The Wife’s Christmas Gift
Not All Husbands Are as Sensitive as Me
A recent Peloton spin bike commercial has stirred up controversy. Buying a spin bike for your wife appears to demonstrate that you are a sexist, misogynistic husband. I have to disagree. I feel any gift that can improve a loved one’s health and permits them to remain active for an entire lifetime is wonderful. I do have an argument with a spin bike being the best training tool for a young woman. Read on for a far better selection of Christmas fitness gifts.
Stand Up Work Station
Our young wife obviously has a career outside of the home. It takes two incomes to be able to afford a $2000.00 spin bike that comes with a $40.00 dollar a month fee for on line classes. If her work is similar to most young professionals, she spends eight to ten hours a day staring into some type of screen and / or stapled to a chair. Prolonged sitting weakens muscles, stiffens joints, and limits respiratory capacity. The human body evolved to function in a standing position. The physiological and structural damage of prolonged sitting cannot be undone with a yoga session or a visit to the gym. This young lady is probably going to work for another twenty-five years. She needs to manage cumulative occupational stress and stand while working. I bought my wife a Varidesk ($300.00) fifteen years ago and she has used it nearly every day.
Power Block Adjustable Dumbbells
Strength training keeps “quality” for the duration of woman’s lifespan. For an enjoyable trip past 50 years of age, women need to develop and preserve as much muscle mass and bone density as possible. Strength training is the most important components of the female fitness program. Ideally, all women should start early in life and lay down as much metabolically active muscle and fracture resistant bone as possible. Women live longer than men and aging strips muscle and bone off of women at a far faster rate than men. A spin bike session is non-weight bearing and the catabolic hormone cascade it creates is more likely to strip away than add muscle. A set of PowerBlocks occupies less than three square feet of your home and depending on the size you purchase, it replaces 10 – 25 pair of traditional dumbbells. A beginner set of PowerBlocks (5-32 pounds) cost $330 and you can add an expansion set as you get stronger. My wife has been using them since 1992.
A beneficial fitness program creates carryover to better function during real world tasks. Spin will make you better at riding a bike and not much else. It will not improve your capacity to get up and down off the floor, squat, lunge, and carry. In my work as a physical therapist, I have treated thousands of women with back, neck, and leg pain created by an attempt to lift the bag of dog food, carry the child, or tote a watering can. Sandbag training carries over to the daily functional tasks we all need to be able to perform and remain injury free. The Ultimate Sandbag costs $70.00 and my wife has been performing lifts, carries, and stair climbs with her fifty pounder for the last ten years.
Forty-five to sixty minutes on a spin bike is too long and too intense for most fitness clients. We all want to look like the slender celebrity endorser of spin programs. Those young and incredibly lean bodies in the commercial have no physical limitations. Most fitness clients have strength and mobility limitations that make spin a poor fitness choice. The spin bike is often the driver of disc bulges, hip bursitis, neck pain, and anterior knee irritation. Symptom latency makes identifying the cause of pain difficult. Most patients do not realize that the pain that wakes them from sleep was produced the by spin class they performed earlier in the day. Injuries that happen when training are a tragedy. Nothing hampers your efforts toward a fitter body than a trip to the orthopedic surgeon’s office. If our young wife is just starting back to a program of fitness, a consistent dose of foam roll soft tissue work will help improve mobility and decrease post exercise soreness. A firm foam roll costs $20.00.
Most fitness devotees have hips that do not rotate or extend. The spin bike moves the hips through a very limited range of motion and creates an environment that makes tight hips even tighter. The hips are the anatomical center of strength and propulsion. Mobile and strong hips safeguard the knees and lower back from injury. Hip extension is the most important movement for success in athletics. Our young wife will be better served if she invests some training time in keeping her glutes strong and hip flexors long by using a set of Val Slides. Supine leg curls, posterior slides, and mountain climbers are some of the hip strengthening tasks she can perform with the Val Slides $30.00.
Any well-designed training program must address five areas: Injury prevention, strength, muscle endurance, mobility, and cardiorespiratory capacity. Spin class takes care of the cardio portion. If you have three hours a week to devote to exercise, you will never be able to address all your fitness needs if you consume half your training time with two 45 minutes spin classes. Home cardio equipment often turns into an extremely expensive coat rack. Numerous studies have shown that individuals that utilize professional guidance are more successful in reaching fitness goals. Our team of trainers and physical therapists can help anyone reach their fitness goals. Learning how to use all of these training tools will produce the fitness results that will allow our young wife to live a long and independent life.
These gifts will help our young wife preserve her posture, prevent pain, and develop the strength, bone density / muscle mass she needs to travel through a long and active life. My wife has been grateful for every fitness gift I have given her. My selfish goal is to keep her fit and strong forever.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS