6 tips to improve your health

25 Jul

6 tips to improve your health

Framework for success

There’s always some new health and nutrition research coming out that adds to the information and misinformation out there. Sometimes it can be super exhausting and confusing to sort through what’s useful, what’s not really all that useful, and then there are those that might be downright dangerous!

At Velocity Fitness Group, we aren’t training athletes or people looking for drastic body composition changes. If you pay enough money and put in enough effort anyone can undergo dramatic changes over 8-12 weeks. What we do here at Velocity is focus on what happens at 13+ weeks. We want clients who understand that health and fitness is a long term goal, and they’re looking for a Personal Trainer that helps support and educate them on lifestyle changes for ongoing success. Our ultimate goal and purpose is to empower our clients to take ownership of their day to day actions and decisions.

We do this by taking our clients through the M.A.R.T.I.A.L. System – a mnemonic that covers 6 tips you can do to improve your health.

  1. Make Time For Sleep
  2. Adhere to 80/20
  3. Remember to Stay Hydrated
  4. Take Care of Your Gut Health
  5. Incidental Exercise Is Key
  6. Activities That Are Fun
  7. Learning & Understanding Is Key

Easy to remember right! I would probably be right to say that most people know that the first 3 things especially are super important, however the key things that people are missing is the understanding and subsequent empowerment that truly leads to reaching your health and fitness goals.

  • Make Time For Sleep – aim for 6-8 hours sleep a night and a regular sleep schedule. Don’t use electronic devices for an hour before bedtime or in bed, or use blue blocking glasses if necessary. WHY? Sleep is crucial for the mind to reset and decompress. Continued poor sleep or deprivation leads to significant decrease in cognitive function. If you’ve been exercising, sleep is the time the body uses to repair and recover, so poor sleep will result in sore joints and muscles and lead to potential injuries.
  • Adhere to 80/20 rule – fill your diet with whole and unprocessed foods such as colourful fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, small amounts of nuts and healthy fats. Then you can treat yourself guilt-free with some of the stuff you enjoy. WHY? Studies have shown that motivation has a finite meter, if you are constantly making decisions about what food or drink to consume, you burn through this meter pretty quickly and have little remaining when you make the choice between salad or McDonald’s for lunch. Also, those people who follow a strict diet tend to binge when they make a food decision that falls outside of the diet and then take an “oh well” approach and eat all the things, and may suffer the horrible guilt and depression that follows.
  • Remember to Stay Hydrated – 8 glasses a day right, but how big are your glasses? I like to keep a refillable stainless steel or glass bottle with me at all times. Keep in mind that coffee, tea, juice, and fruits and vegetables also hydrate the body so don’t worry about being too fixated on the “number of glasses per day”. Drink when you’re thirsty, more when working out, preferably fresh water. WHY? Humans are around 60% water, and a small drop in hydration levels has major effects. For those working outdoors and active jobs, it could have debilitating physical effects, while for office workers it can impact on cognition and attention span.
  • Take Care of Your Gut Health – one of the most interesting and exciting developments in health is the importance of the gut and your little buddies that reside there – known as the microbiome. WHY? There are links between gut health and a myriad of issues – anxiety and depression, autism, Alzheimer’s, mood swings, hormone imbalances, and many more. From a fundamental health and fitness perspective, a healthy gut means all that effort, time and money you are spending to eat good food is worthwhile as you can absorb maximum nutrition. Stress is one of the biggest killers of your microbiome, so take steps to reduce stress such as meditation or mindfulness activities, read a good book, and generally make time for yourself!
  • Incidental Exercise Is Key – Going to the gym or going for a run 4 or 5 times a week generally seems pretty healthy right? However, that’s about 3-6 hours of exercise and activity in a 168-hour week, so it’s important to stay active and mobile the rest of the time. WHY? It doesn’t do much good if you sit down for breakfast, drive to the station, sit on a train, walk a short distance to work, sit at a desk all day, and do the same on the way home! Constant sitting has been shown to affect longevity as much as smoking. One easy thing would be to leave to or from work a few mins earlier, and walk to the station, or get off a stop or two earlier and brisk walk it the rest of the way. Learn to look for and take opportunities for incidental exercise – stairs instead of escalators, walk instead of taxis or Ubers, or go and talk to colleagues or boss instead of shooting off another email.
  • Activities That Are Fun – too many people associate “exercise” with going to the gym or for a run, which makes it harder for them to take the first step to even start! Exercise is any activity that gets the body moving, elevates the heart rate, and requires exertion. Now there’s one key activity that I’m sure everyone can think of, and hopefully if you’re doing it right, you’re enjoying it too! Apply that similar principle to your exercise regime – I hate running, but put me in a 1 hour boxing class and I’m totally in my element. For you it might be a basketball game, tennis match, kicking the footy with mates or kids, bushwalking, or any number of fun activities. Find one that you can regularly attend, and it’s a great way to spend time with friends and make some new ones too. WHY? You’re more likely to exercise if you actually enjoy it!
  • Learning & Understanding Is Key – Now I’m sure that much of what I have mentioned you probably know is important! Of course you should sleep right, eat better, and exercise more. What the M.A.R.T.I.A.L. System gives you is a framework to educate yourself and understand these key aspects. You might feel sore and sorry after a hard workout, but knowing that you need lean protein to rebuild muscles, and complex carbs to refuel energy, and a good nights sleep to repair your body, you can make the right decisions and be in the position to take ownership of your health and fitness goals and journey.

As a Personal Trainer, it might seem strange that I am not telling you to get a PT! Well, we still have a powerful and important role to play, especially for those people who have not had a history of exercise. Our philosophy is to provide you with support and education, not just prescribing a training or eating plan. By integrating the M.A.R.T.I.A.L. System with your 1 on 1 or Group Sessions, you have increased your likelihood of long term and sustainable results because you develop good exercise, sleep, and food habits.

Book your FREE 1 on 1 Consult https://velocityfitness.com.au/contact-us/

Book your FREE TRIAL Group Session https://velocityfitness.com.au/classes/timetable/

 

 

How to make time to exercise

04 Jun

How to make time to exercise

make time to exercise

I’m going to start this off with something controversial. You are not a special unique snowflake. Of all the amazing individual characteristics that make you who you are, the one constant thing that links the lowest of the poor and needy, to the pinnacle of human achievement and success is this – we all have 24 hours in a day.

It may seem like everything is a constant battle to fit it all in – making breakfast, getting the kids ready for school, rushing for public transport or sitting in peak hour traffic, to constant meetings at work, and emails with subject lines marked *URGENT*, or fuckups at the worksite that need resolving, then you’ve got to meet up with your friend that you’ve put off for two weeks already, maybe you have back to back client meetings across town that you’re rushing around for, only to find a backlog of emails that you have to follow up on, not to mention the actual day to day work that you have to churn through! It doesn’t slow up after work either – who actually gets out the door at 5pm anymore? Then you fight the commute home, mentally check if you’ve got enough food for dinner, and stop off at the grocery store or takeaway joint if you don’t, then you remember that you’re meant to have dinner with the folks so you dump it all in the fridge and rush over for the monthly interrogation about your life. When you finally get home there’s hardly any time to catch up on the latest episode of your favourite show, before you hit the hay and try to do it all again tomorrow!

You start to resent your mate or colleague that seems to have it all under control. How do they balance it all? What are they doing that is different?

Well, anyone’s who has been to a course about time management, there are two main things to do. Learn how to prioritise, and learn to say no. As a personal trainer, I want to focus mostly on your priorities, as that naturally leads you to say no to more things.

Health and fitness is a selfish pursuit; it is about making you the best version of yourself. You need to spend the time, energy, and yes money, to make this happen. What people forget though, is that when you are the best version of yourself, you are a better colleague/employee/manager/owner, you are a better partner/mother/father/brother/sister, you are a better whatever it is you need to be because you have less stress, more energy, mental balance, and belief in yourself.

Some things you can do to “have more time”

  1. Wake up earlier – an unpopular one especially in winter, but if the reason you’re not exercising if because your kids are too demanding when they wake up, then wake up before them and exercise. When I was in corporate, I loved hitting the gym before work – it was less crowded and I was guaranteed a workout, rather than work issues stopping a lunch or evening session.
  2. Help from your partner, family and friends – it’s always easier with support. Hopefully your partner supports your fitness goals and helps out more around the house (I’m looking at you fellas), or set mutual goals with your circle so you can exercise together and keep each other accountable. Rather than a lunch or dinner catch up with friends or family, you could do an activity together.
  3. Incidental Exercise – As we get older, we end up caring less about what we look like on the way to the office. Get those runners on and leave your work shoes at the office, walk to work or get off a station or stop earlier. Get up and speak to your boss or colleagues instead of calling or sending an email. Take the stairs instead of lift or escalator, save money by walking to meetings instead of cabs or Ubers. Keep your eyes open and learn to recognise opportunities to get a bit of movement in your day.
  4. Get support from your workplace – a lot of people will work through their lunch break, or eat at their desk, or stay late at the office because that seems to be the office culture. As mentioned earlier, a healthy employee is a happy and productive employee. Speak to your manager or HR team about encouraging staff to exercise at lunchtimes, or getting out the door at a reasonable hour. And if you’re a manager or business owner reading this, then you need to understand that a wellness culture goes a long way in attracting good staff, improving productivity, motivation, and retention.
  5. Choose an activity that you enjoy – if I was planning on running at lunchtime today, then if anything like a quick coffee catch up with a friend came up, then I would easily blow off the run because I hate running! However, the weekly basketball comp had me changed and ready well before the match because I love the sport and playing with colleagues. I instruct Taekwondo during the week, and a combination of discipline, enjoyment and fulfilment keep bringing my students back to regular training twice a week. Try a few different things and get friends and family involved too.
  6. High Intensity workouts – for example there is research that a short series of sprint exercises is more effective than steady state cardio workouts. You can make the most of a 10-20 min window, rather than trying to find 45-60 mins free. Make sure that you progress safely as the higher intensity your workout, the higher risk of injuries if exercises are not performed correctly. Sometimes this might conflict with “Choose an activity that you enjoy”, as higher intensity workouts can be hard! Smash out a series of 20 metre sprints, burpees, push-ups, and jump squats and see how much you enjoy it! However, that short burst of exercise is perfect for time-poor people.

These are just a few simple ideas that “make more time” in your day or week to exercise. What are some things that work for you?

Velocity Fitness offers Corporate Fitness, 1 on 1 Personal Training, and Group Circuit classes. Book in a consult now to see if it fits with your fitness goals, or a FREE first trial group session. https://velocityfitness.com.au/classes/timetable/

Make Nutritious Home Cooking Easy

03 May

Nutritious home cooking & review of Hello Fresh

Nutritious home cooking is a great foundation for a healthy lifestyle. There are many excuses as to why people cook healthy meals at home, and tend to eat out or get takeaway. Chief among them are “I don’t have enough time” and “I don’t know where to start”. At Velocity Fitness, our philosophy is to make your actions become good habits, and to take away excuses not to do something. When it comes to food and nutrition, there is so much information out there that you might not know where to start! I was fortunate to grow up in and around restaurants, so food shopping, preparation, cooking and serving come easily to me. However, not everyone is that lucky. Perhaps you may have the culinary skills but not the time to research a new recipe or two, or the time to go grocery shopping to pick up all the ingredients. On the other hand, you could have plenty of time, but lack the confidence or skills to whip up a healthy lunch or dinner.

There are a couple of produce delivery services out there, and one of the biggest is Hello Fresh. I saw their stand at the 2016 Wellness Show, and decided to sign up and check out their product. They have a couple of size options (3 or 5 meals a week for 2 or 4 people), choice of omnivore or vegetarian, and each week you can select which recipes were delivered. I was happy to stick with the default choices, but if you have any particular dietary requirements there was a variety of weekly options. It gets delivered on a day of your choice, with plenty of freezer packs to keep your meat cold. Over the 3 weeks these were some of the simple and tasty dishes that got delivered. You can see there are seafood free, wheat free, and some dairy free choices.

        • Dukkah Chicken with Roast Vegetables & Fetta Cheese
        • Beef & Pumpkin Massaman Curry with Pillowy Rice
        • Arrabiata Penne with Bacon & Flaked Parmesan
        • Prawn & Pea Stir-fry with Zesty Lime
        • Sweet Chilli Chicken Burgers with Lime Mayo & Cucumber
        • Scotch Fillet with Caramelised Onion & Mixed Mash
        • Mexican Beef Tacos with Skillet Veggies & Sour Cream
        • Moreish Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon & Parmesan Cheese
        • Zesty Lime & Pepper Chicken with Quinoa

 

Week 3 of @hellofreshau Mexican Beef Tacos with Skillet Vege. Really quick and tasty once again #protein #healthylunch #cleaneating

A photo posted by Velocity Fitness Group (@velfitgroup) on

As you can see, most of the dishes had lean protein and complex carbs, but not enough vegetables for my liking. I tried to follow the recipes faithfully, but ended up adding an extra one or two types of vegetables. The preparation and cooking instructions were clear and easy to follow, and even someone with little experience in the kitchen should be able to navigate quite easily.

Another thing I will say is that some of the dishes called for the meat to be marinated before grilling, which resulted in quite a sticky and crusty black mess afterwards, I’m looking at you Sweet Chilli Chicken!

Overall I would recommend Hello Fresh to those who are in the categories of lacking time to go grocery shopping for healthy produce, and those who aren’t too confident in the kitchen. I did learn a few new variations for meal ideas, but for someone like me, I can grab those off the internet or from cooking shows. You are paying a premium for the convenience of home delivery and chef devised recipes and fresh produce. For those in the “don’t have enough time” or “don’t know where to start” when it comes to healthy home cooking, this is a great idea to remove those excuses and start making nutritious home cooking a healthy habit.

 

Velocity Fitness Group is independent from Hello Fresh and received no monetary or in kind benefit. This review was written for the benefit of Velocity Clients only and is not a paid advertisement.

Should you take Supplements?

18 Apr

Is supplementation right for you?

fish oil omega 3 supplement

On a scale of irresponsible Uni student at 1 (think mi goreng instant noodles, booze, chips, and kebabs) to Buddhist monk at 10 (vegan and unprocessed foods, all home/temple cooked meals, and meditation before meals), where do you sit?

Bang in the middle is eating a few home cooked meals here or there, some prepared lunches mixed with food court lunches, a coffee or two a day and you might treat yourself to raisin toast or banana bread for a morning snack. You might have a couple of drinks during the week, and a few more on weekends, and although junk food might be a guilty pleasure you still indulge a little more than you should.

If you think about it and conclude that you’re about a 1-4 on the scale, then no amount of supplementation will help you and you may as well throw your hard earned money down the drain. We Personal Trainers will tell you that you can’t out-train a bad diet, and any Nutritionist and Dietitian will tell you you can’t out-supplement a bad diet!

The adage “you are what you eat” is being replaced by “you are what you absorb” – which covers what you put on your skin, inhale, and what can be digested. You could eat a few healthy meals a week, but if your digestive system lacks the good bacteria to create enzymes and break down the food to access nutrients, you won’t get the benefits of your occasional healthy meal. Your endocrine system that regulates your hunger might also be so fatigued that you don’t recognise when you’re full, so your healthy meal might end up being 2 or 3 servings before you finally receive the signals to stop eating! Taking various supplements to repair, boost and support the body will only have a small impact if a fraction of your supplementation can be absorbed and utilised by your body.

Make sure that you fill your regular diet with lean protein, complex carbohydrates and loads of colourful fruits and vegetables, and good fats. Once your body is at a good equilibrium and naturally detoxes itself, some good general supplements to take are fish oils/omega-3s, probiotics, fibre, and if you’re training regularly then whey protein and magnesium for recovery may suit you.

You should look at supplementation as the cherry on top of a healthy diet and fitness regime.

Check out my previous blog article on building healthy habits that will slowly but surely take you up the scale to a 6 and beyond, but consult a nutritionist or dietitian if there are any particular medical or nutritional issues that you face. https://velocityfitness.com.au/healthy-habits-for-the-workplace/

Benefits of Bodyweight Training

toddler bodyweight squat
29 Feb

Benefits of Bodyweight Training

If you’ve ever seen a toddler squat down to pick up something and stand up again, invariably what you’ll see is a perfect squat motion. Somehow over the years as we get older, we lose that natural body movement and it becomes awkward and cumbersome. Next thing you know, you’re in the gym and your mate takes you over to the squat rack. If you’re lucky, he just puts the 20kg barbell on your shoulders and tells you to squat. If he’s a bad person or just inconsiderate, he’ll probably chuck a weight or two on there as well. Then your bum pokes back too far, or your shoulders are rounded and forward, or your feet too close together, or your knees roll inwards, or any number of things that can and do go wrong. That’s when injuries big and small occur, and you walk away from your exercise experience pained and swearing off working out ever again!

toddler bodyweight training squat

Safety

The biggest benefit of bodyweight training is that you can perform them safely without additional load. Everything is contained within the parameters of your body type and size, and you don’t have the loads that can put extra pressure on the joints or spine. A good personal trainer can set you up safely, and explain how the leverage of the body length can add extra challenge to the exercise.

The classic example of this is the push up. The higher up the torso is off the ground, the less weight needs to be pushed by the chest and arms. For someone who is overweight or never attempted a push up before, you would start with a wall push up. Set them up with the feet a little back from the wall, and place the arms out slightly wider than shoulder width with palms flat and fingers spread wide, and nice even pressure on the wall. Then “screw” the shoulders into the wall so that the inside of the elbows face towards their head. Take a deep breath in and lower the chest to the wall, elbows should travel on an angle down towards the ribs rather than straight outwards. Keep the breath in the core, squeeze everything tight and “push” the wall away and finish with a sharp exhalation.

As their body becomes used to the motion and they get stronger, just substitute “wall” for bench or floor, and you have a perfect push up set up!

 

Progression

It never gets easier either! Progression when it comes to a bench press in a gym would be to add more weight. Typical push up progression would look something like this

  1. Wall push up
  2. Table push up
  3. Bench push up
  4. Push up on knees
  5. Push up on toes
  6. Push up feet elevated

 

Once your strength and coordination has improved to this point, then you can start with the fun stuff!

  1. Lateral push up
  2. Push up with jacks
  3. Push up with Spider-Man’s
  4. Push up to side plank
  5. Push up with alternate leg lifts
  6. Push up with mountain climbers
  7. Plyometric push up
  8. And many more, if interested come join our group circuit sessions

Progression comes once you’ve mastered the body mechanics and can perform a complex movement safely and confidently. This can be easier to achieve with bodyweight rather than with additional load to move.

 

Compound movements

Just a fancy fitness term for any exercise that involves more than one set of joint movements to move the force, be it weights or the body. Bicep curls would be a good example of a simple movement exercise, where only the elbow joint moves to lift the weight. The most efficient way of working out and achieve full body strength and endurance is to incorporate big compound movements. In the gym, the big ones are bench press, deadlift, squats and overhead press. Examples of great compound body weight exercises are push ups and pull ups (shoulders and elbows), squats and lunges (knees and hips). In addition, bodyweight training can be done safely whilst moving in various planes which engages the stabilising muscles of the hips and core, and gives a great full body workout. Of course you can still perform similar exercises with weights, but that generally requires more experience to control the additional load safely.

 

Functional training

This can be a buzzword that loses its meaning after a while, but it just means an exercise or movement pattern that can be utilised in the real world. It could be the goblet squat, where you hold a kettle bell or dumbbell to your chest while squatting, which looks like a mother picking up her baby and standing up. Or everyone’s favourite exercise, the burpee, can be directly translated to someone pushing themselves off the floor and standing up! Because bodyweight training relies on your own body, it’s more realistic than carrying additional load. For the general person on the street the goal isn’t to squat 100kg, but to have the flexibility, mobility and strength to perform day to day activities with confidence and freedom.

 

Muscle tone, not size

Depending on your fitness goals, bodyweight training  may be better suited for you. I often get the feedback that women especially fear weight training because they “don’t want to get too big”. It could be a whole blog article on its own, but the components for Hypertrophy or muscle growth are quite hard to line up – testosterone, protein intake, stress levels, rest and sleep, training frequency and training weight.

What bodyweight training does is provide muscle tone for both females and males. Personally I don’t have the goal of looking jacked, as a martial artist I prefer the strong and lean look like a Jet Li or Donnie Yen, which can be achieved through dynamic and explosive bodyweight exercises.

 

No need for equipment

Didn’t feel like there was a need to spell it out, but it costs nothing to use your own bodyweight to train!

 

As you can see, bodyweight training has numerous benefits and can be utilised to supplement your usual gym workouts, easy to do at home, or if you prefer working out at the beach or park, all you need is some flat ground and a bench to really challenge yourself.

 

 

Velocity Fitness offers bodyweight training as part of its 1 on 1 Personal Training and Group Circuit classes. Book in a consult now to see if it fits with your fitness goals, or a FREE first trial group session. https://velocityfitness.com.au/classes/timetable/

 

 

Types of Personal Training

18 Feb

Types of Personal Training

Semi-private personal training

1 on 1 vs semi-private vs small group vs boot camp

What do you think when someone talks to you about getting into Personal Training? Is your first thought “oh geez there’s no way I can afford a PT!”, or “I don’t want someone yelling at me the whole time!”? I’m here to let you know you can still get the benefits of having a Personal Trainer for surprisingly good value.

I’ll outline the main ways of working with a Personal Trainer and its pros and cons, in descending order of cost so that you can see which level best suits you. In general, you will see greater benefits the more you spend, but it also depends on the individual and how self-motivated you are.

1 on 1 training – you set specific fitness goals, get assessed and have your measurements taken and tracked. Your workout is tailored to your specific fitness goals, addressing weaknesses and lots of individual attention on form and technique correction. This is the most expensive, but you are paying for that extra attention, accountability, motivation and is the most reliable way to achieve results.

Semi-private – this is where family, friends, or colleagues share the cost of a PT and workout together in a group of 2-4. Assessment and tracking occur. Workouts are more generalised to cater for all participants but any injury considerations are factored in of course. Cost per person will vary depending on numbers, so getting a regular and dependable group is crucial. It is great to keep you accountable and motivated as you’re working out with (hopefully) people you enjoy spending time with, and can work on other factors together outside of training like eating clean and maintaining healthy office and home habits.

Small group – at Velocity we have a maximum of 8 participants in group training to ensure that some level of form and technique correction occurs. The PT is able to demonstrate the exercises and keep an eye on a small number of participants, and keep them motivated and pushing hard. Participants can be associates or other clients booking into a session, so the attendees week to week may vary. There is a fixed cost per session so you can train 3-4 group sessions a week for the cost of one 1 on 1 session which is great value for money. On the other hand, it is easy for participants to skip a session here or there as the “book and pay as you go” system means there is less accountability.

Boot camp – this style can have 15-30 participants and at the higher numbers should have multiple PT’s monitoring the group. Stereotypically these are the “yelling” type of trainers, because they have to make themselves heard by the group, generally not because they like being mean. Often limited to a period of weeks, this is a great way to get a quick boost in fitness and motivation but not ideal for long term sustainable results. These are generally great value propositions as PT’s use them as introductory offers to new clients. Velocity does offer limited term “boot camps” but will always have a maximum of 8 participants to ensure safe form and technique.

At Velocity Fitness, we offer all these levels of personal training sydney, so picking the right one means weighing up the cost with the benefits gained as well as your health and fitness goals. Some clients actually use the relatively higher cost of 1 on 1 sessions as motivation to attend each session, whereas group training might be easier to skip if you’re don’t particularly feel like training that day. Check out the previous article on how to make healthy living a habit! https://velocityfitness.com.au/healthy-habits-for-the-workplace/

Book a consult with a Velocity PT to discuss your fitness goals and what training type suits you the best https://velocityfitness.com.au/contact-us/

 

Find our training locations here https://velocityfitness.com.au/about-us/

More information on our class types https://velocityfitness.com.au/classes/

Outdoor training timetable and locations https://velocityfitness.com.au/classes/timetable/

Healthy Habits for the workplace

04 Feb

Healthy Habits for the workplace

Healthy habits workplace

Before I became a personal trainer, I spent 10 years in finance and law and saw some questionable habits and guilty of some of them myself, so I know all about the challenges of getting fit and healthy in the office. If you had a late night watching the latest TV show, you might have a sleep in and in your rush skip breakfast. Worst case scenario you drive all the way into work, slightly better is driving to the station and taking public transport. Once in the office you grab a quick bowl of cereal and sit down to check emails. This sugar high doesn’t last long and you’re out the door once your morning deliverables are completed to grab a coffee and muffin/toast/banana bread for a snack. Back to your desk and hunched over the keyboard, shoulders rounded, neck craned, slouched down. You bang out some more reports, and as it gets closer to lunch time your boss drops off something urgent that will delay your break, and put the kibosh on your lunchtime run. So you open your drawer and pull out a “healthy” muesli bar to tide you over. Finally, you’re able to get a break, but you’ve forgotten to pack that healthy lunch so it’s off to the food court to get something quick, cheap, easy and hopefully slightly healthy. It’s a nice day so you’re in the park, watching the other office workers run around or work out in their active wear, and you promise yourself that you’ll get out early and get a few kilometres in. Back to the office, there are some meetings to attend, emails to respond to, some office gossip to catch up on, and before you know it 6pm rolls around and you are just too exhausted to run after work, and besides you have to rush home to get dinner on for the kids. After your torrid day, you might have a beer or glass of wine or two over dinner, and then once the kids are in bed you crash on the couch and zone out.

So let’s recap – You’re sitting in your chair for a good 6 or 8, maybe 10 hours a day. You try to eat healthy but you’re eating all the wrong snacks. You want to exercise but work piles up and you don’t get the chance. You’re stressed from deliverables to clients and demands of the higher ups. Does any of this sound familiar?

Let’s look at some little things you can do to correct these.

Sleeping in – your body is very sensitive to changes in sleep habits, so try to sleep and wake up at the same times. Each person is different, but you should get 6-8 hours sleep each night.

Skipping breakfast/carb loaded breakfast – whilst there isn’t necessarily any evidence for breakfast “kick starting the metabolism” there is a great benefit in eating a protein heavy breakfast. It satiates the body for longer and removes the blood sugar crash and therefore reduces the need for a mid-morning snack. Eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, oats, cottage cheese, are all great quick breakfast options.

Incidental exercise – make this the most important thing in your day! Walk to public transport, get off a stop or 3 earlier and walk to work. Rather than sending an email that may or may not be read, and certainly not prioritised by colleagues, go and speak to them in person. If you’ve got a meeting on another floor, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Not only will you get lots of exercise, you will get to meet and build stronger interpersonal relationships with colleagues.

Stay hydrated – one of your best friends when it comes to incidental exercise is your water bottle. Whether small or large jugs and glasses, there are benefits. Large means you drink plenty of water as it should be right next to your screen and in your face, and therefore you need to stand often and go pee. Small means you drink lots, and stand and walk to refill and go pee! Tea is a great alternative as well and has lots of health benefits. If you take one or two lumps, try to reduce this over time.

Office snacking – we all have that one colleague whose drawer is infamous for its selection of chocolate bars, lollies, chips and pretzels. It might even be you! I had a colleague that would get coffee and banana bread EVERY morning! If you do need snacks for that extra boost to get you through the day, make sure they’re healthy – natural nuts and seeds, veggies and dip, fruit slices and nut spreads (I love apples with peanut butter). If you do have things like crackers or chips, keep them to an occasional treat and put them into a bowl or plate to limit your grazing.

Meal prep – no need to spend your whole Sunday cooking and prepping 15 meals for the week. Make a larger than usual (healthy) dinner, and pack the leftovers in Tupperware containers. There is evidence of trace chemicals leaching into food when reheating, so transfer to a plate or bowl when microwaving. Or you might cut up some fresh veggies and pack a can of tuna with homemade dressing on the side. Just remember to bring it with you to work! You’ll save some calories and plenty of money when you skip the food court.

Birthdays and socials – I encourage my clients to fill 80% of their diet with yummy and nutritious food and stay well hydrated. If the vast majority of your intake is lean protein, loads of colourful veggies, complex carbs, lots of herbal teas and water, you can still enjoy yourself the other 20% of the time! Have a small slice of cake guilt-free or a beer or two on a Friday night, so long as the rest of your week has been pretty good.

Make time to work out – my personal preference when I was working in a office was to hit the gym first thing in the morning. It forced me to sleep and wake up earlier, and I would get a great energy boost to last me throughout the day. By working out before you get to the office, you would never get bogged down by deliverables or urgent requests. However, if mornings aren’t your bag or not feasible due to getting the kids off or long commute, then book in your lunchtime sessions in your calendar. Your colleagues will see that you have your sessions when they try to book a meeting in, and if you head out at the same time a couple of times a week, your boss will (hopefully) get used to your routine too. Evening sessions are a bit tougher, as you’ve been working ALL day and sometimes the last thing you want to do is go for a run or hit the gym. Something simple like getting changed into gym clothes at the office just before clock off time will be the impetus you need, and eat a high energy snack like fruit and nuts to get you through.

Healthy dinner prep – if you’ve got a partner that is already preparing dinner as you’re on your way home, that’s the ideal situation. Make sure that it’s healthy and easy, with plenty of protein and vegetables, and a small amount of complex carbohydrates. Otherwise, there are plenty of quick and simple dinner ideas that are tasty and nutritious. My personal go to’s are grilled steak/lamb/chicken/fish and while resting I pan fry thin slices of vegetables, or a quick stir fry with loads of vege and chosen protein and steamed rice. Use a variety of simple sauces or spice mixes to keep the flavours changing and interesting. There is some evidence that a glass of red wine or two can have health benefits, but the same cannot be said for beer or white wine unfortunately. Needless to say, a glass of hard liquor isn’t great either.

Get an early night – what are you really doing between 10-12 at night that’s productive? If you’re getting more exercise, then that’s ok 😉 However, spending those hours watching the latest TV release or movie probably won’t be really necessary. Managing your stress levels plays a major role in achieving health goals, but watching TV to relax at the cost of quality sleep is not a value proposition. Especially if you’ve been diligent and exercised that day, sleep is the time that your body takes to repair your muscles and get stronger.

 

At the end of a couple of months you’ve built a repertoire of healthy lifestyle habits, do you think you will be closer to achieving your health and fitness goals?

 

 

Alan is a personal trainer with over 10 years experience in the corporate world. Get better educated with Velocity Fitness, and develop a consistent workout routine with Velocity outdoor group training sessions. Available at Hyde Park and Wentworth Park, these offer great value by providing Personal Training technique and correction tips in a small group setting. https://velocityfitness.com.au/classes/timetable/

 

 

Difference between fight training and martial arts

Difference between fight training and martial arts
21 Jan

Fight training vs self-defence – important philosophical differences

 As 2016 rolls around, we have a new batch of students starting their Taekwondo journey with Walsh Martial Arts Australia. I have been training in the traditional, old school ITF style for over 18 years and instructing for the last 4 years. It is always valuable to explain to these new students the philosophy of how we train, and why. Even within Taekwondo itself, there are philosophical differences, with the more modern WTF style focused on the tournament and point scoring aspects and being seen as a “sport”.

 The fundamentals and foundation of traditional Taekwondo lie in the emphasis on the exaggerated stances at white belt – forward stance, and horseback riding stance. Whilst these don’t necessarily have direct application in a normal self-defence situation, what they do allow is the student to fully utilise hip movement and body weight transfer to generate maximum power with each block and punch. This “one hit, one kill” principle will be revisited shortly, but this philosophy underpins the main difference between martial art self-defence and fight training.

 The historical popularity of boxing, and now the rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) brings a different training philosophy to a practitioner. There is emphasis on not just the striking and defensive aspects, but there is much more conditioning and fitness based training. Fighters are expected to go multiple rounds and train to inflict and receive punishment.

Underlying philosophy

Fight training is all about hitting and being hit. You can see this in the fight stance, elbows tucked into the body, gloves up to protect the jaw, chin down and shoulders forward for the same reason. Weight is on the balls of the feet to allow quick attacking and defensive motion.

By contrast, the Taekwondo guarding block is very different. Firstly, we always take a backwards step to come into the guard, which makes our first motion a defensive action rather than being aggressive and coming forward. Secondly our hands are away from the body, still at jaw height to protect the face, and elbows away but still near the ribs to protect those. What this does is create a “bubble” of space in front of us that says “you stay over there, but if you come into my space I will defend myself”. Thirdly our posture is such that we have our shoulders back and chest tall, chin up and eyes out to the world. This posturing has a similar philosophy to the animal kingdom, where they will stand on their hind legs and puff their fur out to appear bigger. This emphasis on stance is prevalent through all our training, to the point where students will stand with open chest, tall chin and eyes as a matter of natural course.

Stances

 Rules

The main limitation of fight training is that the environment is restricted by rules. For example, boxing you cannot use your legs or punch below the waist, MMA fights prohibit attacking the groin, eyes and back of the neck.

If you have done any form of martial arts or self-defence training, you quickly learn that the vulnerable parts of the body that are otherwise restricted by rules are the most effective places to attack. The most effective form of pure self-defence martial art, although the term martial combat is more applicable, is Krav Maga. This combat is devised by the Israeli Defence Force to purely disarm and disable attackers with no prejudice, and mostly focus on the soft and vulnerable parts of the opponent to great effect.

 Predictability

With a set of rules, you can know in advance where your attacker will be attacking, and train and fight accordingly. In addition, you will be matched with a singular opponent of similar weight and usually experience.

In self-defence situations these factors will never be known. Your attacker could be drunk and violent, or a large brawler, or someone driven by ego and bluster, or even an equally skilled martial artist. They could have a weapon of some kind, or friends to back them up. Martial arts training covers a wide range of situations, and drill them over months and years until it becomes second nature.

 Escalation

If you take a fighter out of the ring or octagon and into the street, they will react in general the same way to a self-defence situation, which is the same way they train.

A martial artist has a moral and legal obligation to use reasonable force commensurate with the danger posed. For example, a drunk person in a bar is being aggressive but otherwise doesn’t seem to be actually posing an immediate danger can be subdued with various techniques until he or she settles down. Someone coming at you with fists raised and fire in their eyes can be met with a higher level of direct force, and someone threatening yours or others safety with a weapon can be taken down with close to maximum level force. Years of training make these kinds of decisions second nature and only take a split second.

 Training intensity

Having started doing some boxing and kickboxing training myself, I can say that the intensity is super high, but time spent on the mitts or bags only make up a portion of the training time. As mentioned, conditioning and fitness play an important part of being able to go for multiple rounds of 3 minutes, and you train accordingly.

Martial arts training is quite focused; all aspects of the training have self-defence objectives. From the basic blocks and punches in the formal stances, to the patterns which are old but still valid ways of practicing non-contact self-defence, to kicking on the paddles and heavy bags to develop accuracy and power, and finally to actual self-defence applications – against punches, kicks, knife, baton, wrist and body grabs, and many other attacks. The objective is to be relaxed for the delivery of the technique or action and then absolute focus power and intensity right at the application of the action. This is the “one hit, one kill” idea flagged earlier. The student is expected to train at a 100% application in class which is a safe environment, so that in the stress of a self-defence situation, he or she is able to apply the action at a 60-80% level and still have it be effective.

 Competition

The only goal of a bout is to beat your opponent, and you train to be faster, stronger, and better than them.

Whilst a martial artist is encouraged to have an ego, it is to the extent that they want to improve themselves. The goal of martial arts training is not to be better than your class mates, but to be better than you were at the start of the session. Each person is limited by their body type and shape, training experience, or maybe they just had a bad day at the office. How they train in the dojang despite all those things is a sign of their character and development.

 None of this is a say that fight training isn’t useful or effective in defending oneself, but it just has different underpinning philosophies and different training objectives.

 Having said all that, it might end up that I am not the best person to speak about self-defence! In 18 years of martial arts and Taekwondo training, I have yet to find myself in a situation that requires it. I’d have to say this is a combination of luck and not being in the wrong places at the wrong times. However, I would not be surprised if a large part of it was my posture and stance and the way I appear in the world. A long time standing in and practicing heavy formal stances, powerful hip movements for punching and kicking, shoulders back and chest open with my chin and eyes up and open to my surroundings, these are all factors that prevent a situation from even occurring. Thus the true value of martial arts training come to the fore, where the best self-defence is not even needing to defend yourself in the first place.

Alan Lau is a 4th dan Black Belt in Taekwondo and Branch Instructor (Ultimo, Redfern) for Walsh Martial Arts Australia.

Desa Seni Review & 5 things I learned about yoga

06 Jan

Desa Seni Review & 5 things I learned about yoga

Whether you’re a full blown yogi, or just started on your journey into the wonderful world of yoga, there are worse places to be than Desa Seni (http://www.desaseni.com/yoga.htm) yoga retreat in Canggu, Bali.

Desa Seni yoga

This idyllic location is a far cry from your local yoga studio, with dedicated landscapers and gardeners creating the perfect setting for achieving mindfulness and inner peace. The public studio is open to the elements, which is allows the breeze to sweep onto sweating practitioners, and sounds of birds and insects provide a natural soundtrack to each session. The instructors are carefully selected for their experience, amazing demeanor and encouraging nature.

Desa Seni yoga

The resort itself is has a lovely pool and healthy restaurant, I didn’t stay there myself but spoke to a few happy and content guests.

In terms of the classes I sampled – Ashtanga Creative Flow, Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, Kundalini Yoga, Hatha Tantra, Meditation and Pranayama. If you don’t know what these words mean, never fear, I didn’t either! Our instructors were Angela and Bernd, both amazing, patient, graceful and gracious. They were able to physically and mentally guide us through the 90 minute sessions, and I came out more relaxed and centred each time.

Which brings me to what I’ve learned about yoga in the short time I have practiced. I have attended a few yoga workshops run by the lovely Dani Schmutz of Fityoga (http://www.fityoga.com.au/workshops-events/), and I told her while she started my crush on yoga, whilst Desa Seni turned it into a full blown love affair.

  1. Yoga is a very personal thing. Whilst you are encouraged to feel and connect with your surroundings and people around you, ultimately it is about finding your centre and being aware of what’s happening in your mind and with your body. You only push yourself as far as you feel comfortable, with no high expectations of strength or flexibility.
  2. As you fall deeper into your mental and physical state, it’s an amazing form of meditation. You are so focused on the here and now that all external cares and worries fade away. Contrast this with “regular” exercise where you are working hard for a set number of reps or amount of time, your rest periods become opportunities for your mind to wander, browse the smartphone, or have a chat with your training partner.
  3. It’s a great workout! I love bodyweight training and am fascinated by what the body is able to perform. Yoga takes it to the next level, with poses that challenge your balance, core strength, flexibility, coordination, and body awareness. Static holds are an often overlooked component of strength training. Most people are familiar with concentric and eccentric (shortening and lengthening) muscle contractions and yoga certainly has those, but it is the isometric or static holds of positions and poses that work the muscles differently and in beneficial ways.
  4. It’s a great community. Exercise and activity is what you make of it, but I found the yoga crowd very open and friendly and welcoming of newcomers. Certainly no ego or competition involved. Again, contrast to such environments as exercising with headphones in, sterile gym floors, or competitive fight gyms or crossfit boxes. This all fits in line with the love and openness that yoga encourages.
  5. It leaves you wanting more! You work hard, and then you meditate hard! Each session gets the blood pumping, muscles and mind focussed, and then finish with some quiet meditation time. This is an opportunity for your body to relax, while the mind refreshes and contemplates what it needs to. This balance of physical and mental exertion, and then relaxation makes each yoga session very self-contained. No delayed onset muscle soreness to incapacitate you for a couple of days, or mental exhaustion that comes from pushing your body and mind to the edge.

My only regret is having visited Desa Seni so early in my yoga experience, I am worried that the studios I intend to regularly attend will not be up to those same lofty 5-star standards!

If you have ever wanted to start yoga or never even contemplated it before, I would highly encourage you to start! Ask around in your social circle and see if they have any recommendations for good studios, or perhaps start here http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/aroundtown/features/12003/yoga-in-sydney

 

Benefits of Boxing

03 Nov

Benefits of Boxing

THUMP Boxing class 1

Boxers training for a fight are some of the fittest athletes going around. A typical boxing working would consist of jump ropes, heavy bag work, speed bag, focus mitts, cardio conditioning, High Intensity Interval Training, as well as 3-5 min sparring rounds. Combine this with a strict diet to make fight weight, and you have a lean mean wrecking machine.

On the other end of the spectrum you have Boxercise. Typically seen in the big box gyms, these group classes have anything between 10-20 pairs of amateurs (in the true sense of the word) pounding their gloved hands into focus mitts held any which way. 45-60 mins of this will provide a fantastic cardio workout, and they will have worked their arms and shoulders pretty intensely too. Having experienced a few of these Boxercise classes myself, I found that I was shot by the first 10 minutes of the session. Whilst I’m certainly not the fittest person running around by any means, I did feel like I had failed. The main reason for this was because I was punching with 100% technique and intensity. The problem with these large group sessions is that the poor trainer is unable to attend to every person and adjust their technique. This meant that the majority of the clients were only going through the motions for the full session.

 

At Velocity we comfortably sit in the middle of this spectrum. Whilst we don’t get you up to fight conditioning, we absolutely focus on making sure you know what you’re doing. We ensure that you punch with the correct wrist and elbow alignment, exhale on the punch to tighten the core, accelerate the hip rotation into the punch, and rotate the feet enough to free up the hips and add power. Just with these few principles you can punch safely and strongly and get a full body conditioning workout.

Take the rear hand cross as an example. It is one of the most powerful punches because it is driven with the power hand and a long hip drive. You start it by driving through the ball of the rear foot, accelerate the rear hip using the hip stabilisers, torque your core as you drive your rear shoulder, and utilise the triceps and shoulders to snap out the elbow and corkscrew your fist over to expose the first two knuckles.

Just one punch uses almost every muscle group of the body to provide movement and power! Just imagine what happens when you throw in the rest of the punches available with slips, ducks and weaves that make up a super combination!

Another important difference is that we train the focus mitt holders in the correct hand position and footwork too! Absolutely crucial for the partner to be competent to allow those combinations to flow.

Done correctly and properly, boxing training will have multiple benefits!

  • Burn lots of calories – As a High Intensity exercise, boxing differs from steady state cardio exercises like running or walking by not only burning calories during the exercise but also has the afterburn effect for hours after the session is over!
  • Improved muscle tone – Boxers use fast repetitive actions that encourage muscle tone, rather than slow heavy movements associated with muscle growth and bulking.
  • Build strong joints and ligaments – impact on the focus mitts and ancillary conditioning exercises like burpees, lunges and push-ups encourage bones and joints to get stronger and reduce the onset of osteoporosis.
  • Increased cardio fitness and conditioning – your heart and lungs will be working hard to provide your body with oxygenated blood. Combine full body workout with high intensity and your cardiovascular system will get stronger.
  • Improved core stability – punching, slipping and ducking combinations cause the body to become unstable, so your core is working overtime to provide balance, structure and power.
  • Improved coordination and awareness – After a few weeks of technique training you will develop more muscle neural connections and you should feel more balanced and natural in all your movements, not just boxing related ones.
  • Stress relief – Well this doesn’t need much explaining does it? Taking out your aggression, anger or stress on a couple of focus mitts is better than on your colleagues or family.
  • Improved confidence and self-esteem – Improving from not being able to punch properly to smashing out a complex combination is extremely satisfying. Feel empowered and knowing what your body is capable of is a great boost.

Book a Velocity 1 on 1 or small group Boxing session today!