Michelle Ryan is the Bionic Woman

In an effort to capitalize on the super hero phenomenon that’s sweeping TV land these days, NBC has resurrected the 70’s era television show, the Bionic Woman. I caught a rerun of the premiere episode today. Similar to other prime time hits, over the last couple of years, the Bionic Woman has a fairly high production value. The effects and cinematography are pretty good and the acting isn’t half bad. Perhaps I had low expectations, but I enjoyed it.

The lead character, Jamie Sommers, aka the Bionic Woman, is played by 23 year old Brit, Michelle Ryan. Like other heroines before her (think Alias), an unsuspected and near fatal event lands her caught in a sort of double life. Unlike Jennifer Garner, however, Ryan ends up with millions of dollars of robotic body parts and some super bionic strength. Not only does she end up being able to outrun a SUV and bound effortlessly from one rooftop to another, she does a killer one handed pull-up.

Michelle Ryan One Handed Pullup

Now, I know its all smoke and mirrors here. I seriously have doubts that Michelle Ryan is able to pull off one armed pull-ups (as much as one would like to believe). However, according to a recent interview with Men’s Health (their October 2007 issue), Michelle is working hard on making the Bionic Woman as close to a reality as possible.

In order to get her bionic body in shape, Michelle has been working out “90 minutes every morning, and three times a week she does 2 hours of Krav Maga (Israeli self-defense). ” There’s also her diet which is supplemented with “smoothies, nuts, and healthy food.” Filming in Vancouver, Michelle is also able to take advantage of the great mountain biking offered by great B.C. terrain. “It’s really intense, but mentally it feels so good having to get in shape and trek up mountains. I love it.”

Video Review - Tony Horton’s Ab Ripper X

I recently used Tony Horton’s Ab Ripper X video for a couple of exercise sessions. As the title suggests, it’s an exercise video that focuses primarily on the abdominal muscles. The abs are a group of muscles that don’t require long bouts of work and as such, the routine is really quite short. But was it any good? Read on to find out…

Prepare for Glory!

I saw 300 last night. It’s an amazing film. The story might lack a little depth, but between the acting, the cinematography and the special effects, it is still a super good movie. Right from the get go, there’s a huge intensity that doesn’t end until the movie is over. The camera work and post production was brilliantly done. Apparently much of the film was shot at high speed and a scene hardly passes without some degree of slow motion. The characters were all portrayed perfectly and the voices of both Leonidas and Xerxes were bang-on. This movie takes that Ben-Hur kind of cinematic achievement to the next level - hopefully it will inspire other films to follow it’s path.

But one of the many neat aspects of 300’s production was the training that the actors underwent before shooting began. These guys were all playing Spartan warriors and if the movie is any indication, Spartan warriors all have to have lots of muscle and extremely chiseled abs - almost ridiculously chiseled. So how does one go about gathering a cast of Schwarzeneggers? Apparently they go through punishing workouts. The training that they have is something seriously ferocious. Here’s a clip of Mark Twight, the trainer, talking about how they got smashed.

Mark Twight talks more about the 300 workout here, on the Gym Jones website.


We’ve all been there, walking down the sidewalk, seeing a nice curb and spontaneously deciding to walk on that instead – finding our balance, making our way to the end without fault. As a child, jumping and running on things that were never meant for such abuse was practically a day to day ritual done perhaps simply for the enjoyment of the challenge to conquer the urban landscape. Today, more and more individuals are taking this childhood pleasure to the next level in the form of what is known as parkour or free running.

Parkour is a sport where city streets become the runner’s jungle gym and the main objective is to overcome the urban architecture as quickly as possible. Picture yourself going for your morning run and coming across a 6 foot brick wall that you would normally just run around. However, this time you go over it. That’s the idea. Brick walls, fences, large staircases, even buildings and the gaps between them – to a traceur, are all things to overcome, not get around.

The sport began in the Parisian suburbs and is quickly becoming recognized and practiced globally. Perhaps akin to skateboarding’s rise in popularity after only a handful of individuals began “surfing” the streets in Santa Monica. The popularity of parkour is becoming evident in pop culture and media. The recent (2006) James Bond film, Casino Royale, featured an amazing feat of free running (a variant of Parkour) skills as Daniel Craig (007) chased Sebastien Foucan, the creator of free running, through a construction site, performing intricate free-running moves. Sebastien Foucan was also one of the free runners in Jump London, a BBC documentary showcasing the sport as he and his crew took on many of the great London monuments and buildings.

Besides being interesting to watch, elements of parkour and free running can be seen as great exercises, some of which are part of well established training programs. Weather for scaling a wall or jumping from one building to the next, parkour necessitates exceptional upper and lower body strength. Pull-ups, dips, squats, handstands, and jumping are great conditioning exercises that would probably be involved in parkour training. Why not bring these into your own routine. Change it up a bit. That pull-up bar at your gym probably has dust on it. Give it a go. Find an empty wall and try to kick up a handstand. No gym, no problem – for dips, just use a couple of chairs as dip bars and let your legs sit on the floor in front of you, or raise them on another chair. Air squats, handstands and jumping don’t even require any equipment and 5 back to back sets of 10 reps of each exercise provides a great full body workout.

Looking up parkour in youtube provides endless movies of parkour acrobatics. Here’s just one of many for a bit of inspiration. It’s of David Belle, the founder of parkour, showing off:

Update: Jump Britain, the “sequel” to Jump London can be found on Google Video, in its entirety, here.

Update #2: The New Yorker recently published an article on Parkour, titled “No Obstacles”. Read it here.