Why are so many people unhappy with their bodies today?

I was interested in a report just published by Report Linker who surveyed a representative sample of the U.S. adult population in May 2017.  The survey was related to exercise, how people feel about their bodies and how adults manage their fitness today.

See it here:  http://www.reportlinker.com/insight/shape-americans-exercise-get-fit.html

The following points were of particular interest:

  • 3 out of 4 respondents said, “having a good shape and looking good are particularly important to them”

  • 73% of respondents said they’ve wanted to change something about their bodies

  • 87% of them said they are “too fat”

There is clearly an overwhelming sense of disatisfaction out there. For the vast majority of the population, this isn’t for lack of trying. These are people who truly have the desire to be fit, they just haven’t found the right solution. They’ve paid for memberships at mainstream gyms time and time again, but without success. We’ve long known that if it was possible to take the proverbial “magic pill” to get in shape, many would. People want that magic solution.

This article does not present any new news, but it undoubtedly reinforces why what we do at Koko FitClub is so important, because there are loads of people who have failed in the mainstream gym world, where they lack direction or guidance.

Wanting to get in shape is half the battle. The other half is knowing how to do it. And that is the biggest problem for the more than 80% of adults who don’t have a gym membership or fitness solution today: they simply haven’t found a place or a plan that works, or that motivates them to stick with it.

They want exercise that makes them feel empowered in a place where they feel welcomed and supported.  A place that sets them up for success and builds habits that stick. A place where they are coached individually to success so they can meet THEIR goals in a way that fits into the reality of their demanding lives. So, it has to be convenient and time efficient — just show up and get a great workout, built exactly for you, without any thinking or planning required.

We built Koko to address these needs. A place for you, with a plan for you.

The vast majority of the population needs far more than a place where there’s equipment. They need the warmth, support and individual focus so they can be coached to success — something that Koko has been designed to provide.  And it works.  There is good news.  Thousands and thousands of people have experienced success at last and have changed the way they feel. You see, there is a magic solution after all.

Stay Koko Strong!

Mary Obana
President & Co-Founder, Koko FitClub

5 Practical Ideas to Improve Health and Fitness

“Mens sana in corpore sano” (Latin)
– a healthy mind in a healthy body.

There were almost 82 million Americans who were completely inactive in 2015. We know that exercise on a regular basis can be a very difficult task since most people do not even like to exercise. More than 30% of the population will not workout at all this year and only 5% will exercise at a level that is considered vigorous. Compounding the problem, the average American sits more than 9 hours a day; sitting is now considered the new smoking. We have become a society where inactivity is fast becoming the new norm. If this resonates at all with you then you may want to try to incorporate the following practical tips into your lifestyle.

Read Original Article: 5 Practical Ideas to Improve Health and Fitness

There have been many things that I have learned and continue to learn during my three decades in the fitness industry and I can honestly tell you, in addition to some nutritional advice, these five particular items should be on your radar. It would be prudent for you to make sure these five components (5M’s) find their way and get ingrained into your lifestyle.


Athletes at the collegiate and professional level continue to improve because they work with the best strength and conditioning coaches and nutritionist. They have a well thought out plan and get tested periodically. This is the one component that offers the most bang for the buck yet most individuals find reason to neglect it. Find the time to take some type of measurement(s) and periodically test yourself in order to (1) hold yourself more accountable, (2) determine if your exercise plan is actually working and (3) to help keep you motivated. This applies to not just exercise and your workouts but also on the nutritional side of things. Are you eating, for example, too much added sugar? Checking your body weight is OK but go beyond just checking your weight. What percentage of muscle and body fat make up that overall weight of yours? What is your waist measurement? Can you run a mile? Can you run up a flight of stairs without feeling winded? These types of measurements offer more value than jumping on a bathroom scale.

A few (measurement) ideas for you:

  • Determine your Waist-to-hip ratio
  • Monitor your % body fat and/or lean muscle mass
  • Record your daily grams of added sugar ( Determine your best 500 or 2000 meter row time
  • Vertical jump measurement
  • Plank challenge (can you hold position for 2:00 or 3:00?)
  • Are you getting 8,500-10,000 steps/day
  • Finally, remember another great quote from Peter Drucker, “what’s measured improves.”



Once your measurements are taken and documented you’ll then have a baseline and you’re ready to begin. A good first step, is to work towards becoming more mindful, this will help you not only with exercise and diet but in all aspects of your life. The net result will be a significant improvement in the “quality” of your exercise and the way you fuel your body. As we become more in tune with mindfulness, we become more aware of the relationship between a stimulus and response. You can think of mindfulness as a tool that can help you develop that gap between the stimulus and the response to that stimulus.

Mindfulness is “the ability to stay focused, while being aware of your thoughts and surroundings and being able to recognize and move past distractions as they arise.”

– Harvard Business Review

Researchers looked at subjects who had the opportunity to choose from 22 general activities, such as walking, eating, shopping, and watching television. Their study showed that respondents, on average, reported their minds were wandering 47% of time, and no less than 30% of the time during every activity except making love. Becoming more mindful in regard to exercise and diet is extremely important. Learn to become truly present when you’re involved in these activities otherwise your mind and body are not taking in 100% of the benefit.

One way to help you get moving down this road of mindfulness is with daily meditation. A typical session involving meditation could range from two minutes up to sixty minutes. I have used the popular Headspace app to help me get started which is excellent and I highly recommend you start with this free, simple to use, app. More than 4 million people have used the app to date. According to a Tim Ferris, podcast, author of the 4-Hour Work Week, more than 80% of the world-class performers who he interviews use some form of daily meditation and he’s a big proponent of the free Headspace Take 10 program.

There is a great deal of research that demonstrates mediation creates positive changes in our brains. Harvard University neuroscientist Sara Lazar told the Washington Post, “long-term meditators have an increased amount of grey matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex.”

In a 2014 study in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Australian researchers looked at the relationship between various personality traits and exercise and other health-related habits. The researchers found that people who thought they had control over their lives were more likely to exercise and adopt other healthy steps than those who felt that luck or fate largely dictated their lives. Daily meditation offers that sense of control.

With everything we have going on in our daily lives like raising children, marriage issues, social media, political upheaval, and all the demands at work, we need to find more time to focus on ourselves. The goal should be to work on eliminating all the distractions and “noise” that surrounds us. Becoming more mindful will enable us to have better control in all aspects of our lives especially with what we’re focusing on here, improving your lifestyle especially with regard to diet and exercise.

You can take this assessment to see where you currently rate when it comes to mindfulness. Try taking the assessment before and then after completing ten sessions using the Headspace app.


Mobility, or joint mobility, in general, is one of the most misunderstood terms. The first thing you need to understand about mobility is that it does not start this week and then end in a day or two. If you want to improve mobility then it needs to be part of your every day life and one of the components of each workout you do. You will receive the most benefit when regular mobility work becomes part of your lifestyle.

Let’s first look at a good definition of mobility. According to physical therapist Joe Vega, M.S.P.T., CSCS,. “a person with great mobility is able to perform functional movement patterns with no restrictions in the range of motion of those movements.”

A more in-depth look at what happens when you perform specific mobility exercises is given here by fitness expert, Steven Maxwell. “Joint mobility exercise stimulates and circulates the synovial fluid in the bursa, which ‘washes’ the joint. The joints have no direct blood supply and are nourished by this synovial fluid, which simultaneously removes waste products. Joint salts, or calcium deposits, are dissolved and dispersed with the same gentle, high-repetition movement patterns. Properly learned, joint mobility can restore complete freedom of motion to the ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, neck and hands.”

Remember, you should take a proactive approach when it comes to mobility, not a reactive one. In other words, don’t wait for problems to arise before you address them.

A great tool to help you get started is a foam roller (see below) which can be used for self-myofascial release. It has been shown to help increase joint range of motion and with delayed-onset muscle soreness, commonly known as DOMS. For more information check out MWOD.


Hippocrates once said, “walking is a man’s best medicine.” To find out if his 2,400 year-old remark was actually valid, two scientists from University College London performed a meta-analysis of research published between 1970 and 2007 in peer-reviewed journals. After studying more than 4,000 research papers, they identified 18 studies that met their high standards for quality. The studies evaluated 459,833 test-subjects who were absent of cardiovascular disease at the start of the investigation. The subjects were followed for an average of 11.3 years, during which cardiovascular events (i.e. heart attacks and deaths) were recorded. Their meta-analysis makes a strong case for the benefits of good old walking. The group of studies showed that walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31 percent, and decreased the risk of dying during the time of the study by 32 percent.

More movement of any kind is obviously a good thing. One tool you can use to monitor your exercise and especially walking is a pedometer. It can be valuable because it (1) can hold you more accountable, (2) it can help to build up to a desired step total for a daily/weekly/monthly total and (3) it can be a useful motivational tool along the way. Research out of Stanford University has shown that individuals who use a pedometer take an additional 2,000 steps each day, compared to nonusers, and their overall physical activity level increases by 27%. Another study showed participants who increased their steps to average more than 9,500 a day for 32 weeks lost 5 pounds, 1.9% body fat and 1.9 centimeters from their hips. They also increased their HDL cholesterol by 3 mg/dl and lowered their BMI by nearly 2 points. The participants in the study increased their steps by an average of 4,000 steps a day from the start of the study.

The goal with trying to add in more daily movement is consistency. If you have a crazy week at work and can’t get to the gym as much during the week then be sure you check it off during the weekend. The key is to do something. Research by Krogh-Madsen and colleagues showed the dramatic changes that can take place after just two weeks of decreasing your activity. The subjects were young, lean, healthy men who decreased their daily steps from 10,000 steps a day to 1,300 steps a day. They experienced an increase in body weight, 7% decline in VO2 max, a 2.8% loss of lean muscle in their legs, and a 17% drop in insulin sensitivity after just two weeks of decreasing their activity by 8,700 steps a day.

A few thoughts to keep in mind when it comes to movement. More movement, like walking, and other forms of exercise (like strength training), translates into an elevated metabolism. There are many external as well as internal forces that can have an effect on your metabolism and exercise is the most variable. Sedentary individuals may add only 10-30% to their total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) while very active individuals can increase that number above 50-75%. TDEE is the total amount of calories the human body burns (or expends) in one day. When you’re more active throughout the day you get the added bonus of what scientist refer to as NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. NEAT is the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than exercise. NEAT can vary by up to 2000 kcal per day between people of similar size in part because of the substantial variation in the amount of activity that they perform. Obesity is associated with low NEAT; obese individuals “appear to exhibit an innate tendency to be seated for 2.5 hours per day more than sedentary lean counterparts.” When you exercise at higher intensity levels you increase your body’s ability to burn calories post exercise, known as exercise post oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC is one of the by-products of high-intensity interval training.

TDEE = BMR + TEF + NEAT + EPOC + Exercise

Finally, according to research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, subjects who were least active during this particular study were five times more likely to die than the most active people and three times more likely than those in the middle range in terms of daily activity. The data was taken from approximately 3,000 people aged 50 to 79 that were part of the University of Pennsylvania Population Study. When in doubt, always remember the old saying “use it or lose it.”


The ability to maintain muscle mass as you age is considered by many as the closest thing to the fountain of youth. There is still hope for you even if you’ve been inconsistent or unable to exercise at all. That hope comes in the form of regular strength training. Research has shown that approximately three decades of age-related strength loss and two decades of age-related muscle mass loss can be recovered or reversed within the first couple of months of starting a strength training program. Research from a 2016 meta-analysis published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reviewed 49 studies of men ages 50 to 83 who did regular strength training and found that subjects averaged a 2.4-pound increase in lean muscle mass.

There are a few additional items you need to focus on consistently beyond your strength training. When it comes to maintaining or building muscle, sleep and recovery are critical and good nutrition is a must. When I say nutrition I’m talking a surplus of good calories especially in the form of high quality protein. If your body is not continually in an anabolic state you will not be building any new muscle.

A recent study in the journal Nutrients suggests a daily intake of 1 to 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is needed for older adults who do resistance training. For example, a 175-pound man would need about 79 to 103 grams a day. If possible, divide your protein equally among your daily meals to maximize muscle protein synthesis.

There is a strong association between strength training and muscle mass but as you continue to age the key is working smarter. You can do that by making sure you include these primary lifts or movements as part of your strength program: squat, dead lift, pulling and pushing movements, and some type of loaded carry.

In a recent comprehensive research review, Donnelly and colleagues note that the majority of peer-reviewed resistance training studies (lasting 8–52 weeks) show increases of 2.2–4.5 pounds of muscle mass. These researchers suggest that an increase of 4.5 pounds of muscle mass would probably increase resting metabolic rate by about 50 kcal per day. Although this small change is not nearly as much as some advertisers may suggest, it does help close the gap between energy intake and energy expenditure.

There you have it – my five practical tips that will help take your health and fitness to the next level. The choice is now yours.

Stay Koko Fit!

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub

About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in Cape Cod, MA.



Schneider PL, Bassett DR, Thompson DL, Pronl NP, and Bielak KM (2006). Effects of a 10,000 Steps per Day Goal in Overweight Adults. Am J Health Promotion 21(2): 85-89.

Donnelly, J.E., et al. Is resistance training effective for weight management? Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine, 1(1): 21–29, 2003.

Krogh-Madsen R, Thyfault JP, Broholm C, Mortensen OH, Olsen RH, Mounier R, Plomgaard P, van Hall G, Booth FW, and Pedersen, BK (2010). A 2-wk reduction of ambulatory activity attenuates peripheral insulin sensitivity. J. Applied Physiology, 108(5):1034-1040.

Wu BH, Lin J, (2006). Effects of exercise intensity on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption and substrate use after resistance exercise. J Exerc Sci Fit, 4(2).

Abboud GJ, Greer BK, Campbell SC, Panton LB, (2012). Effects of Load-Volume on EPOC after Acute Bouts of Resistance Training in Resistance Trained Males. October.

Levine JA, et al. (2006). Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 26: 729-736.

Ivey, FM et al., (2000). The Effects of Age, Gender and Myostatin Genotype on the Hypertrophic Response to Heavy Resistance Strength Training. J. Gerontol: Med Sci 55A: M641-M848.

Ezra I. Fishman, Jeremy A. Steeves, Vadim Zipunnikov, Annemarie Koster, David Berrigan, Tamara A. Harris, Rachel Murphy. Association between Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Mortality in NHANES. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2016; 1 DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000885

Let’s kick off our Summer grill outs with a lemon garlic tilapia!

It’s time for the season of fresh recipes and cookouts! Here is a great way to brighten up that dinner table!

Continue reading

The Stronger Life Project: Fit Dads and Their Fit Kids [Video]

Fighting Back Against Cancer with Fitness: Koko FitClub Member Spotlight

We are getting closer to May 4th and the kickoff to the Koko 5 Million Point Challenge to benefit Relay For Life®.  If you have ever “Relayed” you know that the whole inspiring experience is about honoring and celebrating those who have fought, and continue to fight  cancer.

So, this blog post is one great big celebration of a Florida KokoNut named Terry Best who, in the face of a tough cancer diagnosis, is empowered to fight back with Koko FitClub Coral Springs as his battleground.

Research has shown that for people fighting cancer, exercise can mean a longer life free from cancer.

Besides enhancing overall health, mood and outlook, evidence suggests that exercise actually improves your immune system’s “cancer surveillance,” protecting you against future cancer recurrence. Terry’s story is bound to get you moving, and inspire you to sign up for The Koko 5 Milllion Point Challenge on May 4th benefiting Relay For Life®. (Which just happens to be the day after Terry’s birthday…) Read on!

A Fighter’s Story by Special Guest Blogger, Terry Best

May 3rd, the day before the Koko 5 Million Point Challenge, will be my 65th birthday.  My wife and I have signed up for 12 and 10 cardio sessions, respectively, for this Relay For Life® event.  Before I retired, I always encouraged my employees to participate in the various Relay For Life® activities that were being held in the area.  I never thought it would mean as much to me as it does now.  I never thought I’d be the one fighting cancer.

Sixteen weeks ago I went to my primary doctor to see why I was so tired all of the time.  I joked with my wife that I probably needed my oil changed maybe had to have some of my fluids topped off.  After all, I am someone who takes good care of himself. (I’m 64 years old; 5’9”; 165 lbs; athletic; never smoked or experimented with drugs; having a drink means a glass of wine; and did I mention handsome? OK, OK, maybe I’m getting a little carried away.)  How could there be anything really wrong with me?  My blood tests were always fine, including my cholesterol that, for years, has been “in range” due to the pill that I take each night.  No cancer (EVER) on either side of my family, so that wasn’t even a consideration.  However, I was tired most of the time – unusually tired.  Well, that was sixteen weeks ago.

One look at my doctor’s face after he performed the always popular DRE exam to check my prostate said it all. I was in a state of shock.  There was no cancer in my family and absolutely no (none, nada, zilch) symptoms. During the next few weeks, it seems that all I did was schedule tests, spend endless hours in waiting rooms, take tests, wait for test results, schedule appointments to discuss test results with the appropriate doctors and then, start all over again. Life certainly had changed.

So, after ultrasounds,MRIs, PET Scans, bone scans and, my favorite, a prostate gland biopsy, the verdict was in:  I have a very aggressive case of prostate cancer.  It has spread from my prostate and is also now in my bones. That is labeled as “Stage 4” cancer. Lucky me – my cancer had no patience for Stage 2 or Stage 3 – it decided that Stage 4 is a much better place to be.  After all, with Stage 4 prostate cancer, it’s too late to operate. So, those smart, insidious cancer cells knew that they would be safe from the surgeon’s knife.

The protocol for my situation is hormone therapy, which deprives the cancer cells of testosterone. Without that fuel source, they die.  Unfortunately, at some time in the future, they will figure another way to thrive and we’ll have to go to Plan B.  Fortunately, with prostate cancer, (words that I never thought I’d use together) there are many other arrows in the quiver to use against it. The key for me, and all other prostate cancer patients, is to stay ahead of the curve and be in the right place at the right time when these new medications are available.

So, what does all of this have to do with Koko FitClub?  As it turns out, more than you’d expect.  When my oncologist told me that the depletion of testosterone will deprive the cancer cells of fuel, he also told me that it will cause me to lose muscle tone, gain weight and make me lethargic.  None of these side effects appealed to me, so I decided to do something about it.  While I’ve always been in decent shape, I’ve never liked the gym scene.  My wife and I used to belong to a health club, but I would head directly to the treadmills and spend all my time sweating and staring at a TV that was tuned to some channel that I would have never, ever chosen myself. (The treadmill must have worked at least a little, as I can proudly say that I was able to complete the Disney Marathon a few years ago.) I had no idea how to use any of the strength equipment and, even if I did, I had no idea what the correct weights, repetitions, sequences, etc. made sense for me.  But, as unappealing as going back into this situation was, when you find out that you have cancer, you tend to put things in perspective. I was going to work out.

As many of us do, I went to the internet to find a solution.  The amount of gyms and health clubs in my area is overwhelming, but they are all basically the same.  Pay your dues and figure out the rest.  They had pools and saunas and juice bars and basketball courts and racquet ball courts and spinning and twirling and preening and flirting and . . . well, you get the idea.  What they didn’t have was something for me.  They didn’t have something for a guy who didn’t need to lose weight, didn’t want to have bulging muscles and didn’t have a clue how to use the machines.  I needed a place that would provide both the roadmap to achieve my goals as well as the equipment/atmosphere that would make me feel comfortable doing so.  Then, I found Koko FitClub.

I met with the owner, Rob, and explained my situation to him.  Having cancer was still new to me and he was one of very few people who I had told about it.  I guess I wasn’t expecting his heartfelt compassion and, more importantly, his sincere desire to help me.  Rob showed me how Koko had various customized programs for a wide range of people with different goals, including (amazingly) mine.  Being able to do my entire strength workout  on one machine with a computer screen actually showing me how to do the exercises and adjust to my range of motion and strength variations was a revelation.  Could it be that there actually was a place that met every one of my needs?  And, to top it off, the owner, his staff and the other members of the club had the same mind set as me?  Sign me up!

So, what’s happened in the last sixteen weeks since that “you have a cancer” conversation in the doctor’s office?  Well, my testosterone level is now 0.00.  My PSA level went from more than 22 (2.5 to 4.0 is the target range) to 0.2.  And, my doctors are now using the word “remission.” As I’ve been told my cancer is “treatable but not curable,” “remission” is a wonderful word to hear.

What about the loss of muscle tone and “turning into a dumpling?” When my doctor asked me if I was experiencing any of the side effects that he warned me about – loss of muscle, lethargy, weight gain, etc. – rather than tell him about it, I handed him results I printed from my Koko webpage.  While I had to explain “Q Score” to him, the numbers and graphs of the other results spoke for themselves.

My first Koko workout was on February 4th.  My lean muscle was measured at 137 lbs. (I weighed approximately 167 lbs.) and my eBMI was approximately 17.  My “Q Score” was 58, which was very good for my age group. My lean muscle has INCREASED (remember, I had hoped to just maintain what I had) to 144 lbs. My eBMI remains in the ideal target range at 18.  My strength has INCREASED by 48 percent.  My Q Score is now 88, which is better than the average of any male age group, including those cool young guys in their 20’s and 30’s.  I’ve walked almost 100 miles and have lifted 500,000 lbs. I’ve accomplished all of this without any testosterone and, remarkably, actually enjoyed myself.

My doctor’s reaction was priceless.  Sixteen weeks ago, in this same room, he told me that I had aggressive prostate cancer and, obviously, it was a very serious conversation.  Now, he used the word “remission” and he was smiling from ear to ear (me too!) Having the ability to print out my progress and hand it to my doctor(s) is something that I never thought about when I joined Koko FitClub.  It has turned out to be a terrific way to show them how I’m fighting back.

Fighting back. My treatment – receiving monthly shots in my hip and stomach and taking some pills each day – is relatively passive on my part. It’s up to my body chemistry to react to them.  However, by working out, I feel that I am actually attacking the cancer cells.  Each step, each completed rep, each scoreboard result on the Koko Smartrainer screen is evidence that I’m fighting back.  Koko uses the phrase “Stay Strong.”  That was the perfect reason for me to join.  I would have settled for “Stay Strong.” However, to my surprise, “Get Stronger” is much more applicable to what I’ve been able to achieve.

Terry Best
Certified KokoNut

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Office

About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.