Tuesday, 26 January 2016

How to deal with resolutioners!

It's January and most gyms are starting to kick back into life with the sound of weights crashing, people grunting and high 5ing a personal best. If you work in the industry it's both the best and the worst time to be in a gym.
The worst because your chances of seeing sunlight are greatly diminished, breaks become a myth only spoken about in legend and your own training plans get waved goodbye to until at least St. Patrick's Day (March 17th for the non-Irish).
The best because you get to see people fired up and driven to reach their goals. There is a real sense of urgency and passion in the air. People have goals and have resolved to get there. They may not know how to get there but they are going to try!
Amongst the hard core gym heads come all the newbies, armed with magazine articles and energy these are the people who make me really excited to work in a gym. Unfortunately they don't seem to be as popular with the hard core gym crowd, and a common question I hear from the wannabe hard core guys is "so when are all the resolutioners gonna quit?" I'd be lying if I hadn't asked that question myself on occasion. Nothing upsets me more than getting fired up to go commit an act of violence in the squat rack only to find someone bicep curling or bench pressing in there! Honestly I'd like to commit another act of violence right there but that isn't going to get me anywhere. So I came up with a strategy to deal with the resolutioners and it works!
1. Introduce yourself, a strange concept I know. Start with some thing simple, like" Hi, I'm (insert name) I haven't seen you in here before." (Very important here to resist the urge to tell them why you think deadlifting in a smith machine is wrong!)
2. Wait for the answer. Knowing somebody's name is a great start to any conversation.
3. So I see your working on (insert body part) have you tried doing (insert x basic variant). Note: if your doing the same body part ask them do they want to join you.
4. If you ask them to join in and they say "yes". Now is your chance to finally reach the hallowed status of bro-fessor!!! It's your chance to impart knowledge and experience, and as an added bonus you might gain a new lifting bro.!
5. If they say "no" don't take it personally and go cry, it probably means they don't want to do it just yet. Keep saying "Hi" when you see them and ask how they are doing. They may not become a lifting bro, but it makes they gym a nicer place for everybody.
So next time you see a resolutioner don't just roll your eyes, remember we were all like that until we learned, usually from the bigger, stronger guys who showed us the way.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Something for nothing

Ok so you’re doing mobility exercises until you can tie yourself in a knot. Taking protein, glutamine, creatine and bcaa's at the correct times in the correct amounts. You have even started weighing your food to make sure it's all in the correct proportions for you. Your meals and workouts are timed to the nano-second so that everything is optimal.

Here is a better question to ask: WHY?

Exercise and diet are our best weapons in the fight for our health and wellbeing so it makes sense that we should use the best tools available to get the desired result.

So why are we doing what we do? One of the biggest influencers of our workouts is the feel good factor. Its why many of us start going to the gym and what keeps all of us going when things are tough and not always going our way. Sure, it feels pretty awesome to hit a 150cm box jump or hold a hand stand, but if your goal is to lose weight then, they can become a distraction and pretty quick you have lost sight of why you started. No matter how good it feels to do these things hitting your goal feels way better!

Cool as it might be to be a 5ft tall, 120 kg guy who can do big jumps and hand stands, but it's not why you started and all the Facebook likes in the world don't help you shed the kilos. Testing yourself is good, in fact it's a cornerstone of success, however the test needs to be appropriate to the goal so it gives us a marker along the way. If your goal is to get stronger then measure strength, lose weight then measure body fat. Having great cardio fitness won't help you bench press your body weight. Keep it relevant.

We all want something for nothing but we in the gym we only get out what we put in. Don't waste time and energy doing something for nothing when it could be better spent elsewhere.


Monday, 26 January 2015

3 Tips to improve your workout

We are still in January and the new year fitness regimen has become a feature of are daily routine. Well done! Starting is the hard part. Now I'm going to share three tips to help you get the very best from your workouts.

1. Warm up.

Warm up is key, there are two main reasons to warm up. First and most importantly it helps to prevent injury, we train to make ourselves better and injuries are not part of that!
The warm up also helps prepare us physically and mentally for our workout. A combination of mobility drills (pay special attention to areas that are usually tight) and some specific movements related to the workout your about to do, eg. If your going to bench press do some press ups and band pulls as a part of the warm. When you hit the bench you should be fired up and ready to go.

2. Have a plan.

When I talk to most people in the gym my first question is "What's your plan?" The answers are always interesting but one thing that surprises me is how often people don't actually have one. You don't get on a train without knowing which way its heading, so why is the gym any different?
Think about what you want, ask questions, read up and develop a strategy for getting there. Other wise you end up going round in circles.

3. Don't do something for nothing.

OK so the burpee to box jump timed set is your go to move in the gym. Its the crowning glory of your workout that makes you feel like an absolute beast, but if it isn't getting you closer to your goal then its about as much use as a chocolate tea pot. Remember keep focused and keep working towards the goal. No matter how impressive an exercise is achieving your goals is a much greater feeling.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Blue Monday and beyond

So we are at the third Monday in January, the bank balance is low, its cold, still dark in the mornings. Christmas and new year are a distant memory and the resolutions we made with such enthusiasm are taking a back seat. No wonder this day is considered the most depressing day of the year.
Some good news though things get better, after all if this is the most depressing day it can't get any worse! We are still only 19 days into the year that's 346.25 more opportunities to make the right choices. Here are a few strategies to keep you on track.

This is the one most of us have trouble with. Every January I see it, people coming to the gym with so much energy, its infectious it rubs off on others the place is buzzing. Then they hit a wall too many machines, the choice of classes, "do I do weights or cardio or both? What's a kettlebell? How does a Bulgarian bag work?"Add in conflicting advice from web sites, magazines, friends and general and you have a recipe for confusion.
Don't worry most gyms don't think of the users as an inconvenience in fact they employ people to answer questions and talk about training. Fitness instructors and personal trainers love training so much they make it their job and they love to talk about training.

Its your goal, you chose it, nobody else its all yours. Only one person can make it happen....you. Its something personal that you spent ages planning it and wanting it, so why are you finding it hard to get motivated? A technique I often use is to close my eyes and imagine how good its going to feel when I hit my goal and get excited about it, often that's enough to refocus my mind and find that energy to keep going. If that doesn't quite cut it you can try it from the other side. I remember how I felt before I started. Think of why you started remember how you used to feel.
Either way get fired up! You can't get there if you don't have the drive to do it.

Setting smaller goals along the way is a great way of checking your progress. It let's you check your on the right track and helps keep you motivated. Smaller goals snowball into bigger ones, every one you hit gives you a little more confidence that your going to make it all the way.

Every goal is a product of the process it took to get there, you can't go to work in the morning without doing certain things. Getting out of bed, having a shower, leaving the house, getting the bus they all add up to the end result of you arriving at work. Some of these things may not be pleasant. Getting out of a warm bed on a cold morning and waiting at a bus stop in the rain are two of my pet hates but I still do them. I know that the end result is something that I love doing and that outweighs any discomfort I feel.

Everything takes time, we live in a world where things happen quickly. Unfortunately things don't happen quickly enough for some people, don't get disheartened. Athletes develop over years in some cases decades, nobody ever started off a world champion. It takes hours of hard work, all the time there is a risk that person will give up before the goal has been reached and all the work up to that point will be lost. Those who don't give up, who stay the course even when it seems like little or no progress is being made are the ones who reap biggest rewards.

Hopefully these techniques will help you break through those barriers that sometimes creep up.

Monday, 11 November 2013


 "If it is to be, it is up to me."
Right there is the most powerful 20 letters in the world. Every day we take action, we feel hungry we make a decision to eat, we take actions based on that decision. We get up, walk to the kitchen get some food and eat it: job done! All of you reading this will have done it at least a few times in the last 24hrs.
That is a very basic example of responsibility. You decide to do something and take action to make it happen. So if we can do this hundreds of times a day for smaller every day tasks why don't we do it for bigger ones? All of a sudden bigger decisions become someone else's responsibility and so does the success or failure of the plan. Nobody changes our socks for us, we do it ourselves. As a trainer my responsibility is to develop the best plan for an individual to educate and motivate them to achieve their goals. No matter how much they want me to I can't lift the weights, swim the laps or run the distance for them they have to do it themselves.
 Responsibility leads to decisions, decisions lead to actions, action leads to changes, changes lead to success, success leads to even more success! It's an addictive thing, it makes you feel good about yourself and it all starts it taking responsibility.
If we are honest with ourselves we quickly come to realize that nobody put a gun to our head and made us eat the burger, that cigarette didn't light itself and then jump into our mouth as a form of political protest. We made that happen in the same way we chose to get out of bed and go to work. It's only when we start to take responsibility that we can change the negative behaviors and start to make the best lifestyle choices.
Start making the changes today, start with something small go to the gym instead of having a coffee, bring healthy food into work instead of buying a ready made sandwich from a coffee shop. What ever you do it's all up to you!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

What counts as a success?

I was in the middle of a session with a client when I was asked a question, nothing unusual about this I get asked questions all the time. However this was slightly different from the usual “how do I get bigger arms?” or “what should I be eating?” This was a question that actually left me a bit stumped. My usual answer to a question like that is “I don’t know but I’ll find out.” It’s a bit of a catch all but it does lead me off in new directions. It motivates me to fill in the gaps in my knowledge and to develop new skills that will make me a better trainer. However this was the first time in a long time I really had to think about the answer. It seems strange but the question affects not just my business and training philosophy, but my ultimate goal as a fitness professional is.

I was asked how I define success with a client….

Let me just take a moment and talk about what exactly makes me feel successful.

Like most people when I started my career, I measured success very differently than I do now, paying my bills and surviving was enough to make me happy.  However that quickly passes and in order to be motivated beyond the mundane you need something to strive for to keep yourself happy and motivated.

Achieving my goals, most certainly makes me feel successful I’m happiest when I work to a target and I can’t help but getting excited about the sense of achievement and fulfilment I get from reaching and surpassing a target. I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years and my clients have been about as diverse as you can get I’ve covered the full spectrum from world class athletes to brides and business men who just want to do some boxing to de-stress, often in the same working day!

Nearly all achieve their goals, which is rewarding. This sense of achievement ensures they go away with a smile on their face and makes me feel proud of my work.

But if I’m 100% honest it’s that’s not the best feeling I get, it’s when I get to make a difference with my clients.

One of my first clients I worked with when I moved to London was a computer technician in his mid-30s who hadn’t been serious about exercise since he finished playing school boy rugby nearly 20 years earlier. He was overweight, bad posture, low self-esteem and by his own admission in a bad way. Over the next 2 years we worked on every aspect of his training habits and lifestyle. It was a gradual process building his training plans and resetting bad habits. Then as we were chatting about his goals last year he said to me with a new found confidence, “I’ve been thinking lately, I don’t need you as much anymore.”

I know a lot of trainers who would be heartbroken by this but in fact I was actually quite proud. My mind immediately jumped back to the very first session we did in the gym, where 10 kettlebell swings would leave him gasping for breath and looking at him now where he was doing 100 in under 2mins. I instantly realised he was right I hadn’t just changed his physique I had also given him the knowledge and ability to maintain it.

My view of success changed at that moment and although hitting targets is still the most important part of it, there is something more now. It’s not enough to just hit somebody’s goals and send them away happy. I now aim to educate people as to what they need to do to stop them from falling back into their old habits.  It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling when you meet a former client, and they still look good and talk to you about your training methods and how they are still using them.

For me that’s how I measure success now.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Febuary 2012

Well January is now over and Febuary has started with loads of potential, i have a few interesting things happening this month including my olympic lifting certs in the first weekend of the month keep coming back to see how I get on.