Girl power: bending the gender rules

There’s a new rule at the Shaolin Epo Wushu College: girls are allowed to attend as well. But this isn’t just any school: not only do they have to pass their exams with flying colors, they also have to follow a very strict Kung Fu training schedule.

The school gives children a chance to learn as well. There are about 8,000 students, some as young as 3. At first the school only allowed boys, but now it allows girls as well. Shaolin Epo schoolgirls have no time to sip tea and play with dolls though. Instead, they train with fists, swords, daggers, and other weapons everyday. The girls are treated the same as the boys, everyone lives in the same Spartan conditions. Many students live in the same room, meals are very modest, and there’s only one parental visit a week. Girls and boys alike have to toughen up and focus on their goal of becoming a skilled warrior.

Life in the school can be hard, but these girls fight just as well as the boys. The bar is set very high and there are no exceptions for those who fall behind. Nevertheless, despite the hurdles along the way and the unrelenting schedule, every girl soldiers on determined to make her parents, teachers, and country proud.

I love that girls are being given the same chances as boys. Gender equality makes me happy. Anything you can do I can do better. Did you know that I trained in Praying Mantis Kung Fu for 6 years? I recently left my school but plan on finding a new school after I run the Chicago Marathon. I feel like Kung Fu teaches so much more than just how to defend yourself.

Watch the documentary below and let me know what you think about it. Have you practiced martial arts? If so, which type? Would you send your kid to this school? Or if you’re like me, would you attend this school?

Science of Exercise

A recent study has shown how exercise benefits the body on a cellular level. What’s even cooler is that it found what type of exercise that’s best for boosting cell health. Have you heard of High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? If you have, you likely know that it’s one of the best ways to train. Now with recent research, we know it has even more benefits on the cellular level.

Published in Cell Metabolism (2017; 25[3], 581-92), the study included 36 men and 36 women categorized as “young” (18 to 30 years old) or “older” (65 to 80 years old). Each participant was assigned to one of three training programs for 12 weeks: HIIT on an indoor bike; strength training with weights; or a combination of both. Scientists took muscle biopsies from the volunteers (plucked some samples) and then compared the results with those from a sedentary control group.


Data showed that the exercise groups experienced improvements in cellular function and in the ability of mitochondria to generate energy. This adds to the evidence that exercise slows the aging process at a cellular level. Muscle mass and insulin sensitivity improved with all three training protocols, but outcomes did vary. “HIIT revealed a more robust increase in gene transcripts than other exercise modalities, particularly in older adults,” according to the authors. HIIT increased mitochondrial capacity by 49% in the young group and 69% in the older group.

“HIIT reversed many age-related differences in the proteome, particularly of mitochondrial proteins in concert with increased mitochondrial protein synthesis.”

For best benefit though, a combination of HIIT and strength training is still recommended since HIIT alone doesn’t increase strength and muscle mass like the strength training protocol does.

What does this all mean for you? The take home message is for aging adults that supervised HIIT is best since it confers the most benefits both metabolically and at the molecular level. This is all according to K. Sreekumaran Nair, MD, PhD from the study linked above.

Do you partake in HIIT training? What about strength training? Do you notice benefits from it? While you may not feel your cells changing, they are the building blocks to living things. And once again: do you even science, bro? 🙂


This past week was the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2017 which was held in sunny San Antonio, TX. Among the trending topics at the conference was coding in the classroom. There’s a movement called Girls Who Code led by Reshma Saujani, who was one of the keynote speakers this past week. Tech jobs are among the fastest growing ion the country, yet girls are being left behind. Girls Who Code’s mission is to help close the gender gap in technology.

Another cool note to mention is that Chicagoland’s very own Jennie Magiera was one of the other keynote speakers. She is the chief innovation officer at Des Plaines Public Schools in Chicago and the author of Courageous EdventuresShe believes that despite the many challenges facing schools today, every classroom can be a place for what she calls “edventures:” student-centered, passion-based experiential learning. With this in mind, Magiera’s work centers on acknowledging problems and finding innovative ways to navigate them, freeing up teachers and students to dive into classroom edventures.

Overall, a successful conference. The future of education and technology is exciting as always. What was your favorite part of this past week? Were you following the talks on twitter like I was? #ISTE17 in case you didn’t catch it. Do you work in the field of education? If so, do you feel like things are changing for the better or worse?