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Archive for July, 2012


Every Four Years

Every few people can claim to be the best in the world at what they do… and back it up with empirical evidence. Which is just one reason why the Olympics are so compelling. Run, jump, swim, lift weights — even ride horses — if you do it there is only way to be the best in the world. Win an Olympic Gold Medal.
 
More than 13,000 athletes will compete in the Olympics (Winter and Summer Games), representing more than 200 countries, virtually every government in the world. The modern Olympics have become nothing short of a world spectacle, continually drawing the world’s biggest television audiences. The games began in 1896, a re-birth of the ancient tradition that took place in various Greek city-states from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD.
 
The modern games have developed into one of the world’s greatest spectacles, overcoming a couple of World Wars and a boycott or two. In July and August, the world will again focus its attention on the games of the 30th (modern) Olympiad in London from July 25 through August 12.
 
Run for Your Life
 
Running is perhaps the oldest competition known to man (other than boxing, perhaps). And its beauty is its simplicity. Start at point X… run to point Y… first person there wins. But running doesn’t have to be a competition. Drive down any roadway or park trail on a sunny day and you’ll see people running for the simple joy of running. It’s hard to think of an activity that is better for you physically. It will build endurance, improve your cardio-vascular system and strengthen you aerobically. Even if you’re a casual runner, or thinking about being a casual runner, good shoes are imperative. You can wear an old t-shirt and 20-year-old Bermuda shorts, but don’t scrimp on your shoes. Your feet will thank you for taking care of them.
 
Choices, Choices, Choices
 
Shopping for shoes is like shopping for a car — you have hundreds (thousands?) of brands and models to choose from. Where to start? Even if you’re not a real runner, running shoes may suit your lifestyle, anyway. “What we’ve seen over the last few years is that running shoes have taken the place of basketball shoes or cross-trainers as kind of a ‘be-all’ shoe for casual wear,” says Tom McLaughlan of Nike. “People like them because they are light, comfortable and provide a lot of support for your foot, no matter what you are doing.”
 
Light weight is a definite trend in running shoes. “Probably the biggest trend in running shoes over the past few years is that they have become lighter,” says Brian Laumeyer of Reebok. “Technology has let us use lighter materials, especially in the uppers, that provide just as much support, but with a lighter weight.” Shoe representatives agree that you can find very light shoes these days, and that light weight does not necessarily increase the price of the shoe.
 
If the Shoe Fits…
 
Finding the proper fit for any shoe is important, but with running shoes it is an even bigger issue. You will be pounding your soles on pavement and wherever-else, so you need to not just protect and cushion your feet, but you have to have the right fit. So how do you know if the shoe fits? “I know it sounds like a cop-out, but the sales associate in the store is probably your best source of help in fitting the shoe to your foot,” says Mike Prock of Asics. “The associate can tell how much you pronate, and find the right shoe for your foot.”
 
Pronation has traditionally been a big deal in running shoes. The pronated foot is one in which the heel bone angles inward and the arch tends to collapse. It flattens the arch as the foot strikes the ground in order to absorb shock when the heel hits the ground, and to assist in balance during mid-stance. If habits develop, this action can lead to foot pain as well as any number of foot and leg-related ailments.
 
However, there’s some controversy over pronation in the shoe industry these days. “For years, the prevailing wisdom was that pronation had to be corrected by the shoe,” says Prock. “But now, a minority school says essentially ‘pronation — so what?’ That theory says that as long as the foot is protected against the elements and that there is support and cushioning, that’s what’s important.”
 
Of course, your running mileage is also a factor. “A marathoner obviously has different needs than someone who is wearing the shoe for casual use,” says Brian Laumeyer.
 
So You’ve Always Wanted to Dunk a Basketball
 
In time for the London Olympics, Nike is introducing a new basketball shoe called the Hyperdunk. You’re 5’7” and you’ve always wanted to dunk a basketball? Well, stepladders aside, this may not realize that dream for you, but Nike says it will definitely help your “verticality.” Nike says the new shoe is light, more supportive, durable and breathable, and is expressly designed “to meet the demands of elite basketball players worldwide.”
 
The upper of the Hyperdunk uses high-strength cables for support and stability. These responsive cables are loose when at rest and dynamic when in motion, tensing to help stabilize the foot. A synthetic heel clip enhances lockdown, as the engineered foam and mesh of the upper reduces weight while further increasing breathability, strength and durability. Simultaneously, the collar of the shoe wraps lower in the back and higher over the front, increasing flexibility and lateral stability in the heel and ankle.
 
If that all sounds complicated, it probably is. But then basketball players need all the help they can get. “Basketball is one of the most demanding activities anywhere for the human foot,” says Nike’s Tom McLaughlan. “Think of all the lateral movements and quick cuts a basketball player makes while running. This shoe will definitely help support the foot and lessen the chances of blisters that are so common for these players.”
 
Less Drag in the Water
 
For swimming, Speedo introduced its Fastskin line in time for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It uses tiny triangular projections that point backward so water spirals off the swimmer’s body. It must work, because 83% of the medals and 13 of the 15 world records in Sydney were set by Speedo swimmers. Now, in time for the London Olympics, the company is introducing the Fastskin3 — a complete system that integrates the suit, cap and goggles.
 
Miniscule reductions in body drag are critical for a world-class swimmer, but Speedo spokeswoman Audra Silverman, says for the recreational swimmer, it’s not all about speed. “Increased comfort is what most people are going to notice about our products — either in the Fastskin or the Elite line, which is geared more for the casual swimmer.”
 
A Sport for Every Player
 
There are hundreds of sports in the Olympics — and hundreds of sports you can try to get yourself off that couch. Want a family sport? How about table tennis? Perfect for a basement, and you don’t need as much room as the Olympians who sometimes seem like they’re in the next room when they play. Don’t have a partner? Try the Joola Ipong Topspin Table Tennis Robot to give you practice time.
 
Of course, there’s regular tennis, too, and a beginner’s racquet is surprisingly affordable — ditto for a can of balls.
 
Football (not soccer, but football, as the rest of the world calls it), is also an Olympic sport, and while the Olympics may not have the cachet of the quadrennial World Cup, it will still get plenty of attention world-wide.  It’s another sport that won’t cost you a lot — $15 for an entry level ball, though you can pay up to $70 for ‘thermal-bonded seamless surface(s)’ and ‘valve counterweights to improve flight characteristics.’
 
Want to try something a bit more exotic? How about boxing? No, you don’t have to slug it out with a family member or your neighbor (unless you want to), because there is a lot of boxing paraphernalia to keep you in shape without getting your head bashed in. Boxing gloves, a heavy bag and punch mitts can all give you an excellent workout in the comfort of your basement.
 
The Olympics will once again attract the largest television audiences of the year. But it seems a waste to just sit on the couch and watch. Even if you’ll never win a medal, Get in the Game!
 
-Fitness Fanatic
 
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Volley & Spin Your Way to Summer Fun

Summer. There is no better season to enjoy an almost endless variety of outdoor games with family and friends. Two games in particular seem to be exploding in popularity. The first is volleyball, which is quickly becoming the hot new summer game of choice among the Gen-Y crowd. The other is disc golf, which is skyrocketing in popularity among people of all ages.
 
Serve, Set, Spike
 
Originally called mintonette, volleyball is the second most popular sport in the world today, exceeded only by soccer. It has been part of the Summer Olympic Games since 1964. Played indoors and out, at playgrounds and parks everywhere, volleyball is also one of the most popular summertime beach games. “Just look around and you’ll see parents, kids and people of all ages playing,” says Chris Morton of Tachikara, the world’s leading manufacturer of competition, performance, recreational, training and beach volleyballs. “Volleyball is also rapidly becoming the favorite game of the 20-something Gen-Y crowd who appreciate the social aspects of the game.”
 
When played as a team sport, two teams of six players try to score points by grounding the ball on the other team’s side of a net. But, don’t let the number of players or rules get in your way. “Choose the right ball for your style of play,” says Morton, “and just focus on having fun.”
 
Tachikara’s Volley-Lite® brand volleyballs are ideal for young players. They are regulation size but 25% lighter in weight to help young players overcome the fear of impact. SV5WSC-series balls feature a loose-internal bladder and Sensi-TecTM micro-fiber composite cover in several colors to deliver a winning combination of superior control and performance. Tachikara’s new Zebra and Leopard brand volleyballs sport animal-themed patterns and new Sof-Tec™ foam backed covers that virtually eliminate sting during play. Matching TK-Leopard and Zebra — themed knee pads are also available.
 
Spin and Score
 
If you are looking for a fun new way to bring family and friends together, give disc golf a spin. It’s golf — with discs. It’s drives, approach shots and putts. It’s players striving to complete the course in the fewest number of throws. Unlike traditional golf however, disc golf is played with durable, bevelled-edge flying discs. Courses may be wide open or have narrow tree-lined fairways. The hole at the end of each fairway is a metal basket that stands about 4 ½ feet tall, with hanging chains that catch the disc in flight.
 
According to the Professional Disc Golf Association between 8 and 12 million people have played at least once and about 500,000 play regularly. “It’s great fun, amazingly affordable and getting started is easy,” according to Jonathon Poole of Innova Disc Golf. “Just visit www.innovadiscs.com and use the Course Search tool at the left side of the home page to find the disc golf course nearest you.”
 
Innova offers the most popular and complete line of precision molded golf discs with over 60 models. Each model has distinct flight characteristics, defined by its speed, glide, turn, and fade. A disc’s rating in each category is identified by a numeric code imprinted on the disc. There are also different weights. Heavier weight discs provide greater control in the wind.
 
Poole recommends that beginners concentrate on learning to throw only one disc until they develop a more powerful snap. “The Aero, Leopard, Polecat, Cobra, and Stingray are all excellent choices for new players. Once you become more comfortable, you can then experiment with different discs for different types of shots,” says Poole.
 
Distance drivers like the Ape, Boss and Vulcan are designed for maximum distance off the tee. Fairway drivers such as the Banshee and Eagle provide excellent distance with added control and accuracy. Mid-Range discs including the Gator and Skeeter provide accuracy and control for approaches and short drives. Putters and Approach discs such as the Dart and Sonic deliver dependable, accurate putts and approach shots.
 
So, what are you waiting for? Don’t let summer slip away. Get in the game with your family and friends. Create a summer full of fun, laughter and memories. Dunham’s has everything you need to make it happen.
 
-Fun For All Ages
 
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As Close as Your Own Backyard

It’s summer, and the backyard beckons.
 
What better way to spend a sunny summer day than with the family in your own backyard? No need to ponder where to go and what to do. Forget the travails of travel and parking.
 
At one time, fun in the backyard meant badminton or croquet. No wonder most of us hit the road looking for entertainment. But today there are a wide variety of outdoor games from which to choose; games the family can enjoy together.
 
To give you an idea of some of the great choices in backyard entertainment, we’ve put together brief descriptions of some of the games families enjoy most.
 
Poles by Watersports LLC
 
This is a new game that makes the flying disc more fun than ever. All you need to play are two game poles, a flying disc and a couple of empty water bottles. The poles are illuminated for night play and have a sturdy base that keeps them upright. They come packed in a carrying case along with the flying disc.
 
To play, the poles are placed 20 to 30 feet apart and an empty water bottle is placed atop each pole. The object of the game is to knock the bottle from the top of the pole with a flying disc. Players throw the disc from behind their pole toward the opposition’s pole. A direct hit on the bottle or a hit on the pole that causes the bottle to fall results in a score. Two or more can play, with teammates taking turns.
 

Corntoss Bean Bag Game
 

From Driveway Games comes a weatherproof version of this classic target game. Competitors toss plastic-filled beanbags at portable plastic game boards. The competition is scored similar to horseshoes and offers hours of entertainment for two to four players. Packed in a storage bag, the game includes a rulebook and setup guide.
 
Stream Machine Water Guns
 
Put on those bathing suits and get out the water guns! Stream Machine hydrobolic water launchers from Watersports LLC can shoot water up to 70 feet. Quick and easy to fill, they’re the perfect choice for serious water battles. Stream Machines are available in a variety of sizes, so there’s one to fit the smallest or largest of hands. A double barrel model doubles the fun.
 
BAGGO® Bag Toss
 
BAGGO® is a popular backyard game where two or four players toss beanbag-like toss bags of unpopped corn at plastic targets. The game comes with toss bags, game boards, built-in scorekeepers, and an instruction manual. Toss a bag in the game board’s hole and score three points, a bag on the board scores one. The first player or team to reach 21 wins.
 
Tournament Gold Volleyball
 
Volleyball is an active game that will get the family moving. Sportcraft’s Tournament Gold Volleyball set comes with heavy-duty poles, an easy-to-install, clip-on 32-ft x 3-ft net, an on-net scorekeeping system, an official volleyball, and an air pump.
 
Blongo Ball
 
Does your family blongo? From Blongo Family Fun comes this new game that will provide hours of entertainment. Bounce blongo balls — two golf balls joined by a foot of rope — onto the rungs of a ladder-like stand to earn points. According to the manufacturer, the game does not require athletic skill.
 
Kan Jam
 
This disc-tossing game from Kan Jam LLC is fast-paced fun for four players. One player from each team throws the disc toward the target “kan.” If the thrower doesn’t score a direct hit, a teammate tries to deflect it into or onto the kan. Points are awarded based on whether the disc strikes the can or lands in it. The first team to record an exact score of 21 wins. A direct toss into the kan’s narrow slot is an instant win. The distance between the kans can be modified to accommodate players of various ages and ability.
 
Washer Toss
 
Ty Fun Trading Company’s Washer Game provides tons of fun in just a wee bit of space. Players score points by tossing washers into a cup within a box. A toss into the cup counts for more than a toss into the box. Scoring is similar to horseshoes. More than two can play as teams. First player or team to score 21 points wins.
 
Jarts, Hula Hoops, and Hot Ropes
 
From Whamo and Fundex come classic backyard toys like the easy-to-learn but tough-to-master hula hoop. While hula hooping is usually a solo sport, Jarts is a game for two players or two teams. Large darts are tossed underhand toward a horizontal target on the ground. Jumping rope is great exercise for one or the whole gang, and vibrantly colored Hot Ropes bring high fashion to this favorite outdoor activity.
 
-Fun For All Ages
 
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