SkyMall Monday: Talking Hand Exerciser

gadling skymall monday talking hand exerciserI hate working out. I’m not proud of that and, despite my aversion to exercise, I do engage in quite a bit of it. I enjoy long bike rides, hiking and getting caught in the rain. That said, staying fit can be tedious. Perhaps that’s because exercise equipment is so dull. Treadmills? Without outdoor scenery, running is the fitness equivalent of watching paint dry. Plus, they confuse cats. Elliptical machines just look like medieval torture devices. And free weights? Talk about a death trap. On top of all that, gyms smell like BO and make me itch in my special areas. However, I understand the importance of maintaining my health, so I’ve been searching for a piece of exercise equipment that seems logical and will hold my interest. Thankfully, SkyMall will help us all break a sweat without ever having to step foot in a gym (which is great, because I hate having to leave SkyMall Monday headquarters). Put on your Spandex unitard, do some stretches and prepare to get into the best shape of your life with the Talking Hand Exerciser.We all tend to neglect our hands when working out. Most people prefer to focus on their vanity muscles: abs, biceps and tongue. Our hands, however, do all of the heavy lifting. Improving hand strength is critical to personal development. In fact, I’ve been working out my hands since I was about 13 or so. Back then, I could pump out some reps a few times a day. Now, I tend to need more recovery time in between workouts.

Think that hand exercises are stupid? Believe that fitness equipment should be seen but not heard? Well, while you’re sweating to the oldies, we’ll be reading the product description:

Work to increase your grip force and improve your hand and finger strength with this easy-to-use hand exerciser. Featuring an LCD display plus voice announcement, the Talking Hand Exerciser will tell you the number of grips, grip force (current and accumulated) and max grip force.

How many times have your doctors, trainers and clergymen told you to work on your accumulated grip force? Isn’t it time that you stopped shaking their hands flaccidly and started taking their advice?

Plus, who has time to count their own number of grips? Not me. No, I need my max grip force announced in a voice that (I presume) sounds like Stephen Hawking.

Crush those around you by getting your hands in shape with the smartest pieces of exercise equipment in the world today. It sure beats whatever the hell is happening at this spin class.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Himalayan High: preparing for the trek

Trekking to Everest Base Camp is not a trip for everyone. It is, at times, quite a physically demanding experience, and when you combine high altitude with plenty of challenging climbs, you get a recipe for suffering. When I tell people that I’ve made that hike, I’m usually asked two questions. First, they almost invariably ask, “Can ‘normal’ people make the trek?” and secondly they ask, “How did you prepare?” The answer to the first question is yes! Normal, average, travelers can, and do, hike to Everest Base Camp, but the answer to the second question isn’t quite as easy.

The first thing I would say is that by getting yourself physically ready for your trek, you’ll save yourself a lot of grief on the trail. In my trekking group there were clearly some people that were better prepared to deal with the rigors of hiking at altitude than others, and not long after we would start each morning we would find ourselves breaking into three groups.

Out front we had the faster, stronger, more able bodied group. There were usually three or four of us in this pack, and left to our own devices, we would probably have quickly left the others far behind. The second group consisted of hikers who were a bit more slow and steady in their approach. These men and women traveled with a more measured pace, and while they struggled at times, they generally showed up at the next rest stop with a smile on their faces. Finally, the third group was a much slower lot who would physically struggle for the entire length of the journey. They would often lag behind by as much as 10-20 minutes, and when they did catch up to the rest of us, they looked like they they weren’t enjoying themselves at all.If you’re planning on making a trek to Everest, or some place similar, you don’t have to be in that first group to enjoy the walk, but you probably don’t want to be struggling in the third group either. Fortunately, with some planning and dedication, you can improve your chances of completing the trek and enjoying yourself along the way, although the more time you have to prepare, the better.

As an avid runner, who covers in the neighborhood of 35-40 miles per week, I felt like I already had a good base for my physical preparation Still, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the Khumbu Valley, and I knew that altitude can do odd things to people, no matter what kind of condition they are in. Plus, I also knew I would be making some very long, and steep, climbs, so to improve my chances of having a good trip, I started to mix in some hill running to my regular routine. In the weeks leading up to the trek, I would run hills at least twice a week, and these weren’t just ordinary hills, we’re talking six long miles of up and down very steep slopes. When I arrived in the Himalaya, I found out very quickly that all of that training had payed off in spades.

Of course, I realize that not everyone is a runner and for many the mere thought of jogging up and down hills is exhausting. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that you can do to prepare for the journey anyway. In lieu of running, I’d suggest taking vigorous walks on a daily basis. Vary the distance and intensity of those walks to prevent boredom, and definitely mix in some hills as well. After awhile, start carrying a backpack equivalent in size to the one that you’ll be using on the trail, and fill it with a light load at first. Over time, add more weight to the pack until you’re essentially carrying the same load you will while on your trek. When ever possible, make those walks on an actual trail to help you get use to the uneven ground and varying conditions that you’ll face while actually on your trip. Did I mention you should also walk a lot of hills?

One aspect of a mountain trek that is difficult to prepare for is altitude. If you already live in the mountains, you’ll arrive at your destination with part of the acclimatization process already completed. But if you’re like me, you don’t live much above sea level, which can be a problem when you’re on your way to 17,600 feet. To help to offset those differences, I once again recommend regular doses of a cardio workout. In my case, that came in the form of running, but for a lower impact, but still highly effective cardio workout, add swimming to your schedule. The regimented breathing that comes along with swimming laps is also a good way to workout your lungs in preparation for the trek. Cycling is also a good workout, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, you’ll want to mix in plenty of hills to increase its effectiveness.

While physical preparation is incredibly important, it doesn’t hurt to do a little mental prep work too. Before you go on your Himalayan trek, figure out which route you’ll take to your ultimate destination. Then, research what you can expect to find along the trail and what a typical itinerary consists of. The fewer surprises you have along the way, the more you can enjoy the walk. Knowing what is in store for you can be very helpful on a number of levels.

With all of this in mind, I will say that it is still possible to complete the trek without physically preparing, although you’re likely to have a much rougher time of it. By doing a little advanced training though, you can give yourself a better chance of completing a challenging trek and garnering the rewards of accomplishing that goal.

Next: The Gear of an Everest Trek

“Fairmont Fit” program supplies sporty guests with running shoes

Before every trip I tell myself that in between sightseeing, wine tasting, and multi-course gastronomic feasts, I’m going to get in some physical activity. Then I start packing my carry-on and, when things get tight, the workout clothes and running shoes are the first things to get cut.

Despite my good intentions, I’d rather pack an extra pair of heels or save room for some souvenirs than squeeze my bulky running shoes into my bag. And I’m sure I’m not alone. To make it easier on people like me, Fairmont’s “Fairmont Fit” program provides guests with a gently used pair of running shoes in their size to use for the duration of their stay.

Guests must be members of the Fairmont President’s Club loyalty program and pay $10 per stay for the Fairmont Fit program. The shoes need to be requested in advance; they are cleaned after every use and replaced each season. In addition to use of the use of the shoes (available at 56 Fairmont hotels), guests can also use Adidas workout shirts and shorts or capris, yoga mat and stretch band, and an MP3 player loaded with 1,000 songs.

Who am I kidding? I’m not going to go for a run even if the hotel does lend me some kicks. But for the more dedicated, it’s a great way to pack light and still be able to maintain your workout routine on a trip.

[via Travel+Leisure]

AquaBells’ Dumbbells: Keep In Shape While On The Road, You Slob!

AquaBellsUnless you’re the kind of traveler who actively engages in lots of climbing, hiking, paddling, or biking, you’re pretty much a fat, lazy slob who’s only looking to meet attractive members of the opposite sex, lay around, check out the scenery, and eat. C’mon, admit it. Why not beef up a bit, so if/when you put the fork down long enough to speak to that Hottie, they respond with something other then a grossed-out “Ewww…”?

AquaBells Dumbbells are portable, collapsible weights for people on the go. Essentially super-heavy-duty plastic bags, when empty, the 26-ounce units fit easily into your carry-on bag. Filled, the weights provide up to 16 pounds of resistance per dumbbell. A $60 set of dumbbells includes handlebars and 8 fillable weights. At the very least, they’ll make excellent doorstops.

Related:

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GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of April 29

take5Not sure about all of you out there, but I’ve got summer on my mind – BAD. Every read here seems to translate to summer for me and that is only speaking for me, myself and I. If you are as ready as I am you will easy find how to work these recent blog topics, suggestions and tales into a summer adventure of your own.

5. 10 Worst Cities to Visit/10 Best Cities to Visit:
Save time this summer by skipping some of the duds found on the worst list and heading to the best. Or if you’re like me you’ll let all the others cramp and crowd what’s considered the best to make the most out of what’s considered the worst by checking it out on your own. You dig?

4. Finding the Right Place to Workout While on the Road:

Don’t leave the body you’ve been chiseling up for the summer at home. Take it out on the road and keep it fit while you go. If you’re finding it hard to workout on the road perhaps this one will help ignite whatever it is you need to get you started.

3. New York: Bowl at the Bus Station:
Here’s a fun one if you’re out in NY looking for activities aside from the club and bar scene on a late weekend night or any night at that. Bowling at the bus station can be done during the day as well while waiting for your bus to carry you back home. It is recommended you order a $50 Tower of Beer to cool you off between strikes.

2. A Canadian In Beijing: Steamy Bathhouse in Shanghai:
There is never a dull moment in Ember’s Beijing world. In one of her latest she tells all from her hot and steamy Shanghai bathhouse visit. Okay, it isn’t that steamy… Maybe.

1. How to Insult Someone Using British Sign Language:

As the temperature begins to rise don’t let your attitude, but if it does and you feel as though you should and you must insult someone using British sign language start learning how by visiting the tutorial as discovered by Justin. Just be sure you learn the good stuff too and by that I mean ‘nice’ gestures.