Category: Rants

You Don’t Move

Let’s break down the typical day of a regular office worker in terms of movement.

Wake up and walk into the bathroom (20 steps).  Shower (standing still for 5 minutes).  Walk back into the bedroom and get dressed, walk downstairs and have breakfast (maybe 80 steps total and 1 flight of stairs).

Walk to the car (usually 50 more steps) and then sit down and drive to work.  Maybe head into the drive thru because hey, why get out of the car?  Park at work and walk to the desk (taking the elevator of course).  Sit.  Walk to two meetings which are on another floor but use the elevator anyway (maybe another 200 steps total).  If I can Skype in, even better!

Eat lunch at my desk (I’m trying to be healthy after all and I’m busy).  Or maybe take the elevator downstairs and grab something quickly.  Back to the desk.  Sit some more.  Walk to my car, sit and drive home.  Wow, what a long day.  Sit at dinner.  Then transfer to the couch for some relaxation and into bed (maybe another 200 steps total for the evening).

This is typical of most people in today’s society.  We sit, barely move and don’t do anything all day.

“But wait!” you cry.  “I work out four times a week for an hour!”.  Yes.  You drive to the gym, probably sit on a cardio machine for 30-40 minutes or do some strength work where you are sitting or lying down most of the time.  At least you’re moving, but would it shock you to see that even if you work out 4 times a week for an hour, you’re only exercising 2% of your weekly time?  And in terms of adding movement, unless you only do cardio (which you should not do, by the way – please strength train) you’re maybe adding about 2000 steps to your week walking into and out of the gym and to the various pieces of equipment.

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My point is, we don’t move any more.  We don’t walk to school as kids, we take the bus or get driven.  We don’t exercise anything close to daily and many of us don’t exercise at all.  We drive EVERYWHERE.  Even in my job as a trainer in a gym, I stand all day but I’m certainly not moving around much in terms of steps.  I do what I can – I walked to a grocery store just now to get my groceries and walked back.  But it’s really not that much – and the majority of people wouldn’t even do that.

Generations ago, we got up and at least walked to school.  Many of us would have worked on farms and been doing things before and after school and work.  We played sports outside or in school daily.  Now generations of kids grow up in front of a screen and we wonder why they don’t want to be active and the obesity rate in children has more than doubled in 30 years.  And now those children are adults – you’re probably one of them.

Your body is the only machine that breaks down faster if it doesn’t get used regularly.  Sedentary life leads to all sort of issues, never mind stiffness and pack of strength.  Throw overeating into the mix and we wonder why as a society we have chronic illness, need joint replacements and many of us are in pain constantly simply from our daily lifestyle.

What’s the solution?  Pretty simple:

MOVE MORE.

The only way this will change is if we all as individuals take steps to change it and to reinforce behavior in others.  Devices like FitBit and other trackers have things heading in the right direction by prompting more steps per day.  However, there are other examples in our daily lives and business we can use to increase our level of movement – here’s some ideas:

Walking meetings – have a one on one meeting?  Take it outside or even do laps around the floor.  Odds are if you need to show them something that you can pull it up on a phone or tablet.  It will help both you and your colleague.

Park Further Away – This one is an obvious one but something not many people do.  I will often pull into a mall or parking lot and intentionally park in one of the spots farthest from the door.  It takes an extra two minutes to walk but gives you extra movement.  Plus no worrying about finding a spot!

Plan Your Errands – This falls under the heading of PLANNING.  Have a bunch of stops?  Instead of driving between stores, head to an area where you can walk from place to place and go back to the car to drop things off.  You can easily get in a few kilometers of walking just doing groceries, hardware store and heading to Starbucks in between.

Add Evenings In – Instead of automatically dropping onto the couch at the end of the night, make a walk a priority.  Tell yourself that you need to do 30 minutes before watching your first show.  And for those of us here in Canada, weather isn’t an excuse – bundle up!

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Let this be a bit of a wake up call.  Take the time to really figure out how much movement you do on a daily basis and resolve to increase it.  It really doesn’t take much, it doesn’t take high intensity exercise and it doesn’t take more time.  It simply takes an adjustment to how you go through your day.  Can you add it in?  You definitely can.  Throwing in ten minutes of focused mobility work will only help more.  Feel free to message me for ideas on easy homework I give my clients to help them feel and move better without pain every day.  My goal is to get you MOVING.  Because right now – you don’t.

If this article prompted you to move more, let me know!  You can find me on Facebook and LinkedIn under David Bateman, my web site at http://www.srottawa.com and on Twitter at  @strengthottawa.  Feel free to share it as well!

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Keep Resolutioners in the Gym

I know this might be a bit early, but in three weeks it is 2016 and a whole new set of people will be undertaking new fitness goals.  The first thing I need to mention is that in the fitness world there tends to be a lot of elitism, and I’ve already seen the “resolutionist” memes going around Facebook.  The fact we even have a nickname for new exercisers says it all.

With society the way it is and a massive obesity epidemic, we should all play our own part in not only helping these people get into fitness, but keeping them around as long as possible.  See – you’ve already swallowed the pill of fitness, but you are in the vast minority.  Over half the population doesn’t exercise at all, and only about 10% regularly (meaning 3x a week and sustained for over six months) because it just isn’t on their radar and never has been.  But something is going to drive them into a gym (besides marketing hype) very soon.  And for some reason many of them stop after a few weeks.

I want to keep them there.  I want to have thousands of people NOT stop working out after six weeks and get healthier.  Then hopefully some of those people can inspire others to get started, and snowball effect takes place and boom, no more obesity.  Pipe dream?  Maybe.  But we can all do our part to help keep as many around as possible.

So here’s a list of ways as “fitness people” we can all help make sure that whomever you know who is getting started stays at it long term and gets to the state that you’re in:  loving exercise and feeling a ton better.

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STOP GIVING ADVICE AND GIVE SUPPORT INSTEAD

Your friend/co-worker/spouse knows you’re a fitness person.  It’s probably obvious when you talk about what you did on the weekend or take off your jacket.  Our instinct as soon as someone outside of our world wants to jump in is to tell them what worked for us, which simply may not be what would motivate or work for that person.  Don’t tell them to start running five times a week for weight loss, or start deadlifting like you do.  They are likely getting it from multiple sources and it can be not only confusing but overwhelming.  People don’t change overnight.

The simplest thing is to say “awesome news!” and if they ask questions tell them what worked for you, but also let them know what you went through in order to arrive at that conclusion.  Hopefully they will figure out something for themselves.  If they went to the gym that morning, give them a high five and leave it at that.  Let them know that it took you as a fitness person a long time to get to where you’re at and if they want to get support, you’re there but don’t overdo it.

And please don’t suddenly become a personal trainer and offer to work out with them and show them everything you do.  Swallow your pride and tell them if they need it to hire a professional.  You probably did too.

ASK WHAT THEIR ANNUAL GOAL IS

Typically the first few weeks as a new exerciser is confusing and tough.  It is a new thing to fit into your schedule, you have no idea what you’re doing and are nervous every time you step into a facility.  As a method of support, ask them where they want to be at the end of the YEAR.  Not next month.  Again, I’m trying to reinforce the long term aspect of this for sustainability.

Another way to motivate them might be “you know, I signed up for a Spartan Race in June – you should think about it” or “Hey, I’m thinking about doing the Army ½ marathon in September so I started training for the 10k in May”.  Let them know how long it takes to achieve things.  By next Christmas, where do they want to be?  With any luck it will trigger the need to sustain what they are doing.

INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK

We all have one.  Maybe you have a trainer you really like and have gotten great results from.  Maybe you get amazing recipes from a web site you love.  Maybe you subscribe to a message board you got a lot of support from.  Maybe they could sub in on your winter ultimate team and see how much fun group sports can be.  Introduce them to someone they see you talking to at the gym.

One of the hardest things any person can do is walk into a gym for the first time, and if they approach you and just need a friendly face, don’t get upset that they interrupted your third set of squats.  Take a longer rest break and chat for a bit, even if you’re there to work hard.  It won’t kill you or your gains.

SHOW THEM WHAT OPTIONS THERE ARE

Some people just aren’t gym people, and that’s fine.  The world of health literally has unlimited options.  I have a client whose husband is a World Champion in Skijoring, which is like sled dogging on a bicycle and sounds totally awesome (and I had never heard of it).  Whether it’s pole dancing, skating, weightlifting or aquafit, the fact that people are moving at all is really great.

So maybe your person seems to feel like the gym isn’t for them.  You probably have a friend who does something else cool that you can tell them about.  Even as kids we all either played individual or team sports and that rarely changes as an adult.  Ultimate Frisbee might not work, but then racquet sports might.  Plus the challenge of learning something new is always fun.

PLAY NICE IN THE SANDBOX

This final one is for all of the people who complain about the “clutter” in the gym in January.  Instead of thinking that “these people” are doing something wrong, change your attitude.  Smile at them.  Offer to let them work in on whatever you are using.  If you see someone looking lost offer to help them.  Be nice.  Once, you were probably that person (I know I was).

Remember, these people are probably watching everything you are doing because you’re the fitness person and they want to get there.  Being nice to newcomers can go a long way in getting them to stick around and feel like part of a community.  CrossFit boxes are fantastic at this because they are usually totally inclusionary and that’s how they retain people.  And those people make progress, at least far more than they would on the couch at home.

Sometimes a simple “hey, are you new here” and an offer to help can go a long way.  Be nice.

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If you liked this, please share it around and take it to heart.  I’m not just writing this for fitness people, by the way.  If you are thinking about stepping into a gym for the first time, please don’t be intimidated.  There is a world of options out there and a lot of really good people and support for you.

My other advice is also don’t wait until January and just get started now, but that’s a whole other article.

Feel free to follow, share and like this and until next time make sure if you see someone in January you help them out!

The Best Coaches Teach Fundamentals

As a trainer and coach I tend to read a lot of stuff written by other successful trainers and coaches in order to try to make me better at my job.  Throughout the years there has been one main theme I have seen that I thought I’d point out to the rest of you, trainers and potential clients alike.

Newer trainers and coaches tend to think they need to reinvent the wheel in order to make themselves more marketable or stand out among the crowd.  They try whatever the latest fad trend is with the hopes that it will cause the client to be impressed.  Eventually (with any luck) they realize that a coach is only as good as their results.  Doing something showy and flashy in order to create a temporary response is usually a sales tactic – anyone can push someone really hard, as I wrote about previously HERE.

This means whatever the client goal is they need to be working towards it and making constant improvement.  For my strength clients, this is being able to generate more force or move more weight.  For my running clients it is being able to run greater distances, faster or both.  If you coach a sports team, then they should be increasing their skill levels at whatever position they are performing in and also hopefully using that to win games.

So what is the key?  Throughout history of successful coaching, it really comes down to one word:  fundamentals.

Successful coaches can make people better at things that they should already be doing well.  For a strength coach, this can mean the basic lifts like squatting, deadlifting, pulling and pressing.  For an athletic coach this can mean things like power, agility and coordination.  For my runners, it means being more efficient with every foot strike, which in some cases means starting over again at the beginning.

Throughout the sports world, high level athletes will tell you that they spend hours upon hours practicing fundamentals.  Basketball players practice foul shots.  Cyclists ride their bikes for hours a day.  Swimmers swim lots of laps.  Baseball players take batting practice daily for hours.  Often this has no major goal beyond building the fundamental mechanics or strength they need in order to improve.

weighlifting meme

Just two months ago I started working with a post surgery client who had recovered but had shin splints daily.  When her basic walking gait was corrected and she started to use the proper muscles again the shin splints disappeared.  The same thing tends to happen for back issues when the person learns how to deadlift and squat properly.  Some trainers would call this “correcting an imbalance”.  I’d rather call re-educating the client (and their tissue) on something they already know how to do.

Your body is a very smart thing.  It learns based on the input it is given.  As I always say, crappy information IN means that you will generally get crappy information OUT.  If you overwhelm your nervous system from the get go it doesn’t have a chance to adapt and make improvement.  This means spending weeks (for some people) practicing simple things until they have them down.

So what are the fundamentals?  Well, it really depends on the person.  For some people, walking properly is hard enough.  Throw in a few activities of daily living like sitting down, picking things up and climbing stairs and they might be done.  I’ve had to reteach these things to hundreds of people over the years, and more often than not when they are practiced and put into place little painful issues tend to resolve very quickly.  Same with high level performers.  Often with my athletes they simply need to be coached on how to perform a movement they have forgotten how to do properly.  This can be as simple as a squat (for a powerlifter) or as complex as an ankle mobility movement for a soccer or football player.

Most movements can be broken down into basic primal movement patterns, which is echoed by both movement gurus and athletic trainers alike.  Deadlifting.  Pushing and pulling.  Spinal flexion, extension and rotation.  This is generally what 95% of my clients start with, even if it is completely de-progressed like a basic box squat within a range of motion their hips, knees and ankles can perform at without deviation.

In fact if you’re a reader of fitness magazines, you can see this plain as day.  Any program that tells you how to get a BIG LEGS has a squat in it.  BIG CHEST means lots of bench pressing.  Not a one armed dumbbell press on a Swiss Ball.  Stick to fundamentals and you are guaranteed to see progress.  Another of my mantras is that you EARN THE RIGHT TO DO MORE.  This means if you can’t do something basic you have no business doing a progressed version of it.  Most high level coaches adhere to this.

If you have run into a coach or trainer who tells you that you need to perform some sort of elaborate system in order to improve a simple movement, maybe you should think twice.  There’s a time and a place for breaking down movements to isolate weak points, but it should not be the primary focus of any workout.  There always needs to be a goal, and in my opinion that goal should be centered around the fundamentals.

So the next time you read about some amazing NEW system that is going to explode your gainz please put down whatever article you’re reading (unless it’s mine) and go deadlift.  Or do some pullups.  It’s probably what any decent coach would tell you to go and do anyway.

Detoxification. Yes, it’s a scam.

Recently my Facebook feed has been flooded with yet another misleading trend designed by companies and people in order to try to make money off people who don’t know any better.  This simple word is one thing:  detoxification.

Detoxification doesn’t exist.  It’s a garbage term for a garbage industry.  And anyone who is trying to sell you on it is trying to make money off of you.  Period.

This is nothing new.  In past years people from companies like Isagenix, Herbalife, Juice Plus, Visalus, several other MLM companies and many, many over the counter products are always talking about detoxification.  It’s a horrible thing that is definitely the cause of your headaches, bowel problems and weight gain.  Take these products for 90 days and you will feel better, lose weight and remove all these icky things that have accumulated through your lifetime of bad choices.

Here’s a few simple questions to ask anyone who talks about this stuff and find out if they actually know anything about the word:

What does detoxification actually mean?  (It’s a medical term)

What is a toxin?  (Toxins are always referred to but never named by these people) – can they actually name any toxin that they are claiming to remove from your body?

What are the places you need to detox most?  (If they say it’s the liver or kidneys then they don’t know what these organs actually do).

Can I detox myself without your products?  (of course not, my product is the best way and is scientifically proven to work!)

I’ll be blunt.  This is total quackery.  But for some reason people keep falling for it.  I’m not going to bother listing the amount of credible scientific entities that have proven this stuff is completely stupid and a waste of money, but you can easily find them.  I have one here.  And here.  And here.  And here.  Which is the tip of the iceberg.

Most of the time these products contain two things:  laxatives (put under natural names) and diuretics (also naturally based).  You pee more and poop more, and suddenly you’re losing weight (imagine that).  Plus, some very popular ones have you replace most of your solid food with shakes (that they provide) and suddenly you lose weight.  Miracle!

You know how to make yourself feel better?  Eat more fibrous vegetables and fruits.  Eat less animal protein.  Don’t take supplements unless you actually need to.  Sleep more.  Stop engaging in sympathetic behaviors like computers and cell phones all the time.  Exercise regularly and intensely enough to create a positive hormonal change.  This is all really easy to do, and it’s free except for a possible change in your grocery bill (and vegetables are cheaper anyway).

In fact, many of these products can create more problems than they solve.  Throwing your body suddenly into a state of either caloric deficit or changing your diet radically can create issues like constipation, headaches or even severe reactions.  All the things people selling detox would have you think is toxins leaving your body, not something created by the cure they sold you.

Recently a friend of mine who is highly educated (two advanced degrees) actually asked me if she should do a cleanse.  You know what my answer is?

You don’t need expensive products.  You need a carrot.  And probably more water.  Let your body cleanse itself, it will do a fine job if you give it the tools to do so.

Oh, and if anyone tries to sell you on this stuff, especially within the fitness or health industry, please walk the other way.  They know it’s bullshit.  They’re trying to take advantage of you and make money.  My latest hat tipper is a former dental hygienist (and IFBB pro of course) who is now an expert on nutrition with no formal education and one year at a holistic nutrition school under her belt.  Find me a girl or guy who has recently won a couple of fitness shows and likely within a year or two they will be pushing products like this – or of course, whatever supplement line they are sponsored by.  With no credibility behind the products or themselves besides a shiny trophy.  Welcome to another day in the fitness industry.

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Again people, let’s be smarter than this.  Like I always say about fitness, buyer beware.  Don’t support an industry that is based on nothing but smoke and mirrors.  And please, please, please check whatever educational background your current “detox” guru has.  Odds are the only thing they are looking to improve is their bank account.