The Best Casino Gyms

In a recent article we wrote about something a little different from the usual weight training and fitness routines; we discussed a more cerebral activity and how one might best prepare for an activity like that.  The activity in question was poker, something that by it’s very nature is sedentary, meaning that the necessity for fitness is greater than ever.  As we also discussed, keeping fit hones the mental faculties, enabling you to play better for longer.

With that in mind we though we’d take a look at some of the best gyms on the strip in Las Vegas.  Ideally placed, these fitness centres are often state of the art and provide a respite from the roulette wheels, blackjack dealers and poker tables.

The Rio All-Suite is a good place to start, even though it’s sited just off the strip.  This is the venue of the annual World Series of Poker Championship so the combination of fitness centre and poker destination is a good one.  It has something like 2500 suites so finding a spare room shouldn’t be a problem.

The Mandalay Bay is another of our favourite hotels with an incorporated gym.  There are plenty of free weights here (not always the case in hotels) and also lots of machines of various hues.  There’s an atmosphere of relaxation here which only adds to the feeling of getting away from the tension of the craps table, the roulette wheel or the slot machines.

The Palazzo is our final recommendation and perhaps the best of the lot.  You will almost certainly have to purchase a Spa pass to use the facilities but for the keen fitness enthusiast it’s worth it.  It’s actually called the Canyon Ranch SpaClub and it’s more like a standalone gym and spa than an add-on to a casino.  There are fitness classes, free weights, machines, spa facilities and all the extras one associates with a five star destination.

canyon ranch gym

Inside the Canyon Ranch gym

Of course if you’re enjoying yourself too much at the gym you may not want to to return to the poker table so, especially at the Palazzo, don’t forget the 888 reasons why you came to Vegas.

Posted in Editorials, Fitness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Is Poker A Sport?

So is poker a sport?  How about roulette? Blackjack?  A session of online casino games? Hopefully not too many people will answer in the affirmative and that’s the way it should be.  Not many people in their right mind would consider the above examples in any way athletic.  I’m not here to debate this either, I’m very strict about what is and what isn’t a sport.

The above introduction is of course just the setting for what I’m about to rant about.  It’s Olympic year in the UK and although I’m a big fan of that particular event, it’s unfortunately riddled with ‘sporting’ events that don’t even come close to fulfilling what should pass for the qualifying criteria.  Now the following guidelines are obviously my own and some might argue that they’re a little strict but I don’t care.

It Should Be Athletic

Now to me this would seem like an obvious qualification – the activity in question should make you tired.  Not mentally tired, like chess for example, but actually physically exhausted.  Running and swimming good – archery and show jumping bad (and the horse getting tired doesn’t count).

It Should Be Of Practical Use

This means that if an event is invented purely to be a sport, it’s doesn’t really qualify.  Examples of sports with practical applications are things such as the javelin and the discus (weapons) and cycling and kayaking (transport).  Impractical?  The useless waste of time that is synchronised swimming – do something useful instead.

Historical Context

If a sport fails ti make the grade for one of the above criteria, it may sneak in via the back door if it has some sort of historical context.  By that I mean if an activity has been participated in for hundreds of years it can qualify.  Football is of not much practical use but it does have a history which dates back centuries.

sizzling hot

I have one more criteria to weed out all the pointless rubbish – eliminate every sport which requires judging on artistic merit.  Synchronised swimming once again falls into this category, as does diving, rhythmic gymnastics and the like.  There are many more pointless activities which would be swept up by my new Olympic broom and tossed aside, which is what they deserve.

So I’ll now return to my first question – is poker a sport?  To that I can answer that if Dressage is in the Olympics, then poker should be too.


Posted in Editorials | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Surrey Hills Mountain Biker

Firstly, apologies to all those mountain bikers from the Surrey area; this post is about a certain type of cyclist who we all recognise.  To see why Surrey is referred to in the title, check out the video lower down the page.  Those of us who remember the early days of mountain biking in the U.K. (sometime in the mid-1980s) will be aware that it’s a pretty different scene now.

That was a time when a Muddy Fox Explorer was one of the best bikes you could lay your hands on and it was virtually impossible to spend more than £1000 on a new machine.  Over the years as construction materials improved and suspension began to feature on the better bikes, the total cost began to creep up.  You can still buy an entry level racing bike for perhaps £600 – £700 but you can also justifiably spend double or triple that amount.

Muddy Fox Explorer

The Muddy Fox Explorer

As the popularity of the sport began to take hold, more and more people began to turn up at races and other mountain biking locations and it was around this time that the dreaded Surrey Hills Mountain biker began to appear.  They were easy to spot – they’d roll up to some off-road location in their Merc and unload a gleaming, top of the range machine.  They’d have a helmet which cost half as much a your bike and they’d wedged their (usually portly) frame into the latest professional team kit.

There’s nothing wrong with all that of course and it’s almost certainly a touch of financial jealousy which is prompting this article but more often than not this weekend warrior would head off on his £2000 machine and fall off at the first corner, or fail to attempt the gentlest of short downhills.  There was always a touch of karma involved when you encountered one during a race and lapped the unfit lump for the second time, making a mockery of the huge amount of money they’d spent on their bike.

Anyway, as I said before, this is probably all motivated by jealousy that I can’t afford (or refuse to pay for) a £5000 mountain bike but I’ll still be fitter than the Surrey Hills mountain biker.

Posted in Editorials | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Weight Training For Running

We’ve written recently about how it can be beneficial for cyclists to spend some time in the gym doing certain exercises with weights and the same is true for runners.  It’s much easier to put your running shoes on and head out for a road session rather than thinking about some of the weights-related exercises that can add to your strength.  The following is an overview of what to bear in mind when heading for the gym.

As a runner you’re not going to the gym to get yourself a body which will look good on the beach, the point is to exercise certain muscles which will complement your running.  So what are the areas a runner should concentrate on?

The Core

Vital for runners, cyclists and any other endurance athletes, the core is the midsection of your body and encompasses your hips, your abdominals and the other muscles which support the spine.  Core exercises will add to the strength which will help runners improve.

Core Muscles

Your core muscles

The Back

Similar to the core, the back muscles are also an area which can be neglected but which can provide some essential stability.  A strong back will help your running posture.  Slightly lower down, the hamstrings are an awkward area to exercise and are often neglected.  Hamstrings exercises will help avoid injury and take some pressure off the knee joint.

The Legs

It may seem obvious that the legs need exercising but it’s important to exercise them in the correct way.  Runners don’t want to increase their muscle size unnecessarily by undertaking too many heavy weight exercises but some are necessary to efficiently increase strength in certain areas.

Of course you will also want to increase your muscle endurance and this is where the lighter weights and greater number of reps comes in.  Calf raises and quadricep curls are a good example.

Lastly, a quick mention of all in one exercises of the type you could perform with a Kettlebell for example.  You can perform several exercises at once, getting the boring gym stuff out of the way quickly and getting back out onto the road.

Posted in Fitness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Guide To Creatine

Athletics and weight training supplements come and go; any health food shop or large gym is likely to offer a substantial range of powders, pills and other substances which promise to improve your training results in some way or other.  Muscle building, weight gain, re-hydration – the number of dietary aids is substantial and occasionally a little overwhelming.

So in this article we’re going to dispense with the brand names and take a look at a naturally occurring substance which had been used for some years now by athletes and body-builders to improve their performances.  Creatine is a substance that is produced naturally in the human body (and in fact any vertebrates) and helps to supply energy to the body’s cells.  Muscle cells are the primary recipient of creatine which is transported around the body by the blood.  Around 95% of the body’s creatine is stored in skeletal muscle.

creatine molecule

The Creatine molecule

Creatine was discovered and named (it’s derived from the Greek word for meat) in 1832 by a French chemist named Michel Eugène Chevreul.  About 50% of the body’s creatine originates from ingested food, especially meat, which meas that vegans and vegetarians have less naturally occurring creatine than meat-eaters.

Athletes and body-builders began to switch on to the benefits of creatine supplements in the early 1990s.  For these sportspeople, the benefits of creatine were several times those of a very high protein diet, i.e. an ability to train harder for longer than would have been possible before and therefore a contribution towards gaining muscle mass.

Over the last twenty years of creatine use, it has become a supplement widely used by ordinary gym-goers.  It’s very safe; it’s very hard to ingest too much as excess creatine just gets excreted in the normal manner.  Occasional concerns have been expressed over the years about allergies and hydration problems but the most extensive research over the last two decades has shown that taking 5g – 20g per day orally is almost completely safe.

If you’re thinking about taking the next step forward, creatine could be the answer.


Posted in Facts & Stats | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off