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Old July 1st, 2003, 11:10 PM   #1
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Videographer Fitness Program

I'm curious how many of you have a fitness/weight training program geared towards camera work as I do. I started mine about a year ago and I'm seeing a huge improvement in steadiness and my ability to hold camera positions without a tripod for an extended period of time (esp. with my nose-heavy XL1S).

Most of my weight training is geared towards upper body strength using very slow motion reps which take about 10-15 seconds each direction for 6-8 reps / 3 sets. I'm a big believer in the slow motion style training because it's much more effective, and there's a far less chance of injury. I can go into more details if your interested.

Lower body is handled by running stairs either on a machine or staircase. I'm also a big mountain bike nut and get a workout from that at least three times per week as well. I'm actually looking forward to my next Stedicam shoot involving stairs (i.e. like the one in Rocky)!

Perhaps some of you would like to share what works for you. I often see a lot of camera guys sweating it out simply because they're waaaaay out of shape.

G
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 01:45 AM   #2
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How old are you Greg? No offense but 4 years ago I could kick my 25 year old step sons butt in almost any physical challenge. I lifted 6 days a week. Now I have congestive heart failure and very bad arthritis. 4 years ago I was a very fit 54, today I'm a sick 58 year old fighting back.

Everyone is different and everyone has their own agenda. I agree that weight training would be great but those that pass on it are still OK people. You will be older one day. for the record , I used to say that this would never happen to me.

The reason for my post is to explain that we are an eclectic group from 14 years old to the late 60's. I only wish i could train like I used to. I used to love that burn!
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 02:44 AM   #3
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Greg,
I think you've hit upon an important success factor for videography; physical condition. Certainly, great strength is not required to wield the relatively low mass of most prosumer cameras. The exception to this, however, would be the use of hand-held stabilizers (ex: Glidecam 2000/4000, Steadicam JR, et.al.) which require good conditioning of biceps, triceps, lower arm and shoulders.

I am no expert in exercise physiology but I believe that the following are some of the key physical conditioning points for hand-held work.

1. General muscle tone
Legs and upper body should be in good tone. Your entire body will be involved in shooting at some point.

2. Coordination, balance and agility
I've often thought that those with dance or martial arts training would have a leg-up (no pun) in this area. Tai Chi (sp?) might also be good for developing concentration and muscle control.

3. Stamina
Tiring quickly, mentally or physically, will generally be bad news.

4. Pulmonary / aerobic fitness
Getting short-winded easily will certainly lead to shaky shooting.

I don't work-out specifically for these points but I can definitely claim that maintaining a regular (4-5 times/week) routine of cardio fitness and moderate weight training has made a big difference to me, including my videography. (BTW, I'm 49, retired with absolutely no desires or aspirations to become a professional videographer.)

Thanks for raising this subject, Greg. I think it deserves some attention around here.
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 06:12 AM   #4
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Ken's mention of Tai Chi is spot on for this kind of work. Lifting weights will help but the big killer is not lack of strength but lack of muscle stamina. Weight lifting will help as Greg has found out but only in the short term but lifting weights with low repartitions improves explosive strength not stamina.

When I was in the Australian Air Force one of the stamina exersizes we did was to hold an SLR, rifle not camera, by the pistol grip and do raises. The SLR weighs approx 5kg, I think that's about 10lbs, not a lot of weight but when you do 50 reps you can really feel the muscles burning. This high rep/low weight exersize improves muscle stamina and conditioning of joints/tendons but does not promote an increase in muscle bulk which can be damaging to guys like Bryan with arthrisis.

The other thing that is benificial and what I believe is the most important thing about anykind of physical activity is a complete warm-up/cool-down. Prior to shooting warm up you body with some light stretching, 10sec/2x per muscle group. This is something that many people neglect and is the primary contributor of activity related injury. I stretch for 30mins every night as well as before activities. This leads to less chance of injury and also an increase in dexterity.

Bryan, even though I'm 22 years younger than you I know what you are going through. I have a ligament condition that means my damage my joints very easily. I have found that a form of Tai Chi is very beneficial in maintaining a relitively pain free exsistance. Yoga, is another good one. You should check them out to help in your fight.
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 05:56 PM   #5
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 06:17 PM   #6
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Just cuz I'm a hurting old phart doesn't mean i gave up. I have a few light weight dumbells beside my desk and will do some arm exercise. Regardless of pain, I will always push the envelope. I've regained some heart function and hope to improve steadily.

RAAF eh! I'm ex RCAF. When Pontious was a Pilot they used to make us march with SMG's held out at arms lenghth with the folding stock against the shoulder and hand on the pistol grip. That certainly developed stamina.It was also a punishment.

Per Ardua Ad Astra
or more appropriately Nil SOB Carborundum
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 06:21 PM   #7
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I was doing a lot of cycling but due to work and projects I haven't been in the saddle in months. Still, it really helped with the cardiovascular. I like it better than running as it's low-impact. That is, until you get hit by a truck.

Bryan... take up walking. It works wonders. Your doc probably told you that congestive heart failure is a buildup of fluid in the spaces around the heart, making it harder for it to expand properly. It's not exactly like having clogged arteries, unless that's a contributing factor. Longer, lower-level efforts are better at remedying this than short, intense ones. And there's the usual litany about diet. The basics still work: Less fat, more fiber. Lots of water. A glass of wine a day -- and if one is good, then four must be just great!

By the way, I know about getting my butt kicked by my elders. I was riding a hundred-miler and a guy your age just wound it up this hill at the 65-mile mark and left me way behind. I was in my late 30's at the time (46 now). And in the one year I raced, that same guy left me in the dust everytime.

I do very little upper body workouts so my main strength is in my legs. Still, the endurance workouts help keep the long jobs from being as tiring as it would otherwise be.

As for supporting gear I find that getting the right positions helps a lot. I shot competitive rifle a long time ago and learned that the best way to support a 14-pound rifle in a standing position without shaking is to let the bones carry the load. I try to apply the same principles to hoisting a camera.

Stay healthy. We only got one body.

Dean Sensui
Base Two Productions
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 11:24 PM   #8
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Some interesting responses! I think fitness is often overlooked as a way to improve video skills which is why I brought it up. This is especially so due to cameras becoming smaller and therefore relying on your arms and not so much your shoulders to hold them in position.

Bryan,
I sympathize with you and your condition because it also runs in my family. I'm 34 and wasn't singling out any particular age group. I sure hope you didn't think I was poking any fun at the older folks and perhaps I should have clarified this more. Videography by itself keeps you in shape regardless. I've just found another way that all of us can improve upon it.

I happened to spend over 12 years racing bicycles (BMX & MTB) so it's not really that hard for me to keep in shape right now, but it's definitely getting tougher as each birthday clicks by. Several years ago I tore both rotator cuffs in my shoulders in a race accident and though I'd never be able to hold a camera again (or much of anything for that matter). Today I don't even notice. I contribute a lot of that regained strength to sticking with video work which has helped a lot in the healing process.

I'm gonna have to give Tai Chi a try too. I keep hearing nothing but good things about it.

G
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 11:24 PM   #9
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Per Ardua Ad Astra, that's a killer, is that the RCAFs motto too. In the RAAF it was "through lack of funding stay on the ground". We actually used to lease a bunch of GE F404s from the RCAF to keep our Hornets up.
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Old July 3rd, 2003, 12:51 AM   #10
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It's yoga for me, three times a week. Makes me feel like I was 22 again.
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Old July 3rd, 2003, 01:06 AM   #11
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Robert, aren't you 23?
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Old July 3rd, 2003, 01:19 AM   #12
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Rounding up. ;-)
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Old July 4th, 2003, 09:53 AM   #13
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Martial Arts training is all the exercise you will ever need. It also helps with cocky photographers.
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Old July 4th, 2003, 01:34 PM   #14
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Bah, none of you have the right idea.

Eat more.
Work out less.
Get fat.
Grow a nice big beer gut.
That way you'll be able to balance the camera on your belly, and not need any arm strength.

P e r f e c t . . .
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Old July 6th, 2003, 05:58 PM   #15
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you're born with steadi-hand;)
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