How to Choose a New Gym

Ten year ago if you wanted to find a new gym or trainer, you’d pop up google and do a we search or flick open the yellow pages. For younger readers, thats a big floppy book – ah… a book is a collection of paper containing information, bound together for convenience… sigh!

Getting back on topic, if you wanted to find a gym years ago you searched for it but these days with social media holding such a powerful networking capacity, you have only got to ask however!

A couple of observations:

  1. People are asking for specific solutions from an audience they don’t know, yet somewhat trust.
  2. Those who answer rarely read the full question and reply with their personal preference, often totally missing the actual question details

Quick example I see often is: ‘Hi, I am looking for personal trainer to work with at their studio’. And what do the most replies suggest? Try _____ bootcamp, or buy this App, or my powerlifting club is great. I am sure all of these are great but just not what the person asking was looking for.

An Idea

The following is something of a checklist I like to share for people when they start to consider personal training or group exercise etc.

My intention is not to sell my business because indeed, what I do and what my clients do may not actually be what everyone is looking for.

That’s actually where you should start – know what it is you want to achieve and what you have to give to achieve it.

Consider the following:

  1. What’s your exercise history? Are you experienced, a beginner?
  2. How much time per day/week/month can you allocate to your exercise?
  3. What’s your $$$ budget per week or month?
  4. Know your goals and ask yourself why they are your goals to fully understand your reasoning when it comes to aligning with a prospective trainer or gym.
  5. Make a point to contact the head trainer of each and every gym you look at to check off how their clients train to see if it matches what you are prepared to do. If high intensity interval training isn’t your thing, don’t join a HIIT gym. If you need to get stronger, try a strength focused gym. See below.
  6. How hard or intense is the gyms training system? It does vary. Some gyms focus on high intensity interval training while others train at sustainable strength efforts or focus on ‘core training’, or cardio… know what you like to do. Does the gym even have a system or is it random???
  7. Don’t weigh up the gyms superhero members and their results as it may not reflect your path and or background or the vast majority of that gyms or trainers clientele.
  8. Ask yourself if you actually need to hire a trainer – can you train at home following an online program for a fraction of the cost of a gym or trainer?
  9. As you measure up different gyms and PTs, don’t weigh up or value in price alone.
  10. The gist of this is this: know what you want and really know what the trainers and gyms do with their clients and did I say really know what you want vs what others tell you is awesome for them. Be you. Got it?

I’m just trying to help you think about your decisions yourself rather than relying on the deluge of individual responses on social media.

If you have any questions about this or other matters please do ask.

Jamie

Getting Back Up

In a 2002 Brazilian study, men and women between the ages of 51 to 80 were followed for an average of 6.3 years. Those who had to rely on their hands and knees to get up and down to the ground regardless of age were almost seven times more likely to die within six years than those who could get up unsupported. Those individuals with poor overall muscular strength and mobility were the the ones who had to rely on using their hands to awkwardly get down and up.

Clearly being stronger has more implications than just being able to carry the shopping in after a grocery shop.

In part 1 we looked at other statistics that looked at mortality and affects on quality of life from falls but in part 2, let’s consider prevention measures.

Getting to the floor should happen in any training session regardless of whether or not it’s an intended exercise but if getting down to terra firma proves a tad troublesome, where do you start?

Even if you’re an experienced strength athlete / trainee, some the drills below will give your body an added edge in being more resilient. How often do you see muscular people moving rather stiff ? Yes, a bit too often. If you move like a robot, some mobility training should be in your life.

Below I’ll demonstrate the strength exercises that give us the ability to move down to the floor and also the mobility exercises to practice that allow us to more smoothly navigate to the floor and up. After that, we’ll take a look at the drills that we practice to move down and up and prepare the body further.

None of these exercises should ever be taken to muscular fatigue or muscle failure but you should feel the muscles doing their jobs. Always stop a set knowing you could do a few more repetitions.

General Strength

Progressing Strength

Practice?

Don’t worry if you haven’t got heaps of time, you can spend as little as 3-5 minutes every couple of days ‘playing’ with these movements. A couple of sets of each move will be enough initially to get you moving and stronger. As the moves in the first video get easier, move to video 2 and play with the moves there. I use the word play to suggest you don’t count repetitions, instead practice each move to make it better. Not sore and fatiguing, just getting better at each.

Imagine lying in a hospital bed with a broken hip, stressing over lost work, medical expenses and rehab afterwards. Not so pleasant…

Now consider just spending 3-5 minutes every couple of days practicing getting yourself stronger. No medical bills or rehab, just getting down to the floor and back up.

I know which I prefer and to be honest, longevity is the number one key objective of FitStrong  – to help people find longevity.

If you’re interested in investing your time further, please check out my FREE 5 Day Morning Routine

What do you think? Got any suggestions, thoughts, opinions or stories to share? Please do get in touch.

 

 

Kettlebell Complexes

Our programming has been building up in 2019 to tackle some of the best ways of training with kettlebells. Whilst carrying out individual exercises in sets of a circuit is great, carrying out Kettlebell Complexes is both immensely fun and beneficial. January we worked on setting up the year with a very healthy start. February we worked on developing strength endurance which leads up to this months strength capacity.

What’s that you ask? 

Strength capacity is simply defined as the amount of strength work you can conduct in a given time. By the end of this month, most gym members and online trainees will be carrying out considerably more work per complex without really having to get seriously out of their comfort zone.

The ​Kettlebell complex​ is perhaps one of the more popular methods of programming for a some very clear and concise reasons. You take 2+ movements (3 to 5 being best) and string them together to execute each movement back-to-back. Simple! 

Without going into too much details, Complexes:

  • Have been proven to increase body fat oxygenation.
  • Are very time efficient.
  • Increase conditioning and strength.
  • Are great fun… albeit a rather twisted kind of fun!
  • Make use of just 1 or 2 kettlebells.

 

‘No matter what your goals are—strength, mass, conditioning, or cuts—kettlebell complexes deliver. This is why they are so frequently featured in training plans by our best program designers like Master SFGs Geoff Neupert and Dan John.’

Pavel Tsatsouline

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Screenshot from our Program menu within the Online Membership site.

 

Over 4 weeks we’ll be progressing from simple to somewhat more ominous sessions.

Online members and gym members do get the option to personalise these should there be need, but in every case we’ll work on adding a little bit of volume per week, so subtle it’s practically unnoticeable.

 

One Complex we’ll be employing comes from the library of fantastic workouts from Dan John – the Armour Building complex.

Here’s a quick demo.

 

For all those enthusiastic Bodyweight trainees who are choosing to leave complexes for another time, I have built a routine of short and interesting bodyweight flows. Essentially a complex and a flow are the same thing. One just refers to using an external load while a flow is bodyweight.

Here’s a quick demo of one of our bodyweight routines.

 

If you’d be interested to join in, head over to our Online Membership site and sign up for the month.* It’s only $1 a day! Oh, you’ll also get access to e.v.e.r.y other program on our site during the month including all the teaching videos and resources.

ONLINE MEMBERSHIP

Got any questions, just ask me below:

 

*Join for 1 month for just $30 then cancel as soon as you want.

Kettlebells in Brisbane

Brisbane is an extraordinary place. People living in this part of Australia venture out in search of great days out, great food and new experiences, often finding the bizarre, the intrepid, unusual and down right clever. I’d like to propose the Kettlebell as one of those in the intrepidly clever category.

Since first sight to westerners, the cast iron ball with a handle has raised both fear and intrigue. Many gym goers, bootcampers and new year new body resolutionaries have all ventured into the perceived territory of the hardcore to use the kettlebell (often referred to as the cattle-ball or kettle-ball… sigh). Most without instruction have ended the day with an ache or an injury or a reassured impression that the Russian weapon is indeed dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

Sadly, the same can be said for those who have received ‘instruction’!!! Instruction is probably not the best word to use because these poor victims were subjected to hardship and torture rather than intelligent teaching and instruction.

Most ‘trainers’ who use kettlebells in their classes and activities have in most cases, not been taken through a vigorous program of learning how to teach the common kettlebell movements. Instead, trainers have chosen to use this wonderful device as a tool to beat people up with to show-off how cool a trainer they are for making them work so hard.

(I probably should not have written that last paragraph but it is the honest truth so I’ll leave it there.) 

In order to sell courses for the CEC chasers, course designers have packed multiple movements into their courses to keep them exciting with various movements and exercises. It’s an unfortunate trade off. Cut back on the opportunity to truly learn the essential moves for brushing over way too much to learn.

The real joy and down right cleverness of kettlebell training is not just in its simple shape but in that the tool with a single handle lends itself to performing an essential package of exercises without hassle. The way in which you learn to hold and move with the kettlebell provides feedback between your limbs and the kettlebell. It is in affect, a self teaching tool and yes, this does mean you can hurt yourself if you don’t know how to perform the moves and read the feedback.

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Correct Grip

I’ve had consultations with prospective clients who have seen the line of 36 kettlebells against the edge of the gym and declared their feeling – usually of hate filled past experiences with poorly educated trainers. What a shame.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I am NOT putting down other trainers. We all have to start somewhere in our careers but it is so important to know our scope of practice and to truly take our time to learn how to use our tools before starting to teach others the same.

My process is to teach clients how to move better first-off before loading up with weights. By the time we are ready to use weights, there is a level of trust between us and getting onto using the kettlebells is just the next logical step.

I mentioned course writers eagerness to entertain earlier, with way too many options. Options are fine and perfectly acceptable where required but any good training program should include these essentials:

  • Carries – carrying one or two kettlebells in various positions to develop breathing under tension and torso control / bracing.
  • Squats.
  • Hip hinges, like deadlifts, swings and such.
  • Pushes and presses.
  • Pulling actions.
  • Explosive actions, like the swing, clean and snatch.

The average population training 2 to 3 times a week does not need much more than the above. Add some daily walking and some aerobic activities, good sleep and nutrition and ‘whammy’, there’s a great recipe for health and fitness.

There’s a greater chance of a trainer getting bored than a client getting bored using this short list of moves so professionally, there is not reason to keep swapping exercises every week. Repetitions, sets and loads vary over time as do how the list of moves are ‘packaged’ together in the session. But keeping it simple wins e.v.e.r.y. time.

If you only work with a short list of roughly 6 movements, how well do you think you will progress, get to know the movements, get stronger and more confident? Very well most likely. At the other end, if you work with 20 to 30 variations, how well will you progress and learn how to perform each and every one of them over your 2 to 3 sessions a week? Probably not so well I’m guessing. Keep it simple is the rule.

Confession Time!

I can actually speak from experience. My first kettlebell certification in 2009 was a two day course with roughly 30 different movements that we spent roughly 15 minutes on each with lots of other fluff thrown in too. Would you trust an instructor who had 15 minutes of ‘professional’ instruction on an exercise??? I know I wouldn’t be too confident.

I did spend time over the following 2 years playing frustratingly with some of the moves and all but gave up until in 2011 I saw a Russian Kettlebell Challenge instructor certification was coming to town, well, Melbourne, but that was close enough.

The RKC was the Black Belt of Kettlebell Certifications (and the precursor to StrongFirst), renowned for its strict conduct and roughly 35-40% of candidates failing to pass the testing at the end of the 3 day certification.

The reason the certification is so strict is for some very professional reasons.

  • The association wants to ensure its instructors will conduct themselves professionally and represent strongly.
  • They want to ensure their instructors are able to demonstrate proficiently and safely.
  • They want to make sure their certified instructors are committed to teaching the kettlebell movements and system and not just wanting another CEC.

The experience candidates will encounter will be like no other fitness instruction certification that exists. It will be deep, intense, involve lots of demonstration and practice, skills and tests throughout the 3 days culminating in a tough instructor testing procedure… and that’s prior to teaching a volunteer to demonstrate teaching competence!

If successful, an RKC or a StrongFirst certified instructor will offer their clients a professional experience when they attend training above and beyond the average PT session in a high-street gym. If you want cheap, you can find it everywhere, but if you want a quality experience, look up your local RKC or StrongFirst instructor.

Gearing up for re-certification

As thorough as the certification process is, it is advisable that instructors re-certify to stay on top of their teaching skills and abilities with the kettlebell.  I am in that stage this year, polishing my skills. Perhaps part of my writing this today is an act of accountability. “I am telling you all that I will undertake re-certification this year”. Mmmmm, hopefully that will work.

I am confident my weekend as a student not just a trainer will be fun as usual and that I will walk away excited to share my experience with my clients.

What about you?

I do run ongoing private workshops for people who want to experience a little bit of the Hardstyle Kettlebell world. My own Kettlebell Fundamentals program was launched in 2013 for budding enthusiasts who wanted to learn how to properly use their shiny new black kettlebells. Many attendees came for the workshops and have stayed on as clients, so bitten by the kettlebell bug were they.

If you are interested in experiencing the feel or real Kettlebell training, please do consider a visit to FitStrong.

FitStrong Kettlebell Fundamentals

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Want to chat? Get in touch below.

How to Maintain Gains Over the Holidays

I’ve been talking a lot recently about the value of sticking to a plan both in terms of a timely routine and working with the big important albeit simple strength moves.

You know: 

  • Squat
  • Hip hinge
  • Push stuff
  • Pull stuff
  • Carry stuff
  • Brace your torso

This does get challenged especially at busy times of the year and not just at Christmas time. The overwhelming feeling of, “sure what’s the point if I can’t do a good 45 minutes in the gym” is all too common a thought and a downfall in maintaining the benefits of exercise. You don’t have to firing on all cylinders all year round and a reductionist style program maintained briefly can help the body rest, progress and give you some mental uplifting too.

I’ve already espoused the benefit of aiming for even a short 10 to 15 minute routine and this week I am doing it again.

Repetition is the mother of all learning.

This week I am supporting the use of three strength moves to practice, with some progressions built-in in case you want to play along and experiment with what a light, medium and harder 15 minute routine could look like… with just three movements.

This light, medium and hard approach is how we build our programs here. We rotate through these relative intensities to provide opportunities to focus on learning and practice, working a bit harder and then perhaps testing the body and progressing forward.

This week let’s look at the:

  1. Inverted Press (for the upper back and shoulders / arms)
  2. Squats (for the backside and thighs etc)
  3. Hip Hinging (for the backside, hamstrings etc)

Here’s the video

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Need to ask me something?

 

Disclaimer:

The recommendations and ideas on this post are not medical guidelines, but are intended for educational / interest purposes only. You must consult your doctor prior to starting a new exercise program, if you have any medical condition or injury that contraindicates physical activity.

 

Animal Flow: Albany Creeks Newest Class

Copy of Bodyweight Training Named the #1 Fitness Trend

Animal Flow Class Starts in Albany Creek

Animal Flow is a movement based ground program that’s about connecting our bodies to themselves through the ground.

Say what?

Let’s define what animal flow is to help you grab the value it holds.

Your body for a start; it’s the one thing you get to keep for your whole life, so help it work better. If you can control your body through diverse movements you will truly move better loaded with weights. For a beginner therefore, Animal Flow offers a great entrance level to defining strength and physical autonomy.

‘Learn how your body works and learn how to use it’

The Animal in animal flow isn’t a direct reference to actual animals, but animal movements have been around forever. Animal Flow creator Mike Fitch just figured out a way that we could use these kind of basic animal components to figure out how to improve the function of the human animal.

The Flow component comes from a mixed influence of parkour, gymnastics, dance and breakdancing. A flow uses the surroundings and the environment to move and navigate smoothly and fluidly with complimentary control of our limbs and torso.

Unlike conventional weights based training that utilises very linear up, down, side to side type moves, a flow encourages all planes of movement.

Whilst some of the moves may look complicated and very athletic, each and every movement has both regressions for beginners to start practicing and progressions for the more experienced to practice.

How does a class run?

Each 45 minute class starts with an appropriate warm up that focuses on mobilising the joints and warming the muscles.

The session continues with a focus on some skills, specific stretches and strengths, taken at a pace appropriate to each student.

The skills practiced then get built into a flow, one step at a time.

Regardless of skill level, the flow will flow.

Animal Flow classes will be run in 6-week courses, the first for 2019 will be running from March BUT, I can also provide personalised lessons or private 2-3 hour workshops upon request.

To book in or for further information, please fill in the contact form below.