Q: What on earth is parkour?! I heard guys at the gym talking about how it’s the new, best way to get in kick-ass shape. Is it a class? Can you break it down for me and explain what this is and if I should do it for good results? Alexander via instinctmagazine.com
A:If I had to describe parkour in one word, it would have to be “awesome!” Parkour is an amazing sport/workout. It’s all about creativity, fluidity and balance (mind and body). It’s an art form that can be described (for lack of better words) as getting from one place to another and navigating all obstacles, in the most efficient way possible, using only your body and the surrounding environment. So this means leaping over walls, jumping over benches, bouncing off rails, and the list goes on! A few higher-end gyms, such as Crunch, offer parkour classes, but I definitely feel it’s something that is best experienced outside—where it’s meant to be practiced. It’s a great change of pace from more traditional workouts, but it does require some “basic” coordination skills, overall strength and core strength. You’re going to be doing things that you’re body isn’t used to doing, and you’re probably going to fall and get a bruise or two (even a sprain, or worse), so you’re definitely going to need a certain amount of chutzpah. And be warned: IT CAN BE DANGEROUS! It’s something you need to see and experience to understand, so head check out the master, Shane Daniels, in action below! You can also check out tempestfreerunning.com for more! —MD
VITA OVERLOAD Q: Which vitamins should I be taking on a daily basis? Nowadays it seems like those multivitamin packs keep getting bigger and bigger, but are all those pills inside really necessary? John in Boston, MA
A: There are some supplements that should be taken on a daily basis, based on the fact that not all vitamins can be provided in the typical American diet. During my days working with the famous Robert Atkins, I really found that our food intake cannot provide it all. There were studies on his famed high-protein, high-fat and low-carbohydrate lifestyle that showed his diet did not provide all the needed nutrients, especially the trace minerals. I feel there is no more effective and convenient way to address a nutritional deficiency than by taking the lacking nutrient as a dietary supplement. Fad diets and yo-yo dieting have not put a dent in the ever increasing twin epidemics, diabetes and obesity. Many people are now opting for a vegan diet, which I have no problem with, provided that the individuals know that this type of dietary lifestyle will put them at risk for deficiencies in iron, vitamin D, selenium, zinc and B12. The bottom line is that we all could eat better. With our busy lives, we turn to fast food, get less sleep and exercise and have more economic stress than we ever have had. If you eat a balanced diet, you do not have to take these mega vitamin packs. But if you aren’t eating well, and fall into a high-carbohydrate lifestyle, these packs can be useful. I would also encourage anyone to take omega-3 (fish oils), because the benefits from omega-3 are boundless. Safe to say, we would all like our muscles and our bank accounts to get bigger and bigger, but not the vitamin packs. —PF
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GETTING TESTY Q: I recently started dating a guy, and we just had the “HIV talk.” I’m negative and told him so, but he says he hasn’t been tested in a while and doesn’t see the need since he always practices safe sex. Obviously this makes me uneasy. Is there anything I can say to help him see the need to get tested? Pete in Elizabethtown, KY
A: Super idea that you guys have had the HIV talk. Maybe start by gently asking your new guy, in a setting that won’t likely lead to sex, how long it’s been since he’s been tested. The latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control say that HIV screening should be done on all patients between the ages of 13 and 64 years at least annually. Some guys get tested every six months. Chances are if your beau has his next annual physical, he may be asked about a test anyway. Consider that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men represent about two percent of the U.S. population, yet we are the population most severely affected by HIV. We’re the only risk group in which new HIV infections have been increasing steadily since the early 1990s. With stats like that, clearly safe sex means different behaviors, or risks, to each guy. Ask what safe sex means to your partner. Does your guy mean he always uses a condom for oral sex? Do you? Or does he mean oral sex without a condom but not to completion? Does safe sex to your hottie mean he always uses a condom for anal sex, top or bottom? Or no condom but he gets off the horse before the ride is over? In other words, be sure you’re both talking about the same behaviors when agreeing you both play safe. Another current factor that encourages regular testing: Early treatment is the best treatment. Simply put, regular testing is the way to go. —FP