We Need Strength and Wellness

We live in a day of visual fixation. Instagram and other social media has made stars out of bodies, not people. Adoration keeps these money making machines in the news feed while actual heath and fitness professionals scratch their heads in bewilderment.

In the pre bodybuilding era of the 1930s to 1950s, people exercised to perform feats of strength, for their own entertainment and that of others. Spectators gleamed at their performance not just their physiques. These people lived healthy, balanced lives with real, physical jobs and families. Physical culture was a lifestyle not just a ways to claw at attention from those looking onwards.

You might not see much difference between then and now. Just people showing off their bodies. However, one element is missing today. Wellness.

Here’s something I dug up from the Guardian: link

‘According to a 2008 Journal of Health Psychology study, women reported an increased negative mood, depression and anxiety after only 30 minutes of viewing fitness magazines that promote an “athletic ideal”. Social media means you don’t have to buy a magazine to see these images; they’re in your newsfeed. The BMJ has identified exercise addiction as a growing problem, affecting up to 10% of the exercising population’.

What I’m writing here is not a bang on the modern fitness industry, or social media but it is my observation and that of my peers that something dire has happened in the last number of years. More and more people are turning to these (often unqualified) online, social media darlings for inspiration and exercise motivation. With the label of Personal Trainer I am (was) part of that group. To most people the identity or title of Personal Trainer does for the large part sum up an image of a muscly, loud motivator by means of administering ‘hurt’. But that’s not what I do. Yes, I know there are plenty of trainers who practice healthy exercise promotion, but we are few and far between.

I recently rejoined the instagram world after a 6 month break after finding myself feeling down and miserable, as I compared myself to the war zone of fitness information being broadcast. If it wasn’t another fitpro trying to sell me his or her 6 week program to making 7 figure $$$$ as a gym owner, it was the brigade of muscly dudes and dudettes making me feel physical inferior.

Coming back after my break I’ve blocked those feeds and prefer to share my healthier approach to becoming fitter, stronger and healthier.

And with that, I have rebranded FitStrong Personal Training to FitStrong Strength & Wellness.

FITSTRONG STRENGTH & WELLNESS Banner 2019

This has been a process of plentiful thought but after 22+ as a trainer I want to stick to my guns and promote the healthiest methods and practices to becoming fitter and stronger – just like the banner says!

Of course I’ll still be carrying out personal training, small group training, seniors classes and online training and such, but I will be actively promoting the other vital components that actually allow us to become fitter and stronger. I’ve written about them before but in short… here’s an infographic:

Fitness Map

Over the coming months I intend to write about each of these 5 areas (yellow boxes) in more detail to ‘map’ their position in an optimal lifestyle program of sorts. This will become the overarching drive of business going into the future and I am really excited to start into this new strategy.

My goal as a trainer is to help people. It really is that simple. What I identify as important is that we live well, with strength, agility and resilience, both physically and mentally.

Rather than following the tribe of social media stars I am going to start my own tribe and in the words of coach Dan John, the Goal is the keep the Goal the Goal.

the GOAL is to keep the GOAL the GOAL (1)

 

Got any feedback or questions? Please contact me below or if local to the greater Brisbane area, call me on 0450487237 or hey, get me on Facebook or Instagram .

Yours in Fitness, Strength & Wellness,

Jamie

I’m not flexible, I’m mobile!

A large component of my training focuses on moving well and that’s a journey I started after old sports injuries slowed me down and made my life a general discomfort, a stressor and forced me to stop a lot of the things I enjoyed… Gosh, what a miserable way to start a blog post!

Let’s fix that right now.

In the present day, I move a lot better, pretty dam well by average standards, my aches and pains are largely under control and I do get to play more, running around the bush (countryside for non-Aussies) and swing, press and squat my Kettlebells. Life’s generally rocking sweet \m/(><)\m/

IMG_0314When I share my training sessions or demonstrate some movements I get called bendy or flexible, “ooh, you must stretch all the time”, they say!

Actually, I do only one stretch most days (video below) but I do practice a fair amount of mobility.

Now, mobility isn’t just a description of not being confined to a chair for large periods of time as it often applies to some of our seniors. Mobility is something much more, but also includes the ability to get out of a seat too.

Mobility is NOT flexibility!

Flexibility describes the movement of a joint or the range of movement of a limb or torso often with the aid of gravity pulling upon it or a force being applied to it. Think of the hamstring flexibility stretch where stretchees (think I just made up that word… mmmm) sit on the floor, grab their toes with the legs straight and pull themselves forward. Or maybe a chest stretch with an arm pulled backwards against a wall or a post. Whilst these are fine stretches to temporarily relieve a general tension, mobility adds a much more applicable element, that of strength and integrity in the joints.

A lot of our daily practices from sitting, prolonged standing, chronic stillness to even sports can, over time, lead to a lack of good movement or the ability to control a limbs movement without restriction. These are often due to imbalances or over dominant movements, but that’s a topic for another day.

The Dangerous Deficit

Aye, that heading does sound like a bad title to an even badder book about finances but it’s not.

While being able to move to a certain range of movement before the body stops us is our flexibility, being able to use our strength to attain a full range of movement is mobility. Where there is a large difference between the two, a movement deficit, there is a greater risk of injury during physical activities.

Being able to control a movement to a certain point is done so with control and integrity, but once you go beyond that point, is there still control and integrity? Nope. The chance of injury has now increased and should loading be applied… well, the risk sores higher.

So you may be asking if flexibility is bad, well, no. It’s the difference between your flexibility and mobility that’s the problem.

You can be flexible and mobile but should not be flexible and immobile.

You clear on the message? If not, please get in touch and I’ll happily elaborate further…. and check out the videos below 😀

Everyone’s got to have the sickness

‘Cause everyone seems to need the cure

-Metallica

Yep, stiff and sore people are flailing their bodies around gym mats in the hope of curing what ails them and their tight this, that and the other, but dammit, what they need is to get stronger in their movement practice.

A mobility plan doesn’t need to be very hectic, painful or even that challenging to begin with. Like every physical endeavour, mobility training can be taken to extremes and I’m all for progressing but for most of us and definitely beginners, a slow and reasonable routine should be followed, practiced and really ‘owned’ before looking at advancements for their enhancements!

Where to start?

Well, I’m a lovely young man, well that’s what the old people describe me as and everyone else doesn’t think too badly of me either, so I’m happy to share some simple demos below just to give you an idea of what could be included in a personal mobility plan.

If you like reading, check out the Original Strength books from Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert, it is probably the one system that has influenced me the most.

The simplicity of mobility training makes it often an easy component of exercise to ignore or belittle, especially when the movements may look odd, unloaded, don’t require any equipment etc. But by embracing an every day practice without duress or stress can lead to great outcomes in physicals wellness which will include improved strength.

These are some of the basic mobility drills everyone can and should play with on a daily basis.

Rocking:

Segmented Rolling:

Windshield Wipers:

Squats:

Frog stretch: by Master SFG Jon Engum

My only stretch:

Brettzel Stretch 1.0:

Brettzel 2.0:

Click HERE for other mobility sessions. 

You really don’t have to make a big deal about mobility practice. It’s just something to build into a daily habit and may mean starting with just on move that you feel adds to your day. Maybe something that frees up an irritating tight spot or a movement that is fun or inspires you to get on with your day with vitality or maybe a mobility drill that you find challenging like crawling.

In any case, the point here is to find a movement practice that you will actually practice. Just get it done, thrive and move on with your day.

As an example, here’s an actual example of what I do early morning before my first clients arrive.

This year I’m running frequent  Mobility Workshops. If you would like to attend, please get in touch to get onto the mailing list. (no junk, just notification of upcoming workshops)

Who’s the Boss?

I love to program training, from the exercises, to the individual session, to the month long cycle, I just love the process of planning.

Since the 90’s I’ve always planned training to the precise detail or what I thought was detailed enough. This is going to get done now, that later and the other stuff then – well, obviously the details were somewhat more specific but, a periodised program was designed and followed. The numbers were written down and achieved as planned.

In the early stages of a trainees ‘exercise lifetime’, progression can pretty much be set in stone. Progress will be swift in most cases especially in younger trainees. You can pretty much say that within X amount of months you’ll achieve Y weight on the squat etc.

However, once we get a number of years training under our belts (proverbial belt, I don’t wear training belts) things get a bit more interesting [read frustrating and unpredictable]. We all start to wear out somewhat after years of training stress and often times after unnecessarily prolonged stressful training, chasing pain for numbers for results and not taking enough down time for example.

We pick up little injuries from our endeavours, we forget the essential mobility ‘stuff’, we only do what we want to do and not what we need to do at times and generally can become side-tracked with our goals without paying attention to the ‘stuff I’ll do later’. Of course, this shouldn’t be read as a blanket statement as many trainees do indeed pay attention to their goals along with listening to their bodies and providing what the body needs.

This particular aspect of training is my topic of todays post.

While the goal of training should be kept the goal, we really should listen to our body and more importantly learn how to listen to our body.

Listening to our body can be as simple as paying attention to how your energy feels on any given day in relation to the average. If you wake up and feel crappy, stiff and grumpy maybe that day isn’t the day you should be aiming to set a new Bench PR (but my program says so… argh!!!!)

Listening to your body can also be taking note of little niggles and working on them with the usual stretches, foam rolling, prodding yourself painfully with a lacrosse ball! This particular method has been increasingly popular in the recent years and for some people proves very beneficial when recommended professionally for justified reasons by a well skilled and qualified therapist / practitioner 😉

YOU, may not need this torture type of intervention to respond to your bodies off feeling, there are other ways to Ctrl Alt Del your bodies error messages or reset its systems.

You can be proactive and use your body in the way it’s made for in order to assess yourself, reset systems, work out little niggles and all in one go.

No, I’m not about to sell a new wonder drug to fix what ails ya. snake-oil

Warming up is a curious aspect to most gym rats routine that can be summed up as quickly as putting on your gloves, doing a couple of neck  rolls and throwing a pair of plates on the bar before just getting into the plan of day.

Warming up is of course a process of athletically preparing the body with movements for the ensuing training session and I’ve always used it as a way of assessing how the body feels on any given day. Until recently that measuring system gave some minor redirection to the program plan in terms of sets and reps and intensity or how much time I should probe my back, traps and hips with my lacrosse ball!

My typical warm up until 2014 would have included dynamic stretches, core activation exercises and movements to prep the body for the particular session. This was followed by any specific foam rolling or lacrosse ball abuse I felt I needed to continue my session.

So, what’s changed? I have become a baby again, that’s what’s changed. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve become a wimp, taken up prancersise and Zumba with a shake weight, It means I’ve reacquainted myself and my body with how we were meant to move to allow my body to undo the stresses that cause the imbalances that lead to the tight spots.

I roll on the floor from belly to back like a baby would to tactfully massage my hips and ready my core. I get my body in touch with my nervous system by controlling my head and spine with a simple series of nods up an down, over each shoulder, much like a baby does. I rock back and forth on my hands and knees like a baby does to prep my hips and deep core for my bipedal activities. I crawl to initiate the nervous system further, putting my body to use in a hard-wired, human locomotion that further readies my body for the training and the whole time I am mobilising my body, I am firing up the core, I am ‘loosening up’ and I am getting my body reset to a point, in a natural system we all went through in the early days of our physical development.

During this process lasting anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes I get undivided attention from my body. It lets me know what’s tight and what I need to spend more time on from nods, rolls, rocks or crawls and sometimes it lets me know how much is enough.

Who’s the boss, the program or you?

My session today called for some simple goblet squats (just testing a shoulder problem) and Turkish Get Ups up to a moderately hard effort, probably the 40kg kettlebell.

However, as I rolled, nodded, rocked and crawled I became increasingly aware that my hips were not just up for either squatting, doing Get Ups or anything else with external loading, so I crawled, and crawled some more.

It felt clunky in my hips initially but as I progressed through 10 sets of 30 seconds of crawling and 30 seconds of rest I became increasingly more comfortable, more mobile, more happy and by the end I was not just warm and sweaty, but intrinsically satisfied that I had done enough for the day. I was thinking of starting the squats and Turkish Get Ups but inside, I kind of new it may not be the best day to do them… Tomorrow is another new day, and maybe the day for a 40 or 48kg Turkish Get Up and good, better or the best Goblet Squats – I’ll let my body decide.

To learn more about this restorative training system, please, please, please visit Original Strength at http://originalstrength.net/

crawl to tiger

Listen to your body, its the boss, just learn to listen.

If you’re local to me, please find the time to come try out some of these movements.

Peace y’all,

Jamie