One of the best kept secrets of successful exercise programs is that nutrition is more important than exercise. Stop press! Really? But you knew that already, everyone knows it already. 

Personal trainer Sydney CBD spout nutrition hints and tips like fountains in summer. There is no shortage of information but it seems there is a shortage of application of that information.  The key point here is that although most clients are aware they must eat well to see results in the gym it oftentimes proves painfully difficult to do so in everyday life. Let’s simplify it.

Here’s a description of you:

You’re a busy person, you have ambitious personal and career aspirations, a social life, potentially a family and would also like to see some change in you body composition. You work hard at the gym a few times per week but just don’t seem to be able to stay on the food wagon.

Setting yourself up for success

By far the most common roadblock that comes up in personal trainer Sydney CBD nutrition consultations is time. The perception that preparing your own food and eating well will rob you of valuable time is inaccurate. 

Having your food organised and knowing what and when you will be eating is not only a great time saver but a confidence builder - you know that with each meal you are moving towards your physical goals rather than away from them. Not to mention removing the feeling of stress, guilt or just pain confusion that results from being disorganised and ending up with something random from the local food court. 

Preparing your food for the week

Choose wisely
Get a food list that contains only healthy foods and compile all of your meals from those foods on the list you enjoy eating. You’ll end up cheating a little like most clients so don’t plan for it, let it be the exception not the rule. Click this link for a huge list of foods. Note: this list does not contain grains or dairy.

Get specific
You need to be specific about what you will eat. Click this link to download our weekly meal planner that helps by allowing you to easily transpose your weekly meal plan into a shopping list.

Have a plan
I am favourable of the Sunday + Wednesday cooking arrangement. I have clients plan our three days of food and cook all the food in one 2-hour block on a Sunday and then again on a Wednesday evening. Not only does this set up the week it also frees up a large amount of time every other evening. Most clients also find they save money as they have each meal planned and don’t find themselves hungry with the result of having to buy lunch from a food court. Make sure you have plenty of lunchbox sized containers on hand before your first cooking day so you can split your creations into meal sized portions and store them in the fridge.

Learn how to cook
If you don’t know how to cook, learn how to cook. I’m not suggesting you become the next master chef, I’m suggesting you learn the rock bottom basics. It is vitally important to know how to cook a steak or some chicken breast, salad and vegetables from a personal independence standpoint but also so you know exactly what is in your food and have the confidence you are eating what will get you the best results.

Book it in your diary
Make sure you book in 1-2 shopping excursions per week to your local supermarket and your desired cooking times. Treat this like you would any other important meeting or appointment. Note: if you are following this system and are making more than two trips to the shops each week you are disorganised. 

Have fun
Make sure you choose foods you enjoy eating AND will support your training / physical goals. There’s no point going through all this then hating meal time. This should be enjoyable and fulfilling as you are taking control of one of the most important aspects of health and fitness.

I would love to expand more on this topic in future posts, please email me if you have any questions or would like some more tips at ben@elementsofmovement.com.au


Benjamin Weale is a personal trainer Sydney CBD.
 
 
Your are what you repeatedly do.

This is not an esoteric concept, you quite literally are what you repeatedly do, at least physically. Take a minute to look at yourself in the mirror, wearing little clothing if possible, and introduce yourself to the SAID principle.

The SAID principle is one of the most basic concepts of sports science and refers to the tendency of the body to adapt to the stress placed upon it. Personal trainer sydney cbd and regular gym goers alike use this principle on a daily basis. S.A.I.D. stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand and is most probably the reason you look the way you do today and even function the way you do today.

Everything you do during the course of your daily life moulds, shapes and polishes aspects of your physical makeup and psyche. The body adapts, amazingly, to the demands we place upon it IF those demands are high enough but not so high as to result in injury or fatigue.

When talking about physical conditioning, the goal is to safely create enough stress on the physical system to stimulate change - think: muscle soreness or a pounding heartbeat. Without this higher level of stress, there is no incentive for the body to adapt, no stimulus, no necessity for change. But too much physical stress, think: working out until you’re completely exhausted or lifting far too much weight for your current level of conditioning, will result in regression rather than progression.

If you’ve ever spent time in a gym with a personal trainer sydney cbd you’ll notice that it seems if particular body types gravitate toward different corners of the facility. The weights area is usually filled with muscular and sometimes overly bulky people. The cardio area is usually filled with slim, lean people or people training for weight loss and the yoga classes are generally filled with people who exhibit relatively good poise and a very lithe muscular physique.

There are a couple of point to make here, one of them is that it is true that people gravitate to what they are naturally good at, for example: the people in the weights area may naturally have a stronger build and the people in the cardio area may have a natural tendency toward running. However, it is also true that the body will adapt to the stress placed upon it so training for your desired outcome is more important than training for your natural tendencies. 

Look back to the mirror.

Your body is constructed, today, in exactly the form necessary to cope with the current day-to-day physical demands of your life. It’s a perfect reflection to you of your choices and of the effectiveness of your exercise program. If you’re unsatisfied with your current physique, you can quite easily change it by changing your daily demands on it. As far as your body is concerned there are no rest days, no holidays, everything you do (or don’t do) is logged away into physical memory. You’re always training - you are what you do.

This is a powerful concept because it means you can literally physically re-engineer yourself. You can choose to throw yourself into the deep end at any point, choose activities that stimulate a certain type of physical adaptation and take advantage of your body’s natural ability to adapt effectively to the stress placed upon it.

There’s a lot more to this topic so feel free to comment below or email any questions you have over and I'll get onto them ASAP.
 
 
In Part I of this post I discussed the importance of ensuring your program is balanced and to be careful not to fall into the habit of using only cardiovascular equipment, at the same time, every workout day, at the same intensity, like many members of gym in Sydney CBD.

Below find information on how to modify cardiovascular or strength work to achieve different results. It is very important to vary your programming so that you don’t fall into a rut resulting in a plateau and simply for reasons of enjoyment.

Traditionally, cardiovascular exercise and strength training have been seen as opposite sides of the fitness spectrum when choosing what to do for a workout. You either spend time on the treadmill area or time in the weights area. Each give different results because each are fundamentally different, right? Not entirely...

The type of result you can expect to derive from a form of exercise when you visit gym in Sydney CBD can be correlated to the intensity to which it is performed.

The cardiovascular area

For example, if you choose to spend time on the treadmill, you can choose to run slowly for a longer duration, perform moderate intensity intervals (a mixture of fast and slow running over a shorter total time period) or high intensity intervals (sprints of near 100% effort with rest intervals between each sprint).  

Each of these forms of cardiovascular exercise will produce different results and all are relevant for most people with correct preparation.

Slower, longer duration cardiovascular exercise will help you achieve the more traditional definition of fitness and prepare the body for longer bouts of continuous movement along with heart-health and circulation improvements. This type of cardiovascular work is particularly important if you are just returning to exercise after a long period of inactivity, have never exercised regularly or have recommendations from your doctor to engage only in moderate forms of exercise.

Short, highly intense bouts of cardiovascular work will actually result in benefits similar to those achieved through well performed strength work. During intense cardiovascular training such as sprints, a high demand is placed on the body to perform explosively which is surprisingly similar to strength work given the load experienced by the body at such an intensity. Think of a sprinter at full flight - they have a lean and muscular physique due to this intense form of training.

The weights area

Spending time in the weights area in gym in Sydney CBD is a fantastic way to improve your muscle strength and endurance.

The weight you select for each exercise will determine what benefit you can expect to achieve. 

Selecting a light weight that you can lift for upwards of 15-20 repetitions will result in an improvement in muscular endurance. This type of training is beneficial if you are looking to improve your technique in a certain movement or improve the capillary density within a certain muscle group. 

Selecting a heavier weight that you can lift for only 12-15 repetitions will result in an improvement in technique and capillary density as before but will also help to build muscle mass.

Selecting a heavier weight again that you can lift for only 8-10 repetitions will result in an increase in muscle mass and an increase in muscular strength.

Next time you head to the gym make a commitment to yourself to try something new or modify your existing routine with some of the principles above based on your current objectives. 
 
 
What’s one of the first things you see when you walk into a busy gym in Sydney CBD at peak time? 

Rows and rows of people on treadmills, bikes, steppers and cross trainers.

Heads bobbing up and down to either the music being played in the gym or to music being blasted at high volume through miniature mp3 players. It’s as if you’re faced with a small treadmill and fitness-bike army, marching towards an unknown destination in the pursuit of better body composition or healthier heart.

The reason many gym members habitually use treadmills or cardio machines as their primary form of workout comes down to these following three reasons:

  • We have been told cardiovascular exercise will help us lose fat and is good for the heart
  • It’s a convenient and low maintenance way to work out
  • A lack of awareness or knowledge of how to take full advantage of the gym facility

One of the reasons you don’t want to fall into the trap of repetitive cardiovascular work (performed at the same intensity each time) is the body will become accustomed to it and your results will plateau. The body is an energy conservation machine - who’d want to spend more energy than necessary to accomplish a task? Very few of us. The body adapts to given demands surprisingly quickly, particularly the demands of standard cardiovascular work like long, slow exercise on a treadmill or bike. 

For most of us, the list of reasons we join a gym include aesthetics, health and enjoyment. To accomplish these goals it is very important to ensure that your gym program utilises all the tools available to you or your program will be lop-sided.

If we split a regular commercial gym in Sydney CBD into three areas we can see how time spent in each area will provide benefits.

Working-out in the cardiovascular area will:

  • Improve heart health
  • Flush the body through improving circulation 
  • Assist greatly in the early stages of fat loss
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Result in a mild meditative effect due to the rhythmic nature of traditional cardiovascular work (swimming, cycling, running, cross trainer). This is one of the reasons people note that activities like these ‘clear their thoughts’.

Working-out in the weights and resistance machine area will:

  • Improve muscle tone
  • Improve body shape
  • Improve strength
  • Improve bone density
  • Improve heart health
  • Improve mobility (if performed correctly)

Working-out in the group fitness or class area will:

  • Provide much needed variety in your exercise routine
  • Eliminate the need for you to plan your training for the day
  • Push you harder than you would on your own
  • Provide a fun and social atmosphere

To find out how you can modify cardiovascular or strength work to accomplish different results click here for “Get off the treadmill - Part II”.
 
 
Hypocrisy here we come...

To begin, I will state that as my currently non-tertiary educated self I am more qualified to talk on this subject than someone who is (ha!, comments welcomed below).

Perhaps I should state that I am interested in expressing that the below skills and knowledge acquired through University courses or equivalent are what I feel would be valuable for trainers to cultivate. 

  • Critical thinking
  • Knowledge of basic science
    • Anatomy
    • Physiology
    • Physics
    • Biology
  • Ability to read and understand scientific papers
  • Understanding of basic statistics

As personal trainers Sydney, enormous trust is placed in us by clients wanting to lose weight / gain muscle / feel better about themselves / improve their health. In every single personal training session, we speak with authority around topics of health, fitness and nutrition.  Our role requires us to offer advice, or at least our personal opinion, about topics other than just physical training.

If you stop to think about what happens when a client signs on with a personal trainer it is quite a significant event. Throughout the course of a client’s work with us it is not uncommon for their entire lifestyle to shift - because it is necessary - their current lifestyle is the reason they seek us out in the first place. Something is not working for them, they don’t know why they keep gaining weight, they don’t know why their health is suffering, they don’t have the tools and techniques necessary to achieve their goals.

The client essentially hands their body and largely their philosophy on diet over to us and follows what we say in the hope it will get them to their goals. To be at the helm, coaching a person when they are seeking to change the way the exist day to day is a huge responsibility. The work we do in the gym literally reforms and changes someone’s physical makeup. That’s cool stuff.

The danger is that a disproportionate amount of trust is placed in us if we have not developed the knowledge and skills to guide a client through the various steps necessary to design a lifestyle that works for them.  Our industry’s trends are driven by a small number of key players, almost analogous to the fashion industry. Evidence based understanding of fitness and diet has progressed enormously over the last decade but the topics that seem to dominate the industry headlines are those that achieve quick results. 

This sounds crazy but quick results are not necessarily an indicator that a course of action is good long-term. As an extreme example, not drinking water for three days and sitting in a sauna is an excellent way to lose scale weight (due to fluid loss) - but I absolutely would not recommend it.

Solutions for clients need to be carefully selected, suit the individual and make sense for a client’s long-term future - all while helping them achieve their short term objectives. It is my hope that as trainers acquire some of the above skills, the industry standard will be lifted along with the accuracy of information that is shared during personal trainers Sydney sessions.
 
 
The joys of having a newborn at home!  I have recently become the very proud dad of a healthy baby girl. This post is partly written with my own journey in mind - the last three months of constant sleep deprivation.

Let’s talk about sleep and body composition.  Sleep is a huge topic and when I have the time I plan to post about it in more detail but for now we’ll just run through some basics about what happens during sleep and why it’s relevant to your fitness goals as a personal trainer Sydney client.

The human body obviously requires a certain amount of sleep every day to function. The body has need for physical and psychological repair and to perform myriad other internal processes while the body is in a state of ‘complete’ rest.  As a society, sleep is something we undervalue and it’s importance is often overlooked when someone feels their performance is below par or they are having difficulties achieving their desired body composition.

Sleep is a natural process that occurs in line with nature’s light / dark cycles if we allow it to. Our hormonal rhythms are hard-wired to the rise and fall of the sun which triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol that enables us to wake, be active, and get things done. It is what is known as the ‘primary stress hormone.’ Ever been on a camping trip and noticed that you feel like going to sleep at 8pm instead of 11pm as you would in the city?  Yep? That’s the lack of artificial light allowing your body to begin its natural process of winding down and preparing for sleep.

Something I was unaware of until recently even though I have been a personal trainer Sydney for many years, is that babies are not hard-wired to these same light / dark cycles as the rest of us, they have not yet developed a mature ‘circadian rhythm‘ which is the regular 24 hour physiological cycle that we all follow as adults. This is why they think it’s perfectly fine to be wide awake at 2am and why it feels so painful for us.

A normal adult circadian rhythm, at a moderate latitude (i.e. not too close to the poles) and in summer, goes something like this:

6:00am - Cortisol is on its way to it’s peak, and we’re awake!
12:00pm - Cortisol is on its way back down as the day is already half over
6:00pm - Cortisol is on the down-low and melatonin has begun to rise
10:00pm - It’s dark outside now, cortisol is nice and low, melatonin is high and we are ready to crash for the night.

This rhythm doesn’t run a normal course for most of us in the modern world, we artificially extend our day by keeping the lights on late at night and many of us use computers or tablet devices until just before we hit the pillow. This keeps our cortisol levels artificially higher than nature intended and we end up with the below consequences according to the Mayo Clinic:

Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.

Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/SR00001

In a nutshell, having more cortisol chronically in your bloodstream leads to more blood sugar and therefore higher levels of insulin, less muscle mass, less sex hormone production (lower libido), impaired digestion, lowered immune function, poor short term memory, mood swings and an appetite for simple carbohydrates. 

Sleep is kind of important. 

Make sure that your room is as pitch black as possible and you put on the mood lighting an hour or so before bed, pick up a book and put down the computer. Most clients feel a difference within three days.
 
 
I have always been a driven person and am accustomed to achieving goals I set for myself.

Three months after the delivery of my first baby I was really keen to get back into shape. I still had a sizeable bump that was comparable to when I was 5 months pregnant, but this time the excess was pure fat. I also carried quite a bit of extra weight on my thighs and bum.  My goal for myself after giving birth was to be a hot mum, but in reality I was currently looking nothing like I did pre-pregnancy. I have always been slim without needing to follow any strict diets and the ‘new-me’ sent waves of shock and disbelief throughout my body and mind.

I am fortunate on one hand however as my husband is a personal trainer Sydney CBD and he specialises in weight loss, BUT, the challenge for new mums as I found is not necessarily a lack of motivation or resources, but time. 

As a new mum I was totally overwhelmed and consumed by the demands of a newborn. I also wanted to do really well for her, not let her cry even for a minute, make her happy every hour of the day. But that meant I was neglecting myself every hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, three months and counting! I have found this is not uncommon among new mothers.

I was so stressed about delivering the best play, sleep and feed for my baby that I was gulping all of my meals in a rush and my stomach felt as if it was constantly in knots due to the drastic changes I had to constantly adapt to.

Thanks to my husband I was eating very healthy food, only small portions of simple carbohydrates or sweets, lots of protein, lots of vegetables. That’s how all his clients engaging in personal training sydney CBD with him have achieved results. But what was the point of eating healthy when I could not even enjoy my food? Let alone see progress in the mirror.

I was so dedicated to my little bundle of joy that I would feel uncomfortable when my husband offered to take her for an hour of play. My instinct told me I needed to control everything and teach him how to best play with her. My husband kept explaining to me that the hormonal consequences of high stress and sleep deprivation (which is inevitable with a newborn) mimic a high sugar diet but I felt powerless to change anything in my mindset.

One day my husband took me and our daughter out and we went to the exercise equipment in the nearby park. He encouraged me to exercise while he waited with our daughter. I began arguing with him explaining that we cannot stop and let her stay still and just watch from her pram. Of course she would get bored, then start screaming and then we wouldn’t be able to settle her and have to walk all the way home with a screaming baby and avery distressed tearful mum. This scenario loomed like a dark cloud above me. By the time I finished spinning out my horror-story fairy tale to by husband, five minutes had passed. My husband looked at me and said – “you could have done a whole set by now and she is perfectly fine.”

So with mild reluctance, I started doing my sets. I managed to complete four full circuits of exercises and my daughter was still happily smiling in her pram. I was in total disbelief.

The take home message from this post is that if you’re a new mum, it is ok to take slices of time away from your baby to look after yourself. Give the baby to someone you trust, then trust they will be just fine for 30min or 60mins or however long you need.

Since that day in the park I am again beginning to enjoy my exercise and it is my hope that  my change in attitude will teach my daughter that mummy takes care of herself. That way as she grows up she will be more likely to take care of herself also.

Dessislava Mladenova PhD is a medical research scientist and a new mum.
 
 
Being a personal trainer Sydney is not easy.  

Sydney is a melting pot for business and culture.  Social events abound and linked to high levels of social activity is usually, yes... food and wine. If only a client’s social calendar could be adjusted as easily as their exercise program... I daresay their results would be greatly accelerated!

Many clients that come to our gym require changes to their lifestyle to achieve their desired results, of course. One of the changes I commonly suggest is to limit party food eating to half a day per week.  This means if you choose Friday as the day, you can eat anything you want from 12:00 midday until Saturday morning.  Yes, I do mean anything, but I commonly find clients don’t actually want to feel awful on Saturday so they naturally limit their intake of processed food and alcohol.  The rest of the week everyone sticks as close as possible to a healthy balanced diet.

But what about those delicious weekend breakfasts with your family or partner? Surely pancakes still have a place in the kitchen!?  They do. Read below:

By request of one of our regular clients, I am posting a recipe for pancakes that doesn’t involve sugar or flour.  Now, as a personal trainer Sydney I must place a caveat on this in that if you consume a ridiculous amount of these they will still poorly effect your waistline. So enjoy, but don’t come into the gym Monday and tell me you ate a kilo of them.

Banana pancakes

For each person you’ll need:

·         2 eggs
·         1 banana
·         1 heaped tablespoon of almond nut butter
·         2 teaspoons coconut flour (available at health food shops)
·         Butter or coconut oil for frying

Mash the banana well with the almond butter.  In a separate bowl beat the eggs until fluffy then pour the egg into the mashed banana and almond butter and whisk/beat until well combined.  Sprinkle on the coconut flour and whisk/beat again.  Heat plenty of butter or coconut oil in a frypan and drop in tablespoon sized serves of the batter.  Flip when you can see bubbles forming on the surface.

Enjoy as is or drop some blueberries / berries on the finished product.

Make no mistake, they are amazing. 

 
 
Yesterday (Tuesday 8th October 2013) I had the privilege of being invited to share the airwaves with some wonderful people on 'chat with Chika' at Eagle Waves Radio, hosted by Kerry Chikarovski.

To my left and right, seated in the radio's cockpit studio at Vivo cafe, 388 George St Sydney CBD, were two other industry leaders Michelle Kearney from Bella Media and Christian d’Astoli from CrossFit Athletic, another cutting edge gym in Sydney CBD. 

The topic of the day was staying young - or more specifically how the baby boom generation can maximise their youthful potential and age gracefully as they move toward their later years. 

Much a discussion was had and if you’re keen to listen to the full show you can head over to Eagles Waves Radio and stream the audio file or download it in podcast format:

http://eaglewavesradio.com.au/2013/10/chat-with-chika-8-october-2013/

What I want to touch on in this post is something that has been taking up space in my head since the show.  I wonder if the pursuit of youth is in effect like chasing a straw-man.. I mean we’re simply not able to turn back time...

Youth is defined (by my friend google) as:

“The period between childhood and adult age.
Young people considered as a group.”

Life on the other hand is defined as:

“The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.”

LIFE. Now that sounds like what we want.  Unless we are invested in a romanticised fantasy about the period of time between childhood and adulthood I think most of us will agree our situation, personality, ability to make decisions and financial maturity are things that change positively as we come of age - the only catch is we’re, well, more aged.

A secret that many don’t know but I have seen:  Living in a way that has you feeling alive is the most effective way to appear and exhibit the energy of youth. I see it in clients all the time when consulting at our gym in Sydney CBD. During a personal training session, simply asking them questions about something I know they are passionate about brings about an immediate change in demeanour, an instant increase in energy, creativity and the resurgence of the oftentimes neglected intangible asset of youth referred to as possibility.

I know many 60 year olds who exhibit an energy and passion for life that far outstrips their 25-30 year old contemporaries, which says the younger generation has some catching up to do.

To enhance your ability and likelihood to live in this way for years to come requires a change in attitude, an attitude that says it’s ok to take some time to make decisions that support your health.

Something that has stuck with me since the interview was Kerry's anecdote of her time in France, observing many elegant Parisian women with slim waistline’s, beautiful skin and relaxed disposition, unashamedly dedicating pockets of time throughout the day to the maintenance of their health.

We should support and be a part of creating a culture that values the same.  Even if you travel into the city each day, have a high powered job, a family and other aspirations, take time to join a gym in Sydney CBD, make wise choices at lunch and put value on a good night sleep.  It will leave you in good stead and support you to do more of the things that you are passionate about and have you come alive.
 
 
How absurd it is.

It takes a personal trainer 12 weeks to obtain the industry minimum standard qualification. It takes a medical professional 6 years to do the same.

Personal trainers in the Sydney CBD can earn anywhere from $30-$80/hr when they graduate. Thus calculated at 38hrs/week with 4 weeks annual leave, a new graduate could potentially earn approximately $150,000 p/a. The medical professional, having devoted 6 of the prime years of his or her life, can expect to earn $68,000 in their first year out in the 'real world.' Luckily for the Personal Trainer he or she won't have to work the 10pm-8am shift with their clients, nor will they have to deal with life and death situations."

Hardly seems fair.

None-the-less, there is a subset of Personal Trainers who view the medical profession with distain and take any opportunity they can to harp on its inadequacies. They cite a doctors unwillingness to teach their patients the 'paleo diet' as evidence of an lack of understanding. The Doctor cites an overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to a link between excess red meat consumption and cancer not to mention the negative health effects of a low fibre diet. The Personal Trainer counters with conspiracy theories of rigged studies and food industry lobbyists. The Doctor asks if he has ever met with a researcher at a major University?

The tumbleweeds roll by. 

Whilst stewing in a pool of arrogance, some Personal Trainers fail to note a core principle of the allopathic medical approach - 'when it comes to patients, first and foremost, do no harm.' Bound by this tradition, the medical practitioner is obligated to educate patients using the best available evidence. Sometimes this advice is conservative, sometimes this is necessary. 

History is littered with examples of those who decided to 'jump the gun' only to find out in time the full extent of their folly. As a wise old doctor once said to me, "sometimes it's important to have an open mind, but no so open that your brains fall out."

We welcome questions and enquiries regarding health and personal training. Visit www.elementsofmovement.com.au for more info on personal training services in the Sydney CBD.

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