You remember the 2000 dramatic diaster film, The Perfect Storm, about the crew of the Andrea Gail starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg. Well, this may have nothing to do with the most challenging of seas, but for sure the 1,208 foot climb up KoKo Head Crater on the southeastern shore of Oahu is ‘The Perfect Climb’. And for someone who once ran up and down Runyon Canyon in Hollywood (counter clockwise) in less than 15 minutes, the trek up KoKo Head trumps all. This was my first time and I must say, it’s quite a bear! On the way up I was following this twenty-something gal who said she does it four times a week. The wonder why she made it to the top without stopping. Something I can honestly say I did not – I rested once about 100 yards from the peak. Of course I was pushing hard from the beginning, and with giant railroad ties as steps about three feet apart and three feet vertical, it’s quite the challenge just to keep moving forward. So if you come to Oahu and want to experience The Perfect Climb, check out KoKo Head and don’t forget to wear climbing shoes and bring your water bottle. And if the climb up isn’t enough of a challenge, coming down is even harder. The good news is once you reach the crater’s peak, the view is incredible! Much like the view from the top of Diamond Head, there’s 360 degrees of beauty. So get inspired with a bird’s eye view from the top, and don’t forget to get your workout in! Enjoy – R
Have you ever challenged yourself to change one thing? That is to say, to change one thing about yourself that you know would significantly benefit you in the long run. Something that you do – or don’t do – that when changed results in a positive outcome. For me it was Sardines. Yes, those small, saltwater, oily-rich, silvery soft-boned fish that feed exclusively on plankton, and therefore, do not concentrate mercury and contaminants as do other fish.
Named after Sardinia, the Italian island where large schools of these fish were once found, sardines are: 1) rich in Protein – which provides us with amino acids to create new proteins, 2) one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA – which have been found to lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels, 3) an excellent source of vitamin B-12 – which promotes cardiovascular well-being, 4) incredibly concentrated in vitamin D – which plays an essential role in bone health since it helps to increase the absorption of calcium, 5) a very good source of Phosphorus – a mineral that is important for strengthening bones, 6) a very good source of Selenium – a mineral with powerful antioxidant activity whose dietary intake has been associated with reduced risk of cancer, and 7) relatively inexpensive, low in calories and have a long storage life. Except for the fact that sardines contain naturally occurring substances called purines – which too much purines in the body can lead to an excess accumulation of uric acid, and thus, can lead to gout or kidney stones – they’re excellent for you!
So why is it that prior to this week I wouldn’t go near sardines? Because when I tried them as a youngster, I hated them. Or at least I hated them at that particular time in my life. So when my father told me he eats canned sardines regularly to help combat his cancer, I thought why not change one thing about myself and start eating sardines. No matter my pre-conceived notion that I hated them, I purchased a few cans and dove right in. Now sardines are a regular part of my diet. Quite frankly, I like them more than any other of my previously consumed canned aquatic vertebrates, like tuna and salmon.
Whether it be sardines or a daily fitness program, change one thing that will better your life today and in the long run. Just because you think you don’t like something, doesn’t mean you can’t change your way of thinking. Especially with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workouts. They’re so short, simple and easy to follow, that anyone with a computer or smart phone can do them in the same amount of time it takes to eat a can of sardines! Here’s a 5 minute workout from my 100 day web series: #94 – Leg Stretches. Enjoy – R
If you’re a GQ reader like me, you probably read the August issue with Mila Kunis on the cover. On page 32, there’s a brief article by Mark Byrne called “Rewriting the Book on Yoga”, with a 15 minute yoga workout as prescribed by a studio owner in NYC. Unfortunately, I cringed when I reviewed the workout that includes three twisting and forward bending poses, the last of which is an advanced pose.
But before I add my two cents, let me state my fitness and yoga qualifications: I’m 48 years old, 5’7″ and weigh 150 pounds. My body fat is less than 9% and most people think I’m 33. I’ve worked out in fitness centers every day for the past 32 years totaling more than 12,000 hours. I’ve practiced yoga every day for the past six years totaling more than 2,000 hours. An accomplished student/athlete through college, I’m also a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Cycling Instructor, and 200-hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I’ve taught more than 15,000 yoga students of all levels in the past five years, from the ages 3 to 93. I’ve created more than 15 hours of instructional yoga videos in the past two years, including a Yoga Survival Guide detailing more than 100 poses.
I currently teach yoga to women and children living in domestic violence shelters, who had zero experience with fitness and yoga before I got there. I have neck, low back, shoulder and wrist issues, and have been injured three times since I started practicing yoga – all from bad teachers. Thus, my very precise teaching style is designed to minimize injury to any body part, especially the neck and low back. Finally, I’ve practiced yoga mostly in New York City and Los Angeles, the yoga meccas of the United States, and have taken classes with the “so-called” best teachers in the world. 90% of which are women.
That said, here’s why I disagree with the Byrne’s claim that GQ “found the best back-saving, workout-improving moves…” When it comes to anything twisting and forward bending while standing, you better move slowly and be super careful. Your stance is critical, which the caption doesn’t clearly emphasize. The caption also says “twist your head to look up”, which you should NEVER attempt without properly warming up the spine and preparing your body for such deep twists. Revolved triangle is a perfect example of this. A good teacher wouldn’t sequence this pose until at least halfway through the yoga class, because coming into this pose is AS IMPORTANT as the pose itself. So is coming back up to stand once you’ve been in the pose for any length of time. Here’s why: once your torso weight and your 10 pound head is down and over your forward leg, you’re balancing this weight over a tight triangular stance, making it quite difficult to manage. And since most men carry their weight in their torso and have tight hamstrings, coming into – or out of – this pose without bending your legs (like the picture shows), and without moving ridiculously slow, could lead to serious injury.
Thus, it’s not back-saving at all. It’s actually quite strenuous on your neck, low back and hamstrings. And requires ample core strength to control your torso as you’re folding forward at a 90 degree angle (if you keep your back straight like the picture – which is also very difficult). And although the directions state “you won’t be able to touch the floor right away – settle for your ankle”, very few men can even get to their ankle. Frankly, this is a very challenging pose for an advanced yogi, let alone anyone who’s never done it before. So take note and be VERY CAREFUL, especially when twisting and forward bending at the same time. And if you really want to experiment with this pose on your own, warm up and strengthen your core and abs first with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #82 – Easy Abs. Enjoy & hope to see you on the FAT BURN TOUR! – Rich Tola
We’ll soon begin a 30,000 journey across America visiting all 50 states – 100 Cities in 100 Days – to raise money for my charity, The Boulevard Zen Foundation. We teach yoga to women and children living in domestic violence shelters. Ambitious? Yes. For a great cause? Yes. Impossible? Certainly not! I expect it to be life changing. For all of us, as well as all of you because we intend to EDUCATE, INSPIRE, EMPOWER and ENTERTAIN you with cool, trivia-filled workout videos from historical sites everywhere.
Here’s me teaching the women and children at the San Diego domestic violence shelter:
Here’s the Hollywood Sneak Peek Trailer for my Fat Burn America Tour. Enjoy! – R
The other night I had dinner with Stephani Drapeau, my dear friend and co-star of my film, Boulevard Zen. We were discussing the concept of “freeing your mind and your soul” from anything that prevents you from evolving to a higher level. That is to say, letting go of the “ties that bind” you to past beliefs, or rather, disbeliefs about your dreams, your desires, and your life’s destiny. Because when you free your mind and your soul, you evolve to a much better and brighter place. A place where anything is possible if you truly believe it. So make a conscious effort to become Free Squared, especially when it comes to fat burning and a daily fitness routine. Because anyone and everyone has at least 5 minutes a day to respect themselves with a little exercise. So enjoy firming your Core & Abs with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #97 – Side Plank. My best – R
Twelve days ago I posted my 100th video/blog for my 100 days of 5 minute, low-impact, yoga-based, fat burning workouts. Since then I visited my family in New Jersey, and spent some time with friends in New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Of course I continued with my daily fitness program, as well as took a few yoga classes. Challenging, yes, since you’re busy enjoying your time off. But do-able. Especially with my Fat Burning Workouts. That’s why I wrote this poem…to inspire you to keep with your daily fitness program even while on vacation. Enjoy your Daily Workout. – R
YOU CAN DO IT
I’m here to help you
There’s no need to fail
If you know what to do
Then just step on the scale
Believe you can tighten
Believe you can win
Cause who better than you
Conquers that battle within
Mother Nature’s quite cruel
Father Time’s a quick chime
Who says you can’t switch
To a program like mine
Don’t despair my good student
You’ll never be bored
With a daily fitness program
You’ll love your reward
When you read this you might think, what’s so special about exercising 5 minutes a day, everyday, for 100 straight days? I mean, you walk around and climb stairs everyday at work and home, and even work-up a sweat doing the household chores like scrubbing the bath tub. But are you really embracing a daily fitness program? One that’s effective, simple and attainable, and most importantly, one that becomes an integral part of your subconscious. Because moving the body around isn’t the same as exercising the body. With exercise there’s a purpose and a goal. And if you exercise daily, you will see results. You’ll not only benefit from having more strength and flexibility, increased bone mass, better posture, better circulation, and better breathing, but also from the mental clarity and strength you’ll get from succeeding everyday at something quite challenging. All it takes is the belief and the courage to try. So believe and achieve with today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #100-Bridge Pose II. It’s also the finale of this fat burning series, with details coming soon about my Burn Fat America Tour. Thanks for tuning in! – R
Michael Jordan, one of basketball’s greatest players, once said, “I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot – and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” No doubt. Because if you never try you’ll never succeed. And by trying you learn, experience and mature into a do-er and not a talk-er. One who’s not afraid to take the next shot, whatever the outcome of the previous one. So if you’ve tried before, to exercise a little bit each day, and just it didn’t stick, well then, be like Mike, and try again today with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #99 – Core Power II. Enjoy – R
For the past 98 days, I’ve been coming up with different fat burning workouts that are uniquely challenging, simple and short. No special equipment or anything else required. Just yourself, a device with internet access, and a space about the size of your bathroom. Clothes optional. So check out the cool arsenal of exercises you now have at your disposal with the past 98 workouts. And enjoy blasting your thighs from the Ground to the Penthouse with today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #98 – Elevator Squats. – R
Every Memorial Day I remember my Uncle Mickey, aka, Dr. Cook. Uncle Mickey served as a cook in the Army in WWII, thus the nickname, and he was exactly 55 years older than me as we shared the same birthday. In my 20’s I got to know Uncle Mickey and respected his view of himself and the world. Because he respected everyone and everything. He was this charming bachelor who would tell folks he never married because he had to take care of his mother, he had a daily fitness routine he’d do in the spare room, and he wore a suit & tie every single day. That’s right, every single day until he entered the nursing home when he was 90. He was the ultimate citizen who respected what it meant to be an American. Someone to admire for truly loving life. And what I remember most about Uncle Mickey was our walks at the nursing home when his mind and body would barely cooperate. He always kept his dignity and his positive attitude, and never felt sorry for himself. So for everyone remembering loved ones today, enjoy! And enjoy sculpting your thighs again with today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #96 – Killer Squats II. – R
Happy Memorial Day Everyone!