Archive | August, 2010

America Ninja Warrior-Post Competition Interview with Angelo

26 Aug

Q. The last time we heard, you were in the V.I.P. area waiting for the final results. What happened next?

A. I ate half a rotisserie chicken, a big salad, and some Korean tacos (I wasn’t able to eat lunch).

All finishers had to wait until the end of the competition to get the final tally of the top 30 with the fastest times.  I ended being #37 out of the 50 or so that completed the course.  I was able to talk with a few of the top competitors and get some insight on what they did to get through the course and how it compared to the course in Japan.

The next day, the semi-finalists would have to run the same course with the addition of 3 more challenging obstacles, one of which was a 3-story climb on a cargo net.  Of course I was a bit crushed that I didn’t get to move on to the next day’s competition; it would’ve been REALLY FUN to run the longer course.

Q. What was your favorite moment or event at the competition?

A. At any competition, it’s always great to meet and talk with others that share the same interests in running, climbing, and jumping off things.  But I have to say one of the most memorable moments was watching the video that my wife, Linda, recorded.  When I made it up the 14ft. Warped Wall at the end of the course the video got really shaky and she let out the longest, wildest scream.  I think she was more excited about the whole competition than I was.  (The video she shot didn’t convert well, so the video below is one that my sister-in-law, Ivy, recorded.)

Q. What was your most challenging event?

A. While I was waiting for my run, I got pretty anxious watching so many people fall into the murky waters under the obstacles.  Most of these guys seemed pretty capable of completing the course, but somehow made mistakes that got them in trouble.  I started to second guess myself and the obstacle course appeared more challenging after each competitor’s run.  But once I was on the course, I was pretty relaxed.  Actually, I think I was too relaxed.  After watching the video of my run, it looks like I was taking a stroll in the park.

The wall at the end of the course definitely challenged me the most.  With my first attempt running up the wall I was an inch from grasping the ledge.  So, I thought all I needed to do was run a bit faster to make it up on the second try, but because the wall was curved like an ocean wave, I had too much momentum going forward and not enough translating upward, and I didn’t make it too far up the wall.  You’ll see on the video that I had to pause for a long while to catch my breath and figure out how to get up that thing!  I really don’t know how I finally made it up, but it felt really good to pull myself up the ledge and tag that red button!

Q. Are you planning to competing again next year? And if so, will you make any changes to your training?

A. It’s challenging for me to even wait for next year!  I have the strongest intentions to compete again and get into the top spots to go to Japan.  Since I’ve got a better idea of what it’s like to go through the course, and I have much more time to prepare, there are a few things that I’d like to work on a bit more.  I’d like to do a bit more sprinting and Olympic weightlifting to help get me up the wall easier.  I’ll also incorporate more “rock climbing” type of training to prepare for Sasuke’s 3rd stage, which involves traversing through an obstacle course using just your hands (feet dangling).

Q. Will you make any changes in your approach to the course?

A. Yes.  I’ll try to run through it a little faster and more accurately so I don’t have to retry any of the obstacles.  Hopefully I’ll be less anxious and get a little something to eat beforehand, and a beach umbrella would be a big plus.

Q. Thank you for sharing your American Ninja Warrior experience with us.  Congratulations on a great first effort and we look forward to see you in next year’s event.

A. Until next year. . .

Vitamin D and gene expression

25 Aug

Blood concentrations of vitamin D has a major role in gene expression for several diseases according to a new study.

Got 15???

20 Aug

15 Mile: The distance Jeremy will ride in the Audi Best Buddies Challenge

15 Minutes: The amount of time it will take you to read Jeremy’s story and watch his video as he learns to ride a bike (

15 People: The number of people you should share Jeremy’s story with because, most importantly, TeamFITBuddies is about creating awareness.  Jeremy, a very special 25-year-old with Down Syndrome, has shown us that anything is possible.

15 Dollars: The amount that could help support Jeremy and his team of 30 plus riders in the Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle, September 11, 2010.

To make a general Team Donation:

For more information about TeamFITBuddies email

FIT Member Spotlight August 2010

14 Aug

Charles (Van) Van Wagner

Age: 78 years young

FIT Member Since: Oct. 6, 2009

Goals upon starting at FIT: To continue to feel physically stronger and be able to walk farther without stopping due to leg pain related to P.A.D. (peripheral artery disease)

Results: When Van first stated his exercise program at FIT, he was walking on the treadmill at a pace of 1.5 mph for an average of 2 to 3 minutes before reaching the pain scale threshold. Currently, Van is walking 9 to 10 minutes continuously at a varied pace of 2.1 mph to 2.3 mph before reaching the pain scale threshold.

Besides a circuit of various strength training activities, Van has also added rowing to his workout routine.  His current rowing PR is 400 meters with an average watt of 57.

Likes: “All exercises that have been introduced are OK with me”

Dislikes: “I am not fond of the leg press, due to a knee problem.”

Key’s to Van’s Success:
“Van comes in with a “can do” attitude.  He is open and willing to try new
activities and pushes himself a little more each session”. – Karen

“Van is the man!  He has never missed a session and always arrives on time and ready to go.  Van is always willing and ready to be pushed just a little further but loves to jokingly complain that every time he accomplishes a goal that I’m going to “write that down with a big smiley face and tell Karen all about it” knowing that he’s just progressed a little further.  His walking has improved tremendously but he has made one thing very clear: “I will never, never want to take a treadmill home with me.” – Jen

In Van’s Words:

What has your experience at FIT been like?
“Aside from greatly improving my body physically, I’ve had fun, lots of good
conversations and laughs with the wonderful staff at FIT. Like Thom said, ‘this
isn’t the YMCA.’ I know, I tried the Y for 3 months.”

What motivates you to come back?
“Karen, Jen and the staff that make me feel so good.”

The Benefits and Social Dynamics of Shared Meals

10 Aug

We cooked, we ate, we communed … and we improved our health.

For as long as people have been alive, they have been eating together.  Initially, living – and therefore eating – in groups was a matter of safety in numbers.  In more modern times, eating with others has become a means of celebrating and marking events, as well as enjoying the company of others.  Recently, however, the pace of life has quickened so much that people hardly have time to eat, let alone enjoy a meal with others.  Food is seen merely as an energy source to keep plodding through the day.  I’m here to tell you that we all need to slow down, at least enough to take back the communal meal from the demands of our high paced and stressful days.

For several years, there has been much discussion about the advantages of Mediterranean diets: the French Paradox, the seemingly contradictory Italian diet of pasta, cheese and wine.  While there are many nutritive qualities in these diets, there is another factor often overlooked.  Among these romantic peoples, one of their greatest contributions to the world of eating is that they dine together.  That’s right, they take the time to sit down at the table with others.  Studies have linked friendships and a sense of community/belonging to greater overall health and well-being.  Just merely belonging to something gives people a sense of purpose, and purpose is critical to psychological wellness.  Eating together has other favorable qualities.  When eating together, conversation will inevitably take over the table – the beautiful Bay Area weather, what exciting events have transpired over the recent weeks.  This gives each person time to chew, savor, and taste the food.  Imagine slowing down to enjoy every savory and salty ingredient in that grilled meat. What if each burst of fresh berries in a cobbler could be differentiated from the next? You would definitely need less food to be satisfied, wouldn’t you?  Also, nobody likes to watch someone talk with a mouthful of food.  That great conversation you’re having is slowing down how much and how fast you eat, meaning you’ll feel full sooner.

FIT Family Dinner accomplished all of this and much more by bringing us all around a table together to learn about and enjoy fresh, locally grown food.  For your health and well-being, take time out of your busy week to share the pleasures of a summer meal with family and friends.

Did Angelo Make the Cut?

8 Aug

Latest American Ninja Warrior Update:

Angelo had his shot at the course:

Quadruple lateral step – CHECK

Rope swing – he had to take two swings – CHECK

Beam of rotating blades – a little trip up, but was successful – CHECK

Jumping Spider Walls – CHECK-o-Rama

Warped Wall – yikes!-missed it once, missed it again …out of breath…he tried again, and, yes! He made it – CHECK and double CHECK!

Angelo has been told that he is #31 (only 30 athletes go to the semi finals tomorrow).  So far, only 40 out of 300 have successfully made it through the course.  Last heard, Angelo was still hangin’ out in the VIP area waiting for the days final results.  Check back later to find out if Angelo goes on to the semi finals tomorrow.

Ninja All Stars

8 Aug

Yuuji, Makoto, & one of their biggest fans! These Ninja All-Stars visiting from Japan are 2 of the 3 only people to complete all 4 stages of Ninja Warrior (Sasuke).

Angelo’s competition Levi Meuwenberg

8 Aug

Levi Meuwenberg is a professional parkour/ free runner and the leading American Ninja Warrior. He breezed through the qualifying round yesterday.

Angelo Updates from American Ninja Warrior

8 Aug

At 2PM today, Angelo began the American Ninja Warrior competition in Venice Beach.  Check back here for the lastest updates.

Start of the American Ninja Warrior Course

Eggplant Caponata

7 Aug

*4 tbsp lard, ghee, strained bacon fat (or other fat/oil with a high smoke point)
*1 large or 2 small eggplants, cut into ¾ inch cubes
*1/4 c finely chopped pancetta or ½ c finely chopped prosciutto
*1 yellow onion, finely chopped
*6-8 finely chopped, seeded and diced, red tomatoes (preferably fresh off the vine)
*1 c green olives, pitted and sliced
*3 tbsp capers
*1/4 c thinly sliced fennel
*1 c thinly sliced celery
*1/3 c red wine vinegar
*2 tsp raw honey (optional)
*White truffle oil or extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil (for drizzling on top after cooking)

*Grilling eggplant: heat oven or grill to 500 degrees F.  Warm 3 tbsp of the fat to make it liquid.  Place the eggplant on a pan in a single layer (maintain single layer to avoid steaming that would occur if you placed them on top of each other).  Drizzle with the warmed fat and sprinkle a few teaspoons of coarse salt on top.  Mix well to spread over eggplant.  Roast eggplant approximately 20 minutes, mix or toss a few times to ensure even roasting.  Remove pan from heat and set aside.

*While eggplant is grilling: heat remaining tbsp of fat in a large 12-16 inch skillet.  Add pancetta/prosciutto and bring to a sizzle over medium-low heat.  Add onion and cook together until lightly brown (approximately 10 minutes).  Add tomatoes, olive, and capers, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer covered for approximately 15 minutes.  Add eggplant, fennel, and celery, cooking covered for another 8-10 minutes.

*Remove cover, raise heat, and add vinegar and honey.  Cook a few more minutes until excess moisture has evaporated, add salt and pepper to taste.

*Serve at room temperature, hot or cold. Add a drizzle of olive oil or white truffle oil just before serving.
Excellent main dish for a vegetarian meal, as a salad over a bed of fresh greens, or a compliment to grilled chicken or sausages.