reality self defence & conditioning

Category: Reality Check

Resistance training mistakes that beginner’s make, and how to avoid them

June 3rd, 2012 — 12:52am

Weight training is an acquired skill. It requires education, focus, determination, patience and sweat. It is also a very rewarding and healthy practise when done in an intelligent, methodical and consistent fashion.

Weight training can also be costly and dangerous to a beginner. The following tips will assist you in making the right choices and help you avoid making the costly mistakes that many fellow gym regulars will make in their time at the gym.


1. Train to become the best lifting technician possible

Always ensure you develop correct technique for each and every exercise and every repetition. This is to ensure that you actually benefit from the exercise and what it is aiming to achieve. This will also help you avoid being plagued by injury. Proper alignment, optimal posture and pelvic positioning are essential components of correct technique and need to be learnt. All too often ego gets in the way of technique and the body pays a hefty price in injuries as a result.

2. Learn how to activate your core properly.

Correct core activation through a combination lifting of the pelvic floor, tightening of the gluteus muscles and abdominals and correct breathing will ensure that the lower back is protected by forming a block and creating intra-abdominal pressure. As the weight increases so should the level of activation. If you are unable to keep your core activated during a heavy lift then reduce the weight (which may be a little tough on your ego) until you can do so-or book in to see your chiropractor early.

2. Weight train no more than 2-3 times per week.

As a beginner you body needs to adjust to a new workload. This period called anatomical adaptation of approximately 4-6weeks will allow the body to strengthen its ligaments and tendons first and allow the practise of core activation. Less is definitely more. If you are working hard, no more than 2-3 sessions per week can really get the job done.

3. Avoid explosive lifting

Why? Are you a competitive athlete needing this to enhance your performance-if not forget it! If you are working through a periodized strength training program with a cycle for power and you have mastered a very good base level of strength then this may be not such a big issue. For most people who do not have this base level of strength or have not mastered the technique involved with explosive lifting, then give this one a miss if you want to train injury free for a lifetime. There are always those people that can do this, but remember they are a minority.  Explosive lifting places undue strain, stress, shearing and loading through the joints. If you decide you still want to go ahead then spend some time mastering the lifts with a good trainer.

4. Eat 5-6 nutrient dense meals a day, preferably organic, and drink plenty of water

You need to fuel the machine properly if you want to see gains in size, strength and recovery.


5. Forget about magic pills, powders and supplements

Spend your money on good organic, nutrient dense food rather than the next magic potion.

Most supplements are full of sugars (anything that ends in “ose”) caffeine and an amalgamation of colours, flavours, preservatives and thus chemicals. So choose wisely. Supplementation is more about convenience rather than eating well (thus the meaning of the word supplement, which really means instead of, in this case supplementing a protein powder for a proper meal).

The latest scientific data however does suggest that resistance trained individuals may require as much as 1.2 to 1.76 grams per kilogram per day of protein for muscle mass increase. Supplementation with protein only and both protein and carbohydrate ingested immediately prior to and after exercise may be of value to bring about maximal increases in muscle mass when performing weight bearing exercises. This is due to the supplementation altering the acute hormone response to favour protein synthesis after a session. So if you want to get “massive” or need to accelerate recovery supplementation may be of assistance in the right amounts.

6. Avoid these exercises like the plague

Most machines exercises in general including Lat pull down behind the neck, bench press to the neck, stiff legged deadlifts off high blocks, just about smith machine anything, most machine hack squats, very heavy 45 degree leg press, hip abduction machines or doing super wide chins. For most people or for those who are into heavy resistance training, these exercises are known as body wreckers and should be avoided.

Most machines take the joints in a linear or translatory motion. This means a fixed path which takes the joint through a range of motion that is not natural. This causes a translatory force across the joints resulting in additional shearing to joint surfaces. Because no joint in the body is completely round or flat, all human joint motion is curvilinear. When choosing to move in a linear fashion as most exercises do, it will always take a compound movement of two or more joints and is best performed with body weight and free weights or cables that do not restrict the path of movement. This allows small shifts of the joints as they work within their natural curvilinear surfaces.

7. Do a few things well rather than many things badly.

Limit the amount of exercises to any workout to a maximum of 6 and even that is pushing it.  A program doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective.

8. Make sure your program has a balance of body parts.

All too often resistance trainers work only what they see in the mirror. This mentality will cause poor postural alignment, joint instability and injury. Programs need to be well rounded to be effective. Both upper and lower body parts needs to be worked and both front and back.

9. Check your ego at the door.

Don’t let your ego guide you while you’re lifting, or it will guide you to a chiropractor.

10. Keep a training log.

How do you know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been?

11. Get plenty of sleep.

Rest more than you think. If you are in doubt, rest more. Recovery is as vital part of your program as is the lifting itself. This way you will do as much quality work as possible whilst being fresh as possible. Don’t workout, especially the same muscles when you are sore. Train don’t drain.

12. Be patient, perseverant and persistent.

Base your training on the long term rather than the short term. Avoid the temptation to go too full on too quickly or you risk burning out, hitting a plateau or suffering an injury. Small increases add up to big gains over time.

13. Ensure that you hold the neutral spine position whilst performing most, if not all exercises.

Your lower back should never be rounded whilst doing bent over rows, deadlifts, squats, presses, benches. Lumbar vertebra injuries such as prolapsed or herniated discs are caused this way.

14. Belts, knee straps, tight lifting suits and expensive joggers are not needed.

They are nothing but aids to demonstrate strength, not build it. Don’t buy into the belief that they prevent injury, because they don’t. If you need to wear weight a belt around your torso, it should tell you something about excessive arching of your back or your lack of core activation. Unless you are a power lifter or competitive lifter then what are you doing it for?

In relation to footwear and gloves-The human body has a number of reflexes around the body that serve to protect it from injury, such as the extensor reflex in your legs and in your arms. By covering them up you send your body the wrong signals and affect the body’s ability to stabilise correctly. If there is a chunk of foam between your foot and the ground or your hand and the weight respectively what signals are your brain and body getting?  Having a heel as those found in expensive joggers shifts the centre of gravity forward which increases stress on the knee, changes the position of the spine and range of motion in the neck and shoulders. Get rid of them in the weight training room unless you really require them or have Achilles/ heel problems. All you need to look at are body builders and power lifters to see what they wear-bare feet or a basic firm shoe such as converse all stars.

15. Forget about gadgets, gizmos and the latest fitness toys.

The real magic is adding weight to the bar little by little over time. Some exercises are great in theory but are rarely done well on the gym floor. Let’s take the Swiss ball ab curl, which the researchers have proven to have a superior training effect on the external trunk musculature such as the rectus abdominus (6 pack). Most of the times I see this exercise performed on a Swiss ball, the exerciser does not have sufficiently good technique to be gaining any significant benefit whatsoever. Many gym goers see trainers taking their clients through particular exercises, or read the latest health magazine and then try and copy the exercises without having any idea of alignment, core activation, and correct muscle recruitment and so on.

16. Focus on basic compound exercises.

There are some exercises in relation to strength training that have been constants in the regimen of strength trainers for a very long time. Any exercises that require you to support your body weight,

require you to move your torso through space and those that are multi joint exercises (compound) are best. These exercises are better options over isolation exercises and those exercises where your body is lying down, seated or supported. Forget isolation unless you are focussing on the aesthetic. Your body does not work in isolation. The joint stabilisation and muscle synchronicity that develop from these large compound movements all contribute to being a better athlete, getting a better workout and burning more calories.

16. Use a range of motion in your exercises suitable to your flexibility and structure without any exaggeration.

Don’t perform exercises with exaggerations in the stretch position that will again lead you down the path of injury.

17. If you are having a bad day, pack it in.

If you feel stiff or an old injury is flaring up, you have a cold, or you’re too tired or stressed-go home. Your world is not going to stop turning because you missed a workout. You may save yourself from an injury or falling into a bigger rut or hitting another plateau. Stress levels, lack of sleep and poor diet all have an effect on your ability to train well. Listen to your body and train don’t drain.

18. Get a good trainer for these reasons

You get much quicker results – Working with a qualified fitness trainer is your proven fast track to success. A trainer’s expertise, clear focus, and targeted resources will get you to your goals at maximum speed.

It’s much more effective and efficient – You don’t waste your precious time, energy, and other resources doing what doesn’t work. You do what works for YOU, you do it consistently, and you reach your goals much faster.

You get solid, consistent, unwavering support – As you may know, not everyone in life always has your best interest at heart. But your trainer’s only goal is your total success.

You join the winners! – The widespread use of personal trainers by successful people in all walks of life is the strongest testament to the difference a good fitness trainer will make in your life.

You’re way ahead of those who try to “go it alone” – Many people will be “penny wise and pound foolish” by trying to do it all by themselves. As a result, the success that could quickly have been theirs may come slowly—or not at all. Why put yourself through that and the possibility of serious injury?

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Reality Check #7

January 16th, 2012 — 7:01am

The Disconnected Values Model

Welcome to 2012.

I have decided to write a lengthy article knowing that most people will have the time while on leave to read it.

This may be the single most important thing that you read about your health and fitness this year. Everybody has the knowledge-eat well and move more. But why don’t we do it?

This time every year I watch many people around me start to drag themselves back to training or the gym to work off the unwanted pounds and to regain the health and fitness they just squandered away over the festive season. The 2kg-6kg of excess baggage that is usually put on over this time of year takes most people, through a focused combination of dialing in their eating and increasing their activity levels, a few months to get back on track. So the first few months of the New Year are in fact just playing catch up on poor choices.

I also watch a lot of new people start to engage in exercise again. Yes the New Years Resolution. They usually include things such as giving up smoking, exercising more or joining the gym, eating better, not drinking as much alcohol, giving to a charity.And so on.

What’s my view on New Year’s resolutions? I don’t really have one. For most people they are a pipe dream that makes them feel good about themselves. By March and April every year those good intentioned resolutions are now ancient history and forgotten. Sound harsh? Read ahead.

Many psychologists say that New Years resolutions usually come from guilt and are selfish.

A number of psychologists say that New Year’s resolutions are really about making yourself feel good by making promises to yourself or other people because you feel guilty about the stuff you KNOW intrinsically you SHOULD be doing. So perhaps they are selfish. Even the bit about giving to a charity. Most people tell others about their resolutions or donating to a charity to make themselves feel good. To be externally gratified. So in other words you are doing it so someone pats you on the back and blows your trumpet. So chances are they are never going to work, especially as your friends and family rarely hold you accountable. The fact is that you should be holding YOURSELF accountable.

So why not decide to act from more positive motivations other than emotions like guilt and do the things that you know you should be doing so you don’t need to have any New Year’s resolutions from year to year? Achieving something worthwhile is the real reward, not the fickle approval of people you already know or will never know.

Ok here comes the big “C” word. Here it comes… Commitment

Definition of Commitment:

The act of committing to a charge or trust. An agreement or pledge to do something in the future. An agreement to assume a financial obligation at a later date. The state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled-the commitment to a cause.

Here is an all familiar scenario. All the trainers reading this will empathize with my frustrations and understand what I am writing about here. And if you are just about to undertake a new fitness regime or are currently training and reading this and wondering why you aren’t getting results then this may really resonate with you and challenge your perspective on your ACTUAL commitment to your current training.

A prospect walks into any given gym or club wanting to embark on a new health and fitness goal. Whether it be lose weight, tone up, bulk up, get strong, toned or any other fitness goal. When talking through an initial assessment they tell you how important it is and how, on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being not important and 10 being the most important that they personally sit on 8-10. They tell you travel is not a concern, that time is not a concern, that money is no obstacle, that they have support from their friends and family or their spouse. That they are ready, willing and able……So they are pretty committed to a change for the better, right?

So the journey of self improvement begins, however for some reason these clients are always late, don’t make their sessions, cancel all the time, as well as not only cancelling sessions with you, but also do not do anything exercise wise or nutritionally when they are not with their trainer and as such don’t make time to eat healthily and exercise regularly. Of course they never get results. What’s worst, still often in denial and without any self awareness to the fact they are their own worst enemy, they still proclaim to not be lazy and be committed to their goals of real health and fitness.

And most of the time it’s the trainers fault right?  I remember that program on a Current Affair where all these gym members were blaming their trainers for not getting results.

Enter the Disconnected Values Model.

This model helps people

  • Examine the benefits, in contrast to the costs and long term consequences of the habit they most want to change
  • Identify their deepest values and beliefs (e.g., health, family, faith, integrity)
  • Detect a “disconnect” between the negative habit and identified values and
  • Conclude whether the “disconnect” between the negative habit and identified values is acceptable given its long term costs and consequences.

The conclusion that this “disconnect” is unacceptable creates incentive and commitment for health and behavioral change. Therefore the Disconnected Values Model (DVM) explains the “disconnect” between people saying one thing but actually spending time on other things.

In other words, when people say something is the highest priority for them, for example a core value or belief, does the time that they spend on those activities and their behaviour (habits) actually align with what they say or believe (values).

The Disconnected Values Model (DVM)

The process of behavioral change is a challenging process for trainers such as myself because habits and routines, in this case, lack of regular exercise and good eating, is firmly entrenched in a person’s lifestyle. Attempting to increase exercise behavior or nutritional change is particularly difficult because it is accompanied by an array of long-held feelings and attitudes that may reflect negative previous experiences (e.g., the physical education teacher who used exercise as a form of discipline, burnout from too much physical training as a former athlete, injury from previous exercise attempts, parents rewarding or punishing children with food, making you eat your greens or everything on your plate etc).

Further, vigorous exercise requires effort and some degree of physical discomfort in order to obtain the well-known benefits. The degree of discomfort, often measured as “ratings of perceived exertion” (Borg, 1998) directly reflects a person’s body weight, current fitness level, and the person’s sedentary lifestyle.

The DVM (Anshel & Kang, in press) is predicated on two points that define self-motivated behavior and have strong implications toward promoting exercise behavior. The first point is that self-motivated behavior reflects a person’s deepest values and beliefs about his or her passion, that is, their mission, or passion. An individual’s acknowledged mission reflects their desire to become fully engaged in activities that “really matter” in meeting personal goals and future aspirations. The second point is that the primary motivators of normal human behavior consist of three stages: (a) to identify a deeply held set of values, (b) to live a life consistent with those values and (c) to consistently hold ourselves accountable to them. Therefore an individual whose values include health, family, and performance excellence examples of three common values – should be self-motivated to exercise because it is consistent with these values. The DVM puts forward the perspective that developing an exercise habit rests, at least in part, on recognizing the inconsistency between one’s negative habits (i.e., lack of regular exercise) and their values, and then to institute a new, positive habit of exercise that is strongly connected to one’s values.

Negative Habits and Performance Barriers

The model begins by acknowledging the existence of negative habits, defined as thoughts, emotions, or tasks we experience regularly that are acknowledged by the person as not healthy or in the person’s best interests, yet, remain under our control. The model puts forward that the primary reason individuals engage in negative habits is because the perceived benefits of maintaining the habit outweigh its costs and long-term consequences. Negative habits (e.g., lack of exercise, poor sleep and nutrition) lead to barriers in performance, such as fatigue, negative mood state, and lack of concentration.

Perceived Benefits, Costs and Long-term Consequences of Negative Habits

There are benefits or “pay offs” to every negative habit we have. If there were no benefits to a negative habit, the negative habit would not continue. As discussed earlier, the benefits of not exercising, for example, include more time to do other things, not experiencing the discomfort of physical exertion, and having expenses related to purchasing fitness club memberships and exercise clothing, including shoes. Of course, there are possible costs and long term consequences to not exercising.


These include reduced fitness, weight gain, and higher stress and anxiety (both of which are reduced due to exercise). The long-term consequences of these costs include poorer physical and mental health, reduced quality of life, and, in some cases, shorter lifespan. Are these costs acceptable? If they are, then the negative habit of not exercising and maintaining a sedentary lifestyle will likely continue. However, if the costs are far greater than the benefits, and the person concludes that these costs are unacceptable, then a change in behavior is far more likely.

Determining one’s Deepest Values and Establishing a Disconnect

The DVM then presents individuals with a list of values and asks individuals to designate and rank them. Examples include integrity, happiness, honesty, character, excellence, commitment, and concern for others.

To help clients detect an inconsistency between their values and their negative (self-destructive) habits, consultants or mental health professionals might ask non-exercising clients “To what extent are your values consistent with your actions? If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and are not involved in a program of exercise, yet one of your deepest values is to maintain good health, to what extent is your value inconsistent with your behavior? Is there a ‘disconnect’ between your beliefs about good health and your unhealthy behavioral patterns?”

Acceptability of the Disconnect

If a person acknowledges that the negative habit of not engaging in exercise is inconsistent with their deepest values and beliefs about what is really important to them, the follow-up question must be to ascertain if this is acceptable. Is the disconnect between this negative habits – lack of exercise – and the values a person feels passionate about… acceptable? If the disconnect is acceptable – and for many individuals who feel that changing the negative habit is either undesirable or beyond their control – then no behavior change will likely occur. Only when the disconnect is unacceptable to the individual is the person prepared to commit to behavior change, and then engaged in developing and carrying out an action plan.

So let’s try a mini version of the DVM model. And LET’S keep it specific to your health and fitness

In the first table list your top 10 beliefs or values in order of priority

Priority Value or belief about self (what is important to me?)

In the second table list the things you spend your time on (habits and behaviour) in order

Time spent Habit or Behaviour (what do I actually spend my time on?)

Where does your health and fitness place in your core values and beliefs and does it align with the time you spend (your habits and behaviour) on it? Is there are striking difference or a “disconnect”?

Now weigh up the costs and long term consequences versus the benefits. For example what are the pro’s of not exercising and staying fit and healthy? What are the cons’s of not exercising and staying fit and healthy?

I have done an example for exercise below.

Costs/consequences of the given habit or behaviour e.g. not exercising Benefits of the given habit or behaviour e.g. not exercising
Reduced fitness No associated costs
Weight gain No time spent exercising or traveling
Higher stress and anxiety No discomfort from exercise
Poor body image Scared of trying and failing again
Reduced quality of life  
Reduced confidence and esteem  
Higher risk of disease and illness  
Less social interaction  
Poorer mental and physical health  
Shortened life span  

Once you have considered the costs vs benefits ask yourself is this acceptable? Am I happy to live with the costs and long term consequences of that behaviour?

In conclusion if you deem that it is “acceptable” to take the consequences of this behaviour long term and the costs associated with it as you feel the benefits outweigh them, then you may feel there is no need to change. And that’s ok.

So for example you may be happy with where you are at with your health and fitness.

If you are not however and it doesn’t align with your core values-then its time to do something about it, to perhaps change your priorities so they align more with your core values and beliefs and as we have discussed above, not just talk about it, do something about it.

A little about my business motto that some of you might not know: “Meet Life head On”. It means like the bull, to live life aggressively.

It doesn’t mean to be aggressive in a violent way. It means to move forward with strong intent, purpose and resolve. My training style is often a slap in the face for many, to force you out of your comfort zone and to encourage you to be brutally honest with yourself and to take charge of your health and fitness. In our classes we aim to be extraordinary rather than conforming to the ordinary and mediocrity of most commercial fitness gyms. Our training is not usually going to make you feel warm and fuzzy. Although it might make you feel warm.

TRUE change is not a passive process and requires brutal self inventory as a catalyst for moving forward and making permanent change. I’m not a paid friend or cheerleader and in fact my training will usually make you feel worse initially because it will challenge you mentally and physically and take you out of your comfort zone. That is the trade off. It is earnt. There are no shortcuts, pills, fads or magic potions that will give you the same health benefits as exercising often and having great nutrition.

Lasting change requires being aggressively honest with yourself, using pressure to your advantage and running towards risk rather than away from it. It is having a clear vision as to what you want and more importantly what you are willing to sacrifice in order to get it.

Stop making excuses and “Meet Life Head On”.

Make 2012 your best year ever.

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Reality Check #6

October 25th, 2011 — 6:55am

Our Sedentary Generation and the Disconnected Values Model – Part One.


1. Characterized by or requiring a sitting posture: a sedentary occupation.

2. Accustomed to sit or rest a great deal or to take little exercise.

3.Chiefly Zoology

A. Abiding in one place; not migratory.

B. Pertaining to animals that move about little or are permanently attached to something, such as a barnacle.


C:My definition: pertaining to humans that move about little or their butt is permanently attached to something such as a chair or a couch.

Following a sedentary lifestyle is more dangerous for your health than smoking, says a new study reported in the South China Morning Post, and carried out by the University of Hong Kong and the Department of Health. In the study, researchers looked at the level of physical activity in people who died and were able to correlate their level of physical activity with their risk of dying.

The results are scary: 20% of all deaths of people 35 and older were attributed to a lack of physical activity. That’s more deaths than can be attributed to smoking. Looking at specific diseases, the risk of dying from cancer increased 45% for men and 28% for women due to lack of physical activity. The risk of dying from respiratory ailments was 92% higher for men and 75% higher for women. The risk of dying from heart disease was 52% higher for men and 28% higher for women, all due to a lack of physical activity. It turns out that being a couch potato can kill you, literally. Is it really surprising?

It’s interesting to note that the longest living cultures on the planet are those who are out there doing manual labour. It’s fascinating that in Western culture that we spend our entire lives working towards generating wealth only to become increasingly sedentary and then become a massive drain on the healthcare system-Using the healthcare system to keep us alive for longer.

This is really no surprise to naturopathic physicians, trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, holistic healers, martial artists, holistic nutritionists, and other people in the natural healing and physical culture fields: physical activity is absolutely critical for the health of the human body. In fact, it’s fair to say that the human body was designed to be used. There are a lot of metaphors in modern medicine that compare the human body to an automobile that are often misunderstood. These metaphors propose the idea that the body wears out with use. People say their knee joints have worn out, for example, and that’s why they have knee pain. But I have news for you on this: joints don’t “wear out” like car parts, and the human body actually gets healthier with use — unlike your automobile.

In fact, the more you use your body, the healthier it gets — up to a point of course; you don’t want to overexert yourself and cause injury, but very few people run the risk of actually doing too much exercise in modern society. Sadly, in today’s world, a lot of people just sit around. They spend endless hour watching TV, and they hold jobs that require them to sit behind a desk for 8 or 9 or 10 hours a day engaging in virtually no physical movement at all. As a result, they are being diagnosed with chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory ailments — all related to a lack of regular physical exercise.

And that is just a start. The number of musclo-skeletal injuries and dysfunctional movement patterns are on the increase as well. The squat as a movement pattern is almost extinct. After spending all day on our back sides, with a protruded head and neck posture, kyphotic (rounded) upper back and hips in a chronically flexed position it is no wonder that we have hypertonic (overactive, short and weak) muscles in our hips, our glute (bum) muscles don’t work and our lower backs are sore and always injured, and our hamstrings that are asked to pick up the slack are chronically torn. And I haven’t even mentioned our knees. Knee problems for the most part are hip problems. The knee maybe the symptom but the hip 99% of the time is the cause. So in a nutshell there is a strong correlation between a sedentary lifestyle to hip, knee and other musculoskeletal injuries. So after being sedentary most of the day, those of us that do go and exercise go and “workout” under load and intensity with dysfunctional movement patterns, a lack of neuromuscular balance or control and asymmetries and then wonder why we get injured.

In the U.S. it is at a point that businesses are now finding themselves under litigation for not having systems and procedures in place to protect their staff from being seated and their body “stewing” for extended periods of time. Insert speed meetings (a bit like speed dating-kept short and sweet), standing workstations and screen savers that freeze the computer for a few minutes so that you cant work and have no other option other than to get up and move around while you wait-with the screen savers showing you your mobility exercises. All implemented just to keep you moving.

All these diseases and issues can be prevented and even frequently reversed through physical exercise alone. Looking at why physical exercise makes individuals so much healthier gives us an interesting perspective on how the human body really works. The human body is designed to move around. And by moving the muscles, ligaments and limbs, you actually massage the tissues and organs of the body, bringing them oxygen and enhancing their flexibility.You also move lymph fluid around the body, and lymph must be moved through physical activity alone since there is no “lymph heart” to circulate lymph fluid regardless of your physical activity like there is with your cardiovascular system. (In other words, your heart pumps your blood even if you’re sitting in a chair. But there’s nothing to pump your lymph fluid other than sloshing your body around through regular movement.) Otherwise your body “stews”.

Physical activity gets everything moving in your body — the blood, the oxygen, the nutrients, the cellular respiration, peristalsis, the nervous system, and so on.

Sweating is good for you as well — you sweat out toxins and replace the lost liquids by drinking fresh, clean water.

Physical exercise, if done outside, also exposes you to the healing effects of natural sunlight, an essential nutrient for the human body that is deficient in most people. Getting enough sunlight on your skin can prevent and even reverse an astounding number of chronic diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, osteoporosis and more.

If you put all of this together, you see that physical exercise is extremely beneficial to the human body, and in fact the body won’t live nearly as long without it. Studies also show that it doesn’t take an enormous amount of physical exercise to achieve health-enhancing results. A mere 30 minutes a day of walking, swimming, jogging, cycling or other cardiovascular exercise can have astounding positive health effects.

What is really strange though is that we have lowered the bar so low in order to encourage people to exercise. 30 minutes of walking? Really? Yes it is grim when people can’t even walk for 30 minutes a day or they believe that that is their “exercise”. Wake up folks. Walking is locomotion. Not exercise. Are we that mentally weak? Are we that lazy?

Some studies are showing that if you are on your feet for under 8 hours a day that your hips may actually start to degenerate. In other words you are not using them so they start to break down.
When I teach personal trainers, and I mention that we are part of a sedentary population a lot of trainers get upset with me. “But I work out every day!” they say.

What about the other 23 hours. Just because you may work out for an hour a day doesn’t take you out of the category. Unless you are spending 8 hours or more of your day, running from predators, hunting, fishing, cooking, cleaning, building, gathering etc chances are, unlike our ancestors you fall under the category of being sedentary.

But exercising seems to remain a low priority for many. People ask, how can I avoid all of these diseases without actually having to do the exercises? Is there a way that I can get the benefits of this physical exercise without having to move my body? And the answer to that is simply, no. There is no easy way out. You have to actually do it if you want to get the benefits from it. No one can do it for you, no prescription drugs can give you the same effects, and no surgical procedure can create the health that your body would create on its own when you engage in regular physical exercise. This is something you must pursue on your own if you want to experience all the positive health results it offers.

Movement is life.

In part two, I will be discussing the disconnected values model. The disconnected values model explains for the most part why people say one thing and do another. In other words do your personal values line up with the time you actually spend cultivating your values in those areas and your behaviour in relation to them. In other words do you walk the walk as well as talk the talk. This model explains quite simply why so many people never reach their health and fitness goals. I hope you are meeting yours.


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Reality Check #5

July 15th, 2011 — 6:23am

My Hot Top 20 Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy this winter

It happens every year around this time: The winter woolies start appearing everywhere and everyone in your general vicinity enters that pre-hibernation mode, storing up extra body fat for the frozen months ahead and getting ill. They guzzle calorie-rich foods and drinks, cocoon in the evenings because it’s too cold and dark to go to the gym or workout outside, and skip workouts and classes because there just isn’t enough time for them in days that are already jam-packed. By the time spring or New Year rolls around, they feel compelled to make resolutions about regaining the fitness they’ve just squandered away.

You, of course, don’t want to be like that–not this year, at any rate. But faced with all the peer pressures, time pressures and family pressures of the winter season how exactly can you stand up to this onslaught and keep your training habits on track? Well I’m here to help. This is part one of a three part article on some tips to keep you healthy during the winter months. Follow my top 20 tips to start off with, and you’ll keep your own fitness ethic going while the people around you are finding reasons to lose theirs.

Your challenge: Slowing Down


What the other guys and girls do: Without realizing it, they start skipping workouts (or stop exercising entirely) in winter, then struggle to get back in condition in Spring and summer, devoting the first three months of the year to regaining their condition. What you’ll do: Decide now that you aren’t going to turn into a slob just because it isn’t shirt-off season. Make steadfast rules for when you’re going to hit the gym or hop on your home equipment, and stick to them. If you end up missing a session for any reason, make it up immediately.

The benefits: It’s easier to stick to a fitness program than it is to start up again after months of inactivity; and you’ll start the New Year improving on an already tight physique. It’s a lot easier to maintain than to rebuild.


What the other guys and girls do: Suddenly discover that in the midst of holidays, family visits, vacations and other time demands, they simply can’t squeeze in that day’s workout. What you’ll do: Make a schedule for the next few months that includes all your work, home and family obligations, and pencil in exercise sessions just like any other appointment. If you have to, go on a “maintenance” schedule: Work out, say; three times a week instead of five so that while you may not build new strength, you won’t be losing ground, either. If you miss a session, its not the end of the world, just take the opportunity to make it up and get in a workout as soon as you can.

The benefits: You won’t be tempted to fall out of the habit of exercising after missing a workout or two.


What the other guys and girls do: Put their entire workout routines to rest when they go on vacation or visit the family. What you’ll do: Stay in a hotel with a well-stocked gym–and use it. If that’s not possible, switch to a calisthenics routine of push-ups, squat, handstand push ups, lunges and other body weight exercises. Pack a jump rope and exercise bands or a TRX to make it more effective.

The benefits: You’ll keep your training on track with an easy-to-do maintenance plan, and lessen the risk of jet lag and stiffness from traveling.


What the other guys and girls do: Become dehydrated because they don’t feel thirsty. What you’ll do: Remember to drink plenty of water all day long, and especially before and during workouts.

The benefits: Everyone realizes that you need plenty of water to perform well in the summertime, but a lot of people forget the same applies when the weather turns cold. Since dry, heated indoor air can be even more dehydrating than warm sunshine, drinking enough is still a must.


What the other guys and girls do: Forget that active recovery and good supplementation is as important to reaching their goals as is the workout itself. What you’ll do: use supplements such as pre workout drinks and protein powders loaded with glutamine and other goodies to support your workouts and help you recover quicker from them.

The benefits: Pre workout drinks and fuels can help libido, cognitive function, endurance and stamina, intensify workouts and accelerate fat loss. Protein powders will help with muscle recovery, strength and muscle gain. Glutamine and other goodies will improve immune function and prevent overtraining and support overall recovery.


Your challenge: Pigging Out


What the other guys and girls do: Throw their nutritional guidelines to the winds and chomp down on platefuls of pasta, rice, potatoes and other comfort foods to get them through the chill of winter. What you’ll do: When you want something hot and comforting, start your meal with a bowl of chicken-vegetable soup or equivalent.

The benefits: Not only does chicken soup contain proven illness-fighting chemicals, a study at Penn State University in the US found that people who ate it as an appetizer consumed fewer calories over the entire meal. I.E it is high in water.


What the other guys and girls do: At parties or office gatherings, graze on large amounts of baked goods, lollies and chips. What you’ll do: Grab a handful of mixed nuts and nosh on them slowly. You will not, however, go back and eat the entire serving plate.

The benefits: Nuts are loaded with protein and healthy fats, and tests have found that they make you fuller and less likely to over consume later on.


What the other guys and girls do: Use up half a day’s supply of calories on alcoholic beverages. What you’ll do: If you’re going to drink alcohol, make it a real drink, not a dessert in a glass–preferably antioxidant-rich red wine or dark beer. Don’t over imbibe, and sip a glass of water between each shot of booze, which will help keep you hydrated (dehydration from alcohol can slow fat metabolism and generally stress your organs and run down your immune system).

The benefits: Significantly fewer calories, reduced hangover risk, and less chance that you’ll accidentally call the boss by the nickname everyone uses behind their back.


What the other guys and girls do: Go out to eat with friends and family; profess to be surprised by the restaurant’s huge portions but devour the whole plate anyway. What you’ll do: Knowing that many establishments serve giant-size meals these days, order yourself a low-fat entree or two, have a soup or salad first or offer to split a salad and entree with someone else.

The benefits: You eat less, pay less, and don’t end up with leftovers that will just sit in your fridge for a month.


Your challenge: Getting Ill


What the other guys and girls do: Shake hands with someone, catch their cold or flu, and set back their fitness routines for days or weeks of recovery.
What you’ll do: Wash your hands well with hot water and soap, especially before touching your own eyes, nose or mouth if you’ve just touched any person or public object that could be infected. Use a moisturizer to keep your digits from drying out after all that washing. Of course, we’re talking about rational behavior, not obsessional cleansing.

The benefits: Since viruses are often transmitted by touch, keeping your hands clean may be the single best thing you can do to avoid getting sick.


What the other guys girls do: Further weaken their immune systems by giving up on exercise during cold season. What you’ll do: Get plenty of moderate cardio.

The benefits: A recent study at the University of South Carolina in Columbia found that adults who get regular moderate exercise have significantly fewer colds. If you already have a cold, moderate exercise probably won’t make it worse, but consult your doctor if you have possible flu symptoms such as fever, muscle aches or heavy coughing.


What the other guys and girls do: Miss out on needed sleep as stress and time demands grow, resulting in fewer virus-fighting “natural killer” immune cells. What you’ll do: Go to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day, and don’t eat heavy food or drink alcohol within a few hours of bedtime.

The benefits: Maintaining a consistent sleep/wake cycle and avoiding lots of food or alcohol before bed are the keys to preventing insomnia.

13. VEG IT UP.

What the other guys and girls do: Consume more junk, simple carbohydrates, white flours and refined sugars and fewer vegetables at a time when they most need better nutrition. What you’ll do: Eat plenty of carotenoid-laden vegetables, including winter squash, carrots and even pumpkin.

The benefits: According to nutritional reports, a diet high in carotenoids can raise your immune-cell count by a third, which will help ward off illness and keep your fitness level intact.


Your challenge: Losing Energy


What the other guys and girls do: Stuff themselves at meals, either because it’s a special holiday glutton fest or because Grandma’s piling food on the plates faster than they can keep up with it, and end up too bloated to do anything afterward but lie on the couch for a few hours. What you’ll do: Plot your strategy early: Eat the healthiest foods first, and then nibble on the treats. Hold off on seconds by saying you’re full, but that you’d love to take some leftovers home.

The benefits: Pace yourself and you won’t end up feeling like a pig. You’ll also prevent the artery damage that can result from overeating fatty foods. You’ll also have the energy to get to that workout.


What the other guys and girls do: Get the blues. What you’ll do: Go out in the sunshine every day, especially in the morning.

The benefits: You’ve probably heard of seasonal affective disorder (SOD), a general lethargy and low-grade depression thought to be caused by diminished sunlight during the winter months. But even a single day without sunshine may affect your mood: In a study at Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y., students were found to have almost four times more anxiety and irritability on cloudy days. Just a few daily minutes of real or artificial sunshine may give you a much-needed boost throughout the winter.


What the other guys and girls do: Take cold remedies loaded with antihistamines, caffeine, or other ingredients that knock them out during the day or keep them awake at night. What you’ll do: Instead of popping a remedy when you get the sniffles, only take what you need to function until the virus leaves your system. Drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins.

The benefits: With some experimentation you can find a remedy that helps blunt your symptoms without adding to them.


Your challenge: Losing sight of your health and fitness goals or even worse, not having any


What the other guys and girls do: Walk aimlessly around the gym, without a program, not having any idea of what need to do to achieve their goals. If they have actually set any. What you’ll do: Ask a trainer to put together a personalized program for you, working specifically around your, injuries, limitations and specifically to your body and your goals.

The benefits: You will stay focused on each visit to the gym, having a set plan to achieve your goals and this will keep you motivated as you lift a little heavier, do a few more reps or rest less between you work periods. By recording your workouts every session and seeing your improvement from week to week this will keep you motivated and on track to where you want to be.


What the other guys and girls do: lose motivation, fun and accountability during the cooler months. What you’ll do: get a coach who will keep you in track, motivated, having fun with exercise and staying focused on your health and fitness goals during the cooler months. Let’s face it, we always trainer better when there is a bit of competition or someone pushing us outside of our comfort zone to force adaptation and a training response.

The benefits: You join the winners! The widespread use of trainers by successful people in all walks of life is the strongest testament to the difference a good fitness coach will make in your life. The world top athlete’s all have trainers that have helped them reach the pinnacle of success. Even if they are the No.1 player in the world!!!!! . So why don’t you have one?


What the other guys and girls do: forget that they have a membership as soon as their butt hits the couch and apathy and a bigger waistline sets in. What’ll you do: instead of going home go straight to your classes so that you don’t have the opportunity to imprint the couch.

The benefits: You will be motivated and inspired by your instructor usually in a healthily competitive class with other like minded individuals. All you have to do is turn up and your instructor will do the rest! And you stay true to your goals and the results you want achieve.


What the other guys and girls do: soon as things get a little tougher and less inspiring as the weather becomes miserable and inhospitable their visits to the gym and classes become less and less frequent. And all that hard work that they had put in previously is lost. What you’ll do: When the going get’s tough, the tough get going. Your positive internal dialogue and single minded focus on making your health and fitness your number one priority, even when it’s a little hard to be inspired, will keep you moving in the right direction.

The benefits: You won’t have to start all over again and you will have your health and body that most can only wish for even when it’s not t-shirt off weather outside.

Of course, your friends may deride you for attempting to stay healthy, happy and fit this time of year while they go down that long road toward gluttony, sloth and illness. But in August and September, when you’re still a hard bodied energizer bunny ready to head down the beach to get your gear off and they’re just starting to lug their love handles back to the gym, you’ll have too much class to mention it, well maybe.

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Reality Check #4

May 31st, 2011 — 6:21am

With the next HKC fast approaching on July 30th in Melbourne, time is running out to register for the Level 1 Kettlebell Course with the only RKC/CK-FMS/CST certified instructor in Australia.

Check out this link for more information on the HKC:

The RKC is the leading kettlebell certification in the World. So if you really want to know how to use kettlebells, rather than trying to learn via book, DVD or from someone else who hasn’t doesn’t done any formal training or certification with the World’s best then you are missing out. There is no substitute for hands on training provided by those who have actually walked the walk.

Attend the level 1 workshop and leave with the following advantages:

  • A deep understanding of the true benefits of kettlebell training—for both yourself and your clients
  • A solid knowledge of vital kettlebell training safety procedures
  • A workmanlike grasp of the fundamentals of biomechanics—to ensure your clients move with perfect form and avoid injury
  • A grasp of the key HardStyle skills and principles of strength
  • The ability to competently perform the three foundational kettlebell exercises (the Swing, the Get-Up, and the Goblet Squat)
  • The confidence you can now correctly teach the three essential kettlebell exercises—and troubleshoot common technique problems

And discover this and more in your Level 1 workshop leading towards the HKC and RKC:

  • Understand why mastery of the kettlebell swing is fundamental to high-level HardStyle practice
  • How to develop power through compensatory acceleration and overspeed eccentrics
  • How to train hip extension for back and knee health and athletic performance
  • How to employ bracing and neutral spine—for injury prevention, enhanced performance and optimal transmission of force
  • How to recruit the lat as a “core muscle” to improve the spine safety and glute strength
  • How to increase power with the biomechanical breathing match
  • A safe, effective modality for developing different types of endurance
  • Explosive training techniques for more effective fat-loss
  • The deadlift: the most “functional” exercise of all
  • The two-arm swing and corrective exercises
  • The concept of rooting and two key drills for developing it
  • The one-arm swing
  • The hand-to-hand swing
  • Russian relaxation exercises to enhance the acquisition of skilful movement, increase power and endurance
  • The two hundred year history of the get-up
  • The get-up as an assessment tool
  • The strength and health benefits of the get-up
  • How to correctly perform the get-up and teach corrective drills
  • How to move from mobility to stability, then from stability to strength—and why this progression is crucial for truly effective kettlebell work
  • The get-up, shoulder mobility and stability exercises. The role of the lat in shoulder stability and strength—and advanced lat facilitation techniques
  • The concepts of leakage and linkage—and their importance for effective kettlebell lifting
  • How to perform the goblet squat and corrective drills
  • “Strength stretching” for the hips
  • How to overcome gluteal amnesia
  • How to most effectively stretch the hip flexors to dramatically improve athletic performance, back health, and posture
  • And more!!!

Here is the link to attend the HKC

For those that have already attended our Level 1, my observation as a National Fitness presenter and a qualified trainer for 12 years now is that:

1. The retention of knowledge and material from short courses (or even two day certification courses such as the Thump Boxing and Kickboxing for Fitness course I run) is quite low and a lot of the small finer points are missed-these are the points that make the difference between a good trainer and a GREAT trainer.

2. Most people attend intermediate and advanced courses without having practiced and mastered the fundamentals and developing a sound foundation first and as such build more advanced technique on poor basics and just like building a house-if you build it on a foundation of sand, its likely to come crashing down.

To do our Level 1 Workshop is just $200 for a 3 hour workshop. To come in and complete the Level 1 course as a refresher course it is just $150.00. And if you bring a paying friend on the refresher after completing it once already it is just $100.00. (Half price) If you are attending for a third consecutive time it is FREE.

I will also be making myself available before and after the workshop for those who really want go into the finer points of their kettlebell lifting or the functional movement screen ( in a one on one PT environment.

Here is the link to attend.

Don’t miss out….

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Reality Check #3

May 20th, 2011 — 6:16am

More is not better-better is better.

Injuries can often be very demoralizing and can sometimes see people at the peak of their professional careers or in the midst personal fitness goals toss in the towel and give it all away. It can have a massive impact psychologically on your confidence and self esteem. And this is often because of some really silly mistakes.

When you’re young and fit you can often feel invincible and the body’s ability to rebuild and rejuvenate can be amazing even when poor exercise principles are being engaged. Some people can be amazingly resilient. But beware! As the body ages and tissue become less elastic and pliable, gradually or suddenly, this can take an about turn for the worse. Tissue takes time to breakdown. So whilst you make have sprained or strained a muscle that day in the gym, chances are you have been doing that damage for sometime before it finally gave way.

Most people go to the gym or exercise to better themselves in some way, and it is sometimes surprising that the one thing that they do in order to improve their health can often do the complete opposite if it’s not done intelligently.

So here are my Top Ten Tips for avoiding injury.

1. Get screened or assessed by a professional before you start

Having a trainer or health professional such as a physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor have a look at your posture can highlight issues with your body that can come back to bite you later down the track. By addressing postural deviations, limitations and restrictions or correcting core function prior to large loads or intensity, you can reduce of the chance of injury later down the track. Better still movement screens such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) act as a reliable screening system created to rank movement patterns that are fundamental to normal function. By screening these patterns, movement limitations and asymmetries are readily identified and measured. Basic movement pattern limitation and asymmetry are thought to reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and recent data suggest these factors may be related to injury in sport. One goal of the FMS is to identify those individuals with movement pattern limitations, so individualized correct exercise can be prescribed to normalize movement prior to an increase in physical training or competitive sports season. The FMS is a screen designed for and applied to those individuals without an existing injury or painful complaint.

2. Warm up properly and include Flexibility and/or range of motion (ROM) exercises

There really are no excuses for this one. No matter what your time constraints are, spend 5-10mins warming up. Warming up increases your core body temperature, heart rate and blood flow, oxygen uptake, and range of motion required for the upcoming activities. By doing this you will obtain the lubrication, suppleness, pliability and elasticity of muscle, joints, ligaments and tendons needed for vigorous exercise. It will also improve your performance and by dialing you in mentally and your body primed for the onslaught to come. Try a dynamic ROM warm up and a few light sets.

Spend at least 10-15mins before, during or after exercise. Suppleness is one of the most important elements in injury prevention and rehabilitation. As your strength increases often your range of motion and flexibility decreases so you actually need to stretch more. And hey at least you’re not going to walk out of the gym looking like a stiff plank, or a gorilla. There is nothing cool about not being able to put your jacket on, touch your nose or do up your shoe laces because you move like a brick.

3. Balance your exercises and body parts

Too many people only train for aesthetics. This creates muscle imbalances and usually means training the upper and front of the body only! This can have a negative impact on posture and create problems such as shoulder impingements and back pain.

Any good PT will have you doing exercises for the posterior chain (back of the body) and create a balanced program for you. Real strength comes from the ground up, and if your objective is to get functionally strong then only doing bicep curls isn’t going to do it.

Overtraining the same exercises and therefore body parts is a recipe for disaster. See a coach or a trainer to write a program that is right for you. Yes your goals, body type, posture, core control, flexibility, current health and fitness levels, limitations, restrictions and injuries. Picking up the latest Muscle and Fitness or Women’s health isn’t good enough. Programs are not a one size fits all kind of thing. So get what is right for you and your body,

4. Use correct form

One of the major factors is poor technique- Muscle sprain and strains, shoulder impingements come as a result of poor form. And for men it is usually due to their ego. Even if it means cutting down in weight to achieve proper body positioning or stability to begin with, do it. Short term insecurity is not worth long term health problems. The need to impress peers, team mates or the opposite sex by lifting excessive weights that are far too heavy encourages the use of momentum, cheat reps, and terrible body positioning. If you aren’t sure of the technique or what program is right for you-get a coach. The world’s No 1 top athletes and teams all have personal trainers and coaches, so why don’t you?

5. Adequate rest

Burning out your central nervous system from hard strength training and training when you are exhausted or ill means your focus is already off and your body is fatigued. This is definitely when injuries are most likely to occur. If you want to get stronger or bigger then relative rest for recovery is just as important as the workout itself! Quality not quantity is the key. Your rest and recovery is as important if not more important than the workout itself.

6. Know your limits

If you are trying to bench press 300 pounds when your personal best is only 200, then there is a pretty good chance that you are in for a pectoral blow out. If you haven’t run for a long time and then decide to do sprints at 100% on uneven terrain, then there is also a pretty good chance a knee blow-out is one the way. Try progressing at a reasonable pace-and when your body is ready to do so. Training hard doesn’t mean training dumb.

7. Try some variety

If you are in a training rut or hit a plateau in your gains then vary your routine. This will stop overtraining, repetitive strain injuries and boredom. You and your body will thank you for it as it smashes through another plateau and your training goes to the next level. Your body adapts to programs within 6-8 weeks, some trainers argue you should change your program around that time to challenge your body in different ways. Try cross training.

8. Take into consideration your footwear. Buy the right ones for you and what you do.

Wearing over engineered footwear at $250 a pop isn’t necessarily the go. Spending more money doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for your activity nor your feet and body. Expensive footwear that isn’t right for you can take away range of motion (ROM) and proprioception (your body’s awareness, stability and balance) in the joints. Strength training is often best done in simple cheap footwear or none at all.
Shoes especially in heel cushioning for regular runners may have only a life span of about 3 months. Replace any shoes that you train regularly in, week to week, often, to avoid knee pain, plantar fasciitis, lower back pain and shin splints. Most joggers of any sort over time will adapt to your feet by leaving an imprint and any asymmetries or compensation patterns and to whatever imbalances you may have in the body, and compound them. By changing shoes regularly you allow the body to correct itself.

9. Have a maintenance program

If you train regularly (and hard) some times having a rest week or two will reignite the passion for training again and give the body a rest. See an Osteopath or Chiropractor every month to six week to ensure alignment, biomechanics, joints and spine are actually where they are meant to be so that forces and loads are evenly distributed over joint surfaces and muscles tendons and ligaments and everything is where it should be. Massages may also assist and will increase blood and nutrient flow, aid recovery and break down muscle tension, aid relaxation and prevent injury.

Joint health programs are of great benefit to people of all ages. Swimming is a great exercise to aid recovery and range of motion. Supplement with Fish oil to reduce inflammation and improve heart health. Try glucosamine for your joints to prevent the further degeneration of the joint and cartilage. Take them in the correct dosage.

10. Eat well and stay hydrated

Sounds simple but most people do not. If I had a dollar for every time I had a skinny client wanting to get big and strong tell me or an obese client who wanted to torch fat and lose body weight tell me ” my diet is really good….honestly”. Really? If that was the case then we wouldn’t be having the conversation to begin with. Nutrition from my perspective is 70% of people achieving their training goals. Eating diets high in bad fats, refined sugars, bleached flours and preservatives, additives and colours are not the go. Remember the more alive your food is the more alive you will be. Taking supplements and multivitamins etc still come secondary to a kick ass good balanced diet. And drink plenty of water. Dehydration can often be the cause of fatigue, tiredness, irritability and moodiness and therefore injuries. Let’s face it most of your body is water. By the time you are thirsty or dry mouthed you are already dehydrated.

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Reality Check #2

February 7th, 2011 — 6:15am

Believing in yourself-the cornerstone of personal safety?

Whilst contrary to most people’s beliefs that in learning self defence, techniques are the most important thing to learn, learning the skills of assertiveness and boundary setting must come first and foremost when learning or teaching self defence.

We must be mindful of statistics, especially in regards to assault and sexual assault of women and children. The percentage of adult victims/ survivors of sexual assault who knew their offender is approximately 65% to 75%.

It is also the most prevalent health issue for women in SA over asthma and breast cancer. And did you know sexual assaults are most likely to occur in 1. The home 2. In or around licensed premises and 3. in the workplace, in that order.

Taking these scary stats into mind and looking into research into this area in particular it would be suffice to say that boundary setting and learning assertiveness needs to come first and foremost- especially for women.

Being assertive and setting effective boundaries comes from believing in yourself.

The general consensus still seems to be these days that technical or “technique training” comes first as the number one focus in most self defence schools. This is strange as the psychological component of fighting and personal safety is without doubt the most important part. Attribute training is paramount-no attributes, no technique, simple.

Personal safety skills are most powerful when you believe in yourself. I have seen fighters with grueling physical and technical preparation months leading up to a tournament fight crumble on the “fight night” because of a lack of self belief, esteem and confidence.

When you believe in yourself you are more likely to trust in your sense of what’s going on, pay attention to your intuition and awareness, stand up for yourself, respect yours and others boundaries when you or others cross them, believe in your ability to verbally or physically defend yourself, receive and give more respect and most importantly give yourself an air of self confidence.

This “air” can make the difference between making you appear like a “hard” target or “soft” target and alone can deter potential attackers.

Fostering empowering beliefs

Any belief that you may have about yourself can either support and nurture you or be negative and destructive. If you have a strong belief in your self worth, you will act to give yourself positive experiences. Remember, negative thoughts have negative outcomes. In counseling it is often referred to “self talk” or “internal dialogue”. In some arts such as Yoga it can be as simple as a Mantra.

Most of our beliefs are conditioned from an early age. A belief is something that we have learned, a partial view or model of how we think things work. As such it can be changed-which is why many people seek martial arts or self defence as a path to finding this. Instead of sometimes seeing a counselor or therapist!

Many beliefs change as you grow older and hopefully wiser. What you may have believed as an adolescent will have changed in adulthood. You can direct the natural changing of beliefs so that they will enhance and enrich your life.

Some important beliefs to nurture are:

  • My self respect is worth standing up for
  • My values are worth standing up for
  • I deserve to be happy
  • I deserve to be safe
  • I have the ability to keep myself safe

When you believe in yourself and your worth you are far more prepared and determined, strong and clear in response and far less likely to accept that emotional and physical hurt are just factors in life that you have to tolerate.

This also means you will be confident overall in yourself and will therefore suppress the need to intimidate, threaten or bully others because of a need to prove yourself. It will also give you a broader definition of success- this means that you will only fight when you need to, instead of every time someone threatens your fragile ego you must challenge them in order to prove yourself.

Personal safety grows from these positive self beliefs because at the end of the day regardless of your physical ability if you don’t think that you are worth fighting for, then you won’t.

Personal safety starts from within.

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Reality Check #1

September 16th, 2010 — 6:11am

With spring finally here and summer on its way many people are thinking about getting into shape. And if you want to improve your life then it’s tempting to want to add more. One problem with this may be that you don’t really have the time or energy to do more. Time is a precious commodity to everyone. And so your efforts to improve may become short-lived.

I often ask people who are interested in training how important it is for them to reach their goals of health and fitness. I am always met with a resounding reply of how important it is to them. I often then may also ask on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most important) how important it is to them. For the most part I am met with a score that sits between 7 and 10.

Really? Why is it we all know we should move more, eat well and avoid things that are bad for us-yet we still do it? Is our health and fitness really a priority for us?  It’s that old cliché. Those that need it often don’t do it. Funny how that works isn’t it?

Adding more and more just creates more stress and anxiety. Removing clutter and activities, tasks and thoughts that are not important or healthy frees up time and energy for you to do more of what you really want and need to do. As the clutter in your outer world decreases the clutter in your inner world also has a tendency to decrease. This has the added benefit of making it easier to actually enjoy whatever you are doing even more while you are doing it.

Think of all the low priority things that you do that you could do less of, or drop completely. For example time wasted watching TV, social networking on Facebook, Twitter and alike, answering and reading unimportant emails or browsing on the web, answering unimportant phone calls and SMS and all the other “non urgent” and “non important things” that you may be doing currently (that coincidentally have you sitting on your backside). Then with this in mind replace them with your “urgent” and “important” priorities such as scheduling in daily time to plan, shop, cook and eat healthily and go to the gym or exercise and you may be surprised at the results.

I read an article in the recent Power by Pavel newsletter where Gray Cook of the FMS (functional movement screen) tells a hilarious story of a client who approached him and asked if it would be a good idea to add flax seed to his diet. “Go ahead”, Gray responded, “but you might want to quit drinking and smoking first.” Hoping a little added flax seed sprinkled over your Fruit Loops will change your health is probably a bit misguided. Your attention may be should be on what you need to strip away (in this situation it is smoking and drinking), not what you should add.

Adding more thoughts and thinking things over for the 100th time may create a sense of security and control. It’s also a good way to procrastinate and to avoid taking that leap you know you should take. And the more you think, the harder it gets to act. Perhaps because you want to keep that comforting sense of control and avoid the risk of being vulnerable and reaching outside your comfort zone. Funny enough, personal growth is often attained this way-by stepping outside your comfort zone and sometimes feeling uncomfortable.

Here are some time winning strategies that may help kick-start your mind and body spring clean!

  1. Organise
  2. Prioritize
  3. Plan your time
  4. Delegate
  5. Learn to say No!
  6. Avoid perfectionism
  7. Reduce procrastination
  8. Be flexible

Thinking has its place. It can help you plan a somewhat realistic route to your goal and help you avoid future pitfalls. Over thinking is however just a habit that will help you waste a lot of time. It may be more useful to replace that habit with the habit of just doing it. Sounds like a great slogan. Maybe a sporting company should think of using it 😀

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