How to Make a LARP Weapon for Sword Exercises

Written by STEEL MBS on . Posted in Blog

You do not need to drop $450 on a drop-forged Samurai weapon from the Ting dynasty (just made that up) to do sword exercises. You can get started today with a fine-looking DIY LARP weapon. Just having this phrase in your vocabulary gives you a certain amount of power. Say it a few times, allow the words to tumble and cartwheel off your tongue. Then, get into action.

LARP-Sword-Workout

You need some supplies and some tools.

The supplies:

(1) 1” wide Five-foot length of PVC pipe.

(1) Foam Camping Mat

(1) Roll of Duct Tape

(1) Roll Colored Tape (for handle, cross-piece, and/or handle end)

(1) 6” piece of wooden dowel or PVC pipe 3/8” in diameter

(1) Cord

 

The Tools:

Utility Knife (Retractable Carpenter’s Knife)

Carpenter’s Square

1 Black Sharpie Marker

Tape Measure

A Scrap Plywood Cutting Board

2 – C-Clamps

Drill and ⅜” bit

 
The Procedure for Creating Your LARP Weapon:

Lay the foam pad out on the cutting board. Measure the length of sword you want and draw the outline of the blade, plus the outline of the cross-piece and handle end. The simplest is to make the handle end a triangle. Make the blade at least 5” wide or more depending on the thickness of your PVC pipe. You want both sides of the foam to easily touch on either side of the PVC pipe and to form a sword-edge. Blade should be three to four feet long, plus 6” to 1’ for the handle, plus the handle end. You can cut the PVC pipe to fit, but you can’t re-cut the foam! So make sure it’s big enough.

 
Next, fold the camping pad in half lengthwise so that it is double-thick and screw the C-clamps tight so that the foam doesn’t slide apart. Set the square on the foam pad and cut along the lines through both thicknesses of foam. A few notes about cutting foam: If your foam is too thick to cut two layers, you may have to cut each half of the sword separately. Also, depending on the texture of foam, a sharp pair of full-sized scissors may work better.

 
Once you’ve got the foam cut in two identical pieces, cut the PVC pipe to length. Drill a hole through the PVC at one end for the cross-piece. Cut the cross-piece to length and put it through the hole. Then use the duct tape to attach the foam together at the edges. You may want next to wrap the entire blade with silver duct tape (the standard color). It makes a good metallic silver blade color! You can wrap your colored tape around the handle and/or cross-piece and/or sword end.

That’s it! Now take your LARP weapon to your favorite sword workout spot and do your routine!

Busting the Big 3 Meditation Myths

Written by STEEL MBS on . Posted in Blog

Meditation-Monk It’s a modern-day whine favored by those committed to growth and wellness, who really, really, do not want to sit still: “Do I reeealllly have to meditate?”   One of those whiners is a close friend, and after years of her telling me what to eat — fish oil, fish oil, fish oil — and how to strengthen my core — planks, planks, planks (she’s a nutrition coach and trainer) — I felt like bossing her around a little, so I’ll tell you what I told her when she asked.   “Yep. You ought to meditate.”   Course you don’t haaavve to. Nobody has to do anything. But as a half-crazed, super Type A working mom, I believe in the practice. It makes a difference in my life and I think meditation can help us all to feel better and healthier.   Meditate to Ease Stress Not because you’ll become some blissful and enlightened soul — though some say that can happen. And, not because meditation will take away the challenge or ache of life. It won’t. Life still feels pretty icky sometimes.   But meditation will help you release the drama and the worry, and help you move through the day a little easier.   It dulls the sharp edges a bit and helps me to become more aware, focused, and calm. It’s like a mental massage in the middle of our stressed-out busy lives.   Yet, despite the stacks of research that says meditation is a good thing, the idea of it? Well, that makes us nervous. Really nervous. And there are myths surrounding the practice — like you’ve got to sit cross-legged or go all Eat, Pray, Love and head to India to learn how to do it right.   Here’s the thing, I can’t sit cross-legged. And those other myths? Simply not true.   Meditation Myths   Myth #1   Too Many Rules. There is a perception out there that meditation has all these rules to follow. I got caught up in this idea in the beginning. I had no idea how to meditate. No clue on what I was supposed to accomplish, which rules to follow. That left me feeling a little uptight an anxious during the sessions which were supposed to be, well, anything but uptight and anxious. I spent most of those early sessions — when I wasn’t falling asleep — wondering if I meditating right.   Sure there are a few basics you probably want to follow — get quiet, become aware of your thoughts. And there are different styles and techniques you can learn when you get into it. But there isn’t a lot you have to do.   You do not have to sit on the floor cross-legged and chanting. You do not have to meditate for an hour. You don’t even have to fly to India to make this work. You don’t need special shoes or clothes, unless of course you want a new pair of shoes then, you could say that you have to buy meditation shoes and they, coincidentally look exactly like the ones you’ve been eyeing in Nordstrom’s.   Here’s the biggie, you don’t even have to be still. I prefer to meditate while sitting quietly, but tai-chi and walking are great forms of moving meditation. Point is, you can create a flexible practice.   Try this: Set the timer for five minutes. Sit down in a comfortable chair or position. Sit still. Breathe. I don’t even care how you breathe, just keep doing it. Close your eyes if you want — or don’t. Chant or say a mantra if you want — or don’t. You see? The act of meditating doesn’t have to be complicated.   Sit down. Sit still. Sit quiet.   Myth #2   Not Enough Time. Did you read the part where I say set the timer for five minutes? You got five minutes right? To change your life? When I first started meditating I read that anything less than an hour wouldn’t be effective. Hogwash.   If you want to spend an hour meditating — awesome. I’ve done it. And, in my rich fantasy life I imagine I’ll do it again — one day. For now, I’m lucky if I get 10 minutes without someone banging on the door.   Telling a new meditator that she has to sit quietly for an hour is like telling me that to lose weight I can never eat another piece of pizza. That is just not gonna happen.   Try this: Baby steps, people. Five minutes, a few days a week. Then, add to that if you want. The practice does become easier as time goes on.   Remember, some time is better than no time. Write it into your schedule. Set a timer and get to it. Notice whatever comes to mind. You will not be graded on how well you perform.   Myth #3 Too much to do. Here’s another thing that bothers us about meditation: It doesn’t feel like we are doing anything when we meditate. I mean we are not typing, not paying bills, not working or folding laundry. We are “not doing” during meditation. And many of us are taught early on that in order to contribute, in order to be successful and worthy and awesome, we have to be doing, working, producing, moving. Therefore, when we sit alone in the quiet it feels, er, lazy.   Try this: You really want to get stuff done? Head into the day with a clear mind, lower stress, and boost energy? A regular meditation practice can get you there.   Meditation can also teach us how to just be. It shows us who we are and helps us to live authentically and compassionately, mindfully and purposefully, rather than just running around frantically doing things.   Meditation doesn’t have to be one more thing that stresses you out. By busting these myths and blocks you can create a simple practice that will add calm and focus to your life. Original article posted on Huffington Post

10 Signs You Need to Switch Up Your Workout Routine

Written by STEEL MBS on . Posted in Blog

Health_Club_Main_Workout_Area Regular routines can be a good thing. There’s the get-up-and-out-the-door rush to work on time, and, hopefully, your pre-sleep routine to get maximum shuteye. But sometimes a routine can backfire on you, and that’s true when it comes to your workout. “Doing the same moves at the same time and looking at the same walls at the gym can have a negative effect on your fitness goals,” says Garson Grant, master trainer at Chelsea Piers in New York City. If any of these 10 situations sound familiar, it’s time to shake up your gym sessions.

#1. You’re Not Seeing Results

When you first start a routine, you tend to score quick fitness gains. Yet after a couple of months, you might find yourself spinning your wheels. “Working out puts stress on the body, and in time, your body learns to adapt — so you don’t necessarily make progress,” says Grant. Busting out of a plateau doesn’t mean a major overhaul. Small tweaks, such as changing the number of sets or upping your pace, can accelerate your progress.

#2. You’re Bored

The word rep comes from repetition, and doing the same routine in the same order over and over is bound to be an excitement suck. Make sure your program has lots of variety: lifts, interval training, bodyweight exercises, anything to mix it up, explains Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, and author of Turbulence Training. Even taking your workout outdoors can crank your mojo, giving you something more inspiring to look at than the treadmill in front of yours or all the other sweaty guys in the weight room.

#3. You’re Racking Up Injuries

Chronic muscle strains and sprains often stem from repetitive stress injuries. “You’re likely doing the same moves without any variation, overworking those muscles and never giving them the chance to heal,” says Grant. Start diversifying your routine just enough so you work the muscles differently, or alternate bodyweight exercises that don’t rely on the same muscle groups the exact same way.

#4. You’re Completely Exhausted Afterward

“It’s one thing for your workout to make you a little tired, but you shouldn’t be drained of energy,” says Mike Fantigrassi, MS, NASM-CPT master instructor and director of professional services at the National Academy of Sports Medicine in Chandler, Arizona. Killer fatigue is a clue that you need to eat more, get more rest, or back off on the intensity of your program. “A workout doesn’t need to crush you each time to be effective,” says Fantigrassi.

#5. It Feels Like Work

True, it’s called a workout for a reason. But if your routine feels like drudgery and you approach your sessions like prisoner sentenced to splitting rocks, then it’s time to step back and figure out a way to make it feel more fun, or at least, turn it into more of a challenge, says Luke Guanzon, CSCS, strength and conditioning specialist at Life Time Athletic in Westchester, New York.

#6. You Can’t Find the Time

Maybe you’re putting in more hours at the office. Or crappy winter weather has you postponing your regular run or ride. Whatever the reason, if outside forces are preventing you from getting your sweat on, it’s time to figure out a routine that works with your life right now — like something you can do at home or a shorter, more intense version of your current workout. “A lot of people get hung up on the ideal workout, and if they can’t do everything they planned to do, they skip it,” says Fantigrassi. “But the best program is one you can consistently do.”

#7. Your Joints Feel Pounded

If your joints ache after you’ve left the gym, your workout might be totally fine — but you’re probably not warming up the right way (or you’re impatiently skipping the warm up completely). Start with 3-5 minutes of light cardio, like a jog, or do a bodyweight circuit of 3-4 basic moves, aiming for 10-15 reps each, suggests Ballantyne. A few minutes with a foam roller before and after your routine will also get proper blood flow going for a warm-up, says Guanzon.

#8. Your Goals Have Changed

When you first started working out, maybe the plan was to shed some weight or improve your definition. Now, you’re focused on building endurance to tackle an upcoming Ironman. When your fitness goals change, your workout needs to change along with it, or you won’t get the results you’re after, says Ballantyne.

#9. You Work Out on Autopilot

The best fitness program is one that puts you in the zone — not one that lets you languish in your comfort zone. When there’s no sense of challenge and you’re going through the motions without actually pushing your limits, you might maintain your fitness level, but you won’t improve anything, says Ballantyne. Even if you really look forward to your gym time, you need to be engaged to get the benefits.

#10. You’re Losing Strength

This happens a lot with lifting, says Ballantyne, because you’re not giving your muscles time to recover and grow. “If you’re overtraining a body part, you can end up getting weaker,” he says. It all comes down to better program design. Schedule an easy-lifting day or recovery day on the day before a heavy-lifting day, suggests Ballantyne. Another tactic: change the timing between moves. Says Guanzon: “Holding a move for a longer period of time or cutting the seconds or minutes of your rest periods between moves can keep your muscles and strength from regressing.” Article sourced from Men’s Journal

What Type of Meditation is Right For You?

Written by Steel MBS on . Posted in Blog

Home fitness routines should include mental strength

Home fitness routines, mental strength, and mindfulness are buzzwords today. Knowing how to combine them into a well planned an smart exercise routine that delivers on mental strength and physical strength, is crucial to achieve overall wellness. Here are some ideas on which types of meditation can help you achieve this.

Pagan_meditation

While the scientific research on the health and wellness benefits of meditation is still in its infancy, an increasing number of people are looking to this ancient practice as a way to achieve calmness and relaxation, better manage stress, improve their mood, or just increase their quality of life.

For people looking to explore and incorporate meditation into their regular health and wellness routine, the greatest challenge can be identifying the right type of meditation to meet their individual needs and preferences. Fortunately, there are dozens of types of meditative practices – many with different emphases, different postures, and different underlying philosophies – which means plenty of options for you to find the practice that works best for you.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation has swelled in popularity in the past two decades, and is increasingly the subject of empirical studies focusing on its potential psychological and physiological benefits.3 Though generally considered non-religious, this type of meditation stems from the Buddhist tradition and emphasizes an awareness of breath, a focus on the present moment, and letting thoughts come and go without judging them. Mindfulness meditation may also involve focusing on specific parts of the body. This type of meditation is generally practiced while sitting cross-legged on the floor with a straight spine or in a stable chair.

Heart Rhythm Meditation

Heart rhythm meditation (HRM), much like mindfulness meditation, emphasizes the breath, but also incorporates the heart, and involves coordinating the breath and heartbeat in order to direct and circulate energy. Different types of breathing techniques, which include inhaling, holding, and releasing the breath in various rhythmic patterns, are common to this practice. Though the benefits of HRM have not been thoroughly studied, many of its practitioners believe that it can be a powerful tool for emotional healing.

Qi Gong

Qi gong, based on the Taoist tradition, is a type of meditation that uses the breath to circulate life energy, or qi or chi, through the body. The practice focuses on aligning breath, mind, and body so that you may realize your full potential as a human being. Along with a focus on breathing and relaxation techniques, qi gong frequently involves movement and is a key component of some martial arts practices.

Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental meditation (TM), rooted in the Hindu tradition, is a meditative technique that involves a mantra (a sacred word or phrase). Practitioners sit with their eyes closed twice a day for fifteen to twenty minutes while repeating their mantra. TM was popularized in the mid to late twentieth century by a guru named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as away to relieve stress, increase relaxation, and encourage self-development.

Kundalini

Kundalini meditation is another type of meditation that finds its roots in the Hindu tradition. In Kundalini meditation, practitioners are seated and use a combination of breathing techniques and mantras to release psychic energy through a series of chakras(energy centers or points of spiritual power in the body), with the ultimate goal of attaining enlightenment – also known as Kundalini awakening. Though the scientific research on Kundalini meditation is scant, practitioners and non-practitioners both caution people to be aware of Kundalini Syndrome – the psychological and sometimes physiological problems that can arise when the practitioner is unprepared for the awakening.

Guided Meditation

Guided meditation is a popular technique that isn’t specific to any one meditative tradition, and instead may be done for a number of different types of meditative practices (including those mentioned in this article). The key element of guided meditation is that an instructor is verbally leading the participant or participants through the practice. This is generally intended to teach the participants the practice, so they are able to do it on their own when necessary. Guided meditation can be a great option for someone who is new to meditation and prefers the option of working with a teacher as he or she learns more about the ins and outs of the practice.

Walking Meditation

As its name suggests, walking meditation involves being upright and moving while meditating. Like most types of meditation, there are a variety of ways to do walking meditation, but the majority of these practices involve being outdoors, clearing the mind, and focusing on foot movement and/or sensations in the body. For practitioners who have a difficult time sitting for too long or find themselves restless during seated meditations, walking meditation can be a good alternative.

Zazen Meditation

Zazen meditation (literally: “seated meditation”), from the Zen Buddhist tradition, is a type of meditation that is done to calm the body and mind, improve concentration, and ultimately attain enlightenment. It is considered one of the more basic types of meditation. It emphasizes concentration; meditating on a particular question, word, or problem; or a total focus on the present moment while observing, but not engaging with, any passing thoughts.

Which Meditation Is Right for You?

In addition to the more widely known meditative practices outlined in this article, there are countless other variations and options available if you’re aiming to incorporate regular meditation into your lifestyle. In identifying a type that’s right for you, it’s useful to think about what you want out of your practice – whether it’s improved concentration (as in Zen meditation), incorporation of movement (as with walking meditation), or someone to walk you through it (as with any form of guided meditation). It’s also important to remember that not all practices are ideal for all people. You should feel free to experiment and try different practices until you find the one that works best for you.

Part of this article previously appeared at www.breakingmuscle.com by Danielle Harlan