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.


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.


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.


Injury and Exercise: Emma’s Story

Exercise can be a double-edged sword – done incorrectly or inappropriately, it can cause acute injury, but the deconditioning which occurs as a result of a lack of exercise can also predispose a person to injury, usually of the chronic kind.

There is a lot of confusion as well around the role or place of exercise in a person’s life when injured. Many people assume that total rest is needed for recovery, while others want to prove their mettle by “pushing through” injury.

The truth is that exercise is extremely important in recovery from, and management and prevention of, injury.

Late last year, a regular client, Emma, experienced a bad flare-up of sciatica, a condition which she had dealt with intermittently for years and which had required frequent chiropractic adjustments.


“I Have Lower Back Pain: Should I Exercise?”

Lower back pain has been described as one of the most common health complaints in the world, with 58% to 70% of people experiencing some form of lower back pain during their lifetime. [1] Lower back pain has been linked with weakness, inhibition and imbalance in the tonic and phasic muscles of the core and hip girdle. [2]

What does this mean?

Basically, it means that, despite the fact that you’re probably in quite a bit of pain, you need to exercise in order to improve, reduce or eliminate your pain.

“What the – ?@?! I’m already in too much pain to get off the couch, and you want to me start hurling weights around? I’m in pain when I walk and you’re telling me to start running???”

Here’s the thing – there are many different types of exercise, and in cases of lower back pain you need specific exercises which are correctly prescribed for you. When most people hear the word “exercise,” they immediately conjure up images of sweating it out in the gym, “feeling the burn” and lifting to failure. As you might expect, this is the exact opposite of a program designed to assist in managing lower back pain.


Why I’m Tired of Hearing People Say “You Should Learn to Love Your Body.”

From scan of copy belonging to the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, courtesy of Wikipedia CommonsMost of the marketing which is aimed at my supposed demographic – women in their twenties – at best irritates me and at worst just plain offends me. (Don’t get me started on how much of a f*ck I do not give about whether a new car has a shoe compartment, iPod connectivity or a “support network.”)

This rant in particular is about magazines and soap companies. You know the ones. The ones who have slender, skinny-fat models in their fashion spreads and most of their ads, but occasionally run a “real beauty” campaign showing over-weight women who haven’t had their cellulite airbrushed away, or who do a “body-image” issue showing “real” unfit women in unflattering underwear. For all the fluffy crap about “loving” yourself or accepting your “flaws,” all I really see is a consolation prize, a way out for under-achievers. “Don’t worry,” is what they’re really saying, “Here are some unflattering pics of out-of-shape women so you can compare yourself to them and feel better about yourselves. We know that you’re not happy with the way your body looks and feels, but it’s okay because not everyone can be perfect. Here are some real women.” (So, the models in your ads and fashion shoots aren’t real? Athletic women aren’t real? Women who are actually happy with their bodies – probably because they don’t put their time and energy into taking on your self-contradicting crap – aren’t real??)

Now at first you may think that this is callous, that I’m drumming up business by attempting to “shame” women into getting all OCD about their diet and exercise. Stick with me for a minute.


How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Going?

Time to check your progress… Are you moving towards your goals or is it time for a little help?

One of the most important factors in achieving our goals can sometimes simply be accountability. So I want to ask you today, how are you going with achieving your New Year’s Resolutions?

It is perhaps a little unfortunate that we call them “New Year’s” resolutions, because it seems to imply that once the year is not so new any more, they become irrelevant.

Did you write down your goals for this year? Were they things that you really wanted, things that you think about while falling asleep and as soon as you wake up, things that excite you? Or were they things that you thought you “should” do, things that make you roll your eyes and sigh when you are reminded of them? Were your goals achievable? Was there a realistic measure of success? How will you know that you’ve achieved them? Do you know what actions you need to undertake on a regular basis in order to make your goals a reality? Have you been taking those actions?