What the PT Ordered

Like most PTs I’ve done a few gym inductions this week, set people up with a plans to get started and so on. Those plans have varied depending on people’s goals, experience and health / injuries. Everything I programmed has it’s purpose and reason. There could be other ways they could train of course, but what I have suggested will help them gain confidence in the gym, get comfortable with movement patterns and key lifts (with modified moves to start with for some). I could have given them more flashy sexy looking programmes but that where I haven’t it’s because I think that would have been confusing, overwhelming and just not what they need at this particular time. I’m not a PT to show people how much I know, I’m there to help others learn to enjoy moving.

Some of these clients however have had people they know say to them ‘oh you need to lift more / go deeper / use a bar or weight.’ As well meaning as that will have been all it’s done is knock their confidence and confuse them when what they were doing was already effectively getting them started on a fitness journey. Keeping things simple isn’t always a bad thing and it might not be for you but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good for someone else. There’s so many was to train, the best way for one individual isn’t the only way.

Similarly, whilst someone trying to (with good intention) correct the form of someone who is just learning a movement pattern and is moving perfectly safely but just not perfectly isn’t always helpful. Remember when you first started lifting and were trying to remember multiple things? You won’t have had great technique let’s face it. Sometime moving safely and getting used to that pattern then working on improving technique week by week, point by point is going to be more confidence boosting and motivating than feeling rubbish because they can’t get everything right straight away.

My adice.

If you want to get started in the gym and are new, get a plan (most gyms will do one when you sign up as part of your membership) and if your family of friends say ‘oh no don’t do that do this’ remember the gym instructor is trained to plan something specific to you, and whilst your mate might be a regular gym goer it doesn’t mean they have the skill set to safely help you get the most out of getting started. Accept their support and encouragement but know that there is more than one way to skin a cat so doing something differently to others doesn’t make it wrong.

If you have a friend or relative starting at the gym this year and they are working with a PT, encourage them and support them and letting the PT provide the training advice is the best way you can support them.

Lean into Discomfort

If you’ve made some changes in the new year now is when it’s about to get tough.

Typically the first couple of days into something new aren’t too bad, any discomfort is balanced out by some optimism for the new. After that shine starts to wear off but it’s not yet a habit and no results can yet be seen, that is when it starts to get hard.

Because new breeds motivation but doesn’t last.

Results breed motivation but you need to do the habit for a while to see them.

Habits don’t require motivation but you’ve got to purposefully do the thing consistently first to create the habit.

So here is where it might feel difficult. Here is where you have to lean into a bit of discomfort and do things when you don’t want to, or say no to things when you want to say yes, or work when you would rather rest.

The thing is if nothing changes then nothing changes. So if every time you try and make a change you give up as soon as it gets hard noting will change. So if you do really want to make a change in 2022 and it starts to feel tough in the next few days / weeks, know it will get easier if you keep going but you have to lean into discomfort for a little while.

New Year New You

How’s your new year going?

It’s always really tempting to start your new year changes as of 1st, because it feels like a clear slate.

In reality though, chances are you haven’t yet started and that’s ok.  Being real, 1st is generally still Christmas for a lot of us and this week will be the reality of going back into work and emails and to do lists and urgent jobs, which after a week or so sitting on the sofa is likely to feel knackering.

Remember it’s ok to start a new habit, hobby, training plan, calorie counting, whatever your new goal may be at any point in the year.

It doesn’t have to be 1st January, it doesn’t even need to be a Monday.

Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t started yet.  Don’t beat yourself up if you started and have slipped up.  In fact this year don’t beat yourself up at all, if something doesn’t go to plan just brush yourself down and get back on it.

Fitness Business Tips

Bit of a different blog today – I send out emails occasionally regarding running a fitness business – here’s today’s email about planning for the next 12 months and some things to think about …

I think for plenty of people in fitness, 2020 and 2021 have been a bit all over the place business wise.  Gym closures and changes to capacity, people’s training habits and general uncertainty have led to changes for almost all of us, some dramatic, some less so, some positive, some maybe not.

The new year is a great time to look forward with your business though, make changes, fine tune things, start new projects.

So here’s my practical tips for 2022 which I hope might help some of you as you hopefully take some time to review your plans for the next 12 months:

  • The goal of business is not to make a loss just to not pay tax.  Buying things for your business you need will of course reduce your profit thus your tax bill, but buying things for your business for the specific sake of reducing your tax bill (as many people often seem to do) is a false economy as all you’re doing is recuing your profits by buying things you don’t actually need.
  • Instead look for ways to increase your actual profits so you’re happy with your income after paying tax.  This of course is done by selling more of your product but you can also do this by reducing outgoings smartly.  For instance,  are you a group ex instructor or PT as a second job?  See if you can volunteer to be a first aider for your workplace meaning you don’t have to pay for your own First Aid training.
  • In terms of increasing your business do you have lead generators set up?  If not this is the year to sort that.  Do you have a mailing list to keep in touch with people (if they leave your gym, can’t come to class and so on)?  Do you advertise on Instagram but only to your current contacts without thinking about reaching out to your potential customers via paid or unpaid options?  Have you established enough of a brand that potential customers feel you are the fitness professional they want to trust?  Do you need advice on how to do these things?  If you do maybe this is the year to look into this, because being a great coach is only part of running a self employed business.
  • On that point though, are you still being a great coach or instructor?   Especially over the last couple of years as client’s needs and situations have changed it’s important to check that we are still offering the best service for clients.  Lead generating is important but ultimately retaining clients and getting referrals is the best way to make a decent profit, so now is a great time to check that you’re still offering what your current clients need.  Refine your products, check they are clear in what they offer and that you are delivering it.  If your clients are getting what they are paying for they will a) stay b) recommend you.
  • Develop a plan for growth.  Do you want to scale your business in the next few years?  Use 2022 to start planning how.  In the meantime though coach your clients with the model you currently have with 100% commitment.  Ambition is important but so is staying focussed on the present at the same time because we can’t build on our current foundations of clients if we provide a poor service whilst developing bigger plans in the background.
  • If you’re working and developing a business in the background accept you’re going to have to be tired for a while and put in a lot of hours to get to where you want to be.  Your ambition may be to reach that perfect work life balance but the hard truth is that whilst you work to get your business to the point where you can work the 4 day week or work anywhere in the world you will actually have less ‘you’ time.  Take care of yourself to avoid burn out but if you start providing a rubbish service because your tired after work you won’t retain clients and struggle to build up the business. For now make sure what you offer to clients is realistic for what you can do with the time you have.  A smaller client base or smaller product offered really well is going to be better for your business than an all ‘singing all dancing but never quite reaches the standards you sell it as’ one.  That way you are less likely to be miserable and more likely to grow.  

I hope these are useful when you sit down and think about your plans for the next 12 months.  I know they are all things I’m considering as I do this personally.

You can sign up to receive more tips in 2022 here… MAILING LIST SIGN UP

Best Christmas Fitness Tip

What’s the best fitness tip I can offer for the Christmas period?  If you were to think about nothing else related to your diet or training across December.  Something hat would make you feel better.

Hydrate!

Staying hydrated all year is important but as December festivities commence we often drink more alcohol, more Christmas Coffees and as a result end up drinking less water.

Yet because of the increase in alcohol very often more water is exactly what we need.

So if your training goes out the window.

If everything you eat is Christmas food related.

Still try and drink plenty of water each day.

It will make you feel better if you have a hangover, be it foor or alcohol related. 

How much water – aim for around your weight in kg x 0.033.

So if you weigh 80kg that’s 80x 0.033 = 2.64 litre.  So between 2.5-3 litres a day.

If you exercise for an hour try and an extra 0.5 litre.  If you’re hungover maybe try and increase a bit too.

1 pint glass of water is about 0.5 litre.

Keep things simple whilst your busy over Christmas and aim for small wins.

Do Fad Diets Exist?

I was having a chat about Sliming World today. If you’ve read or listened to any of my content before you’ll know I have both positive and negative views about the club.

Essentially, my view is, that in it’s true form it’s not a bad way to eat. It encourages making food from scratch, eating from multiple food groups ad eating processed foods in limitation. It’s also pretty balanced so you could eat like that well beyond losing weight.

What it doesn’t do is educate you as to why it works, leaving you in a catch 22 where if you leave and stop eating ‘to plan’ you may well put the weight back on. It doesn’t educate you you enough to provide the freedom to maintain weight loss without still subscribing to ‘the plan’. Life changes and if you understand the energy balance equation you can adjust your eating and training habits as life changes and still get results. If you are simply following a plan with no idea of how and why it works, adjusting it as your life changes is difficult and that’s when a way of eating becomes unsustainable.

What might be a suitable way of eating for one person could be a ‘faddy’ way of eating for someone else. By that I mean, if you are using a way of eating (let’s say Intermittent Fasting) as a way of managing your food intake and you understand how and why it works for you then if it becomes unpractical to fast you will likely have the knowledge to adjust how / what / when you eat to a way that better suits but still works. If you are IM Fasting because someone gave you a set of rules (which work but why you’re less sure) what do you do if following those rules no longer suits you?

So essentially, I’d argue, there aren’t bad and good ‘diets’/ ways of eating. It isn’t that Slimming World is evil and tracking in MFP is the way forward for everyone. It’s a case that without knowledge of why something is working almost any way of eating could be viewed a fad.

Beating yourself up

“I was good all week but then had a takeaway on Friday”

“I planned to exercise every day but only managed three times”

How often are you guilty of muttering a phrase like this?  I do it all the time.  We set ourselves up to have a great week and be really positive and good then berate ourselves for falling short.

What we forget though is that, in very broad terms, to stop gaining weight we need to consume less than we have been, to gte fitter we need to do more than we have been.

So if you’ve eaten less than normal on five days out of the week, then you’ve improved on the previous week, even if a couple of days didn’t go to plan.  If you’ve trained three times more than normal your workign to imporving your fitness.

Fitness and weight loss are not magic switches where a perfect week will suddenly make you drop three dress sizes and become an Olympic athlete.  Even a perfect week will not, in issolation, create dramatic results.  A consistent good but not perfect routine will over time create far superior results and make you feel far better, than one of two spot on perfect weeks then going back to normal will.

Aims are great and setting the bar high is commendable, but beating yourself up when you’ve not been perfect but have actually made progress is bonkers.

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.

Gyms Reopen #3

Gyms open in England tomorrow.

You may be excited, nervous, feeling not quite ready. Here’s a few things to remember:

  1. Don’t expect to be where you were when you last hit the gym. For most of us you cannot replicate a gym workout at home and you’ll need to build back up your weights and what you can do.
  2. Don’t go mad. Following on from point one, resist the temptation to go crazy and push so hard you end up injured / burnt out. Remember when you first started training and how DOMS / recovery felt? You need to ease back in!
  3. You may have to be flexible. Maybe your gym has limited session times, reduced the amount of equipment to allow social distancing, requires booking. You might not be able to do everything you want, may have to switch out some exercises or equipment. Accept this might be the case, go with the flow and it’ll be less frustrating.
  4. It doesn’t matter if you’ve put weight on. Covid Handles someone referred to them as the other day. Training over Lockdowns has been tough, Lockdowns in general have been stressful. If you put weight on it doesn’t matter.
  5. Say hello to people. You know one of the things I love about gyms? They have people in them. Even training alone but surrounded by people can be motivating. A hello, a joke, a compliment from or to someone always make a training session nicer. Say hi to the staff, to the other regulars you’ve not seen in weeks, strangers.
  6. Remember beer gardens open tomorrow too so after your training sessions maybe have a beer, because a) life is all about balance and b) what’s more British than sitting in a beer garden in the sun whilst it’s also snowing!

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.