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Lasik after 40 Laser corrective surgery advancements offer exciting new possibilities for clear vision over age 40. by Marissa Candela


ave you been putting LASIK corrective eye surgery off for years? Are you of the many who’ve waited for the optimal time or the latest technological developments to commit? Now, with safer bladeless techniques and flexible payment plans, you may finally be ready to take the plunge. But wait… since your 40th birthday celebration (or your 50th) has come and gone, is there any truth 8 | SIGHT FOR LIFE

to the unsettling rumor that folks over 40 can’t have LASIK successfully done? Have you really missed the boat on LASIK? In short, no. If you’re a fabulous 40- or 50-something who needs glasses or contact lenses for near-sightedness, you can still enjoy sharp distance vision after LASIK. However, it’s important to have clear-sighted expectations on LASIK at this stage in life, starting with awareness of presbyopia.

WHO CAN’T HAVE LASIK? After a thorough evaluation most patients are eligible for the elective procedure, but there are exceptions. Regardless of age, you’ll probably be ineligible for LASIK if you have: • • • •

Too thin or irregular cornea Very high glasses prescription Abnormally dry eyes Certain eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts or AMD

While presbyopia won’t interfere with LASIK surgery, it won’t be cured or prevented by LASIK, either. Board-Certified Ophthalmologist Dr. Jeffrey Martin of North Shore Eye Care in Long Island, New York, further elaborated in a recent interview. “When I see a 40-something nearsighted potential LASIK patient, I tell them they’ll have wonderful distance vision, but then I inform them about presbyopia and explain that they’re eventually going to need reading glasses,” commented Martin. “That doesn’t mean LASIK doesn’t work after 40 – it does. It simply means they’re not going to get both far and near vision like a 25-year-old. If this is made clear from the outset, patients will be very happy with the results.”

Presbyopia Problem

Monovision: Best of Both Worlds?

The rumor that LASIK after 40 is taboo stems from presbyopia, an age-related condition that occurs in most people around age 45. With presbyopia’s onset, the lens starts to harden and muscles around the lens start to weaken, diminishing our ability to properly focus light on the retina – leading to blurry close-up vision. Everyone experiences this loss of close-up focusing power as they age (hence the appearance of reading glasses in those over 40), but some will notice it more than others.

For those over 40 who insist on correcting both near vision and far vision with LASIK surgery, monovision presents an intriguing and suitable option. Monovision is a LASIK procedure that takes the dominant eye and corrects it for distance and the non-dominant eye and corrects it for near vision. After an adjustment period, the brain then learns to adapt to which eye sees at what distance. Some patients love the results of this fascinating technique, but it can also cause decreased depth

CAN LASIK HELP WITH… LASIK is a miraculous procedure, but it has its limits. LASIK has no effect on other eye conditions, such as the progression of cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma or any other eye disease to which a person may be predisposed. Those who suffer from poor night vision or glare issues will likely have the same struggles after LASIK.



150 Million

Americans wear glasses

38 Million wear contacts

16.3 Million

LASIK procedures have been performed


of patients surveyed were satisfied with LASIK

perception and/or lack of visual sharpness. Since surgery is a permanent solution, most doctors advise patients to first try monovision contact lenses to see if they like it.

Is There a Cut-Off Age for LASIK? So 40+ is fine for LASIK, but at what age is the surgery no longer advisable? “Everyone is different, but if I had to take an age I would say around 60,” comments Martin. “Once someone starts to develop a significant amount of cataract in their

There’s nothing about being 40 to 60 years old that makes you unfit for LASIK. I perform just as much LASIK on people over 40 as I do under. - Dr. Jeffrey Martin eye, we shift away from LASIK and move toward cataract removal surgery.” With cataracts, surgery can correct vision in a manner similar to LASIK, 10 | SIGHT FOR LIFE

but by replacing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear lens implant. Now that we’ve dispelled the LASIK-after-40 rumors, you may finally be ready to take the leap. Go ahead: Ditch the contacts and distance glasses, and enjoy your crystal-clear vision. Just prepare, as all adults must, for reading glasses. When that time comes, you can always opt for chic, stylish frames to match your new youthful vision!


“Beto” Perez Photo courtesy of Zumba Fitness

e k a h S d n a y m Shim tness with Zumba

by marissa candela

toward Fi

Maybe it’s the recent popularity of shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. Perhaps it’s the lure of a fun, dance club atmosphere sans the high-calorie drinks and cheesy pick-up lines. Or, it could be that participants unwittingly burn hundreds of calories in one 60-minute session, whooping it up as if they were at the hottest dance party around. No matter. Zumba, Colombian slang meaning “to move fast and have fun,” has been gaining recognition for the past decade. Accidentally discovered by professional dancer and choreographer Beto Perez, it was brought to the U.S. in 1999. This high-octane, Columbian-born dance aerobics fuses footwork and body movements from salsa, merengue, flamenco, samba, cumbia, reggaeton, bachata, belly dancing, hip-hop and more.

The Zumba Craze Has Arrived Most recently, Zumba’s being offered at gyms and studios – some of which are exclusively devoted to the craze – around the country. According to Zumba Fitness, LLC, 1 million plus Americans have taken Zumba classes, following the moves of over 3,500 instructors nationwide. Now, Zumbamania has hit Long Island. There’s no question it has exploded, spreading international rhythms and fancy footwork like wildfire. Certified Zumba instructor and part of the regime appointed by Zumba Fitness to bring it to the forefront of the fitness industry on Long Island, Nathan Blake said “Zumba’s momentum has slowly been building for quite some time and has really taken off on the Island. Its popularity is largely

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due to the fact that it’s not rigidly choreographed, so people aren’t intimidated by it.” “Zumba is unlike any other form of exercise in that participants are driven solely by the music, feeding off the energy and motivation of those around them. It’s a more open-minded fitness program. Yes, each song has a particular routine, but since it’s not regimented it doesn’t matter if you don’t get the steps perfectly. No matter what your fitness level, size or background, all that matters is that you’re having fun. It’s the best ‘non-dancer’ dance class around.” Instructor Abigail Davila of the buzz-worthy Zumba classes at North Shore Performing Arts Center (NSPAC) in Syosset commented, “My clients love the fact that the class is dance oriented, fun and non-stop. They don’t realize they’re getting a real workout until the end, when they’re soaked with sweat. It’s also the same music they would hear on the radio or in a club, so it’s familiar. And with each song, we always ease into the more intricate moves; so even if I get someone who is hesitant at the beginning, they realize quickly that they can take it at your own level and pace. Almost always, clients are hooked and looking for another class.” At a recent high-energy Zumba trial class at NSPAC, Carolyn GilbertSchwartz signed up for a 7-week package with her friends and daughter, a good short-term commitment alternative to a full gym membership. She commented, “My daughter Ilana and I loved it. It was very energetic with the right balance of cardio. I love to dance, and the rhythmic exercises and sexy Latin steps enhanced my moves overall. I didn’t want to stop at

the end and was literally dripping with sweat! The instructor was very professional as well.” At a local gym, Zumba classes have become so popular devotees start lining up a half hour prior to class. Member Alexa Martin from Plainview commented on how she began Zumba. “I would literally stop my workout to watch the Zumba class from the weight room because it looked like so much fun. I decided to try it and have become a fan ever since, and now I’m lining up, too. It’s fun, great exercise and I’m learning some cool new moves that I could probably even use on the dance floor.”

It’s All About the Music Zumba is all about feeling the music and just like each song, each class is unique. Instructors often add their own choreography and musical selections, which are primarily Latin-based beats mixed with anything and everything, including slow-tempo tunes and even rock and roll. Where some songs and moves may repeat with the same instructor, a good instructor will change things up enough to keep it fresh. The key is to stay connected to the music because when it changes, the steps will too. Some instructors even use easy-to-read hand signals to indicate changes in movement, making the class a breeze to follow. If you’ve got rhythm and can move, you’ll hone your dancing skills even further with Zumba. And if you’ve got two left feet, at least you’ll be exercising and learning, sans judgment!

Achieve Real Results Aside from having a blast, you’ll achieve long-term body benefits with a commitment to Zumba. One exhilarating hour of caloric-burning, body-energizing movements can significantly contribute to weight loss. It also increases endurance, builds bone density, improves balance and muscle tone, which in turn can improve blood pressure and overall physical and mental health.

Because the style of the dance engages your core, it can have the same effect as doing crunches. Calorie burn ranges on the effort put into the class, but you can expect to burn a minimum of 400 calories in one session, and as high as 1,000 calories per hour.

Zumba Love is Spreading Interestingly enough, many class members and instructors have bonded through Zumba, changing people’s outlook and health for the better. Merry Kuschner from Plandome commented, “Not only does Zumba give people a fun, amazing workout, there’s no pretense to it. Zumba was a big part of my weight loss success, and I’m more motivated because I’ve made friends through class. You see the same people over and over each week, so you’re bound to connect.” Anne Marie Russo from Great Neck credits Zumba from pulling her out of an exercise slump. “I stopped doing Jazzercise because I felt that it was becoming stale. For a while I didn’t exercise at all. Zumba reawakened my senses and has made me enthusiastic about working out again.” If a class-environment is not for you, CDs and DVDs are also available at for home use. Zumba is the fitness wave of the moment worth exploring for those intrigued by a high energy workout. To get started, all you need is a pair of good, supportive shoes, such as cross-trainers, or dance-specific sneakers, free flowing active wear, an absorbent towel, a bottle of water and a carefree, positive attitude. | To find a Zumba class near you, visit and click on “Find a Class.” Classes are also offered at the North Shore Performing Arts Center in Syosset. Call 516.364.1150 for class schedules and information.

Zumba enthusiasts even credit the workout with resulting in tighter abs.

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m a k e o v e r

Natural First Aid

Be prepared for summertime’s bumps, bites and burns with these remedies.


nter summer, exit protective clothing. As we shed our sweaters and venture out into the sun, we expose our skin and eyes to summer’s deceptively harsh elements—and our bodies to injury as we engage in sports, swimming and other outdoor activities. Thankfully, you can prepare for summer’s inevitable sunburns, scrapes, insect bites and muscle pulls by building an all-natural first aid kit.

Pine Protection Your summer kit should include sunscreen, but remember that it’s not a cure-all—even the best sunscreen only blocks some of the sun’s damaging rays. Nutritional supplements can support skin from the inside out to complement sunblock. “To prevent sunburn, it is important to have optimal levels of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D, as well as essential fatty acids and antioxidants,” says Sharon Stills, ND of Naturopathic Solutions in Plainview, New York. One example of a protective antioxidant is the French pine bark extract Pycnogenol. The sun’s harmful rays unleash damaging molecules called free radicals; they also promote inflammation that results in sunburn. Pycnogenol quenches free radicals and modulates the body’s inflammatory response. In studies Pycnogenol has demonstrated a capacity for increasing the skin’s sunburn resistance and reducing skin redness after exposure to ultraviolet light. In one investigation, Pycnogenol showed an ability to protect mice against a form of skin cancer 16



July/August 2010

known as squamous cell carcinoma (Toxicology and Industrial Health 56/09). Pycnogenol has also been found to accelerate skin healing and reduce scar formation, making it helpful for injuries sustained during rough-andtumble summer activities. If you do get a sunburn, Laurie Steelsmith ND, LAc of Steelsmith Natural Health Center in Honolulu suggests using black tea to ease discomfort. “Make a few good strong cups of tea. Soak a towel in the tea and apply to the burned skin, or take a bath in tea to help alleviate sting,” advises Steelsmith, author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health (Three Rivers). “After you no longer have ‘heat’ emanating from your skin, apply aloe vera to help to heal and prevent scarring.” You should also keep aloe vera on hand near the barbecue, where it can take the sting out of burns.

Internal Sunglasses A hat and shades are mandatory summertime protection. But few sunglasses are able to block all of the sun’s damaging rays. Lutein, an antioxidant nutrient found in foods such as dark leafy vegetables, can help by acting as “internal sunglasses.” Lutein (along with its chemical partner zeaxanthin) has been found to settle in the eye’s retina and act as a filter that absorbs damaging blue light frequencies from the sun. Lutein also neutralizes free radicals generated by the sun’s deep-penetrating UVA rays. These actions are especially important as the years go by because suninduced free radical damage in the retina is linked to age-related macular degeneration, a condition that accounts for most cases of blindness in Americans age 65 and older. Supplementation has been found to

increase lutein concentrations within the retina (Current Eye Research 4/10). In a similar manner, lutein helps protect skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Researchers have found that supplemental lutein migrates to the skin, where it diminishes the effects of UV radiation, helps to counteract the sun’s “photoaging” effects, such as fine lines and wrinkles, and increases the skin’s hydration and elasticity. MSM, an organic form of sulfur best known for its pain-relieving effects, also helps keep skin smooth and supple.

Easing the Ouch For cuts and scrapes, stock your summer first-aid kit with tea tree oil, taken from a plant (Melaleuca alternifolia) native to the east coast of Australia. This broad-spectrum antiseptic can be applied externally to combat bacterial, viral and fungal

infections. Keep a small bottle handy in your sports bag or beach tote and you’ll be well prepared for quick treatment of minor injuries as well as the athlete’s foot fungus that can lurk in public pools and locker rooms. Calendula ointment, taken from the pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), wor ks to gent ly cleanse wounds; it also helps to prevent infection and minimize scarring. C o Q 1 0 (now avai lable in the form ubiquinol) is best known as an en er gy supplement but ha s been found to speed wound healing as well (Archives of Pharmacal Research 6/09). Feeling bugged? If you are a magnet for mosquitoes, you might be lacking in B vitamins. These pests are believed to go after people who are B-deficient, so be sure take your Bs daily to keep bugs at bay. If you do get bit, either calamine lotion or witch hazel solution can ease the itching,

while supplemental quercetin can help fight an allergic reaction. For summer sports injuries such as sprains and strains, reach for bromelain. A compound derived from pineapple, bromelain is an effective anti-inflammatory enzyme that decreases pain and swelling. “As a supplement, take 750 milligrams three times a day on an empty stomach,” Stills recommends. “Or, you can juice the inner core of a pineapple.” A Epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil, along with measured doses of homeopathic arnica, will help melt away muscle strains and tension. In addition, magnesium and white willow bark have well-documented muscle soothing properties. Don’t let the perils of the great outdoors limit your fun in the sun this summer. Get back to basics with natural first aid options, and you’ll easily manage common summertime health issues. —Patrick Dougherty

July/August 2010





m a k e o v e r

Low-Revving Motor When your thyroid isn’t working properly, life becomes a chore. omething just wasn’t right with Victoria. She kept gaining weight, no matter what, and always felt sluggish and cold. She would moisturize her dry skin to no avail and was even losing hair—a highly distressing development for such a young woman. A depressed and draggy Victoria saw her doctor. He said her bloodwork was fine, prescribed an antidepressant and gave the standard diet-and-exercise lecture. She felt as if she was slowly losing control of her health and with it, her mind. Victoria’s real problem? A thyroid that wasn’t doing its job.

Hormonal Underachiever The thyroid is a small, butterflyshaped gland located at the base of the neck. It is integral in making the hormones T3 and T4 that regulate the body’s organ functions and metabolism; when it malfunctions the result is called hypothyroidism, a condition that affects an estimated 20 million people in the US. The chief cause of a sputtering thyroid is Hashimoto’s disease, in which antibodies in the blood attack the thyroid. The body responds to the resulting lack of hormones by producing symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, low immune system function, depression and even high cholesterol. Hashimoto’s isn’t the only cause of hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid can be present at birth, or it can be caused by some medications and by treatment of hyperthyroidism—an overactive thyroid. The environment also plays a role, according to Mark 12

ENERGY TIMES | October 2007

Starr, MD, author of Hypothyroidism Type 2: The Epi demic (New Voice). “Toxins greatly contribute to thyroid disease, interfering with essential thyroid hormones and proper nutrient absorption,” he notes. As Victoria discovered, a sluggish thyroid isn’t always properly diagnosed right away. “When patients complain of these symptoms to their physicians, non-thyroid related drugs are often prescribed—masking the root of the problem and causing untreated thyroid disease to worsen,” says Mark Hyman, MD, author of The UltraSimple Diet (Pocket Books) and UltraMetabolism (Scribner).

Powering Up Locating a practitioner who will take the time required to make a correct diagnosis is crucial. “A comprehensive physical examination is needed and should include details about stress

level,” says Hyman. “Diet, lifestyle and a complete medical history must also be taken into account.” For example, he routinely asks his patients if their diet is rich in cold-water fish and if they’ve been exposed to heavy metals. He also tests for sensitivity to gluten—a protein in wheat and other grains—which can affect the thyroid. So if your blood T3/T4 levels are normal but you still suffer from symptoms, seek out someone who will treat you, not your lab results. Another obstacle people with hypothyroid face is finding the treatment that works best. As Theodore Fried man, MD, co-author of The Everything Guide to Thyroid Disease (Adams Media) puts it, “There is no ‘one drug fits all’ prescription when it comes to treating hypothyroidism.” While most conventional doctors will prescribe synthetic hormones, alternative practitioners often use

natural dessicated thyroid hormone replacement. Another option is colloidal iodine, the mineral from which the body creates thyroid hormones. Selection of the proper therapy will depend on your unique circumstances; it’s a fine line to walk because overtreatment can cause such adverse effects as nervousness and heart palpitations. Your practitioner can also help you devise a thyroid-friendly supplementation plan. “Herbs rich in iodine, including dulse (red algae), nori (seaweed), kelp and other sea vegetables can boost thyroid function,” says Mary Hardy, MD, medical director of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center program in Integrative Medicine. Homeopathic remedies include spongia testa and thyroid 30c,

A sluggish thyroid is not always found right away, leading to unnecessary drug treatment—while the underlying disease worsens. and adaptogens such as ginseng and rhodiola can help fight stress. Just remember it’s important to keep a careful eye on dosages.

“Adequate zinc is also necessary for proper thyroid function,” says Hardy; he favors such zinc-rich foods as meat, seafood, and pumpkin and sesame seeds. Many people don’t get enough selenium, which helps convert the less active T4 into active T3. Sources include Brazil nuts, lamb, garlic and onions, and fish such as halibut, tuna, salmon and snapper. (Both zinc and selenium are available in supplemental form.) Don’t forget vitamin D, which also helps support thyroid function. In addition to getting the proper nutrients, daily exercise can help improve energy, stimulate metabolism and lift mood. Feeling draggy? Rev up your thyroid and watch your health soar. —Marissa Candela | ENERGY TIMES


photos courtesy of Krav Maga Worldwide ©


Get Fit and Fierce with Krav Maga by marissa candela

Tired of the treadmill?

Not afraid to break a nail while breaking a sweat? Then you may want to explore Krav Maga, which in Hebrew translates to contact combat. Slowly trickling over from the West Coast, this form of martial arts has evolved into a popular workout for A-list celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Jennifer Garner, Lucy Lui, Jennifer Lopez and Leonardo DiCaprio, just to name a few. The official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces, Krav Maga training employs instinctive movements, practical combat techniques and real-life scenarios. It is said to be an intense physical and mental workout that builds confidence and esteem while simultaneously shaping the body. And the rules are; there are no rules. Basically, this down and dirty, no holds barred method uses any mode available for self preservation, which in this unpredictable world may come in handy…Darren Levine, the Chief Instructor of Krav Maga Worldwide based in California, a 6th degree black belt and is one of the highest-ranked instructors in the world, shared in a recent interview on the importance of Krav Maga for women in particular. “The main purpose of Krav Maga is self-defense and fitness, so training time is wisely spent on these core goals. To be able to defend yourself, you must be fit. The ante is raised when you’re a woman in your 30’s to 50’s, fighting for your own safety or to protect a loved one.”

Krav Maga in a Nutshell Imi Lichtenfeld, now deceased, is the creator of Krav Maga. Essentially, the Krav Maga self-defense fitness program emphasizes strength training to maximize a student’s capacity to cause damage to an attacker, as well as to absorb punishment, endurance so that practitioner’s can exert maximum physical effort during a physical encounter, flexibility to provide a greater range of motion, power and speed, and explosiveness to produce maximum effort or strength in a short amount of time. Devotees and A-List celebs have praised the program for its benefits, which is said to provide a true measure of safety, high level of fitness and feeling of empowerment all while having fun and remaining free of injuries. 72 spring 2011 woodbury

One anonymous Krav Maga student got fed up with “feeling mousy,” as her abusive ex-husband harassed her long after their divorce (yes, physical abuse exists on the North Shore, too). She literally took matters into her own hands because restraining orders weren’t effective in making her feel secure. Through Krav Maga, she gained the confidence, awareness and the ferocity to defend herself if needed. But is it as “badass” as it sounds? We found out for ourselves by attending a recent session at Kombat Masters of Long Island (KMLI) in Syosset. An unassuming forum of white cinderblock, punching bags, pads and mats, eager Level 1 (beginner) students, a mixture of men and some women and children of all denominations and ages, paired off and went through a series of self-defense exercises. The vibe and atmosphere were welcoming. Overhead hung a banner that boldly stated, “Refuse to be a victim.” Enthusiastic instructor Dean Angel first guided pairs through a series of self-defense exercises, such as “choke from the front with a push,” which involved successfully escaping from a strangle hold through a series of fluid movements. The class then circled and took turns with “360 degree defenses,” where each was taught to fend off attackers from all angles. Encouraged to shout, each student took turns being the attacker and the victim in the circle. No one flinched if someone fell to the ground, but camaraderie was evident as hands were extended to help them up. Krav Maga employs hundreds of moves, but fewer than traditional martial arts, so adequate self-defense can be learned in a few months of training 2-3 times per week. “Left and right punches,” and “knees to the head and body” were also mastered as participants practiced the moves over and over in their pairs, sweat and intensity evident on the faces of every student. Each wore loose fitting clothing

for freedom of movement but curiously, no telltale belts were adorned even though they are awarded through advancement starting from Level 1 and up. Siblings Dana and Jane Angel from Jericho started taking Krav Maga classes at KMLI in August of 2010, and have thus far been pleased with the results. Both intermittently commented, “It’s a very good self-defense workout that builds confidence and makes you more assertive.” They also touted that they’ve become leaner, stronger, more focused and have better overall reflexes, and have participated in KMLI’s Sunday women’s class taught by instructor Amy Morgenstern. Geared toward the fairer sex, the class teaches such things as rape defense, spotting danger signs, how to fend off attacks from behind, escaping from hair pulling, and more. If you’re interested in starting a serious Krav Maga program, be aware that there are questionable, watered down hybrids of Krav Maga being offered in some locations on Long Island. Be sure to inquire as to whether your instructor is fully trained and/or certified. And as far being a booty-kicking (and shaping) workout, Michael Blitz, Chief Instructor at KMLI and Long Island’s only Krav Maga black belt, commented, “There’s intense fitness in every class because we stress cardio for longevity in fighting. The bursting moves provide torch calories, so if you stick with it, there’s no way you can’t lose weight and define your muscles.”

Single gals, take note: The clientele at KMLI is 70% male. In addition to a few pro athletes and high caliber law enforcement agents, a number of doctors and surgeons also attend Krav Maga classes to relieve stress, get in shape and learn self-defense. As it gains popularity, female membership is sure to rise.

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But it does seem pretty intense, so injury may be of concern to some. However, Blitz was adamant on this topic and stated, “Since the inception of KMLI in 2001, I’ve only had two isolated incidents that were cause for real concern.” And if you’re looking for the formalities and philosophical peace and love ideals that often come with traditional martial arts programs, Krav Maga may not be for you. Shihan John Busto, a 6th Degree Black Belt and founder of Busto's Martial Arts in Plainview commented, “Krav Maga incorporates the basic movements of most martial art forms at a continuous repetition. Although, it can be a tough workout it does not offer the mental and spiritual benefits of a traditional martial arts program. I believe that a traditional program offers so much more, as it incorporates physical strength with skills to build self-esteem and develop discipline and focus.” So why not channel your inner Xena while learning self-defense and getting fit? For a unique and stimulating workout, try a Krav Maga class. Whether you’d like to prepare for unwanted encounters, stressful mornings, or even extra demanding days with the kids, it just may give you that extra boost of confidence in every aspect of your life. Imi Lichtenfeld, the Grandmaster of Krav Maga would say, “The purpose of Krav Maga is so that one may walk in peace.” | For more information about Krav Maga, visit For information about Krav Maga of Long Island, visit


Transform Your Body former Lotte Berk guru goes for gold with The Bar Method

by marissa candela

A ballerina’s body,

with its long, lean muscles, is most enviable. There’s no question, the strong, yet feminine physique of a dancer is something almost every woman would like to attain. And according to the latest trend in fitness – The Bar Method – you don’t have to train for years or invest in a tutu to pull off this lovely look. The Bar Method is based on the technique of German dancer Lotte Berk. After a back injury, she had the idea of combining ballet bar routines with rehabilitative therapy to form a unique exercise system known today as the Lotte Berk Method. Lydia Bach brought it to the U.S. and further refined the method to make it a single, all encompassing exercise for women with the end goal of developing a dancer’s body. Years later, journalist Burr Leonard entered the picture. She quickly fell in love with the technique, left her profession and spent a year studying and eventually teaching The Lotte Berk Method. Soon after, she noticed that some of her clients’ knees, backs and shoulders were not responding well to the exercises. To solve this issue, she sought the help of a physical therapist. Under his guidance, she gradually reworked and updated the sculpting exercises and the system as a whole, so that they would target students’ muscles without joint impact. Once mastered, Burr left Lotte Berk which soon disbanded (2005) and introduced her own program named The Bar Method in 2001. Today, there are 25 studio locations open around the country.

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So what is the bar method exactly? In a recent, very full class at The Bar Method studio in Port Washington, the first of its kind on Long Island and one of 25 franchises in the United States to-date, I found out. As luck would have it, founder Burr Leonard was teaching just for that day, so the energy was high. The studio was basic; comfortable with carpeted floors, mirrors and ballet bars that flank the class. Socks are worn, along with long pants to allow freedom of movement. After settling in, we began with a series of simple leg raises to warm the muscles. The music was comfortably audible and its tempo matched our pace. We then worked the upper body with free weights, push-ups and stretches using the bar, but all movements were very concentrated, controlled isolations to ignite a deep muscle burn. This was soothed by ample stretches right after each exercise. Soon into the class I broke out into a sweat, as did my classmates – this was no easy workout. Next came challenging exercises for the lower body, most of them performed in various standing positions while grasping the bar. As the class progressed, Burr encouraged the class to dig deeper and push themselves to maximize effect, manually adjusting students’ positions along the way. After she caught my cheating posture and corrected my hip positioning during a leg exercise, I immediately felt a more intense pull in my quads. The workout continued with floor exercises for the abdominals and glutes on comfortable mats and concluded with a relaxing series of back and leg stretches with bands to maximize effect. At the class’s culmination my muscles were shaking, a common effect for newbies.

In speaking with Burr following the class she said, “The Bar Method is quite different from working out at a traditional gym, where basically ‘pump and hold’ until the muscle fatigues is the norm. Instead, it offers isometric reps within a structured routine that enables you to go deeper. It recharges the muscles and stabilizes the joints, making them firm and balanced.” And because it was designed from rehabilitative exercises, clients with knee injuries and even hip replacements can also try this non-impact, challenging workout. According to Burr, those with wrist injuries can modify the exercises to avoid further injury. Followers of the program also claim self awareness is heightened, remarking that as you go through the moves you feel your body more deeply. Personally, I can attest that the next day soreness of unfamiliar muscles affirmed that the workout does go deep, at least on a physical level. Mollie Mulholland and Michelle Avena Rowe, co-owners of the Long Island franchise, are believers and banking on this workout as a fitness movement; not a trend people will bore of. “Although the sequence of the class is the same, variations allow it to remain fresh and interesting. Plus, you can always drive yourself further in class,” said Mulholland. Risa Waltos from Manhasset, who has been taking Bar Method classes three to four times per week for the past five months, agrees. “It has toned, lengthened and defined my muscles. After just two weeks, I began to see a difference. You begin to push yourself when you get the moves down, which only takes about three or so classes. I loved that as I went along my ‘inner ballerina’ began to emerge.” And although cardio enthusiasts may be concerned, students who measured calorie burn during class shed between 250-800 calories in a one hour session (also keep in mind that rigorous cardio can also spark your appetite, killing the results of a workout faster than you can get into first position). This high calorie burn can result in significant weight loss. So if you’re wondering if The Bar Method is for you, why not take a trial class? While there, it’s hard not to notice the strong, lithe physiques of its avid followers, which may very well inspire you to discover your own inner ballerina! | For information visit or call the Port Washington location at 516.767.7560. Founder Burr Leonard will be back in the area this coming February. Don’t miss the opportunity to catch a class with her!

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photos © technotr, leezsnow,


familiar fitness with a twist

creative fusions breathe new life into workout s taples by marissa candela

The tried and true workout favorites that dominate gym class schedules like spinning, Yoga, Zumba or Pilates, have been keeping our bodies and minds in top form. But even these great fitness programs can grow stale, affecting motivation. Plus, choosing between the benefits of cardio-focused sweat sessions such as Spinning and Zumba or more chill Yoga or Pilates can be daunting. Now, you no longer have to decide between an energy surge or a Zen fix – you can have both…and then some. Fuse the benefits of strength, cardio and mental well-being into one comprehensive workout with a fitness class. Whether these fitness blends are trickling over from around the world or the West coast into New York, they’re steadily gaining popularity and making fitness multi-tasking a snap. So, why not shake up your fitness routine with some cool twists on some old favorites?

A New Spin on Spin



Time is precious, and this workout is said to incorporate three key goals – cardio, muscle building and destressing – into one class. Although Yoga and Spinning may seem odd at first, this curious hybrid is slowly building a buzz.

Whether it’s called Cycle-Yoga, Yoga Spin or Spin Yoga, the premise behind the workout is that the two workouts incorporate the best of both worlds, delivering the benefits of spin, a high energy, calorie blasting, cardio-based bike class, and the ancient practice of Yoga, which stretches and strengthens muscles and improves balance while you unwind. Spin is said to fill the void in Yoga, and vice versa. Linking both mind and body, participants are guided through a 60-90 minute class that, depending on instructor and location, begins off the bike with a series of yoga postures performed on mats with footwear (quite unlike traditional Yoga). Preparatory poses gradually progress to more active yoga moves that get you warmed up for the bike and strengthen and stretch the upper body, an area that tends to get short changed in pedaling-based spin. After an intense ride lessens in intensity, the class culminates off the bike with some more Yoga, this time sans footwear.

More Zumba Hybrids For those with access to an indoor pool in winter months, Aqua Zumba is an all ages, all-levels, “pool party” workout. Fun, challenging, waterbased exercises integrate the Zumba formula and philosophy into traditional aqua fitness disciplines. There is less stress on the joints and bones, so it is ideal for those who are deconditioned, arthritic, or recovering from injury. Special aqua fitness shoes provide cushioning and support. Did you know? Seniors can also enjoy the party with a lighter, less intense version of Zumba called Zumba Gold. Get your kids active and away from the TV with Zumbatomic, especially designed for ages 4-12.

Verbal cues and changes in workout intensity that focuses on different parts of the body are said to stall workout boredom and keep injury at bay. Reap the benefits of both cycling and Yoga and keep your eyes peeled for a class near you.




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Zumba is a dynamic, cardio-rich dance fitness class that fuses Latin, international and trendy moves combined with pop and traditional music of varying tempo. This cardio-based workout can torch up to 1,000 calories in one session, but most participants have to do a separate weight training workout in order to tone major muscle groups.


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But no longer. Slowly building momentum since 2008, Zumba Toning, which focuses more on muscle training, is taking the class to the next level by working in a toning element to build strength and burn more calories. Said to be a more comprehensive workout, Zumba Toning features the missing element to a traditional Zumba class by adding lightweight, sand-filled toning sticks that are similar to fun, noise making maracas. Muscle building exercises are incorporated into fun dance routines. This class preserves the party atmosphere of original Zumba, but is enhanced with a strength training element that leads to more definition and calorie burning. A well-versed instructor will teach you to blend body sculpting techniques and specific Zumba moves to help build coordination and endurance. Even more enticing, no previous dance or Zumba class experience is necessary!

Yoga What?

If you’re torn between the unique benefits of Yoga and Pilates, a curious hybrid called Yogalates, invented by Aussie Louise Solomon, claims to give you the best of both techniques. Low impact and simple, it combines the flexibility, strength and ambiance of Yoga along with the strength, stability and core development of Pilates, an important element that can be neglected in traditional Yoga classes. By combining the two disciplines, the chance of injury is said to be lessened as core stability is increased, as some Yoga enthusiasts lack the foundation to move through the various postures. It is particularly good for bad back pain and postnatal (not pregnant) women because it builds strength through the torso.



All that is needed is a floor mat to protect the spine, another smaller towel to place under the head, and a Thera-Band to replicate the resistance of the Pilates exercise machines which can be purchased from a sporting goods store or physiotherapist.

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Be a Yogalates pioneer! For now, Yogalates classes are predominantly offered in Europe and Asia, but home-based workout products can be purchased online at


If you only have a precious thirty minutes and are undecided as to do cardio or weights, why not give Piloxing a try? This fresh, California-based trend blends the power and agility of boxing and the sculpting and flexibility of Pilates intertwined with fun dance moves. Said to be a challenging core-centric interval workout, Piloxing has been gaining a fierce celebrity following since it touts fat burning, muscle sculpting benefits.



In addition to Pilates and boxing movements, the exercise incorporates the use of weighted gloves which add to the workout by toning the arms and maximizing cardiovascular health. The brainchild of Swedish dancer and trainer Viveca Jensen, Piloxing’s principle is to enhance feminine power while aiming to achieve a sleek, sexy form. For Piloxing fitness gear, please visit

Although some of the names of these fitness fusions may sound hokey, their principles do make sense. Any workout that allows you to simultaneously enjoy a surge of energy, muscle building benefits and a Zen fix are worth exploration. So if you’ve been feeling ho-hum about your exercise routines, keep your eyes peeled for these new spins on fitness at your local gym, or better yet put in a request for a class. These workout multi-taskers may just breathe new life into your tried and true fitness favorites. |


Fitness Trend or Way of Life? You Decide. by marissa candela


itness is a way of life for some and a struggle for many. Let’s face it, finding the time and staying motivated can be a challenge. We all tire of the same regimens, especially after we meet the challenges of a workout.

As a result, several new creative concepts have hit the multi-billion dollar fitness world in order to earn revenue and turn out results, with three in our own backyard. As the power of clever marketing can be very compelling in such a highly competitive market, we approached each with skepticism to determine results. Ready for Boot Camp? Perhaps shaking up your fitness routine isn’t enough? Rather, you want it to get down and give you twenty. If you have a yen for camouflage, Marine trainers (yes, the real deal) and aren’t overly concerned about breaking a nail, Pure Power Boot Camp is worth exploration. The recent base to hit Jericho, NY – a sister facility to Manhattan’s flagship facility in the Flatiron District – is run by Great Neck native, former Wall Street employee and division one athlete, Lauren Brenner.

You’ll be greeted as “Private (‘Candela’ in my case)” by staff as well as a life-sized statue of a screaming marine with machine gun in-hand. The environment echoes the military theme with walls covered in green netting, army tent changing rooms and students decked out in military garb with camouflage pants and dog tags (but rest assured, owner Brenner stayed in touch with her feminine side – the facility has a lovely bathroom). While this may sound like somewhat of a gimmick, Pure Power Boot Camp offers one tough, hour-long workout. At the onset, you’ll undergo a professional evaluation to gage your ability. In class, students of all shapes, sizes and abilities are divided into groups according to level and are paired with a specific trainer. Throughout the workout, members of the platoon are led through and under the cargo net, low-barbed-wire crawl, hurdles, monkey-bars, rope swing, walls that must be scaled and a variety of other objects. They are also taken through a series of level-appropriate calisthenics, such as pushups, jumping jacks, kickboxing and sit-ups. Participants also jog 78 summer 2008 woodbury

Sweaty, spent groups of students join together at the end, intertwine arms and are instructed to shout one of the “11 principles of leadership” while they do simultaneous sit-ups. According to Brenner, these principles emphasize value and leadership and are designed to teach responsibility to yourself and others. But beware, while bleary with sweat and fatigue you just may forget your assigned principle and if you do, the entire group will have to do 25 more crunches. If this regimen sounds like it might be too much, consider this. Brenner claims, “PPBC is probably the toughest workout out there, but we have a 94% return rate, so obviously our clients are enjoying themselves and getting results. Plus, our group works as a team – it’s all very entertaining, personable, positive and supportive. And it’s certainly never monotonous.” Clients Joy Sheinberg and Shari Miller of Jericho agree: “This is by far the most fun you can have working out. We’ve been coming here since it opened, no one has ever dropped” March on, seasoned soldiers…


This recreated indoor battlefield is Long Island’s first obstacle confidence course based on the same configuration as the U.S. Military base at Fort Knox. Its intense regimen stems from the training of our elite armed forces, with exciting and challenging obstacles built to enhance both physical skills and emotional strength. And it’s a commitment – the program consists of a six week “Tour of Duty” that requires your participation four days per week for one hour each day.

around the perimeter of the obstacle course carrying sandbags, weight bars or ammo cans filled with dirt. All the while, the platoon is being positively encouraged, assisted and led safely around the course. (Side note: If you’re running around the track Brenner may chase you, so you’d better move at a good pace.).

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Fitness Trend Not Your Average Dumbbell Look out dumbbells, kettlebells are making resurgence. These curious-looking, old-world weights – picture a cast-iron cannonball with a U-shaped handle – are among the new wave craze to hit the fitness scene. Kettlebells date back to the early 20th century and are currently being touted to improve strength, stamina and flexibility, whatever the user’s level of fitness. Pioneering fitness organization KettleBell Concepts based in NYC has trained over 1200 instructors globally, resulting in only a smattering of group exercise classes with more emphasis on many personal trainers using kettlebells as a tool with their one-on-one clients. On Long Island, Equinox in Woodbury, is among the first to rollout the new technique.

Used with permission. KettleBell Concepts, Inc.

The kettlebell is a relatively simple piece of equipment, varying in weight from 10-35 lbs., and is thought effective because of its unique shape and handle. As compared to dumbbells, the mass is down low and in the center of the palm (like a shopping bag), so they are thought to be “truer” to real life. According to KettleBell Concepts founder David Ganulin, “The workout incorporates a full complement of cardiovascular, resistance and weight control benefits. The weights are lifted away from the body using natural momentum, providing a low impact, total body workout, usually under an hour. Kettlebell lifting is known as “functional fitness, and although these buzz words are thrown around very casually these days, kettlebell lifting certainly does meet those criteria,” says Ganulin. “The very shape of the kettlebell truly mimics the activities of daily living and will help improve such activities, such as lifting your kids off the floor or picking up a suitcase.” Why is movement enhancement important? Group Fitness Manager Kristen Gagne of Equinox in Woodbury and Senior Instructor in the Group Exercise program for KettleBell Concepts comments, “As we age, we lose mobility and strength goes by the wayside, so if you can’t move, what’s the point? We never want to lose mobility, and kettlebells help keep us in motion while promoting flex-

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Way of Life? ibility and endurance.” Training through movement also prevents muscles from adapting, a bonus that keeps you challenged along the way. Gagne continues, “During classes, we emulate movements that are true to life using the kettlebell, doing a lot of dynamic swings through a great range of motion, performing exercises such as the ‘gun sling’ and the ‘suitcase squat.’ This motivates a lot of members, who find these exercises very useful. And even if you’re limited on time, kettlebells offer an intense workout, enabling you to torch up to 500 calories in one 30-minute class, giving you the best bang for your buck.” Client, registered dietician and Certified Dietetic Nutritionist from Roslyn, Lori Pinchasick has been privately training with Gagne and says, “I have been using kettlebells for about one year. During that time I have seen an overall loss of body fat and improvement in my overall functional strength. I felt I was able to ski better this winter. I am able to workout longer, harder and have fewer injuries. For those experienced in core training, such as dance, yoga and Pilates, kettlebells may bring a dynamic new dimension in capability and injury prevention. With mass constantly in motion, kettlebell enthusiasts do tend to develop long, lean dancer-like muscles as well as a distinct improvement in flexibility, strength and balance.

According to Ganulin, be sure that the individual training you with kettlebells holds an accreditation from a major certifying body such as AFAA, ACE, NSCA, NASM, NCSF, or ACSM and is a current practicing fitness professional. There are other kettlebell organizations who are merely “certifying” non-fitness professionals in the modality. It is imperative that those who are teaching it have – at the bare minimum – a base level certification, keep up with their continuing education requirements, and work with clients/ students on a consistent basis.


Kettlebells are said to be good for all ages, great for athletes and for fitness enthusiasts who want to take things up a notch. They are indeed totally unique and different from any other piece of equipment in the gym.

Used with permission. KettleBell Concepts, Inc.

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Fitness Trend or Way of Life? High-Tech Training with VERT When you enter the VERT (Velocity Enhanced Resistance Training) Peak Fitness Center in Jericho, you can’t help but feel the high-tech vibe. Computers and sleek, streamlined equipment flank the walls where advanced cardio machines are set as a seperate unit in a designated area. It’s open, airy and gets down to the business of client needs following a complimentary full fitness assessment. At VERT, training operates in two ways. First, clients strength train 2-3 times per week on hydraulic machines, a relatively new fitness technology. These sessions are by appointment only and scheduled in varied groups of 1–4 with one trainer, and up to 8 with 2 certified trainers. VERT's specialized equipment provides bi-directional resistance, meaning weight is lifted in both directions using groups of muscles rather than isolating one muscle group. These push and pull movements are believed to emulate how we use our bodies in real life (again, functional fitness). Athletes such as golfers and tennis players tend to frequent VERT, as the program is said to enhance speed, agility and overall performance power. Bi-directional resistance training is also thought to all but eliminate post exercise muscle soreness since there is no pressure on the joints or tearing of the muscle. North Shore resident Richard Gertler went to VERT to increase his athletic performance. He says, “After about 6 months, my body age was determined to be age 38 (I am 48), I lost 2 inches off my waist, gained 8 pounds of muscle, and brought my body fat down to 11%. I was so impressed with VERT that I convinced my son, Sam, age 13 to join. His athletic abilities and confidence have been enhanced tremendously.” Weight loss is another benefit as VERT touts several success stories. Client Stacy Stevens says, “I have significantly increased my cardio and strength, lost 68 lbs. and I am having so much fun.” Client progress is measured every few months by what’s called a Body Age Analysis. It determines your age according to your fitness level, not years. Clients also set “Smart Goals” every 12 weeks. If they follow the program, results are guaranteed or their money back. A certified nutritionist and physical therapist are also on staff. As clients lift during training, the computer monitors progress and performance during each exercise, which can be quite motivating. VERT trainers can also program the equipment to provide all kinds of sets: a traditional set of repetitions; a resistance set that provides more bi-directional resistance; a timed set where clients perform as many repetitions as possible in a short time period; and/or a work set which measures wattage and requires you to do complete repetitions. And there’s never standing around in workout groups. For the short intervals of time between sets on the VERT equipment, trainers have clients doing agility drills, balance, and strength and core exercises. The program is changed so that every session varies, preventing it from getting stale. The next mode of training at VERT is on bi-directional iso-strength and cardio SciFit machines, such as a bike or elliptical machine that moves both forwards and backwards, 1-2 times per week. Clients each receive a key which identifies them to the machines and get a printed, customized program prior to their workout. They then receive comparative results, telling them how many calories were burned, how their performance measured up to their personal best, etc. SciFit routines and equipment are also rotated and modified on a month-to-month basis. So if high–tech training sounds intriguing, a complimentary VERT session will allow you to experience it first-hand.


here you have it – three new distinct workout trends that may very well breathe life into any stale fitness routine. To make the best possible choice, why not observe or sample a class or ask to speak with someone in the program? Remember to consider your personality, fitness goals and the type of workout you believe will give you motivation. Whatever you decide, fitness should be fun, challenging and give you the results for which you personally strive. | 82 summer 2008 woodbury

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