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Fitness Friday: “Ellipticizing”

Happy Fitness Friday friends!!

Today’s post is a slightly recycled post from August 24, 2009. But I think I’ve collected a handful of new readers since then (hi!) amongst my long-time followers (hi and thank you!).

I originally wrote the post on elliptical machines to point out the differences between the slew of cardio machines you’re confronted with at most gyms. To some people, an elliptical is just an elliptical. Well I am here to tell you they are all very different! Learning these differences will also help you find the machine that best suits you. I know, because that’s how it worked for me :)

We’ll start with the basics:

Rear Driven


I like to think of some ellipticals as almost a standing exercise bike. What I mean by this is that there is a wheel that spins based on the movement of your legs. On the rear drive elliptical, this is in the back. It’s meant to mimic running and walking without the high impact that strains your joints.


Front Driven


Because of patents on some of the ellipticals, other companies had to design their own. The wheel on this one is in the front. The main difference between this and the rear driven model is where your power comes from. On the rear driven model, you’ll notice you often lean backwards to force that wheel around. On this front driven machine, you’ll lean forward slightly. Your joints and muscles will respond a little differently and one will likely feel better than the other.


Center Driven


This is my personal favourite model. The motion here is coming from directly under your feet. Personally, I find the stride length on these machines matches my individual stride better. Finding a machine that matches your stride is key! Otherwise it will just feel awkward and could even hurt your joints.


Those are the basic elliptical designs and ones you’ll likely spot in your gym. There are however a few other kinds that offer different movements and resistance.


Precor Crossramp


A rear-driven machine with a “crossramp” in the front that moves up and down to add incline to the exercise. It’s almost like a smooth stair climbing motion. You also don’t get that slight bounce in the feet that you get on the other machines.


 Arc Trainer


TotalBodyArcJess 029

The arc trainer offers a slightly different motion, one I would compare more to skiing (or the Gazelle!) It’s supposed to take the pressure off your knees that happens on other ellipticals, with more work in the quads and glutes. This one also has an incline.


Adaptive Motion Trainer (AMT)

Precor AMT 100i Elliptical Trainers 

This is probably the coolest elliptical I’ve tried yet. As someone with freakishly long legs, I have trouble finding machines that move well with my body. On this machine, you can make your strides as small or big as you want to. You can rotate your feet in that classic elliptical motion, swing them back and forth like the Arc trainer, or step up and down like on a stair climber! If you push yourself hard enough on this machine, you can get a great workout without getting bored.


It’s also worth mentioning that as a trainer, I prefer putting people on machines that move their arms as well. Your posture is better when you don’t have a stable surface to lean on. It’s more natural to get upper body movement in there, and it’s a great way to warm up your whole body and not just your legs.

Now that it’s getting cold and snowy, you may find yourself retreating to the gym more often. Hopefully this will help you tackle the cardio area with more confidence. And let’s face it, December is just around the corner. A little extra “ellipticizing” can’t hurt ;) Have fun!

Fitness Friday – An Introductory to Foam Rolling

Happy Fitness Friday!!

I would like to have a word with whomever chooses the screenshots at YouTube. I don’t think any form of automation can choose this degree unflattering shots with such precise consistency.

Today, we’re talking foam rolling. Yay for embarrassing yourself on the internet!! ;)

Speaking of embarrassment, there are still many copies left of the Blogger Charity Calendar. That’s right, I am now a calendar girl. Click here to check it out!

Also, I’m still taking name suggestions for my new Sunday series on nutrition. Click here to submit your ideas, I’ll be choosing a winner on Sunday!

As Madeline would say, make it a great weekend!

Edit: I forgot to leave the link for more foam rolling moves! Clickyclicky.

Fitness Friday – Stretching For Runners

Happy Fitness Friday!!

After a brief hiatus last week, I am back to babbling about all things fitness at the end of each week.

This week wraps up what has been a series of several posts that are running related. I wrote about buying the right running shoes in this post and this post. As well as strength training for runners in this post.

Today’s topic covers the stuff you do after a run – stretching. I recently gave a talk to a local running group on the importance of stretching and put together the following program for them. I see so many people come into the running store with an ailment (plantar fasciitis!!) that could be solved, or significantly relieved through a proper stretching program.

I know it’s easy to forget about, or put low on your priority list. This is why I schedule stretching time into my workout time. I know I’m going to stretch 5-10 minutes after a run. So when I’m trying to figure out what time I have to wake up to get four miles in before work, I automatically add those minutes on to my running time.

It’s also worth mentioning that stretching is done after a workout and not before. You never want to strain cold muscles. A proper warm up (like 5 minutes of brisk walking) is the best thing you can do to get the oxygen and blood flowing and your body ready to exercise. If you want to stretch before, wait until after your warm up.

As far as dynamic stretching goes, I’m not a huge fan unless you’re a pro. Especially not weighted dynamic stretching. Some jumping and arm swinging isn’t going to hurt you, just be careful!

Now here is your own personal post-run stretching plan :)



Stand with front toe pressed against a wall and heel on the floor. Lift your back heel to intensify the stretch. Stretches: Gastrocnemieus (calf) and bottom of foot.
Good for: Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis.







Stand with one foot in front of the other. Push your weight forward, slightly bending the front knee. Back leg remains straight.
Stretches: Soleus, gastrocnemius
Good for: Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis.








Grab on to your shoe laces and pull knees together. Do not let knees float apart and push hips forward to intensify the stretch.
Stretches: Quadriceps (front of thigh)
Good for: Runner’s knee, ITB syndrome




Lunge forward with your front leg. Bend your back knee down so it is hovering above the floor. Take the same arm as the back leg and stretch it toward the ceiling. Lean back slightly, then to the opposite side.
Stretches: Front hip flexor
Good for: Hip flexor injury





In a standing position, cross your ankles and lean forward. Repeat with other side.
Stretches: IT band (along side of leg)
Good for: ITB syndrome








Sit with legs straight in front of you. Bend one leg up and over the other. Twist your body to wrap around the outside of the bent leg.
Stretches: IT band, lower back, hips
Good for: ITB syndrome, hip flexor injury







In a seated position, bring one heel inward and stretch the other straight out in front. With a straight back, tip forward from the hip in the direction of the outstretched leg.
Stretches: Hamstrings (back of thigh)
Good for: Pulled hamstring




Lying on your back, bring one leg towards the ceiling. Keeping the legs straight, pull the outstretched leg toward your body.
Stretches: Hamstrings
Good for: Pulled hamstring





Lying on your back, press the outside of one ankle against your other knee. Reach between the legs and grab the thigh of the bottom leg.
Stretches: Glutes, hips
Goof for: Hip and sciatic injuries



Click here to get the PDF version of these stretches. Print it out and hang it on your fridge and go through it whenever you get home from a run. Your body will not only love you for it – but I bet you’ll get better at running because of it too!