Owner of FitStrong Strength & Wellness based in Albany Creek, in the northern suburbs of sunny Brisbane, Australia.
'Was' living in Belfast.... you don't need to ask why we (my wonderful wife and daughter) moved, just check out the weather forecast for Belfast NI, then check out the same for Brisbane... not much more to say about that, eh!
FitStrongs goal is to help people move better, out of pain and explore and discover the many ways in which we can develop strength and fitness.
I provide one-to-one training, small group training, over 50s classes and run workshops occasionally.
Anyway, I'll be using my blog for FitStrong purposes, for my clients or random visitors to read my ramblings regarding fitness, strength, health matters and stuff that grates my cheese, gets on my goat or curls in my rack!!!
I've been involved in the health and fitness industry for 23 years so i've seen a lot of changes in the business. Trends good and bad, trainers come and go and the same old faces providing some of the best guidance and influences in the world of fitness and strength training. Some things don't change though and never should. We train people to get the best out of them without hurting them!
It is just that simple.
If you want to get in touch for advice, to criticise, to give me money - catch me on firstname.lastname@example.org
The direction of virtual / online training is evolving at FiStrong with specific directions for the key areas I coach.
Generally the online membership has provided programs in a rotating periodisation. From a well rounded healthy program to a hypertrophy based program to a strength based program. The membership site also includes many random 10 minute works outs but honestly, I see no value in these. I gave into peer pressure to provide random acts of exercise. Haha
The rotating program periodisation works great in the gym under my supervision but I acknowledge that’s not the way many online customers want to train.
Moving onwards, I will be providing training programs, or products in three categories.
Health and movement focused.
Fat loss focused.
These will be thorough programs with updates as and when I see the need to update any methods or refinement.
These will be one time only purchases rather than a subscription.
The current online membership content will continue to be available for a one time only purchase. The content of this membership amounts to over 5 years on continual training at this point. That’s quite a volume of structured programming and still very valuable, but it’s not the direction I want to continue with.
To access the library of online membership programs, it can be found under ‘services’ tab on the main website menu. Click the button below to be directed to this site.
Every single one of us has the capacity to change, to transform, to lose body fat and reshape our physique, strength and fitness. But why do so many people struggle to get the results despite working SO hard in the gym?
The Amazing 12 Program.
Unlike traditional fitness programs that do not deliver transformative physique and performance change (and then blame you or your genetics when they don’t), the Amazing 12 system optimises exercise techniques, the programming and nutrition, using a groundbreaking artificial intelligence version of the program creator Paul McIlroy. This is how certified trainers around the world deliver outstanding results for clients as if Paul himself was running the sessions!
The Old Way – Train to Failure
Most Transformation Programs:
❌No pain, no gain mentality – Leads to overtraining, injuries, and starting over.
❌ Training to failure – Tells your central nervous system that you’re a threat to yourself.
❌ Lifting to your max too often – This only finds limits, it doesn’t raise them.
❌ Success is directly proportional to effort – It’s not!
❌ You lack the will to succeed – You can’t use ‘will’ to change wrong to right.
❌ You’re not taking the right supplements – Success doesn’t come in a tub or a tablet.
❌ Push your limits until you break through them – You end up breaking yourself.
Our Way – Expand Your Comfort Zone
The Amazing 12 Program:
✅ Any pain = no gain – There is a direct correlation between time spent training in comfort and long term productivity.
✅ Train Sub-maximally – Expand your comfort zone and your max will take care of itself.
✅ Success is directly proportional to numeric progress – not the discomfort of a single workout.
✅ Unlock your amazing strength – It’s already there, you’re not building anything new.
✅ No need to EVER peak – Expand your comfort zone until it swallows your previous limits.
How do we build and maintain amazing transformations?
The Three key Optimisations
#1 Optimisation of Exercise Technique
You cannot sustain progress if your training injures you. Injuries will slow you down, impair your recovery or require time off. As a result you lose what you’ve gained, training momentum and motivation – hardly a recipe for success.
If you continue to still make the same technical errors (which are often extremely subtle), you just get hurt again. The cycle continues.
Rapid gains present with consistent safety, not off-technique, intensity and injury.
Strength and safety should be synonymous and optimal exercise technique should increase both strength and safety simultaneously.
As you progress, your technique must get refined to maximise strength acquisition – and that requires mastery of numerous overlooked subtleties.
We’ll show you step-by-step the optimal (and required) techniques and their subtleties to master each exercise and minimise risk of injury even as you progress through higher and higher strength levels.
#2 Optimisation of Nutrition
You also cannot progress if you find yourself in a battle with yourself (your inner superhero). The food you eat is very personal and if you battle through hunger or if your body craves something that’s missing, you will suffer needlessly. And then you’ll stop and eat what you want.
The stakes are higher when it comes to fitness programs because the diet versus exercise debate has traditionally accepted the view that “It’s 90% diet.” You’ll have to accept (often painful) limits or else you won’t progress.
But this is just the nutritional program equivalent of saying “No pain, no gain.”
We’ll teach you how the reality is this: “It’s 90% training.” At least when we are talking about a body TRANSFORMATION (more about this later).
Nutrition is crucial, BUT…it doesn’t have to be a battle! (In fact, it’s important that it’s not. The last thing you want is your central nervous system deciding you’re a threat and start to push back physiologically.)
We’ll show you how to optimise nutrition to avoid a battle and to get the transformations needed
#3 Exercise Programming
Great technique and great nutrition are not enough. For optimal results, you need optimal programming. And since the vast majority of people do not get results (and most fitness coaches fail to deliver results for their clients), something is clearly broken with fitness programming.
The problem is too many people think in terms of sets, reps, days … but 3×10, 6×6, 5×5, 8×8, 10×10, anything x anything, does not constitute effective strength / size programming.
And this problem is magnified because these sets and reps are geared to the accepted view of “no pain, no gain.” Breaking through your pain sounds great because we like the idea of pushing our limits and taking ourselves absolutely to the edge. It’s inspiring talk, but it’s no way to get long term results and is physiologically counter-productive.
The reality is “Any pain, no gain.”
Don’t speak the language of pop culture, speak the language your central nervous system understands. You have to discreetly hack the central nervous system to allow you to EXPAND the boundaries of your comfort zone. Only your inner superhero can do that and you have to know how it reasons to convince it. Once you do, you will perpetuate progress and your comfort zone will envelop your previous limits and make you stronger while transforming your physique.
If any or all of this strikes a chord with you, makes the hairs stand up, gets you excited and sets off your spidey senses, get in touch to see about signing up to the next wave of the Amazing 12 Brisbane.
A successful transformation program is only partly about Weight Loss
In the health and fitness industry, the area of TRANSFORMATIONS can refer to many outcomes. Mostly though, people will associate a ‘transformation’ program as exclusively a ‘weight loss’ program.
It’s a commonly held notion also that losing weight alone will result in satisfaction and a ‘happy’ outcome!
But, does just losing weight really equal happiness, satisfaction, complete wellness or a sense of purpose?
How about strength, fitness and physical confidence – will losing weight alone make you feel stronger, fitter and more competent?
Are these even factors that are considered part of the outcome of most weight loss programs?
Being totally honest, almost anyone can lose weight by not exercising and starving themselves or at best, following a well balanced, healthier eating lifestyle. I’m not discounting weight loss by any kind of process, as it can still be challenging and rewarding. If you really want to go under the knife – that is your choice!
However, and here is my professional point of view; losing weight to look leaner is only ONE part of a greater package of what a transformation program can be.
Losing unwanted body fat, feeling great, moving better, feeling strong and more capable and resilient against all that life can throw at you – I believe these are the ingredients of a real transformation. But, just losing weight from calorie restriction is not going to result in that. You can’t diet yourself strong.
In a recent study, people were assessed following popular intermittent fasting protocols. I do like intermittent fasting, but I also like to exercise. These people fasted only. No exercise. While both lost fat weight, both lost muscle tissue. What’s the problem? Muscle is the engine that continues to burn calories. If we lose muscle, we lose the capacity to continue to burn calories, therefor requiring us to consume fewer calories – or food. Who wants that? Food is great.
A successful transformation program will include healthy, sustainable eating habits – and real food – along with a well designed exercise program that addresses aerobic fitness and strength, safely.
Being fitter, stronger, happier in our skin is being in a position of celebrating our lives, our lifestyles and looking forward to tomorrow – who really wouldn’t want that?
Summing it up:
Performance is not something often considered when looking for or engaging in a transformation program, but maybe if you consider the points I raised above, maybe you do want to move better, stronger and feel better in your own skin.
If you’re nodding your head and thinking ‘Yes, I want to be fitter, stronger and happier with my physique’, let’s talk.
At FitStrong we practice the skills of strength and mobility aka moving strong and well.
Oftentimes however, outsiders have a mixed thought about what ‘practicing strength’ means.
Is it bodybuilding, is lifting to the extreme to boast our achievements at the end of the week, is it like the stuff you see cross fit doing – or is it something else?
Let me briefly define how I would categorise the key three areas of strength training that we practice and who these forms are generally for.
This is what I recommend to people who feel weaker through lack of activity, busy lives and work etc. This could be described as rebuilding the strength we know we should have. The ability to do gardening all morning without feeling worn out. The ability to play with our kids, or grand children if we’re at that stage. The ability to be able to get down to the floor and back up without difficulty.
Restorative strength forms the basis of my over 55s classes that run two mornings a week and hopefully a new class midweek (early evening).
This service is also available on a one-to-one basis and is covered in some of my current shared small group sessions.
Restoring our natural strength and abilities is well in truly covered in customised MovNat programs.
For sports, special endeavours and explorations. When we have established a good level of strength and want to take it further.
This a service I provide on a one-to-one basis owing to the specialised nature of the programming.
This often occurs in small group training when it’s a common goal.
Strength is a wonderful tool, an attribute every human was born to possess. Strength can be used to transform someone physically, to lose unwanted body fat, increase fitness and flexibility, increase self esteem and learn valuable lifestyle habits.
Our Amazing 12 program is the service I run throughout the year in waves to help people meet the person they know they are. I know that sounds cheesy and full of hype – but it truely is an ‘awesome’ program with fantastic outcomes.
If you are curious to learn more about strength training for you, why not get in touch?
I’ve been a health and fitness professional since 1997.
In that time I’ve ventured from regular run-of-the-mill gym activities like group exercise, circuit training and centre management. I new that wasn’t what I was looking for or destined for.
Moving to Australia opened doors to explore other areas, especially areas operated in by the most successful trainers. Not financially, but in terms of results, health and physical gains.
Kettlebells and the teachings of Pavel Tsatsouline provided underpinning principles of strength. OrIginal Strength taught how movement can be restored. MovNat inspired us to contextualise our training to reflect on life’s needs.
Whilst I know I can help people feel great with movement and strength, one missing link always bugged me though.
Feeling good feels good, and moving better is a part of that. But I have to recognise that many people want to feel better about how they perform as well as how they ‘feel in their own skin and clothes’, and this includes what they see in the mirror. Some people will tell me they don’t see who they really are.
Enter the Mentor from Centaur
For years I’ve admired my fellow Irishman Paul McIlroy who runs an old-school gym called Centaur – the centre for all things strength and conditioning, creating super strong individuals – and his transformation program, The Amazing 12.
Two months ago I met with his program director via zoom and got the ball rolling to become a certified Amazing 12 coach. After a deep study block of 3 weeks (80 hours) I am now certified to operate and coach the Amazing 12 here in Brisbane. The first for our city and state and only the 3rd to become certified in Australia!
The Amazing 12 offers unprecedented body transformations in a surprisingly short period of time (12 weeks) every time, no matter your age, condition, or genetics. There are no special dietary purchases, required – just simple wholesome nutrition. This is not a bootcamp, or a train ‘till you drop program – it’s just perfectly individualised programming with a simple template. It can be called simple now, but it’s taken 15 years of fine tuning and the programming genius of Paul. This is not solely a weight loss program, it’s a physical strength, fitness and mindset transformation program.
The lives of 10000+ people have been impacted by their participation in the Amazing 12.
Just check out the transformation gallery from other certified Amazing Trainers around the globe.
In case you don’t want to click that link, here are just four examples of two ladies and two gents.
I am proud to announce that The Amazing 12 Brisbane will be a new offering from FitStrong in only a matter of weeks, both as a small group program and a one-to-one service.
I totally understand that this commitment might not be for everyone, but you the reader, keep in mind anyone you know who might fit the bill – please forward this for their consideration.
For more information, please head over to the dedicated Amazing 12 Brisbane page.
For many people they exercise, train, workout, whatever you want to label it; just to be physically healthy. They don’t really care about progressing or shooting for personal bests. For these people, sticking to their habit is the success – to these people, I salute you.
Other people want to see and feel noticeable, tangible outcomes. They want to see repetition numbers, KGs, KMs go up. There has to be progress.
However, sometimes this does not happen when expected, or results halt. There are some potential reasons that I want to list below. Some of these may be obvious but hear me out.
Top 10 Recovery Tips to Boost Your Training Results.
Not sticking to the plan. A plan only works when it’s followed and it is very surprising how many people can’t commit to a 4, 6 or 8 week program. Program hopping rarely favours results. Understand a plans expectations and follow it through.
Sleep. Aim and plan for 7 hours a night. 8 if possible. And try to make it good quality sleep. The sooner before midnight you can hit the sack, the better chance of catching better quality Zs.
Check out how much fun food you’re eating aka junk food – sweets, biscuits, that sneaky bar of chocolate that fell in the shopping trolley etc. cut it back.
Protein. Make sure you’re eating enough protein every day. Whether it’s animal or plant based, aim to eat 1.5 to 1.8g per kg of your lean weight. As a guide that’s about the same size as your hand x 3.
Eat like an Adult. I have mentioned junk food and protein, but vegetables and fruits really should be present in your daily nutrition. Sure you might not like a lot of what you see on the shelves, but find a selection you do like, and invent lots of ways of eating them… or just make a smoothy!
H20. Yes, water. Wash up, take a cold shower “brhhhhh”, but keep drinking water frequently during the day. If you struggle, here’s a tip. Every time you take a sip of water, take a second sip.
Health check ups. Get your blood tests done annually. Better to be sure.
Reduce your stress. Get outdoors, walk, job, bike ride. Choose something enjoyable that gets you out for an hour or so. If you like to potter around the garden like I do, do it. It feels good. All that Vitamin D is awesome for your immune system.
Move. You don’t have to train hard every day but moving gently every day is a blessing. If you can roll out the exercise mat and stretch, rock, roll, just belly breath, you’ll boost your recovery and probably have a great session the day afterwards. Check out these Mobility Videos.
Like a drink? While a wee glass with dinner is okay, finishing the bottle of Cab Sav isn’t. Reduce the alcohol to allow your body to metabolism body fat better, rest properly and enhance sleep, lower systemic stress and prevent dehydration. Pretty much all the other points above can be boosted by reducing the booze.
I did mention following plans to the end. How about weighing up these items to see how you could improve.
I’m here to help should you need to talk about it.
An undeniable truth of modern living is that we are all sitting much more everyday than our ancestors did.
Humans were never intended to spend so much time sitting still, resting in or being supported by chairs, seats and sofas. As evidenced by much research, prolonged sitting contributes to ill mental and physical health. An average day may see the average adult sit for 6.5 hours and adolescents 8.5 hours. (Research Link)
These figures are based on a study from 2011 to 2016. Our lives have changed significantly in the past year also, with home study and working from home being a new norm for many. The physical activity outcome from this change equates to even further potential for prolonged sitting.
But why is chair sitting such a problem?
Resting has for multiple millennia been carried out not in a chair, or a soft, embracing sofa lounge; but by resting on the ground. Yes, often with some support from cushions, bolsters or a tree! Humans are animals, designed to move, to thrive by being active and resting when needed. Modern humans however seems to live to rest.
Most humans get out of bed, rest to eat, lounge in a supportive chair in a vehicle to get to work and then possibly rest in another chair to work, only to head home to rest up on the sofa. Often people will include going to the gym to sit on machines to workout too! Not everyone works in a chair of course, but the trend is heading that way.
The problem for health is not just the lack of activity directly, but all the indirect affects or tolls on the body.
Increased blood pressure
Increased blood sugar
Increased body fat, especially around the waist
Reduced ocular muscle use
Increased risk of dementia, diabetes, heart disease, cancer
Reduced muscle tone, strength
Pain – neck, back, shoulder pain is common with long term sitters
Choosing the floor
Sitting on the ground is not as popular as it used to be in western cultures. Mostly it is looked down upon, as a poorer option to rest in. We no longer have to choose the floor as a resting position as we have money to buy lots of sitting furniture to sprinkle around the home. God forbid we have a space with nowhere to sit our behinds!
I have had a terrible history with back pain, shoulder pain, hip and knee problems that all culminated (with an outcome epiphany) when I took a family trip back to Ireland in 2016. After only a few hours onboard the plane my hips and lower back were aching. In the terminal of Singapore I spent 20 minutes stretching and doing my usual mobility routine which helped, but once I was onboard again, the pain and stiffness set in quickly. After my arrival all the stretches helped but the sudden change to my lifestyle for 4 weeks of sitting in cars, around dining tables catching up with people really made me realise how troublesome sitting in chairs was.
On my return I delved into the work of Katy Bowman and her passion for helping people regain their comfort with resting on the floor, going barefoot and other wholesome ideas. Since then I have moved away from my armchair and spend my rest time, lunch time, work, study and family movie time, sitting on my yoga mat on the floor. In doing so, my back and hips stay happier for longer.
Let’s look at a list of the benefits of sitting, resting on the floor.
Reduced hip tension. Prolonged chair sitting shortens the hip flexor muscles causing tight and stiff hips – a leading cause of lower back pain. When you sit on the floor, the extra moving uses and relaxes the hip flexors.
Encourages natural movement and stability. Without the support of a chair, sitting on the ground forces your body to engage trunk muscles for stabilisation and encourages joint articulation.
Increased mobility. Sitting on the floor is what I like to call moving rest. The frequent shifting of positions continuously uses and stretches muscles throughout the body, without being a workout.
Improved ‘get up’. Choosing to rest on the floor brings with it the great practice of getting to the ground and back up. Much study has been conducted into the importance of being able to move down to the floor and then return to standing.
Bed time. Think of the last time you stayed up too late to watch TV. Your cosy chair probably made it easier to stay up. When you’re resting on the floor and that becomes too tiring, your body is telling you it’s bed time.
Being totally honest, sitting on the floor can initially to a challenge, uncomfortable and will take a planed approach to get accustomed to it. Much like wearing a pair of your expensive, fancy shoes takes some wearing in time, it can take a wee bit of practice to get your body used to floor time. Of course, I advice you to choose wider, thinner, less restrictive shoes too, but that’s another topic for another day.
Here is a plan
Rather than jumping into selling all your furniture on gumtree and embracing your new floor based lifestyle, let’s just shoot for some reasonable efforts.
The basic plan below which I’ve imaginatively called The Floor Project is a serving suggestion to play with, to encourage your body to adapt to the demands of floor sitting before embracing the freedoms it will deliver. How quick you get used to sitting on the ground depends on your body, how much chair sitting you do and how much you practice.
You may need to keep your chair close by to assist getting to the floor if you are particularly stiff and maybe use a soft rug, a yoga mat and a cushion can be of use too, to help with comfort.
The sitting position options are numerous. From kneeling, squatting, sitting and lying prone, you have many variations to explore.
Don’t limit yourself to sticking with just one style, shift around and try as many options as you can. Be imaginative. Don’t be worried about what the names of the positions are, just move and be comfortable.
Here I’ve taken 15 different photographs to illustrate your options.
The Floor Project Plan
This plan is basic. You can of course experiment with how much daily floor time is reasonable and practical, but I encourage you to give this plan a go for at least the 4 weeks. Truth is, if you can spend 10 minutes on the floor and don’t feel the urge to get up, why not spend more time down there.
The caveat to this plan is what your body brings to the game. If your legs start to cramp and get pin and needles, well then, practice is up for the moment. Get up, move around and maybe tray again later. The times below are suggested ‘accumulations’ per day. A minute here and there adds up.
Aim for 5 to 10 minutes a day of accumulated floor time.
Aim for 10 to 15 minutes a day of accumulated floor time.
Aim for 15 to 20 minutes a day of accumulated floor time.
Aim for 20 to 30 minutes a day of accumulated floor time.
Weeks 5 onwards, I think you can handle more. Maybe you’re ready to move that armchair to the corner and spend your evening time resting on the floor.
If you are more willing, enthusiastic and able, shoot for more, but not to the point of discomfort, pain and such. Just fit in more ground time every day.
Not ready for full blown floor rest?
You can still easily modify your chair sitting positions. If getting to the floor is a trip too far for now, or, if you just have to use a chair at your work station, consider building in some of the above ground based positions on your chair.
You can sit cross legged, side sit, straddle sit and so much more. See below for a few demos. Any frequent change of posture is good. You really want to get out of fixed positions for lengthy periods of time – even 20 minutes in a static position is detrimental. Change is good.
Here is a fun experiment I had on the gym bench. Not quite a chair but close enough. Sure, you might get strange looks sitting at the cafe ‘on’ the chair… or you could sit on the ground. Your call.
Want to get in touch, share a story about getting down to the floor and staying there for a while? Please do, I’d love to hear from you.