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Setting Up a New Sports Program

You are responsible for setting up the programs at a new sports venue. What are the key points to ensure success?

Encourage guest participation for all ages

Provide a vision and a concrete plan to encourage participation for all ages. A well-run program will keep customers coming back, and generate positive word of mouth for new customers.

National sports organizations govern baseball, basketball, football, hockey, tennis, swimming, figure skating, etc. The associations offer recreational and competitive training that incorporates positive reinforcement, such as a sportsmanship program for athletes and their parents. Having a positive vision for participants will make people happier to participate and will foster a community environment. Encourage staff to focus on the process of participating, not solely on outcomes.

With an increase in the Baby Boomer generation reaching age 65 in the coming years, be sure to set-up programs for seniors. They want to be active, but are hesitant to return to activities in which they may need to modify their participation. This generation values hard work and achievement, so they may feel discouraged in a modified activity, like they are taking a step backward. Either they are worried about how they will appear, or they are fearful of injury. However, an object in motion stays in motion! Although they may not be able to participate at the exact same level as 40 years ago, they can still participate. The health benefits from participation are terrific! Appeal to this age group by offering over 60 workout times with music from the 1960s. Have coaches and trainers who are also Baby Boomers and can talk about the same challenges. Offer seminars and workshops that look back on the sports over the years.

On the other hand, the Millennial generation will also be visiting the facility looking to participate in activities. For the Millenials, offer childcare on site to encourage guests to drop-off their children while they exercise. Have parent-and-me classes, so the whole family can participate. Millenials work well in groups and need regular feedback in order to continue registering. Set-up contests with rewards where guests are encouraged to form exercise teams with weekly weigh-ins. Trainers can set-up blogs where customers can post pictures and comment on their progress, both the ups and the downs. Blogging is a great form of expression, as well as a way to gain support for your activity. Teambuilding is a terrific way to foster support among peers and contribute to the positive spirit of the activities. Invest in technology within the workout equipment by offering elliptical machines and treadmills with screens for reading, watching television, satellite radio. Offer flexible times on classes and workout periods with a make-up policy available.

Focus on Safety

One of the most important aspects to address in a new facility is sports safety. Many guests do not have clear view of the risks involved in the activities. As a community center, and in this litigious society, staff must address the sports risks and to provide safety information to guests. Offer weekly facility tours and introductory workshops to discuss proper use of equipment, as well as safety within participation. All classes and programs should begin with the instructor reviewing basic safety measures. Post signs warning guests of potential hazards, and require waivers be signed with membership. For staff, schedule the risk management officer from the insurance company to visit at least twice per year to review safety information. Have staff perform regular equipment checks that are kept in a log. Remove and repair damaged equipment immediately.

Offer satellite community programs

Many people may want to visit the facility, but may not be able to participate in its sports programs. Make the facility a welcomed gathering place with tables for guests to play cards, or games like checkers and chess. Meeting rooms can be rented free of charge to churches, schools, community groups. Offer low-impact classes for all ages that includes stretching, dance, Zumba, Pilates, Yoga, and Tai Chi. Have a massage therapist and nutritionist who can conduct monthly seminars and provide support to guests. Trends show that passive recreation such as using the computer, scrapbooking, and other forms of crafting such as painting and woodworking are popular with all age groups. Consider offering classes in the community rooms to meet this demand.

Capitalize on world class coaching staff

World-class coaches and trainers are willing to make guest appearances. Schedule special workshops and camps for guests to “learn from the pros.” There is a trend toward offering Fantasy Camps for adults, where guests can work with high-level coaches, meet professional players in the sport, and attend a professional game or match during the camp. Similarly, there is a trend toward offering “Family Camp,” where adults and their children can enjoy the activities together. These special interest activities will draw more attendance toward the facility.

Provide ongoing customer service training

Maintain a focus on strong customer service for the staff by offering regular training workshops. Everyone must be trained on how to handle situations that may arise such as handling customer feedback, answering facility questions, responding to injuries, proper etiquette and dress code. Staff should have special training on working with senior customers and responding to special needs. Be sure to have a mix of generations within the staff. Ideas that appeal to and encourage one generation may not appeal to the other. For example, Millenials would enjoy receiving certificates at the end of each class session, while Baby Boomers may not want the certificates. Focus the class goals and structure toward the participants likes and dislikes. Programs do not need to be the same for all ages.

Build Community Partnerships and Sponsorships

Work with local schools to organize field trips and fundraisers. One of the best ways to generate positive word of mouth in the community is to participate in community programs such as fairs, parades and festivals. When an opportunity presents itself to set-up a table for a raffle or to donate prizes or silent auction certificates, the facility should participate. Have a designated staff member who visits schools to meet with principals and the parent teacher associations to talk about partnerships and fundraising opportunities for their schools. In addition, seek out local business partnerships where they can advertise within the facility on skating rink dasher boards and tennis court walls. Partner with the local medical center to offer community services such as monthly blood pressure tests, flu shots, and vision screenings. Work with local hotels to offer discounts to visitors looking for a fun afternoon out with their family and friends while on vacation. Similarly, partner with area businesses to provide special discounts to their employees. Discounts encourage people to try something they might otherwise not consider.

Organize a mentoring program

To build bridges between generations that will visit the facility, encourage a mentoring program between the generations. Baby Boomers have a lot of experience to share with younger generations and can be consulted in their areas of expertise. Millenials have a great deal of knowledge with technology and Social Media that can be passed on to the senior population. Cross generation partnerships are beneficial in all directions.

Use Social Media and Technology

To assist customers and be environmentally friendly, strive to be as paper-free as possible; use e-mail confirmations, reminders, and online registration; track waivers electronically. Have paper fliers available for guests who are not comfortable with technology, but ask for an e-mail address with each new customer. Encourage staff to make regular phone calls to clients to foster a sense of community and to offer reminders, especially to the senior community. Use Social Media tools such as Facebook and Twitter as a forum to communicate with guests, and as well as for promotional purposes. Regularly update listings on Google and Yelp to keep the facility at the top of search engines.

Head Injury Prevention in Ice Skating

Introduction

Physical activity is an essential part of being healthy. In children, activity helps build strong bones and muscles, decreases the likelihood of developing obesity, and promotes positive mental health. Children are recommended to have 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily.

In the United States, more than 30 million children and teens participate in sports. Of that number, approximately 3.5 million children and adolescents ages fourteen and under are hurt annually while participating in recreational activities. In 2002, The National Safe Kids Campaign estimated that 13,700 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ice skating related injuries. Many of these are preventable head injuries if protective equipment, such as helmets or halos, is used.

Gliding across the ice, with the cool wind whipping across a skater’s face is an exhilarating feeling. One push can propel a skater far down the glistening, snowy surface. Worrying about a head injury is often far from a skater’s mind, as many participants are not aware of the possibility of head injury from ice skating. The goals of this article are to raise awareness about potential head injury from ice skating and to promote the use of helmets in skating, similar to what is required in cycling, skiing, and ice hockey.

Review of Injury Statistics

A concussion is a mild form of head injury, usually due to a blow to the head, which may cause disorientation, memory loss, or unconsciousness. Repeated concussions and loss of consciousness can result in traumatic brain injury or TBI.

An estimated 10% of all head and spinal cord injuries are due to sports related activities. Socially, athletes can feel undue pressure from family, coaches, and teammates to return to play quickly after a head injury. These influences can prevent an athlete from receiving the medical care he or she requires. In particular, parents and coaches can push their children too hard in an attempt to fulfill their own athletic aspirations. Athletes who return to play too soon or who suffer repeated injury to the head can develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, whose symptoms can include slowed speech, confusion, tremors, and mental deterioration. Most recently, CTE gained media attention when a settlement was reached with the National Football League, or NFL and thousands of players and families. The case, which involved more than 4,500 plaintiffs, calls for the NFL to pay for medical exams, compensation, and research related to head injuries sustained while playing professional football. Plaintiffs are committed to making the game safer at all levels and to educate the public; including parents of the four million children who play youth and high school football. Plaintiffs are committed to helping the focus on player safety trickle down to the youth level.

Awareness and education are key factors in injury prevention and return to play decisions. When an athlete suffers a head injury, a sideline assessment using the Standardized Assessment of Concussion should be completed by a medical professional. If a physician is not available, the coach can complete a basic assessment, until medical attention is available. The assessment includes tests of eye response, verbal response, and motor response. Telling a child to “shake it off” could have a grave impact on the child’s long term health.

Research concluded that safety measures in organized sports should include helmet requirements. There are approximately 230,000 cases of hospitalization due to traumatic brain injury annually of which 80,000 suffer long term disability and 50,000 result in fatalities. Five to twenty percent of these injuries are incurred during sports and recreational activities. Organized team sports, in particular football, soccer and ice hockey, have high instances of concussion annually in addition to recreational sports such as skating and bicycling. Helmets that are properly fitted and worn by participants of these activities can help reduce the risk of head injury among participants.

Sports and Helmet Rules

Cycling

In March 2003, professional cyclist Andrey Kivilev collided with two other riders during the Paris Nice ride. Kivilev was not wearing a helmet and catapulted head first off his bicycle. He fell immediately into a coma and was diagnosed with a serious skull fracture. Kivilev underwent surgery, but died shortly thereafter due to the severity of the head injury. He was 29 years old and the leader of the Cofidis cycling team. His death triggered the International Cycling Union, or UCI to implement compulsory wearing of helmets in all endorsed races.

Helmets protect the head by reducing the rate at which the skull and the brain are accelerated and decelerated during an impact effectively acting as a shock absorber between the force of the impact and the brain. Upon impact, the polystyrene liner of the helmet crushes thereby dissipating energy over a wider area. Instituting mandatory helmet policies in sports proves to be a divisive and controversial issue. Although research has demonstrated that helmets reduce injury in low speed crashes, helmet evidence is not conclusive with respect to high speed crashes. Kivilev’s accident occurred at approximately 35 kilometers per hour or about 22 miles per hour which is considered relatively low speed. At the time, he was ranked among the top 100 racers in the world.

Due to his high profile in the global cycling community, Kivilev’s death elevated the helmet debate into the media spotlight. Following this seminal UCI rule change, USA Cycling also revised their helmet policy to provide that in order to host an event sanctioned by USA Cycling, all participants are required to wear helmets.

In recreational cycling in the United States, bicycle helmet laws can vary widely. Currently, only twenty one states and the District of Columbia have instituted helmet laws for bicyclists below a certain age, which is generally 16 years-old. California requires helmets for riders 18 years and younger and only the Virgin Islands requires helmets for all riders. Twenty nine states have no bicycle helmet laws currently in place.

Researchers conducted a study which demonstrates helmet usage. This study directly observed 841 children in Texas who participated in bicycle riding, in line skating, skateboarding, and scooter riding over an eight week period. Whereas helmet rules vary county to county within Texas, most counties require helmets for riders age 16 years-old and younger. This study employed a randomly selected sample of children engaging in such activities from communities with populations equal to or greater than 1000. Children under 6 years-old, females and those riding on specified bike paths were found to wear helmets more frequently than other children.

Several factors often contribute to children not wearing helmets. During warmer months, children complain about high temperatures and accordingly are less inclined or willing to wear their helmets as riders feel they do not have proper ventilation inside the helmet. Parental knowledge and awareness is another contributing factor. Parents are often unfamiliar with applicable helmet laws nor are they informed of the potential risks of injury resulting from the failure to wear proper safety equipment. In a study examining data from1990 2005, there were in excess of 6,000,000 cases of children age 18 years-old and younger treated in emergency rooms for bicycle related injuries.

Skiing

In March 2009, actress Natasha Richardson sustained a head injury while taking a routine, beginner ski lesson. Initially she refused medical attention, however seven hours later, she was admitted to the hospital suffering from an epidural hematoma, a type of traumatic brain injury. She succumbed to her injuries and died the following day. Michael Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, died in 1997 following a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado. A week later, Sonny Bono, television star and politician, died on the slopes of South Lake Tahoe. Richardson, Kennedy, and Bono were not wearing helmets.

Researchers studied injury rates at the three largest ski areas in Scotland during three winter seasons. The study found that first day participants are at an increased risk of injury due in part to low skill levels amongst the beginners. They concluded that first day participants should be targeted in educational programs about gear selection and protective equipment.

A study of skiers and snowboarders was conducted in Colorado where approximately 10 fatalities occur annually. Among the fatally injured, head injury proved the cause of death in 87.5% of the cases and none were wearing helmets. Of the 400 skiers and snowboarders admitted to the hospital with traumatic brain injuries, only five were wearing helmets. In the most serious case, the patient ascended off a 40 foot cliff, landed on his head, cracking his helmet in half. Whereas he sustained a severe concussion with unconsciousness, the computed topography, or CT scan proved negative and with inpatient rehabilitation, the patient has made a full recovery and is attending college.

In 2011, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law requiring all skiers and snowboarders under 18 years to wear helmets with the intent to reduce head injuries on the slopes. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a similar bill in 2010 however the measure was nullified following his veto of a companion bill that would have required California ski resorts to submit safety plans and reports to state officials. At the professional levels, the governing body of skiing, the Federation Internationale de Ski, requires a helmet as mandatory equipment for all downhill and Super G events.

Ice Hockey

In 1968, Bill Masterson of the Minnesota North Stars landed headfirst on the ice after being checked by two players from the Oakland Seals. He was not wearing a helmet and as a direct result died due to the severity of his head injury. Prior to this incident, the helmets use had been stigmatized which contributed to a lack of widespread use. However, as a consequence of this incident, the stigma surrounding the use of helmets began to diminish and ultimately in 1979, the National Hockey League, or NHL instituted a mandatory helmet policy. The policy did not apply uniformly at the outset as certain veteran players were grandfathered out of the new requirement. Such players elected to continue playing without helmets alongside new players who were subject the policy. Initially, the NHL and the players themselves faced harsh criticism from fans and the media. Despite the clear evidence of risks associated without helmets, some believed the policy harmed the integrity of the game and diminished the players’ masculinity.

Since the policy was first instituted more than three decades ago, significant research supporting the value and need for helmets has been documented. The hockey community has become supportive of the rule change particularly as a significant number of current hockey enthusiasts have never experienced the sport in which helmets were not employed and required. As with many elements of professional sports, the helmet policy was then instituted within youth hockey. The youth hockey governing board, USA Hockey, not only requires all players to wear helmets, they have mandated that all helmets employed by the players must be approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council, or HECC. Additionally, beginning in 2006, USA Hockey extended the helmet requirement to coaches who must wear helmets during on ice practice. The requirement for coaches provides the dual benefit of increased safety for all on ice participants as well as an opportunity for the authority figure to model appropriate safety practices. This continues to reinforce the value and importance of the use of safety equipment and in turn minimizes any residual stigma associated with wearing helmets on the ice.

In order to meet the requirements of the HECC, all helmets must undergo rigorous testing procedures including, without limitation, verifying the sufficiency of the coverage area, the quality of the protective material, and the degree of shock absorption. Aside from the specifications, the age, amount of use and type of each helmet all serve to impact the helmet’s effectiveness. The use of helmets with facial protection has proven effective in order to significantly decrease player injury at the amateur level. Whereas ice hockey is by nature a contact sport and checking is a significant cause of injury, the potential for injury is heightened further due to speed and surface tension. A study was conducted a study of 192 high schools in which 7,257 sports related injuries from 20 different sports were reported. From this total sample, 1,056, or 14.6% of injuries were concussions, 24% of which were sustained during boys’ ice hockey.

Ice Skating

In 1999, United Skates Pairs figure skaters, J. Paul Binnebose and Laura Handy were on track to make the 2002 Olympic team. While training at the University of Delaware, with Coach Ron Luddington, Binnebose fell on the ice, fracturing his skull. He suffered seizures, his heart stopped twice, and he was in a coma. Doctors removed a piece of his skull, allowing his brain to swell without pressure and heal. He was given a 10% chance of survival. Against the odds, he recovered.

Although the media widely publicizes celebrity sports related accidents, J. Paul Binnebose was not a well known star around the world. His story did not receive international media attention, but it is well known within the figure skating world. He and his coach have been working toward a helmet rule in skating for over a decade. They contend that many of the skating related injuries could be prevented or minimized with the use of a helmet.

Research suggests this notion is correct. An examination of pediatric skating related injuries was conducted in the years 1993-2003. The researchers sampled 1,235,467 children from emergency rooms with skating related injuries. Non random, purposeful sampling was used in this study. The data was collected from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, or NEISS, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, known as CPSC.

The NEISS system has consumer product codes for each type of activity. Injuries were identified as ice skating, roller skating, or in line skating related, and coded accordingly. Ice hockey, roller hockey, and skateboarding were excluded from the study. Variables included the child’s gender and age, site of the injury, type of skating activity, mechanism of injury, use of protective equipment, and the injury diagnosis. Further, the injuries were categorized into 5 regions of the body.

The Centers for Disease Control report during the years 2001-2005, more than 200,000 emergency room visits for concussions and other traumatic brain injuries were recorded annually in the United States. Of those, 65% were found to be children ages 5 18 years-old who were participating in a sport or recreational activity. Children are at a greater risk for traumatic brain injuries with increased severity and a prolonged recovery. Thirty categories of sports and recreation head injuries were examined. Most of the sports demonstrated 2 7% annual emergency room visits for concussions and traumatic brain injuries. However, horseback riding, all terrain vehicle riding, and ice skating reported the highest instances of emergency room visits for traumatic brain injuries, with ice skating at 11.4%. Horseback riding and all terrain vehicle riding are activities where a secondary force carries the participant at a potentially high rate of speed; ice skating is a self propelled activity.

Researchers studied 419 children with injuries from ice skating, skateboarding, roller skating, and in line skating with the focus on head injury. Most injuries were to the face; 23 of 60 cases, 38.3%; and 12 additional injuries were to the head; 20%. Adult supervision was reported in 98.2% of the cases, and 78% reported no protective equipment use. The proportion of head injuries among ice skaters was greater than the participants in other types of skating, for which helmet use is recommended or required. Currently, there are no formal guidelines regarding the use of protective equipment in ice skating; however, studies show helmet use should be mandated for children.

A study of 80 patients who visited the Accident Service at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for ice skating related injuries found that 56% were beginner skaters, defined as having skated less than 10 times. Eighty two and a half percent of the patients were 11 to 25 years-old. The study suggests that children who are beginner skaters are more likely to sustain injury than experienced skaters. Other research studies show similar results. In a study of 43 patients admitted to the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital with ice skating related injuries, 65% were first time skaters. The study found need for increased public awareness about the risk of potential injury from ice skating and for preventative measures to improve safety.

Insurance companies strongly urge skating facilities to post a warning potential of risks at the entrance of the buildings, which releases the facilities from general liability. However, people visiting ice skating rinks are not well informed about the potential risks of the activity before arrival. Often they do not read posted placards. If provided with the background knowledge, ahead of their visit to the ice skating rink, many guests would have the opportunity to bring safety equipment from home. A need exists for a public awareness campaign.

Positive Effect of Sports Involvement

An ice skating rink is a place for children to visit on a regular basis, during their out of school time, to engage in positive, fun exercise. The key to helping the child enjoy their experience, and continue to return to the ice skating rink, is to make sure they have a positive first experience. This may not mean becoming an expert skater, but becoming competent on the ice that he/she can have a positive social experience and be “ice safe.” In order for this to happen, the participants must learn to skate with the proper safety equipment, including helmets. Once they learn the skill, he/she will continue to return to the facility with their friends. Having a positive place to go during out of school time will help the children avoid risky behaviors.

Conclusion

Cycling, skiing, and hockey have made changes in their safety guidelines based on the trends and statistics of head injuries in the sport. As the governing body for skating, the International Skating Union, known as the ISU has to take action to require worldwide helmet use for skaters. Once the ISU takes the first step, member countries can incorporate helmet rules into basic training programs and begin a public awareness campaign. Reducing the incidents of head injury will improve the overall safety of the sport. As safety improves, more people will continue participating in the sport of ice skating.

The “Coming Out” Of Social Media

We live in a world of 24-hour coverage of news. On a bad news day, we sometimes cringe at what is being reported due to the banality of it. But we are also overwhelmed with politics, weather, celebrity rumors, traffic, the list goes on and on. Some affiliates are politically slanted one way or another, which means we’re also getting an opinion on where that particular newscaster stands on a situation. This can fill our brain with information that isn’t necessarily true and we have no way of disseminating which is truth and fiction.

Thankfully, social media has changed all that. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are open forums that can give us up-to-the-minute news. Other sites set up chat groups where a person can have real-time commentary with others having the same questions.

One particular area that has been given a lot of attention recently is homosexuality in professional sports. The movement for equal rights has made great strides forward, especially in the last ten years. There are states that allow for same sex marriage. The military has repealed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and the definition of marriage is currently under review. However, until recently, the professional sports arena has maintained a silence on the issue. There had been athletes in other sports that had”come out”, but nobody in the NHL, NFL, NBA or MLB had ever announced they were gay. That has all changed in the last seven months.

A professional basketball player announced he was gay, followed by a college football player that is expected to be drafted in the NFL this spring. They announced this on their own terms. They used open forums to bring the discussion to the general public and stated it in their own words. They engaged in real-time commentary that announced that, although it could be seen as a big deal, it really wasn’t a big deal. This is who they are and hey, it shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The traditional media venues didn’t have time to “spin” the subject as these athletes did this on their own terms.

Social media, interactive discussions and real-time commentary allow regular people to get a new kind of “scoop” on what is going on in the world. The influence that a newspaper or television channel has it not quite as wide-ranging as it used to be. To be able to sit down with others and engage in conversation on a topic that interests you has allowed us to open our minds and get the big picture. These announcements these athletes made? Barely a ripple was made as many people thought, “So what.” I’d say that some great strides were made.

Pursuing the Passionate Hobby of Railfanning in India

In the fast paced, extremely stressful life environment, there is always time for pursuing a hobby. One such hobby is railfanning, which revolves around everything to do with trains, stations, heritage, history, operations, yards, and much more.

In India, railway is not just another mode of transportation; it offers a window seat to view the culture and traditions from up close. Railway was first introduced in India as a transportation system in 1853 and since then, it has grown to become one of largest railway networks in the world covering 115,000 km (71,000 miles). Such a large network with deep-rooted history offers plenty of avenues for learning, photography, and traveling. Today, India has around 5,000 railfans, and the number keeps growing by the day.

Railfanning, as a hobby can be divided into several segments. Each segment has its own benefits and charm and ensures the participation of like-minded hobbyists. The different segments are:

  1. Train Spotter: A train spotter (TS) focuses on spotting specific trains and sharing the running information with other train buffs. TS is involved in documentation of arrival and departure of trains at a specific station, the type or class of locomotive hauling it, the type or class of coaching stock, primary and secondary maintenance, and rake sharing arrangements if any.
  1. Loco Fan: They are rail buffs whose primary focus is locomotives. They specialize in documenting information on type and class of locomotives used with specific train, road number of a locomotive, AC/DC, shed name, horse power, bogie type, and much more. Photography and videography of locomotives along with trains is the favorite pastime of loco fans (LF’s). For example: 12343 Darjeeling Mail was hauled by WDP-4(class of locomotive), 20066 (road number), of Siliguri (shed name).
  1. Rail Enthusiast: Known as RE’s, they are the “super heavyweights” of railfanning. RE’s participate in several activities apart from train spotting and loco fanning. Their primary activity is documentation of yard layouts, operations and signaling, railway electrification system, rolling stock, coaching trains, track maintenance, type of gauge (narrow gauge, meter gauge, broad gauge, or standard gauge), containerization, haulage, motive power, passenger stations, railway heritage, trans-shipment yards, old and new alignments, Bridges, working time tables, loco sheds, and permanent way among others. RE’s travel across various railway divisions in India and create documentation of their visit to a specific area. They also share this documentation with the Indian Railway authorities to help plan for a better future. RE’s also specialize in creating railway system and yard layout maps, as well as drawings related to trains and locomotives.
  1. Heritage Fan: They are known as HF’s and their primary focus is on different types of railway heritage. They also participate as volunteers to resurrect Indian Railway heritage locomotives. The areas of focus and participation include steam locomotives, narrow and meter gauge trains and locomotives, redundant signaling systems like upper and lower quadrant semaphore, old sections and track alignments, and historical mapping of railway network.
  1. Time-Table Specialist: This comprises of a small group of dedicated train buff’s whose primary focus is reading the time-table and using it to identify various trains they will come across at a particular station. They have the ability to identify late running and on-time trains based on their knowledge. They always carry a copy of divisional time-table during their train journeys.
  1. Speed Fan: This is a new breed of rail buffs, also known as “Speedofs” and their passion lies in taking videos of high-speed trains. They normally visit specific sections where the maximum permissible speed is 100kmph or more and record videos, which are uploaded in YouTube for public viewing.

Every rail buff knows somewhere deep down that there are several railway men involved in different roles 24×7 to ensure the safe arrival of trains at their respective destination. This single thought makes each train buff dedicate this hobby to the unsung heroes!

Table Tennis – Selecting the Right Equipment – The Racket!

The choice you make on equipment can have a dramatic effect on your game and is something that is essential to get right if you want to get the most out of your game and save money doing so. This article is to help you make the right choices.

This is more critical in your racket selection than in any other part of the game. Understanding how the racket surface affects not only the ball speed but holds, flicks, strikes, force angle, serving and the like will assist you in making the right choice and also open more possibilities to take your game to a whole new level. The more you progress, the more you will understand the game and more importantly, your own game and your playing style. You may be an attacking player or defensive, or even a combination of both. The more you learn, the more you will gain an understanding of your game and your strengths and weaknesses and be able to select your racket to suit your playing style. Just to make things even more confusing, there are different handle designs to suit different grip styles as well. There is the standard or shakehand style, which is the style of grip normally used by beginners and by many advanced players as well. Then there is the penholder grip which may look a little awkward but is very effective for those that master it.

For complete beginners the hard style pip out racket is probably the best choice. Even though you will probably want to advance to a better quality racket fairly quickly, this cheaper style of racket will give you a good feel of the basic strokes and save you money while you learn the basics. The sponge racket is the next logical step and will allow you to refine the skills you have already learned and apply more spin to the ball and develop more control. Your lobs, serves, defensive and attacking returns will become more controlled and accurate, allowing you to get the ball back in play more frequently. You will also learn to flight the ball with spin, opening up the wonders of this wonderful game far more to you. Firstly, learn the basics and as you get better and gain a better understanding, look at improving your equipment. This will not only save you money but will allow a natural progression of your skills as well as help you make an informed decision on your racket and increase your enjoyment.

See us at Table Tennis Planet for a wide selection of rackets to suit any level and any style of play. Http://www.tabletennisplanet.com

How to Buy a Used Treadmill – Don’t Dread the Tread(Mill)

Don’t dread the tread(mill)

Ask someone to name a piece of gym equipment and they’ll probably name the treadmill. There is no modern image of fitness more tired and true than a person running in the gym on a treadmill. The first consumer treadmill designed for home use was developed in the late 1960s and ever since then, the treadmill has become a staple of American fitness.

Modern gyms are beginning to look like the set of Star Trek, with touchscreens, LCD TVs and alien looking machines abundant; but the treadmill, minus a few bells and whistles added to the consoles, has stayed fundamentally the same. This is because the treadmill simply gets the job done in a variety of ways. The best way to buy an affordable used treadmill, that will last, is to buy one from a used gym equipment supplier.

Benefits of a treadmill:

1. Ease of Use

First, the treadmill is extremely simple to use. People instinctively know how to walk and run, so there is no learning curve required to use the machine. Treadmills may differ cosmetically and internally, but once a person has used one, they can use them all. They also do not require adjustments to the machine itself for different people. Once someone hops off, someone else can hop on and immediately begin their workout. The simplicity is what draws many to the treadmill.

2. Calorie Burning

Statistically, running at top speeds will burn the most calories per hour. Running at an 8.5 minute mile rate can burn 679 calories per hour for a smaller person and 940 calories for a larger person. This is compared to cycling at a moderate 12-14 mph pace, which will burn 472 calories per hour for a smaller person and 654 for a larger person. If weight loss is a person’s fitness goal, running on the treadmill is one of the most efficient ways to melt away the pounds.

3. Consistency, convenience and safety

Some users may dislike the treadmill and deem it as boring, but this consistency and predictability is highly beneficial for a workout. Running outside can be risky as running over random curbs, cracks, holes or errant banana peels can lead to serious injury. Other hazards such as cars and innocent bystanders are also eliminated by running on a stationary treadmill. Treadmills allow for smooth continuous running in the convenience of your home or gym, so users are free to run regardless of weather. Also, it is quite difficult to run around the block with a TV strapped to your head, so alternatively, many treadmills have the option of attaching a screen so you can enjoy your sitcoms while burning some fat.

4. Customizing and progress checking

Essentially every maker of treadmills, whether they are Precor, Star Trac or Life Fitness, equips their machines with a console. These consoles can control various aspects of the machine, such as speed and incline. Many newer treadmills also come with pre-programmed workout routines for a variety of different fitness goals. Both beginners and seasoned veterans can reap the full benefits of working out on a treadmill. These consoles generally also come with trackers that can determine exactly how far a person has run, how many calories they have burned and even what their heart rate was. This allows users to easily track their progress and follow a goal-oriented routine.

What to look for when buying a treadmill

There are dozens of treadmills on the market, so choosing one can be overwhelming. Here are a few factors to consider.

1. Brand

The top brands are generally the top brands for a reason. Life Fitness, Precor and Star Trac are some of the most recognized and best names when it comes to treadmills. Choosing a treadmill from one of these brands will generally ensure that you will receive a top quality and durable machine.

2. Commercial or Residential?

The decision of buying commercial or residential is highly dependent on your budget. If you’re thinking of purchasing a residential unit, your cost will generally be lower but these units are generally less durable than commercial units. When buying a used treadmill, it is suggested to go for a commercial unit, because they are built to run 24/7, there will be no issues in a one or two runner household. Buying a used treadmill generally saves you half off of MSRP.

3. Make and Model

There are hundreds of different types of models of treadmills out there so it can be a little overwhelming trying to choose one. An easier method would be to figure out what features are most important, such as a touchscreen, different workout routines, incline or decline options, etc. If you’re not sure what you want, feel free to ask the salesperson for their suggestions.

At the end of the day, the best technique to decide which treadmill you want is by taking it for a test run. There are many different options out there, so if you’re looking to find the right path to fitness, don’t be afraid to ask your retailer.

Start Your RC Car or Truck Hobby in 3 Simple Steps

Aerial drones, planes, cars and trucks – suddenly, if you can make it go with a remote control you hold in your hand! It’s all the rage! Building, driving and enjoying remote control (RC) cars and trucks is a great hobby to have, but how do you know where to start? When you walk into a hobby shop and two enthusiasts are arguing over the merits of Castle Creations versus Integrity parts and motors, it can be a little intimidating.

But rest assured that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. There are only a few things you need to keep in mind before starting a fun RC car and truck hobby, and we’ve gone over them right here. The most important thing is to take your entry into this hobby world slowly and simply, and before you know it, you’ll be racing your car down the track like a pro.

1. Know the difference between toy-grade and hobby-grade.

You’ve seen toy RC cars and trucks before at toy shops and big box stores. You probably played with them as a kid, and if you have kids, you might have bought one for them as a gift. They’re usually pre-assembled, have few extra features, and are relatively easy to operate. They’re also relatively cheap – often less than $100.

Hobby grade RC cars and trucks are different. They can be completely pre-assembled, or you can build one up from a kit. You can buy an endless series of accessories and upgrades to keep your car or truck fresh as the years go on. Plus, these cars are going to be faster, they’ll handle better, and they’ll last longer.

If you want to start a serious RC car hobby, you’re going to want to get into a hobby grade car or truck sooner or later. Toy grade cars are great to start with (you can even borrow the kids’ to get the hang of things – don’t worry, we won’t tell), but they won’t get you very far.

2. Keep it simple.

You could buy a hobby kit that you have to completely assemble for your first RC car. If you like building things and have the patience to go through the instructions carefully, it might even make for an enjoyable experience. But if you really want to get used to the feel of driving your own hobby car, you should first invest in an RTR car or truck.

RTR stands for “Ready to Run” (or ride, or race – the exact verbiage might vary, but the meaning is usually the same), and that’s exactly what it is. Take it out of the box, and after a couple of quick and easy steps – like attaching the body, inserting batteries, or maybe gluing wheels – you’ll be ready to go. You might not even have to do that much. With an RTR car or truck, you can spend most of your hobby time developing your driving skills – you know, the fun part.

Another way to keep it simple: buy an electric, battery-powered car rather than a nitro-fueled one. Yes, controlling a nitro-fueled RC car or truck sounds like an amazing time, and it is. But when you’re just beginning, you’re going to want the safest, easiest-to-operate car you can find, and that usually means an electric one.

3. Talk to a human.

There is nobody who can help you start your RC car or truck hobby better than an actual flesh-and-blood human being. Sure, you should do your research ahead of time, but online articles and product reviews will only get you so far.

The best place to go for advice about starting your RC hobby is your local hobby shop. Note that we said “local” – a big chain hobby store might have a lot of inventory, but they’re likely to be crowded. Plus, the employees may or may not know anything about RC cars and trucks. A smaller, more local shop will be staffed by hobby enthusiasts just like you. They’ll be more able to take the time to walk you through your first RC car or truck purchase and help you determine which product is best for you.

Custom Lawn Systems For Sprinkling – Why Should You Install Them?

Supplementary irrigation plays a crucial role in today’s time as it helps you in salvaging your landscape even when the rains aren’t available. There are various sprinklers that you could consider incorporating in your home’s custom lawn system. A custom lawn based system for sprinkling allows you to keep your landscape fresh and moist all the time. This kind of a system is not just convenient to handle but even helps you in creating a beautiful backyard in double quick time. There are various reasons why you must install this system.

Enhancing the overall appearance and health of the lawn

One of the major advantages of a sprinkler system is that it helps you enhancing the overall health and appearance of the garden. You can easily opt for consistent amount of irrigation so that you can beautify your lawn and save some water as well. Even if rain falls, the system has certain sensors installed in them that automatically shut down the system so that you don’t have to waste the water.

Different kinds of systems which are present in the market

Several kinds of lawn sprinkler systems are present in the market today and you must ensure that you purchase a system that suits your landscape’s terrain and climate in the right manner. Spray irrigation is one of the best forms of sprinklers available in the market and you can consider choosing them as they are quite affordable and simple to use. Drip irrigation system comes along with several tubes so that enough water can be used in this regard. Choose a suitable lawn sprinkler system that permits you to save your time and money at the same time.

Which is the best time to install this system?

Even though installing a suitable lawn sprinkler system might seem to be complicated and involved, a lot of experts believe that they can be installed within a single day. You just have to hire the right experts for the job so that you are able to generate some fine results in regard to installation. However, this procedure might require a certain amount of planning and therefore it becomes crucial for you to go through the user manual carefully so that you are able to look out for some fine alternatives. You must prepare well here so that no issues bother you in the long run. This system can prove to be a bit expensive for you and so you must ensure that you purchase it from the market in the right manner.

These are some of the most important things that you should remember in regard to this topic. You must ensure that you look out for some key help so that no issues bother you in the long run. For any other help or guidance you could consider seeking some key help from the experts. Read the above mentioned article carefully so that you are able to beautify your sprinkler in every possible way.

Things to Consider When Buying a RC Motorbike

A RC Motorbike is an excellent toy for young and old and everyone in between and whether you’re buying one for yourself or for someone else, the following tips will help you make the perfect choice. RC Motorcycles have gained widespread popularity in the past few years, with new models and features being introduced constantly so choosing one may be a bit overwhelming.

The first thing to consider is the age of the person you intend to buy the RC Bike for. RC Motorcycle models vary in speed, reach of the remote, and of course price hence some of them may not be suited for kids or may be overwhelming for adults. Toy RC Bikes are generally powered by household AA batteries, while the models for advanced RC enthusiasts are backed by a much more robust power source such as nitro, gas or electric motors.

Common types of RC Motorbikes

In terms of RC Motorcycle power sources, there are three variants to choose from namely electric, petrol and nitro. These power sources dictate the power output, maintenance and cost of RC Motorbikes. Petrol RC Motorbikes are easy to maintain, and boast a considerably high level of power compared to nitro and electric variants. Additionally, they are easy to fill up and consume less fuel.

The only pitfall with RC Petrol Bikes is their relatively high initial start up costs, but these can be greatly reduced by investing in out of the box ready to play models, meaning no assembly required. However, assembling a RC Bike is a great way to get hands on experience, and the thrill of putting them together from scratch is simply intriguing. Nitro RC Motorbikes are powered by Nitromethane, which is a fuel that is readily available wherever RC Toys are sold and most specialty stores.

Although nitro powered RC Bikes consume more fuel than petrol versions, they deliver unmatched performance on the track. Nitro RC Motorbikes are ideal for seasoned RC Enthusiasts and often ship with a higher price tag than other engine models. Electric powered RC Motorbikes are perfectly suited for children or those just getting their feet, and are fitted with a rechargeable Li-PO battery pack. Owing to this power source, an electric powered RC Motorcycle is cost efficient to run and requires little or no maintenance. They are available in both small and large sizes, making them a great choice for indoor fun.

The next aspect to consider after the type of engine is whether you will be using your RC Motorcycle indoors or outdoors. RC Toys that are designed to be operated indoors are often cheaper than outdoor RC Motorcycles considering that the latter requires a much stronger frame and parts to withstand the wear and tear sustained from outdoor environments. Indoor RC Motorcycles are easily available in the market and are perfectly suited for children and beginners. However, they are not as aggressive and powerful than other RC Bike Engines and offer no room for scalability.

What is the Cost of a RC Motorbike?

RC Motorcycle prices vary, and may be as cheap as a few hundred dollars or high performance models that could easily ring in upwards of a few thousand. Generally, the price of a RC Motorbike depends on the engine variant, the cheapest of which are the electric versions. However, if you seek performance, but do not want to pay top notch prices for it, used RC Motorcycles are a great route to explore.

Used RC Bikes can be located in RC forums and are generally sold by RC Users looking to upgrade to higher grade models. They are often times much cheaper than buying individual parts and then piecing them together. On that note, it is important to consider the costs of upgrading in the future and if the parts are readily available. With RC Motorbikes, there is no one size fits all type, but rather varies significantly based on individual preferences.

Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or seasoned RC Biker, RC Bike Reviews are a great way to gain insight into a specific model. These reviews are commonly found on RC Bike Manufacturers websites and testimonials in forums. If you’re looking to customize RC Bikes, it is a good idea to focus on reviews of parts as well as the model. Regardless of the type of RC Motorbike model you choose, the one thing you can rest assured of is endless fun and an unrivalled investment.