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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What is Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction, and What are its Implications for Exercise?

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction can have very uncomfortable symptoms, such as sharp or hot pain in the lower back, as well as a referred pain which feels like it is shooting down the buttocks and legs. It can make being active very unappealing, but with the right treatment and co-operation between your physiotherapist and/or chiropractor and a qualified exercise specialist, certain types of physical activity can play a key role in managing and alleviating this 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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Exercise and Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid is an important gland in the endocrine system. Most people don’t pay attention to thyroid function until they’re experiencing some of the side-effects of a thyroid disorder, which can influence everything from metabolic rate to mental health.

As is the case with most chronic health conditions, exercise can play an important role in helping a person to maintain their quality of life, but only if understood and applied correctly.

Below is a very brief overview of common thyroid conditions, their causes, symptoms, and the implications that they can have for exercise.

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Progress is Incremental

I had a hard night at MMA sparring tonight. At the end of it I leaned against the wall in the women’s bathroom (yes, there is one of those, awesome) and looked up at the shower-head (wow, we have all the amenities!) and wondered if I could “do this.”

Wondering if one can “do this” is almost always counter-productive, because doing “this” usually means succeeding 200% of the time and being the Best In The Whole World Ever Of All Time. In other words, it represents an all-or-nothing, be-all-and-end-all definition of succeeding.

Luckily the same sparring partners who took me down and smacked me in the face from top half-guard reminded me of the incremental improvements that I had made. It’s hard to view one’s own progress objectively, so this kind of feedback can be valuable.

I was still angry at myself – angry because I was “unimpressed with my performance” and angry about the fact that I had allowed it to unbalance me emotionally. I didn’t feel like staying for the second training session (No Gi jiu jitsu), but I did because I knew that that was what I needed to do. (After all, discipline consists of doing what you need to do, not what you feel like doing.) I’m glad that I did. I exhausted myself with good, controlled rolling, and the success that I achieved ameliorated my frustrations about the sparring session.

Jiu jitsu has allowed me to learn a lot about what it takes to make progress in all areas of life. It’s important to allow yourself to enjoy what you do, and to be willing to make mistakes and get countered hundreds of times while you’re working on perfecting something.

Tonight I tapped someone for the first time with a submission that I’d been taught in 2011. You can imagine how many failed attempts there have been in the three years that have passed since that time.

It was a fitting reminder of the importance of persisting, of relinquishing unrealistic expectations when it comes to progression, and of striving for that 1% improvement every time I train. It’s not an all-or-nothing process, it’s a 1% improvement, one day at a time.

The Grind: Someone is Watching

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 3.37.23 PMThere was a young woman at the gym this morning doing some observations as part of her Certificate IV in Fitness while I was doing a strength and conditioning session.

Dayni, my strength coach, introduced me as an MMA fighter and explained what we were doing in terms of strength and conditioning. The young woman was very interested, and asked me a lot of questions that I don’t usually “have time for.” Today, I took the time though. I answered all of her questions about how long I’ve been doing “this” for, why I started, how old I was, what I did for work, what I was doing for the rest of the day, what other training I did apart from weights training…

I’m glad that I did, because now I realise that she was asking because I was something that she’d never seen before. It’s hard for me to recognise that some people see me that way, because to me what I do is so normal, so ordinary, so tedious at times, that it doesn’t warrant consideration and I find it hard to understand why people are asking me “basic” questions like what I’m doing “after this.”

As if to confirm the validity of the thoughts I’ve been having lately about putting myself out there as a way to somehow add value to the lives of others – and particularly to expand the minds of girls and young women – this young woman said:

“I love it when I see girls do things like this. It makes me believe that I can do anything.”

 

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Vegan Coleslaw

One of the popular misconceptions that exists about healthy eating is that it’s troublesome and expensive, but that doesn’t have to be the case. I made this salad today as a snack with some cabbage and oranges that I had in the fridge, olive oil and sea salt from the pantry, and fresh herbs from the garden. It’s cheap, easy to make, vegan, and really tasty. I had it on its own, but you can of course serve it as a side with a main meal or include it in homemade burgers and wraps. I hope this inspires you to make the most of the fresh wholefoods that you have at hand at home.

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