According to the ancient Greek "Law of Use" coined by Hippocrates himself more than 2,400 years ago, "That which is used develops; that which is not used wastes away." Think about it. This could be the first rule of physical fitness.

Life is movement. Even the developing embryo, by the fifth week of life, begins stretching and moving. And what does the mother say when she feels this movement? She says, "I feel life."

As promised, this blog is all about some of the latest and greatest products I saw at the IHRSA convention in San Diego last weekend. IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, has, according to its data, more than 9,000 health club members from 75 countries represented. If you belong to a gym, more than likely your gym belongs to IHRSA. And if your gym doesn’t, well, why not?

I spent several days roaming the IHRSA convention floor looking at, trying out and working with hundreds of pieces of gym equipment, fitness products and health-related items. The ones listed below caught my eye, captured my imagination and above all, stood out in my mind as the best and most fun in promoting weight loss, fitness and health-related activities.

Will Rogers said, "Let advertisers spend the same amount of money improving their product that they do on advertising and they wouldn't have to advertise it." These products are stars in their class, in my opinion — and in the opinion of many trainers I spoke with. Rogers would probably say the manufacturers of these five products put their money in the right place.

By far, my favorite product is not a new concept, it’s just as simple and well-made a fitness item as I’ve seen, with results that my abs have been screaming about. It’s called the Lifeline Power Wheel. According to the manufacturer, it delivers a series of intense exercises that challenge your abs, obliques, back, hips and glutes. I see and feel the effects on my chest, arms, hamstrings and calves. Lifeline says that with exercise options that vary from mild to downright wild, this is the perfect piece of equipment for all fitness levels. Lifeline USA describes an ab roll out as an exercise in which you hold onto an ab wheel and roll all the way out across the floor from your knees — or for more advanced trainees, from your feet. I would describe it as ab exercise nirvana, with the soreness to prove it. The Lifeline Power Wheel was determined to be "The Best Core Trainer in the World" by an independent research study done at the University of California Berkeley, according to reports Lifeline USA published from UC. Lifelineusa.com will provide you with the information you need to order this—and has information about all of their products, including the coolest thing coming down the pike in May: the Pull-up Revolution. If you have a pull-up bar, this little item will surely become your most important partner assisting you in maximizing the effectiveness of every minute you spend on the bar. I just love this company and the people behind it.

Right up there with the Power Wheel is BodyMedia’s wearable body-monitoring technology that is nothing short of remarkable. Talk about a professional high tech, people-oriented company! I am on track to lose 15 pounds by the end of May with this complete weight-management system. BodyMedia’s comfortable armband monitors the way my body responds to activity and helps me tailor my diet, exercise and sleep to meet my weight-loss goals. Motion, steps, galvanic sweat response, skin temperature and heat flux are all measured to determine what kind of exercise I am getting. A visual dashboard on my computer shows calories burned, my physical activity, steps taken and my sleep duration, which all help determine the weight-loss trend I am on. The BodyMedia armband program is grounded in FDA standards of clinical research according to the company, and in my way of thinking, is a real winner. It goes beyond the Biggest Loser Body Bug you may have seen at 24-Hour Fitness and has a highly refined set of algorithms that assure you of medical monitoring accuracy. University of South Carolina exercise physiologists tell me that their independent research indicates that using the armband and computer dashboard can result in losing three times more weight than dieting without it.

I simply wear the BodyMedia armband, which has four on-body sensors, during the course of my day, then log onto my personalized BodyMedia FIT Activity Manager. I get accurate, easy-to-digest information in a great dashboard about the calories I’ve burned, plus a calorie consumption calculator and tips for how to best reach my fitness and lifestyle goals. For a focused fitness psychologist like me, being able to accurately know what’s going on with my body at the rate of 9,000 data points per minute, 24 hours a day, is unrivaled in fitness technology. Even my trainer can monitor my progress remotely and make instant changes in my fitness routine day to day. Bodymedia.com has research, data, and all the information you can imagine about this must-have-if-you-are-serious-about-losing-weight professional product.

My favorite exercise app for my iPhone, leaving all others in the dust, is the FitnessBuilder Plus by PumpOne. Download this now! Complete with 663 workouts in 189 programs, this app is like having a trainer by my side in the gym. FitnessBuilder is, according to the developer, the most comprehensive fitness database in the world and contains the largest library of exercise images & videos, the most challenging workouts across all disciplines, access to a live personal trainer and a complete set of every fitness tool, calculator and tracking feature available. Do I love this? I wouldn’t train without it! And even my trainer endorses it! iTunes’ App Store has this downloadable program for you.

The Air Sports Watch I am wearing now (it comes in a dozen colors) contains "germanium and tourmaline to emit negative ions and far infrared" according to the folks who make this eye-catching little rubber watch. Huh? The representatives tell me the watch (it is also an interval timer and month/day calendar) "improves circulation and mental alertness, strengthens the immune system while reducing stress and speeds up post-workout recovery time." Guess what? I’m the biggest skeptic on the planet, but there IS something to these claims! I swear I feel better wearing it — germanium and tourmaline? Who actually knows? But there is a science the manufacturer reports on, and, well, skepticism aside, I do enjoy wearing this cool little watch. It looks terrific and invites comments from everyone who sees it. Want more information about these watches? Go to airsportswatch.com for all the information you can possibly read about the science behind this simple rubber wonder.

Seeing the number of trainers wearing workout gloves by Harbinger led me to try out a pair for myself. I got the "Training Grip" model that features, according to the company, TechGel Comfort Pods. The glove molds to my palms and thumbs, giving me honest cushioning and protection. I think I’m lifting more weight because of these gloves — or is it the watch? In any case, these gloves not only protect my hands and wrists but also give me that fierce look that only black gloves in a gym provide. You know the look. Now others are asking me where they can get a pair. Go to harbingerfitness.com for more information and where to buy these fabulous gloves.

There you have it. Five inexpensive, fun, science-based, eye-catching products that are unmatched, unrivaled and peerless in their categories, each doing something unique to improve your fitness routine, your health, well-being, your outlook and your comfort.

While these products are the current rave, and absolutely at the top of Dr. San Diego’s "must haves," if you want a broader list of gift items to choose from that will surely make your fitness guy or gal grin from ear to ear, try selecting from these:

• Heart rate monitors and sports watches


• Exercise balls, dumb-bells, fitness-magazine subscriptions, stretch bands

• A session with a personal trainer, yoga instructor or Pilates teacher

• Training accessories including strength-training gloves, wrist and knee wraps

• Portable exercise solutions including hand and ankle weights, yoga mats with videos, Pilates accessories, exercise bands, Tanita stand-on body monitors

• Gift certificates to a specialty fitness store



• Portable equipment for outdoor activities including rollerblading or skating protection equipment, walking poles for outdoor hiking

• A month's membership at a health club

• Yoga/workout clothing from Lululemon — there isn’t anything better on the market for looking and feeling like a pro and enhancing your exercise no matter your fitness level.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Mantell has successfully been bringing upbeat, friendly and helpful psychological insights to individuals, families and businesses in San Diego as a clinical and corporate psychologist in private practice. He's been a regular on Good Morning America, KFMB-TV News 8, has appeared on Oprah, Larry King Live, the Today show, authored two best-selling books and speaks regularly for audiences throughout the country. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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