Open Forum in The Villages, Florida

Evolution of a Walker: Bonnie Stein's Race Walking Story

September 22, 2023 Mike Roth & Bonnie Stein Season 4 Episode 10
Open Forum in The Villages, Florida
Evolution of a Walker: Bonnie Stein's Race Walking Story
Open Forum in The Villages, Florida
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Lace up your shoes and let's hit the track with Bonnie Stein, a fitness writer, walking consultant, and national master of USA track and field race walking award winner. Bonnie graciously shares the tale of her 38-year journey with race walking, from an injury that sidelined her from running to the way this Olympic sport has kept her fit without causing further harm. And don't worry, this episode isn't all serious, we even share a giggle with a joke for Bonnie's grandson, Evan.

Next, we stride into the science behind the sport with insights from Dr Craig Curtis, highlighting the brain health benefits of moderate exercise like race walking. You'll discover how this activity can lead to changes in body fat and improved breath control. Bonnie provides techniques to supercharge your regular walk, transforming it into a race walk that doesn’t strain your joints. Ready to take your passion for walking a step further? It's time for a chat about shoes. Bonnie and I discuss what to look for in a race walking shoe and the differences between those and running shoes. 

Finally, we roundup our chat by discussing how you can support the show and the benefits that come with it. We also share some short Alzheimer's tips from our major supporter, Dr Craig Curtis. So gear up and join us in this fascinating exploration of race walking, a sport that offers incredible benefits to everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. Don't just stand there, let's get moving!

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Open Forum in The Villages, Florida is Produced & Directed by Mike Roth
A new episode will be released most Fridays at 9 AM
Direct all questions and comments to mike@rothvoice.com

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Emily:

Welcome to the Open Forum in the Villages Florida podcast. In this show we talk to leaders in the community, leaders of clubs and interesting folks who live here in the villages to give perspectives of what is happening here in the villages. We hope to add a new episode most Fridays at 9am. We are a listener supported podcast. You can become a supporter for as little as $3 per month or you can choose to pay more. To become a supporter, go to openforminthevillages. com and click on support in the black box. There will be shoutouts for supporters in episodes. In season 4, we have made some dramatic improvements and changes. First is a clarification of the podcast's title. It is Open Forum in The Villages, Florida. To make clear that this is a regional show, independently produced for folks who live in central Florida and the villages areas. It is a dramatic increase in the use of AI in the creation of each episode. In fact, the show's announcers are now all AI voices, including me, Emily. Hope you enjoy.

Mike Roth:

This is Mike Roth on Open Forum in the Villages, Florida. I'm here today with Bonnie Stein and we're going to be talking about her little business advocate or hobby in race walking today. Thanks for joining me, Bonnie.

Bonnie Stein:

You're welcome, Mike. Glad to be here.

Mike Roth:

Bonnie's been a fitness instructor and she's also a native of Florida. Bonnie is a national master of USA track and field race walking award winner. I didn't know there was an award for race walking.

Bonnie Stein:

Oh my goodness, wait till, I tell you about that.

Mike Roth:

Okay, she's a certified personal training specialist, a fitness writer and a walking consultant. That's a real strange title walking consultant so we'll talk more about that. Bonnie's also been a recipient of the national master's award in presidential sports award programming and has published more than 300 articles on walking and fitness. Bonnie's been featured on numerous news programs and other media, including CNN, the Tampa Tribune, the St Pete Times, Tampa Bay, Channel 10, Channel 13, Fox News, Atlanta Journal Constitution. Good Day Atlanta. I thought you were a native of Florida. How'd you get on? Good Day Atlanta.

Bonnie Stein:

I lived in Atlanta for just six years, six long years.

Mike Roth:

Okay, she's been in prevention magazine, self magazine, walking magazine, women's sports and fitness magazine, Sesame Street Parents' magazine. Bonnie's been actively teaching race walking classes. In fact, she still teaches in the Enrichment Academy. That's right, when's the next class you're going to do in the Enrichment?

Bonnie Stein:

Academy. Next session is in the fall for the race walking and aerobic walking classes.

Mike Roth:

Okay, that's good. I decided to skip the fall session for the Enrichment Academy's Podcasting 101 and we're going to do it in February instead. Bonnie lives here in the villages. I'm surprised in your list of newspapers you don't list your column in the Daily Sun.

Bonnie Stein:

Yeah, I should have done that for sure. I do write a monthly column in the Daily Sun on fitness and walking and wellness and well-being and mind-body connection. All that is there once a month on a Wednesday.

Mike Roth:

I have a great curiosity why did you start in fitness and race walking?

Bonnie Stein:

You mean 38 years ago.

Mike Roth:

I don't mean last week.

Bonnie Stein:

Okay, 38 years ago I was still running. I don't know if you ever were a runner, Mike.

Mike Roth:

I hated running.

Bonnie Stein:

You hated running. Okay, well, I didn't love running that much, but I had gained a lot of weight. For me it was a lot of weight. I'd gained 20 pounds while I was in college, and when I got out of college there wasn't a whole lot of options available. So I started running because that seemed like a good way to take some weight off. And sure enough it was. I did take that 20 pounds off.

Bonnie Stein:

I also tore the meniscus in my right knee after a while and couldn't run anymore, and an orthopedic surgeon back then suggested to me why don't I try fast walking? And so I thought I would do it just temporarily till I could get back to running, because I never thought back then that walking could be as good of a fitness workout as running was, and I wasn't sure it could keep my weight off, although he seemed to be convinced. And so I did that walking, I thought, temporarily, but it turned into 38 years later. Here I am still race walking, partly because I haven't been injured in 38 years and secondly because not only did I keep that running weight off, but I ended up actually losing more weight with walking than I had with running.

Mike Roth:

Well, you're looking real good.

Bonnie Stein:

Well, thank you.

Mike Roth:

I always like to put a joke into the shows for my grandson, Evan, and I'll give you one of my favorite little riddles here. What kind of music do mummies listen to?

Bonnie Stein:

I should know this one, Mike, but I don't.

Mike Roth:

It's rap music.

Bonnie Stein:

Oh dear.

Mike Roth:

I hope you like that one, Evan. Anyway, Bonnie, can you explain to our listeners exactly what race walking is?

Bonnie Stein:

sure most people have no idea that race walking is an olympic sport. But, even more surprising than race walking being an olympic sport, race walking has been an olympic sport since nineteen, oh eight, in the summer olympics. Every single time that the US participates in race walk in the olympics, race walking is part of the olympics. Now here in the villages, even though I do teach their actual olympics sport of race walking, the class is more for fitness. You could use those techniques and end up competing if you chose to. However, I would say that ninety percent of the people who take a An aerobic walking beginning race walking class here in the villages are doing it really for the fitness benefits. Many of them are former runners who have been injured, like I was thirty eight years ago, and are now doing it for something comparable to running. That gives them the same kind of fitness benefits that running does, minus the injuries that brings up a question in my mind money.

Mike Roth:

what's the difference from a definition perspective between race walking fast which I guess you have to do in the olympics and just running?

Bonnie Stein:

you are so right about. You have to race walk fast in the olympics. However, people here in the villages are always curious about how fast they have to be to be a race walker, and the interesting thing is that the rules of official race walking have nothing in it at all about how fast you have to go, does have two rules that differentiate race walking from anything else, and one of those rules answers your question. The first rule says that to be to race walk, you must have one foot on the ground at all times. Now that, of course, differentiates race walking from what do you suppose? From running, because in running you don't have to have one foot off the ground at all times. In running, there's one foot on the ground at all times. In running, there's always going to be that in flight stage, where both feet are off the ground. However, in race walking, one foot must be on the ground at all times. Now, that is also very similar to regular walking, because regular walkers have one foot on the ground at all times to.

Mike Roth:

So that first rule of race walking differentiates race walking from running, as Answers your question okay, and is there natural tendency for people, as they race, walk faster, to want to get both feet on the ground, off the ground?

Bonnie Stein:

Not any villager that could go at a villager kind of pace. Let's put it that way in order to be. Some of our Olympic race walkers are walking so fast that they might be in danger of having both feet off the ground because they're moving so very fast. However, here at this level, if somebody is walking and they, you have to get under a nine minute mile, and that you know. That is challenging for our normal villagers to walk at under a nine minute mile. Having said that, I want to say, mike, that the best benefits of race walking really have nothing at all to do with racing, which is why 90% of the people that take a beginning race walking and a roving walking class here in the villages are doing it for the benefits of enhancing their walking, to get more out of their walking, not because they necessarily want to race, so they do not have to.

Bonnie Stein:

I don't teach A certain pace, I don't teach going fast, I teach the Olympic techniques and then you do it at the level that's right for you. If you are a swapping, using the techniques, you could be going at a 10 minute mile, a 12 minute mile, a 15 minute mile and 18 minute mile, 20 minute mile, it doesn't matter what your pace is. Even the Olympic definition of race walking doesn't say anything at all about how fast you have to go to be a race walker. It's about using the techniques that make you a race walker, not about how fast you go how fast is the regular villager walk?

Mike Roth:

what's the average that you've seen?

Bonnie Stein:

Once they master the race walking techniques, they practice it. They master it depending on their age and their fitness level. Many race walkers, many students I've had, can walk at 12 minute mile or under or faster. It really depends on your own fitness. Let's say you're a walker and you go out and you walk in the villages and you're walking at I don't know a 16 minute mile and 18 minute mile and you want to get fitness benefits out of your walking. There are many people here in the villages that are walking for exercise. In fact the national sporting goods council says more people do exercise walking, some version of exercise, walking, from Strolling all the way to race walking. More people do that than any other fitness activity in the world walking I see a lot of them here in the village is I'm walking.

Bonnie Stein:

So there's that difference of I'm just going out for a walk because my doctor told me to walk, because it's gonna be good for my health, and I'm 100% advocate of any kind of walking. Any kind of walking you do, mike, is gonna be better than no walking at all, better than sitting in your recliner and watching TV. So, yes, get out and walk more often. However, there may get to be a point where somebody wants their walking to be more productive than just for their health. What do I mean just for your health, although that's that's pretty good for your health. Benefits are things like Lowering in blood pressure, a lowering in the total cholesterol, a raise in the HDL cholesterol the kind we want more of, the good kind of mood elevation, just feeling better and sleeping better and diabetes prevention. All those things are what we call health benefits, and all those happen when you just get out and walk every single day.

Mike Roth:

Every single day.

Bonnie Stein:

I recommend every single day.

Mike Roth:

And how long?

Bonnie Stein:

Depending on if you're doing other fitness activities. So, for example, best to just go out and let's say, let's say you're involved in other things let's say you also play pickleball and you do other activities during the day, maybe take a Zumba class Then I recommend that you just go out and do 20 minutes of walking after your dinner meal. So that's the best time to do casual walking Absolutely Because that's the best time that prevents diabetes. One of my future articles here in the villages is going to be about how to prevent diabetes with walking, and the key is not extreme aerobic walking, but just walk. Just go out and walk after you eat, and people have been able to completely either eliminate their diabetes medicine if they will walk after every single meal.

Bonnie Stein:

After every meal After every single meal, eliminate. But even if you just walked after your dinner meal 20 minutes, that's it that would be good enough for helping to reduce the risk of diabetes. Now I want to get back to the idea of the difference between walking for health and walking for fitness, because I was mentioning a whole bunch of health benefits and for that all you need to do is go out and walk at perhaps the pace that most villages are walking at, kind of a casual. It's what I call Disney World Walking pace.

Mike Roth:

Disney World, that's a good word for it.

Bonnie Stein:

Yeah, you're walking meaningfully, but not trying to raise your breathing and raise your heart rate. You're just out there walking. While that's good, you're not going to get any fitness benefits at all from regular walking like that.

Mike Roth:

Okay, from Disney World Walking. So you brought me to my next question what is the difference between race walking and regular walking?

Bonnie Stein:

So the difference between race walking and regular walking might be just the difference between the rules, the official rules of race walking. However, let's take that out of the equation a moment and say the difference between learning how to walk at a pace that gives you fitness benefits versus learning how to walk at the pace that most villagers might be doing right now, which is what we call Disney World Walking. If you ramp up your walking to raise your breathing, raise your heart rate, raise your core body temperature all three of those things then you're going to be doing aerobic walking or aerobic race walking. You're going to be walking in a way. That is what we call aerobic and gives you the fitness benefits. When you raise those three things all together your heart rate, your breathing and your core body temperature all together and you keep it raised for 20 minutes minimum then all of a sudden, fitness adaptations start changing inside of your body.

Bonnie Stein:

We start losing more body fat, we start being able to walk stairs and not get out of breath. Those kind of things are what we call fitness adaptations. You're going to get a whole lot more benefits if you could walk at an aerobic pace. That's what I teach in the beginning race walking classes, even for somebody who has no desire to ever race in their life. You may have no desire to race, but if you learn how to walk at a higher fitness level, then you're going to get those fitness adaptations within your body. That is going to help you, not even just body-wise, but mentally, cognitively. Our brain changes the fitter we get.

Mike Roth:

This is a great place to take a break and listen to Dr Craig Curtis talk about one of his Alzheimer's tips. Dr Curtis, in past tips you've told our listeners to walk is a good exercise five days a week. Is there any other exercise that they can do which will be beneficial to their brains, which is not going to be terribly exerting or can be accomplished by people who have weak hip joints or weak knee joints or shoulder joints?

Dr. Craig Curtis:

Absolutely Any type of exercise what we call moderate exercise can help brain health, such as a stationary bicycle, Simply peddling a stationary bicycle. It's very low stress on the joints, it's very good for your heart and very good for your brain. Thank you.

Warren:

With over 20 years of experience studying brain health, Dr Curtis's goal is to educate the village's community on how to live a longer, healthier life. To learn more, visit his website, craigcurtismdcom, or call 352-500-5252 to attend a free seminar.

Mike Roth:

Bonnie before we took the break, you were talking about fitness aspects of race walking. To me it sounded like if someone just walked faster, maybe took bigger steps, that would do the trick.

Bonnie Stein:

Great question. First of all, if you walk faster, don't take bigger steps. That's one thing we don't want to do. It's a myth that taking bigger steps will make you faster. Bigger steps will make you out of breath quicker, but it won't do anything to enhance your walking at all. In fact, taking bigger steps puts extra stress on the knees, puts extra stress on your back, puts extra stress on your hamstrings. So that's one of the other things in class.

Bonnie Stein:

We focus on how to walk at a faster pace more safely, without putting any stress on your knees or your back. The further out in front of your body that you put that leg, think about you have a more inefficient lever out there Every time you step way out further from your body with that bigger step. That's what a lot of people think. They think that, oh, if I want to walk faster, I'll just take a bigger step. However, that bigger step puts stress, as I said, on certain parts of your body. Instead, learning some of the race walking techniques can help you get that increased speed that you might want without any stress whatsoever.

Mike Roth:

Bonnie, can you give our listeners a race walking technique here? That would make sense.

Bonnie Stein:

I could, and without a visual, I can say it. I'm not sure it'll be clear, but you can decide if it's clear or not. When you step out, you want to take your whole entire body with you, not just put that foot. I had a feeling by the look on your face, mike, that it wasn't going to be a tip that you were going to be able to get. In other words, think about your whole body as one unit. Instead of stepping out with your legs further in front of your body, when you step out with that leg, make sure that your whole body is right there with it.

Mike Roth:

So you want to move your center of gravity.

Bonnie Stein:

You want to move the center of your gravity, which most people don't even know whether their center of gravity is. But that's part of what you'll learn in class is how to make your walking easier, more effective, safer, less stressful on your knees and back and hips and more productive more fitness benefits as well by utilizing the techniques and styles of the Olympic race walker.

Mike Roth:

So tell our listeners a little bit more about your Enrichment Academy course on race walking.

Bonnie Stein:

In case they can't get that idea of what we said about moving out further, because without a visual, let me give you one that I think you can get first, and then I'll talk about the Enrichment Academy, if that's okay. Imagine this when you're walking. This is one that people will be able to see more easily. Think about how most people walk with their arms hanging down by their side right. So that's how I see most villagers walk when they're out doing their walking during the day. When you walk with your arms by your side, you have these two long pendulums hanging down and long.

Bonnie Stein:

Pendulums are slow pendulums. If you think about a pendulum on a grandfather clock the longer that pendulum arm is, the longer it's going to take to move from one side to the other. Well, since our arms and legs move in perfect synchronization, the longer that pendulum arm is, the longer it's going to take for your legs to catch up. So one easy technique that anybody can do is shorten their pendulum arms simply by bending their arms at the elbows. If you bend your arms now, your pendulum goes from your shoulder to your elbow, as opposed from the shoulder to the fingers, and now you have a shorter, faster pendulum, and when my arms can move faster through that range of motion, my legs are going to be able to follow along. In other words, I'm going to be biomechanically quicker without trying Without, as you said, take a great bigger step. I don't have to take a bigger step because my arms and legs are trying to match up to each other.

Mike Roth:

Okay, so you kind of hold your elbows at a 90 degree angle.

Bonnie Stein:

That's right. That's right. So now that leads in perfectly to answering the question what's going on in the Enrichment Academy?

Mike Roth:

How many sessions are there? What are the next class states coming up?

Bonnie Stein:

Okay, be happy to talk about that. Class is called aerobic walking and race walking for beginners, and it's supposed to be clear by that name that you're going to learn benefits and techniques that teach you how to enhance your walking, to make it more of a walking workout, without resorting to running or other things. If you don't want to run, there's many people here in the villages. There's a great running club. If you love running, running is for you. If you can't run like I tour my meniscus and can't run, or don't want to run anymore, this is a way to get just the same benefits. It's a six-week class, meets once a week for six weeks.

Mike Roth:

How long is each session?

Bonnie Stein:

Every session is an hour and 45 minutes, but don't be afraid of that, mike, because you're not going to be forced to walk for an hour and 45 minutes. In fact, every single class we have a different lecture component that pertains either to walking and race walking specifically, or something about fitness in general. For example, in that class they're going to learn how to pick the proper walking shoe for them for the rest of their life. The shoe store happens to be in Colony Plaza on 466A, and it's Fleet Feet that's the name of the store.

Mike Roth:

So is it a question of fit and a question of the sole and the absorbency of the blows of walking past?

Bonnie Stein:

So you learn features to look for in the shoe. There's a whole bunch of features that we want that are different. Yes, some running shoes are going to be perfectly appropriate for a race walker, but not all running shoes. Some running shoes are way inappropriate. For example, a running shoe that has that huge thick sole. I see a lot of people wearing a brand right now that I won't mention because I have nothing good to say about it because unfortunately they do a great marketing job and lots of people are wearing their shoes. But that shoe is way too thick of a sole for any walkers, and especially not for race walkers.

Mike Roth:

Why would a thick sole be bad?

Bonnie Stein:

Sounds good A thick sole would be bad because it makes the shoe so stiff that you cannot bend your feet. And in race walking we want you to have flexibility of your feet and be able to bend your feet. In fact, I'm going to say I teach another class in the villages called Walk Better, move Better, feel Better. That's also part of the Enrichment Academy. It's techniques of good walking to enhance our posture, to enhance our balance, to keep us from tripping and falling. That's a class that has no aerobic walking components. So if there's people in the villages that want to learn better walking techniques but don't want to have the aerobic walking component, that walk better, move better, feel better class may be a good fit for them.

Bonnie Stein:

And we want to reteach our feet how to bend our feet. Used to know how to bend really well when we were babies. Just watch, baby, how they bend their feet and take their feet and put it in their mouth. They can really be flexible. But as we get older we tend to lose flexibility, partly because we don't practice flexibility and partly because we're not conscious of bending our feet. So our feet get less and less flexible as we get older, to the point that we can no longer bend our feet and then we start shuffling. And when you start shuffling, when you don't lift your foot high enough and you start getting your foot closer and closer and closer to the ground, the next step will be tripping and falling that's correct.

Bonnie Stein:

so in the beginning race walking class we learn techniques that not only help us walk faster but be safer in terms of what I just explained body if someone actually wanted to take your course and then actually begin race walking at.

Mike Roth:

Is there actually a club for race walking here in the villages?

Bonnie Stein:

as soon as you Start to learn the techniques like you become a race walker. It doesn't matter if all you do is go out and race walk in your neighborhood or race walk at one of the many fabulous walking paths we have in the villages, that doesn't matter. If you are using the techniques Of race walking, you don't have to be in a race, you are a race walker when you are out and about. And yes, we do have a, we do have a club here in the villages. We also you asked about when the classes start. The next session of classes starts in the fall. Next Session starts in the fall and the new brochure will be out in September, mid September.

Bonnie Stein:

And also let me throw out a plug, if anybody wants to find out more information about not just my class, about any of the classes, our enrichment Academy expo Is coming up in September. It'll be at Rohan rec center and you'll see it in the daily sun. It'll be advertised, the new brochure will come out and there'll be a whole bunch of classes, not just the aerobic walking and beginning race walking, not just the walk better, move, better, feel better class, but all the great classes that we have. Teachers and then richman Academy teaching will be part of that that's good.

Mike Roth:

That's good. I may actually bring down a microphone and walk around and talk to some of the instructors as part of the open forum in the villages.

Bonnie Stein:

Podcast that be a great idea, and it's a great idea for all villagers to come out and do just what you just said is talk to the instructors, ask questions, see what the instructors have available and, gosh, come by my table and come say hello to me, because I'll be there as well and I'll be happy to answer any questions on walking so body.

Mike Roth:

is there one point that you'd like people to take away from this Experience of listening that would help their health?

Bonnie Stein:

I would like to add don't let the word race walking scare you. Some people hear that word and think, oh no, I can't walk fast or I want to race. I'm not the competitive type. Don't let that word scare you. The best thing about race walking has nothing at all to do with racing. The best thing about race walking is that you will learn techniques and tips that will enhance your walking. So, if you're ready, enjoy walking in the villages. You will learn six new walking techniques in the class and you will learn how to make your walk more of a fitness walk, get more benefits out of your walking and learn how to stay safe with your walking and injury free for ever.

Mike Roth:

Good body. People want to get a hold of you before the enrichment academy expo. How should they do that?

Bonnie Stein:

well, every single semester there's going to be a beginning race walking classes part. So if it's after the fall session, will have it in the winter session, will have a next spring session, next summer. We have it every single time. If they want so there's always they can always reach me through the enrichment academy. They're always welcome to email me as well at Bonnie at a swalker dot com. That's b o n n I e. At a c e w a l k e r dot com. And if you forget that, catch my monthly column In the daily sun, where my email is always in there. In fact, if you have a question on walking, feel free to send it in when you read that column, because I use the questions that I get to think about future articles to write for the daily sun. So I've written an article on Plantar fasciitis, on how to stay injury free with your walking, on how to move your arms to get more of an effective workout. So all those things happen because you all send me in your questions.

Mike Roth:

So please continue. Let me ask you one last question, bonnie. Over in the Lake Miona Recreation Center they spent a lot of money and built a new walking trail I think it's called Black Lake and it's got a padded surface. It's like recycled tires lured together. What do you think of that as a walking surface?

Bonnie Stein:

I love that path and I am hoping that somewhere around the villages in this area, in this section because there's a lot of walking paths with regular asphalt south of 44, I would love to see more of those recycled-tired walking paths all over the villages because, yes, they are very safe on your joints. And I want to add, though, here that, because walking is not a very compressive activity, the way running is. With running, we come off the ground, so when we come back onto the ground, we're coming on with three to six times our body weight and force on our back and our knees.

Mike Roth:

There's a big bounce there.

Bonnie Stein:

But with walking and race walking, we never leave the ground. One foot is on the ground at all times, so, as a result, you don't have those impact forces. When we're race walking, our impact force is one and a quarter to one and a half times our body weight, significantly less than leaving the ground. Therefore, it matters less what surface you are walking on. You can walk on concrete, you can walk on asphalt and you can walk on that fabulous new Black Lake Trail and it's not going to make as much of a difference, but it feels good. People like the feeling of that softer surface, so I'm a big lover of that surface and I want more of them here in the villages. Nevertheless, if you just walk in your own neighborhood on sidewalk or asphalt, you'd be doing your body some great benefit.

Mike Roth:

Thanks for joining us today, Bonnie.

Emily:

Remember our next episode will be released next Friday at 9am. Should you want to become a major supporter of the show or have questions, please contact us at mikeatrothvoic. e. com. This is a shout out for supporters Greg Panjian, Tweet Coleman, Dan Kapellan, Ed Williams, Alvin Stenzel and major supporter Dr Craig Curtis at K2 in the villages. We will be hearing more from Dr Curtis with short Alzheimer's tips each week. If you know someone who should be on the show, contact us at mikeatrothvoice. com. We thank everyone for listening to the show. The content of the show is copyrighted by Rothvoice 2023, all rights reserved.

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