Are you future proofing yourself?

Heading to the gym to lift weights, run on a treadmill or cycle on a stationary is all fine and grand – good entertainment while getting your pump on or raising your pulse rate.

But, is it really natural physical development as per our design? If all you care about is burning calories – go for it. But if you’re invested in personal physical development to enhance your life and into the future, it probably isn’t hitting the mark.

What day to day tasks do you struggle at?

I used to struggle with jumping, more specifically the landing. Feet would hurt, knees weren’t sure what was happening and my back wanted to disown me.

Walking in the countryside entails a bit of leaping and what about those days when the heavy rain turns every curb-side into a river? You need to learn how to leap, jump and especially stick the landing.

So, are you future proofing yourself?

Sticking the landing

Eye Training!

Most of us happen to live in a very media focused life. Entertainment is served through a screen, we learn and educate via screens and work in front of a screen too. If you have a life mostly void of screen time, I commend you and I’m envious and I’m sure you probably don’t get eye strains much. Limiting range of focus and specialising in short range focus is just not what the eyes are made for. As I often talk about – when you take away a natural element of our being, other parts will suffer. Take away a function of the eyes and the eyes will struggle.

For those who do get eye strains and tired eyes from screen time, yes, time away from the screen should be scheduled but, you could and should take a couple of minutes a few times a week or per day and train your eyes. And you should of course get your eyes tested for general health every year too.

Eye training will not mitigate ageing vision, that’s just part of getting old, deal with it, but you can develop more resilient eyes with the following simple exercises I will share with you.

Be More Erful… the Path to Usefulness

Exercise as a tool to use for personal physical development is fantastic but, is it enough to make an impact on your usefulness in a wider sense?

Here’s my odd question for you; “Are you erful”?

What the hell is erful? Well, I do like to make up words to define ‘things’ which other words don’t quite purvey. In this case, it’s simple the conjoining of er and ful, the suffixes to many (positive) adjectives.

  • Stronger
  • Fitter
  • Faster
  • Powerful
  • Nicer
  • Helpful
  • Friendlier
  • Healthier
  • Playful
  • Useful

Only a few things are important in life. Money, car, mortgage on awesome home, latest iPhone, annual overseas holiday, designer shoes? Nope, I argue these are not vital or important in life if your intentions are wholesome, honest and healthy. No one really cares if you have these. As we get older our family and friends won’t care about what we have. They will be concerned with what we can do for ourselves and others. Can we move well, get dressed, feed and bathe ourselves and do we have good health and friends.

“What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.” ~ the Dalai Lama

I love to make use of training, exercise and to practice the physical elements that make up a healthy physical recipe for me and my clients but I am really starting to contemplate how we can follow a better recipe for improved general usefulness. Maybe it’s the current situation where coronavirus is now part of our day-to-day vocabulary. Maybe it’s an increased awareness of the people around us. How are they? Are they struggling in any way? Are they wary of me? Am I contagious? Can I help in some small way? If you’re not sleeping so well right now, it’s possibly because your brain is ticking over these thoughts in your subconscious.

I want to be more useful in general to myself, my family, my community in the ‘now’ and in the future.

How do we do that? I am actually not too sure. What I do know is that it’s a practice that starts with turning up, starting something and learning on the fly with hint of preparation of course.

About a year ago I did start this process with the realisation that strength and mobility training to be just stronger and more mobile was less useful than I first thought in the absence of purpose and context. I wrote about this over a few posts but now I realise that the other stuff beyond the strict, formulaic physical actions must be included.

We need more play, more social interaction of the non-internet type, we need more friendly eye contact and ‘hello, how are you’, we need to offer our help to others more often. It would be great if we could develop more of this whilst continuing to be more physically healthy.

My mid 2020 calendar was filled originally with more social sessions in the great outdoors that included meeting up, doing some strength work, play, balance, climbing, cooking up a BBQ and having a laugh. Hopefully soon I can roll these out so I can dive deeper into being more erful!

Are you already erful or do you want to be more erful? Get in touch if you have a story to share or if you’d like to join us some time.

The Side Bent Sit Get Up

What a mouthful, but it will do until someone comes up with a better name. It does however describe this get up nicely.

Part 4 of the Get Up series looks at the quirky Side Bent Sit Get Up. Whereas the last part looked at the very bilateral / straight up and down Prone Get Up, the Side Bent Sit Get Up builds in rotation, balance and coordination yet, still with a wonderful component of flow and relaxation. I guess that comes with practice though.

This roll differs from the Strength and Prone get up in that it commences with a roll into position to undertake the actual getting up. This adds some momentum and can therefor add this get up into the category of movements that prepare us for fall recovery. If you’re going to lose balance and fall backwards onto your butt, at least know how to get up with flare and style.

Here’s the video.

The best way to learn this style of get up is to practice. In the video I have built in steps to practice to best prepare for the full get up.

Got any feedback? Maybe you’d like me to appraise your Get Up? I’d love to help any way I can.

Does exercising influence the response to stress?

In my last post, ‘Exercise and Stress Response‘ I chatted about how exercise may help us build resilience to coping with stressful situations.

In part 4 today I’ll answer this question:

What have you noticed about exercise and its ability to influence your stress levels and your response to stress?

In short though, we are designed to move every day. Whilst we don’t move like humans of 100 years ago or 1000 years ago, we need to find movement modalities we enjoy to undertake every day. That can be as simple as a daily 15 minute walk, yoga, practicing other generalised movements or playing with the kids.

Moving every day and feeling good go hand in hand.

Why read when you can listen…

Got any thoughts?

 

Exercise and Stress Response

How does exercise strengthen our ability to respond to stress?

A healthy cardiovascular system will undoubtedly help us prevail over the negative influences and manifestations of stress. An unhealthy body will succumb easily and fail us.

A healthy exercise regime will develop a more resilient body but our minds need a different elixir.

A good practice I reflect on during stressful times are building stronger habits. Stressful thoughts can be overwhelming on our emotions and the dark hole of depression can be incredibly challenging to climb out of without help.

I adopted a system created by Stanford University Behavioural Scientist BJ Fogg, called Tiny Habits. Much like exercising our bodies, Tiny Habits teaches how to develop strong habits with tiny steps. This has been a game changer for me in creating a healthier mental environment around me. As one cheesy example, my phones alarm awakes me every morning with the message – ‘today will be awesome’. It may be a terrible day but I start the day with a positive and healthy mindset.

In addition to habit practice and frequent movement exercise, learning how to breathe better has many benefits to promote the parasympathetic nervous system over the sympathetic nervous system. Stress and all it’s negative family members thrive while we spend time under the influence of the sympathetic nervous systems control.

Nasal breathing and taking breaths into our diaphragm (as apposed to mouth breathing into the chest) should be a norm and a practice when stressed.

Move often – Breathe better – Start the day on a positive note. That’s how I expect my ‘exercise’ to strengthen my ability to respond to stress.

 

Got any feedback? Why not drop me a message.

Get Up!

As a coach, I’ve met plenty of people over the years who either had resistance to getting down to the floor, had previously had a fall and was reluctant to revisit the floor in any capacity or who quite frankly didn’t see any purpose to get to the floor for exercise or other.

There are many reasons to practice and train getting to the floor and back up again. Let’s make a short list.

  1. Improve your every day life and for its eventualities
  2. Prepare you with skills needed for when you have to get to the ground or a fall to the ground
  3. Improve your bodies mobility
  4. Improve your body awareness and coordination
  5. Improve your bodies resilience through increased strength and conditioning
  6. Decrease any fear of the floor
  7. Open opportunities to explore other movements and purposes of getting up and down

 

I’m not going to teach get ups in this post, but I will soon – I promise.

Here’s a glimpse of just 8 styles of ‘get ups’.

 

Got any questions or feedback? Get in touch below.

Stretchy Wednesday in Albany Creek

Strength training is an important element of a healthy lifestyle to sustain on a regular basis, but recover is just as important. That comes through rest, good nutrition and self care in the form of ‘flexibility and mobility’.

Wednesday’s seem like a good starting point to schedule in such self care and starting this week (4th March 2020) I’ll be running a focussed class to help you loosen up and get better prepared for your next training session and the rest of the week along with some chit chat.
*numbers limited so booking in is essential.

Get in touch below for more info or to book in.

 

Feeling tight, stuff, tense, tired from your training and work_   Come along for a relaxed, recovery stretching, mobility session and a good chat. (1).png

How much you Function bro?

Reframing functional training for the masses.

The whole ‘do you even [enter an exercise]’ phrase is a parody of modern gym culture with dudes and dudettes comparing each others infatuations in the gyms with one-another. “Do you even lift”? Condescending proclamation that you are smaller than me, or “Do you even bench bro?” Context: my chest is bigger than yours. Ah, what a wonderful day and age we live in! All in jest naturally but essentially such expressions continue to draw the gym and fitness world towards body part, size and looks focus. Isn’t it about me and not you?!

I’d like to jump in with my effort now albeit rather late in the game but with this question: “Do you even function bro”?

NOT FUNCTIONAL TRAINING

Functional training all started to become a buzz definition in gyms in the wake of its appropriate use in physiotherapy settings. What started at daily activity task specific training to rehabilitate poor movement habits morphed into taking elements of everything a human can do (regardless of efficacy) and turning it into a competition with oneself and others. This meanders into the CrossFit territory which has in of itself and training concept, exploded in popularity. CrossFit has done wonderful things for developing community based fitness lifestyles, bringing popularity back to gymnastics and Olympic lifting and for promoting gyms absent of machines.

My only criticism is that it’s conceptual training model of high intensity generalism leads to high risk factor exercise for the masses who do run blindly towards the high intensity functional training model when in need of a dose of exercise. Nothing wrong with HIIT from time to time, but it needs to be timely and appropriate – not a fix for all. This though is no longer a CrossFit problem but a greater problem in the pop-up copycat gyms who are jumping onboard the model, both in terms of the pursuit of high intensity training and business.

Generalism is a fine approach to improving ones physical capabilities and indeed, us humans are perfectly designed to be generally adapt at all physical expectations. We have evolved successfully by walking, climbing, running, jumping, carrying loads, picking up loads, squatting, pushing and pulling things, rotating, explosively moving and moving with intricate detail and control.

Modern human is potentially losing many of these qualities at a gross scale, but that’s a conversation over a stiff drink sometime.

Adding high intensity to complex movements is where the line should be drawn however.

The value system for many fitness organisations and programs has a broken gear box, where 5th gear seems to be the only gear. If you’re not breaking a sweat and breaking down with fatigue there’s a “what’s the point?” attitude. However, as expert generalists we shouldn’t be applying high exertions to every function we can perform. Whilst some activities like running (safely) and walking uphill lend themselves well to high efforts, snatching a barbell (intended for single repetition efforts) for multiple repetitions is a complex movement with a high risk to reward ratio. So too are all movements requiring fine skills.

If we value functioning as a better human shouldn’t we practice and develop our exercise skill and quality culture rather than fatigue culture?

What if we used our gym time as contextual strength and fitness practice and development?

As much as I love to finish my training sessions, I certainly don’t rush them to the detriment of movement quality or risking injury, or to beat some arbitrary time. I focus on completing the task at hand well, better than before but within my capabilities. My comfort zones might get shoved gently to encourage adaptation but I’m certainly not allowing ego to take over for some imaginary trophy at the end of it!

The goal is to keep the goal the goal. A now famous quote from coach Dan John. It shouldn’t require definition. My goal, everyones goal in performing physical training should be progressing positively our health, fitness and strength outcomes. It’s not a race but a credit based scheme we keep adding to until we might need to make a withdrawal. For instance, when your partner hurts an ankle during a bush walk and you’ve to support them or carry them back to the car. Or when the car breaks down and you’ve to push it somewhere safe. Maybe something more sporty, when you place high priority on the winning now and health later! Most sports fall into this realm.

Much recent sports science research supports the gradual moderation approach to long-term progress rather than transient (brief) benefits from a 4 week smash in the gym. It seems the body holds onto the benefits of our physical practices from moderate efforts with only occasional higher efforts, well planned in a training cycle.

Contextual Training

Exertion levels aside, the choice of our strength movements are really quite simple. I’ve left this last part for the end of my chit-chat.

Ask yourself this: What does your life require you to be stronger at?

Early I mentioned the general physical qualities we excel at. Let’s look again:

Walking, climbing, running, jumping, carrying loads, picking up loads, squatting, pushing and pulling things, rotating, explosively moving and moving with intricate detail and control.

If you called these 12 categories of strength and fitness, you could take each and slot in a variation that suits your needs.

Whilst walking, climbing, running are simple without much variability, the carrying, picking up, squatting, pushing, pulling and rotations will most definitely have some personalisations.

If you’re a mother or father of two young children these will have very specific personalisations.

If you’re a labourer you will have your own personalisations too, as too will sports people, people who sit or stand for a living and of course the elderly will have a set of strengths and skills required to make life better.

That is the goal isn’t it – to make life better.

I used to love heavy barbell squatting, bench pressing and even bicep curls but to be honest, I got bored after a while once I achieved what I wanted from them and I got frustrated once I started to pick up some overuse injuries. It stopped being contextual to my life. That was up until 2012. Things have evolved since then thankfully.

There is nothing wrong with having a movement specific goal but overall, using gym time to add to the quality of our lives should be priority and using programs that are contextual to our own lives is in my opinion, a step in the right direction.

To continue this conversation on a personal level, if you are intrigued by contextual training for your life, please do get in touch.

Until 2020, have a very Merry Christmas an awesome new year.

Jamie

Do you Eat like you Drive??

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Most people find that come Thursday or Friday, that their good ol willpower for the week has taken a few hits, dwindled, faded away, leaving urge after urge to give into temptations.

I had just this conversation with a gym member today who explained that she’d had (in her opinion) a bad breakfast. “It’ just took over” she said. She then went on to say, “I may as well just give up for the week and restart on Monday.”

Have you heard yourself say this too?

I used to for sure, as did my wife, my clients of past and probably heaps of people trying to improve their nutrition.

It’s an easy and simple solution. Just give up and try again next week.

But really, is this really going to help the long term goal of improving nutritional habits and fat loss?

We are human. We have faults. We make mistakes. Willpower is not an endless supply of strength. It does dwindle and is much more fickle than you’d believe.

 

What we discussed next has been a massive thought process shift for many clients. A skill like any other skill, the ability to just say, ‘I fluffed up, let’s accept the ‘bad’ meal and move on’, is quite powerful.

Rather than disrupting the process of building a new habit, simply brushing off the mistake as a one off mistake allows us to move on and get back to the game. No need to inflict guilt.

What made the idea stick though was this analogy I posed to her.

“What do you do when you clip the curb with your wheel when driving? Do you keep clipping the curbs until Monday morning or do you deal with it, brush it off as a mistake and get on with life?”

I shouldn’t need to answer that question for you. You can see clearly what it’s aimed at.

We all give in at some point. Often our other half or friends tempt us with chocolate or that big glass of wine. If you do give in, it’s fine. Deal with it by accepting it then move on and don’t wait to Monday to stop hitting curbs.

This might be a real skill to practice. You may start with this: ‘Whenever I drop off my nutrition goals, I will accept it as a one-off, forget it and move on as normal’. Hopefully you won’t have many drop offs and hopefully you’ll not clip many curbs too.

Need any help with your own nutrition goals and habits? Just shout.