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Pod Workouts: A New Way to Get Fit

Pod Workouts: A New Way to Get Fit
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

You see people wearing the little earbuds on the bus, at the mall, on the treadmill at the gym … MP3 players are just about everywhere these days. There’s more to your MP3 player than tunes and movies. The latest buzz in fitness is downloadable MP3 workouts, experts say.

"They're popping up everywhere," says Mike Monroe, head trainer and program director for Push.TV, a home workout system based in New York.

All kinds of workouts are available -- from cardio programs, to strength training, to yoga, and Pilates classes, says Gregory Florez, chief executive officer of Fit Advisor Health Coaching Services in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Pod workouts are popular for several reasons.

They can be used anytime, anywhere, and at a relatively low cost (some are even available free).

They're good for people who like the structure of being told what to do, but can't afford to hire a fitness trainer, says Monroe.

And they can enhance your own workouts on a bike, treadmill, or elliptical machine, says California fitness trainer Tracey Mallett, who has developed her own "pod" workouts.

Vivian Jung, a Pilates instructor in Selden, N.Y., who produces a video podcast called "Hottieworkouts," thinks downloadable workouts can be especially inspiring to people intimidated by working out in a gym.

"Shy clients who are afraid to try dance-based classes can practice our 'Hottieworkouts' at home and then feel more confident to come in to the studio," says Jung. "And I hope that those people who live in areas that do not have good studios will benefit from experiencing quality programs via their computers/iPods."

Not for Everyone

While the portability (not to mention the "cool" factor) makes MP3 workouts popular, they're not without drawbacks.

For starters, says Lyndsi Johnson, a researcher in the Graduate Studies Department of Exercise and Wellness at Arizona State University, MP3 workouts -- especially those that are audio-only –are aimed mostly at people who are already active and know something about fitness.

"This style of workout may be more challenging for someone making the transition to a regular physical activity routine due to the fact that audio instruction may be difficult to interpret, especially without existing fitness knowledge and previous exercise experience," says Johnson.

If you're using an audio-only workout, you have to visualize what the trainer means and hope you're doing it the right way, adds Push.TV's Mike Monroe.

Even the pod workouts that include video present their challenges. The tiny screen may be difficult to see, and some workouts show only a starting and finishing position -- leaving you to wonder just what the correct form is during the actual exercise.

"You're not going to get the same correction you would from a trainer in a gym," says Monroe.

Another drawback, says ACE spokesperson Gregory Florez, is that "anyone can throw one of these programs up on the Web."

Unless you research the presenter's credentials, you could wind up with a workout developed by someone with no real training or experience. In those cases, "at best, you'll get an ineffective workout," says Florez. "At worst, you can wind up being injured."

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