Thursday, November 29, 2012

Q-Bert Would Have Been a Terrible Training Coach

Yeah, I know - I'm dating myself.  Well, that and I'm also making a rather tenuous connection between an '80s video game and the world of health and fitness (which is, in and of itself somewhat ironic given the current state of our society's youth as a result of video games - but I digress)...

The somewhat obscure metaphor I'm trying to draw is that your training program should resemble  s a staircase - a linear path towards a specific goal.  This isn't to say that there may not be times where you have to change staircases... nor is it suggesting that there isn't any opportunity for a fun deviation.  However - if you are constantly changing direction and bounding all over the place without a specific target... you wind up never getting anywhere.

Like Q-Bert.  (See - you just have to be patient... I'll get there).

For those who don't remember (or know it in the first place), Q-Bert lived on a pyramid of steps, and all he did was bounce around - trying to make sure he landed on every step once, and avoiding the death-balls that were raining down on him.  And this, quite honestly, is what I see a lot of people doing with their training... they randomly go to the gym, do a random selection of exercises, maybe jump in on a bootcamp, occasionally a spin class, go for a run, try out Zumba, take Greco Roman wrestling... and all of it to avoid the impact of poor lifestyle choices.  But it's not actually going anywhere.

The point is, you can (and should) try all of these things out if you want - bottom line is they're all fun, they're all active and all of them can be a part of bigger picture.  But you still need to have a goal - a direction - something that ties all of them together.  If you don't do this, then it's like monkeys and typewriters - sure, at some point banging the keys will spell a word, but you're never going to get a story out of it...

Back off... I'm writing a training program.

So find something that you really enjoy - or really challenges you - and publicly announce what you're training for.  Maybe you want to run a half marathon, or fit into a certain tuxedo for a wedding... maybe you want to be better in rec hockey, or beat your friend in a dance competition... whatever the case may be, commit to it, find a program that helps you get there - and start climbing.

Oh, and as a side note - yes, I sucked at Q-Bert.  Probably why I still resent him and what he stands for. 


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cry Baby

I feel safe in the assumption that even the most loving parent can feel frustrated by a crying baby. Crying is an annoying sound (kind of like an alarm clock missing the snooze). It's supposed to be. If it was a pleasant sound, crying would be easy to ignore and the baby's needs would never be met. Crying is a baby's only way of communicating.

You body is like a crying baby. Say what? Think about it. Your body can't tell you with words what it wants, it can only send signals to let you know how it's feeling and it's up to you to figure out what it needs. The only difference between the baby and your body is that sometimes your body is easier to ignore than the baby.

Can you imagine listening to a crying baby 24/7? That sounds like a form of Chinese water torture. Like it or not you and your body are in it for the long haul, and the longer you ignore what it's trying to tell you the more painful it's going to get for you. (Side note: Your body would make a great mobster, and I've clearly been watching too much of the new television show, Vegas!)

The point. The next time you're thinking about working through that annoying 'niggle' stop, shut up and listen. It's your job as parent of your body to figure out what's disrupted its' chi. And, if you have any experience at all with crying babies (or your body) you'll know that pretending it's not happening is not a solution 'cause you won't have a moments peace until you find the source of your discomfort.

There is a time and place for pushing through it 'Rocky style' but this probably isn't one of them. If you push your body, your body is going to push back... and in this instance it has the upper hand. So listen to it and for the love of God calm the crying baby.


**Trying to stay in shape this holiday season?  Contact myself or Guy for information on our "Holiday Hold 'Em" strategy program, running out of Innovative Fitness Langley!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Your Kung Fu Sucks

We've all known someone - usually in high school, actually - who thought they were a kung fu warrior.  You know him - he's watched all the movies, read all the books - and with what he sees, he likes to try it out for a good 15 minutes a day, learning how to do the real cool shit (like a spin kick to the head).  The thing is (assuming this guy didn't get pummeled soundly first), these guys rarely took any actual classes. 
"Now can I learn the spin kick?"

Now, there is an exception to every rule - frankly, I ran the risk of becoming one of these guys myself, as I started watching the ninja movies at 11 years old, and had a karate book that had a bunch of drills to work on (of course, I pretty much just did the kicking).  But aside from having the wooden sword hanging on my wall (sigh - yes, it's true) I actually started training at the age of 12, and continued right up until I was about 30.  But during these 18 years, I saw lots of "these guys" coming in... they wanted to learn the ass-blasting roundhouse, but they didn't want to practice the basic patterns.  And when they actually did practice the basic moves, it was half-ass... they'd do the required number of reps but usually by the time they reached halfway they were, at best, mimicking the move (badly) just to "get it done" - so they they could go on to the awesomeness.

But they never did, because the instructor wouldn't progress them until they mastered the basics.

Strangely enough - the same applies to all other movement-based skills.  Dance, sports... even weight training.  They all have fundamental movements that have to be mastered before you can start doing the advanced things.

So stop it.  Stop rushing.  Stop finishing with terrible form on reps, stop adding more weight, stop trying to skip the hard work.  Otherwise, at some point I can guarantee... you're going to get your ass kicked.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Butts You Can Bounce A Quarter Off Of and Fitness Unicorns

My sister had her wedding in Thailand two years ago and I was one of her bridesmaids. While there I had the opportunity to meet many of her good friends, and I remember one of them in particular because she had a bangin’ body. She was athletic-looking, with enviable abs and a butt you could bounce a quarter off of.  Want to know how she did it? You don’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway. 

She did absolutely, freakin’ nothing. She was a fitness unicorn. She ate what she wanted when she wanted and drank like a fish.

Now, everyone knows someone blessed by the body Gods, but that’s not the point of this story. The point is everyone’s genetics are different, so just because you know someone who can be lean without a lot of effort, doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. The most important thing is to listen to your own body and keep track of your progress. 

Can you get lean without being super strict? Yes and no. Ultimately, it depends on where you’re starting. The more body fat you have, the easier it is to lose. Once you get under 18% if you’re a female and 10% if you’re a male, it becomes more difficult to lean out, which means a more regimented diet and exercise program are in order. 

It’s easy to look at others with an envious eye but every body is different - what works for one person is not necessarily going to work for another. Case in point: my sister’s friend with the enviable abs, whereas the only way I could have abs easily (read: those without strict nutrition and training) would be to buy the "paint on" ones... though, given that I shower daily this may end up being a costly venture after all.
The non-diet, no-work budget abs...
Bottom line: the most accurate way to track your progress is to judge yourself against yourself and stay away from the fitness unicorns.