Friday, April 15, 2011

Fitness and Technology Update: Podcasts!

Did you ever wish you could have a fitness coach in your pocket, or even better, right in your ear, telling you what to do? Well, you can. If you have an iPod or other device that plays MP3 files, you should check out podcasts. Podcasts are recorded programs and you can find one for just about any interest you might have. I download podcasts of my favorite NPR shows such as This American Life and Radiolab. But lately I've been letting my iPod guide me through my Pilates and Yoga practice.

Admittedly, using an audio podcast is probably not the best introduction to a new fitness program. To learn Yoga or any other technique, you probably want to start with classes, or at the very least, a DVD program. You need to learn proper technique by watching and doing, and ideally, getting corrections from a real instructor before doing any kind of exercise. I've been taking Yoga and Pilates for years, so I feel very comfortable, for example, when a voice in my ear prompts me to get in to the "plank" pose, or instructs me to do "the hundred." However, I don't always feel motivated or organized enough to put all those poses and exercises together to form a routine. That's when I pick up my iPod and get to work. I love this set of under-30 minute routines by Phoebe Kelly. Phoebe has a very successful practice in New York, especially with private clients whose complaint was only that they couldn't meet with her as much as they wanted. Her answer to them was this set of podcasts to keep them limber in between her visits. Her gentle (but firm!) voice flows through each exercise, reminding you when to breathe and other helpful hints. You might find it helpful to perform the exercises in front of a mirror so you can relate what she's saying to what your body is doing. I always feel strengthened, lengthened, and relaxed after doing these routines!

The website that hosts Phoebe Kelly's Pilates and Yoga podcasts has a plethora of exercise options. Do you have a stationary bike sitting idle in your house? Get that thing spinning by checking out one of the cycling  podcasts. Going out for a walk and you want to stay focused on your fitness? There are a ton of podcasts to keep your arms and legs swinging. The podcasts in iAmplify are reasonably priced, from $2.95, and there is no membership required.

You can find podcasts easily if you have iTunes. In iTunes, click the Store link, and use Search to find the type of exercise you're interested in (eg Strength training).  Then click the "Podcasts" link to filter your results to show only podcasts (rather than music or movies, etc) for that topic. Note that there are also video podcasts here; this would be great if you have an iPad or computer in your exercise space. Best of all, most of these podcasts are free. Once you subscribe to a podcast, depending on how you have iTunes set up, each time a new podcast is created, it will automatically download to your computer. Then you just sync them to your iPod or other device and it's all yours.

Podcasts are becoming a regular feature on some websites as well. Try using whatever search engine you like to find one. For example, I typed "workout podcast" into Google, and look what I found.

So don't just lie on your couch plugged in to your iPod! Find a podcast and start moving today.


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