Why I Do My Job


Nothing makes me happier as a personal trainer than seeing a client make progress. The most meaningful progress can’t be neatly summed up with a before-and-after pic on social media. The most meaningful progress from my perspective is an improvement in quality of life. Today I was privileged to witness a long-term client able to push herself to near-failure on the lat pull-down machine. This is significant because, in the space of a few months, she has gone from being in constant pain due to muscular dysfunction in her upper traps and exercising purely to rehabilitate this dysfunction, to being able to explore the limits of her strength with functional, integrated muscle recruitment. In simple terms, it means no more sleepless nights with headaches and back pain, not needing to see a physio multiple times a week, and being able to consider exercise goals beyond pain management.

Moments like these are the reason I do my job.

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Staying Hydrated

Something that I have had trouble with in the past has been staying hydrated when my training load has been heavy. Sometimes it can literally feel like if you’re not training, you’re showering, sleeping or trying to fit enough food in your stomach to fuel your next session, and amidst all of this is can be surprisingly easy to neglect to drink enough. Couple this with a failure to replenish the electrolytes that allow your body to actually retain the water that you drink and fairly soon you’re dealing with dry skin and eyes, muscle cramps, headaches and reduced performance.

My training load today was quite heavy, but I managed to avoid these side-effects of dehydration by:

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How Yoga Has Helped Me


For the last month and a half, I have been doing a lot of yoga. I’ve found yoga valuable in the past. For instance, when I was just beginning to recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, yoga was one of the first forms of exercise that I was able to attempt. I could do it at home, stop any time, didn’t need any assistance, and there was no risk of becoming stranded as a result of fatigue – which could have happened at that stage had a gone for a walk on my own and become too tired to make it back.

It’s quite amazing to think of how weak I had become as a result of being debilitated by CFS. Things like chair pose, high lunges or cobras which I now perform easily as part of an active recovery really tested my muscular strength and endurance back then.

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Jiu Jitsu Adventures at Bull and Tiger Grappling: Evolving Beyond My Comfort Zone

On Wednesday night , I did something out-of-character and registered at the last-minute for a BJJ competition that I literally found out about mid-roll that day. I’m a creature of habit when it comes to pre-comp and pre-fight preparation and routine. Although there are many people who take a relatively casual attitude towards BJJ competition preparation, I usually treat mine like a fight-camp and make it the sole focus of my training.

At Bull and Tiger Grappling Comp, Singapore
At Bull and Tiger Grappling Comp, Singapore

But ever since I first put on a gi in 2011 and started thinking about MMA, I have wanted to fight in Singapore. A last-minute BJJ comp is hardly a fight, but it seemed serendipitous – as if the Universe was posing me a question that I needed to answer.

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Your Workout is only as Good as your Recovery; Your Skills Training may only be as Good as Your Sleep

The above is a recording of a short lecture by Biomedical doctor, sleep specialist and former Navy SEAL Dr Kirk Parsley.

We’ve all been lectured before about the importance of sleep, but there are some alarming statistics included in Dr Parsley’s short speech. Adequate and good-quality sleep is essential for a range of optimal functions including maintaining healthy hormone levels (and that directly impacts on libido, sexual function and fertility), healthy body composition, insulin sensitivity and the consolidation of learned motor skills.

That last part has particular relevance to any athlete, elite or recreational. What it means is that you need good quality sleep – and enough of it – in order to let your brain rehearse new movements that you’ve learned during the day so that it can consolidate them into long-term memory – what we normally refer to as “muscle memory.” So if you routinely sacrifice sleep as a time-management strategy, you’re literally robbing yourself of a lot of the gains in motor skills that you’re trying to gain during practice.

The Fortnight That Was: Gi Problems, Weight-Cutting, and The Gout Strikes Back

Hot cacao-and-almond-milk after a walk by the riverI’ve just gotten back from a long, slow walk. This rather unexciting circumstance has been brought about by a flare-up of Gout. It’s one of the most ridiculous things that I have to tell people – that I, a thirty-year-old, non-drinking, non-smoking female athlete have Rich Man’s Disease, but without the patriarchal or financial privilege that is supposed to predispose one to it!

I first became aware that I had gout when, on a Saturday night in 2012, when working as a gaming manager after a day of BJJ training and MMA sparring, I started to feel a little pain in my ankle. Within half an hour, the pain had escalated to the point where it was completely debilitating and even the touch of an ice-pack on my foot was excruciating.

I was taken to hospital, in my black work dress make-up and other non-sporting accessories, where I had to explain all of the bruises on my legs and how my ankle couldn’t possibly just be broken, because I had fractured, sprained, broken, torn and crushed many things before with not even half the amount of pain I was in now.

I was given anti-inflammatories, which were surprisingly effective, and a diagnosis of Gout. I remember laughing when I heard it; I thought the young intern was trying to lighten the mood. But no, really, at the age of 27 I had developed Gout.

I went on to discover that it’s not unheard of in athletes. A diet rich in purines and alcohol is only one cause of the build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints which cause this intensely painful condition.

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What Do You Really Mean When You Say “I Want To Lose Weight?”

Most people who tell me that they want to lose weight are not telling the truth.

It’s not that they’re lying to me, it’s that they’ve been fed lies by popular culture about what weight loss will mean for them.

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