Does this sound like you?

rob-schreckhise-8zdEgWg5JAA-unsplashIt’s hard to make it on your own.

Sometimes you realise that things have got to change. Maybe you had a frank talking to from the doctor, maybe a loved one has made you worry, or maybe you just woke up one morning and said:

“This isn’t who/where/what I want to be…”

 

Those can all be motivating thoughts.

You are inspired to make changes to your life, health, or diet. And you try really hard to make them. Maybe you take out a gym membership and you’re sure you’ll actually go.

Maybe you sign up to those diet plans or try really hard not to buy junk food for a few weeks.

But then…..

It get’s hard to keep at it

You either get distracted, tired, busy or all of the above.

You don’t see it making any difference where you want it. And there’s so much information out there, maybe you don’t know where to start? Or you try it all, make all the changes at once, and surprise, surprise, it doesn’t stick.

And so, after a couple of weeks things drift back to where you started. Horribly, sometimes they even go backwards!?!

If this has been you, or someone you know, then you’ll be pleased to know you only really need one thing.

HELP!

Maybe just some encouragement to stay the course you’ve set, because if you don’t stick with it, it definitely won’t work.

Maybe you need someone to help you sort through all that information out there to find what’s right for you. With everything out here on the interwebz it can be hard to see what’s useful and what’s not.

Or maybe you need someone to sit down with you and start at the beginning. Figure out exactly what you want to achieve, help you figure out how to get there, and then help keep you accountable and on track.

Not everybody needs all of those, and some don’t need any, but for the rest of us

 it helps to have some help.

If you’d like some help getting started or back on top of things, my October Special might be what you’re looking for.

I’m offering a huge discount on:

A 12 week program, personalised to you that includes

  • An initial one hour assessment, clarifying your goals and needs.

  • One hour private personal training session every week, built around your goals and your schedule

  • Individualised programming for the whole 12 weeks

  • Unlimited free access to all my Strength and Stability classes (11 per week to choose from)

  • Monthly re-assessment to fine tune your program

  • All this for only only $65 / week! – Save $300

To discuss how this plan can work for you, or to book in a non-binding chat with me, just click on the  button below.

Hope I can be of help soon,

Cheers,

Andy

Fitness Basics – a guide to get you started

For those who are new to exercise, and are not sure where to start, my Fitness Basics guide will give you the tools you need to begin.

 

Assisted Squats

Squats are a very basic movement that you will find are part of most fitness regimes. They are great for improving leg strength and hip mobility. Unfortunately, though, many people don’t quite get it right, losing out on the benefits from this really simple and effective movement.

Grab a sturdy chair. One without arms is best.

  1. Start with your feet about shoulder width apart – just outside outside your hips.
  2. Keep your back up straight and gently bend your knees to poke your bum out behind you. Aim for your bottom to just gently touch the top of the chair, but don’t actually sit – keep the load on your quadriceps. Raise your arms straight out in front of your body to help stabilise your centre of gravity so you don’t fall back.
  3. When you have gone as far as you feel comfortable with, squeeze your bum and legs to take you back up to standing.

warning Make sure your knees don’t lean in, engage the muscles on the inside of your knee to keep the knees in line with your toes.

warning Keep your back up straight the whole time. Try not to lean forward.

When you have done this comfortably with a chair a few times, try doing it without a chair.

 

Horizontal Rows

Great for building upper body strength in a supported position.

You can do this with a coffee table or a park bench, using something easy to hold for a weight (dumbbell, full milk bottle, etc).

  1. Start with one hand and one knee on the bench, with your other leg straight down to the ground.
  2. Set your back and shoulders so they feel strong, and in a straight line from shoulders to hips. Engage your core so you are active and supported through the back.
  3. Press down into your bench as you pull the weight up towards your armpit.
  4. Lower it down slowly, without letting your shoulder sag down towards the ground.

warning-e1548670415771.png Don’t raise the weight higher than your armpit, and don’t take your elbow out to the side.

warning Move deliberately and try to feel the muscles in your arm working.

To progress, use a heavier weight.

 

Assisted Push-Ups

Lots of people hate push-ups, but they are one of my favourite exercises.  There is a reason that push-ups are a staple of most Personal Trainers and exercise classes – they work. Having said that, there are plenty of people who struggle to complete a full push-up on the floor, and who would be better off starting in a more upright position. This builds the strength that is needed to progress towards the floor.

Find a sturdy elevated surface – the kitchen bench or dining table or a balustrade/hand rail are often a good height to begin with.

  1. Start with your hands shoulder width apart and your feet back far enough that you are leaning forward onto your hands, your arm straight.
  2. Carefully bend your elbows to lower your torso until your chest touches the bench.
  3. Engage the tummy and squeeze the bum to ensure all the muscles are working to support the movement and you don’t strain your back.
  4. Straighten your arms to push up to the starting position.

warning Keep your back straight – imagine you are a plank of wood. Try not to bend at the hips.

warning Keep your elbows into your sides, to prevent strain on the shoulders.

Be deliberate as you move up and down. As you develop upper body strength, you can lower your hands a coffee table, or the arm of a couch and eventually the floor!

As a personal trainer on the Sunshine Coast, I specialise in helping people to get moving safely, at a level that is right for them.

If you’re looking for more individual guidance to get you on your fitness journey, call me today.

How to GET MOVING in 2019?

If you’ve decided that 2019 is going to be the year you start exercising (or start again) then excellent! That is a great decision. Exercising regularly will help to improve every area of your life, and its never too late to start.

But I know a lot of people feel that it can be intimidating to turn up to a busy gym or a big fitness class. This can be especially true if you’re worried you will hold people back, get in the way, or look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

To help your confidence, here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Practice a few of the basic exercise movements at home first. These are the sorts of movements that a lot of fitness classes, and personal training programs, are developed on. To help, I’ve included a quick guide to Squats, Push-Ups and Rows here.
  2. Visit your local gym / fitness centre and ask for a tour or an introductory session with a PT. It will help you feel more comfortable in the space, and let you start slowly. Most gyms will offer this to get you to sign you up as a member.
  3. Try finding a beginners fitness class that will focus on how to exercise, rather than just making you sweat a lot. Or, if you’re local to Sunshine Coast, Australia, come along to my Fitness Foundations – Introduction to Fitness course.

 

Introduction to Fitness – beginner fitness classes in Maroochydore

Most people realise that exercise is important to overall health and wellbeing, but what people may not realise is that exercise is not always intuitive. How to perform each exercise with proper form so that you get the most out of it (and avoid injury) is not always obvious.

And it’s okay to not know what you’re doing the first few times.

My Fitness Foundations course will guide you through each common exercise, while working on your mobility, balance and coordination. These are the essential tools you need to exercise safely in your home, without a gym. You can use these classes to give you the confidence to attend one of the bigger classes and really start your fitness journey.

The Course is open to anyone on the Sunshine Coast who is keen to get moving again, but is not sure how to start.

  Click here for details on Fitness Foundations – Maroochydore

 

 

 

 

Do you (Can you / Should you) exercise every day?

 

IMG_20181102_154305One thing we all want to know about exercise is:

What is the bare minimum I need to do?

When I chat with people about this, they often want to know if I train everyday and if they could​, or even should​, do the same.

Exercise, like many things in life, is all about getting the right amount.

But it’s also about practicality, specificity and diminishing returns. What that means for you might be quite different to me. 

So let’s have a look at some principles behind exercise and what different approaches mean.

 

The amount we should exercise or train depends on a lot of individual factors, including our health and injury history, age, lifestyle and our fitness goals.

 

The Australian Government Department of Health Physical Activity Guidelines
for physical activity suggest that adults (aged 18-64) should do between 2.5 and 5 hours of moderate exercise every week.

Or, between 1.25 and 2.5 hours of vigorous activity.

For adults aged over 65 recommendations are for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most or all days.

 

Given these guidelines pertain to ​maintaining general health, rather than say, ​improving athletic performance, most of us could probably do with more movement as a baseline.


The key in figuring out what is appropriate for you is to consider:

  • What you like doing
  • What you can commit to doing (realistically) 
  • What you want to achieve and 
  • What you need to help you get there

 

Each of these will help you get closer to the right amount of activity for you.

Picking something you like to do will always make it easier to do it. Being realistic about how much and how often you can commit to that likewise goes a long way to staying consistent.

However for most of us, the next two things are a bit harder to pin down. Often our goals are arbitrary (I want a six-pack), unrealistic (I want a six-pack!), or both (I want a six-pack TOMORROW!)

 

Thinking about why we want to be healthy, strong, flexible (or whatever) should be the basis of both what and how you train.

 

Say you have a physically demanding job.

Perhaps your ‘exercise’ is actually more about recovery and balancing out any unhelpful biases you develop in your daily grind.


That might look very different to someone who wants to be able to go on the monkey bars with their kids (or grand kids) or with someone who wants to climb Everest.

 

Whatever the goals you have though, getting the right support can make all the difference to achieving them.

IMG-0051-edit6

Whether that’s a coach who can help you with a plan to get to your goal, a specialist who can help rehabilitate an injury,  or even just a friend who can provide encouragement and accountability, that support will help you make the most of your efforts.

 

Which brings us to the least fun part of the picture.

When you first start a new exercise program, you often see results quite quickly. As you persist with it though, the same intensity of training provides diminishing returns. This is the key reason why support towards your goals is worthwhile.

 

As we get fitter, stronger and healthier our bodies adapt to the work we are doing.

 

In order to continue that adaptation and continue getting stronger etc. we need to exercise in progressively more challenging ways. A supporter, coach or trainer can make a massive difference here, by providing alternatives, changing programming, and maintaining forward progress.

This means that it’s less likely that we will still be doing the same program after 18 months, and wondering why it’s stopped working.

So to answer the question, ‘should I exercise everyday?

Probably.

HOWEVER, you need to do the right kind of exercise or activity everyday. Some days should be easier, some harder. Some should focus on recovery and rest, especially as this is when the body physically changes.

If you want to work out what might work for you, get in touch and I’d be happy to help you figure out something that fits your life, interests and budget.

And yes, I do something almost every day.

 

Can I exercise with a sore *insert body part here*?

I have this conversation a lot:

Me: “Hello highly intelligent and good looking client who chooses to train with me, how are you feeling today?”

Intelligent and good looking client: “I’m ok Andy, except, I have a bit of soreness in my…..”

The sore thing is usually a joint, mostly knee(s) or shoulder(s), although I also get asked about sore muscles or the more general and difficult, sore back.

What usually follows is a question about whether it is safe or OK to exercise with this sore body part, and if so, what specific exercises should be done?

I have the same answer in every single case:

“It depends…”

The human body is a complicated series of mechanical, chemical and emotional connections, and while some movement or exercise is usually good for everyone at every stage of life, your body and experience of life is unique to you.

For the purpose of being slightly more helpful today I’ll break down “soreness” into a couple of different categories to discuss, but remember:

If you have persistent or ongoing pain you should see your doctor, they can and will refer you to an appropriate specialist. It is definitely worth getting a professionals opinion, not just mine or Dr Google.

Soreness 1: Achy muscles

If you are new or returning to exercise from a break, or if you are trying something new or harder than you are used to, you will probably feel Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. It is that feeling of stiff, tender muscles than can make movement feel uncomfortable, but this discomfort is usually in the muscle itself, as opposed to feeling pain in a joint.

This is completely normal, and just means that your muscles have suffered under a load they are not accustomed to. It is also a good thing, because it means that you’ve done some work and if you give those muscles the opportunity they will come back stronger than before.

This type of soreness will only last a day or two and can be alleviated by some relatively gentle movement or light stretching, as well as some rest. Typically doing the same level of exercise or movement that you did to create the soreness will help loosen those stiff muscles and reduce DOMS reoccurring.
If your muscle soreness last longer, you may have done slightly more damage to the muscle tissue itself, and further rest and a bit of rehabilitation may be required. Give it time, and then slowly start using the muscle again, with light stretches and bodyweight movements.

If it doesn’t get better with rest and gentle movement you may need to investigate further. As always, start with your GP.

Soreness 2: Joint Pain

Joint pain is where specific investigation of what is wrong with you is a very good idea. As a general rule, joints shouldn’t hurt so if yours do, particularly if the pain has hung around for a while, go get it checked out by a professional.

Your pain could be caused by damage, like an accident or impact, it could be caused by a ‘bad’ movement pattern where the surrounding muscles don’t move or support it optimally, or you could unfortunately have any number of degenerative conditions associated with your job or lifestyle, your genetics or health / medical conditions. This is why an accurate diagnoses will go a long way towards improving things.

Joints are complicated structures with lots of moving parts, but because of this the right type of exercise is almost always useful.

Particularly if there has been trauma to a joint, or your pain is caused by inappropriate movement patterns then rehabilitation exercises will be crucial to managing and improving that pain. These types of exercise might use weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight only movement. They will nearly always however make use of lighter loads and higher numbers of repetitions to stimulate an adaptive response within the joint that will strengthen and protect it against further injury.

A good specialist will be able to interpret any medical information you have collected, observe your joint movement, discuss the sensations you experience and prescribe a series of exercises that will help. It is always very good to let your wonderful personal trainer (me) know when you have been prescribed exercise, so that I can assist you on your rehabilitation journey.

Soreness 3: Back pain

Back pain is something that many of us experience, and while for many the causes and treatments can be fairly straightforward it’s impossible for anyone to see what’s going on with you over the internet. So again, if you have ongoing problems go talk to your doctor.

You may have recently seen a few news articles about back pain, and it seems for many a contributing factor is weakness through the core abdominal area.

Regardless of where you are in your fitness journey, having a strong core will improve your life.

Strengthening your core can help you deal with back pain that is caused by poor posture, will result in less pressure on your shoulder joints when you move your arms and can help to stop you from developing a stooped or twisted posture as you age.

There are lots of things you can do to improve your core strength. Making an effort to stand up tall when you’re standing up, or performing exercises like planks, right through to more advanced holds you might see gymnastics performing.

To sum up, exercising with a sore (anything) may be really beneficial for you. It all comes down to what is sore, why it’s sore, and what the best way to exercise for that issue will be.

A good fitness professional or specialist will take your situation into account and prescribe appropriate movement to improve it. This means that a group exercise class is not always the way to go, unless there is provision to adapt it to your specific needs.

Whatever soreness, injury or issue you have, I would encourage you to keep moving as much as you can, while making sure to give your body what it needs to recover, strengthen and keep you in good nick for as long as possible.

How to improve balance?

One of the questions I’m often asked is how to improve balance.

I provide several exercise classes every week for people over 50 on the QLD Sunshine Coast. These Strength and Stability classes draw people aged into their eighties.

Invariably there is someone who has experienced a fall, and wants to avoid it happening again. There are lots of different techniques to improve balance, but they all rely on the same principle.

That is, to improve your balance you have to challenge it

This doesn’t mean flirting with a fall necessarily, but it does mean working at the point where you begin to feel a bit wobbly. Everyone will find that wobble at a slightly different place, but it’s crucial if you want to become more stable.

It is the act of correcting the wobble that really improves your balance, so here are a few tips to try in finding, and thereby improving, your own wobbly point.

Obviously safety is important, so make sure you have whatever support you might need, like a chair or handrail, and begin slowly, with the easy exercises first to ensure you stay upright.

1. Begin by standing with your feet about shoulder width apart and stand up tall.

This, for most healthy, able-bodied people is a stable position, but if you generally need a walking stick or frame, simply standing unaided might be more than enough of a challenge for you. If that’s you, keep close to a support, and work on spending more and more time upright without that aid, before moving on to anything more challenging.

2. If you are steady try bringing your feet together. A slightly narrower base will increase the level of difficulty.

If this is still easy you can try closing your eyes, gently and briefly, to begin searching for that wobbly point. Try lifting your arms out to the side. First move one arm, then the other, always coming back to your support if you need to.

3. Once you feel comfortable, try lifting one foot up off the ground, and hold for up to 40 seconds.

This changes not only your base of support, but also your weight distribution, so will help many people find that wobble. When you have tried to stand on one foot for a little while, switch to the other. We all have better balance on one side than the other, and most of us will begin on our good side. Remember to practice balancing on your bad side, perhaps even more so, otherwise it will just fall further behind as your good side improves.

Once you feel relatively comfortable with these static balances, you can start playing with movement as well. Try:

  • Lifting and moving your non-support leg
  • Slowly moving your arms around your head
  • Change your gaze by looking up and down, side to side, or even close your eyes
  • Move your head around

These gentle movement can all significantly increase the difficulty and can lead to quite fast improvements if you practice them consistently.

To get these fast improvements you should train your balance everyday

I take 40 seconds on each leg while I am brushing my teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil (I drink a lot of tea, so this works well for me).

Practicing your balance every day will lead to faster progress. As will adding even harder exercises that are more and more dynamic.

Of course, if you’re not confident where to start, or want some feedback, give me a call or you’re welcome to attend one of the eight Strength and Stability classes I offer every week on the Sunshine Coast. Check out the Classes page to find a session near you.