How to Maximize your Social Media

By Biray Alsac

 

In the last decade, the social media revolution has transformed the online landscape by changing the way fitness professionals communicate and engage with colleagues and clients. The functionality of popular social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has opened the doors to new business-marketing strategies in the digital age.

After years of being poked, hit, tweeted, retweeted, followed, ranked, linked, friended andunfriended, fitness professionals are much more savvy about leveraging social media to build their networks and increase their brand awareness. “We have learned how powerful social media is,” says Todd Durkin, MA, creator and founder of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego. “I have learned how important blogs are in helping with SEO [search engine optimization] and delivering ongoing new content out there to your followers.”

Gone are the days when you clicked “accept” to every request that came through your social networking sites. Now, who you choose to engage with and how long you maintain their attention has more value and relevance than the sheer number of “friends” or “followers” you have. Authentic conversations, consistent interactions and cohesive social media strategies are what help you stand out from all the Internet “noise.”

The upcoming social media challenges will be less about developing a Web presence or building online community. They will be more focused on sustaining these relationships, quantifying social media efforts and differentiating businesses within your community. The six approaches that follow, complete with tips and tools, can help you refine your online strategy and position your business for growth.

1. Narrow the Gap Between Your Online and Offline Efforts

Businesses have saturated social media networks with their presence (who doesn’t have a Facebook page these days, right?). Gain a competitive advantage by synchronizing your offline activities with your online community.

Coupling traditional marketing with social media is still necessary, but announcing an event on Twitter or Facebook is only a first step. “Using the online media as coverage of live offline events serves both to enhance the experience of those participating and to inform [people] online about how they might participate in the future,” says Mark Nutting, CSCS, master trainer at Saco Sport & Fitness in Saco, Maine. For example, group fitness instructors who post their choreography on YouTube give regular attendees a chance to preview or practice a routine and future attendees a glimpse into a class experience (Alsac 2008).

Live broadcasting (or “livestreaming”) a portion of an event to the Web can also allow for real-time participation from your online community. If you are having a health expo, a holiday event or a fundraiser at your club, websites like Ustream.TV and BlogTalkRadio.com transmit your feed while simultaneously engaging viewers through chatrooms and call-in hotlines, respectively. All event recordings can easily be embedded into your website, which can increase traffic and improve the average time a visitor stays on your site.

Tips. Schedule informational workshops or sessions with a trainer, a local doctor or a nutritionist at your club, and facilitate the Q&A from both online and in-person attendees. Post a live Twitter feed on a wall at the gym, and stream all @replies or event #hashtags during an event. Enhance live-recorded content in postproduction by annotating video with comments, adding links or creating a highlight reel.

Tools. For those who may not have audio equipment for recording interviews, try ipadio (), which uses your phone as a microphone. For video, invest in a Flip Video™ camcorder () to make recording and uploading to YouTube a cinch. Add a “live chat” box on your site with Meebo (www.meebo.com) to stay accessible to members. Check out CoveritLive.com to create blog posts of events as they unfold.

 

2. Streamline Your Efforts—Post Smaller Doses in More Places

Having a professional presence across different social networking platforms keeps your brand in front of your audience, wherever they are. Find efficient ways to manage multiple efforts so that you do not lose valuable time.

“Every piece of information you create should be used in as many locations as possible to maximize the results of a single effort,” says Jonathan Ross, owner of Aion Fitness.com in Bowie, Maryland, and a fitness expert for Discovery Health. “When I write a blog post, it automatically posts to my Twitter account. Every update I make to my ‘Everyday Fitness’ page on Facebook goes through my Twitter account, which updates my personal Facebook profile status.”

How much time you spend creating content is also important. People have limited time to read every update you post. Keep online content to bite-size pieces (300 words or less for blogs, 3–5 minutes on videos) to reduce your workload and increase the chances of viewership. Nicki Anderson, president of Reality Fitness Inc. in Naperville, Illinois, learned this lesson the hard way. “I’m a passionate person, so I would write 500-word blog (posts), and I started losing (followers).” Today, she is much more focused with her messages and consistent with her online strategy. “I spend 20 minutes a day. Five (minutes) in the morning to post. Five in the afternoon to update posts. And 10 minutes at night to respond to messages and comments.”

Tips. Limit the number of cross-posting functions you automate. Consistent messages strengthen brands, but duplicate text may resemble spam. Tailor messages to the culture of each social media site (e.g., 10–15 updates would be expected on Twitter but might be too much on Facebook). Add the ShareThis (http://sharethis) button to blog posts, allowing people to republish your content elsewhere on the Web (who knows, things could go viral!). And use Zemanta™ (www.zemanata.com) to autopopulate your blog posts with relevant links, photos and tags—a great timesaver!

Tools. Profile aggregators like HootSuite™ (www.hootsuitecom) and TweetDeck (www.tweetdeck.com) manage multiple Twitter accounts from one dashboard. The TwitterSelect application on Facebook allows users to choose the messages they want to stream to Facebook by adding the hashtag #fb at the end of their Twitter status. Twitterfeed.com links blogs to Twitter. Use SocialOomph.com to boost productivity on Twitter by scheduling status updates in advance.

 

 

3. Turn Past Work Into Profit

Whoever said social media is free did not account for the time it takes to produce content. Health and fitness professionals have worked hard to contribute an assortment of online resources and should consider turning their efforts into profit. Webinars, books and membership-only areas on websites are opportunities for fitness professionals to bring in additional revenue using the work they have created.

Developing educated and experienced fitness professionals continues to be the number-one trend within the fitness industry (Thompson 2009). “Online training and webinars will continue to gain momentum,” says Jessica Matthews, academy exercise scientist and continuing education coordinator for the American Council on Exercise. She has seen an increase in the number of webinars submitted by continuing education providers. Online courses and webinars enable fitness professionals to share their knowledge and interact with their audience over the Web just as they would with a series of blog posts or a live workshop, respectively. “Fitness professionals are always seeking opportunities to further their knowledge and skills, yet with obligations such as work, family and financial constraints, traveling is not always feasible,” says Matthews.

Tips. Don’t have time to create webinars? Host one. Fitness Education Network () has a series of American College of Sports Medicine–approved webinars. Apply to present at StrengthandConditioningWebinars.com. Revisit your archived blog posts and see if the content there is enough to develop into more substantial material. Or for clients who are not avid blog readers but could benefit from your articles and posts, turn your blog into a book!

Tools. Check out Slideshare.net or Prezi.com to create archives of your past presentations. Use GoToWebinar.com if you are looking to host webinars. Explore or on ways to self-publish your blog.

 

 

4. Create More Interaction via Mobile

The next investment in technology is mobile devices. In 2009, more than half of Americans (56%) accessed the Internet wirelessly from a laptop, cell phone, MP3 player or game console (Pew Internet 2009). Start investing in a more extensive mobile marketing strategy and/or developing mobile-based fitness programs.

Marketing strategies that incorporate mobile messaging to promote upcoming events, provide additional discounts or request donations and service feedback keep clients engaged well after they have left the gym or training session. In terms of complementing fitness programs, mobile applications can be used to cue clients with appointment reminders, to assist with self-monitoring targeted behaviors and to deliver positive support and motivation.

“Health and fitness professionals will likely start to use these approaches to coach their clients in behavior change when they need it the most—in the moment,” says Jennifer Shapiro, PhD, scientific director at Santech Inc. in San Diego. A National Institutes of Health–funded study for mDiet, a weight loss intervention using text messaging, found that participants who received daily text messages lost more weight in 4 months than their control counterparts (Patrick et al. 2009). “Santech has licensed rights to the mDiet program and developed Text4Diet™ for commercialization,” says Shapiro. Text4Diet and others like it, such as ECFit (www.extracon.com), are leading the way in business-to-business mobile programs that health and fitness professionals can implement with their clients.

Smartphone “apps” (applications) are also gathering a lot of momentum, as evidenced by the familiar catch phrase “There’s an app for that!” (see the sidebar “There’s an App for That?”). With many stand-alone health and fitness apps out there for consumer use, organizations and health club chains are launching their own free apps. At this stage, for individual fitness pros the cost of developing an app may outweigh the return on investment.

Tips. If mobile apps or text-messaging interventions are not in your budget this year, take steps to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Too many bells and whistles on your site could slow load time or prevent features from displaying on some mobile devices. Also, start tracking all website traffic that comes from mobile phones to see if there is a need to allocate budget in this area.

Tools. Check out Textmarks.com, EzTexting.com or Tatango.com for mobile marketing services (e.g., text the word “LA-Trainer” to 41411 to get daily exercise tips, etc.). Swebapps () is a user-friendly platform for those who want to develop simple mobile apps at a bargain cost.

 

 

 

 

5. Offer Free Digital Swag

Rather than giving away water bottles, towels and T-shirts, some businesses are coupling their marketing materials with high-tech freebies, such as ringtones, wallpapers, screen savers and mobile accessories (e.g., stickers, skins, flash drives). Digital swag keeps your brand in front of your audience without being overly intrusive.

Last year, IDEA created digital membership “badges” (bumper stickers for the Web) for those wanting to publicize their affiliation on their own blogs and websites. Every week, BodyBuilding.com website features wallpaper images of personal trainers and weightlifting champions that users can download to their desktops or cell phones. Fitness- and health-themed ringtones are just starting to surface. In spring of 2009, Digimax Sound released a list of wellness ringtones for various alerts on your phone. For example, when you receive a text message, you can hear a calming female voice alerting you to your message but urging you not to answer it until you have taken a deep breath and relaxed your shoulders. Providing this type of marketing material direct from your website (by allowing visitors to download it or posting HTML code to cut and paste) gives visitors another reason to stay engaged on your website.

Tips. Create content that extends messages about health, nutrition and active living. Avoid materials that solely feature logos or traditional marketing images—like using a club photo as wallpaper. Badges increase traffic back to your website, so encourage clients and members to post them on their website, Facebook page or blog.

Tools. Make your own ringtone at , or simply create an MP3 with a free music-editing tool like Audacity® (). Go to www.sportdesktops.com for inspiring active images. Use Web 2.0 Badges (www.web20badges.com) to generate creative badges for free.

 

6. Assess Your Digital Imprint

If you are serious about strengthening your social media efforts, allocate more resources to this area. But before you spend thousands of dollars on a marketing manager or even a few bucks on a Facebook ad, know where current efforts are working and where they are not.

Google Analytics is probably the most comprehensive free website tracking platform online. For the most part, fitness professionals can use it to learn more about where visitors are coming from (which links referred them, what country they are viewing from) and how long they are staying on your site (what posts they are reading, what content they are downloading). The software is extremely powerful, but for the most part it is easy to use. To not take advantage of this tool would be a mistake. Facebook Insight is also available for monitoring activity on fan pages. The number of YouTube hits and trackback notifications (incoming links to your site) can also provide insight on the reach and strength of your online messages.

Tips.While there is no formula to determine a social media budget, keep initial costs low by enlisting the help of college students or staff members who are savvy about social media. Set up keyword alerts in Google or Twitter to obtain real-time data on when and where you brand is mentioned. Set up surveys (www.surveymonkey.com) and polls (www.polldaddy.com) to gather immediate feedback from your online community.

Tools. Kickapps™ () is an à la carte app for social media services. Use SocialMention.com to follow conversations around your brand. Constant Contact® () and Email Marketing Pro () are great for tracking e-mail marketing efforts.

Eventually, tools will change and other technologies will evolve. For now, use these approaches to generate better marketing strategies, differentiate your business and cultivate your network. “It somewhat bothers me when people say, ‘How much money do you make with social media?’” states Durkin. “If you look at social media strictly as a moneymaker, you will fail. Yes, it can help increase [brand] awareness and sales. But using social media is, first and foremost, about building relationships.”

The Truth About Energy Drinks

by Martina M. Cartwright, PhD, RD 

Everyone needs a quick pick-me-up now and then, but are we becoming a nation of energy addicts? So it would seem, based on skyrocketing sales of caffeine-infused products. Today’s 24/7 culture, long work hours and poor sleep habits drain stamina and encourage us to guzzle liquid pep to combat daily sluggishness. Energy drinks, with edgy names and catchy slogans, have captured the youth market, igniting sales—and side effects (Seifert et al. 2011).

Energy beverages can invigorate consumers with a combination of sugar, caffeine and other ingredients, but they are also inviting increased public and medical scrutiny thanks to a plethora of reports linking their consumption to serious secondary effects and even deaths (Blankson et al. 2013). Energy drinks can cause significant health problems if consumed in large amounts or by certain populations.

Caffeine, the major ingredient, has been used for decades as a safe ergogenic aid, yet reports suggest it is causing many of these adverse effects. An avalanche of conflicting information has left many fitness professionals puzzling over how to advise clients on the risks and benefits of caffeinated energy boosters. This article highlights the latest information about energy drinks and their kin, providing strategies to support their safe consumption.

Jazzed on Drinks

Taisho Pharmaceuticals invented the first energy drink, Lipovitan D, a half-century ago (Meier 2013) to help night employees stay awake. Still available today, Lipovitan D counts taurine, B vitamins, nicotine and caffeine among its ingredients. In the 1980s, super-caffeine-infused Jolt® Cola became a hit on college campuses. Red Bull®, the king of today’s market, was introduced to the United States in 1997 (Meier 2013). Since then, hundreds of energy products, from beverages to candy, have flooded the market, promising increased focus and physical agility.

The alertness industry is big business, with energy drinks and shots netting $12.5 billion in 2012, a 60% jump from 2006 (Meier 2013; Packaged Facts 2013). Energy drink manufacturers see teens and college students as their biggest customers, with 30%–50% of this age group regularly consuming energy drinks to lift mental fog and boost athletic performance (Seifert et al. 2011). Shrewd marketing catapults the popularity of these drinks by enticing young males, in particular, with the assurance of gaining a competitive edge. Young consumers cite sleep deprivation, peer pressure, need for energy and sports performance as reasons for gulping energy brews (Taddeo, Harvey & Boutin 2012).

Safe or Scary?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating unconfirmed reports of 13 deaths and various adverse events allegedly linked to energy products (FDA 2012a; FDA 2012b). While some drinks serve up moderate levels of caffeine and B vitamins in 8- to 24-ounce cans, there are also high-octane varieties called energy shots, which cram excessive doses of caffeine and B vitamins into 2-ounce servings and have been linked to numerous health complications (FDA 2012a).

Energy drinks have been associated with seizures, headaches, rapid heart rate, chest pains, irritability and anxiety (Iyadurai & Chung 2007). New-onset seizures are linked to heavy consumption (>24 ounces) on an empty stomach or if combined with another high-caffeine product (Iyadurai & Chung 2007). Deaths and other serious events occurred in children (Bronstein et al. 2011) and teens with pre-existing cardiac conditions (Meier 2012).

Combining energy drinks with alcohol is a hazardous college trend (Marc­zinski 2011). This duo can mask alcohol’s sedative effect, and each raises dopamine levels, stimulating the desire to drink both (Greenemeier 2010). College students with a history of consuming this volatile mixture are more likely to participate in or be the victim of risky behaviors (Howland & Rohsenow 2013).

But Don’t They Boost Performance?

Energy drinks are frequently used to increase athleticism. In a survey of U.S. college students (Hoyte, Albert & Heard 2013), 80% of those who said they participated in sports at various levels reported having used an energy drink within the past year to enhance athletic performance. Among sports players, 84% men and 74% of women said they consumed energy drinks. Semipro and intercollegiate players were more likely to use energy drinks than their intramural and club peers.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition’s (Campbell et al. 2013) position paper on energy drinks states that the ergogenic value of caffeine is well supported. Energy drinks can improve mental focus and anaerobic and/or endurance performance if consumed 10–60 minutes before exercise, the paper states, but it adds that many energy drinks contain additional ingredients whose benefits or other effects are not yet known. Low-calorie energy beverages may help with weight loss, but sugary energy drinks may incite weight gain and spike insulin levels (Campbell et al. 2013).

Athletes should consider the high sugar concentration when selecting an energy drink. Children and adolescents should use energy drinks only under parental supervision and be able to recognize the side effects. Indiscriminant use is not recommended. People with diabetes, cardiovascular disease or other metabolic or physical disorders should avoid energy drinks (Campbell et al. 2013).

What is it about energy drinks that produces negative health effects? Most point the finger at caffeine, but is this generally recognized as safe (GRAS) ingredient the culprit?

The Buzz on Caffeine

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that is easily absorbed; blood values peak within an hour after ingestion. The half-life of caffeine is 5–12 hours, but alcohol will extend its stay in the body (Campbell et al. 2013). Most adult men and nonpregnant women can tolerate 500 milligrams a day (about four or five 8-ounce cups of coffee) without significant side effects (Sepkowitz 2013). Children may experience caffeine-induced irritability, anxiety, cardiac abnormalities and sleep issues with lower doses, so their caffeine intake should be <100 mg/day (Torpy & Livingston 2013; Health Canada 2011). Highly caffeinated energy drinks have no place in the diets of children or adolescents, according to the Committee on Nutrition and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness (2011).

Caffeine is frequently used as an ergogenic aid despite its diuretic effect. >> Consumed 45–60 minutes prior to anaerobic exercise, energy drinks containing about 2 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body mass may improve total lifting, but they have no effect on repeated high-sprint or agility performance (Davis & Green 2009; Campbell et al. 2013). However, performance may improve if caffeine is consumed 10–40 minutes before an aerobic activity such as cycling or running (Campbell et al. 2013). Sugar-free versions of energy drinks produced no improvement in high-intensity run time to exhaustion in young adults (Candow et al. 2009).

The FDA limits caffeine in soft drinks to 71 mg per 12 ounces, but it does not regulate caffeine in dietary supplements like energy drinks or products. Supplement manufacturers must list caffeine in the ingredients but do not need to list actual quantities (Rath 2012). Energy beverages contain different amounts of caffeine, and the quantities listed on labels are often inaccurate (Consumer Reports 2012; Blankson et al. 2013).

Many energy drinks contain guarana, a South American botanical packed with 40 mg of caffeine per gram. Caffeine from guarana is not typically included in the caffeine tally listed on energy drink labels (Blankson et al. 2013).

Caffeine-infused candy, chewing gum, marshmallows, Cracker Jack®, energy sheets that dissolve on the tongue and potato chips have inundated today’s market. Ingesting caffeine from multiple sources throughout the day can add up, triggering insomnia, irritability, rapid heartbeat and anxiety (Wolk, Ganetsky & Babu 2012).

 

 

Rest and Renew with Package Deals and a Chance to Win a $500 Spa Gift Basket

 

It's been almost 2 years since we've run a promotion and we've decided it's high time to show you our appreciation for your support! Ricardo's Massage and Bodywork is pleased to announce not only a super special value package option deal, but also a chance to win a Relax and Renew Gift Basket worth more than $500! The basket is perfect for Mother's Day or just to treat yourself or that special someone who could use a little extra spa-like treatment.


 Here are the details:


From now until April 26, 2015 you have the following value package options:

 

3  60-minute massages for $180

 

5  60-minute massages for $250

 

or

 

10  60-minute massages for $450

 

These prices reflect an approximate 30% savings (just in time for tax season)!!

 

On top of this, you will be entered to win the gift basket, which Ricardo will draw for on Friday, May 1. As an added incentive, you will be given an extra chance to win for each package increment you purchase. For example, if you buy the 3-massage package, you'll receive one chance to win. If you purchase the 5-pack, you'll get two chances to win, and if you purchase the 10-pack, you'll receive three chances to win. 


What's in this gift basket anyway?

 

* a "pay it forward" gift certificate for a massage to only be given to someone who has never received one from Ricardo's Massage and Bodywork...

 

and much, much more!

 

Ricardo is also offering two additional chances to win. He will also be drawing for:

 

* One free 60-minute massage (to be used at your discretion)

and

* A fitness package: one workout video, a self-massage tool and a free introduction personal training session with Ricardo, who is also an ACE-certified Personal Trainer.

 

Purchase your package now!

 
 

How to Eat With the Elements

If we step back and take in the big picture on nutrition, food and our relationship to eating, the human body looks like a miniature version of the universe— everything happening in the external world is also happening within us.

For instance, the qualities and changes in the seasons are reflected in our inner workings. Just as the weather can be hot or cold, cloudy or clear, damp or dry, so can our inner environment. We’ve all experienced our internal thermostat running hot or having trouble shaking the chills. Our minds and thought processes are clear and focused one day, cloudy and incoherent the next. Our skin and even our respiratory tract can feel moist or dry.

Traditional Chinese Medicine addresses these realities with the Five Elements Theory, which describes the changes continuously occurring within our bodies and correlates those changes with the seasons. The theory can guide us toward dietary choices that align us with nature, provide a platform for healing and enhance our overall well-being.

Embracing the Five Elements

The Five Elements Theory illustrates the patterns of change in life (Reichstein 1998) demonstrated through five elements— wood, fire, earth, metal and water—that create, influence and nourish one another. An intricate balance among these elements allows patterns of life to flow gracefully.

By supporting and inhibiting one another, the elements stay in balance. For example, water irrigates the land so wood can grow, which then feeds fire. Fire melts metal to mold it, and metal cuts through wood.

The elements also correlate to stages in life, specific organs, emotions, colors, times of day, weather and the cycles of the seasons. The cycles of the seasons bring about growth, change and decay, which influence our own inner processes, both biological and psychological. The closer we align ourselves to the present season, the healthier we will be.

If we observe a tree through the seasons, we witness the continuity of life. In spring, when energy draws upward, the tree starts budding and blooms into full foliage; in summer, it bears fruit. As autumn arrives, leaves and fruit begin to fall as the tree’s energy returns to its roots for winter.

Humans also experience a cycle of growth and renewal every year. Fortunately for us, Mother Earth provides the foods our bodies naturally need during each season of the year. The five elements and their interplay with the seasons illustrate how this works, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Figure 1

For more information about the benefits of seasonal eating, plus a much wider discussion of the topic, please see "Eating With the Seasons" in the online IDEA Library or in the January 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

Does Fascia Carry Emotions?

Many mind-body movement professionals have encountered clients who have experienced a strong emotional release after holding an extended stretch or after moving the spine through forward, backward and/ or side-bending movements. Some people think these responses are related to fascia, the layer of tissue surrounding muscles, muscle groups, blood vessels and nerves.

Interest in the role of the myofascial system has been rising. Current theories regarding how memories may be stored in fascia—and can later be released—were recently discussed in an editorial in the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2014; 18 [2], 259–65).

Proposed theories include the following:

  • Neurofascial memory. Since fascia is well innervated, irritation or injury can trigger tissue remodeling, inflammation and nervous-system sensitization that can evolve into persistent pain in local tissue.
  • Fascial memory. Collagen deposited along lines of tension in connective tissue may create a “tensional memory” in the physical fascial structure. Certain chemical substances that are released, particularly after emotional trauma, may alter the collagen structure into a specific shape known as an “emotional scar.”
  • Extracellular matrix and tissue memory. This tissue remodeling seems to occur not only in the collagen network but also in elastin fibers and other cells throughout the connective tissues, creating a more durable and long-lasting “memory.”

The editorial author is particularly interested in the role of manual therapy in releasing various types of memories. This is where a good massage therapist who understands how to hold space is so important!

What is Reiki?

 

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

 

The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy". So Reiki is actually "spiritually guided life force energy."

A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing. Many have reported miraculous results.

Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. It has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.

An amazingly simple technique to learn, the ability to use Reiki is not taught in the usual sense, but is transferred to the student during a Reiki class. This ability is passed on during an "attunement" given by a Reiki master and allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of "life force energy" to improve one's health and enhance the quality of life.

Its use is not dependent on one's intellectual capacity or spiritual development and therefore is available to everyone. It has been successfully taught to thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds.

While Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no dogma, and there is nothing you must believe in order to learn and use Reiki. In fact, Reiki is not dependent on belief at all and will work whether you believe in it or not. Because Reiki comes from God, many people find that using Reiki puts them more in touch with the experience of their religion rather than having only an intellectual concept of it.

While Reiki is not a religion, it is still important to live and act in a way that promotes harmony with others. Mikao Usui, the founder of the Reiki system of natural healing, recommended that one practice certain simple ethical ideals to promote peace and harmony, which are nearly universal across all cultures.

During a meditation several years after developing Reiki, Mikao Usui decided to add the Reiki Ideals to the practice of Reiki. The Ideals came in part from the five prinicples of the Meiji emperor of Japan whom Mikao Usui admired. The Ideals were developed to add spiritual balance to Usui Reiki. Their purpose is to help people realize that healing the spirit by consciously deciding to improve oneself is a necessary part of the Reiki healing experience. In order for the Reiki healing energies to have lasting results, the client must accept responsibility for her or his healing and take an active part in it. Therefore, the Usui system of Reiki is more than the use of the Reiki energy. It must also include an active commitment to improve oneself in order for it to be a complete system. The ideals are both guidelines for living a gracious life and virtues worthy of practice for their inherent value.

The secret art of inviting happiness 
The miraculous medicine of all diseases 
Just for today, do not anger 
Do not worry and be filled with gratitude 
Devote yourself to your work. Be kind to people. 
Every morning and evening, join your hands in prayer. 
Pray these words to your heart 
and chant these words with your mouth 
Usui Reiki Treatment for the improvement of body and mind 
The founder , Usui Mikao

Reiki classes are taught all over the country and in many parts of the world. 

 

--International Center for Reiki Training

 

Please note that I am now offering Reiki session in addition to massage. Please ask about special introductory rates!

Brief Mindfulness Improves Decision Making

Before you make your next important decision, consider enjoying 15 minutes of mindful meditation. People who take such a break are more likely to make smarter choices, according to a study reported inPsychological Science (2014; doi: 10.1177/0956797613503853). “We found that a brief period of mindfulness meditation can encourage people to make more rational decisions by considering the information available in the present moment, while ignoring some of the other concerns that typically exacerbate the ‘sunk cost bias,’” said lead study author Andrew C. Hafenbrack, doctoral candidate at INSEAD, an international graduate business school, in an Association for Science news release.

Sunk cost bias is the tendency to continue to do a behavior based on an initial decision, even when the behavior is not leading to the desired result. "Most people have trouble admitting when they were wrong," said Hafenbrack. "They don't want to feel wasteful or that their initial investment was a loss. Ironically, this kind of thinking often causes people to waste or lose more resources in an attempt to regain their initial investment or try to break even.”

“The debiasing effect of mindfulness meditation in sunk-cost situations was due to a two-step process,” said another study author, Zoe Kinias. “First, meditation reduced how much people focused on the past and future, and this psychological shift led to less negative emotion. The reduced negative emotion then facilitated their ability to let go of sunk costs."

 

-- by Shirley Archer

The Latest Research on Massage and Exercise-Induced Muscle Soreness

Massage therapy is often considered a panacea to minimize or eliminate exercise-related aches, pain and soreness. But is there any truth to these claims?

To answer that question, researchers the University of Illinois at Chicago recruited 36 sedentary young adults who were separated into three groups: exertion-induced muscle injury and massage therapy; exertion-induced muscle injury-only; and massage therapy-only. The individuals in the first two groups were directed to perform a bilateral leg press exercise until soreness was achieved. The exertion-induced injury plus massage group received an immediate post-exercise 30-minute massage on the affected leg. Each participant then rated level of soreness from one to 10, and underwent blood flow measures at 90 minutes, 24, 48 and 72 hours post-exercise.

 

According to the data, both massage groups experienced increased blood flow throughout the intervention. The non-massage group saw reduced blood flow at 90 minutes, 24 and 48 hours; blood flow was normalized at 72 hours. The exercise plus massage group reported no continued soreness after 90 minutes, whereas the exercise-only group’s soreness lasted 24 hours.

 

“Our results suggest that massage therapy attenuates impairment of upper extremity endothelial function resulting from lower extremity exertion-induced muscle injury in sedentary young adults,” conclude the researchers.

 

The study is published in <I>Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation<I> (2014; doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2014.02.007).

Time Factors into Health Choices

If you had to choose, would you rather have a client spend 10 minutes more exercising or 10 minutes more preparing food each day?

A study by researchers at The Ohio State University’s College of Public Health suggests that because of the way Americans allot their time, the two may be mutually exclusive. The study found that a 10-minute increase in food preparation time was associated with a lower probability of exercising for 10 more minutes—among both men and women. The finding applied to single and married adults as well as parents and those with no children.

Researchers analyzed nationally available data on more than 112,000 American adults who had reported their activities for the previous 24 hours.

  • Sixteen percent of men and 12% of women reported exercising on the previous day.
  • On average, men spent almost 17 minutes preparing food, women about 44 minutes.
  • For the entire sample of adults, including those who did not exercise, the average time spent exercising was 19 minutes for men and 9 minutes for women.
  • In conclusion, the average respondent, male or female, spent less than an hour on both exercise and food preparation on the same day.

By inserting the data into statistical models, the researchers determined that there is a “substitution effect” for American adults who participate in these two time-consuming health behaviors on the same day.

“As the amount of time men and women spend on food preparation increases, the likelihood that those same people will exercise more decreases,” said Rachel Tumin, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in epidemiology at OSU. “The data suggest that one behavior substitutes for the other.

“There’s only so much time in a day. As people try to meet their health goals, there’s a possibility that spending time on one healthy behavior is going to come at the expense of the other,” she said. “I think this highlights the need to always consider the trade-off between ideal and feasible time use for positive health behaviors.”

 

-- Sandy Todd Webster

Healthy Recipe: Kale Pesto

These days, when many chefs are sourcing locally and seasonally, and abiding by sustainable practices, they may believe they are cooking healthy meals, says Emmanuel Verstraeten, founder and CEO of SPE Certified® (see related item). “While [sustainability] is an appropriate first step, it is not sufficient to close the loop on delivering nutritionally balanced, great-tasting dishes. What is missing is a culinary approach to nutrition whereby dishes are created to deliver the maximum in nutrient density, while retaining every ounce of deliciousness and taste. This is the piece of the puzzle that SPE Certified so uniquely provides,” he says.

Rather than “demonizing” ingredients such as butter, cream and sugar, SPE Certified challenges chefs to work differently. In fact, the SPE Certified charter doesn’t limit chefs with regard to ingredients; it simply guides them to use certain components in moderation. Bottom line, says Verstraeten, “Our goal is not to eliminate the status quo, but to provide guests with a sustainable, healthy and nutritionally balanced alternative. It’s all about increasing the options available when dining out.” See how SPE Certified’s executive chef Anthony Moraes uses the SPE Certified tenets to build flavor while maintaining health in this month’s recipe.

  • 1 1⁄2 C kale, destemmed, tightly packed
  • 3⁄4 C walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1⁄2 T lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 C Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1⁄3 C olive oil

Recipe key: C = cup; t = teaspoon; T = tablespoon

Blanch kale in boiling, salted water for 30 seconds. Toast walnuts and garlic at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-10 minutes. Add kale, walnuts, lemon juice, cheese and 1 T oil to blender; pulse, then blend at high speed. Makes 12 servings. Drizzle remaining olive oil while blending and add salt.

Per serving: 120 calories; 3 g protein; 2 g carbohydrates; 12 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 95 g sodium.

Source: Anthony Moraes, executive chef, SPE Certified