improve on form, placement, speed etc. Team up your iPhone camera with a quality application like Blast Athletic Performance to automatically create video highlight reels – no editing required – that can also be seen in slow motion with captured performance metrics right on the video. Using wearable tech can give you individual analytics that will help guide your training and improve your performance.

Don’t Stop When the Season is Over

Volleyball season doesn’t last long, but for many volleyball players, the season is all they have until next year. Afterward, they’ll take a break, which means that next year, they’ll have to work harder to get back up to where they were at the end of the last season.

You can put yourself ahead of the competition by staying in the game year-round. Not only will it keep you strong and agile, but with more practice, you’ll have more time devoted to improving your skills. Chances are you can find a summer league in your area, which will help you hone your skills before the season starts. During the winter and spring, consider meeting up with friends or team members once a week or so for a scrimmage.

Like any sport, you can improve your volleyball game through more practice. However, practice should be about more than just staying in shape, it should be about targeting specific areas for improvement and making the right adjustments. Talk with your team about where you can improve as a whole, and outline goals for each team member so you can hone in on individual performance that will lead to success for the entire team.

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Tees Through the Times: The Evolution of Golf

From the Scottish Moors to the US Open, golf has experienced quite a few changes during its journey through time. Once restricted to the elite, golf has found its way into the television sets and hearts of enthusiasts across the globe. It hails from humble roots as a small feather ball and wooden club, and has since been modernized by the latest in laser technology and hybrid materials. Needless to say, there is a long-documented history of love for the game of golf.

The Early Evolution of Golf

Golf originated on the eastern coast of Scotland during the 15th century. Beginning as simple pebbles knocked around sand dunes, golf has come a long way since its early days.

  • In 1457, the sport was banned because of an increased devotion to the games of golf and soccer, and a decreased interest for sports such as archery, that lended themselves more aptly towards military training.
  • In 1502, the ban was lifted by James IV, who was himself a fan of the sport. As golf increased in popularity, King Charles I picked up the game in England, and Mary Queen of Scots broke ground as the first known female golfer. She brought the sport along to France where she coined the term ‘caddie’ in reference to her French military cadets who assisted her as she played.
  • In 1744, the first golf club was formed: the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. This club officiated the 13 rules of play.
  • In 1786 the first golf club was formed outside of the UK, the South Carolina Golf Club in Charleston, United States.
  • In 1860 the first tournaments began in Prestwick, Scotland.
  • Fast forward to 1953, and the first golf tournament hit television screens, followed in 1990 by the Golf Channel, which brought the game into living rooms across the nation. By the early 20th century, golf began to look very much as it does today.

The Evolution of Golf Equipment

The first golf balls were made of hardwood, and were later replaced with leather pouches stuffed with feathers called “featherie” balls. These balls came with some issues; namely that they warped after being exposed to the elements or whacked around for a while. Since that time, the traditional golf ball has changed dramatically. In the mid-1800s, the gutta-percha ball, or “guttie” was created. Made from dry sap, it was heated and shaped, and was much cheaper to manufacture than feather balls. From then, golf balls have changed into the form we see today. Dimples in the ball were found to help with consistent flight, and a standard solid golf ball was eventually created in lieu of previous models with layered internal components. Now the market holds many types of balls, with varying numbers of pieces.

A dramatic evolution can also be seen in golf clubs over the years. Woods and metals were experimented with, along with varying centers of gravity. Players initially carved their own clubs (or more likely, had them carved) from wood such as beech, holly, pear, and apple. As the cost of creating clubs was steep, the game was initially limited to the elite. In the 1800s, a handful of Scottish club makers began exporting their crafted clubs around the world. By 1900, the slow adoption of steel-shafted clubs had begun, but they were not technically legal in the game until 1928. Because there were a wide number of clubs available, a 14 club rule was adopted in 1938 by the United States Golf Association. Since then, clubs have evolved through all matter of synthetic materials. In modern times, there are countless models of golf clubs on the market to serve just about any style of player.

The Evolution of Golf Attire

There’s more to the game of golf than simply the swing. Golf attire has been an important attribute of the golfing culture and can be traced back to the stylish outfits of Bobby Jones in the early 20th century. Back in those days, players dressed formally in dress shirts and ties. This formal dress relaxed over time, specifically during a heat wave in 1933 that encouraged players to ditch the wool and lighten their load with breezier fabrics such as flannel. Polos hit the scene in the 1950, and are credited to the golfer Ben Hogan. In the 1960s Doug Sanders flamboyantly marched across courses in rich colors and intricately patterned shirts and pants. Loud and proud polyester and plaid came aboard in the 1970s until Payne Steward revived traditional formal wear in the 1980s, when classic looks retook the greens. Later in 2010, Ryan Moore introduced updates to the traditional golf attire by adding cardigan sweaters, vests, and ties into the mix. Undoubtedly we will see the evolution continue as golf style remains a strong component of the sport.

New Technologies and Their Impact

New technologies are drastically changing the face of golf. Aerodynamics, club weights, and a wide variety of different materials have all contributed to the evolution of the game.

  • Golf balls today have split from their standard one-piece construction. Although such a ball flies straighter, two- to five-piece balls can aid a player in increasing their distance, and are often adopted by more advanced players.
  • Hybrid golf clubs have been introduced to help golfers launch their balls with better results – allowing new players to experience a club that is more forgiving to those with an imperfect swing.
  • The putter face has also received a makeover in recent years to become more balanced and targeted.
  • Golf shoes have become expertly crafted to include additional padding, support, and water proofing.
  • Rangefinders help golfers decide just which club to use by providing laser technology that determines how far the golfer is away from a hole, and gauges slope and wind.
  • Wearable tech enables golfers to improve on performance by analyzing swing speed, displaying slow-motion videos, and offering complex, real-time metrics.

Golf is a sport with deep origins, and is a common pastime for both the serious player and the after-work enthusiast. We will no doubt continue to see the game of golf evolve as we move into a future full of technological advances and a sustained passion to play a round or two on one of the countless courses across the world.  

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Ennis Exclusive: An Interview With the NBA’s Own, James Ennis (Miami Heat)

Professional NBA player, James Ennis, sat down with Blast Motion for an exclusive interview. Take a look below to learn about Ennis’ journey, his views on sports and technology, his practice tips, and his advice for the next generation of players.

ennis

“My favorite [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Blast] Basketball Replay metric is hang time. So much of my game is spent above the rim, so it’s great to see how I’m matching up every time.” – Ennis

Blast Motion Interviews Miami Heat Small Forward, James Ennis

Question: When/how did your love of basketball take form? How old were you?

James Ennis: My love for basketball came early on when I was in middle school.  At age 13 I moved to Florida, and from then on my life centered around basketball.  

Q: Does anything in your life take priority over basketball?

JE: My family always comes first – we have been through a lot together – but basketball is right up there with them.

Q: Is there a current or former basketball player you look up to?

JE: Magic Johnson has always been one of my biggest inspirations. He has inspired the player I am now and the player that I continuously push myself to become. He was an incredibly selfless player, meaning he did whatever it took for the team to win – as opposed to being too focused on the spotlight. Not only has he been an inspiring man on the court, but off the court as well.

Q: Other than basketball players, is there someone you look up to or try to model your life after?

JE: I look up to my parents because they came from nothing – and still to this day don’t have a lot – but they were always there to raise and support me and my five siblings.

Q: What combination of the following does it take to be a great basketball player: physical strength, technique, physical height, practice, determination, attitude, etc.?

JE: I don’t think there is a perfect combination to be a great basketball player – and that’s the best thing about it. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but as long as you train hard enough, have a positive attitude, and remain determined, you have the ability to do well. However, I have learned that a lot of it has to do with your mental strength.

Q: How many hours per week do you spend on the court or in the gym?

JE: That varies each week. I try to spend as much time as I can improving my game – around 40 hours or more.

Q: How do you incorporate the Blast basketball sensor into your training on and off the court?

JE: The Blast basketball sensor has really improved my training. I wear it when I’m practicing on the court because it allows me to track my progress and push myself that much harder.

Q: What is your favorite/most-used metric offered by the Blast Basketball device (i.e. hang time, acceleration, etc.)?

JE: My favorite [Blast] Basketball Replay metric is hang time. So much of my game is spent above the rim, so it’s great to see how I’m matching up every time.

Q: Has technology changed how you approach practice, improvement, or performance?

JE: Technology has changed the game. Personally, technology has really helped me with improvement. The new tools and analytics have pushed me harder because I can see where I started and how much improvement I’ve made since then – it’s really motivating.

Q: Could you see Blast Basketball Replay being valuable for your entire team or for your coach to use during practice?

JE: Definitely, I think the whole team could benefit from the Blast technology. Analytics are becoming the future of sports.

Q: The Blast Basketball Replay offers a clip of your movement with overlaid metrics, have you been able to share those clips with any of your friends, family, or fans?

JE: Yes I have. I think it’s a great way to communicate with my fans and share my training/progress over social media.

Q: You have a pretty big family, are any of your siblings interested in Basketball? Have you tried using the Blast Basketball product with them?

JE: My two younger brothers play basketball. Jammal is 21; he’s playing at Ventura College – the same school I went to. Jamar plays as well, and he is a sophomore at Ventura High School. They’ve both enjoyed using the Blast Basketball product. They think it’s easy to use and useful for hang time. They have fun comparing who hung the longest in the air.

Q: Do you have any other hobbies outside of basketball? Could you see the Blast technology being useful for any of those activities?

JE: I love staying in the weight room, so I use it there for plyometric exercises. And I used to skateboard as a kid, so after seeing some skaters use this device I’m going to have to give it a try for that sport as well.

Q: Do you have a ritual you follow to get yourself pumped up before each game?

JE: I do have a ritual, after I shoot around I usually get some good nutrition then relax mentally and physically for a little bit. Then I watch highlight videos, head to the arena, and watch film before warming up my shooting.

Q: What advice would you give to young, aspiring basketball players who would like to make it to the NBA just like you?

JE: My advice would be not to give up. Try to focus on your strengths and use those to your advantage, and then look at your weaknesses and improve upon those. Most importantly, follow your dreams and give it your all – anything can happen.

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5 Tips to Help You Effectively Improve Your Cardio

Let’s say you’re someone who’s become bored with cardio exercise. Maybe your experience with cardio workouts has been simply mediocre and dull; maybe you’re generally a fan of cardio, but you’ve hit a plateau and have become bored. Thankfully, improvement to your cardio workout is not only possible, but vital to keep you engaged and in your best form.

cardio

With only 24 hours in a day, and only a certain percentage of those hours dedicated to physical activity, you’re not going to want to waste any time – so why would you devote your precious minutes to cardio that’s ineffective? It’s true that any exercise is better than no exercise, but for those who are dedicated to making every second count, it’s definitely worth it to look into ways to maximize your efficiency.

Why you Need Better Cardio

A number of athletic studies have been done in recent years to find out the “best” ways to do cardio activity, and a surprising number of studies have come up with the same conclusion: that how you train is more important than how long you train. For those who juggle exercise time with other life commitments, the idea that you can do cardio for a shorter amount of time and reap bigger results is fantastic news.

The key here is that you need to stay engaged, and you need an action plan beyond setting up a magazine on the elliptical. “Your cardio training should be approached with the same precision and details as a well-executed weight training program,” says Muscle and Fitness. “By paying closer attention to intensity levels and duration, gym-goers can reap the benefits of an intense session without wasting away their day slogging miles on the treadmill.”

How to Maximize your Cardio Workout

Now that you’re ready to get a better workout in a shorter period of time, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of tried and true options for cardio that will make a difference. There are many websites online where you can find tips for scientifically effective cardio, but here’s a summary of the five main tips you’ll find:

  • Do a dynamic warm-up: Preparing one’s body for exercise is a crucial step that many people decline to take, and skipping a dynamic warm-up (no boring stretches here!) can be detrimental to your cardio capacity. Try a 10-minute warm-up consisting of leg swings, arm swings, squats, crab walks and duck walks, push-ups, and sit-ups. This should get your system limbered up and ready for what’s ahead.
  • Tabata: The crossfit enthusiasts have it right – the use of tabata exercises revs up your cardio and burns a huge number of calories in very little time. The idea is 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off – so for 20 seconds you work as hard and fast as you can, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for four minutes. (A trainer at Greatist recommends that less experienced people can dial down to 10 seconds on, 20 seconds off.) Tabata can be done with everything from sprints to rowing machines to cycling, making it a great multi-use workout that will get your heart pumping and lungs working hard.
  • Interval training: Similar to tabata, interval training ensures that you won’t get bored – instead, it’ll keep you working and constantly moving. In fact, the type of interval training most scientifically proven to be effective, HIIT (high intensity interval training), recommends that you alternate short bursts of all-out energy with brief recovery times. It can be a little more flexible than tabata, though, so try out interval training on a stationary bike (spin classes are great for this). Constantly moving between high energy output and short recovery will keep your heart up and boost your metabolism.
  • Mix it up with weights: You’ll get an even better workout if you add strength training intervals in between your cardio. The site recommends adding bodyweight exercise during your rest period rather than simply stopping between intervals. This means you’ll be working even more muscles groups than you’d get through cardio alone. If you’re doing tabata sprints, try doing 10 kettlebell swings – one swing per second – for your 10 seconds of rest time.
  • Use a fitness tracker: If you’re truly unconvinced that your cardio capacity is improving, try an exercise tracker. Technology has come so far these days that trackers can assess the intensity of your workout as well as if you’re expending enough energy. And if you’re playing baseball, basketball, or taking a spin on your skateboard an exercise tracker will let you know exactly how hard you’re going, and if you’ll need to dial back or turn it up.

Conclusion

More work in less time – that’s the magic of effective cardio. Ensuring that both you and your muscles don’t get bored is paramount to embracing the cardio burn, plus it goes a long way in developing a healthy love for a well-rounded exercise habit. Just remember to keep track of your athletic performance – you might be amazed at how much your cardio capacity expands.

What type of cardio best works for you? Let us know in the comments.

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Shifting into Shape: The Evolution of Fitness Trends [INFOGRAPHIC]

Slow and Steady Wins the Race? OR Fast and Efficient Gets Results?

We’ve seen a huge change in fitness trends over the past few decades. We’ve altered the way we define effective cardio and strength training, and on top of that we’ve added an incredible amount of technology into the mix. Our workouts today focus on reaching results faster and more efficiently.

Check out this infographic to see how we’ve managed to make our workouts more powerful than ever!

evolution of fitness infographic

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Cardio Trends

  • Past Trend: Used to do at least 20 minutes of cardio to reach fat-burning levels.
  • Current Trend: Now we reach higher fat-burning levels in under 20 minutes.
    • The workout – high-intensity interval training (HIIT) #2 Fitness Trend of 2015 (according to ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal)
    • What’s the logic behind that? When you “damage” your muscle tissues (as you do in this type of extreme workout), your body uses up more energy to repair those tissues.
    • This tissue repair ramps up your metabolism during the workout and maintains it for hours after.
  • Past Trend: Cardio is not used to build muscle mass.
  • Current Trend: Cardio exercises can help you gain muscle faster.
    • Hours upon hours of cardio may hold back some of your muscle gain, but quick and intense cardio workouts (i.e. getting your heart rate up to max levels for shorter periods of time) boost your metabolism and help you build muscle faster.
    • Keep in mind that if muscle building is your goal, then you should be consuming more calories than you’re burning.
    • Cardio also gives you a healthier heart and better blood circulation, pushing nutrients to your muscle tissue and repairing your muscles faster.

Weight Training & Strengthening Trends

  • Past Trend: Get a perfect six-pack with weighted ab crunches.
  • Current Trend: Use stabilizing exercises to get that gorgeous six-pack.
    • Weighted crunches can definitely help define your six-pack, but what that’s really doing is growing your muscle.
    • If you do too many weighted crunches you can end up looking bulky in your stomach rather than lean.
    • Stability training and balancing exercises engage your core and all the muscle fibers in your abs.
    • This core engagement tones your abs while burning calories, creating a leaner look.
  • Past Trend: Add muscle mass through isolated strengthening exercises.
  • Current Trend: Get faster, more desirable muscle-building results with compound exercises.
    • The muscle growth hormone is released proportionally to how many muscle fibers you hit, so the logic here is that the more comprehensive your exercise, the more growth hormones are released.
    • Compound exercises include: Squats with weight, lunges, deadlifts, etc.
    • You can do fewer reps and sets, and quickly get out of the gym and on with your day.

Technology + Fitness Trends

1990’s

  • Thighmaster – A small, simple device you place between your legs which you squeeze together to work out your hip adductors.
  • ROM Gym – A full-body workout machine that works muscles, cardio, and flexibility (looks like stationary bike with extra features).

2000’s

  • MyFitnessPal – an app for the iPhone which allows users to track their workouts and eating habits, as well as share their progress with the user community.
  • Wii Fit – A video game workout you have to interact with to “play”. The game features yoga, strength training, aerobics, and balance games that you can play with your friends and family.

2010’s

  • Flywheel – Data-driven, competitive spin classes featuring high-tech stationary bikes.
  • OMsignal – Fitness tech clothing that can track your heart rate, steps, breath and more.

Today (2014-2015)

  • Blast Motion Technology – A wearable fitness tech piece that links to your smartphone or GoPro and captures highlights of your fitness activities. The technology replays your highlights with metrics laid over the footage. Used for sports like baseball, basketball, and golf; action sports like BMX, motocross, and skateboarding; and other activities like gymnastics, weightlifting, and volleyball.
  • HealthKit – An app that centralizes all of your health- and fitness-related information by linking to other third-party apps.
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Exposé of an Adrenaline Addict: Mike “Hucker” Clark (BMX Pro)

BMX master, Mike “Hucker” Clark, gave Blast Motion the inside scoop on how he got into biking, how BMX has changed over time, and how he uses Blast Motion technology to take his skills to the next level.

It has always been a dream of mine to be a professional biker. Not many people can say they’ve gotten to see their dreams come true – I feel incredibly fortunate.” – Hucker

mike hucker clark

Blast Motion Interviews BMP Pro, Mike “Hucker” Clark

Question: How did you get the nickname “Hucker”?

Hucker: When I was younger, I used to be one of the sketchiest kids on the bike. I was confident I could nail almost any trick and so naturally I fell – a lot. My friends started calling me “Hucker” because I constantly “hucked” myself into new tricks and went for it at all costs. I was somewhat fearless.

Q: Where did the Hucker story begin – how and why did you first get into BMX?

H: I have loved riding my whole life. I had an older brother who biked with some pro riders from Huntington Beach and they would come to the house and talk about the tricks they were doing and I got super excited. I knew this was something I had to try. So I started making my own dirt jumps in my backyard and gave it a shot. It was right after my 12th birthday when I rode my first real jumps at Sheep Hills BMX Park in Costa Mesa.

Q: How has BMX dirt riding changed since you began in the late 90s?

H: It has changed a lot. In the earlier years, people didn’t know what was possible. We were pretty carefree. We simply got an idea for a trick, and then we tried it – not knowing if it was at all possible. Now we’ve seen so many more tricks accomplished that it’s harder to be original, but technology helps with this. It seems like we can accomplish the impossible because rather than spending hours in a foam pit practicing some trick or another, we can try it several times, review the footage and the metrics, and then make the appropriate tweaks when we try the trick again.

Q: When you first started competing, how did you work on perfecting your tricks (i.e. technology, coaches, self-taught, etc.)?

H: Most people learn their tricks in a foam pit, but when I started out those weren’t as accessible – the closest one was a couple hours away. So I learned by trial and error on the dirt. The “error” part was a little more painful than it would have been in the pit, but it definitely motivated me to stick the trick. I never had any coaches, but I did have some older rider friends/mentors.

Q: How has the Blast Motion Replay technology helped you perfect some of your new tricks?

H: It’s so awesome to have that kind of technology in the palm of your hand – and it’s so affordable! To capture this high-quality footage I used to have to source much bigger cameras or even hire professional videographers. Now it’s incredibly convenient.

Q: What is your favorite metric that Blast Motion Replay offers (i.e. acceleration, vertical height, hang time, rotation, etc.)?

H: My favorite metric would probably be vertical height. However, I also love seeing the in-air rotation metric because when trying out a 360 or 720 it can tell me if I am over- or under-rotating. When I go back and watch the clip I can see exactly how far off I am.

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Check out Hucker using the Blast Motion In Air Hang Time metric here]

Q: When you are not biking, you’re spending time in the water – do you think the Blast Motion technology could be applied to your surfing hobby as well?

H: I have grown up in the ocean – I would love to see what g-forces I can pull when I’m surfing. I’d also love to use the Blast Motion Technology to see my acceleration metrics in snowboarding and skateboarding as well.

Q: Could you ever see yourself coaching BMX, and if so, would it be helpful to use Blast Motion then?

H: I have been a mentor to kids and I actually help coach at a BMX summer camp that my buddy owns. There is no way the Blast Motion technology wouldn’t help when coaching. I could work with a kid on a 180 or 360 and then show them their replay clips and metrics to help them nail it.

Q: Other than surfing, what do you do off-the-dirt to have fun and relax?

H: I do lots of fishing and snorkeling, as well as flying remote control airplanes, helicopters, and drones. I also travel a lot; I’m home maybe 5 months out of the year.

Q: Do you have any advice for talented, young riders who are trying to break into the BMX industry?

H: The key ingredient is to have fun and wear your pads. Go at your own pace; don’t try something you’re not comfortable with simply because all your friends are doing it. Don’t forget to be safe both on and off the bike. That’s a recipe for great biking and maximum enjoyment. [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]