RSVP Montgomery

Fitness Fusion


Angela Hardgrave
After the holidays, when the last cookie has been eaten and the eggnog carton is finally empty, our thoughts turn to health and fitness. Often, though, any weight loss or exercise goals we make at the beginning of the year quickly slip away because of our busy schedules. However, an ahead-of-trend fitness program that’s about to explode in the fitness industry hopes to remedy that. It’s called Fitness Fusion.

Fitness Fusion is an exercise strategy that fuses contrasting workout styles to provide even more fitness gains than you would receive by sticking with only one type of exercise. Like yoga? Great! Yoga is phenomenal for strength and balance, but unfortunately does not get the heart rate up. Fusing yoga with a cardio exercise into one workout is the best of both worlds. Also, by fusing workouts strategically, you can reduce injuries and recovery times.

Fitness Fusion is also great for those with overloaded schedules, because let’s face it—who isn’t struggling with thirty hours of things to fit into a twenty-four hour day? We’re all too busy, but when you have a “smart” workout like Fitness Fusion, those exercise goals are easier to maintain.

You may be wondering who is bringing Fitness Fusion to the River Region. That would be Dr. Michele Olson. Dr. Olson, who has a Ph.D. in research physiology, is a professor of kinesiology at Auburn University Montgomery and is the director of the research lab named after her family, The Scharff-Olson Kinesiology Laboratory. Olson is branded as THE (America’s) Exercise Doctor. She has been on the cover of the Lifestyle section of the New York Times and has produced two workout DVDs. Olson is also a consultant to Reebok, Gaiam, Fitness EM, and MostFit fitness companies.

About her life-long passion for fitness, Olson said, “Movement! That’s what I’m about. I was doing ballet and tap dancing by age three and had three brothers. We were all on the move doing every sport and activity that time would allow. It was gymnastics and then tennis that gave me an identity that would land me an athletic scholarship for college. But, I found I loved learning just as much as movement. So, I skipped my fourth year of collegiate tennis to go on to graduate school to study exercise physiology. The rest, as they say, is history. I started researching and writing, designing workouts, and presenting at professional conferences even before I completed my doctorate in 1991.”

“Fitness Fusion is based on the well-accepted fact that no one workout or style of exercise can do it all. Plus, everyone needs to economize on the time they put into exercise. Additionally, we have to workout ‘smart’ by maximizing gains from exercise while minimizing the potential for over doing ‘extreme’ forms of exercise, i.e. workouts that have gotten popular, but now we find have a rather high injury rate,” said Olson.

Dr. Olson, who is on the advisory board for SHAPE magazine, has worked with SHAPE to create three fusion workouts that will be featured in their March issue. However, as an exclusive for RSVP readers, Dr. Olson has created four fusion workouts just for us at RSVP.

Workout #1: YO-Run
What to do: Warm-up then run at a good pace for two minutes. Follow that with two yoga poses that take two minutes and repeat. Repeat five times and you have a 20-minute workout that hits cardio in addition to needed core and hip/balance work.

Olson said, “YO-Run is an ideal marriage or fusion. How does it work and why? Runners often note a lack of core strength and weak hips, which can be a problem, causing knee pain and slower running times. Couple running with yoga infused moves and the result is core strength, strong hips and good balance.”

Workout #2: SpinLaties
What to do: Fusing spinning with Pilates moves, you spin for 15 minutes and then do 15 minutes of mat-based Pilates exercises to hit the abs, back, and upper body.
Olson said, “So leg-based spin cardio is coupled with non-cardio work not addressed with spinning—work for the left-out abs, back and upper body.”

Workout #3: KettleBarre
What to do: Fuse lower body body barre work with 3-5 minutes of kettle bell swings. And, after finishing your upper body work, fuse in another 3-5 minutes of kettle bell swings.

Workout #4: LiftROM
What to do: Finish off a set of muscles, like your legs and glutes with leg presses, hamstring curls and leg extensions. Perform stretching exercises specific to the quads and hamstrings. Then, move on to the next set of muscles in your weight training plan, such as your back.

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