p>The high technology revolution in golf has been concentrated in the manufacturing of clubs and balls. Titanium shafts, acrylate centers, four-layer ball designs — terms that have moved from the physics lab to the pro shop. But now, the ultimate for the golf geek — global positioning systems for the golf course.

Just as GPS technology has exploded in the general consumer market so that stopping for directions out of town is a thing of the past, now it is revolutionizing the game of golf. Gone are the days of, “I guess I’m 20 yards from the 150 yard marker” to, “It’s 163 yards to the front of the green.” Global positioning technology connects to orbiting satellites to tell you precisely (plus-or-minus one yard) exactly how far you are to the front, middle and back of a green, as well as the distance to bunkers, water and other hazards.

The systems are pre-programmed with information on various courses or they include subscription services to download thousands of courses worldwide.

More Than One Number

Knowing the distance to the green (actually three distances to the green — front/middle/back) is obviously a big help. But getting maximum use from GPS technology means using more than just your approach distance. Because the devices are programmed for individual courses, you also have distances to things you want to avoid — bunkers, water, etc.

For example, on your second shot on a par five, the yard marker may put you at 240 yards from the green. But GPS will add information such as those bunkers 210 yards away, so your best strategy may be to play short of the bunkers and then hit a wedge close for a possible birdie.

Different Approaches

One of the most popular GPS golf devices is SkyCaddie®, which has upped the technological ante with its patented IntelliGreen® system that enables golfers to measure the full depth and shape of the green from any angle of approach, both on or off the fairway.

Of course, no piece of golf equipment would be complete without a full range of accessories. Cart mounts, clamps, suction cups, leather cases and belt clips – low tech support for high tech golf.

GPS systems bring absolute precision to golf strategy. When you know you are exactly 187 yards from the green, you know exactly which club to use. Now, if you could just hit the ball exactly 187 yards!

-Par Shooter

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Golf bags and pull/push carts are essential for the weekend golfer, even though they won’t save a single stroke on the course. Or will they? Advancements in bag and cart design have improved comfort for the golfer who carries his or her own clubs, and isn’t someone who’s less tired by the 12th hole likely to play better?

A Third Wheel Changes Things

With more attention on the benefits of exercise (to say nothing of the cost savings), many golfers are giving up electric carts in favor of pull carts. Except that pull carts are now often push carts. Bag Boy Manufacturing pioneered the push design by adding a third (front) wheel to a cart and the concept has taken over the market. “You can push the cart with one finger,” says Bag Boy . “The advantages are obvious the first time you use it.”

Despite a much higher cost, the three-wheel push cart now dwarfs sales of the old pull cart, with well over 50 percent of the market. While total sales of hand carts have remained fairly steady over the past few years, sales revenue has grown dramatically, thanks to the move to the upscale three-wheel push carts.

Can’t decide whether you want a push or pull design? Bag Boy also makes a push cart that can become a pull cart by removing the front wheel.

What’s Your Bag?

While golf bags have not changed as dramatically as carts, there continues to be a wide selection with price ranges to match.  Essentially, there are three types of bags:

Tour Bag — The ultimate golf bag, with lots of storage, but also lots of weight. This is what the touring pros use, but remember, they have caddies!

Cart Bags — Less pockets and space made with lighter materials and designed to fit in a hand cart.

Travel/Carry Bag — The smallest and lightest bag, for people who like carrying their own clubs. Dual straps make carrying more convenient, as do built-in stands that also reduce wear and tear because the bag is not constantly dropped on the ground.

Once you’ve decided on the kind of bag to buy, you’ve still got a lot to choose from in terms of colors, materials and all the little gadget holders that let you carry just about anything you want.

-Par Shooter

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Want a great “workout” that involves absolutely no exercise? Sound too good to be true? Actually, all you have to do is “hang” out. Gravity inversion systems are increasingly popular, not just for people with back problems, but for everyone. The systems allow you to hang upside down for a period of time, improving blood flow and helping stretch tired and sore back muscles. These devices combat the pressure that gravity and daily life put on the muscles and joints of your back, neck and shoulders. They relive uncomfortable spinal pressure and encourage your muscles to relax and stretch. In inversion, the circulatory system is assisted by gravity, which eases the blood flow to the heart. The use of inversion therapy may help stimulate and rejuvenate an overly-taxed and sluggish lymphatic system.
Hanging upside down on one of the systems improves blood and lymphatic circulation. This inversion therapy, as it is known, is a natural and non-invasive way to treat back pain caused by stress and poor posture. It can strengthen your back and elongate your spine to relieve pressure on discs, ligaments and nerve roots. It is estimated that nearly 80% of the population will have back pain at some point in their lives. But the tables are for more than just your back. “It can even be beneficial to scalp and vision health with the added blood flow,” according to Stamina Products, a maker of inversion tables.
Stress and tension can cause muscle spasms in the back, neck and shoulders, as well as headaches and other problems. Tense muscles produce spasms and pain by reducing the supply of oxygen and by reducing blood and lymph flow, allowing the accumulation of waste chemicals in the muscles.
For best results, you shouldn’t hang completely upside down, but rather set the device for an angle of about 20 to 40 degrees. Five minutes is plenty of time to get your blood flowing, and you don’t want to do it more than a three to four times a day. A few minutes on one of the devices and you will feel invigorated. Without even moving a muscle.
Couch potatoes, take note.
-Fitness Fanatic
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Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Rules!

p>The sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is exploding in popularity. From TV viewership to press coverage to record crowds at championship events, MMA rules! In fact, over 55 hours per month of MMA television programming is now available on U.S. channels, including Fox, FSN, Spike TV, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel and in syndication.

MMA has also generated a renewed interest in martial arts and personal physical fitness. Today, over 1.5 million US citizens practice Aikido, Judo, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and others. However, you don’t need to join a local dojo, dojang or kwoon. If you’re looking for an effective, yet economical workout that combines strength and muscle building with cardio, all you need is a training bag and a pair of gloves.

First, decide what type of training bag is right for you. A variety of hanging bags are available. If you don’t have a load bearing rafter to hang one from, consider a free standing bag. They’re excellent for both punching and kicking, and can be rolled out of the way if room is needed.

The Wavemaster Punch Maxx training bag from Century Fitness has the largest kicking and punching surface area on the market. It’s a full 18 inches in diameter and includes four height adjustments from 52 inches to 70 inches tall. The high-impact foam striking surface has a tough, durable vinyl cover. The wide base can be filled with sand or water. The Wavemaster base is also rounded so it can easily be rolled in place or out of the way. When filled, the base and bag weigh approximately 270 pounds.

If you’re looking for a high-impact workout against a “life-like” opponent, Century Fitness also offers the BOB, a Body Opponent Bag. The “skin” is constructed of high-strength plastisol. The inner cavity is filled with high-density foam. And, the BOB also fits on the height-adjustable Wavemaster base, so it’s extremely stable but can also be easily rolled away when not in use.

Next, choose a pair of high quality gloves. Washable 10-ounce gloves are usually used by beginners. Heavier gloves are typically used by stronger, more experienced athletes to help them develop hand speed needed when they go into battle. When buying gloves, it’s best to stick with a reputable brand to ensure they fit correctly and will last through rigorous workouts.

The type of workout routine you choose it up to you. You’ll want one that engages all your major muscle groups, including your arms, legs, back, abs, glutes and calves. No matter what your routine, here are a few tips to consider.

  • Warm up your muscles before you begin. Stretch and bend your joints. Do a few jumping jacks or jump rope for about five minutes. You should work up a light sweat during your warm up routine. Anything more than that and you’re working too hard.
  • Always wear gloves to protect your knuckles when hitting the bag. Start hitting the bag lightly and then gradually throw more powerful punches.
  • Move your feet. Keeping your feet moving, bouncing on your toes and moving side to side will all help keep your heart rate up. It will also help you build endurance and stamina.
  • Incorporate some kickboxing into your routine. Kicking the bag will help develop your leg muscles in the same way punching will build your arms and upper body muscles.
  • Mix it up. Throw combinations of punches and kicks. Alternate the use of your hands and feet. Using short and long jabs, leg hooks and crosses, and adjusting your distance from the bag will give you a more effective overall workout.
  • Cool down for about five minutes after your workout. Do some simple stretches or rotate your arms in circles. This will help cool down your muscles, and restore normal blood flow and heart rate.

A high-impact training bag workout will help relieve stress, increase stamina and improve your mental focus. And, to do it economically and effectively, all you need is a training bag and a pair of gloves.

-Fitness Fanatic

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Jumpstart to Nutrition

Water is the forgotten nutrient. It is crucial to every function in the body; temperature regulation, circulation, metabolism, immune system and waste elimination.

You should try to drink one half your ideal body weight in ounces of water daily. Example: if your ideal weight were 150 lbs, you would drink 75 fluid ounces of water daily.

Don’t drink water 15 minutes prior to eating. Give your stomach up to one hour after eating to digest your foods undiluted by water. Mealtime is not the time to take in large amounts of liquid. Skim milk is the only beverage that serves as an exception, as it becomes a semi-solid in the stomach.

Drinking enough water is the best treatment for fluid retention. When the body is not getting enough water, it perceives a threat to its survival and tries to hold on to every drop. The best way to overcome this problem is to give the body what it needs, plenty of water. Only then will stored water be released. Water suppresses the appetite naturally and helps the body metabolize stored fats. An overweight person needs more water than a person at their ideal/healthy weight.

Water helps aid the body in waste removal. During weight loss, the body has more waste to get rid of. All the metabolized fat must be shed. Adequate water intake helps to flush out the waste. The average person loses two cups of water daily through the respiratory process. An additional two cups are lost through perspiration, even when no strenuous activity is being performed. The intestines and kidneys lose another six cups daily. All totaled, that’s over ten cups that our body loses, not including any additional physical activity. Therefore, taking into consideration that approximately four cups are provided by food metabolism, and ten are lost through normal functions; a person needs to drink between six and eight cups of water daily to keep the body functioning properly.

Intake Tips

Don’t use thirst as an indicator of how much water you should drink. By the time you become thirsty, you are already dehydrated. You will quench your thirst before you replenish your body’s water needs.

Don’t try to lose weight by not replacing water lost during activity. Try to drink at least four ounces of water for every 15 minutes of exercise.

Don’t try to wear rubberized or heavy clothing to increase perspiration and weight loss. You can increase your core temperature and cause severe health problems and possibly death.

Weigh yourself before and after a workout. Whatever you lose, replenish with water.

Your body is more than two-thirds water. Dehydration can affect performance and drastically slow down weight loss.

-Fitness Fanatic

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Ice Surprises!

If you’re an ice fishermen, you’ll enjoy some unexpected surprises this season – not only in the size or amount of perch, pan fish and pike you’ll catch – but also how quickly and easily you’ll be able to drill through the ice to reach them, and the whole new level of comfort and convenience you’ll enjoy once you do it.

If you’ve used any other hand ice auger before, you’ll really be surprised how quickly and easily Eskimo’s Barracuda hand auger tears through the ice without tearing up your arms. The Barracuda has three height adjustments, includes a palm grip handle for added comfort and it’s also available with a choice of 6-inch or 8-inch dual stainless steel TurboCut blades. TurboCut blades are tough, durable and curved to help you drill faster. They’re also replaceable and include a blade protector to help guard against accidental damage. And, with Eskimo’s two-piece Crossbolt Takedown System, the Barracuda can be disassembled quickly and easily with just a twist of a knob.

If you prefer to power your way through the ice, grab hold of Eskimo’s Stingray power auger. The Stingray is equipped with a high-performance 33cc Viper engine rated at 1.2 horsepower. Eskimo Brand says, “Eskimo saw the need for an economical high performance engine. We found an engine manufacturer with a large engineering staff that was willing to work with our engineers to develop a high performance engine that hit our price target. The Viper is a powerful, durable and reliable two-cycle engine that really will surprise you.”

The Stingray also features primer start, muffler and carburetor guards, a see through gas tank, a heavy duty gear case and 8-inch diameter dual stainless steel Quantum blades for maximum performance. According to Eskimo Brand, “Our Quantum blades cut faster, last longer and have smoother breakthrough than any other power auger blades. The design also features an exclusive centering ring that prevents drilling angled holes. So, the Stingray delivers outstanding power and performance at the best price.”

And, once you’re on the fish, you can now also enjoy a whole new level of comfort and convenience. Frabill, Inc. of Jackson, WI is celebrating 70 years of providing the most trusted gear in the fishing industry by introducing the Refuge, a new cabin-style ice shelter that’s loaded with unexpected surprises.

“We’ve put a lot of extras into the Refuge,” says Frabill. “For example, we added a pre-assembled galvanized steel Quick-Set frame. Just flip it up, and go fishing. Refuge will accommodate up to three anglers, plus gear. It has two oversized doors with heavy-duty zippers, a fully carpeted floor, four removable clear-view windows and a four-foot by six-foot footprint with 72-inch of head room.” Mobility is another welcome surprise. Cabin-style portables aren’t supposed to be mobile, but the Refuge folds into a tight package and weighs only 44-pounds, so it easily fits into most smaller SUVs and trucks.

If you need more room, just step into Frabill’s Outpost Hub Shanty. It’s ready to fish, with room for up to three anglers plus their gear. The Outpost features a Quick-Set frame, has a six-foot by six-foot footprint, includes four removable clear-view windows and the high-profile roof design offers 80-inches of head room. An oversized corner door with a heavy-duty zipper allows easy entry and exit, and Frabill’s adjustable MaxVent system helps minimize interior condensation.

According to Frabill, “The Outpost is ideal as a base camp, cook house, warming house or final fishing destination. And, room isn’t the only pleasant surprise. The Outpost is also incredibly lightweight, weighing in at only 24 pounds.”

Both the Refuge and the Outpost feature amazingly durable, high-quality 300 Denier tent material with extra polyurethane coatings for water-resistance, durability and maximum protection from extreme weather conditions. The black exterior color also warms faster.

Or, if a “quick fish” single-person ice shelter is more your style, Frabill’s Recon is designed just for you. The Recon has a molded sled runner base for easy towing over snow or ice, a durable steel conduit frame, includes two removable clear-view windows, and has a 50-inch by 29-inch footprint with 57-inches of head room. Recon’s exclusive “flip-over” windbreak roof design also includes a vented roof to improve airflow and minimize condensation. The Arctic Armor Tent provides superior protection from the elements, yet remains pliable no matter what the temperature. It’s also removable for cleaning and off-season storage. The Recon is also compact enough to fit into most car trunks and weights only 32 pounds.

So, now you can tear through the ice more quickly and easily than ever before, and also enjoy a whole new level of comfort and convenience after you do it. The only surprise left is size and amount of perch, pan fish and pike you’ll catch.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

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You associate the words “high tech” with computers, electronics, and video games. But clothing? Yes, clothing. Especially warm weather clothing for active people.  Jackets, parkas, linings — they’ve all undergone a scientific overhaul designed to make you warmer, drier and more comfortable. In the “old days,” staying warm outside was pretty simple — bundle up with heavy materials to keep you (relatively) comfortable in sub-zero weather. But as winter lifestyles trended toward more athletic pursuits, mobility became a priority, as was staying dry. Clothing manufacturers who have found ways to provide warmth and dryness without bulk have seen their sales skyrocket.

Lots of Names

These days, shopping for winter clothing usually involves at least a cursory visit to the U.S. Patent Office. Virtually all manufacturers have patented, trademarked, copyrighted or at least registered their proprietary technologies.  Perhaps the best known material is Gore-Tex®, first introduced in 1969. Using a polymer construction (actually an expanded polytetraflourethylene for you science geeks), Gore-Tex has an outer layer to keep liquid moisture from penetrating, and its microporous structure aids the body’s natural cooling process by allowing perspiration vapor to escape.

Columbia Sportswear has its family of technologies: Omni-Tech® provides maximum waterproof-breathable protection, while allowing moisture to move away from the skin, Omni-Shield® prevents most water from making contact with the inner clothing layers, and Omni-Dry™ disperses sweat away from the body for quick evaporation.

Trespass utilizes Tres-Tex® technology. It uses special coatings and membranes which keep external moisture off the fabric, yet allow the internal water vapor to escape.

While chemical engineers and patent attorneys can debate the pluses and minuses of these hyphenated brand names, the bottom line for you is a wide choice of fabrics that keep you comfortable during the most strenuous exercise in the coldest of climates.


One of the easiest ways to stay warm outdoors is layering, especially when you are active. Not only does it allow you flexibility to add or remove layers, but the layers trap warm air inside the body, providing natural insulation. Layering is why wearing three shirts are usually warmer than having a single coat.  For very cold weather applications, such as skiing, the layering principal is as easy as “1-2-3”:

Layer 1 – Long underwear/base layer

Layer 2 – Insulating tops and pants

Layer 3 – Outerwear

Yet technology has taken over something as simple as layering. Under Armour® began in the 1990s when a University of Maryland football player got tired of sweating through his t-shirt. Now a multi-million dollar athletic apparel supplier, the company has developed a number of innovative underwear products specifically designed for cold weather. Its ColdGear® material starts with a soft inner layer which channels moisture to an outer layer where rapid evaporation takes over.

Fit and Function

Of course, the most sophisticated technology in the world won’t mean much if your jacket doesn’t fit. And the more active you are, the more important fit is. When you try the jacket on don’t just stand and look in the mirror, make sure it gives you mobility. You don’t need an in-store ski run to know if the jacket will work on the slopes. “As long as the garment gives you full range of motion, that should replicate anything you will put it through while outdoors,” says  Columbia Sportswear. Columbia Sportswear has two fits to choose from: Authentic, which is not too fit, but not too loose, and Relaxed, which is generously cut for comfort.

Versatility is another important factor in shopping for a jacket.  While some outdoor activities tend to have special requirements in a jacket (e.g., skiers and hunters need different kinds of zippers, pockets, flaps and hoods), the more uses you can get for a jacket, the smarter your investment.

Men, Women and Children

Winter attire is like most clothing with different versions for men, women and children.  Besides the obvious differences in sizing, styling seems to be the most important consideration. “Men are about function first, fashion second,” says Columbia. “Women are looking for fashion with function. Kids are all about perception of warmth, because their parents are buying the product.”

Yet gender and age differences in winter clothing aren’t all about style. “Not only are body shapes different,” says Trespass, “but there is different motion to consider. This is not just about giving a jacket a ‘cute’ figure, but pocket placements, hood shapes and other features are all dictated by the end user and their needs.”

So, you want to stay warm, you want to stay active and you want to look good. Have no fear; advanced technology is here to serve you.

-Ski Bum

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A generation or two ago comfort wasn’t a big priority for boot manufacturers. Make them functional, make them durable and everybody’s happy. Then along came the baby boom generation with its higher expectations, and lo and behold, boots had to be comfortable, too. “Boot construction is a lot different than it was in the 1950s,” says B Rocky® Boots. “A lot of new technology has been able to satisfy higher expectations of customers.”

Ah yes, technology. New materials and new manufacturing methods have greatly improved bootware over the past decades. For example, advancements in rubber manufacturing have enhanced the quality and feel of boot soles. And new methods of molding have allowed better contouring of the sole and boot to the foot.

Rocky has a Mountain Stack model with a five-layer outsole and an air cushion foot bed to keep the foot dry and comfortable.  3M’s Thinsulate™ has become extremely popular with boot manufacturers, providing heat without bulky construction.  But there are other ways to keep your feet warm in boots. “Virtually any boot with a liner is going to be warmer,” says Itasca Boots. “It’s the principal of layering.”

Fit is even more important in boots than other clothing because the wrong boots can cause blisters. Itasca says to error on the side of more room, especially with insulated boots. “If the boot fits too tight, the insulation will be compacted, and that will reduce the R factor of the material.”

Itasca says that boots are like most products in that you get what you pay for — up to a point. “Sometimes you can pay a lot of money and not get any more than you get in a lower-priced boot.”

Read the labels, compare the products, and find the value. What a concept.

-Deer Abby

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