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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Shake, shake, shake that stress away
Is a vibrating fitness machine the key to true relaxation? That's the buzz in Pasco.
By MICHAEL KRUSE, Times Staff Writer
Published December 23, 2007
Suzanne Hoffman, 58, a retired human resources officer who moved to central Pasco from Ohio recently, does sit-ups on the Power Plate at Dr. Peter Szakacs' Quantum Vitality chiropractic clinic.
[David Degner | Times]
[David Degner | Times]
Suzanne Hoffman lifts weights while still standing on the Power Plate at Dr. Pete Szakacs' chiropractic clinic. "At first I was skeptical," Hoffman said. The diagram on the wall shows suggested positions and muscle groups that the Power Plate works, but Hoffman mainly focuses on strengthening her abdominal area.
WESLEY CHAPEL - One morning not long ago, Suzanne Hoffman sat at the kitchen table in her house in Seven Oaks and went back and forth on the phone with an insurance company, trying to get asthma medicine for her 22-year-old son, who works for Cirque du Soleil all the way down in Brazil - and if all that sounds stressful, well, that's because it was.
Her husband asked if she needed anything.
She suggested a tranquilizer.
He suggested a glass of wine - but it wasn't noon yet, and that's, like, a rule.
So Hoffman instead went to Dr. Pete Szakacs' Quantum Vitality chiropractic clinic not far from the Sam's Club on State Road 56. She didn't go to get her back cracked. She went to use a machine called the Power Plate.
What the Power Plate does, say Hoffman and other devotees, is shake the stress out of them.
It's Dr. Pete's stress-shaker-outer.
"At first I was skeptical," Hoffman said.
But then she got on.
Then back on.
And then again.
The American Psychological Association did a survey this past fall. The results of the survey: We're total stress balls.
According to this survey, one-third of Americans are living with "extreme stress," nearly half believe their stress has gotten worse in the past five years, and all of this is making us fat, ornery and unfulfilled.
Now zero in on central Pasco: The area presents itself as a heck of a case study for some of the inducers of stress that come with life in this country near the end of 2007.
Long commutes that are getting longer.
High gas prices that are getting higher.
The real estate rut.
From work to school to home, from work to school to home, from work to school to home ...
The Victorious Life Church on Old Pasco Road is starting a new series of Sunday-morning messages next month.
My Overstuffed Life.
"Our lives are just so stinkin' busy," lead Pastor Ed Russo said the other day on the phone.
We all move here looking to get away from whatever it is we're trying to get away from, the cold, the crime, the smaller house with no granite countertops that clearly just won't do.
Then we get here.
And we end up in foreclosure.
And we end up in the Collier Parkway Chili's, too many nights, too many Blue Moons, too many chicken tacos, alone at the end of the bar, anonymous regulars who share ZIP codes and parking lots.
And we end up in that every-evening clog on State Road 54, too many people, too little pavement, creeping past the car dealerships, the fast-food places, all those signs on the side of the road telling us where we can eat Italian food, eat Mexican food, eat a bacon burger the size of a hubcap, get a massage, get Reiki, lose fat, lose weight and buy a house somebody's about to lose that MUST sell NOW.
One huge new mall is partially open already, two more huge malls are on the way, and if you think the traffic's hair-pullingly bad now ...
"That's creating stress you probably wouldn't find in other areas in Tampa Bay," said Keith Matter, publisher of Tampa Bay Wellness, the region's "holistic living magazine," which is based - appropriately? ironically? - in Wesley Chapel.
"Construction, new construction," Matter said. "Mainly the roads."
Dr. Pete used to practice in Pennsylvania. He moved down here three years ago to get out of "the rat race." Little did he know.
"I live in Seven Oaks, okay?" he said the other day at the clinic. "When I get up in the morning and walk my dogs, I walk out of my subsection where the gates are, where all the SUVs are parked because the moms drive their SUVs a block and wait with their kids at the bus stop.
"Seems innocuous," he said.
"But when you look at that, there are so many layers built into that one little item. Why don't the moms let their kids walk to the bus stop?"
"So that's one layer," Dr. Pete said.
"The SUVs get bigger and bigger and more expensive. So that's another layer.
"As I'm walking through my neighborhood, I look at the moms, look at the lifestyles with the kids, and moms nowadays raising three kids is a little more complex than moms raising three kids 40 years ago. Our mom would tell us to go into the back yard to play. Now kids are oversaturated - Xbox, Internet, advertising, on and on."
So here in the middle of this is Dr. Pete, Quantum Vitality and the Power Plate.
The Power Plate is used by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the University of Florida Gators, Clint Eastwood, Madonna and Sting, among others. It has a base set close to the ground. The base shakes, and the user sits or stands on the base and does exercises - squats, lunges, crunches, light lifting, whatever.
The Power Plate people say this "advanced vibration technology" makes the exercises harder and therefore more effective, more quickly, so that 10 minutes on the Power Plate is like an hour on a regular cardio machine.
Any exercise, at least indirectly, reduces stress. Being healthy is less stressful than being unhealthy.
Power Plate spokesman Chad Convis says use of the machine reduces the cortisol in the user's body. Cortisol is often called "the stress hormone."
"It's been proven," Convis said.
The first time Hoffman got on the Power Plate, she said, she thought: No way. No way this works.
"But it does," she said. "It does."
Start the shaking.
"For anybody who's busy, it's a quick, fast way to get that relief," said Teri McGinnis, the marketing director of Crown Community Development in Wesley Chapel. "You're just going to come and get on it and let it do its thing."
Its thing: sweat, tone, weight loss ... stress loss.
The other day, Hoffman, 58, a recent move-down from Ohio and a retired human resources manager, which, good God, can be stress city, climbed onto the Power Plate. She did a quick circuit workout off the chart on the wall. It took all of 15 minutes.
"That's it," she said.
But also, at least if we're so inclined to think these ways, well - that might not be it.
"There's something cosmic about the vibrations of this machine," Dr. Pete said.
"It all ties into good vibrations, balancing the body," he said. "It's all about finding that wonderful harmonic fit."
"Everything in the universe vibrates," he said. "Cells vibrate. Things either vibrate well together, or they vibrate poorly together, and whole-body vibration seems to get living things vibrating together at a healthier, more harmonic rate."
The mind wanders to 54 at about 5:02 p.m.
Maybe it's just a bunch of new-age hooey.
Or maybe not.
At least something to think about over those Chili's chicken tacos chased by some 2-for-1 Blue Moons.