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.
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.
At FitStrong I help people get fitter, stronger and more mobile. Not just for the sake of it though, but to become better more useful versions of ourselves.
We work on the skills that lead towards our goals, building confidence, competence and physical autonomy without an emphasis on ‘busting a gut’ or ‘smashing out sessions’. I like to consider training as nourishing our bodies rather than punishing it.
If you know that you need to move better and stronger, why not book in for a chat about what you need and how I can help.
Here’s just one example of working on reactive strength, in this case – balance.
The end of 2020 is almost upon us, and whether you’re glad to see the back of it or not, I plan on making 2021 a fantastic year.
2020 was to be the year I took take Animal Flow out to the parks. It was the year I was going to introduce MovNat, natural movement classes outdoors too, but alas, circumstances prevailed and these were shelved.
However, as the year ends I will be re-planning these awesome outdoor activities (in addition to the undercover sessions) and inviting everyone to try out.
For all who supported FitStrong this year, I sincerely thank you, from the bottom of heart. This has been a challenging year but above all, I believe many of us have learned the value of moving better for our health both physically and mentally.
How many times do you hear people say they’re killing time in the gym or whatever else? Yeah, I know it’s just an expression but the underlying statement implies time can be just thrown around like some spare change.
However, time can’t be earned back. If you’re in the gym just doing stuff, you’re not spending time on other valuable agenda items. You know, things like spending time with your family, tending to your home, garden, preparing healthy meals and attending to your career. Actually, much like the last two points there, you don’t just go to the kitchen or work to kill time. You follow particular tasks to accomplish specific outcomes… and that leads me swiftly to my point here.
Use your time in the gym to accomplish specific outcomes.
Do the work.
Three mighty fine rules to live by in the gym, the kitchen, in your chosen career and family time.
If your goal is to move better, practice that. If you goal is get stronger and more useful, practice that. If you want to [enter the goal], do what must be done.
Now, for many people, they might not know for sure what the practice should be to move better, stronger etc.
That’s where the willing professional comes into play and this is where I make my offer to finish off 2020.
Well, I could have been more imaginative in the title, but in keeping with the message, it says what it is – express.
Express FitStrong offers the chance to get straight to the point with the minimum fuss. In these 30 minute sessions we’ll warm up and prepare very specifically for the following session. If you’re coming in to work on lower back pain issues – we’ll focus directly on that. If you’re coming in to work on your deadlift strength, explosive power or metabolic conditioning, we’ll get straight to that.
Our slightly longer sessions do of course focus on goals, but we always include the ‘other stuff’ for a very well balanced routine, but let’s consider the wealth of time for some people and just get to the job at hand.
In keeping with the theme of 2020, this is available both virtually via a choice of video platforms or in person.
If you’re keen to jump onboard, get straight to the point with express training, email ASAP.
‘What’s the smallest act of change you consider reasonable?’
I’ll ask a fat loss client to list the things that need to change, as they see it, in order to start losing unwanted body fat. (Yes, it’s called fat loss, not weight loss). We look a which of these changes score high on a resistance scale and score them out. By resistance I mean items on the list that raise some doubts of changing. Even the smallest of resistance will halt progress at some point. That low resistance item – that’s what we’ll work on first but, reducing it further into the most reasonable small act of change.
Whether the conversation is about eating fewer processed foods or taking up a new exercise habit, it starts best with the most reasonable small act of change.
Want to start walking but not sure if a 5km walk is going to be actionable? Start by putting your shoes on and walking outside. If you continue, success. If you come back in again, still a success. Next time, try a few more steps out the drive way, up the street, round the block. You can see how it can grow.
You change best by feeling good
Success ‘is’ every single positive step forward, no matter how small. Each and every step forward deserves a celebration, because it feels good, not to show off and seek social media likes! That celebration can be a ‘YES’ inside your head, a smile, or a fist pump – it all feels good. Feeling good feels good.
Celebrate every single success no matter how small. It feels good and feeling good feels good.
The kettlebell clean is an unsung hero of kettlebell training. Not only does it provide a ‘best practice’ to delivering the kettlebell to the rack position (on your shoulder) for pressing etc, but it’s also a fantastic movement for building resilience, power and strong arms and grip.
Less technical than the snatch, the clean does still demand a few nuances for your safety and optimal opportunities for your pressing, squatting and other ballistics (push press and jerk).
In the video blog post (aka Vlog) below I’ve covered some key points.
For more detailed clean pointers, check out this video.
Keen to learn more? Maybe you already use kettlebells and would like a technique tune up?