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Media Contacts

Debby Herbenick
Department of Applied Health Science

Carol Kennedy
Department of Kinesiology

Bryan Stednitz
Division of Recreational Sports

Tracy James
IU Media Relations

Living Well

Health and wellness tips from Indiana University

Online Purchase

Many people feel more comfortable buying sex toys online than in stores.

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Living Well for November discusses the following topics:

Educational opportunities associated with buying sex toys
Small groups sharing the cost and expertise of a personal trainer
The fitness industry turning the tables on technology

Sex toys, Oh, my! A sexual enhancement product may be just the ticket for tuning up your sex life this coming year, but the idea of buying one can be daunting. "Not all women and men feel comfortable shopping at adult retail stores in their community," said Debby Herbenick, a researcher and lecturer in Indiana University Bloomington's Department of Applied Health Science. "Our research suggests that many individuals feel more comfortable purchasing sexual enhancement products either online or, for women, through in-home sex toy parties." Herbenick and Michael Reece, director of IUB's Sexual Health Research Working Group, direct research related to the sexual health education opportunities available through adult book stores, Web sites and in-home parties. Many people, said Herbenick, find it difficult to talk about their sexual health, even with their family doctors, so potential health problems or issues related to personal satisfaction can go unaddressed. SHRWG research has found that, in many cases, customers are able to obtain accurate sexual health information in a discreet setting through retail stores and in-home parties that sell sex toys.

  • Retail stores: "Many adult retail stores, particularly those geared toward women and couples, offer educational classes related to deepening your relationship, flirting tips for singles, as well as sexual skills and techniques," said Herbenick. Examples of such shops include Good Vibrations in San Francisco and Brookline, Mass; Early to Bed in Chicago; and Babeland in New York and Los Angeles, all of which sell merchandise through their Web sites.
  • Parties: In-home sex toy parties provide a range of opportunities for women, while among a small group of women, to ask questions related to sexual enhancement products. "In addition to purchasing products such as massage creams and vibrators, our research suggests that women who attend these parties use the opportunity to seek out information about a range of sexual health topics from the party facilitators," said Herbenick. "They ask questions about anything ranging from genital pain, referrals for couples counseling or how to alleviate sexual side effects from cancer treatment."
  • Make it fun: The overarching element of these parties is about fun and exploring one's sexuality in a safe and comfortable environment. And there is definitely a high degree of interest in popular products such as clitoral vibrators, g spot vibrators and heightening creams to increase sensation for both women and men. Information about in-home parties can be found at, or

Herbenick can be reached at 812-855-0364 or For more information about SHRWG, visit Top

A personal trainer for me and 10 of my closest friends? Personal trainers can help guide clients through the ever-expanding fitness industry and help them make sense of the rapidly growing body of new exercise research, yet the price tag, from $35 to $100 or more an hour, make their services out-of-reach for many. A new trend, however, has small groups of people hiring a trainer, with the benefits extending beyond the split fee. "It's cheaper and after your sessions end, you can go to the gym and do it together instead of paying someone to help you," said Carol Kennedy, a lecturer in IU Bloomington's Department of Kinesiology. "People who exercise with someone are more likely to stick with it." Kennedy said the fitness industry has become so diverse, with so many different kinds of equipment, that people often don't know where to begin. A personal trainer can "bring them back to the basics." Trainers can help their clients do their routines correctly from the start, avoiding myths and outdated practices, such as the potentially harmful idea of "No pain, no gain," and stretching before warmups.

Kennedy offers these suggestions:

  • Everyone in the group should have the same goals and be at the same level to get the most out of the personal trainer sessions. Otherwise, the trainer will need to split her time between different people, or some in the group will either be overwhelmed or bored.
  • Check the philosophy of the club or trainer concerning independence. Kennedy encouraged her students to develop independence in their personal trainer clients so the clients eventually can do their workouts on their own and won't need the trainers anymore. Some clubs encourage dependence, thus a longer financial commitment, by having their trainers adjust equipment and take care of other measures integral to the workout.
  • Check the trainer's certification. Kennedy suggests hiring trainers who are certified by the American Council on Exercise, American College of Sports Medicine or the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
  • Group exercise classes can provide similar benefits -- knowledgeable instruction and social motivation. Kennedy, who also leads a popular strength-training group exercise class for IU faculty and staff, said the range of group exercise classes have expanded far beyond the traditional bouncy aerobics classes to include yoga, Pilates, strength training, cycling, kickboxing and many other interests. Anyone interested in a class can check the qualifications of the instructor beforehand.

Kennedy can be reached at 812-855-6083 or Top

Wrist global positioning system

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When in Rome, do as the Romans do. The fitness industry has ramped up its integration of technology and fitness as a way to both attract customers and clients and then to keep them. Video game bikes, audio and video workout podcasts, and global positioning systems are old school to the generation of exercisers who grew up on video games and little outdoor activity. That's what this generation is about," said Bryan Stednitz, assistant director of fitness and wellness for IU Bloomington's Division of Recreational Sports. "They've grown up with game systems and technology involved with every aspect of their lives." Over the last 20 years, low exercise adherence rates have seen little improvement. Stednitz said technology is partly to blame for society becoming less active, so now manufacturers and fitness clubs are turning the tables on technology. Below are some examples of what's available:

  • Online services, such as, exist to supplement weekly sessions with a personal trainer or serve as a substitute for them, often catering to the needs of clients who travel a lot. Some online services, such as, offer free streaming workout music, workout podcasts and other exercise tips.
  • A variety of gadgets, such as pedometers, GPS mapping systems and heart-rate monitors help people keep track of their workouts and note progress. Some of these items can download data to computers for storage and comparisons. Stednitz said tracking progress can be more fun and motivating than exercising at random or without specific goals.
  • Higher-end exercise equipment, such as treadmills and elliptical macines, incorporate LCD screens for television and other broadcasts. Some equipment, such as video game bikes, morph fitness with video games by allowing the user to manipulate the activity in the video game through their activity on the exercise bike. Schools across the country have begun using the dance video game Dance Dance Revolution to motivate students to be more active.
  • Fitness clubs and recreational services such as IU's Division of Recreational Sports can record clients' fitness assessment results using special software that allows for future comparisons through detailed reports. Stednitz said computer kiosks are becoming more common at fitness clubs as clients become more interested in tracking their progress.

Stednitz can be reached at 812-855-7772 or Top

For further assistance with these tips, contact Tracy James, 812-855-0084 or

EDITORS: This monthly tipsheet is based on Indiana University faculty research, teaching and service. "Living Well Through Healthy Lifestyles" is the guiding philosophy of IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. In keeping with that philosophy, this tipsheet offers information related to both physical and mental well-being. Faculty in other IU schools and departments also contribute their expertise in this area.