Irvine-based Roy M. Wallack writes about health and fitness for various publications. An endurance cyclist and runner, he has competed in some of the world's toughest athletic challenges, including the Eco-Challenge, the 750-mile Paris-Brest-Paris ride, and the Badwater Ultramarathon. His latest book is "Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100."

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Roy Wallack


11 ways to jump-start your fitness routine in 2016. (One will even shock you)

11 ways to jump-start your fitness routine in 2016. (One will even shock you)

January 30, 2016

Until you go to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, held in January each year, you simply don't know that you need special sensor-embedded socks that measure your stride length, calculate foot strike — and map your route.

  • How Dr. Sanjay Gupta hit the reset button on his workout routine

    December 5, 2015

    Dr. Sanjay Gupta did something I'd never heard of anyone doing during an interview: 10 pull-ups.

  • A triathlete discovers 6 ways to get faster, including: Stop with all the selfies

    November 21, 2015

    Everyone thinks triathlon is a sport made of three sports: swimming, biking and running. But after my results were posted for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon held in September in Zuma Beach, I was rudely reminded that triathlon is actually four sports.

  • Want to hang with La Jolla's rock stars? Kayak to them.

    November 14, 2015

    "Look — it's Bruno!" shouted our guide.

  • Rowing is a full-body workout that makes you want to go full speed ahead

    October 17, 2015

    I thought rowing would be a breeze. Then I took a seat in an eight-person boat, pulled on an oar and realized three things: I'm sitting backward, I don't know where I'm going and I am the most uncoordinated man on Earth.

  • Roni Eshel's relies on surfer reports for what's really up with the waves

    September 19, 2015

    Roni Eshel rose before dawn and automatically checked for the surf report. No matter where the Israeli surf champion, now 31, was in the world, she could find out the size of the swells, the weather, and general conditions of any surf spot. But there was a problem.

  • 'Dog Whisperer' star Cesar Millan gets dogs -- and himself -- moving

    September 2, 2015

    Exercise, discipline, affection — in that order. That's the prescription for a healthy, happy canine, according to Cesar Millan, who rocketed to fame after an L.A. Times photographer caught him rollerblading with 30 dogs in 2002. The photo and story led to "The Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan," books and his current TV show, "Cesar 911," on the Nat Geo Wild channel. A daily exerciser, the father of two keeps five dogs moving at his Los Angeles home and 20 more at his 43-acre ranch in Santa Clarita.

  • P90X Live workout at Chino's Fitness 19 a blast of movement

    July 11, 2015

    If it works in your living room, wouldn't it work even better in a class with an instructor and blaring music? That's the idea behind P90X Live, which piggybacks on the fame of the popular P90X DVD workout series that came out in 2003. Combining body-weight movements, such as lunges, squats and push-ups, with dumbbell weight exercises, the one-hour mash-up of aerobic and strength is just now kicking off in clubs around the country. Our class at Fitness 19 in Chino was led by Ann Alperin of Eastvale, a P90X true believer who became a certified Insanity and P90X Live trainer after she followed the DVD workouts and lost 76 pounds in the last two years.

  • Bounce it out in a trampoline Jumping class

    June 26, 2015

    The word "trampoline" will never be the same for me. One day, it evoked blissful childhood flashbacks of 10-foot-high back flips and twisting pike-position seat drops. The next day, it evoked thoughts of my aching butt, hamstrings and abs — and an addictive low-impact/high-intensity one-hour group-exercise workout called Jumping fitness.

  • Why dogs make the perfect stand-up paddle-boarding buddies

    June 20, 2015

    She and I only knew each other for 10 minutes and didn't speak a word when we were together. But during that time, I knew I'd felt something. Something very special.

  • 5 key strength-training exercises

    May 23, 2015

    You want to add some strength training but don't want to pay for a trainer or classes. What exercises should you do, how heavy and how much? Answer: Make them functional movements and make them hard. That's what stimulates the body to get stronger.

  • Women find boost in ability and other benefits in strength training

    May 23, 2015

    Francesca Guagliano likes the toned arms, the camaraderie and the thrill of competition that she gets from her twice-a-week strength-training classes at her gym, CrossFitLA in West Los Angeles. But most of all, she likes being able to carry the dog food.

  • Gear: The latest for stand-up paddle board fans on the go

    May 8, 2015

    The stand-up paddle board, or SUP, is one of the hottest sports products right now. People of all abilities love the comfortable standing position, the smooth and easy-to-learn paddle stroke, the upper-body and core workout, and the excuse to get out in the sunshine and onto the water. What they hate, however, is the hassle and expense of lugging a giant fiberglass board around on a roof rack. That's why there's been an explosion of inflatable SUPs, which blow up to a rigid 15 pounds per square inch and 6 inches thick, then deflate and roll up into a bag or backpack. One company has introduced a snap-together, three-section SUP. All fit in a trunk or liftback, with the inflatables compact enough to travel as checked luggage.

  • Baseball's Joe Torre hits a home run with his charity work

    May 1, 2015

    Joe Torre's days on the field are over, but at 74 the former Dodger and Yankee manager and 2014 Hall of Fame inductee is as busy as ever. Along with a full-time job as executive vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball, he and wife Ali run the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, which they founded in 2002 to help people experiencing domestic violence, as he did while growing up. The foundation, which operates a dozen centers called Margaret's Place, for Joe's mother, was set to hold a fundraiser in Los Angeles on April 30. A prostate cancer survivor and advocate for cancer education since 1999, Torre also has recently become the celebrity spokesman for the Your Prostate Your Decision campaign. Here he talks about managing his fitness and his charity endeavors.

  • Higher summits for today's backpacking gear

    April 10, 2015

    OK, California didn't get any snow again. Water rationing is now mandatory. Spring is the new summer. But look on the bright side: It's a great time to go backpacking. On top of that, the basic gear you need, the big four — boots, tents, poles and backpacks — just keep getting better. Just remember to stay hydrated.

  • Triathlon equipment that could shorten your race time

    April 3, 2015

    Can techy new gear buy you more speed? I hoped so when I lined up at the start of the recent La Paz Triathlon in Mexico's Baja California Sur state with some of the most innovative bike and swim gear I'd seen in a while. When the day was done, I was stunned: I'd made a quantum leap. Feeling remarkably fresh, I blew though the finish line 20 minutes faster than ever, breaking three hours for the first time in my life, finishing fourth place in my age group and even coming in before dark at the world's only afternoon-start "Moonlight Triathlon." Was it these breakthrough products that transformed me from laggard to stud? As it turns out, probably not as much as I initially thought. An hour later, a friend informed me that I'd missed a turn and unintentionally cut three miles off of the run course. Most likely, I'd have finished seventh at best in my category. Bottom line: The novel inventions here offer real benefits to triathletes. Who knows? If you train right and pay attention to the route, you might even shave a minute or two off your personal record.

  • Five new running shoes that aim to go the extra mile

    March 14, 2015

    A day before the 30th anniversary of the L.A. Marathon is no time to change your shoes — if you are running. But a couple of days later, when the experience is fresh in your mind and your body starts healing, the planning for No. 31 should begin. This review of innovative shoes, which will appeal to a range of runners and shoe collectors, is a good place to start.

  • Innovative sunglasses are a sight for active eyes

    February 27, 2015

    The end of winter is the official start of sunglass season, as the sunlight lingers and people stay out and play longer. This year sees a number of innovative lightweight polycarbonate models available for the athletically minded outdoors person, from surfers to cyclists.

  • Angels' Mike Trout stays one of baseball's best the old way: lots of work

    February 27, 2015

    In the old days, baseball players were famous for partying in the off-season, arriving at spring training 30 pounds overweight and playing themselves into shape. Not today. Superstars like Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, a three-time All-Star named the American League's most valuable player in only his third year in the big leagues, seriously train in the winter. Here, the 6-foot-2, 238-pound phenom from Millville, N.J., explains how he stays rock-solid all year round.

  • Once shunned, Greg LeMond returns to biking world and road to success

    February 20, 2015

    Greg LeMond, America's original superstar cyclist, is back.

  • Little innovations make a big difference for riders

    February 13, 2015

    All bikes tend to look alike at first. But a closer look reveals some clever design innovations this year that give world-class triathletes, gonzo mountain bikers, traveling tandem aficionados and raw rookie road riders alike exactly what they want: a little more speed, a lot more versatility, way more practicality and even an economical deal that might leave you enough to buy a nice pair of bike shorts.

  • Snow Summit ski school at Big Bear turns out more confident skiers

    February 7, 2015

    Back when I first went skiing in college, taking a lesson seemed unnecessary. Just channel Jean-Claude Killy, the Olympic champion who was on TV all the time when I was a kid. That worked out fine for the 20 times I've skied since — until last weekend, when I heard Ho Ming Lu, 48, of San Diego, shout out loud, "This is great! For the first time I feel under control, like I actually know how to ski!" At that moment, doing a remarkably stable turn called a corkscrew, I realized he had just spoken my thoughts — and probably everyone's in the class on the slopes of Big Bear's Snow Summit mountain.

  • Smart sports devices aim to step up performance

    January 31, 2015

    The wearables revolution that's transforming watch into smartwatch is also bringing the microchip to sports gear, with fascinating results. Smart rackets, smart basketballs, smart bike helmets, even a smart music-and-dance composer augment your workout with real-time feedback and advice that was simply impossible to get before. The result: better performance and creativity almost in an instant.

  • Wearable technology catapulting health and fitness into future

    January 23, 2015

    Do you think your smartwatch, with its heart rate monitor, step counter, calorie tracker and message notifications, is impressive? You ain't seen nuthin' yet, according to Dennis Bonilla, executive dean at the college of information systems and technology at the University of Phoenix and a former vice president for Oracle.

  • Fitness resolution gets help with four ways to make workouts work

    January 9, 2015

    To keep your New Year's fitness resolutions, anything will do. Strength or aerobic, it doesn't matter, as long as you get moving. Here's some easy, effective and fun ways to jump-start your 2015 exercise plan.

  • Gear: Four watches that step up the time-telling game

    December 26, 2014

    There's only so much real estate on your wrist. "Activity" straps are great, but what if most of the time you just want to know the time — and need something that looks presentable in street clothes? The products reviewed here all function as bona-fide watches — and then some do a whole lot more.

  • Winter equipment to protect you from ice, snow, the dark and cold

    December 12, 2014

    We're a little arrogant about our fitness here in Southern California. While millions of other Americans bundle up against the Arctic chill blasting a swath of the country, we happily keep on cycling and running and skating in shorts and tank tops. But now it's December; nighttime temperatures are skirting 50. Bottom line: Winter's coming, and you have to be ready. Here are a few innovative winter products for runners, snowboarders and skiers.

  • 'Amazing Race's' Phil Keoghan finds global opportunities to stay fit

    November 28, 2014

    Phil Keoghan gets around. The host of CBS' Emmy-winning "The Amazing Race" since its debut in 2001 is a 47-year-old native of New Zealand who has worked in more than 70 countries as host, producer, writer and cameraman on adventure-related shows over the last 30 years. A serious cyclist, he's completed the legendary Leadville 100 mountain bike race and "The Ride" and "Le Ride," 100- and 150-mile-per-day circumnavigations of the U.S. and France that he created and filmed for Showtime. Here's how he does it.

  • Best obstacle at Tough Mudder test run is reaching his inner boy

    November 21, 2014

    I stood on the 15-foot platform overlooking the lake of fluorescent green muck — wet, tired, freezing, miserable and scared out of my mind — when I suddenly began a conversation with my 12-year-old self.

  • Gear: Four apps that can keep fitness on track

    November 21, 2014

    Do you need to be coerced into working out by paying a non-compliance fine? Would you like to find a cool mountain-bike route on your business trip to Milwaukee next week? Or how about running with a music mix automatically synchronized to your pace, or having a yoga instructor come to your house on Tuesday and a running coach come the following Thursday? Here are the apps for that.

  • Four fitness gear innovations to check out

    November 7, 2014

    Every imaginable problem and dream solution can now be tracked and addressed. Want to work out in Boulder, Colo., to get in some altitude training but can't afford the plane fare? Want to know your heart rate while running to music but hate wearing a chest strap? Wouldn't it be great to have a yoga-Pilates workout in a bag that you could do anytime, anywhere without a class, or have a posture coach constantly telling you to stand up straight? Meet four new must-have fitness innovations you can't live without that solve problems you didn't know you had.

  • Women's sports clothes that address gender-based challenges

    October 24, 2014

    Women have unique needs in sports clothing that few men understand. Male mountain bikers, for instance, figure a trail-side bathroom break takes 20 or 30 seconds, max. Male runners figure it takes about five seconds behind the car door to strip naked and change out of sweaty clothes after a run. And men have no clue at all about what it does to their posture to hike or run with extra pounds of body tissue attached to their chest. That’s why, with women’s participation in marathons and triathlons and obstacle races often exceeding that of men, clothing makers have finally begun to make products suited to the female form. Here are some that stand out.

  • Running shoes made to fit the shapes of feet

    October 10, 2014

    As a kid, having no understanding of fashion, I never understood pointy shoes. After all, the human foot doesn't come to a point, which to me seems to explain the popularity in the early 1970s of Earth Shoes, which had a down-sloping negative heel and a foot-like shape with an almost-rectangular toe box. They were odd-looking but so comfortable that I always hoped they'd make a running shoe.

  • E-bikes are a hit at Interbike show in Vegas

    September 26, 2014

    The big buzz at the annual Interbike show this month in Las Vegas was the e-bike: a bike with a stealthy electric motor hidden in the wheel hub or crankshaft that pedals like a normal bike but gives you a quiet boost when you want it. By clicking a handlebar button, you tell the motor how much or little "pedal-assist" you want. Die-hard cyclists called it sacrilege, but they'd better get used to it. E-bikes are already huge in Europe and exploding here. A 30-second ride explains why: The "e" is for exhilaration. E-bikes let couples ride together — as slow or fast as they want — at the same pace. They get college students to classes and commuters to work sweat-free. Best of all, they get everyone — young, old, skinny, fat, fit, non-fit — over the thing that stops most regular folks from cycling in the first place: the hills. In that sense, they are great starter bikes to shape up the out-of-shape … and might even lead them back to non-motorized bikes. Not cheap, but nearly free once you own one (no insurance is required since the electric assist cuts off at 20 mph), the e-bike eliminates all the negatives of cycling — and just leaves the fun.

  • Burn calories as you work without buying an expensive treadmill desk

    September 12, 2014

    In the ongoing battle against flab, experts have been homing in on the active workstation in which you burn a surprising amount of calories and stay mentally fresh with constant low-level movement that stays below the sweat threshold. The trouble is that many of the solutions focus on the treadmill desk, which can be expensive. More economical options will turn your workstation into a bike, a home gym, a stand-up desk (merely standing burns calories) or even make sitting an adventure.

  • Latest designs in bike world spotlight safer, more comfortable ride

    August 29, 2014

    Changes in most product categories in the bike world usually are incremental in nature. But every once in a while, a technological leap occurs — which is the case with the radical designs of the new helmet, bike saddle and riding jacket below. Along with an innovative power supply for a cyclist's cellphone, GPS device and other now-indispensable "leap" products, every ride can be safer and faster.

  • For hiking, an easier camera bag, a faster water filter and more

    August 8, 2014

    To go out for a good all-day hike nowadays, everyone pretty much knows that you need a backpack, poles, a hydration system and a mapping device. But what about the luxuries that aren't really luxuries anymore? The stuff you always realize you need after you've missed one too many wild animal photos, had your neck burned to a crisp or stayed out so long that you used up your water and had to take a chance on an iffy stream? Here's the hiking gear that, once you know about it, you may not be able to live without.

  • New 27.5-inch mountain bikes get high marks from cyclists

    July 25, 2014

    Do you remember two years ago, when this column reviewed the "29er," which had come to dominate the mountain bike world with super-fast, roll-over-anything, monster-truck 29-inch wheels that made traditional 26-inch bikes look like children's toys? Well, forget about that. Big tires still rule, only they're not as big. The new king is 27.5 inches, a size virtually unknown two years ago. Almost overnight, the 27.5 has become the de facto standard of the mountain bike world for several reasons: Compared with 29ers, 27.5s have quicker handling on trickier trails, easier acceleration and pedal turnover on steep climbs, fit shorter people better with less pedal-tire overlap and have less of a steroid-freak look. The 27.5s roll over bumps and drop-offs faster than 26ers and have greater rolling momentum and raw speed, just slightly slower than 29ers. With most of the benefits of the 29ers and none of their drawbacks, 27.5s are now acclaimed by mountain bikers as the best of both worlds. That is, until the next new size comes along.

  • New machines aim to be a runner's hurt blocker

    July 11, 2014

    The only thing more astounding than the number of runners nowadays — 541,000 finished a marathon last year, and 2 million ran a half-marathon — is the number of running injuries. The guesstimates never change: Every year, half of all runners get hurt enough that they must stop running — sometimes for a few days, sometimes forever.

  • New products promise happier trails for campers

    June 27, 2014

    You learn to put up with lots of inconveniences while camping, which is half the fun of it for some. But the other half of us can do without an uncomfortable, too-tight sleeping bag that gives you sweaty feet on a not-so-cold night, a ground pad that makes you lightheaded while blowing it up, a lantern that inevitably gets placed too far away to do much good and the increasing risk of Lyme disease hanging over the proceedings. That's where these four innovative products come in. Some revolutionary, some just practical, they are sure to make some happy campers a little happier.

  • A new breed of bikes built for 'gravel grinders'

    June 6, 2014

    The bike industry, always in search of the next big thing, stumbled upon it a few years ago in the form of hundreds of underground events and races being held on gravel back-country farm roads throughout the Midwest and the Great Plains. These "gravel grinders" are now everywhere. Naturally, so is a new category of bikes specifically built for them — and everything else, it seems. Like road bikes on steroids, gravel grinder bikes are built to go fast and handle abuse, with disk brakes, burly frames, taller handlebars (for an upright riding position), wide tires (for better traction on dirt and gravel) and a design with lowered cranks, a longer wheelbase and slacker head angles (for better long-distance comfort and stability). Not surprisingly, they turn out to be good at just about everything: touring, commuting, riding around town, some mountain biking — and even for cyclo-cross, multi-surface races that use similar but slightly more agile bikes. In short, if you want a go-fast, long-haul, indestructible, any-terrain bike, look at a gravel grinder, even if you're miles from a gravel road.

  • Beach fun gets fitter with new toys and designs

    May 23, 2014

    Going to the beach and lying around on a towel all day doesn't cut it for everyone. For active people, the sand and surf are an extension of the gym, with nonstop movement ruling the day. Here are a few toys to help you keep your aerobic fitness, coordination and neuromuscular reaction time honed while the rest of the family binges on Cheetos, hot dogs and Red Bull.

  • Four new products designed to aid workout recovery

    May 2, 2014

    Coaches and physical therapists call it the RICE protocol: rest, ice, compression, elevation. After a workout, runners and cyclists who want to reduce muscle injury and fatigue, speed recovery and safely get faster and stronger should take it easy the day after a hard workout, ice to reduce inflammation, use rollers and tight clothing to squeeze out exercise waste products and excess fluids, and raise the legs (from a supine position) to prevent blood pooling. That's why old standbys like ice bags and foam rollers are essential for endurance athletes, and why the devices here, which often combine several RICE functions at once, are worth a look.

  • College runners take the latest in shoe technology out for a spin

    April 18, 2014

    Can your footwear speed you up? We gave four new running shoes, each touting an impressive design technology, to four college runners. One shoe was super-flexible, one super-bouncy, another super-flat and another super-light. The verdict: Set your sports watches, because fast times are ahead.

  • These portable products provide strength and flexibility

    March 28, 2014

    To get strong, you don't necessarily need a rack of dumbbells. To get flexible, you don't necessarily need a yoga class. The innovative products here will do all that and more, providing an all-in-one stretching, strengthening, posture-improving workout from your living room, or wherever else you happen to be.

  • New apps, digital fitness devices keep track of your workout

    March 14, 2014

    A tidal wave of apps and digital fitness products — loaded with practical data and often inexpensive (or even free) — is making tech-free running a thing of the past. A survey from Freescale Semiconductor, the chip supplier behind Fitbit and other wearable devices, found that 88% of runners training for marathons used wearable technology. Here's a sample of some data-tracking apps and gear we found useful.

  • A good fitness tool made better

    February 14, 2014

    If the five-toed shoe and the kettle bell were among the biggest innovations in workout gear in recent years, how do you make them better? That's the question that inventors face every day as they try to improve the seemingly unimprovable. Below, find four valiant — and fairly successful — new takes on old fitness standbys.

  • 2014 bicycles take big changes for a spin

    January 17, 2014

    You'd think, after 125 years, that the simple bicycle wouldn't have many radical new ideas left. Well, the glacial pace of change on two wheels is a thing of the past. The 2014 models showcase at least four huge and practical changes: mountain-bike-style braking that has broken into road bikes, new and improved mountain-bike wheel sizes, built-in lighting for commuter bikes, and even extra water and tool-storage capacity for mountain bikes. It's just too bad you can't get them all on one bike.

  • Wearable gadgets pump up workouts

    December 13, 2013

    Back in the day, "Just do it" was the standard exercise mantra, a simple, silent pact between an individual and his or her motivation.

  • Tech advances to keep fit, from apps to straps

    November 8, 2013

    The era of scheduling an appointment and waiting for your doctor or physical therapist to explain your vital signs is coming to an end. "I call it wireless medicine," says cardiologist Eric J. Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego and author of "The Creative Destruction of Medicine."

  • Today's fold-up bikes grip solid ground

    October 11, 2013

    The folding bike is riding the cycling commuter wave, and the clever engineering is making it quicker than ever to carry on a subway or in a car trunk. Now found in some regular bike shops as well as specialty urban-transportation stores, better designs are helping the bikes shrug off a nerdy-professor stereotype of being ugly, tiny-wheeled, poor-riding machines. Breakthrough models come with chainless belt drives, electric engines and even recumbent formats. Most sport 20-inch wheels to make the bikes compact when folded, with elegant frames that hinge and lock at mid-frame. That keeps the drive-train area (front chain rings to rear wheel) intact and makes the bikes so solid that you almost forget that they fold up.

  • Compact exercise aids that work for dorm room workouts

    August 23, 2013

    My co-tester went off to college last week, and I'm a little worried about how he'll keep in shape. Ever since I started this fitness gear column for the Los Angeles Times in 2002 — now up to 280 of them — my son, Joey, has helped me test pull-up bars, elliptical machines, pole-driven skateboards, Trikkes, mountain bikes, golf Frisbees, mini-snow sleds, bodysurfing hand-planes, five-toed running shoes and more.

  • Camping gear: A little less wild in the wilderness

    August 10, 2013

    It seems like nothing's really changed about camping in the last 100 years. You start a fire, sit around it, tell stories and make s'mores, then crawl into your sleeping bag ... and check your email. So a few things might have changed. But the good news is that innovative designs have made each of the aforementioned a little easier, more comfortable and more convenient. Pass the marshmallows.

  • Body surfing equipment enhances the workout

    August 2, 2013

    Back when I was a kid going to the beach every weekend with my dad, I never thought of body surfing as a workout. It was just pure exhilaration — dog-paddling out there for hours, waiting for a good swell, then swimming like crazy for a couple of seconds to catch the wave and ride it at eyeball level, a human surfboard in a rush of sound and foam. Gear wasn't necessary, other than a fin or two. But when I rediscovered body surfing recently, I was surprised to find that gear for it had evolved and that it was a fantastic all-body workout — and just as much fun as ever.

  • Running shoes put an extra spring in your step

    July 13, 2013

    In the old days of running (that is, three years ago), figuring out what running shoe to buy was simply a matter of determining whether you were a pronator, supinator or neutral runner. Today, however, with the explosion of barefoot running and crazy obstacle races, the running shoe world is more complex, with cushioned shoes, minimalist shoes and specialty mud-running shoes all offering new and different technologies suited for specialty uses.

  • Wheels of invention keep turning for cyclists

    June 15, 2013

    People can't stop tinkering with the bike. This year, dreamers out to reinvent one of history's most basic mechanical contrivances give us groundbreaking innovations such as the hammock seat, the asymmetrical frame and one-handle brakes, plus the most expensive, sophisticated e-bike of all time. And they all did a pretty good job of it.

  • Four inventive workout basics

    May 25, 2013

    Hydration. Heart rate. Music. Compression and icing. Whether you get your workout on the running track, in aerobics class or on a bike, it's likely that some or all of this quartet of common workout accessories is part of your routine. With innovative flourishes galore, they can help you upgrade performance as well as recover from it.

  • Clip-in bicycle shoes to keep the pedals turning

    May 11, 2013

    "How do I make this old bike go faster?" That refrain, heard frequently among the teeming masses riding from downtown to the beach in last month's CicLAvia and sure to be repeated again at the next one on June 23, has one obvious answer (work out more, dude) and three not-so-obvious ones: Oil the chain, adjust the seat to the proper height (so there's a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke) and get some "clip-in" cycling shoes and pedals.

  • The latest in popular ellipticals

    April 27, 2013

    For all the hoopla over "natural" and "functional" fitness movements, one of the most popular workouts for all body types and athletic levels continues to be the wholly unnatural egg-shaped stride of the elliptical machine, invented by Precor less than 20 years ago. As smooth and joint-friendly as cycling and almost as calorie-burning as running, the elliptical offers an unmatched all-body aerobic workout in a number of creative variations, from front-drive to rear-drive, electronic or mechanical, and standing or seated. All of them have the famously addictive oval gait pattern that now seems as natural as the circular pedal stroke of a bike, which, come to think of it, was a completely unnatural act until it was invented 150 years ago.

  • Let these new bike helmets go to your head

    April 13, 2013

    I should be dead, twice. The fact that I'm not — or even brain-damaged (I think) — is due to the helmets I wore while being hit by a car and slamming head-first into a mountain trail. By design, their foam shells cracked instead of my skull, leaving me with scrapes, a concussion and the ability to ride another day.

  • Watts up with electric bikes?

    March 30, 2013

    Electric bikes are slowly picking up speed. Already booming in Europe and Japan, these bike-path legal bicycles combine a normal drivetrain with an electric motor, which is usually embedded in the rear hub. You decide how much to juice your pedaling with the motor, allowing you to fly up steep hills or commute to work without huffing and puffing, then push it manually when you want a workout. There are two types of electric bikes: a "pedal-assist" that kicks in only while you are pushing the pedals, and a throttle-actuated motor that works without pedaling. Electric bikes aren't light (typically more than 50 pounds) or cheap ($2,000 to $4,000 for a model with a 36-volt or 48-volt motor and a lithium-ion battery good for 500 to 1,000 charges). But they're far cheaper than a moped or motorcycle and are invaluable for anyone who wants the joys of cycling with less of the sweat.

  • These rackets give backhanded — and forehanded — compliments

    March 9, 2013

    Put a bunch of brand new, high-tech tennis rackets in front of a handful of pretty good middle-aged 4.0 players (7.0 being Roger Federer and 1.0 being an untrained monkey), and they won't care what kind of Nobel Prize-winning innovations went into building them. But they will tell you what works. Here's how they rated the hottest new tennis technology, all about $200 retail, on a cold winter night in suburbia under the lights.

  • Gear: Home gyms don't have to take up a lot of room

    February 9, 2013

    The old home gym isn't what it used to be. It's more creative, often combining traditional fixed-path movements with self-balancing "functional" movements that force you to use more muscle groups to stabilize the load. Despite very different designs, the four models reviewed below share key attributes most people will love: compact, room-friendly footprints, a wide variety of exercises that can work you hard from head to toe, and retail and online sales prices of less than $2,600.

  • Gear: Ways to run with the weather

    December 29, 2012

    Too cold outside to go out for a run? Too wet, icy? All the old wintertime excuses for ditching your daily jog don't work with the new breed of bad-weather footwear. Warm, dry and grippy, they're designed to get you safely through rain, ice and snow without a chill. Just don't forget to wear a jacket.

  • Gear: Clever gifts for Yoga and Pilates fans

    December 8, 2012

    Yoga and Pilates are the missing ingredients in many fitness plans, the ideal complement to cardio and strength work. Here, just in time for the holidays, are four convenient, space-saving innovations and the timeless gifts of flexibility and postural alignment.

  • Gear: New tech can make for happier trails

    September 29, 2012

    When the weather cools off (we hope) this fall, the active man and woman will hit the trail. Whether you hike, bike, run or bird-watch, carry a giant backpack or a pocket-sized water bottle, push your heart rate to the limit or barely break a sweat, the items below will add to the fun — helping to speed you along, keep you on track, record the adventure and get you home safer and sounder.

  • Gear: Endurance bikes, for those who've endured

    September 15, 2012

    Although it is said that cycling is the "new golf" for aging baby boomers, it's clear that the low, aerodynamic position of a Tour de France racer doesn't work for old bodies burdened with stiff backs and diminishing flexibility. Enter one of the hottest cycling categories: the "endurance" race bike. Built for comfort, it's got a raised handlebar, a sloping top tube for more stand-over clearance, some shock-absorption in the frame and a slightly longer wheelbase for better stability. Although these are bona fide race bikes designed for rough roads and long stages on European tours, their comfort has proved ideal for people taking on century rides and all-day challenges. Several new breakout models, including three reviewed below, sport intricate vibration-eating designs and bold manufacturer claims that they'll keep you fresh through endless days of cycling abuse — er, fun.

  • Gear: Low-tech delights for runners

    September 1, 2012

    Runners naturally lust for high-tech GPS wristwatches that measure heart rate, altitude and dozens of other metrics and record way-points of your route (which is why I'll review one in this column next month). But the stuff that can make more of a day-to-day practical difference for runners often proves to be lower-tech, more affordable fare that, in its own way, is no less innovative. Below are four good examples.

  • Stair climbs: Getting a leg up

    August 18, 2012

    I call Stan Schwartz a "stair-ologist." But he prefers a warmer, cuddlier term.

  • Gear: The new crop of 'fitness' bikes

    August 11, 2012

    If you're ready to ride a bike for fitness but not ready to hunch over like a Tour de France racer or tackle death-defying single-track trails in the mountains, a single-speed, bulbous-tire beach cruiser won't do. You need a "fitness bike," what the industry now calls the broad category that combines the large, fast-rolling 700-C wheels of road bikes, a tough multi-tread tire and the straight handlebars of a mountain bike. Formerly known as hybrids, these lightweight aluminum-frame bikes have become more refined, stylish and specialized; all work for commuting while sporting varying capabilities for pavement and mild dirt paths. Here are four notable, entry-level 2013 models, each outfitted with mounts for racks and water bottles, and priced so they won't break the bank.

  • A rising tide for stand-up paddleboarding

    July 28, 2012

    Not many people had heard of stand-up paddleboarding until 10 years ago, when surfing star Laird Hamilton started catching gigantic waves standing on an oversized surfboard that he propelled with a long outrigger kayak paddle. But SUP, as it's known, didn't become today's hottest aquatic sport until average folk like Jeff Golden and Tracy Hartman started doing it out of the surf zone.

  • Stand-up paddleboard gear: A guide

    July 28, 2012

    Stand-up paddleboarding is free once you get the gear — but the gear's not cheap. Besides the board itself, the shopping list includes a paddle; a personal flotation device (PFD), which has to be worn by those 12 and under or otherwise carried; and a hydration pack — not to mention a car rack. Advice? Rent before you buy.

  • Gear: Exercise equipment that's on the ball

    July 14, 2012

    What do you get when you mate old-school strength devices like push-up bars, ab wheels and vertical knee-raise, dip and pull-up stations with balls? Some of the most innovative, effective home fitness devices to come along in recent years.

  • Gear: More ways to play on beach days

    June 30, 2012

    Summer's here, and you know what that means: Lying on the beach and ducking dozens of colorful rubber and plastic projectiles. If you can break away from your Corona and dog-eared copy of "50 Shades of Grey," get up and join the fun. Playing ball games that involve hitting and throwing build coordination and flexibility and burn calories like crazy. And when you've worked up a good sweat, collapse back on your towel. There's a great one reviewed here too.

  • Gear: A test of 4 new bike computers

    June 16, 2012

    Bike computers get better and more complex every year. The trick now becomes simplifying the experience, from easily accessing the fancy data to being able to attach and move the hardware quickly. These four new models offer tons of data at different prices.

  • Gear: Sound systems to tune up workouts

    June 1, 2012

    Music may be the ultimate performance-enhancing drug. It makes long runs shorter, big hills smaller and hard stuff easier. In fact, studies have shown it can speed your warm-up by raising your heart rate, motivating you to move faster, even enhancing your coordination. On the other hand, wearing earbuds can be dangerous — and illegal — for cyclists and runners because they can seal out ambient sound; in fact, Florida and Rhode Island prohibit headphone use in any vehicle; California, Maryland, and Delaware legally limit their use to one ear. Here's some innovative, sports-friendly sound systems that either get around those legal limitations or stay in place better, making them safer and more convenient ways to feel the beat.

  • Gear: Big wheels rule

    May 19, 2012

    The revolution is over — and big wheels have won. The "29er" mountain bike, which first appeared on the scene a decade ago with monster-truck tires 3 inches taller than the age-old 26-inchers, now dominates the market. It's easy to see why: The bike makes you faster and safer, gaining more momentum and floating better over sand and rocks. This year, the demand's so hot for huge hoops that some companies don't even sell 26ers anymore. Others have started experimenting with different-size big wheels, like the 650B, a "27.5er" (reviewed below) that touts faster speed with sharper steering. At the recent Handmade Bicycle Show in Sacramento, one company even rolled out a 36er — a cruiser with 3-foot-diameter tires. A mountain-bike version can't be far behind.

  • Gear: Cardio exercise machines add fun features

    May 5, 2012

    Time does not pass quickly when you're going nowhere fast. Suddenly, however, a new crop of stationary cardio exercise machines has livened up the indoor workout world, adding everything from Internet compatibility to ecology aids to creative new movement patterns. Here's some innovative aerobic body blasters worth working up a sweat for.

  • A look at new camping and hiking gear

    April 7, 2012

    With summertime weather hitting lots of the country in late winter this year, overnight backpacking trips can now conveniently move to April and May. Just in time, an impressive new crop of hiking and camping gear has sprung up along with the cherry blossoms, promising easier times on the trail in any season.

  • Gear: Bike options for commuters

    March 24, 2012

    Gasoline is more than $4 a gallon, and you know what that means: A lot more people than just college professors and DUI offenders are going to be interested in bike commuting. They'll find everything from high-end electric-assist bikes to bare-bones models, all with fast-rolling 700C road-bike wheels, upright positioning and clever convenience and safety features designed to help reduce the work of pedaling to work.

  • Athletes get down and dirty in obstacle mud runs

    March 10, 2012

    Her lips were blue. Her teeth were chattering. Her legs had become dysfunctional logs that could barely walk, much less run.

  • Bonding over 12.5 miles and 12,000 volts

    March 10, 2012

    I've done all kinds of crazy events, from 10-day Eco-Challenges to 100-mile runs at 12,000 feet in the Himalayas, but none was as fun as slithering through mud–soaked tunnels and climbing 40-foot nets for three hours at the 12.5-mile Tough Mudder in late February in Temecula. That's because my teammate was my son, Joey.

  • Gear: Water bottles

    March 10, 2012

    Staying hydrated is serious business when you're working out. Sure, you can just grab any old $3 plastic water bottle and go out for a run, but these days you also can buy a customized bottle that complements your sport, your music and even your hygiene requirements. Here are some of the new shapes, materials, technologies and accessories that'll help you go with the flow.

  • Gear: Bicycles shift into high-tech mode

    December 5, 2011

    The "retro-grouch" — that hard-core traditionalist cyclist who was riding before it was cool and grew to hate the carbon fiber frames, heart rate monitors and other technological advances that swept the bike world in the last two decades — is a dying breed. The final high-tech nail in his coffin may be the items in this column. How good is this stuff? It makes pedaling a bike so irresistibly better, easier and faster that it might make no sense to be retro — or grouchy — anymore.

  • Tricked-out trikes for older riders

    July 18, 2011

    Whenever I write about bicycles, I inevitably receive emails from older folks who are interested in adult three-wheelers. "I'm a 71-year-old whose balance is not as good as in the past, and I'd like to take up recreational bike riding but don't trust myself on a two-wheeler," wrote Marion Levine of Laguna Woods last month, voicing a common concern. So I called up my dad, Norm, an 82-year-old retired aerospace engineer who used to hit the bike path once a week, and put him atop some of the hottest new upright and recumbent trikes.

  • Hiking on the tech trail

    July 4, 2011

    Getting out in nature for a hike or a trail run can offer an escape from the modern world. But that doesn't mean techie innovations should be left at home, especially when they enhance the experience in a quiet, unobtrusive way. If you want to get there or get back faster and safer, these lightweight devices can help.

  • Home workout devices are now affordable and portable

    June 20, 2011

    For those times when you can't get to the gym — or don't feel like breaking out your credit card to pay the membership fee — home workout equipment is essential. But as these innovative, lightweight and very portable devices show, a home gym doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg or take over the entire living room. They don't even have to stay at home anymore.

  • Gear: Hands-free video cameras record your adventure

    June 6, 2011

    For some outdoor enthusiasts, the age-old question, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" has been replaced by "Did we actually have any fun on our rockin' mountain biking/kayaking/rock climbing adventure if we didn't get it on video?" Simple and rugged, wearable cameras have been proliferating on the market, recording video from a perch on one's helmet, chest or handlebars. Watching and editing is simple; just plug the units' USB cords into a computer to turn your high-adrenaline pursuits into home movies.

  • Bicycles are getting artsy smartsy

    May 23, 2011

    Creative bicycles, long a favorite subject of student industrial design contests, are busting out of art college and onto the streets. This year, there's been an explosion of creative frame designs across the cycling spectrum — road, mountain, electric, commuter — that are nothing short of sculpture on wheels. And unlike a lot of artsy inventions that are good only for mounting on a wall, these two-wheeled wonders not only work but also offer some innovative functional capabilities not seen on bikes with the century-old diamond-shaped frame.

  • Gear: Shoes for not-quite-barefoot running

    May 9, 2011

    Barefoot running has become a hot fitness trend thanks to evidence that it can reduce injuries and strengthen feet. But ironically, many "barefooters" prefer to keep their feet covered. Fear of injuries from broken glass, rocks and other sharp objects inspired the invention of the "minimalist" running shoe, whose essential feature is a thin, tactile and flat bottom that lacks the elevated heel cushion typically found on running shoes. This category — pioneered by Vibram's popular FiveFingers individual-toed shoe-glove four years ago — now includes styles that enclose all five toes together. Hard-core barefooters will scoff at any shoe, even these stripped-down alternatives to traditional running shoes with generously padded soles. But for those who want the benefits of barefooting with some protection, the minimalists have you covered.

  • Bikes for every $4-a-gallon gas shunner

    March 25, 2011

    The price of gas is topping $4 a gallon — again. And like 2008, when this last happened, interest in bikes for commuting and shopping is rising fast. With a variety of designs and technologies now available, there is now a practical bike for all types of work, be it urban city transport, long-distance commuting or short-haul shopping and delivery.

  • Gear: Heart rate monitors, vital sign trackers keep you in the know during workout

    February 7, 2011

    Whether you're 18 or 80, if you like to run, bike, row, swim, cross-country ski or climb mountains, you have to keep an eye on the old ticker — for training and safety purposes. Those aiming for victory have to know how hard to push it; those out for basic health and longevity have to know when to throttle back. And those who take it too far absolutely have to get help fast. Here's some technology that provides instant access to your vital signs exactly when you and your helpers need it.

  • Cooler ways to play in the snow

    January 24, 2011

    Snow is a beautiful thing, especially when you have the right toys for playing in it. Some of these items are simple and others are high-tech, but all are innovative and are sure to make any winter wonderland even better.

  • Workouts at your workstation

    December 27, 2010

    You don't need to be a Mayo Clinic researcher to figure out that being glued to an office chair all day makes people fat, but that's what it took to start a revolution. A few years ago, the clinic's Dr. James Levine theorized that raising one's metabolism through low-level, daylong movement could burn at least as many calories as a conventional workout at the end of an inactive day. He proved it by grafting a treadmill to a desk — his test subjects got healthier and walked off dozens of pounds without breaking a sweat at a 1 mph pace. Naturally, that led to the Levine-designed $4,199 Steelcase Walkstation, followed by a host of lower-cost, move-while-you-work accessories, some of the best of which are reviewed below.

  • No-sweat holiday gifts for serious athletes

    December 13, 2010

    The serious athlete is a picky fellow or gal, normally quite unwilling to delegate the critical task of shopping for high-tech training gadgets to mere holiday well-wishers. But the stuff here is disappointment-proof — compact, functional, not prohibitively expensive and, best of all, so new that it will impress any recipient's hard-core buddies.

  • Rating 2011's new team of bicycles

    November 15, 2010

    Two wheels and pedals, a handlebar, frame, chain and derailleur gears. The bicycle's basic design is so simple and efficient that it hasn't really changed for more than 75 years. But the relentless human urge to improve produces annual refinements in bikes — and maybe none push the envelope like the 2011 models examined below.

  • Searching the soul of trail-running shoes

    November 1, 2010

    As the minimalist tide sweeps across the running world, a battle rages for the soul of trail running shoes: Thin, low-profile padding versus regular cushioning. Do you want the superior ground "feel" and stability of a lower shoe, which can rattle your bones? Or do you go for the taller, more traditional padded shoes that pamper you over rocks and ruts at the expense of that prized feel? We took four pairs out to the trails in Orange County's Peters Canyon for a mano a mano (or is that pies a pies?) showdown.

  • The big deal about 29er bicycles

    October 18, 2010

    Wes Williams was right. In the late 1990s, the tiny custom-bike builder in Crested Butte, Colo., developed a cult following for his odd Willits mountain bikes with their weird, 29-inch wheels — 3 inches taller than those on standard bikes. He told everyone that "29ers" would take over the industry some day. When mountain-bike icon Gary Fisher rolled out his own 29ers, his dealers laughed at him — until customers started clamoring for the monster-truck tires that fly over rocks, mud and sand so much faster and easier than little wheels. Today, big wheels have become the hottest story in the bike world. And Williams has a mile-long waiting list for his prestigious, all-titanium 29ers.

  • The latest in bike racks

    October 4, 2010

    Recession — what recession? So say makers of bike racks, who claim that the tough economy has encouraged more people to take up healthy, inexpensive activities like cycling. For those who would rather drive to the start of a century ride or an off-road trailhead, these innovative new bike carriers are loaded with convenience and security features to get you rolling faster and safer.

  • Pricey 'performance' clothes do their job

    September 20, 2010

    "I simply can't believe that the world needs a $50 T-shirt," said my editor, forever banning reviews of "high-tech" clothing in this column. Well, in the eight years since that conversation, high-tech's gone higher and attitudes have mellowed. "Performance" clothes for sports and fitness are everywhere, and a few of them actually work. A few examples are below — including a $99.95 T-shirt.

  • Exercise equipment that makes routines less so

    September 6, 2010

    Adding dynamic movement to strength exercises, such as doing a squat on a moving surface, is a good thing, forcing your body to balance, coordinate and challenge a wide range of muscle groups at once. Here are some dynamic new fitness products that encourage creativity and enhance workouts for exercisers of all ages and abilities.

  • Gear: Comparing four hiking boots

    August 23, 2010

    The Santa Monicas. The San Gabriels. The Santa Anas. Los Angeles and Orange counties are loaded with mountains and mountain trails that are begging to be hiked, run and biked. You could conceivably do these activities in tennis or running shoes, but those shoes lack the burly pedigree of the stable, protective and fast breed known as "lightweight hikers," cross-trainers designed to help you do it all.

  • Gear: Back Bay bikes

    July 26, 2010

    The Back Bay loop, a 10.5-mile nearly car-free bike route around Upper Newport Bay filled with birds, scenic vistas, a museum, exhibits, side paths, headwinds and a few quick, steep climbs, is a worthy notch in the belt of a beginner cyclist and a good training ride for a veteran. It's also the perfect route for the comfortable flat-bar road bike known in the cycling world as the "fitness" bike, or as some local shops refer to it, the "Back Bay" bike.

  • Gear: Better bike accessories

    June 21, 2010

    Always a tinkerer's delight, the bicycle offers inventors an endless challenge to improve the ride. The four new accessories below make on- and off-road touring a breeze, indoor training more realistic, fast rides more comfy and data-rich biofeedback safer and more accessible.

  • Techy tennis rackets

    May 31, 2010

    Tungsten. Basalt. Giant holes. "Smart" materials that morph from hard to soft. Tennis rackets, like everything in life, seem to get stranger and techier by the minute — but do they actually make you hit the ball better? We gathered four of the hottest new upper-end models from the biggest brands in the U.S., put them in the hands of enthusiastic players, from college-age to middle-age, and headed to the courts to find out.

  • Carbon-fiber frames

    May 3, 2010

    How low can carbon go? Carbon fiber, the ultra-light, ultra-strong, ultra-shock-absorbing and ultra-expensive frame material once limited to exotic, $5,000 bikes, can now be found on dozens of road bikes retailing for around $2,000. This hot-selling category is made possible by manufacturing efficiencies in China and by pairing lower-end components with carbon frames, forks and seat posts often found on pricier machines. With sloping top tubes and taller head tubes/handlebars, these bikes are a bargain both for casual riders moving up to century rides and for serious, over-40 bike geeks looking for more upright-position comfort with no performance penalty. Here are four versions of the concept across the comfort-performance spectrum – all available for less than $2,000, despite list price.

  • A vat of kettle bells

    April 26, 2010

    The growing popularity of kettle bells, the primitive-looking bowling-balls-with-handles that deliver a great all-body workout, has given rise to similar products with more flexibility. Available now are weight-changeable kettle bells that can be customized to new fitness levels, for different family members or even during a workout — so you don't have to own more than one. Below, find four innovative ways to throw your weight around. — Roy M. Wallack

  • Machines to help you take a load off

    April 5, 2010

    "Every runner over 45 that I see in here has advanced osteoarthritis in his knees," my doctor told me last year before recommending surgery for my torn meniscus. "I tell all you guys the same thing: ‘The impact is too much. Switch to the elliptical or cycling.'" Instead, some runners take up impact-reducing techniques such as the Pose Method, ChiRunning, aqua-jogging or barefooting. Others eye innovative running machines — indoor and outdoor — that once might have been reserved just for rehabilitation and high-performance training. If you're addicted to the runner's high and want to save what's left of your cartilage before it's too late, one of these expensive contraptions might be worth the investment in the long run.

  • Dr. Jeffry Life believes he's the picture of health

    January 18, 2010

    "Oh, you mean the guy with the 70-year-old head and the 20-year-old body-builder body? That picture has got to be Photoshopped."

  • A Life eating and workout regimen

    January 18, 2010

    A Life regimen

    Dr. Jeffry Life's prescription for a healthy and buff midlife and beyond:

  • Runners are baring their very soles

    October 5, 2009

    "Ouch!" "Oooh!" "Oww!" "Omigod, that hurts!" Those grunts of pain and anguish weren't coming from us -- a group of 10 people running barefoot on a concrete pathway at Central Park in Huntington Beach early one recent Saturday morning. They were being emitted by a grimacing group of shoe-wearing, dog-walking women who were staring at us as we passed.

  • Shoes to run around in in the water

    May 21, 2007

    On Sept. 17, 2006, in the Netherlands, Lornah Kiplagat of Kenya set a world record in the 10-mile run after some unconventional training.

  • Keep up to speed with practical gadgets

    December 4, 2006

    To improve your running, you don't necessarily have to work harder — just more efficiently.

  • Style points

    October 23, 2006

    It's probably not necessary to say this in image-obsessed L.A., but looks count — and that extends to fitness equipment.

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