Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Koko Mind/Body Connection

mindplusbodyA few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Koko points- mostly how earning 1000 of them in a workout motivates us to get the very best out of each workout. It was a challenge for me not to stray off topic, because in my mind, and for Koko as a company, Koko points are part of a much bigger agenda. We want to do everything we can, through Smartraining technology and the serene training studios they inhabit, to engage your mind as well as your body.

Typical fitness scenes include armies of people lined up on treadmills, all zoned out to the television screens in front of them. On the weight floor, folks go through the motions at a such speed you know they just can’t wait to be finished. The whole purpose seems to be to distract from the unpleasantness at hand or get it over with ASAP because it’s boring. Working out like this helps you achieve your fitness goals no more than living like this helps you achieve your life goals. It’s very simple: engaging your mind in whatever you are doing translates to better results. In exercise, thinking about your form and the muscles you engage with each movement allows you to work them more efficiently and effectively. Mindful exercise is essential for success.

Here are a few of the ways Koko encourages mindful exercise:

The Smartrainer pace bar- I don’t know exactly why, but the Koko pace bar is absolutely mesmerising and we all try very hard to follow it. You may have missed the funny post that sums up Koko Nation’s Pace bar love perfectly. No more racing through reps. No more daydreaming. Following the pace bar results in optimal time under tension for your muscles, making the most out of every rep.

Koko points- They are little rewards at the end of each Smartraining session or ways we compete with ourselves and others to stay motivated. Bottom line is, the more engaged you are in your workout, the more points you’ll earn. Maybe even 1000!

Smartrainer form tips- Available for every exercise, every workout, with a reminder about how important the right form is to your results.

Michael Wood- The awesome Boston baritone of our Chief Fitness Officer has coached Koko Nation through thousands of Koko Cardio workouts, and we can’t help but pay attention! (Even our Louisiana contingent has grown fond of his “Yankee” accent, haven’t you?) Shoulders back? Arms pumping? Abs in? Always positive, Michael keeps us thinking and encouraged.

No TVs- No need for the distraction. We are too busy following the pace bar and listening to Michael.

Variety- Every workout is different so you never turn into an automaton repeating the same exercises over an over without a second thought.

Spa-like atmosphere- There really is nothing worse that trying to exercise in a giant warehouse full of equipment, noise and REALLY LOUD MUSIC. And let’s not even talk about the smell. Koko FitClubs are intimate, attractive, quiet an clean. Perfect for mindfully reflecting on you and your workout.

Mary Obana
President and Co-Founder
Koko FitClub

5 Tips to Re-Energize Your Fitness Commitment

commitmentIf you have been following this blog for awhile, you already know that I am a guy who has never really been “out of shape.” Exercise has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. You probably also know that I recently had to take time off from my usual fitness routine to recover from emergency eye surgery- not once, not twice, but three times this spring. It amounted to a month of zero exercise. Thankfully, all is well with my eyes, but the time off affected a change in my fitness habits. It was a slow build back into my usual three day-a-week Koko schedule and as a result, I experienced a change in my body composition. (Especially, around my mid-section. I’m sure a few of you 40 something men can relate.) I clearly needed to re-energize my commitment to exercise.
Thankfully, an opportunity presented itself early this month. My new motivation? A recent conversation with one of our Koko FitClub owners that turned into a full-on fitness challenge that I don’t plan to lose! So now, I’m ramping up my Smartraining from three days a week of strength to three days of strength and Koko Cardio. I am also doing extra Koko Cardio on my “off” days. To punctuate my new commitment, I am also being extra mindful of how I eat.  In the very short time since I have re-commited to my fitness, I have dropped five pounds. More impressively, I’ve lost 1% body fat. The point is, I am reminded that we all need to spark within ourselves a re-commitment to our workouts at one time or another. I have found ways to do this my whole life and so can you. Here are five of my tried and true methods to help you boost your fitness commitment:  

  1. Set a specific goal: Koko makes it really easy-and fun-to set fitness goals. Forget about the goal of “losing weight.” It’s not an accurate picture of your effort, but I promise it will be a by-product. Instead, try goal setting using the unique metrics that only Smartraining tracks for you. How many Koko points can you earn in 30 days? How many calorie can you burn in a week? By how many points can you raise your Q score? How high a strength gain can you achieve? How much weight can you lift in 6 weeks? Needham recently challenged it’s members to earn 20,000 points in 30 days. The results were awesome. Look at and start playing with the numbers. Think big!
  2. Compete! Just like I did, challenge a friend, co-worker, spouse, or sibling to a fitness duel. Those competitive juices really motivate. The same metrics from above can be used for head-to-head competition.�
  3.  Train for an event: Maybe your event is a 5K or a mountain climb. Maybe it’s a wedding or a reunion. Maybe it’s bathing suit season. There is always something you’d like to look and feel better for. I pick events like this quarterly and it really helps me focus.
  4. Make a Koko Pal: Scheduling your workout time with a friend builds in an extra layer of accountability. If you know someone is waiting for you, you’ll show. Try combining this with idea #2!
  5. Leave a workout bag in your car:It’s a reminder of your commitment and it allows you to take advantage of time that might present itself during the day to workout. My workout bag is complete with water, pre and post-workout snacks so I don’t have an excuse to skip because I need a meal.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but I’m already feeling the results. If you have any tricks you use to boost your commitment to exercise, I’d love to hear about them. In fact, go ahead and share them with the rest of Koko Nation by writing them below!
Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer

Weighty Issues: Extra Pounds and Osteoarthritis

Ouch KokoManIt may sound like common sense when I tell you that being overweight raises your risk for developing osteoarthritis in weight-bearing joints like the knees, hips and ankles, but sometimes stating the obvious is what it takes to get the message across. Do you realize that simply walking across level ground puts up to one-and-a-half times your body weight on your knees? That means a 200-pound man will deliver 300 pounds of pressure to his knees with each step. If you are running, up that to four to six times your body weight. The pressure on your joints increases exponentially with each and every excess pound you carry on your frame.

The obvious way to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis in your weight bearing joints is to lose the extra weight. One study found that the risk of developing osteoarthritis dropped 50% with each 11-pound weight loss among younger, obese women. Strengthening the muscles around those joints also changes the risk equation in your favor.

Thankfully, you are Koko Smartraining. The prescriptive strength and cardio programs that make up Koko Smartraining, done consistently, will result in both. 

Let’s talk strengthening, with the knee as an example. Strengthening your quadriceps, (the muscles on the fronts of the thighs,) with a common Koko Smartraining exercise like the squat, keeps your knee in better alignment through it’s range of motion. This stabilizing effect protects the knee from injury and the long term wear and tear that eventually manifests itself as osteoarthritis. This effect holds true for all your weight bearing joints. And that lean muscle your building? It’s burning more calories that the fat it replaces. Maintaining lean muscle tissue through strength training is one of the best ways to stay at a healthy weight for life. 
Cardio is the other piece of the puzzle. Alternate Koko Cardio with your strength workouts on the Smartrainer and you will fire up your weight loss. The trick is to take it easy on those weight bearing joints while you are still trying to lose weight. Koko Cardio programs on the elliptical trainer are non-weight bearing workouts and easy on your joints. The treadmill workouts are designed to take advantage of incline and power walking, so you never “run.” (Remember: four to SIX times your body weight! I don’t recommend running for anyone who is overweight.) 
For those of you already suffering from osteoarthritis, weight loss and strength training is even more critical. We introduced our Arthritis HealthTrack last spring specifically for you. It is designed to improve your physical function and reduce the painful symptoms of arthritis. And like all Smartraining programs, it is safe, effective and optimized, in real-time, based on your body.
Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer

Fitness Myths BUSTED: “No Pain, No Gain…”

This week we are hosting Koko FitClub owners from all over the country. It’s a good excuse to dust off an early post from our very own Chief Fitness Officer, Michael Wood, CSCS, that you probably missed. Enjoy!


No Pain“No pain, no gain.” Seems like we have had this fitness mantra drilled into our heads since we were kids. While it is true that you can’t expect results without pushing hard, “pain” is never something you want to feel during exercise. Pain is a signal of injury. Pain is BAD!
To get the most benefit from strength training, you should push yourself to what I call “momentary muscular failure.” The feeling you can’t possibly perform another rep. The goal should be to push as hard as you can but not to the point of pain.
Even with this advice, for those of us who aren’t used to strength training, determining how hard to push yourself is still a challenge. Women, especially, often underestimate the amount of weight they can lift.1 When our bodies aren’t used to tolerating the work, they actually have to be trained on a cellular level to push beyond the initial fatigue levels.
This is the beautiful thing about strength training on a Koko Smartrainer: You never have to gauge how much weight is “enough.”  The Smartrainer performs strength tests and determines what you can safely lift. Then, it constantly progresses you so your body builds strength and never hits a plateau.
So remember, avoid pain at all cost! It isn’t necessary and it isn’t good for you. Using the Koko Smartrainer, you are working hard, working smart and getting strong. No pain required! 
1Brian C. Focht, “Perceived Exertion and Training Load During Self-Selected and Imposed-Intensity Resistance Exercise in Untrained Women,” The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2007, 21(1):183–187a.