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Thursday, 27 August 2009

Variety is the spice of life - part 2

I wanted to jump back on the topic of variety being important in your training. 

Variety isn't just important to avoid your body adapting too quickly to the regime you have given it, it is also important to stop your body developing bad habits, or side effects that can accompany certain types of training. 

For example I often get the feeling that people feel slightly as if they have been jipped if they don't come out of their PT session sweating bucket loads and gasping for air. If their knees don't threaten to collapse on the way down the stairs they feel like they've been under worked for some reason. 

High intensity work is very important for developing heart condition, reaction time, recovery time, fat burning and more...but there are other types of training, and mixing these in means you are more likely to be a better rounded exerciser than if you continue on with the one type of training. 

High intensity training also raises your stress hormone levels such as cortisol, and cortisol can have a direct increase on how efficiently your body stores fat - especially around the tummy area. Mixing in some slower types of training - such as yoga or pilates - or taking rests in between sets of high intensity work can help to offset this. 

As an example of how a trainer might balance things out during the week, I had a client I saw Tuesday and Thursday - and both sessions were poles apart in terms of the type of work we were doing, but completely complimentary. On Tuesday we ran, jumped, did body weight circuit, got the heart rate up, let the heart rate drop... it was a full on work out that the client came out of very hot, sweaty and tired. Today however, still tight from Tuesday's session, I opted for a slower workout that involved a lot more slow, dynamic stretching of the hips, back, chest, shoulders etc. Movements that didn't get the heart rate up as high as on Tuesday (it was still up there though), but instead slowed down the movements to allow deep stretching of oft neglected areas and continual slow movements - some with a yoga influence, some with a pilates influence, some of my own making - but all required the client to concentrate totally all the way through each action and to take everything very slowly with maximum control. 

The client still came out of the session feeling worked - in some more specific areas than others, but that was necessary to balance out the tightness that had occured because of Tuesday's session. 

So remember - variety is the spice of life, your trainer knows best and too much sustained high intensity work is going to make you store more fat round the tummy, not less!!

Til next week. 


Wednesday, 26 August 2009

It's been a long year

This year has gone very quickly, yet at the same time it seems to have dragged on forever. It's only the end of August I know- however yesterday it was 4months 'til Christmas!

I've been doing the Strength and Conditioning for a Rugby League team. The team is in Championship 1 so it's pretty serious stuff, the pre season started last November. They train together as a team on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings and their away games (every other week) are in the Rugby League heartlands which is Yorkshire and Lancashire. This means every other Sunday I leave the house at about 7am and don't get home much before midnight. I even had a cameo role mid season where I pulled the boots back on for 3 games and felt incredibly old doing it!

Rugby League was always a big part of my life. At one stage I thought I could have made it to the top- I was wrong! Getting involved after a 10year absence has been a great experience and it won't be the last time I do it- it will be the last time I put on a jersey though! Despite thoroughly enjoying it and doing a pretty good job, I did bite off more than I can chew. My own training has suffered and when that happens everything goes downhill.

This week is the last week of the season and hopefully the team has a great result on Friday night- I really think they will. The team is made up of a great bunch of guys, most of whom have trained really hard since last November. The results this year haven't gone anywhere near as well as they would have liked, but a lot has been put in place to ensure a much better year next year. I wish the team all the best.

Despite thoroughly enjoying the experience I won't be doing it next season- I just don't have the time. I'm really looking forward to having more 'BJ Time' as of next week. 'BJ Time' will involve some focused training, maybe learning a language, cooking dinner Mon, Wed and Fri and some general chillin'. I can't wait...

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Thoughtful Tuesday - 5

Okay so as you should know by now yesterday is my big deadlift day. Slight change of scenary as I was down at my local gym this week instead of in the studio. It's good to use different equipment also have other people there to try to impress!

Anyway so I was going in to the gym with a specific plan. I was going to deadlift (obviously) and go up to 190kg. I was going through all my lifts at all the weights and I got up to 180kg lifted it and it felt extrememly good and moved pretty easily. So I thought to myself, screw the plan I'm going to go straight for 195. So I did and I got it. It was a very good lift if I do say so myself!

I think what I want to get across is that you need to have a plan when you go to the gym but it shouldn't be concrete. Don't be afraid of changing things up. If things feel good and are going well then push it a little more, conversly if things aren't going well (we all have bad days) then don't be afraid to tale things back a bit. You will probably save yourself an injury.

That definitely translates in to the rest of your life too, being adaptable and able to read a situation and change to it. It's all well and good having a plan in your head of how you're going to do something but life throws curve balls at you and you have to just roll with the punches.

You can learn a lot from lifting weights!

Next week I should be back up to my PB of 200kg. I think that I should now probably aim for 500lbs (227.5kg). Why not? Things are going well!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Joslyn's Blogspot - The Cereal War!

Oh dear! The European Union are coming down hard on cereal manufacturers that claim their breakfast cereals are healthy despite high levels of sugar in brands such as Kellog's Special K Youghurty which is targeted at slimmers.

Up until now, cereal companies have been able to make claim that their products are healthy because they contain oat bran and are high in vitamins. However, if this goodness is covered in chocolate, as is the case with Weetabix' Weetos, then all of a sudden it is a lot less virtuous!

Cereal is still considered by many to be a virtuous way to start the day particularly when compared to having a bacon butty. But this comparison is a little dated and goes back to the old food pyramid of the 80s when cereal was considered to be very healthy for you! That's not the case any more.

It just takes a little common sense to know that Sugar Puffs, said to help growth, maintain healthy skin and eyes, and boost the digestive and nervous systems, are indeed just puffs of sugar, which will turn us into puffs of sugar if we eat them thinking they are good for us!

A lot of trust is put in "healthy" cereals and consumers don't question brands like Kellogg's Special K, or many other cereals. It has been suggested that cereals with a sugar content of 15% or more should not be allowed make health claims, which would pretty much wipe out most of Kellogg's cereals. However, it is thought that the EU will settle on 20-25%, which is still a whole heap of sugar.

Oats are definitely the only thing that should be put in a bowl and eaten for breakfast methinks!

Have a good week!


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Variation is the spice of life!

I think most of us will be aware of that fact - but it was brought back to me with a thump this week.

I've had to change my training routine to keep in the best shape during my pregnancy. I did a bit of a boxing workshop with the boys (Jamie and Mike) the other day and really went for it (what's that...female boxing is now an olympic sport...hmmm anyone think 31 will be too old?). I thoroughly enjoyed the session, but it absolutely killed me for the next two days... so I've learnt it's not what I can do while I'm pregnant, it's what I should do, and still be able to recover properly.

So I've had to change up my training schedule. This week I introduced swimming. I'm not a bad swimmer, was on the school team for a while - and well growing up in Aus, you'd get through a couple of swimming costumes a year you spent so much time in the pool. But since I've been in London, the last 5 years at least have been pool free. So I went for my first swim on Wednesday, and what a revelation:

- it was fun!!!
- it took me over 20 laps to relax into my breathing sufficiently
- I'm still hurting in areas which obviously don't get worked on a regular basis

So I went back yesterday - only this time I went to the Hampstead Heath ponds instead of a pool - and that was great too! Less hard work as I wasn't churning out the laps, but treading water for half and hour while pootling about in the sun keeps you moving as well.

I'll be going again next week, and for the moment it's a novelty - and that's what makes it so effective. You don't have to do the same thing week after week. At the studio we're often trying to change things up for you (a programme won't last you more than 6 weeks max) whilst keeping in the fundmentals, but if you ever want a completely different session then just let us know (although preferably in advance), and if it's something that will benefit you, we'll happily oblige.

Til next week.


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Musculation and recuperation!

Monday was the first day back at work after a week holiday in Corsica. On Holiday there was plenty of sun as well as plenty of sea, and a little vino. It was a great week of rest and recuperation.

As well as all the rest and recuperation I managed to get a couple of training sessions in (I try to do this on holiday as it is always an adventure!)while I was away which was an experience. Training or training with weights in Corsica is called Musculation which is fantastic- I'm off to Musculate!!

I found a gym in Bastia called 'Perfect Bodies' which was an old fashioned Bodybuilding Gym. The punters there were all really cool- I think they were even though we couldn't understand each other. There were plenty of bonjour's and savva's exchanged and a couple of handshakes. I did some front squats, stiff legs, overhead presses, pull ups and dips. It was great, despite the language barrier I did the pull ups and dips with a massive unit who I think was the owner- great fun!

I found another gym when I got to Ajaccio, this was the 'Pitbull Gym' and it was a Mixed Martial Arts Gym. They had a weight training area which was perfect. This session I opted for an upper body 'beach muscle' session. I did overhead presses, bench presses, bent over rows, arm curls and arm extensions. Another good session- with a bit of a pump to boot.

Both training sessions were so much fun. The best thing about them was the people I interacted with. Without being too Zen, training and exercise are activities that transcend cultural divide, more to the point I think they are a culture of their own.

Back at work this week and the body feels good. Training needs to be upped due to the comps I have coming up in the next few months, but after the break I feel up for it and ready to take it on! Lot's of musculation on the way.

Thoughtful Tuesday - 4

Okay so technically it is Wednesday morning but hey no ones perfect. Especially me! Anyway, here it is so lets just pretend it's still Tuesday shall we? It sure is early enough!

On Monday I had my weekly beasting session of deadlifts. I will at some stage get a photo or video up of me doing some deadlifts so you can see the awesomeness! ;-) I was extremely surprised at how relatively unproblamatic the whole thing went. I mean usually there is at least one hiccup (like last week) or at least a couple of lifts are a bit slow and feel tougher than they should. This week though nothing, zip, nada, niente. Even yesterday with my chest workout which to be honest is usually slow and hard was a breeze and have done better than I've done in a long while.

So what gives?

I think that I have basically been in a good mood and that has transferred back in to my training. I can't put my finger on it, it might be the fact that summer has finally returned or that I had a particularly nice weekend. Like I said I'm not sure but this is the only explaination I can give. Not much else has changed from last week to this apart from the fact I feel that I'm in a slightly better mood this week.

So there it is, my best training tool so far, a good mood! Now I know that it is easier said than done to be happy and I know you can't be happy all the time. At least though if you try to not let things get you down so much, learn to accept things that aren't in your control and move on. The things you can control, take responsibility for them, own them and if you're not happy with something, change it so you are!

Deadlift 185kg. Hoo Raa!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Joslyn's Blog Spot - Exercise doesn't make you lose weight

Shock horror, why am I writing such blaspheme!! I run a PT studio after all!

Well, in this week's issue of Time magazine, a chap has decided to write about how exercise doesn't make you lose weight, and indeed may even cause you to gain weight. Well that's it, it's all over isn't it. We should just shut the studio down and find a new career!

John Cloud refers to a study in which 4 groups of sedentary women are told to note their eating for 6 months: one group continue not exercising; the second, exercise once a week; the third, twice a week; and the fourth, 3 times a week. After the test period was over, some of the women in the non-exercise group had lost more weight than those in the exercise groups. That's it, let's toss our gym kit and eat pizza!!!!! Cloud's theory was that those exercising, were doing more exercise and so rewarded themselves with more junk food!!

My issue is not in what Mr Cloud is saying, lots of people do reward themselves with muffins after they have trained, which does defeat the purpose of them losing weight if that is their primary goal. You would be better off not exercising and therefore not eating the muffin. In this, he has a very fair point. My issue is that he provides no future plan of action. Saying that exercise doesn't help you to lose weight, if you over compensate with bad foods afterwards is inconclusive.

It's also not as clean cut as he suggests. It begs the question of exactly what his subjects were doing for their weekly exercise? If it was just long slow cardio then it's likely not much will have happened anyway. His own exercise regime of primarily long slow cardio is also questionable in his quest to lose his love handles. It seems his exercise regime is in line with the "fat burning" cardio craze of the 80s. We've come a long way since then including having turned the government guideline food pyramid, literally on it's head.

If his eating less suggestion has people quitting exercise altogether, and reaching for pre-packaged, "low-fat" processed dinners, instead of eating fresh produce and lean protein then it leaves holistic health professionals like ourselves, continually banging our heads against the wall.

In danger of not providing any future plans like Cloud, your food requires protein with every meal, plenty of colourful veg, berries and lots of good fats. Your training should involve resistance training, and high intensity cardio, not the long slow stuff, and generally more movement throughout the day (which Cloud does mention) - take the stairs, walk part or the full way to work, and get up and move around.

Whether Cloud was trying to create some controversy in his article, which I'm sure he successfully has, I feel he has done more to encourage people to exercise less. Cleverly he has done this by focusing on weight loss, but people that do exercise (via resistance training and high intensity cardio) and are advised on the right types of food to eat, will end up healthier, stronger, and losing weight as a by-product. Food is so much more important than people realise, a washboard stomach will be achieved by eating right not by hundreds of sit-ups. Sadly, weight loss is high on the agenda of many, but a focus on better health and well-being requires the same regime, and seems to me to be a more positive focus.


Friday, 14 August 2009

It's consistency that counts!

Here's a link from a newsletter I subscribe to that aptly demonstrates not only how all the information we tend to give you is spot on, but also how you need to apply it consistently throughout your life, not in fits and bursts.

We all aspire to look like movie stars at some point - the training the actors did for the movie '300' swept through the Personal Training industry like wildfire - but for most actors this is a temporary state of being, one which doesn't last much beyond when 'cut' is called for the final time. Keeping yourself in good health - and for that I mean good physical shape, good health nutritionally, and good mental shape - is something that require a slow and steady approach.

So how do you keep your motivation levels up?

Well for me healthy eating is a habit - keep the treats in, but make them treats - a once in a while occasion. When you do indulge make it worth it - a drunken Maccie D's or a really rich, moist dark chocolate brownie at afternoon tea with a mate? I know which one will be ultimately more rewarding.

Exercise should be in regular bursts - but also find something that you enjoy. Personally a good jog or workout clears the head, but if it's a choice between that and taking the mountain bike into the downs or up to Wales for a weekend, I know which one I'd rather do.

Have a great weekend guys - bikie chick.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Thoughtful Tuesday - 3

So hit the gym again yesterday, I know I know, staying on top of this training thing. You must be impressed huh?! Anyway, this is my third week back on it and boy the motivation is hard to keep up. It always seems the same, it's a struggle to get my butt in to gear but I always feel superb once I've finished! I digress

Anyway as you may or may not know Monday is deadlift day. I do exactly what I just said. I deadlift.........that's it. I was wokring my way through nicely, few warm up sets on 60kg, then I start to climb aggresively, 100, 140, 160, 170 and finally on to 180kg (bear in mind I'm doing a strength session so not many reps here) Everything felt great so I was quietly confident when I was standing over 180. So I chalked up (got to chalk up, make me feel all manly grrrrr) walked pver to the bar set myself, back strong, check, weight on heals, check, butt engaged, check, 1, 2, 3 hmmmmmmppphhhhhh. I hardly moved. I thought that was odd and a bit strange and reaaally annoying! I mean it was so poor I nearly thought to give up, I was disgusted with my effort. I took a step back, and really nearly didn't try again, but I thought to myself I could let it just beat me that easily. If I was going down I was going down in a blaze of glory and a possible rectal prolapse. That would be one to tell the kids eh? Anyway this time I went through it again. Chalk, check, back strong, check, weight on heals, check, butt engaged, check, bloody mindedness that this weight was going to go up, check. 1, 2, 3 hmmmmmmmmpphhhhhhhhh YEAH! IN YOUR FACE WEIGHT! Got it up, relatively easily and no prolapse to boot too!

Just goes to show, don't give up on your goals, get bloody minded, determined and blow them away

Catch you next week


Friday, 7 August 2009

Chicken & cashew stir fry recipe

Ingredients (serves 4)
600g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
3 tsp cornflour
3/4 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs peanut oil
1 large red capsicum, deseeded, coarsely chopped
5 green shallots, ends trimmed, cut into 5cm lengths
80ml (1/3 cup) chicken stock
55g (1/3 cup) salted roasted cashews
Steamed rice, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve

Combine the chicken, cornflour, sesame oil and 1 tbs of the soy sauce in a medium bowl.
Heat 3 tsp of the peanut oil in a wok over high heat until just smoking. Add the capsicum and green shallot and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a heatproof bowl.
Heat 3 tsp of remaining peanut oil in the wok over high heat. Add half the chicken mixture and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until brown. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken mixture, reheating wok between batches.
Return chicken mixture to the wok. Add the stock and the remaining soy sauce and cook until mixture boils. Return the capsicum mixture to the wok and stir-fry until heated through. Remove from heat. Add the cashews and toss to combine.
Spoon the rice among serving bowls. Top with chicken & cashew stir-fry and serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Don't pass it around!

Maybe I'm on a theme at the moment - but with all this swine flu rubbish going around I'd like to state that I'm a big fan of taking it easy when you're sick.

Now there are a few good reasons for taking it easy when you're sick.

1. we don't want it! - if you're sick - keep it to yourselves. Time was when people were sick they would take time off work. Not just to help themselves get better quicker, but they thought of those others in their office and decided it was just plain cheeky to pass it around. Not so anymore. These days with our workaholic lifestyles taking time off for illness is seen as a sign of weakness and not to be stood. This keep it to yourselves policy is even more relevant like somewhere here at the studio where bodily fluids (such as sweat, people) are leaked whether we like it or not.

2. you've become sick for a reason - and no I'm not talking about karma. Some little bug has been floating round the ether, and your immune system has proven itself not up to the challenge. At this point what is it exactly that makes you think continuing on with your lifestyle as normal is going to help your immune system to shake it?

3. A little investment, a lot more gain. What's more work and lifestyle day off sick and then nearly back to normal, or two weeks of 'working through it' with reduced productivity? I'll let you answer that one for yourselves, you're all bright enough. Catching an infection or virus at the beginning, before it's had a chance to strengthen and multiply is by far the easier way of ridding your body of it. My personal preference of treatment- a hot bath, steamed salmon and veggies and a very early night. Usually does the trick.

Am I on my high horse because as a pregnant woman the recent advice with all the swine flu has been to lock myself away and gestate in privacy for the next 6 months? Maybe - but honestly if everyone used a little more common sense (and thought of others) I wouldn't need to be considering hermit status.

x x Rach

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The week that was...

Now that the Aussies are back in a winning position in the Ashes, my life can return to normal!

Last week I set out some of my training goals for the next couple of months. This week I've been working out how to best tackle them. I mentioned last week that August would be a month of solid training in both Kettlebell Sport Lifting and Olympic Weightlifting. Well these two methods of training almost sit at the opposite ends of the training spectrum.

Weightlifting is about lifting a maximal weight once and Kettlebell Sport is about lifitng a sub-maximal weight lots of times. Can they be trained concurrently?- I think so. The problem with Kettlebell Sport lifting is that your sets can go continuously for 10mins at a time- in competition you have 10mins to Jerk and then another 10mins to Snatch. This can be not only physically tiring, but it can also be both physically and emotionally draining.

One of the ways I'm going to combat my dilemma is to use intervals for my Kettlebell Sport training, the idea here is that I shouldn't knacker myself out too much! For example I may break up all of my Jerk work into 20minutes of total work with 1minute of work and 1minute of recovery, over the course of weeks I will reduce my rest times until I am left with a single 10minute block of work. This is just one example I have a bunch of different variables to play around with in mind.

My overall session will look something like this 3-4times a week:
Olympic Lift: up to a single
Front Squat/ Over Head Squat: up to 5s or 3s
KB Jerk or Snatch: intervals or other sets
One Arm Jerks: 2min sets
Swings: 1min sets

It's all a bit of an experiment- I will be reporting in with my findings!!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Thoughtful Tuesday - 2

So it's my first full week back on the iron grind and I feel real good for it. It could have been a better week but there is no point in starting too hard and blowing myself out. Got down Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Not bad. Short, sharp hard sessions. If you're going to train then you might as well get it done and don't mess around. My sessions last at the most an hour, shortest was 45 minutes.

Morale is that you don't need to spend endless hours once you are at the gym. It's not going to benefit your training that much extra and in some cases will hinder you. Not only that it will allow you to free up some extra time to do other things. Whether that is spending time with your family, friends, or your favourite tv show. No one wants to spend an extortionate amount of time in the gym at any one time, I know I don't and I love training, I also have a love for life! Train smart, train hard, train often and you'll see the results you want.

Oh and I hit 175kg on the deadlift yesterday. Moving on up!


Monday, 3 August 2009

Joslyn's Blog Spot - Last week's organic food debate

Some of you may have read in the news last week that there is very little nutritional difference between organic and non-organic foods, according to research commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSO) in an effort to help us make more informed choices about our food.

They fail to mention pesticides and the damage of such use on the environment. They also fail to mention the numerous studies that have shown that organic produce has very high levels of nutrients and antioxidants, over and above some of the genetically modified fruit and veg we find in our supermarkets. Of course, they have to pass the pretty test before they go on the shelves - such is our consumer snobbery when it comes to the aesthetics of produce.

The FSO defend their report by saying they were just looking out for any differences in "health" benefits and nothing else. Limited enough as they are in their approach, surely eating an apple with traces of pesticide is more harmful to my health than eating one without?

Personally, I try to eat organic as much as possible without going too wild on the purse strings, because of course, it is more expensive. What I do know is, that an organic potato tastes damn good, and I would choose that any day of the week over a non-organic one.

If you're undecided, here are foods that nutritionists suggest are best eaten organic:


The rest is up to you!

Have a good week,


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