I’ve just recorded my latest podcast.
This is all about my thoughts on recent conversations surrounding fitness.
I’ve just recorded my latest podcast.
This is all about my thoughts on recent conversations surrounding fitness.
It’s not unusual to review your life at the start of a new year and decide what you are happy with, what you want to change, what you would like to achieve within the coming year.
Often we want to lose weight, earn more money, travel more and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those things being motivators.
It’s understood by most people who work in any kind of field where motivation is key (fitness is a great example) that people are more likely to meet those goals when they genuinely want them for a real reason that they feel some real passion or connection to.
So if you want to lose weight you’re more likely to achieve that when the reason is improved health or to be able to play with your children than because you think you probably should be a size 10.
Not only are you more likely to achieve a goal when there’s a purpose behind it, it’s also more likely to make you happy.
What about when one of your goals is to help other people?
As a society we are sceptical of anyone offering help, the saying you don’t get something for nothing springs to mind. When people offer things for free we tend to immediately assume there’s a catch.
But sometimes, some people’s purpose does involve, in part, just helping people.
Again fitness is a great example of this. It’s an area that many of us who work in it feel real passion about. We want to help people, bust misconceptions and encourage. Now of course we need to earn money too, so we have to charge for some things. But equally a lot of us want to help and will happily provide a lot more for free than you may get in other sectors. Hell, it’s a little selfish because the feeling you can get for knowing you made a difference is some people’s purpose in itself.
So today I wanted to highlight one fitness professional who does just that, and this year has (in my opinion) stepped it up even more.
Lauren McDowell is a Les Mills instructor, who has long been a Tribe Coach (a position where instructors volunteer time to mentor other instructors) and is well known on the instructor social media groups for providing technique videos and feedback.
This year she seems to have stepped it up a notch. After asking on Instagram what people wanted help with she has already produced videos on Body Combat kick technique which anyone can view (check it out here).
But beyond that she has also started producing regular simple and practical tips aimed at people starting out or getting back into a fitness journey.
None of this makes Lauren any money, but she believes and is passionate about encouraging others to participate in fitness and doing it in a way that you enjoy and makes you feel good.
I have the pleasure of working with Lauren as part of Jump 4.2, which has a massive support network for instructors, all helping each other out, and she is also always available to support everyone in that group.
Lauren is of course one of many fit pros I know who provide so much help to others beyond the selling of their services, and they do this because part of their purpose is to help others. They can keep helping people even when they get nothing concrete out of it because it serves their purpose and they feel they get value from it regardless.
So back to my original point, there’s absolutely zero issue with your goals being money motivated or weight orientated but to achieve them you need to be motivated, and to stay motivated those goals need to mean something to you. Sometimes what you realise means something to you might not make sense to anyone else, sometimes the value you get out of a goal may not be physical but mental. Having a clear idea of your purpose will however help you make 2020 a year you get closer to your goals and those goals making you happier.
Equally, your goal really doesn’t have to be what you’d normally expect. Could it be to help more people or help specific people, rather than get a promotion or drop a dress size? Would that create a fire in your belly that pushed you to achieve your goal?
You can of course have a mixture of goals and I’m not suggesting becoming Mother Theresa here, but thinking beyond the norm of New Years Resolutions could help you find something your truly passionate about.
I’m pretty confident one of Lauren’s goals is helping more people this year (I’m sure she has others). You can help her teach more people by checking out her Instagram here, and if you do Combat do check out her technique videos!
So you have decided you need a PT.
Time was that meant going to your local gym, now though there are other options as more and more PTs offer online training too.
So which should you pick? This is my opinion on the pros and cons of live v online PT (note I do a bit of both so perhaps that makes me biased, perhaps more objective I don’t know!)
– If you’re new to training a PT with you as you train will help build your confidence
– They can review and correct your technique
– They can keep you motivated
-Making an appointment with someone makes you get to the gym
– Expense – you are paying for an hour of that persons time, if you want to do that three times a week that’s going to cost a bit
– If you have experience in the gym you may not always need someone with you
– You have to fit training around both your schedules so it’s not particularly flexible
– You are limited in options as you need to train where the PT works
– If you are confident in the gym it provides you the coaching and guidance you need without someone watching over you – you can still get feedback on lifts, advice
– Complete flexibility as to when you train
– Often cheaper than live PT
– Can be completely tailored to you – giving you as much or as little support as you desire
-Allows you to pick a coach from anywhere and train anywhere
– If you aren’t sure about training this option can be harder (although not impossible with many coaches offering videos etc for guidance)
– You need to motivate yourself to get to the gym and train and be honest about what you are doing.
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?
Up until a few years ago I did – I’ve made many New Year’s Resolutions over the years, in fact honestly I’d make the same resolutions year after year which I never kept.
These days I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions as such. Here’s why:
January is a shit time to make drastic changes
It’s cold, dark and everyone is depressed and skint after Christmas. It’s a rubbish time to decide to suddenly make drastic and often restrictive changes to your life. Result is you feel miserable two days in and give up. Planning to give up chocolate on January 1st when you probably have a shed load of left over chocolate in your cupboards is practically setting yourself up for failure. Deciding not to drink in the most miserable month of the year so you’re left sitting on the sofa instead of going out to catch up with friends is going to become unappealing quickly.
Resolutions tend to be negative
Generally we say things like I’m going to give up… sugar, wine, chocolate, smoking. It’s something we are NOT going to do anymore. This means we feel like we are depriving ourselves. Depriving yourself is rarely a long-term plan for success.
Resolutions tend to be vague
I want to lose weight, I want to get fit, I want to earn more money. They are goals / outcomes we’d like to reach yes, but they aren’t very specific and how and when they will be achieved isn’t always clear. How often do you make vague plans with a friend to ‘catch up soon’ only for that catch up to not happen? It’s not because we don’t want to catch up it’s just because we’ve been too vague for anything to actually happen. Resolutions can be a lot like that.
Resolutions end up leaving you feeling worse about yourself
If you don’t succeed then you feel like a failure. Yet if you set something too restrictive and ambitious you’re unlikely to stick to it and so you’re essentially setting yourself up to feel shit.
Negatives out the way – I fully believe in improving things – here’s what I think is better than making New Year’s Resolutions and why:
Change when you are ready
There’s a popular saying that if you’ve thought about it you’re ready. Right now, 2 days before New Year Day – if you’re thinking about stopping drinking fizzy drinks – stop. Right now. Why wait until Wednesday? If you want to start running start running – these things aren’t banned until January 1st.
If on January 1￼ you don’t feel ready to make a change but do a couple of weeks into the year start then, or in February or August or October, you haven’t got to wait until 2021 if you miss 1st January this year.
New Year’s Resolutions have the idea of starting at midnight on 1￼ January – change can however happen at any time. How often do you think I’ll start my diet on Monday and eat a weeks worth of food over the weekend knowing restriction is coming- you ‘could’ start a diet on Thursday (well we ‘could’ not call it a diet at all but that’s another blog altogether). Generally change that happens when you’re ready as opposed to an imposed time tends to be more effective.
Choosing to make positive changes
Positive changes are easier to put in place than ‘I won’t’ type changes. I will drink more water, I will eat vegetables with every meal, I will walk 10,000 steps a day. These are things you are going to do – so you do them and you’ve created a change. You might have also eaten ten chocolate bars but you’ve still eaten vegetables with every meal, the change has still happened. Positive changes make us feel better and so we are more likely to stick to them.
Goal setting over resolutions
I don’t make resolutions any more but I have sat down and done some goal setting for 2020. I have decided what I want to achieve, these are specific goals so they aren’t things like ‘I want to get fitter’ they are set things I’d like to get done, some will be quick and relatively easy others less so. Along with these goals I have made detailed plans of what I have to do to reach these specific goals and planned out realistic timescales for taking these actions. I’ve asked for feedback from people more experienced than me on these plans and discussed goals that include other people with them so we are on the same page. I know what I need to do personally and professionally in 2020 and how I plan to do it. I’ve got more chance of reaching these goals than if I left I chance.
Specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time specific. If you goal ticks all these things you’re more likely to be able to reach it.
Commit to creating habits / systems instead
If you want lose weight you could think of it as working towards creating habits that in turn help work towards weight loss. Make drinking more water, creating a calorie deficit and training three times a week a habit and you will achieve your goal but you also find it is something that starts to fit into your everyday life as opposed to something you have to work towards constantly. The benefit of this is you can pick one small thing to work on then once that has become a habit work on something else, building change gradually.
Re-framing how you think
Take a non fitness resolution (because it isn’t always about weight!) ‘I want to get over my ex and for them to see me looking happy.’
You could re-frame this thought process to what would make you happy? Seeing your friends more perhaps? So instead of I want to get over my ex you could say I want to go out and do something fun with my friends once a week / fortnight / month (commitment depending here). Instead of focusing on becoming happy or getting over someone you could just commit to doing something that has the potential to make you happy and allow feeling happy and getting over them to happen naturally – all the time your still succeeding in your actual goal of getting out and socialising. It sounds very self help book but when you start to habitually re-frame your thoughts, you start to find it easier to make changes.
I’ve made lots of changes to the way I approach things in recent years– old habits die hard admittedly but by looking at making changes in a more positive light you can create a you that you are happier with without setting a single resolution on New Years Day!
January 1st is the day where traditionally people go on ‘a diet’.
The word ‘Diet’ conjures up images of restriction, lettuce leaves, starving, no chocolate, cakes or sweets, cutting out carbs, cutting out fat … the list goes on.
What ‘Diet’ actually means is the sum of food consumed by a person – what we actually put in our mouth.
Some diets may be more health focused than others, some may promote weight loss and others weight gain, but we all have a ‘Diet’.
So if you were planning on starting a ‘Diet’ in 2020 – good news- you’re already on one and have been for the last 365 days!
So actually all you need to do is make some small improvements to that current diet to see weight loss.
If you have booked sessions with a trainer, signed up to a programme or plan (in person or online) then you know you will get the advice you need to do this sensibly.
If you are planning on making the changes yourself then don’t look to quick fix diets or plans that promise you a six pack in six weeks.
Work out how many calories you burn daily, take 20% off this and aim for that number of calories each day. This will create safe and sustainable calorie deficit which will allow you to reduce body fat steadily.
You can eat whatever you want as long as you stick to that calorie allowance. Perhaps you will want to make more sensible choices and eat less junk but overall the way to reduce body fat (which I am assuming is the goal) is to consume a little less than you burn.
Overtime you might want to start fine tuning what you eat, but to start just focusing on hitting a calorie deficit is a great habit which will make a huge difference to how you feel and one small change to your diet at a time will have a longer lasting effect on your health in 2020 than any quick fix fad diet.
What should you wear to the gym? Simple answer.
Whatever you feel comfortable in.
And that answer is fine if you spend a lot of time training and know what does and doesn’t work for you. This blog isn’t for you though.
Because that answer isn’t very helpful if you are thinking about starting some form of exercise in the New Year and really don’t know what to wear. Then it’s just another obstacle to getting started. I know because years ago when I was overweight and knew that I probably needed to do something not knowing what I should wear (and not feeling comfortable in a ton of lycra) was a good enough excuse to keep putting getting started off.
So here’s some tips to get started:
Most days I train / teach three times a day: before work, lunchtime and after work. This means twice a day I shower and get ready for work in a gym changing room. I normally have 10- 20 minutes to do this so I’m pretty used to getting dressed fast (and I’m probably at the low maintenance end of low maintenance to be honest – if you’ve met me you have probably seen me without make up on and almost definitely on a day when I haven’t brushed my hair).
So when someone said they couldn’t train at lunchtime because they wouldn’t have time to shower etc. afterwards it got me thinking who else is put off by this and I decided to list my tips for a quick no frills routine which might help anyone who wants to train around work but is put off by the post sweat grooming issue!
Getting ready for work is dull and should take as little time as possible anyway – don’t let it stop you from getting a workout in – life is too short.
Note: This is a bit of a blog for the girls really- I’m going to assume most men are pretty much wash and go anyway but if not please re-read the above!
Do you need a PT?
Given the number of expenses we all have these days this is a fair question and if you are going to part with a chunk of cash each month you are more than entitled to ask and understand why having a PT might benefit you, so I thought a brief summary of why you might find hiring a PT useful.
1.You are new to the gym
New to exercise and not sure where to start. Even just a one off block of sessions with a PT could give you a solid starting point, an idea of how to use equipment, execute moves safely and help you feel confident in the environment.
2. You have been going to the gym for a while with limited results / are bored
You’ve used the gym for years, kind of know what you’re doing but your workouts feel stale and like they are no longer challenging you and results have halted. A PT can help reinvent your training patterns to make your workouts feel fresh again as well as effective.
3.You have set yourself a goal
Just set a goal (running a marathon, entering a triathlon, joined a football team, want to be able to do a set of 5 pull ups unaided) a PT will be able to design sessions specifically tailored towards that goal.
4.You want to lose (or gain) weight / mass
Much like point 3, a PT can guide you so your nutrition and sessions are tailored to this goal.
5.You are lacking motivation / accountability
Sometimes it isn’t the knowledge that you are lacking it’s having someone there to keep you going, ensuring you get the sessions in, help you enjoy them and just generally keep you on track.
6.You want to improve your technique
Maybe you just want to focus on one of two lifts – a PT can work with you on those specifics, so even if you wanted to train mostly on your own and just have weekly or monthly technique focused sessions that could benefit you in terms of results that could always be an option.
7.You lack confidence in the gym
Maybe this links in with being new to training or maybe you do lots of classes but would like to add more variety to your week and aren’t sure where to start or how to use some of the equipment. Working with someone can increase your confidence and in turn help you enjoy training more.