Tag Archives: healthy-living

Weight loss shows are sending the wrong message

25 Mar

Before I get on my soapbox and have a rant about why I think the weight loss and “transformation” shows are doing the wrong thing, I should probably first start out by admitting that I’ve become a bit of a “transformation show junkie”. Yeah, I know it’s probably not good for me to be sitting in front of the TV watching something that I know will end up annoying me before the credits roll, and yet I can’t help getting my little “reality TV” fix.

So the thing that triggered my urge to write about this topic came last night as I sat to watch the Biggest Loser (Australian edition), and I saw Michelle Bridges doing something that I feel was completely awful. Now before you think I’m simply going to be trying to tear Michelle down, I want it on the record that I admire her achievements and her commitment to her career. Even while I question how commercially focussed she appears to have become – and yes I know that the public view of famous people often doesn’t reflect their true nature, I still admire how well she has done and how focussed and committed she is.

So back to the story I’m trying to tell, where I saw Michelle trying to show a little tough love to a contestant. Now I don’t know if she’s turning up the intensity for the camera, or if she was simply having a bad day and getting frustrated with this particular contestant, but rather than showing him that she had his best interests at heart she instead came across as the worst sort of bully you could imagine. Her whole approach was aggressive rather than assertive, and she used insults instead of support or coercion. Naturally the contestant got angry, and I think that Michelle was lucky that this guy only left the room with a little foul language behind him!! Sure it makes good television – if you like that sort of thing, but what message does it give to the contestant and to the viewers who are watching the program? That the fat person can still be denigrated by the fit person even when that fit person is supposed to be helping and supportive? That it’s OK to be abusive towards the fat person simply because they don’t wish to do what you want them to? That personal trainers have some sort of right to insult their clients?

From my “armchair quarterback” position, I think that it wasn’t so good for Michelle to display what I believe is such a great degree of unprofessionalism, and such a lack of respect for someone who – competition or not – was at that moment her client. If I was show that video as my only view of what a personal trainer does, I wouldn’t want to hire one, or I wouldn’t want to hire the person who I saw behaving that way. Sorry Michelle, as great as I think you really are, I don’t think you are really helping either your client, or our industry in general when you behave that way, no matter how good it might be for the show or the ratings.

Which brings be to the other part of my rant, and the heart of the topic that I wanted to write about, and that is that these TV personality trainers have it in their power to do some real good in the world, and to really spread the message not only about how important it is to be healthy, but that it is also possible to undo the damage done by years of self-neglect, and the sad and truly silly thing about this is that these people are squandering this opportunity and allowing themselves to get sucked in to the commercialism of there TV shows, and I believe doing more harm than good with the mixed and often wrong signals that they send out to their adoring public.

Those mixed messages started even before any of these shows first aired. Yes, I’m saying they – The Biggest Loser people – got it wrong the moment someone first pitched the idea of having a variation on the Survivor style of reality TV program where you get a bunch of overweight people to compete in a situation where – from the public’s perspective – elimination ends your journey and with it the education that you need in order to do something that from the obese person’s perspective could literally save your life! It trivialises not only the journey that each of the contestants needs to take, but also the risks and reasons that have led the contestants to take part in the competition, and week to week, you get to see people who will get kicked off the show because they were unable to keep up with the others – regardless of whether it was due to physical difference, poor mental preparation, or sheer laziness. And they’re not just booted out of the show for coming last in a weekly competition, they get voted off by the very same people who are supposed to be a part of their support network during the show!

Even worse in my mind is that there is even a competition at all. You have a bunch of people who have come to a point in their lives as a result of hardship, depression, and self-loathing just to name a few of the reasons for their poor physical condition, and instead of building a supportive environment where they can be encouraged to learn and grow beyond the barriers they have had to getting healthier on their own, these people enter into a competition, where losing means they will not only not win the prize money at the end of the season, but that they will likely also not be anywhere near achieving any of their goals, nor likely to be any healthier or happier unless they are lucky enough to survive the competition long enough to make it reasonably close to the end.

Competition is great if you have the mental fortitude to deal with defeat, yet when you feel the whole world is against you and that a loss will just validate your own self-loathing, why would anyone risk subjecting you to the sort of pressures and behaviours that probably led you into such a negative mental state in the first place?!! Seriously, it’s disgraceful that these poor people are subjected to any of this, let alone the sort of unprofessional abuse which I described earlier. I really find it disgusting, and a part of me feels ashamed that in spite of all of this, I find myself drawn back time and again to watch with an almost morbid fascination as a group of people compete to be insulted, bullied, pushed and prodded for the amusement of the viewing audience, and the ratings of a television station.

There is one show that I have seen that seems to try to break the reality TV nightmare mould a bit, which is Chris Powell‘s Extreme Makeover. Instead of following a bunch of people for weeks on end, you get to see one person transform in each episode, which covers a year long journey. I have a lot of respect for what it is that Chris does, and for how his show generally comes across in trying to show a very difficult and personal journey with a great deal of decorum and sensitivity towards each individual that Chris helps. I like that you not only see the great successes, but that you also see the not so great successes, and even a few of the failures as well. It’s a little more real, more confronting for the viewer as well as the person being transformed, and I can’t recall seeing Chris behaving as anything other than professionally in the gym, and otherwise as a really nice human being, a mentor, and a friend when he is dealing with his clients at other times.

I wouldn’t be writing this however if I didn’t find something that doesn’t sit quite right with me, and this is one of those mixed messages that the other weight loss shows make an even greater deal about and where they fail quite spectacularly, and that is the correlation made between weight and health instead of dealing with the problem as one of fat vs health. These should not be weight loss shows, but should instead be Fat-loss shows. It isn’t weight that kills obese people. It isn’t weight that causes metabolic diseases and other life threatening complications. These problems are the result of poor dietary lifestyle, inactivity, stress, depression, and on top of all of that it’s ultimately due to an excess of body fat that obesity occurs.

So while I really love what Chris does with his show, the message is all wrong. We don’t need to be bullies as I’ve said earlier, but we also should not be so scared into political correctness that we can’t admit that it is fat that is the killer, that being fat is a big part of the problem for so many people, and that mental health is also something that needs to be addressed, and not this focus on how many units of weight you have gained or lost over time. To Chris’s credit however, and it is one of the reasons that I really like his show, he makes use of the scale, but doesn’t make the scale the focus of everything that his clients do. For that alone I’d admire his work, certainly a lot more than I do with that other show that I mentioned.

Another mixed message which comes from these shows, is that they make it seem as though you can only get the kind of help that these TV shows show from your famous weight-loss TV show celebrity, from personal trainers, or that you need to be obese before you can get that kind of extreme help or intervention. While I can’t claim to have ever reached the massive weights of those contestants and others shown on the TV, I do know that both the mental journey and the physical one have been very intense for me, and I am sure that there are millions of other people in the world battling similar demons of their own. The real help comes from the network of supportive people that you choose to surround yourself with, whether it’s family, friends, your local doctor, your psychologist, nutritionist, or even a bunch of people on-line who read your blog from time to time (Yes, that’s probably you the reader as well!!). Ordinary people with day to day problems sometimes need help too, and this help is available all around them, and shouldn’t require extremes in order to be dealt with.

Your personal trainer is one person out of many, and no matter how much I grow as a personal trainer, I hope that I never forget that I am only one of many people who are there to provide support for my clients. While my skills may be important in helping a person to travel their journey, and even while those skills may touch on other areas such as psychology, nutrition, and general health, I should always keep in mind that there are others better qualified to focus on such areas, and it will remain my job to provide my clients with assertive yet compassionate support, physical training, appropriate advice within my areas of expertise, and the  professionalism that that they deserve, with a direct and simple message minus all of the misdirection that they end up getting from the TV.

Life isn’t a competition, and your problems aren’t trivial or wrong just because someone else doesn’t understand or can’t relate to them. This is certainly  apart of the message that I am focussed on getting out there into the world, and so to is that we are all entitled to live healthy and happy lives. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is or what the reasons are for becoming unhealthy or unhappy. Help should always be available for those who need it, and no-one should learn to hate themselves just because they were unable to recognise their problems or for being ill-equipped to handle them.

If you want a better show, show a person’s journey from start to finish. Show how we can learn from our failures, celebrate our victories, and what sort of help systems there are in the world for those requiring more extreme forms of help. For Chriss Powell, I’d suggest that he follow up on those he felt he couldn’t help, and to see after a year or two whether those people were able to find other ways to overcome the physical and mental barriers that prevented them being successful in their journeys. Did they seek a support group, or counselling, or some other intervention process? Did it work? Did it help? Would these things make a difference to a person who tried to reboot their journey after they had learned a few more skills?

For all of those shows, change the message. Focus on health and fat management more, and less on competition and on having people turn on each other in order to win. Show us that everyone can be successful with a little love and support, and that everyone who has struggled with their health in life deserves another chance to be healthy again without the risk of bullying, abandonment, or showing that the entitlement of health only belongs to those who fight hardest for it, even though we must sometimes fight with ourselves in order to ensure we maintain our physical and mental health.

Let me tell you why I am a reformed Paleo & exercise guy

10 Mar

It was about 10 years ago when I found myself living in a very stressful period of my life. My work was tough and the company I worked for was new and unlikely to ever pay me what I thought I deserved, the demands of a new project manager were over the top and it was clear he didn’t have a clue about how to adequately manage a software development team, and of course because he was new he was “asserting” himself quite strongly to make his mark and secure his position within the company. I was starting to wonder if moving to the new job was a mistake, and to make matters worse, my home life offered me no respite because my wife at the time (now thankfully a long and nearly lost ex) was doing her best to fight over every little thing, where all I wanted to do was rest and spend time with my kids and to de-stress from a hard day at work, so in the end I actually believed that I was going to work in order to de-stress from my home situation instead!!

The thing about stress and in particular with long term stress is the effect it has on your metabolic processes. Your liver for example can start to play up, and you’ll see indicators of stress in your blood work, but that’s IF you can be bothered to see your doctor to get a blood test. For me though, the real kick in the guts at the time was less about liver function, and more about the news that I had very high levels of cholesterol, with a total count somewhere in the vicinity of 13 mmol/L where it would have been better to have seen it well below 5. At the time my dad (then aged 56) had recently undergone surgery to have a stent inserted into one of the arteries of his heart. His cholesterol was at a less unhealthy 8-9 at the time, so you can imagine my concern as a young 30-something faced with the possibility of things like angina, stents, coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, and all of those other nasty situations that can arise when your cholesterol is messed up!!

I made a lot of changes to my diet which mainly involved cutting out what I thought must be excesses of fatty red meats such as lamb and beef, I cut out all pork, and limited my intake of chicken. I read all of the ingredients on the oil bottles, and went for the least fat and trans fats in particular. A lot less effort was made to improve my exercise, and unfortunately I found my carb intake getting higher as I tried to replace all of the protein I was missing with other foods. Even so, by about this time in 2011 I had managed to slowly claw my total cholesterol down to a high yet less scary 6. While my HDL cholesterol was low, at 1.1, it was still considered acceptable, however my triglyceride was high at 2.2, and my LDL cholesterol was also high at 3.9.

There was a problem with this approach to food however. Lower protein with higher carbs meant that my weight started to grow out of control, and no amount of exercise seemed to prevent this. What made things worse was that the more I exercised, the more I found I needed to eat, and without a good source of protein I felt like I was hungry all of the time. I didn’t really understand how to exercise either, so the other problem that I had was that I kept getting recurring injuries in my back, knees, elbows, shoulders, and feet, and so I would find myself at rest more often, and physically active only when the injuries seemed to have resolved. So in short I got fat, but surely I should have been happy that my cholesterol was at a less dangerous high, right? Well… no. I was fat, uncomfortable with my own body and my body image, and it seems I was eating my way into malnutrition and what felt like starvation.

At about September of last year, my wife was browsing randomly at some on-line coupon site, and found a guy selling 6 weeks of his boot camp program for about $20 per person, and when she told me about it, I said to here that we should do it. I knew that I needed some help getting my fitness kick-started again, and perhaps this guy might be able to show me where I had gone wrong in my training. So Through November and a bit of December, we attended the boot camp. The workouts were hard, I was the oldest and fattest guy there for the first couple of weeks, and after that I was simply the oldest guy there. I was also the least fit person.

In my first session, I found that I couldn’t physically push myself to complete the exercise set out for us to do (I was in the easy group). I felt nauseated, but even pushing myself physically, willing myself to keep going no matter what, I reached a physical limitation early where I simply couldn’t move my muscles any further beyond the pain and the muscle shakes. By the end of the week, I had attended only 3 sessions, and I felt completely wasted. My back gave out on me, and I needed to rest it up for about a week because I didn’t understand at the time where the back pain was coming from and why, and yet a strange thing happened during the rest of the boot camp. Not only did I find myself getting stronger, I found myself wanting to do better.

I also started to learn more about recovery, and somehow my injuries started to slowly go away and my efforts at the boot camp became easier to handle. The only thing that was failing me was that I was still struggling with a really messed up diet, feeling hungry all the time, and craving things like biscuits and chocolate. It seemed that the harder I worked out the more of a sugar junkie I became, and the weight loss seemed to be a very slow thing given all of the physical activity I was getting. Cutting out all of the sweets and the better exercise did have a very positive effect, because for the first time in a long while my cholesterol levels dropped below 5. The problem however was that my HDL levels had fallen below the recommended minimum, while my LDL’s and Triglycerides still remained too high.

It felt so disheartening to see all of that effort only to find that my body chemistry was still a mess, I was always hungry, getting paranoid about food, and found trying to figure out how to exercise and eat such a complicated mess that it made me wonder both what it was that all of the leaner people knew that I didn’t, and whether there was enough time in the day for all of the exercise that it seemed I would need in order to become and maintain a leaner person. So I did what any modern day person does when searching for answers in life. I went seeking answers from that mighty “oracle” that we call the Internet!!

Cover of "The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and...

Cover via Amazon

At about mid December, I came across the idea of the palaeolithic diet. The webpage that mentioned Paleo was a little… to say “odd” is doing it a kindness… but for all it’s strange over the top new-age-ish evangelical vibe, it had a few statements that kind of flipped a switch in my brain. Something seemed a little odd, yet the root concept seemed to make a lot of sense. So I dug around, found out all I could about the Paleo diet, read Loren Cordain’s book, and by the end of December realised that I was going to try doing it. I’d give this Paleo lark a 30-day trial to see whether it lives up to the hype, and then see how it goes.

I’ve blogged several times about how well the Paleo diet has worked for me, but what I haven’t been able to show to you so far is some real science to back up the claims, and whether the stuff that I feel and that I now believe is real, or simply a lot of empty words on your computer screen. So I went to see my doctor and had a full blood work-up done. Samples were taken recently on the 1st of March, and I got the results back yesterday. Everything came back listed as Normal !!!

In only two months of an easy to managed healthy diet, and with a bare minimum of exercise, I have cured all of the abnormalities in my blood, apart from a slightly elevated bilirubin which is consistent with hereditary Gilbert’s Syndrome (which means my liver behaves funny but that’s normal for me and most people of Mediterranean descent). I also found out that my total cholesterol is now only 3.9, my LDLs are safely normal at 2.2, triglycerides are fractionally above the desired range at 1.6, and my HDLs are now right on the minimum at 1.0. So all of that effort I made to avoid animal fats according to the long-held knowledge that the medical community had been telling us really was the wrong thing to do and was very unhealthy for me. What I should have done instead was get rid of excess hidden sugars, eat those lean meats (including the red meats I had been avoiding) and ingest only healthy fats to get my cholesterol back on track.

I now feel confident that my cholesterol will be much healthier when I go in for a check-up at the beginning of next year. I am 100% convinced that I have proven that the Paleo/SANE approach to healthy diet is the best way to recover from health problems relating to diet and that it is also crucial to recovery after exercise. Yes, I know that I am only 1 person with one set of results and that this is hardly a peer-reviewed scientific study. Frankly I don’t care whether or not if you would draw the same conclusions that I have. I know what I feel, and what it has taken for me to reach this point. The reality is that I am the healthiest I have ever been, and I am getting healthier and stronger every single day.

I have a system that works, I can show the world how well it works, and I’ve been documenting my journey here to offer some empirical evidence that it works. It’s relatively straight forward and doesn’t require a herculean effort to achieve. So why aren’t more people doing this? Why is it that the world seems to be convinced that only Brand X supplements, Brand Y fitness tools, and Brand Z diet systems are the only way to go? I have a feeling that the problem is in the message of “eat healthy and exercise”. It’s just too glib, even if completely true, and has been said so many times that it’s now easy to ignore the underlying message. It really does seem too easy that you can deal with all of the cravings, eat as much as you want, exercise as much or as little as you want, and still be completely healthy. It goes against everything that the medical, pharmaceutical, diet, and fitness industries have been telling us for the last 20-30 years, and it just seems too good to be true.

The real issue though, is that a Paleo/SANE diet is sustainable activity. It’s not something that you need to work at. It doesn’t require special attention to “cheat days”, weighing and measuring food, counting calories, understanding the finer complexities of food labelling, abstinence, denial, obsession, or any other thing that makes the simple act of eating food so difficult to manage or understand in a modern world. Most people who go on a diet fail to achieve their goals, and most dietary changes where there are difficult to manage restrictions, and complex systems of measurement are abandoned as soon as a goal is reached. Inevitably most diet’s are fads that fail to deliver long term sustainable results, and make the dieter feel like a failure when goals aren’t reached when it is a failure of the dieting system itself that sees poor results and a high rate of abandonment.

Likewise exercise need not be overcomplicated, and should be able to be easily incorporated into the daily activities of your life. You don’t need to go to a gym and do an hour of cardio every other day to maintain your health and fitness, and you don’t need to attend every single fitness class, or to become an expert on the use of all of those complicated fitness machines. Do those things because they interest you, or because you want to, but not because you feel like you are supposed to. Instead, move some furniture, do some gardening, paint a fence or a house, chase the kids/dog around the park, go for a hike and climb over a boulder just for the hell of it. Everyday activities that will keep you fit and will match the effort you are making in the kitchen.

So why am I a reformed Paleo and exercise guy? Because it’s simple to do, and it’s easy to sustain as a lifestyle rather than as a task. Perhaps most importantly however is that compared to everything else that I have tried over the years, its because I KNOW that this works, and I now have a healthy body to prove it.

CrossFit… What the hell is it?!!

22 Feb

The first time I heard about CrossFit was through a random hit on a website about 3 months ago. Yes I know that makes me kind of late to the party, but given I really only started to take a serious interest in health and fitness only about 3 months ago, it’s hardly a surprise that I only started learning about all of these different workout and training styles at around the same time as I started to get serious about my health.

I’ve read quite a few flowery descriptions about the benefits of CrossFit, and all sorts of wishy-washy fine-sounding stuff about goals, commitment, and better life preparation and all sorts of other almost religious sounding stuff. It took me a while to filter out the noise that CrossFit really isn’t in order to distil it down to a couple of facts about what it is that CrossFit really is.

So what is it?

Ultimately it is a fitness company that provides a strength and conditioning program that presents a very wide variety of movements in short, high intensity workouts which are typically between 10 and 20 minutes in length. The combined movements are highly varied and target broad functional movement with an aim to improve general fitness across a broad variety of domains.

What it isn’t

CrossFit is not a replacement for specialised training programs. It is perhaps more of a complimentary system of training designed to be scalable and broadly applicable. The CrossFit company states on it’s website that it’s speciality is not specializing, and that CrossFitters are encouraged to pursue other sports and activities. CrossFit is also not the only way to train and condition effectively, and it is really up to each individual to decide for themselves which particular training approach will be most beneficial for them.

Stuff I kind of dislike about CrossFit:

  • Acronyms!!! Geez, and I thought that the IT and banking industry was bad for “acronym abuse”. I counted 49 acronyms listed in the CrossFit FAQ, and I was reading through them I had to stop and recheck the list because of the prolific usages of acronyms within the acronym section itself!! And seriously, if there is one sure fire way to have me forget what something is, it’s to give it a name or a a snappy acronym… and I can count it as a personal victory that I actually remember the name “CrossFit”!. Yes, it’s true that I’m more of a visual kind of learner!
  • The Initial Impressions you get if you just look at CrossFit on the surface:
    • There appears to be lots of special equipment needed.
    • It seems to place a large emphasis on being competitive.
    • It seems a little hard to find information about how to do CrossFit without needing to join an expensive CrossFit gym or buy expensive equipment.
    • CrossFit memberships seem to be almost prohibitively expensive, especially when compared to other gym memberships.
    • It seems very non-specific in that it doesn’t seem to target a particular sport or fitness category.
    • It seems to be very difficult to get into, and the workouts seem to be really tough.
    • Many CrossFitters seem to think that there isn’t a better way to keep fit… that my [insert fitness activity here] is somehow inferior.

Initial impressions can be a kind of make or break thing for many people, and particularly those who are new to fitness or at the beginning of a transformitive health and fitness journey. While it seems that there is a lot that I don’t like about CrossFit, it turns out that most of these dislikes are really just a case of noobism which I’ll address with my own counterarguments in the next section. I guess the point that I’m trying to make though is that these surface impressions can create a very false view of a sport and training paradigm which I think kind of suffers for the initial image that it seems to project, but which in reality is much better that a cursory view would give it credit for.

Stuff that I really like about CrossFit

  • No crunches. Seriously, the crunch is such a silly exercise. It’s more likely to aggravate back problems by not fully and actively engaging the Tranversus Abdominus, and can be easily replaced with literally dozens of other compound movements which will not only work the outer abs, but will also engage the inner core muscles as well as working other connect parts of the body.
  • The competitive side of CrossFit is really all about competing with yourself, and giving yourself a measure of how well you have improved by giving you goals to achieve in the form of personal best times to beat. Yes, there are also CrossFit competitions for the elite few who are ridiculously athletic and fit, but for the rest of us who want to get serious about our fitness, setting your next goal as simply beating your last score is not only setting sensible realistic goals, it’s also a great personal achievement to beat your best time after you have been training hard to do it.
  • CrossFit really embraces the HIIT concept. As with Tabata/HIIT, CrossFit encourages you to work as hard as you possibly can. Harder and faster with perfect form means you are leaving nothing in the tank for later on, giving it your all to beat a personal best time or count.
  • CrossFitters seem to be a pretty tough group of people, and yet they are very supportive as well. You won’t find any posers in a CrossFit gym, and you’re more likely to be encouraged to do your best, guided to improve in everything that you do, and you’re more likley to get a helping hand from a group of CrossFit strangers than you would in a regular gym.
  • While I can’t help but think that the website kind of sucks a little, and the information contained at http://www.crossfit.com is kind of hard to locate at first glance, perservere with it, dig around, and you’ll find a treasure trove of information at your fingertips, including articles, exercise descriptions, workouts, and lots of text and video explaining everything that you really need to know about how to do each exercise, and all about the CrossFit sport itself. It takes a little getting used to, and yet like all good things in life, it’s only of any value to you if you’ve had to work at it. If you don’t have the will to learn about CrossFit, you’ll need to be asking yourself if you’ll have the will to do it at all.
  • There are many specialized pieces of training equipment that can be beneficial, yet it isn’t the equipment that makes a CrossFit program effective, but rather the effective use of the equipment you may have at hand, and understanding how to apply the use of such equipment to effect a highly intensive and functional program that will deliver the greatest result in terms of training and conditioning.
    • What is really nice however about the equipment used, is that it is simple, and requires no need to stock a gym with expensive single purpose weight contraptions.
    • The most interesting equipment in my mind is the frame with which a CrossFitter may perform a wide variety of functional bodyweight movements, and which may also be used to lift and release or squat with weights in a safe and controlled manner. While not strictly necessary, a simple box frame offers great versatility and takes up a minimal amount of space in a gym.
    • Even without all of the nice equipment however, a CrossFit program is still very doable with only the human body as its own training tool.
  • By being very unspecialised, CrossFit perhaps shows its greatest strength as a complimentary training regimen that can be used to supplement other programs, or can even provide a good framework on which to build a more specialized program if so desired.
  • Die-hard evangelists are found in every sporting situation, and there are always a very loud opinionated few who will tell you why their way is better than anything else. Most people however aren’t like this, and when you ignore the more vocal nonsense talkers in the Internet forums and actually meet CrossFitters face to face, you’ll find in reality that the CrossFit community is very supportive.
  • Memberships are unfortunately very expensive. Remember that CrossFit is a business as well as a community, and the Personal Trainers need to earn a living. The thing is that there is nothing about the CrossFit program that is hidden from the public eye. While you might not have the benefit of a trainer without a gym membership, the program itself is open freely to all via the CrossFit website, and you really can do it on your own if you have the drive and the dedication to push yourself hard enough.
  • CrossFit embraces the Paleo nutritional lifestyle.

My Friday Workout

In honour of this article, I decided that my Friday workout would be a slightly modified CrossFit WOD (that’s a workout of the day) that I found on Friday the 13th this year at the No Excuse Daily Fitness. This WOD calls for pullups, which I am unable to do as yet, so I substituted Lat Pulldowns using my heaviest resistance bands at a nearly maximal stretch. So the workout was:

  • 100 x Squat
  • 75 x Sit-up (that’s full sit-up, not those sissy time wasting crunches)
  • 50 x Walking Lunge
  • 25 x Lat pull-down
  • One complete set against the clock

It was harder than I thought it would be to do very quickly without resting. I had a couple of painful pauses along the way, and it took me 10 minutes 14 seconds to complete. I’ll repeat this again in the future, and I know that next time I will be able to do this WOD without pauses and that I will be able to complete it more quickly.

A few final thoughts

On the whole, I’m very impressed with what CrossFit has to offer to a Personal Trainer’s bag of tricks, and to the participants who train under such an intensive and rigorous program. I find the workouts are hard, and draining, yet also invigorating, particularly when you are measuring your performance and hitting a new personal best. While I can’t say as yet if I’m convinced that this would be an appropriate program to provide to all of my future clients, I can say for certain that it will be something that I will be using regularly both personally and as needed professionally once I am a qualified PT.

Imagine digging a ditch, shovelling dirt into a wheelbarrow and moving the dirt elsewhere. All of this requires repetitive functional movements of the sort that are very compatible with the CrossFit paradigm, so when viewed in this light I can see what CrossFitters mean when they say that CrossFit has the ability to better prepare you both physically and mentally for anything that you might need to deal with in other areas of your life.

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