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Showing posts with label Personal Trainers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal Trainers. Show all posts

Off Season Training + Weightlifting

If you're like me the winter is your off season when it comes to sports training. In my case my primary sport is archery and during the winter I don't have many archery students and I am not doing personal practice as much either.

Plus with COVID going on it has put a damper on how many archery students I have had in the past year and how many people have currently signed up for archery lessons in 2021. (Many people seem to be delaying archery lessons until they have a better idea of what the COVID numbers will be.)

However that doesn't mean I just stop exercising when it comes to my personal fitness. I am a personal trainer/sports trainer after all, and I need to stay in shape too.

This is why I have a list of daily exercises that I do every day in order to stay in shape. They are:

 

DAILY EXERCISES
100 Jumping Jacks
100 Sit Ups
100 Push Ups
100 Chin Ups
100 Bicep Curls
100 Tricep Lifts
100 Shoulder Lifts

 

Now you may have noticed that it is a relatively short list, but trust me the size of the list doesn't compare to the amount of time required to do these exercises.

I chose these 7 exercises because they give a full body workout and require the bare minimum when it comes to equipment. All you really need is 1 chin up bar and 2 dumbbells.

I also recommend MUSIC while you are doing these exercises. It will help motivate you and keep you going even when the exercises start to feel boring.

The first 4 things on the list are all body weight exercises designed to target my legs, arms, abdominals, biceps and shoulders. Only the chin ups require the use of the chin up bar. The last three are weight lifting exercises using dumbbells.

They don't need to be heavy dumbbells. I am currently using a 20 lb dumbbell, but my goal is to work my way up to 25 lbs and eventually 30 lbs as I build my endurance and strength. If you're a beginner when it comes to weightlifting I recommend starting with 10 or 15 lbs. It is better to start with a low number and then build endurance + strength first, and then when you get to the higher poundages it will be easier and you won't lose your motivation so easily.

Doing 100 jumping jacks is arguably the easiest and fastest of all 7 exercises. Takes less than 2 minutes to do them if you can do the full 100 jumping jacks all at once.

Doing 100 sit ups is more difficult if you're out of shape and not used to doing sit ups. You may need to do 10, 20 or 50 at a time and then take breaks.

Same thing goes with doing 100 push ups and 100 chin ups. Don't be afraid to separate them into smaller numbers.

If you have difficulty doing push ups you can do Wall Push Ups instead. They're comparatively easier and less stressful and you can control how much effort is required by standing further or closer from the wall.

If you don't have a chin up bar handy (or are physically unable to do a single chin up currently) then you can just skip over that one for now and just focus on the other exercises.

Similarly the 100 bicep curls, the 100 tricep curls, and the 100 shoulder lifts may need to be broken up into 10 sets of 10 or 5 sets of 20. I currently do 5 sets of 20. Nobody is expecting you to do all 100 all at once.

What about a Personal Trainer or a Gym Membership?

Having a personal trainer doesn't really make a lot of sense right now during COVID. Neither does a gym membership.

Anyone who is clinging to their gym membership these days should just give up and focus on doing exercises at home or buy a bicycle. Or buy a canoe. Or buy other sporting equipment for use outdoors.

Myself I like the sound of buying a canoe or kayak.

So save your money. Don't bother getting a personal trainer or gym membership for now. Spend your money elsewhere.

Eg. Get yourself some archery lessons in Toronto when the COVID numbers go down and you feel more confident about doing such things. Until then stay home, exercise at home, buy a bicycle, and maybe consider a canoe to be a fun investment.

How to do Interval Training

With the above exercise it is possible to play with the order and do Interval Training instead of just doing everything in their stated order. Instead try doing the following:

20 Bicep Curls, 20 Jumping Jacks, 20 Shoulder Lifts, 20 Sit Ups, 20 Tricep Lifts, 20 Push Ups, 20 Chin Ups

And then repeat the same order 4 more times, for a total of 100 each.

Or come up with your own order or change how many you do per set. You could do 10 rounds of 10 sets. Whatever works for you.

The idea of Interval Training is to alternate between different kinds of exercises that are more intense and more relaxing, so that you keep your heart rate elevated, but still allow yourself breaks in between the more intense exercises. Thus if you find one type of exercise to be too intense you will want to change the order to suit your needs.

Most likely you will find the 20 Chin Ups to be the most challenging of the bunch so I recommend taking a break before attempting that one. Many people won't even be able to do 5 or 10 Chin Ups at once so don't be surprised if you cannot make it to 20. Just try your best and then move on to the next exercise.

Just because you failed today doesn't mean that someday you won't succeed.

Each time you try and fail is just another stepping block towards succeeding.


2020 was a Weird Year...

We all know that 2020 was a strange year. COVID and the resulting lockdowns threw many industries into a state of disarray and chaos. Now that it is 2021 we can look back on the chaos that unfolded and see how it affected personal trainers and gyms.


Toronto Gyms during 2020

Many Toronto gyms that shut down during COVID I suspect are no more. People cancelled their gym memberships, the gyms were unable to pay the rent, and many of those that had expensive rent / not enough people paying for gym memberships are long since gone.

Good riddance to some of them honestly, because many of the gyms out there are in the habit of ripping off their clients and trying to sell them on $100 per hour personal trainers (meanwhile the personal trainer working for such gyms are getting paid less than $20 per hour).

Ultimately that is bad for the client because they're paying way more for a personal trainer than they should be.

It is bad for the personal trainer because they're being paid barely more than minimum wage.

And it is bad for the reputations of personal trainers in general, thus hurting the industry.

Thus I for one applaud various gyms being forced out of business. Maybe then they will finally rethink their business model and make a business model that is based on charging a fair price and not gouging their clients with ridiculous rates.


Personal Trainers during 2020

For myself it was a huge damper on the number of archery lessons I was able to teach during 2020, but it ultimately led to me finally making a change I had been wanting to make for years.

In 2020 I switched to only teaching one-on-one archery lessons.

This change was important to me because I find teaching is far less stressful when only teaching one student at a time, but I also find that students learn more when they have one-on-one instruction.

Thus it is good for me and good for students.

One-on-one lessons also meant it was safer with respect to physical distancing.

Previously I was also teaching two or three people at a time (often couples, siblings, friends), and while I did enjoy teaching many of those students it was still more stressful for me to be teaching people in small groups like that. Many years ago I even tried teaching 4 people at once and quickly determined that people got distracted too easily when they were in a group of 4 or more, and that teaching such a large group is both very stressful and potentially dangerous.

Honestly, teaching large groups is a bit like herding cats. If I was to ever teach a large group like that I would rather hire extra instructors to help me teach the lesson. (Some of my former students I think would be good at teaching, given the opportunity.)

Anywho, back to the issue of COVID and 2020...

Some personal trainers switched to teaching online during COVID, using Zoom or similar websites/apps to teach. Eg. A colleague of mine switched to teaching her dance classes online via Zoom.

However while teaching dance classes might work well for some types of personal trainers or instructors, for other instructors it doesn't translate well to be teaching swimming or boxing or archery via Zoom. Yoga isn't so bad, perhaps because people are used to watching yoga videos, but it is still better in person.

Thus I suspect that many personal trainers during 2020 switched careers. Speaking for myself I know I did a lot more writing and focused on being an author during 2020. As of January 1st 2021 I have published 7 new books in the past 12 months, and I have 5 more books coming out later this year.

I suspect that many other personal trainers have switched careers during 2020, switched to teaching online, or possibly even retired from the business.

Going forward I suspect that this may be an opportunity for archery instructors like myself and people who teach sports / outdoor physical activities. People during 2021 are going to want more outdoor activities. They're going to be in high demand.

Thus personal trainers / sports instructors like myself may find themselves swamped with requests for lessons / activities. Especially as we near herd immunity when more people are vaccinated.

I expect a lot of people will be signing up for archery lessons in Toronto this year. Especially for the summer months of June, July and August. I am still offering lessons from May to November this year, but I expect June, July and August to be the busiest time of year for outdoor activities.

September and October are technically my favourite time of year to teach outdoors, weather wise. Not too hot, not too cold. Not too windy or wet. Just perfect.

Anyone wanting to sign up for archery lessons for Spring, Summer or Autumn should email me and ask about availability. Right now is the best time to ask. If you wait until June to ask I might be fully booked on certain days.

The Three Main Types of Personal Trainers

There are three main types of personal trainers out there, and they can basically be organized on a triangular chart between the three styles of instructing.


1. The Exercise Buddy Personal Trainer

This type of personal trainer typically does the exercises with you. You are basically paying them just to do the exercises with you, but you're also paying them to help motivate you to exercise more.

Some clients prefer this style of personal trainer because they like the exercise buddy experience. It is more informal and friendly.

However to save money you could literally just find a real exercise buddy who has a similar schedule to you. Or several exercise buddies. Or find a group of people who like exercising together (outdoors usually).


2. The Drill Instructor Personal Trainer

Some people like having someone boss them around and tell them what to do. This doesn't necessarily mean they are shouting at you and ordering you about like a real drill instructor, but the concept is basically someone who tells you what to do (although not necessarily how to do it, see #3 below on how to do it).

Not everyone is into being bossed around all of the time, but every personal trainer has to do this at least a little bit because it is part of the whole teacher-student role to sometimes be telling people what they need to be doing.


3. The Form Oriented Personal Trainer

This type of personal trainer is focused on making sure you do the exercises correctly and is watching you to make sure you do them properly. They are also sometimes demonstrating how to do the exercises properly so you get a better idea of how to do it.

The Form Oriented instructor is really focused on teaching you the proper "how to" of each exercise, often for safety reasons so you don't hurt yourself, but also for efficiency reasons so you are getting the most out of the exercise instead of developing a sloppy form that is both inefficient, but also unsafe.

There are also legal reasons why personal trainers should focus on form and safety.

I recall years ago hearing about a "celebrity personal trainer" in the USA who was more in the drill instructor variety of personal trainer with respect to weightlifting, but she pushed her client too far physically and he ended up complaining about pain in his arms. She told him to "man up" and "no pain no gain", etc. He ended up tearing the ligaments in his arms and ended up with permanent damage to his arms, and consequently suing the personal trainer for negligence. It was wrong for her to be pushing her client so hard like that and to be ignoring safety issues. Nor are such lawsuits uncommon. Just do a search for personal trainer negligence lawsuit and you will find that a lot of personal trainers are failing to do their due diligence when it comes to safety issues with respect to form.


What about Me?

As an archery instructor (and boxing instructor, swimming instructor, and ice skating instructor) all of the sports that I teach are form oriented. Archery is extremely form oriented, but the other sports place a lot of emphasis on form too.

If I had to choose therefore I would say I am closer to being a Form Oriented instructor than the other two. Yes, I am still demonstrating things to my students, but I am certainly not the exercise buddy who is doing the exercise next to them. I spend most of my time watching the student do the tasks set for them and then correcting their mistakes. Likewise I do have to boss my students around regularly, but I also sometimes give the student the option to choose what we are doing on a particular day.

Eg. Let's say a student signs up for 10 archery lessons. The first five lessons I have a lesson plan for, but the the final 5 lessons are more dependent upon what the student wants to learn and what the student is more interested in learning. Thus I take cues from the student and customize the lessons to their needs.

I am probably somewhere in the middle, closer to average, when compared to most personal trainers, but with a stronger emphasis on the form oriented issues.

I firmly believe in the whole "safety first" mantra with respect to exercising and sports.

Take swimming for example. People need to learn how to swim in the shallow end of the pool before you toss them into the deep end of the pool and expect them to learn how to tread water. If a swimming instructor forced a swimming student into the deep end of the pool, told them to tread water, and then the student drowns I would fully expect the personal trainer to be found guilty of negligence and manslaughter. Not just sued. Imprisoned.

The "safety first" mantra never hurt anyone. But a lot of people have no doubt been hurt or died historically because they ignored safety concerns.

How I used personal training to help my infant son roll, crawl and walk faster, Part Two

PART TWO

By Charles Moffat, Toronto Personal Trainer

 April 25th 2018.

It has been 6 months since I wrote PART ONE of this series of posts. My son Richard is now 10 months old and he can now roll over with ease, is crawling, cruising and even walking small amounts independently.

Last time we covered the following topics:
  1. Tummy Time
  2. Assisted Rolling
  3. Assisting Sitting Up / Assisted Sit Ups
  4. Assisted Standing
  5. Assisted Squats
All of which gave Richard the ability to roll over sooner than other babies would normally be able to (on average), to be able to sit up on his own sooner, stand up, squat down to pick things up, and do a variety of tasks.

The normal ages for doing the various activities are as follows:

The normal ages for rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing up, and walking are as follows:

Rolling Over - 4 to 6 Months
Sitting Up - 4 to 8 Months
Crawling - 7 to 10 Months
Standing Up - 9 to 12 Months
Walking - 9 to 15 Months
Now with Richard being 10 months old, he has long since mastered rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing up, cruising (walking by holding on to things), and is walking independently short distances. He has also learned how to walk up and down stairs, with assistance.

Today we are going to talk about other topics, including:
  1. Assisted Walking, Two Hands
  2. Assisted Walking, One Hand
  3. Assisted Stairs, Two Hands vs One Hand
  4. Independent Walking
  5. Letting Go, Letting Them Fall
#1. Assisted Walking, Two Hands

Walk around your home with your baby for about 5 minutes at a time, holding your baby's hands or fingers by both hands.

I say 5 minutes at a time because doing this for an extended period can become painful for your back if you are constantly bending over.

Note - While there are gadgets for this, such as Jolly Jumpers, Walkers, etc - those are useful, but they will never replace the physical action of walking around your home, local park, library, etc for a few minutes at a time to build of the muscles in your baby's legs. The Jolly Jumper for example does allow your baby to stay suspended in the air, with no fear of falling, but unfortunately in practice is often more like a swing than a walking device. Various walking devices are designed to be pushed around while the baby holds the handlebars, but unfortunately babies don't inherently know they are supposed to do that and so with Richard (for example) he is more likely to just flip the walker over and play with it.

Update, October 2018 - Richard didn't really start using the walker until 14 months, roughly 3 months after he had mastered independent walking.

#2. Assisted Walking, One Hand

Walking with two helping hands is really because your baby hasn't yet learned how to balance themselves and will fall over easily. Walking with one hand means that they have already learned a degree of balance, and is now progressing to being able to walk independently - but for safety reasons and a little added balance the single helping hand is there so your baby has someone to cling to if need be and should a fall happen.

#3. Assisted Stairs, Two Hands vs One Hand

I started Richard going up and down stairs at a very early age, at the same time we were doing assisted walking. If we were doing assisted walking and came to stairs, the natural thing was to simply help him walk up the stairs - something he seems to find hilarious.

The same rules apply, but I do recommend a firm grip on your baby's hands and lots of patience as babies like to take their time on the stairs.

Walking up and down stairs with one hand helping is something Richard now does regularly. Every time we go outside is another chance for him to use the stairs. Thus my recommendation is to see every staircase as an opportunity for your baby to practice walking up/down stairs.

Update, October 2018 - Richard can now climb stairs independently, but for safety reasons I usually hold 1 hand just to be safe.

#4. Independent Walking

There will be times when your baby shoos your hand away and just wants to walk on their own. Just let them do it on their own. Be there in case they fall and keep constant supervision.

With Richard he seems to be magnetically drawn towards cars and traffic, so I am constantly putting him in the middle of the park, far from traffic and then herding him like a collie herds sheep in an effort to keep him away from cars.

With the independent walking I also keep track of the number of steps he does, as a way of record keeping his progress. When he sets a new record for the number of steps, I make a note of it and tell the wife "Richard walked 17 steps today. New record!"

Thus every day you want to allow your baby to play in some sort of safe play area - could be the living room floor, a large play pen, the local park - and just let them walk around on the grass / floor for 30 to 60 minutes every day as they get better at independent walking.

Having a large play pen or play area in your home is also handy.

#5. Letting Go, Letting Them Fall

For a parent learning to let go and let your child fall can be a bit challenging, but it is something you need to do. Your baby needs to learn how to fall, how to land, and how to get back up again and keep doing it.

Learning how to fall safely, take the hit, and get back up is an important skill for babies to learn.

Update, October 2018 - Richard recently discovered he can spin himself in circles and make himself dizzy, and then fall down. He thinks it is hilarious. Clearly falling and getting back up is not a problem for him.

For the parent your goal needs to be there to observe and not to interfere. The only times you should be interfering is when there is danger to your baby, which should be mitigated by simply picking safe places for your baby to practice walking.

eg. A large football field or baseball field is pretty good. Lots of grass to soften falls and the distance to any danger (eg. traffic) is significantly further away and hopefully blocked by fences.


Update, December 2018

Richard is 17.5 months old now and walks independently all the time, except when on a sidewalk near traffic and near other possible dangers (rivers, lakes, pools, etc). He can go up stairs independently, but we usually hold his hand for safety reasons.

He has also:

  • Mastered the buttons on automatic doors.
  • Figured out the buttons on elevators.
  • Figured out escalators.
  • Learned to steal remote controls and cellphones/tablets and press the buttons.
  • Climb up stairs for a slide, sit down and slide down it.
  • Push chairs and other obstacles out of his way.
  • Mastered clapping, high fives, patty-cake, peekaboo, hiding under blankets, kicking things...
  • Crawl underneath furniture or between gaps sideways to escape.
  • Climb up on to furniture (to steal the TV remote).
  • Can spin to make himself dizzy.
  • Figured out this new thing called jumping.
  • He can move surprisingly fast, not quite running yet, but soon enough.

Honestly, if you take your eyes off of him for a few seconds he can run off in a different direction and you have to chase him. He loves to explore.

Thus physically he is now highly capable, so my big challenge these days is to supervise his activities and teach him new things. Every day it is something new.

How to do a Home Fitness Test, without a Personal Trainer

How to do a Home Fitness Test

Further below is a guide for how to do a home fitness test to determine your current cardiovascular, strength and flexibility levels. Doing the tests give you a record of what your fitness levels currently are and what things you need to work on to improve. As years go by you can repeat the test and then compare how well you did years earlier and how well you did now.

Having a certified personal trainer to help guide you through the following process is helpful, but not completely necessary. It is possible to do it without a personal trainer handy, but it is still helpful to have a friend or loved one to help you through the process and record things for you. The friend/loved one will also make certain you don't cheat on the test and are being honest with yourself. As a bonus, they might decide to take the test too because they want to see how well they do.

For example, when I first did these tests I was about 15 years old and in my high school gym class. It was the gym teacher who administered the test and recorded down the results for the whole class. It was how I first learned that I had the heart of a professional athlete because I scored so well on the cardiovascular test.

The test itself is composed of 3 parts and 6 smaller tests, which together give you a record of your current physical fitness.

The 3 parts are:
  1. Cardiovascular
  2. Strength
  3. Flexibility
And the tests themselves are as follows:

#1. The Cardiovascular Step Test

You will need: A large 12 inch high step/chair and a stopwatch / smartphone with a stopwatch app. A clock with a second hand can also suffice.

What to do:
  1. Step right foot up on to the step, then repeat with the left foot so you have both feet on the step. Then step right foot down first, and repeat left foot down. Repeat this process quickly over a period of 3 minutes, during which you want to maintain a pace of 24 repetitions per minute.
  2. After 3 minutes, sit down on the step/chair and find your pulse. Do not record it yet.
  3. After resting for 1 minute, start the stop watch and count your pulse for 15 seconds and then stop the stopwatch. Record your result.
  4. Multiple your result by 4 to get your beats per minute.
  5. Compare your beats per minute to the charge below.


So for example when I was 15 I scored a 76. That wasn't just excellent, it was the heart rate you might expect of a professional athlete who competes in a cardiovascular sport. I doubt I will score a similar result today since I will be 40 in only 2 months.

#2. The Push Up Test

Doing this test men should perform the standard pushup (hands and toes only) while for women it is recommended doing the knee pushup variant. See Girl Push Ups and More.

Your goal is to do as many push ups as you can while maintaining a steady pace and proper form. There is no time limit in this test, but you must maintain a steady pace doing the push ups / proper form. The moment you lose form or your pace slows, the test is over. (Some personal trainers allow the person to rest - you can only rest in the up position - but I consider this to be cheating as it is very easy for the individual to abuse this option. So if you are doing this at home, you should determine whether you are going to allow yourself a rest period after every 10 push ups or so. I think you get a more honest result if you don't allow yourself a rest.)

Mentally, if you just set a goal of "I am going to do 30 push ups!" even if you only maintain the steady pace part way, you should do fairly well. 30 isn't a big number, but the real challenge is to maintain the steady pace - so it is arguably better to go slowly at the beginning so you don't tire yourself out too quickly, and simply pace yourself.



For some young people doing 30 push ups will feel pretty easy. When I was a teenager I once used my hands to climb up a staircase backwards and upside-down. So basically decline push ups on stairs, but with the added challenge of climbing the stairs. I did it with an audience who thought it could not be done, but I wanted to prove them wrong as I had done it previously and so I knew I could do it.

#3. The Bent Leg Curl Up Test

You will need: It is more comfortable to do this test on a yoga mat, a rug, a carpet or some kind of padding.

  1. Lay down on the floor, feet together and flat on the ground, with your hands at your sides. Your legs should be slightly bent.
  2. Tighten your abdomen to lift your shoulders off the ground, while moving your hands forward about 3 inches.
  3. Return to starting position.
  4. Repeat as many as you can while maintaining a steady pace.
Note - This is not a sit up! Observe the video below so you understand what this looks like.


So again, maintaining your pace is the important part.


#4. The Wall Sit Test

You will need: A stopwatch and a wall.
  1. Stand about two feet away from the wall, facing away from it with your feet about shoulder or hip distance apart.
  2. Bend your knees and press your back into the wall as if sitting on a chair.
  3. Aim to get a perfect 90° angle with your legs.
  4. Keep your upper body relaxed and shoulders raised so you are not using your shoulder muscles to cheat.
  5. Use the stopwatch to time yourself and hold the position as long as you can. Record your result.
Aim to make it to 2 minutes if you can. 2 and a half minutes would be even better.


#5. The Reach Past Your Toes Test

Easy. Lay down on your back on the floor with your legs fully extended, then sit up and then try to reach past your toes.

Lower Body / Torso Flexibility Results
  • Excellent - Fingers reach 1 inch or more past the toes
  • Average - Fingers reach or almost reach toes
  • Poor - Fingers are more than five inches from toes

Note - This test isn't solely a measurement of your lower body's flexibility, it is also a measurement of your torso's flexibility. An overweight person with a large belly for example would be guaranteed to do poorly in this test, even if their lower body was otherwise flexible, simply because their belly is in the way and hinders their movement.

#6. The Shoulder Flexion Test

Standing up, reach one hand towards the ceiling and then bend your elbow to reach down behind your back as if you want to scratch your back. With your other hand, bend the elbow behind your back and try to reach upwards to have both hands meet in the middle. Try to get the fingers to touch or even grip each other.

Repeat the test with the other shoulder.

Shoulder Flexion Results
  • Excellent - Fingers grip and interlock
  • Average - Fingers touch
  • Poor - Fingers are more than three inches apart
Remember to repeat this test for both your left and your right shoulders, taking note of the results of both.

For example, when I did this test today I scored an Excellent with my left shoulder, but only a Poor with my right shoulder. My right shoulder is the one I use for drawing the bow when doing archery, so it is stronger in comparison - and unfortunately also less flexible because the extra muscle tissue interferes with my flexibility. Sometimes a loss of flexibility is a trade-off when it comes to having more muscle.


What to do Afterwards

If you are looking to improve specific areas you could do exercises that focus on building muscle, building endurance, or building flexibility.

So for example if you wanted to score better on the push ups test, a simple exercise to do would be doing 30 push ups every day. And for extra challenge as you get better, increase the number, do decline push ups, incline push ups, headstand pushups, etc.

Then as you progress you can repeat the tests once every 3 to 6 months and record the progress results in a journal or notepad or chart. Whichever you prefer.

The whole point of doing this series of tests is to get an idea of where you are right now and what things you should possibly improve. If you do the tests and then are happy with the results, just keep doing what you are doing. Or for extra challenge, try to improve yourself. Why not?



How I used personal training to help my infant son roll, crawl and walk faster, Part One

By Charles Moffat, Toronto Personal Trainer.

Okay so my infant son Richard is roughly 3 months and 2 weeks old, and he is already rolling over from his back to his belly, and vice versa. He did his first complete roll yesterday and did several more today.

Now to be clear, being able to roll over by himself is a huge stepping stone for a baby. The normal ages for rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing up, and walking are as follows:
Rolling Over - 4 to 6 Months
Sitting Up - 4 to 8 Months
Crawling - 7 to 10 Months
Standing Up - 9 to 12 Months
Walking - 9 to 15 Months
Call me impatient if you wish, but I have become determined to help my son reach the various milestones slightly faster than other babies. (For context he said "Daddy" back on August 31st, when he was just 2 months and 1 week old - and he was 2 weeks early popping out of his momma, so clearly he is also impatient to do everything in a hurry.)

Every day I get my son exercising. But the exercises he does differ from what most parents normally do.

#1. Tummy Time

Usually such exercising is referred to as "Tummy Time", which is included in what he does. Tummy Time is typically laying the baby on his or her tummy so they can practice lifting their head up.

Tummy Time is important for building neck and upper back muscles, in addition to arm muscles, leg muscles, abdominal muscles - all muscles your baby needs to start building.

Tummy Time is an exercise that all babies should be doing, every day. So it is strongly recommended parents take the time to have their babies do 10 to 30 minutes of Tummy Time per day.

#2. Assisted Rolling

In addition to Tummy Time I also help my son to roll over - to the point that he can now roll over onto his side - and from his side to his belly - all by himself.

We accomplished this by doing the following:
  • Assisted rolling by helping him move his arms and legs into the correct positions for rolling over and then helping him push himself onto his side, and eventually on to his belly.
  • Laying him on his side so he can practice rolling on to his back or towards his belly, unassited
Now that he can roll himself under his own power he is less vulnerable to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). A common cause of SIDS is a baby suffocating on something because they were unable to roll away from the object they were suffocating on. Even being able to perform a half-roll on to their side could end up saving their life.

#3. Assisted Sitting Up and Assisted Sit Ups

This I accomplish by placing him in a sitting position and supporting his back and chest with one hand. As he gets better at it however I have started removing the hand supporting his chest, and even switching to having both hands holding his wrists instead of his torso - this way he still gets support if he needs it, for safety reasons, but otherwise is practicing holding himself upright in a sitting position.

I find you have to kind of steer him using his wrists and arms because his lack of balance will cause him to leave forward or to the sides more often.

The second part of this is holding his hands and helping him to perform a basic Sit Up. He starts from a laying position, holding his wrists I help him into a sitting position - maintain that sitting position - and then help lower him back down into a laying position. I repeat the Sit Ups 10 times before giving him a break.

#4. Assisted Standing

Using my hands under his armpits to support him, I lift my son into a standing position. I then reduce the amount of pressure I am using to support him, forcing him to exercise his leg muscles in order to maintain standing.

Doing this exercise every day, I find it allows my son to build stronger legs so that he is now able to stand for longer periods with very minimal support (mostly for balance and safety purposes) from myself.

Sometimes I will also help him by supporting his hands instead of his arm pits, so he is more under his own power.

#5. Assisted Squats

Since his legs are getting stronger every day, I have also started helping him to do squats. Squats builds his leg muscles even faster than standing does. The method is similar to the assisted standing above, but I reduce the amount of pressure I use to support him so that he is forced to either stand on his own or is reduced to a squatting position and then he has to use his own power to stand back up again.

He hasn't reached the point like the baby below has with the squatting and lifting weights, but nevertheless.



 Your End Goals

The ultimate goal of all of these exercises is to improve the survivability and strength of your baby.

If your baby can roll over by themselves that is a very important step, but being able to sit up independently, crawl away from danger, or even stand and walk away from danger - those seem like important skills to me.

As my son gets older I will also be making sure he learns how to swim and a variety of other useful skills.

Doing all of this in a supervised manner is safer in my opinion.

Doing the things mentioned above may seem like "no brainers" to some people, but I am also applying personal training concepts to his exercises, things like:
  1. Repetition - He does every exercise 10 times or more, or for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Exercising Daily - He exercises every day, even when Papa is tired or busy we still make time to do the exercises.
  3. Do Every Exercise - We don't skip any exercises. 10+ minutes of Tummy Time, 10 Rolls, 10 Minutes of Sitting, 10 Sit Ups, 10 Minutes Standing, 10 Squats. Total time - About 35-45 minutes.
  4. Break Times - So he doesn't get exhausted.
  5. No Exercising on a Full Tummy - Want to see the baby spit up? No? Then wait at least 30 minutes after feeding before doing any exercises.
  6. Nap times are also good, not just for baby, but for everyone.

As your child grows they are going to be exercising constantly. Remember to hydrate and feed them regularly. Sleep. Nap. Rest breaks.

Avoid too much TV, computers and cellphones. If it feels like they are watching screen too often, it is time to go outside.

Remember to have fun outdoors!

Don't Expect This To Happen

How to tell whether you are doing a good job as a personal trainer

#1. When your clients start bringing you "thank you gifts" and drinks for instructing them. Recently when a student gave me a gift of a large bottle of Belgian beer as a thank you gift for archery lessons. I have also received tips, gifts, thank you cards, and drinks (people have apparently discovered my love of chocolate milk).

#2. When your clients give glowing testimonials of your skill as a trainer. (Admittedly, most of my testimonials are about my skills as an archery instructor. A few are about personal training, boxing, swimming, ice skating, but the vast majority are archery testimonials.)

#3. When clients keep coming back for more and more sessions. This shows they really like what they are learning / doing and are seeing results. If they were not seeing results, they would not keep coming back for more.

#4. When a client recommends you to their friends. Word of mouth is great advertising and it shows when clients have so much fun that they are posting photos on Facebook and friends ask "Hey, how do I do that?" and they point their friends towards their trainer.

#5. When clients eventually reach the point they no longer need you, but sometimes still come to you anyway for advice. I would argue that this is ideal. Eventually clients should feel so satisfied with their results that they feel they no longer need the trainer, but will sometimes come back once in awhile with questions because they trust the trainer's ability to impart new ideas, knowledge and skills.

If I think of more examples in the future I will post them on here.

Also, more amusingly, if your clients keep quitting because they find your personality annoying, then it is probably a sign that you are not very good at your job.


What is the difference between Amateur Athletes and Professionals?

What is the difference between Amateur Athletes and Professional Athletes?

Well, for starters lets talk about Food and Nutrition.

One of the things that has annoyed me in the past is when someone contacts me asking for training in a specific competitive sport because they want to become a professional athlete and I start asking them questions about their diet and nutrition - which are extremely important questions when it comes professional sports because of how competitive it is.

And the response, quite often, is that they don't think their nutrition is an important factor in their sports career. Not their exact words, but basically they downplay how important nutrition is. Which I take to be a clue that their level of nutrition isn't very good and they don't want to admit it.

To use a racing car analogy, poor nutrition would be like putting sub-standard fuel into a race car that runs on high performance octane (usually 94 or higher). You don't really expect the car using sub-standard gasoline to win if you know everyone else in the race is using high performance octane, do you?

So to me, the question of the differences between amateur athletes and professional athletes is a case of food. Food equals fuel. And if you want your body to be a high performance machine then it needs to be using high performance fuel.

Amateur athletes often totally ignore the quality of their nutrition.

Professional athletes take their nutrition very seriously.

I have a book on my shelf, one of my favourites, called "High Performance Sports Conditioning", edited by Bill Foran. It was published in 2001, but not much has changed in the world of sports conditioning during the last 15 years. I highly recommend finding a copy of if your goal is to be participating in professional sports. During chapter one it discussed 'Establishing a Solid Fitness Base' and talks about athletes building a Team of Support Staff including:
  • Athletic Trainer or Coach (that is my job)
  • Sport Nutritionist (to advise on nutritional issues)
  • Sport Physical Therapist (for treatment of injuries)
  • Physician (in case of serious injuries)

Acquiring one of each of these is basically a necessity for any professional athlete. The names of the individuals may change over time as an athlete's competitive career changes. They might start with their family doctor as their physician and later gain a Team Physician if they end up on a team of athletes that train together.

Having these people found in advance is an advantage because what if a situation arises and you, for example, break your leg, and you don't even have a family doctor. Instead you are going to walk-in clinics where you get random doctors who are barely out of medical school and have no experience with sports injuries.

Find these people in advance, and then begin training.

Amateur athletes won't think that will need a team of support staff, and thus won't bother to get them. That means no coaching, no nutritional advice, they might have a family doctor but not necessarily a doctor familiar with sports injuries, and they definitely won't have a physical therapist who specializes in sports injuries.

Coaching obviously is going to be a big factor as well. Coaching doesn't necessarily happen every day however. It might be once per week or even once every two weeks. Coaches are usually also available via phone or email to answer questions the athlete might have.

As athletic trainers go coaches fulfill three important roles:

#1. Knowledge Base - to provide the athlete with a plethora of knowledge in their chosen sport with respect to learning how to best achieve results during competition, how to train towards specific goals, what exercises to be doing, any cross-training to be doing, how to create a training schedule, etc.

#2. Motivational Guidance - the coach is there to keep the athlete motivated, to keep trying harder in order to succeed.

#3. Mental Game - some athletes develop problems mentally and lose focus on what they are supposed to be doing. In archery for example professional archers will sometimes develop problems like "Target Panic" which is an anxiety that causes them to become anxious and then shoot too soon when they are not ready yet, or also "Gold Shy" is when an archer starts deliberately missing unconsciously or subconsciously. It is the coaches job to be part psychologist and cure the athlete of any mental problems they might be facing.

Note - My solutions to both of the above two problems is to either take a break from normal shooting and practice doing something different for fun (like shooting at moving targets), or to deliberately make the challenge harder so that the archer is forced to concentrate more.

Lastly, professional athletes Practice and Train 3 to 5 days per week, depending on their sport, and use their off days to rest and recuperate. This process of Training, Resting, Training, Resting, Training, Resting, Training, etc is continuous and allows for peak muscle growth and helps prevent sports injuries like repetitive strain.

People often think that professional athletes Train, Train, Train or Practice, Practice, Practice - however that is a bit of a misunderstanding. It is more of a Train, Rest, Practice, Rest process.

An amateur who doesn't know what they are doing might simply practice every day until they exhausted or hurt themselves. That might make logical sense to them at the time, but once they learn the horrors of the first serious sports injury they will either quit the sport or rethink how they are training.

This means the professional athlete makes a Training Schedule.

Lets say for example you are a competitive compound archer. Using the above order of training, what should your 4 week training schedule be?

Week 1
Sunday Training at Gym, Monday Rest, Tuesday Practice at Archery Range, Wednesday Rest, Thursday Training at Gym, Friday Rest, Saturday Practice at Archery Range.

Week 2
Sunday Rest, Monday Training at Gym, Tuesday Rest, Wednesday Practice at Archery Range, Thursday Rest, Friday Training at Gym, Saturday Rest.

Week 3
Sunday Practice at Archery Range, Monday Rest, Tuesday Training at Gym, Wednesday Rest, Thursday Practice at Archery Range, Friday Rest, Saturday Training at Gym.

Week 4
Sunday Rest, Monday Practice at Archery Range, Tuesday Rest, Wednesday Training at Gym, Thursday Rest, Friday Practice at Archery Range, Saturday Rest.

Week 5 = Start over at 1.

Now the above training schedule is just an example of one way a person could create a training schedule. There are literally thousands of different training schedules for hundreds of different sports online available for free.

Often a training schedule will also have dates set aside for specific events, such as competitions. In the example marathon training schedule below there are dates set aside for specific marathons and events like the "National 1/2 Marathon", or the "Cherry Blossom 10 Mile", or the "Flying Pig Marathon".


Professional Equipment

Depending on the sport it is a good idea to be training with the best equipment you can find. This often means equipment that is more expensive, more durable, less likely to have problems, more adaptable, easier to use, etc.

Having the most expensive / "best" equipment isn't always a necessity however. In the world of competitive weightlifting for example it doesn't matter whether your weights are homemade or made of solid gold, 50 lbs is still 50 lbs regardless of what it is made of.

Thus for people on a budget they should be thinking in terms of the necessities. eg. A marathon runner will want a good pair of shoes and a source of water at intervals during practice runs. (Tip, if you plan your jogging route along Starbucks they give out free water. All you have to do is ask for it.) Nobody cares what the marathon runner is wearing, so any old pair of pants or shorts and a t-shirt will do. Wearing skin tight breathable fashion is not a necessity and if anything you will look silly wearing that when you are not in an actual marathon.

Conclusions

This is just a brief overview of the differences between professional athletes and amateur athletes. The following are just a few of the fundamental differences between those athletes who take seriously what they are doing and those who simply don't care, and thus are really just amateurs. That perhaps is the most fundamental difference of all. Professional athletes take everything seriously. Amateurs do not.
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Team of Support Staff, including Coaching
  • Train, Rest and Practice + Training Schedule
  • Professional Equipment

There is one last thing unfortunately... Money. You may have noticed that buying nutritional food is more expensive than buying sugary and fatty foods. Coaching is likewise expensive, as is having support staff even if you only talk to them once per month. Having all that training time might mean you don't have time for a normal 9 to 5 job either, so having money saved up so you can have time off to train is a necessity too. And of course money for equipment. Some sports are very expensive. Others less so. You might need to buy gym memberships, club memberships, etc to get access to equipment that is too expensive to buy normally, or you might decide you absolutely need that equipment so you can use it all the time - in which case it might be very expensive.

Also please note that most professional athletes (with the exclusion of team sports like baseball, hockey, football, soccer, tennis, golf, cycling, etc) don't actually make a lot of money in their chosen field. Some do because they are well paid members of a team, but most sports don't have a lot of big sponsors and thus the prize money is a lot smaller.

Thus if you manage to win some prize money that money will probably go right back into your budget for food, coaching, equipment, etc. Don't expect to be making a living off the sport.

Note - This is probably why gambling is such a problem in many professional sports. An athlete who deliberately loses can sometimes make more money losing than they can by winning. eg. Boxers taking a dive. Even big name events like the Olympics are rife with gambling, although it isn't often talked about.

Thus if you are getting into a competitive sport you really should be doing it for the right reasons. To try and attain that goal. Trying to do it for lesser reasons like greed isn't going to help you. Greed is only going to hold you back from what should be your real goal: Attaining Perfection.

Sportsmanship and Giving Back to the Community

It is my personal opinion that a true athlete should also at least attempt to be a good sportsman, to be generous and kind to their fellow athletes, and to give back to the sports community by donating their time and effort towards causes that helps the sport.

They should also admonish activities that give the sport a bad reputation, like fighting on the ice in hockey, or dentist bowhunters who poach lions for kicks, or cyclists who resort to using steroids in order to win the Tour de France. Such behaviour needs to be admonished and discouraged so that younger generations of athletes know and understand that the sport should not be defined by a few bad eggs who are violent, immoral and cheat.

Sometimes one of the best things a famed athlete can do is to simply show up, sign autographs and shake the hands of a younger generation.



If you want to read more articles like this please subscribe to CardioTrek.ca or bookmark this page and come back for more. The above post is Part One of a new series of posts about Training for Professional Athletes.

Gym Personal Trainers and Why I Don't Like Them

Many years ago, long before I became a personal trainer myself, I signed up for a gym membership here in Toronto and got a complimentary session with one of the gym's personal trainers. (This happened twice on separate occasions when I signed up for different gym memberships, revealing to me that gym personal trainers have a lot of flaws.)

Former Mayor Rob Ford with Personal Trainer.
Sometimes trainers are hired for their physique, not their skills.
Now I want to point a few things out before I get into this...

Gym Personal Trainers are low paid, often un-certified, and seem to just make it up as they go along. Having spoken to multiple gym personal trainers I have determined a number of things.

They are often paid as little as $17 to $19 per hour (minus taxes/etc), but the gym charges $60 to $120 per hour for their services. This is compared to normal personal trainers which often charge between $30 to $120 per hour - but they make that full amount, minus taxes/etc.

Take into account that personal trainers at the gym are often un-certified and give shoddy advice, and you would probably wonder if you are overpaying for their services.

From my experience with gym personal trainers, they do the following:

#1. They don't really write much down.

A complimentary session is more of a sales pitch and not a very good one. They ask you your weight, your height, calculate your BMI, and they use a machine or some other method to give you an estimate of your Body Fat Percentage (BFP). This process is basically designed for them to waste time as they try to make it look like they know what they are doing. They may also ask if you want to lose weight and if so, how much. Often at this point they will get out a calculator because they lack the mental skills to perform the simple task of subtracting one number from another. Beyond your BMI, BFP and finding out how much weight you want to lose, they don't write anything else down because their primary goal during a complimentary session is to get you to sign up for more sessions.

A real personal trainer should have a notebook, tablet or similar device - and be recording goals, setting a timeline / schedule, taking note of what types of exercise to focus on, etc. Details matter and unless you have an eidetic memory like I do, then you need to write those details down. (Note - I write these things down anyway, more as a matter of record keeping for the client than as personal notes for myself. I like keeping records of everything.)

#2. They barely even mentioned food.

I found this to be bizarre. 90% of weight loss is eating habits, and it is a big factor to weightlifters / bodybuilders as well, because if they are not getting their protein and veggies, then they cannot bulk up as quickly as they could be. People who are not eating properly are really just delaying their goals or preventing their goals from happening at all. (Especially if the gym visitor goes out for a cheeseburger after their workout every time.)

A real personal trainer has to be part coach and part nutritionist. If they are not advising you on food matters, at least offering to give you advice (regardless of whether you accept it), then they are really only doing half of their job.

#3. 20 Minutes on the Treadmill.

Both times that I had complimentary sessions years ago the gym personal trainers stuck me on a treadmill and left me there for 20 minutes while they went to read email, play on their cellphone, and basically do nothing for 20 minutes. The one trainer actually did this THRICE during the same session. 20 minutes on the treadmill followed by 15 minutes on the rowing machine, followed by another 10 minutes on an elliptical. He basically wasted 45 minutes of the 1 hour session goofing off on his cellphone while I did all the work.

A real personal trainer shouldn't be wasting your time watching you do 10, 15 or 20 minutes of the same activity while they do little or no work. If you are paying $60 per hour for example, and you just spent 45 minutes on a treadmill/etc, then you just spent $45 on having the trainer stand there and play on their cellphone. The other 15 minutes of your personal training session better have some pretty valuable advice otherwise you just got ripped off.

#4. Not Correcting Your Technique.

If you watch gym personal trainers you will notice their clients struggling to perform an exercise (a Burpee for example) and the trainer does nothing to help the client correct their technique. Nothing. Zip.

A real personal trainer should be helping you use correct form so you don't hurt yourself / develop a sports injury. Serious sports injuries are even grounds for a lawsuit if it causes permanent damage.

#5. Bosu Balls and other Fads.

I hate Bosu Balls. I just plain refuse to use them. That doesn't mean people cannot use them, but having been on the receiving end I will tell you that some gym personal trainers have a tendency to overuse these devices. The purpose of a Bosu Ball is to build balance muscles, mostly in the legs and core. However they are mostly useless for the vast majority of people's goals of losing weight or gaining muscle. Unless you are dancer, a gymnast or someone wanting to increase your balance, then there is no reason for you to be using a Bosu Ball. In my experience Bosu Balls are the result of a fad that really took off and some gym personal trainers are "one trick wonder gadgeteers" who are obsessed with one gadget and have all of their clients use the same gadget, regardless of what the client's goals are.

A real personal trainer custom tailors their sessions to the client's needs and goals, and uses whatever tools available that suit those goals. They don't force ridiculous gadgets on clients because it is the latest fad.

#6. Exhausted and Demotivated.

Anyone can make you exhausted. Trying playing tag with a five year old and you will get a pretty good cardio. A personal trainer who sticks you on an elliptical for 20 minutes, weights for 20 minutes and a bosu ball for 20 minutes will have tired you out. Will you have learned anything? Nope. Will you be motivated to do that over again next time? Nope. You don't really need a personal trainer to make yourself exhausted and demotivated, you can do that pretty well by yourself.

A real personal trainer gauges your exhaustion levels and schedules breaks into your training session and uses that time to feed you advice about proper form, attaining better results, nutrition, etc. They should also be using their time to say things that are encouraging so you feel like you've accomplished something when you are done and feel motivated to do it again.

Conclusions

Having bore witness to the kind of amateur nonsense that gym personal trainers do, I have to conclude that they are really just there to make money and have very little interest in helping clients achieve their goals. They waste your time and your money and give a bad rep to personal trainers.

Often gym personal trainers are simply people who are in good shape who needed a "job". It isn't a career to them. Just another job that they will quit when they find something better.

Happy Exercising!

The Pet Project, Part One - Our Cat is Fat

A little over a month ago my girlfriend and I got a cat. Her name is Victoria.

We got her via Pet Smart and the Toronto Humane Society. She is a rescue cat, meaning her previous owner was either unfit to take care of her, she was abandoned on the streets, etc. It is unclear the origins of our cat.

What we do know is that she is between 2 and 2.5 years old, has spent a good chunk of time locked in cage and unable to run, jump and climb through much of her time at the Toronto Humane Society. My understanding is that they do let the pets out once per day to get some exercise, but a half hour or hour per day is clearly not enough exercise for a cat.

Thus, soon after getting her home we started to realize that our precious cat, Victoria, was fat and out of shape. She was certainly well fed, but she clearly lacked exercise. As cats go she doesn't always land on her feet, and she isn't particularly graceful.

Sometimes when playing and she fails to execute a jump properly she looks all embarrassed and takes a break to rest.

As a personal trainer I am accustomed to helping humans to lose weight, gain muscle, build endurance, etc. However I have never tried to apply those ideas to helping a fat cat lose weight and become more graceful. Thus it got me thinking. If our cat has a regimented diet which we can easily control, all she really needs is more exercise.

Now I should note we do play with the cat every day. Usually several times in the morning, several times in the afternoon, and once or twice in the evening. Mostly because our cat demands a lot of attention. eg. If we don't feed her at 6:30 AM she starts eating the cord for the lamp next to the bed until we finally feed her. One time I was awoken around 6 AM because she was licking my forehead. So not only does she demand attention, she knows how to demand food.

Before embarking on this "Pet Project" of personal training for our cat, I decided to weigh our cat... This actually took me several days to do... Our cat doesn't like to sit still for very long when she knows she has our attention.

In order to weigh her I first weighed a basket, then using a feather cat toy I managed to coax her into the basket, let her have the toy so she will lay down. Check the weight on the scales, subtract the weight of the basket, and voila, our cat weighs 14.1 lbs.

Now I am not a firm believer in BMI charts, because frankly they can be skewed by anyone with a higher than average muscle mass or bone density. Some of us, myself included, have more than our fair share of muscle and bone density. This is due to exercising a lot. Thus BMI is completely useless for anyone who is athletic and muscular.

Believe it or not however there is a whole field out there of people who specialize in animal health - they're called "veterinarians", which in theory should be complete with BMI charts designed for cats. Like the chart below which uses length of the cat vs the rib cage circumference... As if my cat would sit still long enough and not attack the tape measure while I am trying to measure her length and rib cage circumference.


I also found this "BFI Chart", measuring the cat by Body Fat Index. I would estimate based on this visual comparison that our cat is in the 30 to 40 range. So she isn't super over weight, but she is certainly not sleek, graceful and ready to pounce. Whether you do a detailed visual examination or just guess what category your cat looks like, it seems to amount to roughly the same thing: A vague estimate.


 Doing a rudimentary check of whether you can even feel your cats rib cage is one way to determine if your cat is overweight. If you can easily feel their ribs, your cat is likely a good weight and is low risk for health problems. If you have difficulty finding their ribs your cat is likely overweight. If you can't feel your cats ribs at all, they are probably obese. The same technique is also recommended by vets for checking if your dog is over weight.

Sadly I could not find a proper cat BMI chart. So I have very little to compare it to when considering that our cat weighs 14.1 lbs. Nobody it seems has invested any time or effort in researching weight vs length of cats. You would think there be at least one veterinarian out there who has decided to create a BMI chart for cats... but alas, none of them has.

And perhaps rightly so, since BMI is widely considered to be inaccurate due to muscle weight skewing the results.

However I do know this. The so-called "normal" weight for a cat is 8 to 12 lbs, with males weighing typically 2 to 4 lbs more than females. So our female cat is likely 2+ lbs over weight.

During my research I did find a form to fill out if you think your cat or dog is overweight. It is at http://www.petmd.com/healthyweight, however the form refuses to work if you don't input an acceptable breed of cat. Our cat is a mix of Persian, Russian Blue and Calico - and their form wouldn't accept any of those breeds, and their website server crashed and gave a message that their server was being reset. Once it did reset, I tried the breed names over again, and again it refused to accept Persian, Russian Blue or Calico as breeds.

So what I learned from this is that PetMD's website both doesn't accept Persian Russian Blue or Calico to be breeds of cats, but apparently their website crashes easily. Not impressed.

Anyway, now that I know our cat is 14.1 lbs I can use that as a starting point. Once per week, for the duration of this "Pet Project", I am going to write another post about our cat's health, what exercises I have her doing, and any changes in her health, weight, gracefulness and ability to jump through the air and catch feather cat toys.




If you want to read a past project I did you may consider reading "30 Days as a Vegetarian". Which I determined does promote weight loss, but some of that weight loss apparently was a loss of muscle mass. I also determined that I really missed bacon, that being vegetarian is really hard to do and that it is not very practical in a world where many foods has meat in it. In the future I might do another 30 days on a specific diet, like maybe "30 Days on a Paleo Diet" or something like that.

Training Montages - What they get right and get wrong

"There is a saying, a very old saying: When the pupil is ready the master will appear."
- Zorro, played by Anthony Hopkins, in The Mask of Zorro

Movies in my experience are the worst ways to learn anything. They trivialize the act of training for months or years down to a training montage that lasts less than 4 minutes. Like in the montages below for The Mask of Zorro, Rocky Balboa and Captain America.

The Mask of Zorro Training Montage


Rocky Balboa Training Montage


Captain America Training Montage


Now how many things in the above 3 montage videos did they actually get right?

#1. Attacking in anger is apparently something not to do, and a bit of a trope.
#2. Lots of physically challenging stuff.
#3. Stay aware of your surroundings.
#4. Use brains over brawn - the flagpole exercise in Captain America is actually supposed to be a team building exercise, wherein they form a human ladder to get the flag.
#5. The videos work as motivation inspiration for people who want to exercise / train for a specific sport or activity.

Watching the videos won't make a person a better swordsman, a professional boxer or a super soldier - that much is clear. Most of what you see in the videos are just there for entertainment purposes - designed to look good, funny, impressive, all the while ignoring the long training process it actually took to get there. After all - they can't bore the audience with 3 months worth of footage. They have to boil it down, which is why training montages typically last 3 minutes, the amount of time that a typical audience can watch something without getting bored.

In contrast some TV shows actually get more real exercises into their shows, mostly because of two things: 1. They are not crippled by a 120 minutes of normal film run time and instead have perhaps twenty 44 minute long episodes to work with. 880 minutes means they can get a fair amount of training time in, a little bit in each episode. Take for example the compilation video below from the TV show "Arrow", in which they often mix training scenes with dramatic dialogue in order to convey the idea that the hero is continuously training, and they save time regularly by mixing the training scenes with dialogue. Bonus - Many of the training things, like handstand pushups for example, are actually doable by people looking for a challenge.

Compilation of Workout Scenes from the TV show "Arrow"


There is one issue that many training montages either skip over or pay only lip service to:

The need for an instructor.

Some training montages skip having an instructor entirely, some manage to have one but take more of a "wax on, wax off" approach (as per The Karate Kid franchise), and then wanders off while the student trains alone.

In The Mask of Zorro, we have Don Diego De La Vega, who takes a more hands on approach - but apparently also spends half the time drinking wine and smoking cigars.

In Rocky Balboa he has multiple people helping him train, but they're not really teaching him anything new that he doesn't already know.

In Captain America the instructor is replaced by an army drill sergeant who really spends more time yelling at and insulting his troops rather than teaching them anything.

In Arrow, the hero has multiple different instructors - who all inevitably seem to end up dead, and then he ends up training others.

The "dead instructor" is even a bit of a trope in films, as they often train the hero of the story and often ends up dead either after training the hero, turns out to be the villain and then dies, dies halfway through the story, etc. In films meant for children the instructor is often injured or kidnapped instead of dying, as death is considered to be too much of a downer for kids.

Examples:

Obi Wan in Star Wars, dies after he only partially trains Luke Skywalker.

Yoda in Star Wars, dies after he finishes training Luke Skywalker.

Splinter of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, is kidnapped during the first film.

It is basically classic storytelling: The master / instructor / teacher is kidnapped / injured / killed and then the hero(es) must go and rescue / avenge their fallen master.

Now in real life, if you get a trainer / instructor, they don't normally die unless it is of old age*. (In which case, if they are that old, why haven't they retired yet?)

They train you, often once per week or maybe several times per week, and the only negative part of this relationship is that they send you a bill for their services once per month roughly.

In conclusion training montages are really only good for motivating yourself to go exercise, train, perhaps even have fun while training - but you aren't going to learn anything truly valuable from them.

Most of the value and wisdom you gain will be from having an instructor, a personal trainer, your own personal Jedi master essentially. So regardless of whether you are hoping to lose weight, train in a sport, or become a superhero - having an instructor certainly helps.



* The example I am thinking of is the case of Awa Kenzo, who kept training people in Kyudo despite becoming old and sick. He probably should have retired, but he kept training his students anyway. There is a story told by his students of how he went for a walk one wintry day with several of his students and they noticed he was dripping blood in the snow. He responded by saying:

"This too, is training."

Specialized Personal Training - Catering to the Needs of the Client

On several occasions I have been contacted by men who are into MMA (so-called "Mixed Martial Arts") who are looking for a trainer who trains MMA fighters.

Every time someone contacts me for this particular specialized kind of sports training I laugh. Not so much because it is funny, but for several reasons.

#1. I actively make fun of the "sport" of "Mixed Martial Arts". I don't consider it to be a real sport compared to boxing, for example. It is not a "Martial Art" either. Visually speaking, it is an activity wherein one man jumps on the other man, they wrestle and then the one on the top start punching (if you can call those punches) the one on the bottom. There is almost no fighting skill required either, as MMA has the same level of technique utilized by chimps or gorillas fighting each other - or little kids fighting in a schoolyard. No noticeable skill. Just brute force. It is a sport for gorillas and like minded individuals.

Boxing on the other hand is a sport for gentlemen (in a broad sense of the term). Boxing has rules (no punching below the belt, no kidney punches, etc) and your goal in a boxing match is to score more points (hits) than your opponent. The sport of professional boxing therefore has seen many upsets over the years as savvy boxers will focus on scoring more points than their opponent, and win the match through points. Winning a match via KO (Knock Out) doesn't actually mean the opponent was knocked out cold. It simply means they didn't get back on their feet before the count of 10. There is also a TKO (Technical Knock Out), which is when the ring physician declares that one or more fighters are not healthy enough to continue.

Thus someone contacting me asking for MMA training is a bit like contacting a vegan and asking for tips on how to fry bacon. You are asking the wrong person!

#2. Why is the person contacting me not contacting someone who specializes in training MMA fighters? Wouldn't it make more sense to hire a professional MMA coach or perhaps a former MMA champion who has retired and might be tempted to start coaching?

This is what I mean by Specialized Personal Training. You contact someone who is a Specialist in the field you are seeking to learn about, because they are an expert in that field and you will learn far more from them than you would from someone who is not an expert in that field.

It would be like contacting a piano teacher and asking them to teach you how to play the bagpipes. It just doesn't make any sense. I laugh because again, for a separate reason, you are asking the wrong person!

#3. Several of the people who contacted me asking for MMA training were clearly amateurs trying to get into MMA fighting - and clearly had no clue what they were doing. Thus the visual image of a complete amateur getting beat up on the floor gorilla-style was inherently funny to me.

#4. The phenomenon of MMA in North America is pretty much limited to the type of gorilla-minded individuals who think what they are seeing is entertainment. You get the same level of entertainment watching actual gorillas fight. It is always the same thing too. The two gorillas attack each other. One gorilla realizes he is outmatched and tries to keep his distance. Eventually their struggle back and forth meets a climax when the two gorillas roll on the ground and one gorilla pounds the other. Don't believe me? Search for "gorillas fighting" on YouTube and then compare what you see to MMA videos. Any time people mention MMA I laugh, either aloud or in my head. MMA is basically a joke.

If you want to be entertained more, try watching the recent Planet of the Apes movies. The fight scene between Cesar and Koba will suffice.

Specialized Personal Training

There are many kinds of personal trainers - and no two trainers are completely alike. For example:

Weight Loss Personal Trainers (sole focus on cardio exercises).

Weight Loss Personal Trainers / Nutritionists (similar, but heavier focus on diet).

Sports Trainers / Coaches for Specific Sports (eg. boxing trainer, Olympic skiing coach, figure skating coach, marathon coach, football coach, etc).

Muscle Gain Personal Trainer (sole focus on weight lifting).

Body Building Personal Trainer (sole focus on weight lifting, with an eye for competitive bodybuilding).

Powerlifting Personal Trainer (sole focus on competitive weight lifting).

Examples of Specialized Personal Trainers in Toronto

In Alphabetical Order

Briar Munro - Holistic fitness for women.

Charles Moffat - Archery instructor and general fitness personal trainer.

Dena Ryde - Pre and post-natal personal trainer for soon-to-be moms and new moms.


Gary Roberts - Former pro-hockey player turned personal trainer. Only trains young hockey players.

Greg Hetherington - Former pro-football player turned personal trainer. If your goal is football or rugby, he is your guy.

Joanna Zdrojewska - Olympic weight lifting trainer.

Joel N.M. Kerr, Dr. - Rehab personal trainer.

Kathleen Trotter - Weight loss and general fitness personal trainer.

Lyzabeth Lopez - Gymnastics, aerobics and body shaping.

Melissa Wessel - Strength training for women.

Nick Vernelli - Olympic weight lifting trainer.

Sarah Davis - General fitness personal trainer.

Steve Ashalou - Sports therapist / massage therapist and weight loss personal trainer.

Toronto has many other personal trainers, but you have to realize that each one has their specialties. Don't waste your time with a personal trainer who is doing something other than what you actually want to be doing.

So for example if you are looking for a MMA coach, contact a MMA coach. If you are looking for an archery instructor or general fitness, contact me. I also teach boxing, swimming and ice skating depending on the season.

$100 off Personal Training

Cardio Trek limited time offer!

For a limited time sign up for 50 hours of personal training sessions for $1400 (regularly priced at $1500).

Or save $250 by signing up for 100 hours of personal training sessions for $2500 (regularly priced at $2750).

Offer expires on March 31st 2014 and is valid only to residents of Downtown Toronto / Uptown Toronto. (If you are not sure if you live within the area, email cardiotrek@gmail.com and ask.)

In other news Arnold Schwarzenegger recently went "undercover" at Gold's Gym in California to raise awareness about fitness / health and an after school fitness program.



Self Discipline Vs Hiring a Personal Trainer

When it comes to both exercising and dieting one of the biggest obstacles for many people is simply to self discipline themselves and find motivations to stick with their exercise / diet regime.

It is very easier to start an exercise or diet regime, but much harder to stick with it when it starts to become a challenge.

Over time people start making exceptions and excuses and it is important to make a distinction between the two.

An exception is when you have no other choice in the circumstances. eg. You get invited to Christmas Dinner at your parents' home and your mother insists you try the new recipe she made using brown sugar, milk chocolate, caramel, maple syrup and other very sugary things. Yes, in theory you could refuse. But it is your mother! You are obligated to try it due to the special circumstances.

An excuse is when you say "I won't exercise today because it is raining."

So let us stop and discuss some Techniques to Strengthen Self-Discipline

#1. Know your goal, know it well and work towards it.

If you want it bad enough, there's no reason why you cannot achieve it! Sure, you may have to wake up early to exercise, or exercise after work when you are already tired. Maybe you even have to give up something for a while (like a favourite TV show you can always watch later) to get it done, but if it's important, you must harden up and face the fact that you won't reach your goal by wishing for it. You have to WORK for it.

This is a good time to practice visualization. Imagine crossing the finish line, buying clothes a couple of sizes smaller, going swimming without feeling embarrassed. Understand your goal and what you have to do to obtain the result. You can even make a before photo and imagine your after photo that you will take when you succeed.

#2. Remember how it feels when you succeed at things.

Think back to other achievements in your life. How did they make you feel? No matter how much you hate exercising, everybody agrees that the feeling afterward is worth the effort. Feeling good for the rest of the day, having more energy, and enjoying the accomplishment is something to remember when you are not feeling motivated. Thinking to yourself "this does feel good to know I am making progress and I'll feel great when it's over," will help to get you started and keep you going.

#3. Some effort is required.

When the going gets tough you need to be even tougher on yourself to make sure you do it.

If you are already working out, you should do a good job. Even if you don't feel 100% full of energy at least try to go a little farther than your mind wants to go. Obviously this does not apply to exercising over injuries or over training - but if you aren't injured then don't be afraid to push yourself further.

People can have trouble pushing themselves on their own, and it causes the workout to become sloppy, and not very effective. If you're already out there, and you're taking the time and energy, make it worth something!

#4. Hire a personal trainer to give you an extra push.

Need help? Time to hire a personal trainer once per month, once per week, once every two weeks. Whatever you need to accomplish your goal. You could hire me if you live in Downtown / Uptown Toronto, but ideally you should hire a personal trainer you feel comfortable with and they work hard to keep you motivated and on track.

If you are looking for a personal trainer in Leaside (where I now live) let me know and I can help you out. I am here to help!

True, hiring a personal trainer is more expensive than self-disciplining yourself, but it also pushes you further and helps to keep you on track for working towards your goals.
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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