Dec. 12, 2000, 11:27PM
Fitness enthusiasts get a workout over the Web By
Copyright 2000 Houston Chronicle
No one has yet figured out a way to let the Internet perform your
daily workout for you.
But a growing number of exercisers are using the Web to connect,
compare notes and find a fitness plan that works for them.
Take the example of a group of women who gathered at the Met
Business and Sports Club in downtown Houston recently.
Most didn't know each other beforehand, but they all had one
thing in common: Each had found her way to the Web to check out an
exercise program developed by Florida-based trainer Teresa Tapp.
Many had already ordered exercise videotapes from the site
(www.t-tapp.com) and become "T-Tappers" at home. They faithfully do
the daily workout, which involves a series of stretches and
isometric exercises that combine elements of yoga, pilates, tai chi
and dance stretches.
(Despite the name, there is no tap dancing in the workout.)
When they have questions or concerns, they visit a message board
on the Web site or other Internet exercise discussion groups.
But there are some things the Internet can't do, like provide
So Tapp came to Houston to lead a one-day seminar for area women
who have been doing the exercises on their own.
The 43-year-old exercise physiologist came up with the program
after working as an international model scout and trainer. Noting
that many models were concerned about how clothing fit on them, she
developed a series of exercises that focused on losing inches rather
She decided to work with everyday women because she found them
receptive to following a routine and eager to work hard to get
"The thing about fitness is the older you get the better you are,
because you become a walking billboard," she said. "When you tell
20-year-olds this is what you do (to exercise), they say, `right,'
and just skip dessert."
Tapp maintains that a person's body type has a lot to do with
where fat accumulates. To determine body type, she measures the
length from rib-to-hip and from knee-to-ankle.
A person with a "short torso/long leg" physique has more of a
problem with saddlebags, "thunder thighs" and "bubble buns," she
says. There is less room in the mid-section for the obliques to
"cinch in" and create a slim waist.
Those with a "long torso/short leg" body have more worries about
flat fannies, thick waistlines and lower tummy pooch because
internal organs have more room to fall "south" as a person ages, she
She developed a series of exercises with funny names like "hoe
down" and "thread the needle" to firm the body. Different exercises
target problem areas but all of them train the muscles to press in
and form a natural girdle, she says.
"I call my workout `cardio-kinetic' because it is nonimpact but
very cardiovascular," she said. "We want to work smarter, not
She believes that the concept of "walk a little, jog a little"
helps tone the body better than only jogging.
"When you jog you never fully extend the knee. When you walk, for
a split second that back knee is straight, and you pull the full
length of the hamstrings and quads," she said. "You're getting full
extension and full contraction, so you build all the glutes and the
outside of the quads."
She scrubs her skin every day with a brush to stimulate the
lymphatic system. She claims it also helps remove cellulite.
"Your skin needs exercise like your muscles do," she said. "No
matter what age we are, we like to look pretty."
Her workout has developed devoted followers in Houston.
Sharon Seline Wright, project manager for the Commerce Tower
residential high-rise in downtown Houston, is an exercise buff who
read about Tapp in Women's Fitness magazine and ordered tapes
through the Internet a year ago.
The tapes sat on the shelf until Labor Day when Wright, figuring
she was in good shape, went immediately to the workout for
intermediate exercisers. After finding the workout so difficult that
she couldn't finish it, she dashed off an angry e-mail to Tapp.
"It's slow, so why can't I do this?" Wright wrote.
Tapp advised her to start with the tape for beginners. Since
then, Wright has dropped two dress sizes and has increased
definition in her arms.
Laurie Peyton, an administrative assistant for a Houston energy
company, came to the seminar after reading a magazine article and
visiting the Web site.
The program appealed to her.
"The movement's not so wild and jumpy," she said. "And I like the
fact that you don't have to be on such a specific diet to be fit or
go to the gym all the time. To me this is ideal."
While the exercises look relatively simple, they are difficult
for the uninitiated. Tapp suggests anyone interested in learning
more first check out her Web site or download the exercises for free
from a site called throttlebox.com. (Click on "sports" and look for
Since Tapp developed the Web site nearly two years ago, interest
in her program has boomed. She has five employees handling e-mail
questions and shipping tapes, which range from $14.95 for an
individual videotape to $145 for the "total system."
Tapp believes the Internet is a powerful tool for women to learn
which program gives them the best results.
"These women, by sharing and caring, are inspirational," Tapp
said. "Women talk to each other. They are natural networkers."