To Your Health Columns by Brian Cole

If you’re starting to exercise at home…

…which, considering the obvious challenge of keeping crowded gym’s surfaces clean while practicing any semblance of distancing, makes a lot of sense for many. So to be safe and effective please consider: What is the actual function of the specific muscles you’re trying to train? And are you training them… Read more »

First, let’s agree on the goal…

There are many different approaches to effective exercise with different goals for different folks. Many of them are perfectly valid to achieve valid goals. I’m not writing this to establish right/wrong or good/bad. I’m writing about what makes sense to me; my focus. I’m saying if you want to pose… Read more »

OK, but is it sustainable?

When I started with private clients more than 20 years ago, I inherited quite a few with similar stories. With minor variations they went something like: “I worked with a trainer a couple of years ago and it was really effective so I want to get started again.” Hmm… This… Read more »


Some of you reading this have made “resolutions” about various ways you’re going to improve in 2020. Because I help folks do that all year round, I’m going to write about how to be successful. The specific goals are yours and whether or not they’re realistic, well, that’s yours, too.… Read more »

“It’s up to you, but…”

The first goal of these health and fitness columns is to inspire you to do something additional to improve. You may be doing plenty but I doubt it’s enough to have zero room to step it up. If nothing else, more consistency (unless you’re OCD) is always beneficial. Some suggestions for consistency: Go to… Read more »


A few years ago while in Quebec City I noticed the dual trash and recycling bins on the sidewalks. The conscientious Canadians were responsibly separating their items to deposit as they walked by. Impressive. Especially as I recalled the fast food bags and beer cans casually thrown on the side of my Virginia roads. I… Read more »

Your butt… and low back issues

A few years ago a bright, successful local physical therapist and I invented and patented a piece of equipment to both prevent and address low back pain. During the year or so we spent developing it, a name consistently came up in the research: Dr. Stuart McGill. A professor with the… Read more »

Springtime in Virginia!

Let’s start with the sunrise! When I’m in my beach cottage, the sun rises over the water horizon and is a dependable reminder of all we have to be thankful for. Right now it’s combined with the uplifting mood of springtime in Virginia, which is as nice as anywhere on… Read more »

Is age just a number?

A framed quote by my desk is: “Everything should be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” It’s obviously by someone with a subtle sense of humor. It’s by Albert Einstein. And I’m applying it to my opening question. Most of you reading this have experienced something age related that… Read more »

May I be blunt? PART 2

Please read or re-read last month’s column (“May I be blunt?” on our website and Oyster Pointer’s July “To Your Health” column). It’ll make what follows more meaningful. In the closing last month, I said I’d tell you how to get rid of that dangerous, deep, heart-encompassing visceral fat. And the… Read more »

May I be blunt?

A few years ago a very bright lady (but also the most divisive person I’ve known) told me that before she says something uncomfortable she asks: “May I be blunt?” Rarely will someone reply: “No thanks, I’d rather you be vague.” So that gives license to say whatever you want/need… Read more »


As I’m writing this, I’ve just finished a four-day Personal Fitness Trainer Conference in Washington, D.C., which I attend regularly. While the workshops and lectures are different every year, there are common denominators. The presenters are educated, knowledgeable and excellent! They’re the opposite of what you may picture. They’re not… Read more »

At any age

My primary purpose in writing these columns is to offer practical functional information to improve your health and your daily life. For that purpose, I’ve not written a more important column. Walking, with good posture and a clear mind, is the most beneficial activity we can do. Doing this will… Read more »

Well, it’s 2018 already!

Before we get into this month’s column, I’m going to mention what’s become my January mantra. Every year, because I get lots of positive feedback, I say some version of: Another year just flew by. And this year will fly by quickly too. Here’s the fact to focus on: You… Read more »

Be gentle. Be safe.

While my August Oyster Pointer column on not trying to stretch hamstrings seems to have triggered a good bit of attention, as promised, I’m now going to address the whole concept of “stretching.” (You can read or re-read it here.) I don’t have enough column space to be diplomatic, and I prefer blunt… Read more »

Please stop doing that

A few years ago a local physical therapist and I developed and patented a low-back strengthening machine—The Back Unit. We developed it because we each were familiar with the research that clearly proved that with low back problems, strengthening—not stretching—is the key. I’m going to expand that to other muscles,… Read more »

Be thankful; sweat

First, I think we should all acknowledge that we’re living in the easiest conditions ever known to our species. While I can fill this page enumerating the advantages we all share, asking you to take a moment and think about it for a bit will personalize the acknowledgment. I rarely… Read more »

Intentions, actions and outcomes

When I started Personal Training Associates more than 20 years ago, my written intention statement was to first “Help as many people as I can live healthier, more fit lives.” And second, “Help as many people as I can to do this as a career.” The first comes from growing up with a wonderful father who was… Read more »

Our health insurance

Individual opinions are all over the place regarding our health insurance. Should it be offered by private companies or provided by our government through taxes? Or some combination of both? Should insurance companies be able to charge more for someone with pre-existing expensive health problems? Should they be able to raise rates… Read more »

Discouraged or disappointed during 2016?

It’s always seemed to me that the dual goal is to accept reality while not losing sight of our ideals, our values. In a full life, disappointment is a reality. So much happens beyond our control. Avoiding acknowledgment of disappointments is denial. Denial gets us nowhere. Allowing disappointments to distract… Read more »