2023 Goals

If you’re looking to make changes or set yourself some challenges for 2023, it isn’t enough to just want things to change, you need to work out what actions you need to take to make those changes happen.

Here’s a podcast all about goals, what, why and how…

https://anchor.fm/heather-sherwood/episodes/Goal-Setting-Your-Why-and-How-e1pver7

Training in 2023 will be Hybrid

Pre Covid not many gym goers seriously thought about training at home.

Things like Les Mills on Demand and Peloton existed of course, but by and large people had physical gym memberships and went to gyms and classes week on week. The home based apps were considered by many an ‘added’ extra to a workout routine.

Lockdown changed that. We had little choice during that time to embrace online classes, training at home or outdoors and many people invested in fitness equipment.

For some of us it was only really a means to an end. I found training at home (beyond running which I did anyway) hard in terms of space and also in terms of maintaining focus. Some people found it liberating though. Saving time on travelling, finding it easier to fit in around work and child care, many people found they didn’t see the point in going back once gyms re opened.

Beyond that, whilst many people did still want to return to actual gyms, they found that new working patterns where they still worked from home, or did for at least half their week, it wasn’t necessarily practical to return to the gym (or at least not every day) especially when their gym was closer to their place of work.

So where do we stand coming into 2023, the year where we can probably say that habits, which at the start of 2022 were sill a bit up in the air, have settled?

Hybrid membership options need to be where gyms start to focus I think in order to retain memberships. Memberships where there are online offerings for days people want to train at home, or flexible memberships where people not planning to use the gym all week could opt to pay less for a reduced access (there’s already student memberships at university gyms and off peak memberships available in many places so it would just be tweaks in access required), maybe even more reasonable PAYG options.

Currently workouts are a bit like streaming platforms – depending on what you want to watch you might need Sky, Netflix, Disney and more to watch everything- if you want to train at home and in the gym you need a gym membership and in most cases also an online app for home workouts. If more gyms started to provide a more robust hybrid option where the online wasn’t an after thought (I’m sure there are some out there already on this wave length) they could look to solidify their membership base and overcome the shifts that are occurring in where and when and how people train.

What trends do you see coming in relation to training in 2023?

Project 40- Week 2

Week 2 of Project Fitter at 40 and this week my goal has been to improve consistency with various habits.

Some, like going to the gym, are habits I find easy. Hitting 20,000 steps a day, not drinking too much coffee, daily gratitude journaling are habits I find a bit harder to hit. Whilst I’ve still got room for improvement I have been more consistent with these habits and I feel like I can continue to work on this.

What I’ve definitely identified as my issue this eek though id my diet. Specifically, quite simply, I’m eating too many calories each day. In reality I’m less active than I used to be, simply because I’m teaching fewer classes each week, this is why I’ve put on weight. So what I need to look at next week is planning my meals and sticking to that plan with a view to lowering my intake. I’m looking to make no adjustments to my training, as I feel like if I’m reducing calories a bit I might want to adjust to that before I look at training intensity, although I might do a few classes as a participant just to mix things up a bit.

Honestly I’ve felt fat this week, probably hormonal as I’ve neither gained nor lost any weight in weeks, but to be my face in particular looks fatter in the mirror (not helped by a spot outbreak I don’t think). When this happens it’s natural to feel an urge to do drastic things to feel better (detox, strict diet, up training sort of things) but my new approach is to consciously avoid this kind of self talk ad approach my week in a kind way, a way I’m more likely to stick to and enjoy.

What do you need from a PT?

What do you need from a PT?

In the past when face to face was really the only way people saw a PT you’d have one or more sessions a week, maybe get a plan to follow in sessions alone (or perhaps you only trained with your PT), you’d discuss nutrition perhaps with them, maybe they’d measure body fat.

Lockdown did a lot to speed up changes in the way PTs can work though, online coaching was already starting to develop but the need to communicate remotely sped up the process of people realising they didn’t need to physically see a PT in order to get results.

Of course there are still benefits of seeing a PT in person, improving forma and technique, not to mention motivation, but in reality what you can get with online training brings a whole new element into coaching.

You will have heard PTs say what you do outside your one hour of exercise a day matters more than what you do in that hour, what you eat across a week matters more than one ‘off plan’ meal and other such variations of the same. In other words, what you do consistently matters more than any on moment, however good or bad.

So here’s where online coaching can be beneficial. Unless you have a very specific goal, are very new or nervous in a gym or really really lack the motivation to go, you don’t necessarily need someone by your side as you workout. What can be more beneficial is having someone in your corner to give you the push when you can’t be bothered, aren’t quite sure, are having a wobble. To answer the random questions when they come to mind (before you forgot them by your next session), to keep you on track every day not just one hour a week.

Getting fitter, stronger, leaner, whatever goal you have, unless it’s incredibly specific. I’m telling you it’s more about your headspace and consistency than it is your rep range or workout split or exact macros.

That isn’t to say face to face PT isn’t great, but really in the current world your face to face PT should be offering the online support the rest of the week as part of your package because success comes from much more than that specific training session.

When is a calorie deficit not a calorie deficit?

When is a calorie deficit not a calorie deficit?

You might be surprised at how often people say to PTs, I’m barely eating anything and still not losing weight or I’m in a calorie deficit but nothing is happening.

This is when the idea that it must be your metabolism, carbs, the time you’re eating or the lack of random expensive magic juice in your diet that is stopping the weight loss.

Now I’m reality, on the odd week it might simply be water retention, not having a poo recently, your period or hormones affecting your weight.

But if your weight is consistently not coming down week on week even if you are in a calorie deficit here’s the reason for the scale not going down.

You aren’t actually in a calorie deficit.

– Are you actually tracking and if you are are you including EVERYTHING (sauces, coffees, left overs). You need to honest with yourself here.

– Are you consistently in a deficit. If you are Monday to Friday but waaay over calories on the weekend you probably aren’t actually in a real deficit.

– Maybe you are being honest about what you’re eating but overestimating how much your burning each day.

If this is the case you could try dropping your calories by a small amount each day (250 calories to start) and seeing what happens, you might need to drop a bit further but by bit until you start to see movement.

If you are in a calorie deficit consistently you will overtime drop weight so if you aren’t seeing progress you are not in a calorie deficit. Good news here – now you know that’s the issue you can work to change it.

What should you look for in a PT?

What should you look for in a PT?

There’s lots of ways you can work with a PT now: one on one, small group, online programming, apps. Beyond cost, what do you look for when deciding who to go to?

Maybe it’s location, if you want to train in person that will be a big factor; but it could also be their specialisms, experience, how fit they look, how comfortable they make you feel, the recommendation from people you trust or their client testimonials.

All of these things are valid reasons, ultimately you’re picking someone to work with based on things that are important and relevant to you is key, and here’s where I think the most important factor in looking for someone to work with comes in.

Do they get ‘you’. Specifically can they understand your pain points, identify how they affect your fitness and help you work around them?

We all have some sort of pain points, whether you think it or not, Some may be more obvious than others.

If you deal with depression or anxiety, that’s going to have an effect on how you train. Shift worker, busy mum, student; all these things can affect your training and diet.

Whether your issue is with fitting in gym sessions in the first place, struggling to focus during sessions, struggling to pluck up the courage to go to the gym or anything else in between; what you want is a PT who can understand that issue and help you with that.

Because in reality getting a gym plan is useful. Having someone tell you what to do in the gym gives you focus. A good PT will programme your sessions to incorporate progression and work specifically towards your goals.

All of that is useless though if it doesn’t work around your pain points. A good coach doesn’t just give you the right exercises for you, they understand the obstacles you face and look at how you can overcome them. That has an effect on what they have you do.

That doesn’t mean they have to have lived your experience, of course that can help but it’s not essential, but they need to be willing to listen, pin point the issues their clients faced and think about how to incorporate solutions into workouts.

If you struggle to stick to workouts or get results, a plan and a coach who can help you work around yourself and the things that keep tripping you up might make a difference. It might not make fitness feel easy but it might make a difference to your results.

Group Exercise Classes

My latest podcast delves into Group Fitness.

I talk about what group fitness really is, the negative spin it sometimes gets, wh I think people should give it a try, what the best group exercise for you is and some tips on how to make the most out of your group exercise experience.

Click Here To Listen

Training when ill

I’ve got a cold, I started to feel a bit run down Friday and Saturday morning my nose felt blocked up. I went out for a run Saturday lunchtime and by the time I got home I felt rough and spent the day on the sofa. Sunday I felt better but decided not to train instead going out for lunch but by the time I got home I knew it was man down, a full blown cold had hit. It’s not a total shock, I’ve had a bust and stressful few weeks and actually said a few times recently that I knew I was doing too much and was making myself sick. The fact of the matter is when we get stressed and over work ourselves we are more susceptible to picking up colds etc.

Once ill, people who train regularly often find it hard not to train when they are ill, even if rest may actually be more beneficial for them, I used to be the same, although now I’m a lot better at listening to my body and taking a break to recover.

So, should you train when ill?

It’s generally recommended that mild to moderate activity is usually OK if you have a cold (with no fever). In fact, exercise may even help you feel better in the short term, opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving congestion.

If your symptoms are all above the neck generally it’s considered safe to train. Symptoms above the neck include a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and sore throats. You may still want to think about reducing the intensity and length of your workout, so maybe going for a walk instead of a run for example, or if you do want to run reducing the distance and going at a slower pace.

If symptoms are below the neck (chest congestion, a hacking cough, an upset stomach, muscle ache) it is however recommended that you do not exercise and instead rest until the symptoms subside.

A Fever should make exercise a hard no, raising your body temperature further if you already have a fever, will not aid recovery and could make you feel worse, so if you show any signs of fever sit out of any exercise until your temperature is back to normal.

Of course you shouldn’t exercise with or around other people if you have any type of contagious illnesses, although if you feel OK you could always do a gentle home workout.

Exercise can help boost your body’s natural defenses against illness and infection, and regular moderate exercise 3-4 times a week (for around 30 minutes) has been shown to have numerous benefits to a person’s health.

It’s worth remembering though overtraining can actually lower immunity. That means if you are training intensely every day with no rest days, de load weeks or structure (i.e. you’re constantly trying to get a PB every session) you are not only at greater risk of injury but also may find yourself catching colds more often (group exercise instructors doing multiple classes a week you may also find yourself in the group!).

So ultimately, training when ill (as long as it not chest or fever based) won’t hurt if you feel well enough to do so, but resting and letting your body recover may well be more beneficial. For many of us exercise is as much for our mental health as physical and taking a break can make you feel a bit rubbish anyway, so when you already feel bad because you’re ill it’s even harder. Having said that, in order to be as healthy as we can we need to think, not only about actual training, but also how we look after our bodies overall, and sickness is in an indication that our body isn’t currently running at 100%, meaning taking time to look after it rather than trying to push through may actually be something to consider.

Training in Heat

It’s been quite hot the last week and this week it’s set to get hotter with weather warmings and the like. So let’s talk training in heat.

Now schools are being advised to consider letting kids run about in the sun, closing early and so on, but children are more susceptible to struggling in the heat so as adults we really don’t need to avoid training during hot weather. If you’re fit and healthy enough to train anyway the heat, whilst uncomfortable, isn’t going to suddenly make training ridiculously dangerous.

There are of course things you can do to be sensible and look after yourself, ensure you don’t overheat, avoid heat stroke, don’t get dehydrated and quite frankly make training more pleasant.

You might like to train earlier or later in the day when it’s cooler or even switch outdoor sessions to indoor where you can enjoy air conditioning making things a bit cooler. If you are outdoors running or cycling wearing lighter colours, kit with tech that helps absorb sweat might help, and of course make sure you’ve plenty of suncream on.

Hydration is key at anytime but particularly when it’s hot making sure you drink plenty of water is going to be key when exercising (and not exercising folks) to counteract any increased risk of dehydration.

You may want to moderate your expectations for sessions – if the heat affects your energy levels, accepting that you may need to reduce intensity a bit or take a few more or longer breaks will help you complete a session without being annoyed with yourself. To be fair, nows a great time to start learning this lesson if it’s something you struggle with. Our bodies will at various times just have a little less to give, and on those days, whether you be tired, hot, run down or stressed, adjusting your effort levels and intensity and accepting that some days feel better than others can be a key step to training without being yourself up.

But beyond being mindful that it might be wise to take a few precautions when you aren’t used to the heat we don’t need to avoid training or going to the gym.

In fact, for generally healthy people, it’s been shown that training in hot conditions can actually be beneficial to your fitness.

Whilst it might feel harder to train in heat training in the warm weather encourages your body to sweat more (keeping you cool), increases your blood-plasma volume (benefiting cardiovascular fitness), and lowers your core body temperature. These things are all beneficial to helping you perform better in any weather.

When you add heat to exercise, you increases the stress load on your body. This stress can play a role in current and future performance. For example, as a runner you might find you have an easier time at a race if your body is already used to adapting to and training through different conditions. More than that there can be mental benefits to training in heat, from an increased sense of achievement of getting through a tough session and also feeling more capable of getting through future challenging workouts.

So the upshot is if you would normally train don’t let the upcoming weather put you off, just take some precautions to look after yourself and stay safe.

Why do people do this?

There’s lots of things I think you can see both sides of in both life and fitness and plenty of things you see within gyms which you might do differently but are still perfectly valid and can work for that person.

What I will never get in gyms is why people think it’s ok to judge other people and make unsolicited comment to them on that opinion.

Generally speaking, most of us would be upset if someone commented that we looked a bit bigger or smaller or had lost a bit of definition. Even the most confident person in a gym can go through periods they feel a little out of shape and having someone highlight it to them doesn’t really help. Realistically, even people who thrive off dissatisfaction cues or challenge as motivation comments about weight, shape and size can be unhelpful.

It occurred to me whilst writing that this might conflict a little with my last post, but I’m not talking about genuine concern for clients or patients that may arise, more the general opinions we have of other gym goers that are simply nothing to do with us.

As a general rule, unless the person has started a discussion about their body or is seeing you in some form of professional capacity where their health / body is the topic, keeping you opinions in your head is generally the best thing to do. You might have great advice about how you think they could grow those glutes, flatten their stomach, tone their arms whatever, but the confidence you’ll give them with that advice is unlikely to outweigh how they will feel when you point out things they were already a bit paranoid about anyway!