10 Fitness Myths

  1. You can target fat

Whilst you can train specific muscle groups you can’t lose fat from a specific area, you can however reduce body fat overall which will in turn help you reduce fat in that target area.

2. No pain, No gain

The idea that if you don’t have DOMs the next day you didn’t work hard enough can be detrimental.  DOMs will typcially be felt when the muscles are reacting to a new stimulus (so you’re doing something different or increasing intensity) so you shouldn’t really be feeling them every single time you train.  Moreover, as long as you are feeling good and a bit sweaty / fatigued at the end of a sesison you’re all good, don’t feel like every sessions needs to be a killer.

3. Never miss a Monday

The sentiment here is start your week well, but what if Monday isn’t convenient?  Does that mean the rest of your weorkouts will be ineffective and your week a write off?  Of course not.  This harks back to the idea that a diet should ‘start Monday’ and can be a negative way of thinking, restricting your outlook.  If Monday works for you – train, if not, it’s not a better day than any other so worry not.

4. Weights will make you bulky

I don’t want to lift heavy because I don’t want to gte bulky. Those of us who have been lifting for years WISH it was as easy as just lifting weights to get ‘bulky’.  What lifting will do is help you get the kind of definition that won’t make you look ‘big and bulky’ but will help you look leaner and feel good.  You’ll also feel strong as fuck. 

  • Body part splits are the best way to train

Tradionally if you are a serious ‘lifter’ you’ll train body parts- leg day, arm day, shoulder, back.   That’s fine if you want to go down that route, for many though focusing on compound lifts (deadlifts, sqauts, rows) and taking a more roudned approach to each session will allow for more results in less time.

  • You should never train when ill

If th symptoms are above the neck (a blocked up nose for instance) and you feel ok to train then do (just take it easy).  Ultimately you need to be sensible here and listen to your own body.

  • Sweating is a sign of being out of shape

Some people sweat more than others and often the fitter someone is the quicker they start to sweat into a workout so don’t worry sweating is not a sign of being unfit.

  • Sit ups will give you abs

Crunches will help strengthen your core (along with many other core based exercises) but ultimately your body fat needs to be low enough for your abs to be visible so sit ups alone with not give you a six pack.  What may be more beneficial in terms of your core is to think about strengthen it for functional reasons, to help you feel stronger, move better and reduce the risk of injuries.

  • Running beats walking

Running is more efficient in term sof covring distance and will increase your heart rate more but in terms of movement and muscles worked the two are very similar, so if you have the time and want to hike instead of run go for it.

  1. Options in classes are always easier / less effective

This perception can make people feel bad or like they are getting less of a workout, which is simply not true.  You may take an option because you can’t yet do a particular move sure, but maybe your injured or tired or maybe you want to work on a different focus.  A well performed option may be far more effective than a fatigued poorly performed rep of something else.  Equally sometimes an instructor will give advanced options to progress a move, or sometimes in class I’ll give various options depending on what you want to focus on that day (maybe speed or strength) – neither is easier it just depends on what you want.  The upshot is listen to the instructor and don’t assume one option is every superior to another. 

Motivation is a con

How often do you say I’ll start Monday or tomorrow and then just never quite get round to it?

I don’t just mean diets or exercise, anything really. Motivation to want something is easy but motivation to actually act upon that want is much harder to come by.

That’s because motivation is really a bit of a con. Often to get motivated you need to see some results and to see some results you need to get started with something.

So rather than waiting until you are motivated you need to find a way to get started with something even if you don’t feel motivated to do so.

The easiest way to do this is to get into the habit of doing things. Once something is habit it’s easy to do it almost on autopilot, without having to think too much about it.

Creating habits is however, again, hard.

Until that is you create systems.

You want to make drinking more water a habit. To do that you need to remember to drink water often across the day. Systems to do this could include buying a half gallon water bottle for your desk, setting an app that reminds you at regular intervals, having a pint of water as soon as you wake up.

You want to train more often. Systems to help could include booking a class or arranging to train with a friend so it’s an appointment you can’t skip, identifying all your training windows in a week so if you miss one you know when else you can train, working with a PT or signing up for a challenge so you have a reason not to skip training.

When we start a project at work it seems obvious to make a list of what needs to be done and break it down into tasks and work out the best way of doing each task. We can approach our fitness in much the same way and take away the element of needing to feel motivated from the equation.

We Are Back

Today we head back to indoor classes. That means more than just doing classes again, it means a change to routine, sleep patterns, activity levels, how I plan my week.

I think we have all wondered over the last few weeks about our fitness levels, how we would feel in the first few classes back. We’ve all looked forward to seeing people again after such a long time.

Remember this week however, if you are back in the gym doing classes, whether as an instructor or participant, that fitness levels will improve. It is however bound to feel a bit tough at first, but that’s ok, because it will feel like that for all of us.

What I think we need to focus on this week, instead of ‘getting back to where we were before’, is making sure we don’t over do it and making time to recover as well.

There is bound to be a bit of an urge to go for it, and for instructors, you’ve no choice but to teach all your classes. I think it’s worth remembering however that when we fist started doing classes we probably built up to the levels we were at when Lockdown hit. Since then there’s been over a year of upheaval and it will take a bit of time to ease back in to feeling ok with our previous levels of activity. You might have noticed if you’ve gone from working from home to back into the office, just that change to your day can actually be pretty knackering.

Enjoy your classes this week, but rest and recover too.

Are you ready for classes?

Who’s slightly nervous to get back to classes?

I’m really excited to get back to teaching and to see everyone again and move to music (I find it so much more motivating than working out alone) but I’m also a bit apprehensive about how hard it’s going to feel in those first few classes.

The truth is, no matter how much I prepare in the gym I know that doing a full on group cycle class for 45 minutes or a HIIT class is going to feel really tough. I remember after the first lockdown when I taught my first class I was beetroot after. Like redder and more sweaty and out of breath than I think I’ve ever been. Sitting on a bike had never felt so uncomfortable (three classes in 24 hours when you haven’t sat on a bike for a while is an experience let me tell you).

Of course that makes me a little nervous, but I keep reminding myself that everyone else is coming back from the same break. If I struggle a little during a class I’m likely to be feeling the same as many of the class members and together we will all get used to training again and gradually rebuild our endurance levels.

Ultimately I know none of that will really matter because as soon as we start and the music starts playing it will feel so good to get back to it any tiredness will be totally worth it.

So if you’re nervous about your fitness or whether you’ll be able to get through a class when we re-start, don’t be, fitness is a never ending journey and we will always have periods where our fitness peaks and troughs and at least this time many of us will all be in the same boat and the same time.

Building Back Slowly

Back at the gym this week. I’m incredibly glad about this, I feel like I’ve trained harder this week than the last year out together. It’s also ironically made running feel better, partly I think because I’ve run slightly less so my legs have felt a bit fresher on the days I have.

What is going to be a challenge however is fitting the gym (and soon teaching) back into my normal life. I think over the last year I’ve got so used to not being able to go to the gym and just getting up, going to work then training at home or running that adding the gym back in is going to feel a bit weird. Even if I use the gym at work at lunch time which I used to do I’m out of this habit so it’s going to take some effort to get used to doing this again.

Part will be fitting everything back in and getting sued to a change in tempo (as well as going out and about again now that we can kind of see people again). Part of it will be getting back the stamina to do everything I used to do and not feel totally shattered.

I think this is something I will need to mindful of over the coming weeks, as I’m sure many more of us will also. When someone first starts training and looking to add exercise into their routine we always say ‘build up slowly’ ‘don’t expect to be able to train every day or you’ll be setting yourself up for a fall’. Wise words of course and incredibly correct.

We are all kind of starting from scratch at the moment though, so I think it wise for us all to remember, whether we are new to exercise or regular gym goers or even gym / class instructors or PTs, that we need to build ourselves back up- not only to the amount of weight we can lift in the gym, but also to the actual intensity of our every day lives pre Lockdown.

Need a nudge getting ready to go back to the gym?

Last week my friend launched a short online course to help group exercise instructors and participants feel good about the lifting of lockdown and the return to the gym / classes.

He’s a coach and trainer who knows Group Exercise and it’s demands well.

The course is free!

What you’ll get:

  • Jump Pyramids of Priority
  • Jump 4.2 Method
  • Access to Jump Facebook Group

To get involved and start now head here:

https://www.rickylong.com/offers/LfGPYkW2/checkout

This is perfect for you if you need a bit of a nudge to get you ready for the gyms opening again in April.

Did you gain weight in Lockdown?

Ten reasons you might have put weight on during the Pandemic

  1. Boredom – You eat because, what else is there to do? When you can barely leave the house celebrations, treats, relaxation can all tend to be food based activities. When you’re bored, eating is something you can do, or cooking, and if you’ve cooked it you’ll eat it right? This has led to you eating more than before and more than you expend. That can lead to weight gain.
  2. You became the new Mary Berry – Tied in with number 1, I think I was the only person in the world not to bake banana bread in lockdown ‘the original’. If you managed to find some flour it was likely you baked. As above, the more you bake and then eat the more likely you are to find yourself in a calorie surplus.
  3. Comfort Eating / Stress – We’ve all been more stressed than normal this last year. For some you may eat less when stressed, but if you’re like me you’ll find yourself eating more, it’s a form of comfort eating. Eating lots of (normally) high calorie foods can be a way of trying to make yourself feel better but also a way of making it more likely you’ll be in a calorie surplus.
  4. More booze – Maybe you’re less about the food and more about the booze. Drinking from home is now the only way we can drink and another way to maybe settle the nerves and beat the boredom. But it’s cheaper than pubs and the measures are bigger so the calories can be deceptively high.
  5. Less gym / more Netflix – Gyms are closed meaning for many our normal way of training is not an option. We adapted but you may be missing aspects of your normal routine, be in variety, intensity, volume. This may mean you’re expending fewer calories. Equally, who hasn’t completed Netflix / Amazon Prime / More 4? Jesus I watched the whole series of MAFS in two weeks. With less options to go outside there is just more sitting in the day, again leaving us to burn fewer calories.
  6. Less NEAT – Which leads me to NEAT- the calories you burn when not specifically exercising. These make up the majority of your calories. Before Covid if you went to the gym there will have been the getting ready, packing a bag, walking there and back whereas now you stand up off the sofa and you’re ready to go. Before Covid you travelled to and from work, to the shops, to social occasions, you moved about without thinking about it. You may now be consciously going for a daily walk which is great, but you’re probably still moving less.
  7. WFH – No commute, no popping out for a coffee / lunch, no moving about the office / shop / restaurant. You might also find you snack more. You’re near your fridge- makes grazing so much easier. Working from home equates to moving less and possibly consuming more.
  8. Disrupted sleep patterns – Lack of sleep and weight gain tend to be a common couple. The stress of the last year and the change to our routines has affected many people’s sleep patterns. That may be affecting you’re weight.
  9. ‘The Third Lockdown Trap’ – Is it just me or did you maintain weight in the summer when you could run outside until late and the light evenings meant you wanted to train but come the winter Lockdowns you were tired by the evening and the dark made it feel later than it was and you just lost all motivation? By this time fatigue had also set in and in general I struggled so much more to want to eat well or train. The gym is a saviour in the winter because it provides the environment I need to keep me motivated. I missed that.
  10. Changes in shopping habit – You could no longer get an online shop maybe, going around a shop leads to more temptation to buy high calories foods to add to your normal diet which you may normally avoid with online shopping. The feeling that when you went shopping your should buy everything you could need for the week to avoid unessential trips so buying way too much and eating it anyway. These little changes to our habits could create a calorie surplus unwittingly.

Now I think for almost all of us this is the first Pandemic we’ve ever lived through (and going from the hording of last March most of us probably imagined living through a Pandemic would be slightly more dramatic with looting, soldiers and check points than the daily walks, Banana Bread and home workouts that it was), it’s not a shock therefore if at some point over the three lockdowns, 4 tiers and all the rules in between you’ve found the change in your daily life had led to some weight gain.

Is it a bad thing? No, there are many bigger problems of course. That being said weight change can make you feel less comfortable in your skin, less confident and if there’s one thing we do know about Covid- being fit and healthy helps reduce the chances of getting seriously ill. So you might well want to lose a bit of weight, get back into feeling fit again and that’s ok, we’re all allowed to feel our best at a certain shape / size and want to maintain that.

But there is no shame in having put on a bit of weight, it’s hardly a shock, none of us knew how to react and it’s hard to handle your emotions when faced with uncertainty and the unknown. We do know that guilt over any weight gain won’t help you however. Understanding why you may have gained the weight can help you both feel more empathy for your self (why do we always judged ourselves much more harshly than others) and also work out what we need to make the right changes to start to get back to where you’d like to be.

Are You Ready?

How ready are you for things to go back to normal?

I don’t mean physically.  There are so many posts and articles about getting gym ready, summer body ready, lockdown lifting body ready.  I mean mentally.

In the aftermath of the first Lockdown, as much as I, like evryone else, was desperate for a return to normaity, found it harder than I thought to adjust to the canges in my Lockdown routine.  I wasan’t alone at the time and I said then that, whilst we all put a lot of thought into how we would cope with Lockdown as the prospect loomed ahead of us in March, none of us thought we’d need to try hard to get back to normal.  Actually though humans tend to adapt to circumstances quite quickly as a way of surviving and it wasn’t quite as easy a transition as many of us thought.

Since then we’ve had almost constant change.   Manchester went back into Lockdown in July last year and has never really left it (we went from Local Lockdown to Tier 2, Tier 3, Lockdown, new Tier 3, Tier 4, Lockdown).  We’ve gone from beign abl to go to the pub, get out haircut, go to the gym, to going to the gym but not classes, going to the pub but onl with a meal, to not beign able to go anywhere at all.  We’ve not really been allowed to travel apart from around 6 weeks last summer.

As much as everyone is desperate to leave this never ending barage of rules it isn’t wholey surprising that this brings an element of anxiety.  In recent days I’ve seen some emotional outbursts in reaction to Covid, heard people say ‘things are changing too quickly’.  I don’t think all these people are scared of Covid or a risk of the spread 9some are of course).  I think some people are just a wee bit anxious about the chnges to a routine, which whilst mind numbing, most of us have ended up settling into to stay sane.

Much in the same way almost every PT on Instagram has said it’s ok to go back to the gym having gained weight, not lifted, not trained much and to not feel bad for it, it’s also ok to really want this to end but still feel a bit apprehensive about going back to things that were once normal but have not been for some time now, be that the office, the gym, social settings and so on.

Have you met Jeff?

Are you someone who’d like to run more but always feel like you have to stop after a while so have given up? The Jeff Galloway Walk Run method could be game changer for you.

Jeff was training non runners to start running back in the 1970s and through initial training sessions and courses where he took non runners to 5k distances and more he concluded that a mix of running and walking could both improve times and reduce injury.

Now it’s generally accepted that when someone first starts running a mixture of walking for a bit running for a bit is a great starting point. Most people have the mind set however that as you progress the goal should be to run all distances continuously without walking breaks. and that to get a PB you must just run faster and never walk

The Galloway Run Walk method argues that by walking and running in set ratios you can speed up your half marathon time by around 7 minutes on average. The method is quite specific and advises set run to walk ratios (and consists of paid plans to advise you), but even if you wanted to just use the principle of planning some walks into your runs to strategically improve your times I believe you can see the benefits.

The idea is that Run Walk Run as a method is essentially a form of interval training (think Fartlek training but with planning) and building in walks reduces fatigue by allowing better conservation of energy, reducing stress on the body and reducing body temperature during the walks. By planning a walk in at a set point as opposed to running until you have to stop and walk it can allow you to run further and faster once you go back into a running segment because you have spent some time recovering before the point of absolute exhaustion. It can mean you are less sore after a run which allows you to carry on with every day life and can make motivating yourself to start easier and you are able to enjoy runs more (especially if you hate the pushing through the pain idea). It is argued it can dramatically reduce the risk of injury.

So how can you use this idea in your runs to see if it makes a difference? Instead of running until you can no longer run then walking for a bit and then starting back up as soon as you feel able think about planning your walks ahead of time. For instance I will run for 15 minutes then walk for 5 minutes then repeat until i reach my distance. Think about how long you can normally run until you start to struggle. If that is 25 minutes, plan you walk in around 20 minutes so you are not yet needing the walk when you stop. If that’s 10 minutes plan you walk at 5 minutes. The idea is to take that active recovery before you really need it, allowing you to recharge and then run at a faster pace in your next running segment. You are still covering distance whilst you are walking and you are covering the distance quicker in the run sections and therefore may well find you shave time off your normal ‘just run’ run.

Of course sometimes you may want to run a whole distance to see where you are at but you don’t need to feel like you must only ever run to be a runner. A bit of walking could actually ultimately make you a faster runner!

How ae you prepping for the big gym reopening?

Gyms in England reopen on 12th April (hopefully), classes can start back from 17th May (hopefully). There is hope restrictions will be largely lifted around 21st June. The rest of the UK is likely to be around about the same I’d guess. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard I need to lose my Lockdown weight before June or I need to get my fitness back ready for when gyms reopen.

To be fair many people have covered the first of those statements. Very quickly, you don’t need to be any size or shape come June. Come June you can enjoy seeing people and going places and generally not being stuck indoors whether you have stayed the same weight, put on half a stone or five stone during Lockdown. If you want to lose weight go for it, but it doesn’t need to be by the specified time.

Getting fit to return to a place where you go to get fit baffles me. Will you need to build back up to pre Lockdown weights or endurance levels if the access to equipment you have had has been limited these last few months? Of course. Does that matter? Not really, you’ll still be allowed in the gym, there are no pre requisites before you’re allowed access. Of course what we are really worried about is being judged. Turning up and being the only one feeling less fit or more out of shape than this time last year. It won’t be the case, I can almost guarantee 90% of people feel the same as you.

When I think back to last summer when I went back to teaching after several months in Lockdown. Was it tough? Hell yes. Weights felt heavy, sitting on a spin bike was less comfortable than it was, I was beetroot red at the end of classes. So was everyone else. As the instructor I had to ease back into it, all my regular class members did too. There was no judgement, either of each other or of me as an instructor. We all laughed about it, shared tips and compared progress as the weeks went on and we got into our routine again.

I’m all for building yourself back up now, I kind of don’t want to feel completely dead after my first class back when I need to teach a few hours later, so I want to start to increase my activity levels now. It’s still going to be a shock when I get back to the gym though and that is fine.

We haven’t had a choice about this enforced absence from the gym so we don’t need to make ourselves feel bad about it or put so much pressure on ourselves. Instead I’m looking forward to seeing people again, and being with them in finding it a bit tough to start with but getting through it together with my classes.