More news and views from Results FAST: Foam Rolling, Social Media and Fitness Industry Professionalism.

1.Someone asked me about why everyone foam rolls at our gym. In summary here are the benefits:

Pre- workout: evidence currently suggests that there is an improvement in joint flexibility as well as no negative effect to performance (in comparison to just stretching which can see decrements).

Short-term (in session) recovery: evidence suggests foam rolling reduces the deterioration in jump based movements performance.

Long term recovery: Foam rolling seems to reduce muscle soreness and the ability to train more frequently.

Health: Foam rolling may reduce arterial stiffness and may be of benefit to arterial health.

For a more in depth review with research and stuff head over here for an excellent review by the guys at Strength and conditioning Research.com

Also here is a link to some of the soft tissue drills we work with.

2. Motivation and mindset “training.” Simply, if pictures on social media motivate you then we can’t help you (that is unless the picture is you). Photo shopped images with quotes written over the top are not motivating- if anything (on consulting our members) they are building up an image that is only relevant to the top 2% of exercisers). We were told by our website guy that we should post up to three times a day on social media- many businesses do this by sharing this type of content, we don’t as we believe what we share on-line is representative of our business. That’s why we only share credible articles by companies and individuals in-line with the same focus and ethics as Results FAST.

 

3. Leading on from the above…. Professionalism and the fitness industry. If you are going to try and sell us something at the gym be it a product, piece of equipment, workshop or course then please, please, please just say “We want you to buy our product.” This week I have had three conversations with people who were promising me a unique opportunity (in one case the product will probably stay pretty unique but that’s another story). One company posted straight to our Facebook business page- you could have called or e-mailed but no they basically spammed us. In the past couple of months we have been visited by trainers/ managers from other gyms- we know because our members used to train at your centres and they recognize you. If you want to come in and see how we work just ask- don’t go through a convoluted game of cat and mouse pretending you are interested in training with us, we would respect you more if you admitted “We want to see how well you do things” (because you wouldn’t bother coming in if you didn’t think we where that good:). Professionals share anyway- steal/ replicate if you can but you can’t replicate experience and a good education. On the positive side of things big shout out to a supplement rep though- they contacted us and asked if we would like to sample their product and then sent us basically enough protein, sports drinks, smoothies to sink a battle ship (I love free stuff). We might not buy their product but I will still respect their companies professionalism and the fact that there was no hard sell straight out from them.

A New Direction…. Among Other Things…

It’s been about three quarters of a year since I updated this blog. Reason being is simply I decided to take a bit of a rest from fitness and nutrition writing (put it this way- I have probably written 2 to 3 articles a week over the last ten years, not an issue if your main job is a writer or journalist- mine is not, it’s training people). The other reason I cut back on updates is that I wanted to have a bit of a rethink in the type of content I was sharing.

In the past I have written and ghost written some good articles/ books that I thought were legitimately strong in the sense that they were good solid content that people would use to enhance their fitness, training, performance, nutrition etc.

Other articles are what I term “click bait” or what you may recognise as another “7 reasons why you are fat/ not skinny/ are avoiding carbs.” This type of article is great from the point of view of attracting clicks but they are quite hollow in content. What I mean is they never really tell you the whole story or give any frame of reference of why this information is applicable to you.

One of my clients highlighted this the other day by asking me “Is dried mango good for me?” Now you could rephrase this in to 7 reasons why dried mango is good for you, indeed you could find 7 reasons that dried mango is “bad” for you. Now dried mango is not good or bad- what is important is the context that it can be good or bad in e.g. It depends upon what you eat every day and how much you train, exercise, move. Indeed writing an article on why mango is a “superfood” is a lot easier than explaining 7 reasons why mango consumption is context relevant. People generally want bite sized chunks of information backed up with a scientific reference- it could be a bad study, but it doesn’t matter because it’s all science right….. well no.

So that leads me to what this blog is changing in to. I am intending to make it more practical and application driven with more of a day to day view point of how we work with our clients at our gym Results FAST. What’s our average client? We don’t have one, we have no “niche” apart from sensible results driven programming backed by what we see as good science. We have a range of adult clients from 11 to 72 years old with the main aim of being strong, fit and healthy. Some manage joint injuries- chronic and acute, others are just trying to manage their lifestyles. We have a number of young athletes from swimming, tennis, football and rugby including county, regional, national and international level. We have clients who struggle with suitable nutrition, we have clients who are curious about any new diet or fad exercise (who we have to “try” and put straight). We generally train a better level of client who respect the training process as opposed to individuals who just chase “fatigue.” We have older athletes looking for smart programming to lengthen their careers. We have newbies and experienced lifters. What can I say everyone is on the training continuum in some way.

This blog aims to explain the programmes, the exercises, the processes and the work that we do with our Results FAST members. So quite simply any questions that you want us to field then ask and we will explain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons You Should Quit The Gym

I don’t normally post fitness business content but this piece highlights a few points for gym members and “fitness consumers.”

1. If you are a member of a gym, read their website. If the landing page informs you of what equipment they have in the gym then it’s time to quit. Why? There is a saying that facilities tell while services sell. If all they are doing is informing you what is in the place then how does this help you achieve your end goal. If they are not telling you how they can help you then you are paying an expensive equipment rental.

2. As a follow on to point one if the gym has an extensive range of TV channels, monitors, games, swimming pool, spa and saunas unfortunately they are trying to distract you from the thing that you go to the gym for. Don’t get me wrong music can be incredibly motivating and create a great training environment but watching the latest reality television series is only going to dampen your intensity while exercising. You don’t go to the gym for a distraction- you go to get fit, join a spa and stop kidding yourself that you are “training.”

3. If your primary source of information is from a trainer who has been working less than two years you are probably wasting your time. Controversial as I know that everyone has to make a start in the fitness industry and you can achieve a multitude of qualifications from certificates to degrees to start you off. The truth is most certifications are not relevant to actually performing the job. As with most professions personal training is learnt on the job.. There is an 80% drop out rate of employees in the fitness industry within 2 years of qualifications with poor pay being cited as one of the major reasons. The truth is it is a competitive industry, not a glorified hobby as some people think. Anyone who has made a success of a training business that I know has worked over 60+ hours a week for at least 5 years to get where they are. If you are working with a new trainer make sure that they are in a great learning environment and surrounded with experience- that way you can guarantee that you are getting the right advice.

4. If someone tries to sell you supplements that promise you weight loss you should quit that gym. But gyms sell weight loss supplements all of the time don’t they? There is healthy weight loss using sensible nutritional strategies then there are supplement based weight loss plans. Most of these products are poor quality soy protein mixed with a range of artificial ingredients. What’s more you don’t need a qualification in nutrition to sell these products. One of these meal replacement supplement company’s Herbalife are currently being investigated by The Federal Trade Commission for Multilevel Marketing which is technically illegal. Most people who push these products care more about earning money through commission then the benefits that they will bring you. If anyone suggests a supplement that is a meal replacement (therefore not actually supplemental to your normal diet) then you may want to seek alternative opinions about how to achieve your goals in a healthy fashion.

5. There is more cardio kit and weights machines than free weights. This isn’t a “hard core” statement. Simply the reason why big commercial gyms have lots of cardio kit and resistance machines is that they are low labour items to show their members what to do. Free weights necessitate explanations and examples meaning you need better educated fitness training teams compared to a machine that you either need to take a pin out of or press a button. I could talk about why there are more benefits of free weights but it’s not my job to convince you of that. What I am suggesting is that it is cheaper for a gym to provide less expertise.

Things I Learnt From 2013….

Every year I tend to way in with my opinion of a few things that we either do at Results FAST, have borrowed of other people and use at Results FAST or changes in approach to the way we work as professionals at the gym. These often can be translated in to many things whether it’s fitness industry related, business issues, down to nutrition and exercise tweaks we have put in place. So here goes this years run down:

1. Attitude is everything…. This crosses over to what goals you want to achieve, what new challenges you want to take on or in some cases just holding it together to make an omelette for breakfast everyday because eating a high protein breakfast is congruent to your goals. Life is tough sometimes but that doesn’t mean you let your health and fitness slide. Do you keep on getting ill? Are you looking to improve your health because of this? Are you overweight and want to lose weight? What are you doing to improve this situation is the question you should be asking. Your attitude then will define your actions. As a conversation point I now have morning omelettes down to 3 minutes 15 seconds….. so if someone says they have no time then there is your answer…. Can you spare 3 minutes 15 seconds!

2. Top post this year was on Glute Bridging– people simply must enjoy glute bridging! Bret Contreas would be happy!

3. People still love reading about trainers– this post is over a year old but still gets plenty of hits. The content for me still stands up for what is available in the current market and for the way we train clients at Results FAST.

4. Running your own business is the most fulfilling career move you can make if you dislike your current job. The fitness industry in no way rewards mediocrity- you have to be hard working to be successful. In all of the companies I have worked for there are some good guys who are going somewhere and there are people who watch the clock and punch in and out. There are good bosses and bad bosses. There are people who want to tell you what to do and people who want to help you (it’s not the same). When you are the head honcho I found it a weirdly cathartic experience. My expectations now have become my own limits. I wasn’t living up to someone else’s ideal or business practices which I no longer believed in. When you own your own business you have to have full engagement and a “buy in” with what you are doing and where you are going. It becomes your job to engage your clients and employees in that vision. That’s when your company grows… That’s also when you create what you can call a “brand” because it is more about what you do and how you act  and do it rather than what you say and what you tell other people to do.

5.  Language is important in your interpretation of peoples goals. Understanding that what people say occasionally has a hidden meaning and their use of phrases indicates where they see themselves in the world. My wife is a counselor with a major in psychology so I have only considered this when she became fully qualified and started analyzing my psychological make up (not quite Silence of the Lambs level but close). Getting a grip on understanding that if someone defines their place in the world by describing them self in a certain way does not highlight what is reality…. but it in turn is there reality. It means that your responses should not be about just what people say but understanding the sub text of their statements. For example, if someone describes themselves as a certain type of person e.g. happy, sad etc. then they are categorizing them self. It may not be true, we see it with body dismorhphia when guys see them self as small when they are large and women see them self as fat when they are a normal size. Understanding how people display this is important, as is your ability to discuss this with your clients. When someone redefines how they see themselves in the world it can make a major difference to their confidence, attitudes towards training and health as well as their whole personality and how they deal with change (which is what all fitness coaches deal with).

6. Yoga press ups are a great teaching exercise for progression to full press ups. I didn’t have time to shoot a video so the above is from Eric Cressey. We have used a lot of yoga press ups this year for two reasons. Firstly it creates controlled upward rotation of the scapular if performed properly which is great in exercising populations who’s shoulder blades may get fixed back and down. Secondly, a press up is a big torso exercise. If performed badly you will see dropped hips and a hyper extended back. Simply the yoga press up takes the tension out of the exercise at the hips high portion meaning that the elbows can be tucked on the decent portion of the movement and better overall form can be maintained.

7. Diets are for children and people looking for a cult to follow. Grow up and start thinking about nutrition like an adult. The reason that the human race colonized the planet was not that we had to only eat carrots on a Tuesday or that caveman represented our evolutionary peak for health. It’s because as humans we can survive under a broad range of nutritional intakes. Be it Eskimo, Sioux, Mayan, Viking, Hippie, Mod, Rockers etc. they all had variable diets and guess what pretty much all survived to pass their genetic line on to today. Some were better than others at this but it really had little to do with eating in the Zone. What do you need to survive. A bit of protein, some fat and ideally to keep you moving a bit of carb. Over do it on any of these and you find bad health. Eat healthily- you don’t need to remove food groups to do this. Detoxing and juice diets are sold to you- it’s not sustainable it’s not “healthy”. Eat fruit and vegetables and some lean protein at every meal, eat healthy options of fat, avoid overly processed food types. Is it that hard? My main point is not a discussion on the best diet but dealing with people as individuals is key to them understanding what healthy is. Ditch the diet attitude and aim for long term health.

8. Use bands to get your pull up numbers up. Everyone at Results FAST has had a crack at pull ups. We have had few niggly shoulders which need to avoid them but on the whole as long as the exercise is scaled back properly to the individual then most people can attempt them. we use a lot of band supported variations. When we started putting these exercises in during a strength phase of training for a lot of our new members the one reaction  they where not reacting was sore abs- most expected sore arms and shoulders but not the ab workout of a lifetime. Pull ups still stand up for us as a defining guide to upper body strength as well as a great developer for torso strength and can be utilized for both young and old.

9. Using a prowler is an awesome way of building lower body strength in individuals without them knowing. Simply said push a heavy object along the floor is the equivalent of performing barbell overhead walking lunges with a little more stability. The prowler is a great way to get people under load while making them think they are not weight training.  It’s also weird how many people enjoy this vomit inducing torture element!

grgrowler

So there you have it a round up of some of the more technical bits around how we work at Results FAST. This is my last post of the year as we head towards Christmas so I would like to thank all the supporters and regular readers of the information that we put out and look out for some exciting news of some of our new projects in the New Year. Have a good one!

The Tabata Lie

Tabata training is an example of how science has been used to skew a training protocol in to a weight loss regime- even though they are not related.  Tabatas are based upon a study where the participants performed a programme of high intensity/ low volume training peaking out at 170% of their VO2 Max. The original abstract is here for the science geeks. In summary, performing high intensity work over a six week period resulted in an improvement in maximal aerobic power and indicated that  intermittent high intensity training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supply systems. That would be okay if the study stayed in cycling highlighting that a short period of high intensity work can bring about improvements in your performance.

However this study has been bastardized in to main stream fitness and “rebranded” as a fat loss protocol. Fundamentally though if you are not working at 170% then you are not performing a tabata. You may be perfroming a set of hard exercise but it is not a tabata.

To explain this consider the original protocol. The Tabata protocol consisted of a 10 minute steady state warm up followed by 7-8 sets of 20 seconds at 170% VO2 Max with 10 seconds of rest between each set. They performed this 4 days a week and performed a slightly modifed version on the 5th day when they did 30 minutes of steady state work followed by 4 intervals.

The control group did 60 total minutes a day at 70% of VO2 Max 5 times a week.

The study was performed on a stationary bike and is an interesting, perhaps a landmark study, showing a clear improvement in performance with high intensity work over a short period of time (even though they did 70mins a week of steady state exercise).

The key for me though is to perform a tabata you have to be working at 170% of your VO2 Max. Simplified this is beyond the point that you can readily replace oxygen in your body. For trained athletes this is a vomit inducing intensity. Performing squats, lunges, burpees or any exercise under the pseudonym of a vaguely threatening animal will not illicit an effort similar to 170% of your VO2 Max. It will be hard, your last set may be tough, this is not 170% of your VO2 Max- instead it is a hard interval for 20 seconds. In essence it is like comparing a hill to Mount Everest- it’s not the same thing.

But welcome to world of fitness and nutrition where we can make things up and alter parameters.

Science doesn’t matter if it works right?

Tabata’s apparently burn more fat don’t they?

Well no.

Tabata’s were created as a performance enhancement tool. Will they enhance energy usage- well the study indicated enhancements in aerobic measures of power for the steady state group as well as improvements in aerobic and anaerobic measures of power in the Tabata group. What does this mean though? Well both groups improved performance. The Tabata group though enhanced their ability to work at a higher intensity. This study has no mention of fat or fuel utilization though inferences can be drawn from this. This indicates perhaps either (A) an increased in efficiency of energy utilization or (B) the ability to mobilize more energy to maintain a higher intensity. The assumption from the fat loss crowd would be option (B) and that is good enough for them- however (A) is just as likely.

Common sense dictates that if you work at a higher intensity for a longer time then you will consume more fuel (unless there is a saving in efficency) than someone working at a lower intensity. The key is this is related to performance and not body composition.

This leads to the re-entering of the Tabata protocol and different high intensity interval protocols last year popularized on the BBC by a Horizon documentary  This particular programme boasted a range of improvements in physical markers perhaps predominantly though an improvement in insulin sensitivity (if you are resistant to insulin you require larger amounts of insulin to metabolize carbohydrates which has been linked to a number of conditions such as elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure- also elevated insulin plays a role in fat storage importantly).

What was interesting though is that the general media took the message of Tabata and high intensity interval training on with headlines of “Fit In 3 minutes a Day.”

On the BBC Horizon programme, Timmons (part of the research team) told Mosley (the presenter) the problem with the current guidelines is they don’t take into account the variation in individual response to exercise, so there is no guarantee that following such a regime will actually give you the right results. The programme highlighted that the link between exercise and health is an individual thing.

But what does all the research highlight?

Very high intensity exercise elevates markers of performance. The question is a 6 week study is fine but in the long term do we see improvements. Well no- in fact other studies on high intensity work performance plateaus after 3 weeks.

It also enhances insulin sensitivity. It does not burn more body fat in preference to other methods of training but high intensity exercise can aid improvements in body composition by playing a role in managing fat storage or the body’s utilization of dietary carbohydrates.

This highlights that energy management is the key to fat loss as is fuel utilization (in essence what you put in to your body). A greater review is here remember though this encompasses all interval training and isn’t specifically Tabata style 20 second blasts. The role of interval training is well documented as a training aid but the key point is that Tabata’s are a specific type of interval.

If you are not working at 170% of your VO2 Max it isn’t a Tabata- if you have ever done it you will know.

 

 

The Three E’s Most Gyms Are Missing

At my gym we pride ourselves on a number of things that define us as being different from the competitors. While there are a range of different training styles, equipment and programmes when it comes to defining if a gym sinks or swims it can come down to three objective factors

1. Environment. Creating a “feel” is quite an objective thing to measure but one of the things at Results FAST that we are pleased with is the culture that has been defined by our membership. In the New Year 95% of our training membership trained more than once a week. This statistic would close most commercial facilities. Creating a culture and environment of commitment focused around achieving great things is not just for those who believe they are the nations next great Olympian. It can be something as simply as a pain free shoulder or maintaining a sensible nutrition plan for a week. All of these things feed in to what defines a great culture that our staff and members sign up to.

2. Expertise. The barrier to entrance in the fitness industry around the world is quite low compared to other trades. It means that it can be quite easy to “get certified” and call yourself a personal trainer.  80% of newly qualified trainers leave the industry inside 1 year but of the remaining 20% most will remain on a similar wage to the person who cleans the gym. With most gyms they will hire at the cheapest level to do the job (I mean what business wants to over pay their employees!). This is not going to attract expertise- give me one great, hard working trainer over three cheap trainers and i’ll show you the difference in expertise and the value it will provide. The definition of expertise in practice though may not necessarily mean book taught. Expertise can be through experience and time training people however your own education is a fluid process and if it stops so does your development. Never has there been more information available to people but still people don’t know what is a healthy diet.

3. Excellence. This supports the previous points. If you have a great gym culture environment of commitment to success and accountability for your own actions in line with focused training programmes which work you have made a dedication to the process of excellence.

All summed up- if you are going to do something, do it well and and at the best of your abilities.

Back to the Future… The Last 10 Years of the Fitness Industry

In this post I thought I would review the fitness industry’s evolution. Now from a historical standpoint I have been immersed in  fitness and nutrition for over a decade. With a background in both commercial fitness and small start ups and have a unique insight in to both ends of the market. As tradition dictates we tend to follow American trends in the UK- London first and the rest of the country a couple of years later.

Personal training was a lot smaller 10 years ago. In fact most gyms had one or two guys who pretty much had the run of the place. No competition ment a steady stream of clients. These are a lot of the guys who we see as industry leaders now. Make no mistake- these guys may not be the best technically, they got lucky and were on the boat first. The one’s still working are probably as smarter businessmen as they are trainers and they have had to adapt to a changing more educated customer as well as competition.

Around the year 2000 there was a big influence of rehab based training and the start of what is considered “functional” training. This led to a more cerebral product being sold to the consumer. Trainers no longer did bodybuilding programmes, they wanted to explore the inner workings of your torso, cardiovascular exercise became potentially fatal for your lower back and all of a sudden lying on your back became the new standing up as you try to activate your “inner unit.” This was a result of the synergy of physiotherapists becoming more involved in the training process post injury. Now, not to discredit the therapy fields, these approaches where designed for injured people by people who work with injured people. The kid glove approach would suit firstly those who needed it and secondly, those who didnt want to work that hard.

Pilates started to rise in popularity, this was great for the functional rehab guys. Clinical pilates remained true to it’s ideals- posture correction and the development of a strong mobile body. Pilates though started to morph in to what some will consider an expensive “abs” class. These group session promise all the ideals of pilates but cannot deliver the personalisation. As posture is a personal thing it leaves pilates as a contentious form of training between purists and commercial forces and a pack them high class mentality.

Also from a class perspective ten years ago salsa, yoga and step aerobics ruled the roost. In the present day Zumba get’s more press than anything else- these is effectively latin dance and is basically dance aerobics. Spinning, yoga, circuit training and combat based training such as boxercise are still popular- reason being that if done well they work for enhancing “conditioning.” It shows that if done well classes that get people the results that they want will be successful. It also shows that creating a social friendly and fun class builds adherence- regardless of the results (work out which one I am alluding to there- if you know me then you won’t need to guess).

The rise in Bootcamps is effectively the revival of circuit training. The reasons for this rise are also commercial- more for the trainer than anything else. With zero facility costs they are easy to setup and get going. Again these services can not be personalised for the individual and are a group exercise class. It will not make me popular in the fitness industry for saying this but this is fast food fitness to maximize profit for the trainer- most fitness “marketeers” even suggest rebranding these classes as “fitness camps.” A smart move perhaps… but if you put lipstick on a pig it’s still a pig. That said great trainers are great trainers and if the groups are small enough and inclusive for a range of fitness levels then they will continue to grow.

As personal training became more popular “functional” training became popular. Functional was a term used to represent training that translated to every day use. Vanity went out the window (perhaps for the first time) and training to help what you do every day became popular. I always think this is a bizarre concept it suggested that any other training was non-functional. Even to a point that cycling was non-functional unless you where a cyclist, running was non-functional, unless of course you where running a marathon and having big shoulders was non-functional… looked good but definetly non-functional.

This was aslo around the rise of sport specific training and the influence of training athletes. As a lot of training filters through from elite sport, if performance is hindered then people get sacked. Functional training in this sense now had to translate to direct improvements. Balancing, bosu boards and vibration plates grew in popularity, commercial health and fitness followed the craze. High end strength and conditioning though realised pretty quickly that this approach didn’t cut it. Old school methods individualized to the athlete worked, the smart guys assessed and took what they needed but barbells and dumbbells didn’t go away, commercial fitness though still has not caught up.

Athlete based training has started to shape commercial health and fitness. Why? It gets results simply, the customer is more demanding because they are more educated about methods of training and can demand perfection. Fitness professionals have become more widely read and in some cases better educated than they where 10 years ago- they two are not necessarily inclusive.

In the next post I will review where I think the next 10 years will take us…

Hertford and Ware’s Premier Gym and Fitness Training Facility

Do you want to look good, feel great and perform better?

Are you looking for a gym or personal trainer that get you great results?

Then Ian Mellis and the team at Results Fitness and Sports Training could help you. Results FAST is a gym and fitness training center with a unique and proven approach to helping you acheive your goals.

Dumbbells

With an emphasis on personalised programme design, a supportive and motivating training environment and focussed coaching to help you acheive your goals in a effective way making the most of your time an effort.

With over 30 group training sessions, personal training and personalized nutrition, sports massage, physiotherapy, focused strength and conditioning areas and a cutting edge results driven attitude to fitness Results FAST is a gym that will help you acheive your potential.

Punch Bag

Results FAST success has been featured in a number of national publications including Men’s Health, Glamour, Men’s Fitness, The Telegraph, Healthy Magazine and the Livestrong website among other national publications, please contact us for more information.

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