Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Why Having a Plan my Not be the Best Plan (My goodbye Gove rant)

So, former Education Secretaries and Mr. Gove (goodbye) and all you toe-the-party-line Ofsted Inspectors, you are wrong.  Planning is complete and utter waste of time.

As a qualified primary school teacher, I used to spend a considerable amount of my time long, medium and short-term planning.  I get long term planning, I even can put up with medium term planning but daily session plans?  Really?  Come on!  An utter waste of time!

This opinion flies in the face of what we were taught at university and on my PT courses and pretty much most of the advice you read about training and going to the gym and eating clean: fail to plan, plan to fail.

Well, I’ve decided it’s nonsense.  All of it!

You don’t need to plan; you need to assess!
If you can think, if you can fundamentally understand your subject, if you have confidence in your own abilities (and they haven’t been eroded by unqualified parliamentarians with their own agendas, Ofsted Inspectors with the government’s agendas, scared bosses with Ofsted’s agenda or people telling you the only way you can lose weight is by counting stupid points) and you know how to assess (on the hoof and formally) then you absolutely do not need lesson, session, gym or diet plans!

All you need to know is where you are and where you are going and you absolutely have to understand fundamentally how to get from a to b and if you have strayed from the path, why.  That is all the planning you need.

When a child doesn’t get today’s mathematical concept, as a teacher, you need to know why.  You need to have a fundamental understanding of how children learn and why they get stuck.  Is this child struggling because of a gap in their knowledge that prevents them from understanding today’s work?  If so, bashing away at your carefully planned lesson not only will not yield results, it may further confuse the child and risks alienating them entirely from the subject and from you.

Teachers know this, I’m not telling them anything new.  I’m just questioning why the plan is there in the first place when you absolutely know  (especially if your sessions are challenging) 1 in 100 actually goes to plan!

It’s the same with training.  When a client can’t do an overhead squat, as a trainer, you need to know why.  You need to have a fundamental understanding of how the body moves and why you might get stuck!  Is this client struggling because of a basic lack of mobility in their ankles or shoulders that prevents them from achieving a decent overhead squat?  If so, bashing away at your carefully planned session not only will not yield results, it may injur the client and reinforce incorrect movement patterns and risks alienating them from the exercise and from you!

Perhaps it’s nothing to do with a gap in knowledge or a lack of mobility.  Perhaps it’s to do with a distraction, miscommunication, a lack of breakfast, a morning argument, a windy day…

Once you can assess where the child or your client or you yourself are at, at that given moment, you can use your own actual brain to decide, on the hoof, how to proceed!

A combination of accurate and regular diagnostic assessment and a fundamental understanding of your subject as well as the knowledge of where you aim to be and when, is enough planning!

It’s similar with losing weight and eating clean.  If you struggle to lose weight, you need to know why.  You need to have a fundamental understanding of how your body uses different macronutrients, why you eat a certain way, why you need to eat a different way and what happens to your body mind and spirit when you don’t.  You don’t need someone telling you what to eat and when to eat it and how many points or calories to consume if you understand nutrition and your mind!  Where are you at?  Where do you want to be?  Understand on a deep basic level how to get there and the journey writes itself!

Now, if you are a gym-goer or a serial dieter, you can arm yourself with this knowledge through reading and research easily.  But if you struggle to assess yourself competently, get a trainer!  They can do all of the above!

The reason my move away from the teaching profession and into personal training is so rewarding is I get to trust my gut instincts, without writing every last bit of it down, and my clients get to trust me!

Why don’t teachers get to do this?  Mr. Gove?  Oh, hang on, your opinion no longer counts.  Shame it ever did!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

STOP Your 30 day ab challenge NOW!

There are pros and cons to your 30 day ab challenge.

Let's cover the pros, few that there are, first.  Firstly, a 30 day challenge of any sort that you actually stick to, will change your mindset in a positive way.  It will teach you staying power and it will boost your self esteem and perhaps ultimately inspire you to do some proper exercise.

And here are the cons.

The 30 day ab challenge, I suspect, will have a lot of mums as followers.

Over 60% of those mums will have diastasis recti.  This is where the abdominal muscles stretch during pregnancy so much so that they separate.  Fewer than 30% of you will have abdominal muscles that went back together after your pregnancy, the rest of you will still have that separation.

Crunches are THE worst thing you can do if you have diastasis recti!  The WORST thing!  Doing crunches creates doming of these muscles and increases the separation.  Doing a 30 day ab challenge that includes crunches will NOT result in a slimmer, more toned tummy.  Quite the opposite!
And, to be honest, crunches just aren't the most effective way of getting a flat stomach or strong abs.

Secondly, situps, performed without an ab mat that supports your lower back, if you have never done exercise before, is a recipe for lower back disaster.  Don't do them!

Thirdly, once you can do a 60 second plank, you don't get any benefit from doing them for longer.  You need to start doing dynamic ab moves.

This 30 day ab challenge is a waste of your time and potentially dangerous and definitely counter-productive if you are looking for a flatter tummy and stronger abs.

This is what you need to do to get a flat tummy and strong abs.

Here is your 30 day ab challenge that actually delivers safe, effective results.  Guaranteed.

Morning and night (so do this 2 x a day):

1     Stop eating and drinking crap! Just stop it! No sugar.  No processed food.  Just real nutrition!
2     Day 1 do 10 jump squats.  Add 2 more each day.
3     Day 1 do 10 dead bugs, add 2 more each day.
4     Do an equal number of back extensions as dead bugs.


Add in pressups - as many as you can do on day 1; add 1 more each day and you will be setting off the alarms at the airport, this summer!
If you can't do full pressups, don't do knee pressups - you'll never get strong enough to do real pressups doing knee pressups.  Do the lowering phase of a press up to the floor - chest and hips hit the floor at the same time - then come back up on your knees into a straight arm plank and lower again.

After 30 days, buy a decent fitness book, get a Personal Trainer or join some classes and begin making exercise a part of your daily routine.  Relying on those lone 30 days before bikini weather each year is not going to give you the body of a Greek deity!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

SMILE at your reflection!

How many of you have frowned at your reflection in front of your kids?  How many of you have complained about your body to them?  What sort of message is this sending to your kids?  What do you think it is telling them about their own body image?

A couple of Christmases ago, what with one thing and another, I didn't get to the gym over the holidays.  By the end of two weeks, I was climbing the walls, convinced I'd lost all my muscles and put on loads of fat.

After my first session back at the gym, I came home triumphant and showed my husband how I'd got my muscles back!

He told me it just wasn't possible.  It just wasn't possible that I'd lost all my muscle in 2 weeks and it also wasn't possible that in one session I could have got back what I thought I'd lost.

The moral of this story is this:  it really isn't about what you actually look like, it's about how you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror.

If you look in the mirror on a day when you feel have accomplished things, you will always see something better than what you see on a day when you feel you have achieved little.

We don't exercise to look good.  We exercise to feel good - mentally and physically.

Regular exercise boosts immunity, self-esteem, metabolism and mood - it also radically improves what you see in the mirror, simply because exercise makes you like yourself more.

When you like yourself more, it's easy to smile at your reflection!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Junior Hero Academy and battling ropes

Junior Hero Academy kids work so hard!  Here they are with  the battling ropes and climbing ropes, jump squats and pull ups and practising overhead squats with a 7.5kg weighted bar instead of the PVC pipe they have been used to.  Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

2 paleo pancake recipes

Recipe 1

250g creamed coconut - melted
6-8 eggs - if you want to make crepes add a bit of water to thin

Recipe 2

200g ground almonds
6 - 8 eggs - these don't make great crepes

top with whatever paleo topping you like -

honey and lemon,
dark chocolate sauce (melted dark chocolate and coconut cream)
caramel sauce (salted butter and honey boiled for a while)
berry compote (frozen berries and honey boiled for a while)

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Junior Hero Academy

"Mum, it's not about being thin, it's about being strong"
quote from one of my 11 year-old Hero Academy girls

There's nothing like getting them young and teaching them the ways of the force!  These awesome children, whom I am privileged enough to train at Junior Hero Academy, learn fundamental, primal moves that will set them up for life with good form and posture and strong core muscles.

If you can do an overhead squat and a press up perfectly, well, then, everything is in perfect alignment!

These kids are incredible!  They are strong, determined and they work hard!

Here are some of the things we've been up to recently:

 Planking - it's ok on its own but make it a competition and all of a sudden, you can triple your time!


Overhead squats                                                         Pistol Squats

Rope climbs


Practising double-unders

 Great hip mobility!

Pull ups

 These kids take their gorilla stance very seriously!

You have to match the guns with strong triceps!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Little Show Monkey

In this blog post, I have a little show-monkey, one of my younger PT clients, who is going to demonstrate some of the exercises she does during a personal training session with me.  

In this first video, she is practising her back squat.  This is a great exercise for your quads, hamstrings and glutes (thighs and bum) as well as core.


Here she is practising her clean and press.  This is a great exercise as it uses all your muscle groups and as it is transferring weight from the bottom to the top, really makes your core work hard.

In this clip, she is practising a regular chest press up, a military press up and a spiderman pressup.  the press up is the king of exercises!

In this video, my little show monkey practises her sumo squat to high pull - this is a great exercise to simulate rowing if you don't have a river or a rowing machine to hand.

Here she is practising her pull ups - she is getting really good at them.  We have a very strong elastic band that adults and kids can use to assist them.  Pull ups and chin ups are great exercises for your back and arms and are a real test of upper body strength.

I hope you like my little show monkey's videos.  Don't ever cross her - she's tough!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

SMART goals - self-obsessed, measurable, appropriate, realistic and a waste of time.

By bandying around phrases like: New Year - New You, the multi-billion pound diet industry strongly implies that there must be something very wrong with each and every one of us if we need to constantly reinvent ourselves every year.  Woman's Hour, with Jane Garvey and Jenni Eclair and Viv Goskrop, on Monday, discussed this very topic (you can listen to it here) and came to a similar conclusion.

On the other hand, if a New Year's Resolution is what it takes to get you to make positive changes that boost your self-esteem and develop confidence and ability and strength of body, mind and character, then that is not necessarily a bad thing!

What I object to is the diet industry and popular media's suggestion that we all want to look the same.  I know overweight people who are kind, funny, quick and successful in their endeavours.  I  know similar people who are skinny, I know fat bitches and thin bitches.  I know fit people who happen also to be overweight and thin people who are fit and thin people who are not fit and the ones I want to spend time with are the ones who have something to talk about other than what they look like!

I have said in previous posts, goal-setting can be counter-productive - setting yourself specific targets of a dress size or a specific weight stops you focusing on what is actually important and that is:
having something to say and being fit and healthy enough to go on saying it comfortably into your old age!

So rather than focusing on a new you that simply takes up less space, why not focus on a new you that does something every day that makes you feel proud, that does something every day that stretches you, that helps someone else or teaches you a new skill?  Or why not go and do something every day that goes towards your health, fitness and well being?

You don't have to hit the gym, a brisk walk, that leaves you hot, sweaty and out of breath, for more than 20 minutes a day, is enough to get your heart pumping!  It will loosen up your joints and ease your aching limbs!

If you can be bothered, do press ups and squats every day.  Everyone has 3 minutes spare!

If you do one other exercise, master the overhead squat - only with a broom handle - this is the best way to ensure all your joints are aligned correctly and will help put an end to back pain and dodgy knees and funny hips!  It's great for good posture; it is hard but once you've got it - it's brilliant!  
Make sure you push your shoulders back, without pushing your hands back and pull the bar apart with your hands as if you were trying to break it.  Then squat as low as you can go - the lower the better.  Make sure your knees don't collapse inwards as you stand up.

Don't bother trying to reinvent yourself. Don't bother with specific, measurable, time-framed goals. Just make a decision to be the best version of you that you can be and get on with it!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

You can now visit the k-loss t-shirt shop to get k-loss t-shirts or Junior Hero Academy t-shirts, water bottles, teddy bears and caps, should you or your kids so desire. = )