Monday, January 24, 2011

Kast-A-Way Swimwear Will Attend 2nd Annual Endurance Sports Expo

On Thursday, February 3, Tea-am ACC will host the 2nd Annual Endurance Sports Expo at the Athletic Club of Columbus from 6-8pm. Kast-A-Way Swimwear will be one of many vendors offering discounted merchandise and expert advice on equipment!

The expo is the perfect chance for swimmers, cyclists, runners, and triathletes to mingle, pick up race schedules, and get some great endurance sports gear. Training for a triathlon? Get your shoes, bike, and swimsuit all in one evening!

And for everyone NOT in Columbus, Ohio… all I can say is “be jealous.”

endurance sports expo

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tim Ferriss “From Geek to Freak” a.k.a. A Tutorial In Before-And-After Photography

A friend of mine is reading The 4-Hour Body, a recent New York Times Bestseller. The book is based on the Pareto principle which states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The principle appears to be pretty popular in economics, where it is observed that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients, or that 20% of the world population holds 80% of the wealth.

According to Wikipedia, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto developed his principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. That’s all well and good, but a distribution of pea plant output is a non sequitur to the amount of effort put in. I bet the plants with the highest output had access to more and better nutrients, sunlight, and may have been successfully pollinated when others were not. In other words, this example does not apply to the amount of effort needed to see results in the weight room.

The 80-20 principle is an observation, and has nothing to do with cause and effect. Just because 20% of the world holds 80% of the wealth doesn’t mean they worked at 20% effort to get there.

However, applying this principle to exercise, Tim Ferriss says that you can get huge fitness results by only doing the bare minimum of work. Four hours per month, he says, is all it took to go “From Geek to Freak” and gain 34 pounds of muscle. Well, not quite… In an interview on Bodubuilding.com, Tim credited his weight gain to minimal workouts for 8 hours per month. So which is it?

Other points that raise a red flag? How about the “no-fruit” diet, an exercise plan that appeals to laziness, and advocacy for an array of unregulated supplements.

And the biggest red flag? These almost humorously deceptive before-and-after pictures. They were so transparent, I just had to post an analysis. It looks like Tim used every trick in the book to make these photos as convincing as possible.

Tim Ferriss before and after photos four hour body

My analysis? Tim really did gain 34 pounds in 28 days, but was severely dehydrated prior to the test. It should have been relatively easy to gain the weight back, and still leave enough time to go tanning, get a haircut, shave his chest, and re-position the lights for his follow-up photoshoot.

I hope that this analysis is inspiring in a different way. As you tackle your New Year’s Resolutions, just remember that there are no shortcuts, and it’s up to you to make real changes in order to achieve your goals.

On a positive note, Tim Ferriss appears to be an advocate for skepticism. In the first chapter of his book, Tim writes “Don

Monday, January 3, 2011

5 Things To Do With Your Power Balance Bracelet Now That It’s Worthless

Placebos only work if you except them to have an effect. However, Power Balance Australia recently released a statement admitting that their bracelets do not improve strength, balance, and flexibility, and that they engaged in misleading conduct by falsely claiming that the bracelets boost performance.

So what will you do with your Power Balance bracelet now that it’s about as useful as a rubber band?

1. Make A Sling Shot
power balance false claims

2. A Different Kind Of “Silly” Band
power balance false claims

3. Pass It Off As A LIVESTRONG Bracelet
power balance false claims

4. Make A Rubber Band Ball
power balance false claims

5. File A Complaint (Federal Trade Commission)
power balance false claims

The good news about the placebo effect: if you believe it still works, then it does! Keep on enjoying your bracelet!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Power Balance Quietly Admits To Misleading Claims

power balance fraud

What’s the difference between a Power Balance bracelet, and a rubber band? Not much, according to the corrective notice published by Power Balance Australia.

I came across the court-enforced statement through a Facebook post by my high school teammate and fellow swim blogger, John Mullen, of SwimmingScience.net.

power balance bracelet

From powerbalance.com/australia/ca:

“In our advertising we stated that Power Balance wristbands improved your strength, balance and flexibility.

We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct in breach of s52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

If you feel you have been misled by our promotions, we wish to unreservedly apologise and offer a full refund…”

The corrective notice is a result of an undertaking issued on December 22, 2010 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which intervened in response to consumer complaints. The Power Balance bracelet has failed to produce scientifically-sound results, and appears to be no better than a placebo when tested by double-blind methods.

As a result, the company (in Australia only) is no longer allowed to use the term “Performance Technology” in its branding, and can no longer claim that their holograms are designed to work positively with your body’s natural energy field to improve balance, strength, and flexibility.

This is good news for Australian consumers, who are now entitled to a full refund of their magic rubber bands. However, the deceptive Power Balance bracelets are still being promoted in the United States.

This should be a lesson that extraordinary claims must be supported by extraordinary evidence. I’ve shared my skepticism of several other products over the years, including mouthpieces for swimmers, Kinesio tape, and unregulated dietary supplements. The burden of proof lies with the companies claiming that huge gains in performance result from using their products. Please convince me with well-designed double-blind studies, not celebrity endorsements.

Be sure to check out 5 Things To Do With Your Power Balance Bracelet Now That It

Sunday, August 22, 2010

SKINS Compression And Therapeutic Wear Boasts Scientific Credibility

Be Skeptical.

Athletes of all levels are always on the lookout for the next best thing in sporting equipment, hoping to find a new piece of technology that promises better performance and quicker recovery without adding hours to their training schedule. Now, athletes and coaches should know that there is no magic pill for success – and breakthroughs in technology will occur as incremental improvements based on existing theories.

With this in mind, I recommend a healthy dose of skepticism when evaluating products that claim to boost performance in some way.

Things to look for when evaluating scientific claims:
1.) Has the product been independently tested, or are the claims based on “in house” studies alone?
2.) Do experiments control for the placebo effect?
3.) Are the proposed effects based on testable scientific theories?
4.) Do the proposed effects violate the principle laws of physics?*

*This might seem humorous, but you’d be surprised how many “breakthrough products” out there are based on magic, plasma fields, holograms, and free-energy transfer.

A Little Honesty Goes A Long Way.

Ok, so this post so far has been sort of a round-about way of getting to a point I wanted to make about SKINS compression and therapeutic apparel. I wanted to elicit the context of dishonest sporting goods in order to show the stark contrast between quackery claims and the full disclosure of evidence-based research conducted on SKINS.

Check out the SKINS Labs section of skinsusa.com. You’ll notice, in addition to product claims, a reference list pointing to actual peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. These articles aren’t written by SKINS product testers finding ways to market their equipment, but by researchers in the field with their own interests in the topic.

Take the article “The Effects of Wearing Lower-Body Compression Garments During Endurance Cycling” for example. Published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, the funding for this study came from the Queensland Academy of Sport Centre of Excellence, and not from the SKINS manufacturers. This is an important point because it eliminates a bias for the researchers to confirm claims made by the people signing their checks.

Looking at the same article, I pulled up a digital copy of the original publication to see if there were any erroneous claims made on the SKINS website.

The Effects of Wearing Lower-Body Compression Garments During Endurance Cycling

The SKINS site claims that the “reseults (sic) showed increases in muscle oxygenation economy and improvements in cycling economy” (source).

The original article conclusion stated that “LBCG [lower body compression garments] were observed to elicit likely practically significant improvements in [power output] at [anaerobic threshold] during an incremental test and possible practically significant increases in muscle oxygenation economy during a cycling [1-hour time trial]” (Scanlan et al. 2008).

Ok, so in short, the SKINS website is making accurate claims about their products, and does not generalize beyond what can be backed-up with independent research!

Public Response.

This “academic honesty” or “full disclosure” on the part of SKINS has gotten the attention of national organizations, such as USA Triathlon, who use SKINS as their official supplier of compression and therapeutic wear. I also have unconfirmed information that the USA Swimming National Team uses/will uses SKINS as recovery aids.

Several SKINS products are available at Kast-A-Way Swimwear.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

MadeMan Article Lists Diving As Top 3 Most Entertaining Olympic Sporting Events

most entertaining olympic diving

Listed among other manly articles, like “5 Best Dunkers In NBA History,” and “10 Best Middleweight MMA Fighters of All Time,” you’ll find a MadeMan article about the Most Entertaining Olympic Sporting Events. On the top of that list: Artistic gymnastics, figure skating, and diving.

Author, Lisa Devoto, provides some support: “While swimming is also an amazing Olympic sporting event to watch, diving really demonstrates the grace of the human body. Where swimming shows pure athleticism, diving shows pure grace” (source).

I’m glad the readers of MadeMan can enjoy artistic gymnastics, figure skating, and diving along with articles on the Bentley Supersports Convertible GTC, Pro Platinum Blondes on Chickipedia, and How To Bar Fight Like An MMA Fighter.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In Brief…

> Santa Clara Sprinter Nathan Adrian sweeps the 50m and 100m freestyle Swim Network
> Star sightings: Michael Phelps back with Miss California LA Times Blog
> Swimmer Phelps to tee off in Chinese Pro-Am event Reuters
> Search #SwimBlogsUnited on Twitter
> Unconventional Abs Swimming Science
> The History Behind Prince Albert’s Engagement to an Olympic Swimmer Gold Medal Mel
> FINIS Turnmaster Pro FINIS
> Alain Bernard from Arena Water Instinct via the17thman

Monday, June 21, 2010

USA Triathlon Adopts New Wetsuit Regulation

Press Release from USA Triathlon June 21, 2010

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

‘Liquid Mountaineering’ Hoax Is Viral Advertising

This faux-documentary of a new sport called “liquid mountaineering” fooled millions of viewers (and even a Washington D.C. nightly news team) into believing that the Hi-Tec waterproof running shoe can help you walk on water.

Hi-Tec denies making the video, but says they provided equipment for this “incredible new sport” (source).

So, unfortunately, the world of water-running is left to insects and the basilisk lizard.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

SKINS RY400 Compression Recovery Apparel Now Available Through Kast-A-Way Swimwear

It’s about time we had a YouTube page, and to get things up and running we’ve uploaded a product overview for one of the lesser-known products available through Kast-A-Way Swimwear: The SKIS RY400 compression recovery suit.

This ‘super suit’ isn’t going to break records in the pool, but worn after a hard workout it could decrease your muscle soreness and recovery time. Faster recovery means more effective workouts.

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