Tag Archives: Fitness

I’m back, and I survived!

1 Jun

It has been an extraordinary journey over the last 9 weeks. My face to face study time has finally reached it’s end, and with the exception of completing some written assessment tasks, I have made it through my training to qualify as a Personal Trainer! While there has been a lot of pressure and stress, there has also been a lot more in the way of fun and learning, and I have had the pleasure of meeting, studying with and working with some really amazing human beings, who I will count not only as colleagues, but also as friends.

Each person that I worked with was unique and wonderful, and each also taught me a little more about myself.  From one of these new friends I learned a lot more about how inner strength and fitness are intertwined, and how believing in yourself can really make a difference with how you face and ultimately overcome the adversities that cross your path from time to time. This person also pointed me to a really great quotation by Socrates:

“It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

Those of you who know what it is to have been in a place in life where you don’t enjoy a great physical quality of life will probably find that this quote really resonates with you. I know that it does for me personally from my own experiences, and yet it also resonates in terms of my experiences during my course.

One of the great joys I have is when I teach someone something and I can see an improvement in their knowledge or skill. This was something I really got a kick out of when I used to be a kids soccer coach, and in the years since I had almost forgotten what it felt like. Those “feel good” vibes came back quite strongly during my PT course when I spotted some problems in a basic movement pattern with one of my colleagues, and I was able to use my newly learned skills to correct the movement pattern. Not only did I feel really pleased to have done something that helps someone else, I could also see with my own eyes what it is that Socrates was banging on about when he made is quote. There really is great beauty in watching a body move efficiently, and yet for the person who is moving efficiently there is also this delight that appears on that person’s face, and a sense of satisfaction when they realise that they can do something that they weren’t necessarily aware they were already capable of.

When we feel that our bodies are letting us down, it can be easy to convince ourselves that we can’t do something. We can convince ourselves that failure is inevitable, or that it will take a long time and incredible effort in order to overcome whatever obstacles prevent the thing from being achieved. In some cases this may actually be true, however for many this can simply be because they don’t really know how to move their bodies efficiently, and a few simple corrections to posture and technique can reap huge rewards in a very short time.  For myself, I have never been able to do something as straightforward as a chin-up, which has admittedly affected my enjoyment when I am rock-climbing because certain movement patterns will tire me very quickly. So imagine my delight when I completed my first ever chin-up only a few weeks ago, and how now within only a few weeks of training I can now do 3 in a row!!

I saw something similar in others, where a weight was difficult to lift or a movement difficult to do, and when I corrected their posture and movement they were able to comment that yes they felt I had worked them hard, and yet the work itself became easier after the corrections. In a couple of people, their obstacles were less physical and more in the way of mental barriers. One person in particular kept telling me “I won’t be able to do…” certain things, and yet with a little mental coaching and encouragement, this person found the motivation within to persevere and apply the inner strength required to break the mental barrier and achieve more than she thought she would be able to do. I felt great pride in this person for her achievement, and so pleased that I had the ability in that moment to coach her past her blocks. Even better though was the “payback” when it was her turn to train me, and she pushed me harder than I might otherwise have worked myself. Karma may be a bitch, but it can also be incredibly fulfilling on both sides.

I’ll admit that I had some doubts when I entered the course that I might not have the ability to succeed as a personal trainer, and when the stress started to rise, those doubts began to talk louder in my brain. Now at the end of my training, I’ve realised that those doubts were some of my own mental barriers that I hadn’t realised I would need to face. I feel very pleased to be able to say that I’m hungrier than ever for this new career I have chosen. I know that I will be a great PT because I love helping others to achieve, and because I really do believe that it would be the greatest shame if my future clients could not enjoy the beauty of their bodies which they have an inherent right to achieve.

So what’s next? Well, the good news is that I have a job to go to. I’ve been asked by the PT Director of a local gym to attend their staff induction, and within the next couple of weeks I’ll be working for myself as a contractor and personal trainer in a place that is less than a 20 minute drive from where I live. I’m finishing off my assessments so that I can officially receive my certificates, which I will need in order to get my fitness industry registration and insurance, and I am rapidly creating the processes and products that I will need to start running my own small business in Fitness and Personal Training.

Yes… this shit just got real people!!

I am really excited about getting myself out there helping others to grow, achieve their goals, and fulfil some of their dreams. In doing so, I’ll be achieving a few of my own as well. 🙂

Finally, to those of you special people who have been following my blog and my journey, and who’s lives have touched mine, I’m so glad to be back!!  I’ll be allocating blog time so that my own physical fitness journey – which is far from over – will continue to be a feature here. I’m looking forward to catching up with all of you very soon to see how you’ve been going and to reconnect after being away for so long.

Study update…

14 Apr

Well, that officially takes care of my second week as a Personal Training Student. I’d forgotten how much fun learning can be, particularly when it’s subject matter that interests me. Here’s the thing though… the more deeply I dig into fitness and bio-mechanics, and all that basic anatomy that they’ve been drilling into me over the last two weeks, the more I can’t help but be in awe at the sheer complexity, and the beauty, and the incredible efficiency of the human body. Yes, sure, there are several “design flaws” with regards to the way the body is put together, particularly this crazy stuff to do with female plumbing and confusion surrounding the placement of both the waste and pleasure bits, and yet if I had the ability to create an efficient biological machine, I would be hard pressed to do nearly as well, and I’d like to think that I’m a pretty smart guy when it comes to understanding such things.

The course itself has been well thought out, and even with some of the teething problems that the provider has been having with some of their on-line content (which is new and appears largely untested), it doesn’t take anything away from the content, the pacing, and the approach to drumming all of this knowledge into the minds of a very broad student audience. I’ve met lots of really wonderful people on this course, and I feel a basic connection with each and every person I am studying with, which is really saying something for someone like myself who spent many years in my youth finding it difficult to connect with almost anyone. Each person brings unique experiences and perspectives to the group as a whole, and I’ve been feeling that it’s a privilege to be able to get to know each and every one of them.

Studying this course has reinvigorated my urge to train regularly, and while it’s been hard to get the extra time, I’ve been finding a way to do it. Yesterday I managed to go for a 6.1km run with my youngest son, and I’ve even squeezed in a couple of sessions in the gym where my studies take place. It’s a good thing too, because the extra exercise will be needed to burn off the extra calories I’ve been consuming ever since my parents-in-law arrived.

Yes, my mother-in-law is a great cook, and she loves to bake. It’s a blessing and a curse both, because her cooking is extremely tasty, and I can’t say no to her, in part because I don’t wish to discourage or insult her, and in part because my resolve to eat healthier and more Paleo is weakened every time I enter the house and see something new and tempting. The good news however is that the prior 3 months of Paleo and lifestyle changing has been great preparation for my in-laws visit, and I’ve been able to find a workable compromise between eating healthy and enjoying a few naughty treats, without completely backsliding into my old habits. This has been a really big thing for me, and shows me just how far I’ve come on my health and fitness journey.

Somehow, I’ve managed over this past week to spend time with my boys, spend time with my wife and her parents, drive everyone about from place to place as needed, and still make the time to study and attend lectures. I’ve grown beyond feeling the need to make excuses about all of the stuff that I allowed to slide, putting aside stress, and simply getting on with stuff as best as I can. it really has been about not sweating all of the small stuff that causes people so much personal anguish and stress, and while the hectic schedule has been difficult, I feel as if I’ve been making the most out of every moment of each day over the past few weeks. It’s like I’ve reached a real turning point where my personal growth gets to accelerate daily and doesn’t seem to look as though it will be slowing down any time soon.

While I’ve been enjoying the education, I’m starting to really champ at the bit for the day when I can finally be turned loose and go out on my own as a PT. I’ll probably look for regular work as a PT or an instructor at a gym or two to start with, while I begin to build a business around this new career that I have chosen. I have a ton of ideas about how to really get the most out of my training, and I can see a huge untapped market out there just waiting for me to not only earn a dollar or two, but to also find lots of people who could really benefit from a little training/ coaching who might otherwise be unable to access (or be unaware of ) the opportunity to have a personal trainer helping them to achieve their health/fitness/life goals.

I’ve been feeling really encouraged by everything that has happened to me over the last few months, and yes I’m even including all of the “bad” stuff. I really feel as if this is my year, and that I’m on the verge of some really great things happening. It’s as if I were a fish that had finally learned to swim with the tide instead of against it, and things just seem to be getting easier and easier. I’m sure there’s a clever psychological explanation for how I’m feeling, but regardless, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and enjoying a period of fulfilment in my life that I’ve felt has been long overdue. Every moment ahead – good or bad – is an opportunity just waiting to be taken, and I intend to be there, ready and waiting to do so. This is perhaps and example I can show to others of how powerful positive thinking has been for me, and how far it can carry you if you allow yourself to be open to it.

And yet, my enjoyment of everything that has happened to me lately would not feel so complete if it wasn’t for all of the positive feedback I have received from those of you who have been reading my blog, and for all of you bloggers who I have been reading who have also been turning your lives around. You have all encouraged me to be stronger, not just for myself, but for you also, and you have all been a source of strength for me whenever I have felt my spirits flagging. This wonderful and supportive community has been a great gift when I have needed it, and I hope that you feel that I’ve been keeping up my end and have been able to encourage you also, in my own way.

All my latest news

6 Apr

Well, I’ve clearly been a little slow to get on-line and update this blog these past few weeks. It’s been about a week since my last post and I’ve been so busy that I’ve not made the time, thinking that I’ve got other “more important” issues to deal with. This is really the sort of thinking that I want to cure myself of, because it can be so easy to lie to yourself about the priorities in your life, which can then make it easier for you to allow your priorities to slide and make it even harder to reach your goals. So I guess you could say that it’s one of my goals to remove this pattern of thinking which more often than not results in the creation of barriers between me and my goals.

Blogging has become a bit of a priority for me, even if it is only a minor one compared to some of the other really big goals in my life, and yet it is also a fairly large priority for me to update my blog, because through this blog I have found myself connecting with a large number of people in a very real and meaningful way. It is a big part of the career I have chosen to follow, and the job that I wish to do, so rather than seeing the blog as a chore that I need to do, I now see it as a task that I want to do in order to show others the person who I wish to be, and to show those people who I connect with that their needs are also important to me. I hope this serves to make me a better personal trainer in the longer term, as well as providing me with an outlet for all of those thoughts that I have that I feel so compelled to share with others.

I’ve also needed to push myself to do lots of things that I’d prefer to do “later” instead of doing all of the things that I’d prefer to do “now”, and using this as an excuse for a little introspection and critical thinking I’ve realised that even though I’d like to think that I’m all enlightened and can push myself harder than I expect some of my future clients will, I am still susceptible to the same negative barriers that others create for themselves when approaching something that they don’t really want to do, even though they know that they probably need to. It all goes back to all of that mindfulness stuff that I’ve written about in the last few posts, and developing a bit of self awareness in order to overcome those barriers that we create for ourselves.

Now with all of that said, I really do need to cut my blogging time short today because it so happens that there really is a short term priority that needs my attention. My wife’s parents have recently arrived from Russia, and I’ve been out and about acting as the family chef, chauffeur, photographer, and general “dog’s body” as required. I’m not complaining though, because it’s been a lot of fun having them here so far, even though my life has suddenly become incredibly hectic. The parents-in-law don’t speak a word of English, and I’m only able to use enough basic Russian to ensure I can travel from one side of the Russian interior to the other, just so long as I don’t need to ask for more than a ticket (билет – “bilyet”), a taxi (такси – “taksee”), train (поезд – “poesd”) or airplane (самолет – “samolyot”) , or where the local pharmacy (аптека  – “aptyeka”) is!  Basically I’ve not enough Russian to hold a conversation, so there’s been a lot of pointing, waving, smiling, and on the part of my lovely wife, translating!!

In other news, the reboot of my personal training studies began last Tuesday and I am WAY too excited about my studies at the moment. So much so that I’ve been finding it hard to focus on nearly anything else. This has led to some rather funny moments between my wife and I, as I hug her and start to name the various bits that I’m squeezing at the time. I recently quipped in class that with all of the anatomy we are needing to study, we’ve now found ways to make comments about the appearance of someone’s ass without it sounding too insulting. The studying is really intense. We’ve already finished the first of 9 weeks. In another 3 weeks I’ll be qualified to work as a gym instructor, and 5 weeks later I’ll be a personal trainer. This is one of the big goals that I set for myself late last year, and it feels so exciting to not only be firmly on my way, but also that I will achieve one of the big goals after having completed so many of the other little goals that I needed to complete in order to get here.

As for the course itself, I’ve having a blast! It’s been very hands on and practical, even though there is still a lot of time sitting in lectures and doing written “homework”. There appears to be almost 50% of our studies as being practical and in the actual gym, which has been really great and has helped to put the stuff we’ve learned in the lectures into perspective, and cement some of the concepts and terminology into our brains. I’ve always loved to learn new things, but this has been much better than I had hoped. Learning technique and learning to critically analyse others as they exercise is a very big part of what we’ve been learning, and getting to put this stuff into practice ourselves has not only been great from a learning perspective, it’s also helped me to improve the benefits that I get from my own workouts.

As an example, I’ve always struggled to do a pull-up (aka chin-up), even when using the easiest grip on the pull-up bar. So it turns out that it wasn’t a complete lack of upper body strength that had defeated me, but the lack of technique. I hadn’t realised just how important it was to maintain a firm core and to visualise pulling through my elbows. The great news was that I did my first pull-up, and it felt so easy!!  I then went to do a second one, and I failed mightily as I lost my concentration and let my core relax and forgot to visualise my movement! I’ll chalk that up to being so elated that I had for the first time ever done a complete pull-up! 😛

The down-side of all of this studying (on top of having house guests) is that my blogging time is now seriously curtailed. I’ve been told that these first 4 weeks are the hardest, and that the last half of the course will be easier to manage. I really hope so, because I hate the thought that I might be letting down those of you who have come to expect and enjoy some of the stuff that I write to be a regular thing. Blogging here and continuing to write about my personal journey is still very important to me, yet the reality is that I need to make time for all of the other stuff that is going on in my life at the moment. My in-laws will be leaving in another couple of weeks, and my workload may or may not decrease shortly after that. Somehow I’ll find a way to keep writing, even if for the next few weeks it’s at irregular intervals.

Anyhoo, enough about my news and all of that. I’ve not done any measurements this month, or testing, and I didn’t get around to taking progress photos. I’ll commit to doing all of that once my days become a little less busy. In the mean time, I’m back on track diet-wise, and even though my workouts have been limited to the stuff I do in class, while it’s not been ideal or complete, it’s been keeping me active and causing just enough muscle soreness that I feel confident I’m getting a benefit… and it’s certainly better than I did in March!

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